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Before You Buy a Manufactured (Mobile) Home

Updated on April 5, 2016

Not all manufactured homes are created equal

A manufactured home can be a great alternative for you if you are looking for the most square footage for the lowest price. The modern, residential-style construction and design of some of the better brands will surprise you if you haven't looked in a while.

If this is something you are considering, here's a list of some things you should look for or request:

  • A custom-cambered frame. This will result in a flat plate-line while the home is in transit, avoiding much of the damage that occurs during transport.
  • Floor joists that run the opposite direction of the structural I-beams. Oddly enough, some of the very cheaply made homes use longitudinal floor joists (running the length instead of the width of the home).
  • Avoid particle board flooring (Nova Deck) at all costs! OSB (or Wafer board) is much better, while plywood seems to be the best.
  • Check to make sure that all of the floor joists and walls (interior and exterior) are framed 16" on center.
  • Make sure the carpet is 100% continuous loop nylon with stain resistance. Ask for a minimum of 5# rebond padding under the carpet. Also make sure the carpet runs wall to wall (is not stretched under the wall) and is secured with a tack strip (not stapled at the edge).
  • Ask for 1/2" taped and textured Sheetrock throughout. Avoid the VOG (vinyl on gypsum) if at all possible. VOG has a much faster burn ratio and the fumes may be toxic. Real Sheetrock allows for future maintenance and you can paint or paper at will. Most manufacturers use a light to medium texture on the walls. Some Amish-built homes offer a smooth finished Sheetrock.
  • Make sure the door trim and baseboards are real wood (not paper coated MDF, or plastic).
  • Confirm that the exterior doors are 80" tall (residential height) and are 1-3/4" thick (residential thickness). This will avoid very high replacement costs.
  • All interior doors should be 1-3/8" thick. Ask for residential (150# rated) hinges. Avoid the non-mortising hinges if possible.
  • Ask for water shut-off valves at every sink and toilet. (Can be added later if unavailable)
  • Request china, ceramic, or stainless steel sinks. Avoid plastic or fiberglass sinks in the bathroom and kitchen if possible.
  • Make sure that the connection "spread" is a standard residential size on all sinks and fixtures.
  • Avoid plastic or ASB showers and tubs! Ask for fiberglass tubs and showers. Ceramic showers are fine, but require more maintenance.
  • Third-generation Pex plumbing is the best way to go for plumbing. It has a much better performance history than PVC or CPVC. Approximately 1:10 homes with PVC or CPVC will have a water leak upon setup after transport, while the number is closer to 1:100 with Pex. Avoid polypropylene plumbing (the gray pipe found in older manufactured homes)!
  • Zone 3 energy rating is the highest available in the manufactured housing industry. You can see the energy rating on the HUD label that is posted (by law) in every home. This label is usually found in the kitchen or utility room. Some manufacturers have Energy Star construction or Green construction available, but very few actually build their homes to these standards. They are allowed to keep their factory Energy Star rated as long as they build at least one qualifying home per year at that location. Be careful when this is being pitched to you. There is one manufacturer based in Oklahoma that builds every double wide home Energy Star rated.
  • If available, ask for the "crossover duct" to be built into the floor (on double and triple wide homes)--not flex duct under the home which is exposed (potentially) to the elements and animals.
  • The wind rating is usually determined by the location of home placement. It is rated from 1 to 3. Wind Zone 3 is in a very small area on the coastline. Wind Zone 2 is within 90 miles of the coastline. Wind Zone 1 covers most of the continental U.S.
  • Contrary to what many believe, adding extra "straps" or anchors does not change the wind rating of a manufactured home. Some of the better-built homes are built to withstand 140+ MPH straight winds. The width of the eave (roof overhang) is a quick indicator of the wind load construction of a manufactured home. The shorter the overhang, generally the lower the wind rating. There are specific requirements for construction regarding wind loads. No manufactured (or site-built) home is tornado or storm proof.
  • Make sure the windows are Vinyl, Low E windows with welded corners. Argon gas is wasted unless you are at a high altitude.
  • Avoid Masonite Siding! Hardi-Panel and SmartPanel are the most durable siding choices (SmartPanel travels better than Hardi-Panel). Vinyl is a poor second choice in most climates. The vinyl siding that is generally used in this industry is recycled vinyl. Experts will tell you that this means it has chalk and fillers added to it which will cause warping, fading, and/or chipping as it is exposed to UV rays.
  • Avoid rolled metal roofing! Ask for architectural composition shingles in place of three-tab shingles. They have a better appearance and will last much longer with the lower-pitched roof that is common in the industry. Some manufacturers offer 29 gauge R-Panel Plus metal for roofing. The ridges are only 7/8" high and 9" on center. If it is not installed properly, it can be the source of expensive repairs caused by water leaks.

Things to watch out for:

  • The Pro-Close bump. This is where the salesman tells you everything you want to hear regarding the payment and interest rate, then gives you the bad news at closing that you didn't qualify for the special rate so the payment is going to be higher than you were told.
  • Don't be fooled into thinking Modular Homes are superior to Manufactured Homes.
  • When special-ordering a home, make sure you get to sign off on the actual order sheet.
  • Never allow a dealer to pull your credit before you have decided which floor plan you prefer. If you are not signing a contract, do not allow them to pull your credit for any reason.
  • Shop and compare before you make a buying decision. Don't be intimidated by the urgency close used by many dealers.
  • Ask for referrals of satisfied customers.
  • Ask to see the warranty details. Don't be deceived by the warranty claims of some dealers. The warranty on a manufactured home is one year. The extra coverage is basically an insurance policy that is being sold to you which requires a deductible payment and the work is not performed by the dealer or manufacturer. Also, most dealers only offer a 30-90 cosmetic warranty (if any).
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Summary

A manufactured home can be a great way to fulfill your housing needs at a very low initial price. If you make good choices, your monthly energy costs can be very low, you may qualify for residential rates for your insurance, and your maintenance costs can be very inexpensive; however, making poor choices can lead to the extreme at the other end of the cost spectrum. So, shop with care. Compare the quality of materials and construction methods.

