One of the most popular questions most people ask is “What is the expected life of a mobile home?”. Although this sounds like a simple question, the right answer can be more complicated than you think.
This question should not be taken lightly when considering buying a mobile home. It will always trigger another big question in return like “What are your plans for the mobile home?”
- Do you plan to live in it full-time?
- Will it be a holiday season mobile home?
- Will it be an investment that can give you passive income by renting it out?
- Do you plan to buy and flip it?
- Do you plan to buy a brand-new mobile home or a used one?
Your answer to the above questions will determine how long your mobile home will last.
Before going deeper into details, we’ll give you a short and simple answer.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), mobile homes have a life expectancy of 30 to 55 years. Of course, it still goes down to how the mobile home is maintained. We feel this is a fair answer but in our experience, we see mobile homes that looked ready to get scrapped in just under 15 years, while others last for over 55 years and are still in great-looking condition.
The HUD estimate is a great reference but there are tons of factors that contribute to the longevity of a mobile home.
Why Do Mobile Homes Tend To Live Shorter Than Traditional Homes?
This is a question that many mobile homeowners and mobile home brokers would disagree with. There are plenty of mobile homes that last far longer than the estimated 55 years of the HUD.
When the HUD created a uniform code that mobile home manufacturers must adhere to in 1976, the mobile home construction standard became higher. It’s been 46 years and still, there are many mobile homes built in 1976 that still stand in perfect condition. Take note, 46 years!
For example, this California mobile home (photo below) was built in 1963. That is exactly 60 years today and still, it is asking for $38,000 and is perfectly livable. There are other mobile homes built in the 50s and 60s that you may find for sale on some real estate websites and remember, this was before the HUD standardized the construction of mobile homes.
Many of the best-maintained mobile homes are found in age-restricted and senior mobile home parks. Older people are mostly good at taking care of their homes and the things they care about. You can find many of these 45 to 55-year-old mobile homes in Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
The weather condition contributes a lot to the longevity of mobile homes. “In Florida where there is a lot of rain, humidity, and storms the average life of a mobile home tends to be shorter than those places that do not have the same extreme weather conditions. Although many of the mobile homes in Florida are considered older units, most have been kept up nicely”
On the other hand, Arizona has some of the oldest but well-maintained mobile homes due to its