Note:

I worked in the industry for quite a few years. I started out setting and finishing manufactured homes; then, I worked as a warranty tech, and then I was the General Manager at a sales center for eight years. I have set up, moved, repaired, bought and sold more new and used manufactured homes than I even care to remember. :)

I no longer work in the manufactured housing industry, so I have no vested interest. If you have any questions, I will be glad to help in any way I can.

Comments

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  • profile image

    dhartsoe 12 days ago

    Hello Lowell,

    We have found a good manufacturer in Live Oak Homes. The only problem is their plant is about 400 miles from our home-site location. Is this too far to pull a home without internal damages? Thanks in advance and for your informative article as well.

    Nancy Hartsoe

  • profile image

    Vanessa Mobley 2 weeks ago

    Hi Lowell,

    We are considering a manufactured home and live in Cincinnati, Oh.

    Can you recommend any close? Or any brands that we can look into purchasing from a person looking to sell theirs? I'm so glad I came across this website. Thank you!!

  • profile image

    sherk1976 5 weeks ago

    Lowell,

    I'm considering buying a new mobile home because there cheaper than a house. I live in north eastern arkansas and Clayton seems to be the only dealers in the area. I looked at clayton models a couple years ago and was turned away buy what looked liked cheaply built homes.

    Reading your blog it seems you agree clayton is the brand to avoid at all cost. It looks like you prefer solitaire over all other manufacturers. Not sure where there made in Texas but I'm about a 8 to 9 hour drive from the dallas area. I understand even the best built mobile homes will stress if the delivery is too far away.

    I lived in two trailers in the past, both had constant water leaks. Seemed like I was under the home once a month fixing joints that busted. I want all plywood flooring and the best water lines possible.

    I can buy a house in my area around 120.000 for a decent house, I consider a mobile home only because I could pay off a 60,000 range in 8 to 10 years and say a nest egg before retirement. if i buy a house it will take me 20 years and i'll be at retirement ago with no nest egg to fall back on.

    What brand to you recommend in my area, also what do you consider the best single wide mobile home manufacturer period no matter the location. I seen enough on my own to know I don't want clayton as I believe around the 15 year old mark you'd have constant maintenance issues.

    I want a structurally sound home, with good windows and doors and top of the line pluming. i want a mobile home if taken care of and setup right can last 30 years, and that can be remolded after the 20 year mark. I lived in one mobile home that was a pure junk, not from a clean issue, but structurally it just feel apart. Both homes were built mid 80's I lived in.

    thanks for your time.

  • profile image

    Nancy Evenson 7 weeks ago

    Thank you for all this good info. We live in California wanting to replace our 36 year old mobile home with new. We have inquired in McMinnville, Oregon a factory direct dealer. We are looking at a skyline home. Reviews I have read are not great, but non have been from Oregon. What is your opinion on that brand? What home's are best rated in CA?

  • profile image

    marabdl86 7 weeks ago

    Hi,

    I live in pueblo, colorado, what modular home manuf. do you recommend? C Layton is 5 minutes away but will avoid. Does solitaire homes ship to southern colorado? About 300 miles from Albuquerque, NM to where I live. Thanks for all your help

  • profile image

    betsysstudio 8 weeks ago

    Wow! I have learned so much from reading this article and its comments. Thank you for sharing your knowledge out to the masses! My husband and I are thinking about buying a USED manufactured home as our starter home, and I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to how to recognize a prebuilt home that bears the quality characteristics of which your article entails?

  • profile image

    Cheri Reynolds 2 months ago

    Hello Lowell. I've read and learned a LOT from your article, as well as the feedback. Like everyone else here, I'm looking for an affordable, well built home that will last. I'm 50 years old, and this is my plan for when I retire. To be paid off, in my forever home. I was very impressed with, and attempted to buy a Solitaire home. But it didn't go through, because they don't deliver to Missouri. (I live in Jefferson County, MO)

    I NEED something of equal quality, that will last.

    PLEASE ADVISE ~ (and thank you)

    Most Sincerely,

    Cheri

  • profile image

    Dc-in-nm 2 months ago

    We own a 1993 solitaire double wide in New Mexico. We are considering whether to buy a new one or move this one to a new location. This MH was built great and we have had to do minimal repairs. We have an offer of $22,500 to buy it, but wondering if we should let it go. It still looks great. It seems like this year and model was built better than many new ones. Any opinion on this?

  • profile image

    Valley Cat 3 months ago

    Hi Lowell,

    Thanks for all the advice! Do you know of a high-end, well-built MH in Eugene, Oregon area? I will steer clear of Clayton after reading this blog.

  • profile image

    Doe1969 3 months ago

    Thanks for the information. Very useful. Some of it never even crossed my mind to think about.

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 5 months ago

    Christy Massey,

    You need to find out the NADA book value of the home. I never recommend paying more than the actual value.

  • profile image

    Christy Massey 5 months ago

    Hello, Im from Ms. and we have found a champion double wide and It has all the upgrades you would want. It looks like a house on the inside. The problem I have is there asking $112k for it and I asked the bottom dollar and he only came off the price $2k. I want to negociate but we are not sure how much. We have a deposit to hold and going to put down payment in two weeks.

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 6 months ago

    Double r bar,

    You know your financial situation better than I do; but make sure you consider the difference in cost and expense. Sometimes you pay more for something that ultimately saves you on insurance, upkeep, maintenance, and utilities; whereas, just because a home costs less up front doesn't necessarily make it more affordable long term.

    Best Wishes,

    Lowell

  • profile image

    Lia Fernandez 6 months ago

    My husband and I are building in Northern South Carolina ...

    Any recommendations on manufactured home dealers? I also heard of R-Anell Homes?

    Any information would be greatly appreciated

  • profile image

    double r bar 6 months ago

    Good info Lowell. and scary. Can't get site email to send. I'm a poor senior trying to stay in Colorado or new mexico. Called solitaire homes, least expensive singlewide just too beyond my budget. Financing USDA so need new/never lived in. Got a 2nd choice in the region? My mail: doublerbar at gmx dot com. Thanks!

  • profile image

    poordaddy 6 months ago

    Thank you so much for this blog !! You may have saved us from disaster with Clayton !!

    Do you know of any good mobile homes in Minnesota ? We have land in Northern MN and want to place a double wide it for our retirement. Thank you for any help you can give me !!

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 6 months ago

    Gordong2,

    The HUD label should tell the energy rating of the home and wind rating of the home. (This is an indication of the insulation values and the structural strength)

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 6 months ago

    Poordaddy,

    I don't recommend Clayton Homes at all. It is due to the quality of the Homes as well as the common business practices they employ that I have a problem with.

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 6 months ago

    Deb Stacey,

    Solitaire Homes is by far the best made manufactured home in your area.

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 6 months ago

    Cat Evans,

    A 28 year old manufactured home will likely have plumbing issues that can be very expensive. The materials used then have a bad track record. That issue alone would make me want to check other options if at all possible.

  • profile image

    poordaddy 6 months ago

    I've been reading all the info and thank you for posting it !! We were ready to buy a Clayton from Iseman Mobile Homes in Brainerd, MN. After reading your article I'm worried. Are all Clayton brand double wides a bad purchase ? Brainerd - 18-77362-960 Clayton Kennedy is one we fell in love with but we don't want to have trouble with it. Would you give me your opinion on just this one from Clayton ? We had also looked at Victory Mobile Homes in Pelican Rapids and found a house we liked it's The Tom L Northern Advantage Series Drawing # 160021R . Is this a good double wide ? We have a 1976 Blairwood on 1 and 1/2 acres and it's falling apart . We want to retire there. We have 4 married kids and 9 grandkids so we want to have room for all. What would you recommend for our land near Aitken, MN ? Thank you sooooo much for your help !!!

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 6 months ago

    Lori F Billings,

    12" is preferred, and is generally an indicator of higher wind ratings (although some manufacturers have a "shear off" design that makes it a little tricky).

  • profile image

    Loree F Billings 6 months ago

    Hi Lowell

    Regarding the eaves you mentioned, I am looking at the deer valley. What should the length be?

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 6 months ago

    Due to the overwhelming number of requests over the past 7 years, I am now offering inspection services to document (on location) the materials used in a specific home. This is available anywhere in the continental United States.

    If this is something you are interested in, just send me a private message for the specifics.

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 6 months ago

    Solitaire builds their homes in "runs"...only starting production once a minimum number of that model have been ordered. This reduces production costs and mistakes as the line is set up for repetition instead of constantly changing from one model to the next.

  • profile image

    Gordong2 6 months ago

    In Florida we are looking at a 2005 Jacobsen Mobile Home. We have heard that HUD standards changed about then. When did Jacobsen start building to Wind Zone 3? start with better floors? How can I find the R factor in walls, ceiling,floor? Are there serial numbers that would show when the various improvements were cut into production?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  • profile image

    Half111 7 months ago

    We are currently looking at purchasing a Cavalier or Solitaire home. Our only issue with the Solitaire is the price does not include skirting and we have to pay to have carpet removed from dining room. However all of the floor plans and models shown to us does not show carpet in the dinning room. I have friends and family who have both brands and all seem pleased. Our biggest issue is Solitaire cannot give us a good estimate of when the home will go to production. We need to sell our existing home and prepare for the new home but without a estimate we are worried to do that. Cavalier dealer has told us it will be approximately 6 weeks from order date. Solitaire says we need to look at what all we want and in the next month start the process of the order. We do not want to move before July and he cannot promise us a date in July because production starts on our model in about 6 weeks and if we miss this production he will just have to see when the next rotation is set. Can you explain Thais to me? Would this concern you as well? Thanks!

  • profile image

    Deb Stacey 7 months ago

    thank you for such wonderful information! We live in Houston Texas area and plan on buying a Mobile Home. We are seniors and want to live closer to Galveston. Here is my concern ... I have spoken to agents at local dealers. How can I ensure getting an ethical agent.

    I spoke to an agent at San Antonio manufacturers mobile homes dealership, but are leaning towards a Solitaire MH. We will not be purchasing until 2018, but I am skeptical of agents integrity. I see comments about specific agents, but not that many. Other than Solitaire, what would you tell your mother to purchase. Finally, how soon should we start looking? Blessings your way

  • profile image

    Cat Evans 7 months ago

    I could really use your advice, should I purchase a new MH for my lot or buy a 28 year old MH, there are a couple for sale in the community I purchased my lot. With all the bad reviews I read, as much as I want a brand new MH I am terrified it will be a terrible experience and there will be issues with the final product. Or do I buy one used knowing I have to remodel bathrooms and kitchen. One of the MH for sale has already replaced all the floors. It was built in 1989. Your opinion is greatly appreciated. I live in Chicago and have no experience with MH. I there really a set lifetime of a MH? Thank you.

  • profile image

    ChelseaNJohnny 8 months ago

    WOW Lowell, it took us a minute or two but my husband and I read most of your responses to hundreds of comments along with the very thorough checklist you put together....BRAVO

    Anywhoo, we were definitely sucked into the "glamor" and "simplicity" that the Clayton homes rep puked all over us. Quite frankly we were both ready to sign what apparently would have been a deal with the devil so I cannot say thank you enough. Now the question is, if not Clayton then who? We all ready have our land, 18 acres in Wright city Missouri, which is a couple hours south of St.Louis and even my Google searches are just bombarded with Clayton ads... I've been trying to educate myself on the difference between "double wide" and "modular" and so far I've found a few houses through Stratford homes that we really like, are you familiar? If not do you have any suggestions for us Midwesterners?

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Lorrieh35,

    It never hurts to shop :)

    Go with a checklist of the quality materials and features that you want in hand.

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Roxy79,

    Wow! The trusses are the main issue, but the wall construction (including whether they installed headers or not) and the frame design (and outriggers) are critical as well. The overall structural integrity is suspect.

    I don't know of an easy fix for this. There's no way that I can think of to "add to" the existing structure to make it strong enough without making major design changes.

    Perhaps TJI's and perimeter blocking could help, but I wouldn't go to the trouble and expense without getting a structural engineer involved.

  • profile image

    roxy79 8 months ago

    Three years ago we purchased an acre of land, in a beautiful Mt. area, it came with a homette 1999 triple wide, (2200 ft) snowy area. We currently have over four feet of snow on the ground. After, over, two feet was on the roof of our home we started questioning our snow load, and found out, to our amazement that it only had a 20psf snow load, when stick built homes in our area are required to have 140psf! We spoke with our county planning dept., and building inspectors, and have learned a lot about manufactured homes, HUD, and snow loads in the past four weeks. How can we increase our snow load, short of building a roof over, or selling our home and starting from scratch? We were told the we might be able to add TJI joist's to the existing roof joists, then we were told that manufactured homes do not have headers over the windows!? If we have to tear out all of our sheetrock to add support I don't think we could bleed that much blood. Any advise would be welcomed.

  • profile image

    deaniet 8 months ago

    Thanks Lowell!

    I'm not sure what mobile homes are for sale in surrounding area here.

    I'll have to do more research.

    Seems Clayton owns most everything.

    I could not find the complaints in ripoff.com

    I registered and searched River Birch and mobile homes but didn't see it. Possible I searched wrong??

  • Lorrieh35 profile image

    Lorrieh35 8 months ago

    Hi Lowell, If you were buying a mh would you even stop and look at the skyline palm springs series or would you just keep driving. Everyone keeps saying their structures are the same... but like buying a car I feel like they are constantly spewing falsehoods. Looking here in central Florida..

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Deaniet,

    To my knowledge, in the State of Louisiana, if you didn't sign a contract, the dealer cannot legally keep your deposit

    Contact https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BoardMembers.aspx?b...

    for more help.

    You also can file a complaint with the BBB, that will put some pressure on the dealer, but it isn't a form of legal recourse.

    River Birch has multiple complaints on ripoffreport.com

    Are there any other choices in your area?

  • profile image

    deaniet 8 months ago

    Lowell, thanks for your advice.

    I did see a Deer Valley, beautiful and well built. It was sold and when I asked Clayton about ordering one, they said Deer Valley no longer builds single wide mobile homes, however "their"builder could and the price suddenly went higher for their builders to build one like that.

    As in 10,000 higher than Deer Valley.

    We are walking away from Clayton.

    Real sketchy, harassing, pushy, interest rates went higher after getting preapproved and lots of fees doubled, more than original quote, and the list goes on. Not to mention saying over and over to bring in down payment (substantial amount) so we could get the home ordered bc if not we would have to wait months longer.

    However, highly doubt they will return my deposit of 1000.00

    We NEVER signed a purchase agreement. The salesperson said the deposit was to insure that we were serious about buying a home.

    Can they legally keep my deposit??

    Well, we were/are serious until too many doubts came up and I decided to do a lil research and was led to your post and a lot of other negative reviews on every site I found.

    There is a lot of dirt on them if you look for it.

    I was so stupid! I am usually more careful, google everything.

    Only excuse is I lost my home in the flood last August and am displaced last 5 1/2 months.

    I am elderly, severely disabled, on disability and they are totally aware of my situation.

    You would think they would have a lil more compassion, not be so greedy. So many people lost their homes and I feel they were taking advantage of the situation in my case and how many others??

    Thank you, thank you for this post!

    If not for you, we would have signed those papers yesterday, making the biggest mistake of my life!!

    Do you know anything about River Birch mobile homes?

    Thank you!!

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Deaniet,

    Deer Valley is available in Louisiana and is, in my opinion, a better quality product than Clayton.

    Don't discount the bad reviews that you mentioned having found about Clayton.

    With any manufactured home, you need to start with a checklist in hand that specifies what quality features you want, and then shop accordingly.

    If the products, services, or retail practices of a particular dealer are inferior, walk away.

  • profile image

    deaniet 8 months ago

    Hi Lowell

    I'm looking to purchase a 2017 Clayton Energy Smart Home.

    Any advice on these Energy Smart Homes?

    I've seen nothing but bad reviews on Clayton Homes.

    However the model on the lot looked decently built.

    Is there a reputable dealer and well built mobile homes in Louisiana?

    I live in Gonzales, halfway between Batin Rouge and New Orleans,

    Thank you for your advice.

    Appreciate!!

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Lorrieh35,

    Scotbilt and Jacobsen Homes can be good quality homes. They come standard with plywood floors, 2x6 exterior walls, etc.

    It sounds like you are on the right track. :)

  • Lorrieh35 profile image

    Lorrieh35 8 months ago

    Hi Lowell, I was really glad I found this article. I am in Florida and looking to buy a MH I have been looking at Scottbilt out of Waycoss Georgia. Do you have any knowledge of this MH manufacture.. Or, what would you recommend I take a look at? Thanks

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Pineapple Uke,

    It is a third party certification for 130 MPH wind resistance.

    There have only been a little bit over 1,000 certificates issued since 2009 (when this started), including site-built and modular homes. Palm Harbor's share of that 1,000 is very small indeed. Their claim to fame regarding this is that they had the first modular to be certified. It certainly doesn't mean that all of their homes are constructed in this manner.

    Some manufacturer's wind rating may meet or exceed the IBHS rating without them participating in the third party certification program.

    Fortunately, for the smart shopper (like you seem to be), the HUD label clearly.indicates the wind rating in every home.

  • profile image

    Pineapple Uke 8 months ago

    Wow ! I'm so glad I found this goldmine of useful info. THANKS Lowell !

    What is the deal with IIBHS' "Fortified" Rating system ? We're looking at a MH for central FL, so it seemed like a good idea against rough weather. However, I can't find anyone other than Palm Harbor that offers it for MHs, which doesn't make sense. Considering their reputation, I'm starting to wonder if it isn't a marketing ploy ?

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Summerlyn Merritt,

    A place like http://www.ritz-craft.com/mobile/default.aspx is going to have a better quality product.

    Someone recently suggested Holmes Building Systems in N.C., but I haven't had a chance to do any research about them.

  • Summerlyn Merritt profile image

    Summerlyn Merritt 8 months ago

    Where do you suggest I go and look? I don't have a clue where to start.

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Summerlyn Merritt,

    It's a good idea to shop around. There are better quality homes in your area

  • Summerlyn Merritt profile image

    Summerlyn Merritt 8 months ago

    I live in North Carolina and Clayton homes is where everyone is telling to go get a new double wide home. Is there anything I could be doing to make sure that I get a quality home from Clayton homes or should I be considering going somewhere else? By the way Clayton homes is literally 15 minutes away from where I live.

  • Lowell's Notes profile image
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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Peter Zabriskie,

    In my opinion, you are making a great choice. Soliatire Homes are extraordinary.

    Thanks for the information about Titan's sales staff.

  • profile image

    Peter Zabriskie 8 months ago

    Thank you again Lowell, I spoke to Solitaire yesterday and again today. They are very friendly and helpful. I was also impressed with the video of their construction process in Deming, NM. I believe we will go with them. Interesting point. The unit we like will be cheaper ordered from the factory vs. delivery of the unit on the lot. Transit from the factory is one-time flat fee vs. the lot unit which would have moved 2x. The base tape and spackle unit came in about $72k with the setup. The unit we see in the photos which we like has 30 years vs. 20 roof shingles, better kitchen cabinets, A/C, better trim moulding, recessed ceilings vs. flat (architectural touch very attractive), kitchen tile thru to dining, attic space temp control and ventilation, closet and utility upgrades, better carpet, I think I hit most of them for $10K more putting us at $82 including set-up. Considering the folks at Clayton wanted $14k for setup, this is sounding pretty good. P.S. I got a very pushy response from the folks at Titan. Too bad their homes looked nice. Your comments welcome Lowell. Sincerely, Pete Z

  • Brad Iverson profile image

    Brad Iverson 8 months ago

    Lowell, great write-up. I read every comment, too. There is a lot of food for thought here. In addition to realizing you get what you pay for, it should be noted that most home manufacturers don't provide their specs upfront. As I am considering moving from the west to the south, I came across one that does, in North Carolina. I am not affiliated with them in any way, but Holmes Building Systems lists nearly all of your items to look for in a manufactured home. The standout is that they use vinyl siding, which you pointed out is comprised of recycled material (60% to be exact) and could warp. I think a lot of it has to do with how it is hung and if it is in direct sunlight, though. Anyway, thanks again for your continual support.

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Cylasmar,

    Typically that means 3/8" drywall covered with a vinyl veneer (sold as "easy to clean", but is a maintenance nightmare).

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    Cylasmar 8 months ago

    Lowell, a question, if a MH does not have taped and spackled walls but claims it has 'drywall construction' what does that mean?

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Peter Zabriskie,

    Solitaire Homes actually has a factory and a sales center in Deming, New Mexico (and sales centers in Las Cruces, and Albuquerque).

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    Peter Zabriskie 8 months ago

    Dear Lowell Thank you very much for your forum! Christine and I live in New Mexico and have been chasing foreclosures for 4 years only to lose them because MH were not "deactivated" titles and lenders would not back us and banks would not "deactivate". We are now looking a purchasing a MH because we have an opportunity to buy a great 1/2 acre parcel with utilities. I have looked a Karsten, Waco II, Energy Homes, Sulpher Springs, (all on a Clayton web site). I will look again at the Solitaire and I just found the Titan you recommended. My dad was in the Millwork business and I used to hang sheetrock so I know a little about tape and spackle and trim. The new MH are real eye catchers and would be pleasant to live in. The low end on that Clayton site was $70k too high for us with the hoops of purchase from dealer on their loan, set on permanent foundation, get county to sign off on "deactivation"(convert to realestate) then refinance with a lender. We need to get down to the $60k or better range. Any help is appreciated. Thank Mr & Mrs Z

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    Peter Zabriskie 8 months ago

    Hello Lowell! Thank you again with the others here for your forum. What a huge help. Christine and I are just this week looking seriously at MH instead of 4 years pursuing forclosures in New Mexico,SantaFe/Rio Arriba/San Miguel Counties. We have a great deal on a 1/2 acre of land with utilities and I have been searching all the local MH sellers. My dad was in the Millwork business and I was a sheetrock hanger so I know a little about trim, tape, and plaster. The new homes really are eye catchers. What I have seen here are Karsten, Waco II, Sulpher Springs, Marlette, Energy Homes,(all on a Clayton web site) and the tape and plaster low end is $70,000 below that is trailer home stuff. I don't see the Solitaire around here, even though we are close to Texas? Thank you again, any advise on getting into a tape and plaster home for nearer $60,000 would be helpful. We are nearing retirement and hope to make this our last move. Sincerely, Pete Z

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Huckster,

    I think I understand your question. A cathedral ceiling still provides some attic space (and bracing); as the pitch (angle) inside is less than the roof pitch.

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    huckster 8 months ago

    On homes with ceilings that follow the pitch of the roof, if that makes sense. Raised , arched, what ever it's called. I'm wondering how sturdy the roof is without braces on the rafters like a site built home has. If the ceiling was flat I would imagine there are braces between the ceiling 2x4's and the roof rafters. But with the ceiling angled as the roof is where is the support? I hope this makes sense. thanks

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Cindybis,

    No, sorry

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    Cindybiss 8 months ago

    Do you have any experience with double wides and modulars in New England? We are looking at New Era and Titan homes. We will be putting our home in Central NH...

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Huckster,

    I would say that, yes, in Texas, Solitaire Homes are pretty much unmatched for materials and construction methods.

    Other homes to look at that can be ordered to specific qualities would be: Deer Valley or Titan Factory Direct.

    There are are few others that could be on the list as well...none really match quality/price of the Solitaire, in my opinion.

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    huckster 8 months ago

    Is that to say that the Solitaire is the "Top Shelf" unit in Texas then? Are they the only ones on the top shelf or what would be a good second choice? The closest Solitaire location is several hours away from us. Thanks again for the help.

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Huckster,

    I forgot to add that the better quality homes (like Solitaire) have heavier grade rafters and ceilings joists, higher wind ratings; overall better construction materials and methods...not just added 2x6 walls and 1/2" sheetrock.

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Huckster,

    The ideal version is when the home comes standard with the heavier construction and not only as an added feature (to insure that that frame and outriggers are engineered for the extra weight).

    Solitaire does have 2x6 floor joists, but they come standard with a 2x grid system on top of that before the plywood flooring is installed. It locks the floor to prevent damage in transit.

    I don't mind questions, and am willing to help in any way I can.

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    huckster 8 months ago

    Thanks for your response. Very helpful. Looks like the Solitaire homes are standard 2x6 walls and floors. I watched their video and they have some interesting construction practices. Since the Athens has the 2x6 walls upgrade is that the reason you said it's probably the better built? Would the Clayton upgrade to 2x6 walls and 2x8 floors make it better or do they have other issues? Thanks for you input. I hope you don't mind more questions. I'll probably have some.

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Huckster,

    If possible, since you're in Texas, you should look at Solitaire Homes.

    I'm not excited about any of the three brands you mentioned...primarily because of quality issues. Of the three, the Athens Home you mentioned is probably the best built.

    As I have previously stated, Palm Harbor in particular has a nationwide reputation for dishonest practices.

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    huckster 8 months ago

    Hello, We are in Texas and will be retiring soon and will be purchasing a manufactured home. Probably a double wide. After looking and reading several websites we have narrowed our search to Clayton, Palm Harbor, and Athens, which we are told is under the Champion umbrella. We found a 2014 Athens model that has upgraded 2x6 exterior walls, 2x8 floors, and other items. This a new home that was ordered and then not picked up. The Palm Harbor folks claim 12 yr manufacture warranty. Clayton seems to be very popular. I want to live a 25+ yr. life in retirement in the same home. Can you, with your experience, offer some guidance that would help in our decision? Is there another brand I should consider in my area? Houston within 200 miles. Thanks

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Kim Poling,

    AAA Manufactured Housing has a good reputation as a dealer, but I think their product lacks some of the qualities that Jacobsen offers.

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    Lowell's Notes 8 months ago

    Kim Poling,

    In my opinion, Jacobsen is the better choice.

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    Kim Poling 8 months ago

    We are looking to buy a double wide for our property in Englewood, FL. Narrowed down to Jacobsen with Lee Corp located in North Port and Champion with AAA Manufactured Housing located in Tampa. Do you know if one is better than the other as far as quality? I'm not finding any reviews on AAA Mfg Housing so not sure if reputable business. Any input is appreciated. Thank You.

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    Louli 9 months ago

    Thank you for responding so quickly. I have a list. Silvercrest, Fleetwood, Ma Williams, Pacific, Skyline, Golden West, and Champion. I would appreciate any information you can provide. Thanks in advance.

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    BobMcD 9 months ago

    Lowell,

    First, many, many, thanks for the help you're providing, both to myself and others here. Secondly, the local dealer seems very legit. It's a second generation family-owned dealership and has been doing business in this same very small town for over 45 years. All the principals seem to be family members, and the few folks I've talked to speak highly of them. Having grown up in a small southern town, I have to believe if they didn't treat people right they would no longer be in business. That's especially true as there are other (supposedly much higher volume) dealerships in larger towns a fairly short distance away. Based on (purely anecdotal) observations, I think this local dealer sells the majority of MHs into the local market, and there are a LOT of these homes scattered about the rural area. I don't think there's anyway to absolutely nail that down, but based on observations, a total lack of any complaints turning up on the internet (the only mentions being a few (3) very positive reviews on a non-affiliated site), and a 'feel' when talking to them, I'm pretty sure the dealer is legit. My only real concern is their product lines.

    I truly appreciate your offer of continued help and will be checking back with you as things develop.

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    Louli 9 months ago

    Hi..I hope you can help. I live in Riverside Calif. My husband and I are thinking of buying a mobile home and putting it on land (we don't have the land yet). This is still in the thinking stage. The homes here are so expensive and we thought a mobile home would be the better alternative. Can you please tell me which homes you would recommend for us here in Southern California. I know you stated that you don't want to promote one over another, but I really don't where to look. If we do get a mobile home, our intention is to stay in that home. Please help.

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Chelmap,

    http://www.jachomes.com/Why-Choose-Jacobsen-Homes/...

    Jacobsen Homes may be a good place to start. The link above is a video factory tour that shows materials and methods used.

    They build manufactured homes and modular homes.

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    Chelmap 9 months ago

    Hi Mr. Lowell,

    First off, thank you for the thorough information on your article, I find it will help me in my search, as far as knowing what to look for, and look out for.

    I've lived in the South Florida area since before 1992, when hurricane Andrew destroyed so many homes down here, and many mobile home parks were completely leveled. I was a bit hesitant at first to consider this option, but I believe with your guidelines I may be able to find something suitable for my family. I am wondering if you have any recommendations for Modular or Manufactured homes in this area by any chance?

    Thank you!

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Chris in Mich,

    Thanks for your kind words. :)

    My primary focus is structural integrity and durability and not cosmetics or optional features. But, your question does bring up a good point (not so much a dollar-saving thing, but a quality issue)...one thing that can be a good choice is to omit the carpet (in a new factory-ordered home) and have a better quality pad and carpet installed after delivery (and other floor coverings). Even the best-built manufactured homes often have limited choices and mid-range quality floor coverings.

    It won't affect the value or longevity of the home so much, but it can reduce maintenance and frustration.

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    Chris in Mich 9 months ago

    A printable checklist would be absolutely great! You've been replying for 7 years to this article. It speaks to how well-received your info is. Thank you. Now, my question: Other than structural options, are there any interior options that would be less expensive to purchase/install after the sale? Are there options that you would recommend NOT waiting post sale (factory installed). I can't seem to find this information on the internet.

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    BobMcd,

    Complaints generally come from two root causes:

    1. Bad customer service

    2. Poor quality

    Where there's smoke, there's fire--so I take consumer complaints very seriously. I'm not very familiar with your market (in spite of accurately pinpointing your location). Some dealers cannot be trusted regardless of the brand they sell. Your research will be time well spent.

    I'm happy to assist in any way that I can.

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    BobMcD 9 months ago

    Lowell, thanks for the input. We've been out to the site with the local dealer and he advises that the terrain/access will allow a 14X60, or a 28X60 DW. Anything beyond that will be a stretch. Of the brands he carries, he recommends Sunshine. Based on your input, I'm still going to check out other dealers (a bit further away) of Deer Valley and Franklin. The thing is, ALL the brands I check out online seem to have a TON of buyer complaints, lawsuits, etc., and that includes Franklin and Deer Valley. True, the ratio of positive to negative reviews is somewhat better for those two brands, but there are still folks asserting all sorts of quality problems. My plan was to get a well-built, quality MH on site while we (over a period of several years) did DIY construction on our final solar passive (earth sheltered) home nearby. I thought the MH could then become a guest house for use during extended family gatherings. The more I read these complaints, the more I think I'm walking towards an open manhole. I worked marine construction (ships) for +30 years, so I know nothing is ever perfect, but some of the workmanship described in these complaints seems borderline criminal. Unless a whole lot of folks are lying, it almost seems like there's no such thing as a quality built MH. Color me conflicted in TN.

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    sthurman,

    Commodore Homes have been around for a long time and have a reputation for being well built. In your area, Clark Modular Homes (Commodore Dealer) is well known for their delivery and foundation prowess.

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    sthurman 9 months ago

    Lowell, we are struggling to find a good quality manufactured home builder in the Michigan area. structure and quality is our number one concern. would like to find a small independent who cares about what they build. looked at a lot of companies so far. do you have any thoughts about Commodore of Indiana, uses 3/4 OSB flooring 2x4 interior walls. if you have any suggestions please let us know. and thanks for the list of what to look for : )

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    BobMcd,

    In that area, I'd probably start by looking at Deer Valley or Franklin Homes.

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    BobMcD 9 months ago

    Lowell, in your first message, you mentioned 'other options,' and I'd be open to those if you have any suggestions. There seems to be a dealer in Lawrenceburg who handles TRU and Giles homes, and another in Columbia who sells Champion and Deer Valley. There are other dealers south of our property and across the line in AL, specifically the Muscle Shoals area. Since you zeroed right in on the dealer and location form just my list of brands offered, I'd say you're familiar with the area. If you were buying, are there any of your preferred brands offered in the area, and if so, what are they and who sells them?

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Gerardop,

    If that is the home you choose, check into their Smart Choice package.

    Also, make a checklist to be sure you get the highest quality available (2x6 exterior walls, real sheetrock, etc.)

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Gene Browm,

    The way the credit bureau is set up, your credit worthiness is red-flagged and you are considered to be a greater candidate to default if you have too many "pulls" without a purchase.

    It comes from their experience with consumers who go out applying for open credit lines, and is probably not an accurate way for them to assess all consumer patterns.

    Additionally, this practice is generally part of a targeted sales approach using payment per month as the bait. "I can get you in this home for X per month" (this is dangerous for the consumer because you don't know the bottom line price and two things can happen: You lose the ability to negotiate the ultimate price; and, the sale price is a fluid number opening you up to pro close bump scenarios).

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    gerardop 9 months ago

    Lowell, I am currently living in a manufactured home built in the 70's, and have been looking into options on a trade in for a new manufactured home. Any advice? Many of the demo homes I have looked at feel very cheap when inside, the Silvercrest homes feel like a better choice. Your thoughts?

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    Gene Brown 9 months ago

    Lowell why do you not want them to pull your credit before you pick a floor plan. Thanks, Gene Brown

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    BobMcd,

    In tough delivery situations, there's no substitute for experience, and that dealer has been there since the early 70's. That said, I'm not particularly a fan of any of those brands. It may be that you can talk to the dealer about the features you prefer and see what they can come up with; otherwise, I don't recommend convenience over quality.

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    BobMcD 9 months ago

    Lowell, Yep, that's right, it's Waynesboro. My main concern (other than the home itself) is that we have an extremely challenging placement (i.e. poor access roads and extremely steep terrain into the property). I'm meeting with the dealer sometime in the near future to go with me to the site and assess what's possible. We're not deciding on the size and dimensions of the home until get a good feel for what's achievable. My thoughts are that since the local dealer seems to have a good rep (from what I can tell) and they're only 10 miles or so away from the property, they would be the logical choice. That said, we in the very early stages of this decision, so you're input is both welcome and appreciated.

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    BobMcd,

    The only dealer I know who carries those specific brands is in Waynesboro, TN. Is this the region where you are located? (Only asking so I can see what other options are in your area)

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    BobMcD 9 months ago

    Hi Lowell,

    First, thanks for the terrific info. My wife and I are looking at mobile homes to place on some rural land we own. Initially we'll live there part time but expect to transition to full time residence. For a lot of reasons, it seems to make sense to deal with the local (relatively small town) dealer who's been in business there +40 years. I've searched the internet and can find no complaints (though only 3 reviews total, all positive). We're very much in the early stages and haven't yet picked out a home. This particular dealer carries:

    Clayton, Sunshine, Fleetwood, Buccaneer, Southern Estates, Trumh

    I've surmised from your comments you're not a big fan of either Clayton or Fleetwood and I'd already become a bit leery of those brands based on internet research. However, of the remaining four brands above, can you provide any insights as to which (if any) you consider well built (or general comments as to any of the brands).

    Help is much appreciated.

  • Gail Gomez profile image

    Gail Gomez 9 months ago

    Great article! There's a lot more to this than I thought. So my husband and I are relocating to the Carson City area of NV....actually looking a the Dayton & Stagecoach areas. We found a piece of land we really liked & are thinking of buying it now and building in 3-4 years when we're closer to retirement. Stopped in the Clayton Homes lot in Dayton to get more information, & need to do more research before deciding if we even want to do the land/manufactured home route vs existing stick built. Can you give me a short comparison on Champion, Goldenwest, Palm Harbor & Cavco. Looks like there are many questionable things about Clayton?

    We want to put on a permanent (concrete) foundation, but what is the next best thing if that is too costly? Thank you!

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Mshahs,

    If the features that you mentioned aren't standard construction; but add-ons, or upgrades, the frame isn't likely to be designed for the extra weight. The same is true of outriggers...if they are designed to support 2x3 or 2x4 walls with 3/8" vinyl clad sheetrock, there will be structural issues after transport if the home is built with heavier materials. One way to know is if a dealer mentions "blue nailed" sheetrock, or says the walls have to be finished after delivery (I'm not referring to the marriage seam)--as this indicates that they anticipate damage from transport that has to be repaired after delivery.

    Note: The problem is that, while they can repair the cosmetic damage after transport, you are stuck with the hidden structural damage that will cause the cosmetic ussues to reappear in short order--there are many, many consumer complaints online about issues like this.

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    mshahs 9 months ago

    Thank you so much for all of your helpful advice. You mention to be careful that frames and outriggers are designed to handle the additional weight for plywood floors, 2x6 walls, and sheetrock, etc. What do we need to look for to ensure this is part of the home design?

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Cylasmar,

    Yes, because it adds to the structural integrity of the home.

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    Cylasmar 9 months ago

    Lowell, I am purchasing a new MH using your guidelines as far as possible. I have been offered the option of wood under the vinyl siding. Is this a good thing?

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Gene Brown,

    http://www.countrycomforthomes.net/

    These are worth checking out.

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    Gene Brown 9 months ago

    Sir can you recommend a dealer for Jacksonville, Arkansas. Thanks for all the good information.

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Nicole Santos,

    You're correct about my reluctance to endorse specific products. My primary intent isn't to promote any certain brand (or trash them)...but rather to help people get a quality product. With that said, my recommendation is that you make a checklist to make sure the home that appeals to you has all of the quality materials that will ensure that your home will be durable and energy efficient.

    The specific brand of a home does come into play should you ever decide to sell it. I always recommend that, before making a purchase, you check the current NADA value of any manufactured home and never pay more than it's real value (don't start out upside down).

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    Nicole santos 9 months ago

    Hi , i am very close to buying a new champion mobile home from the factory . it is part of the yosemite series . i am spending quite a bit and i want to know what your oppinion of Champion is ? It will have a 30lb roof load , the thicker walls , extra insation in the floor and cielings and a 30 yr comp roof...i know your not a fan of expressing too many oppinions on specific brands on these foruns but i thought maybe you could please give me sone advice and/or oppinions . If you wod be more comfortable expressing oppinions through email then please do ! My email is nikkithephilosopher@gmail.com . i really need advice , this is my first home .

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    Lowell's Notes 9 months ago

    Leslie A Chapman,

    A high quality modular or manufactured home can be a great home--and, having concerns about buying one is a good thing because it can motivate you to make sure that you get the best quality available.

    Are you specifically wanting a modular home?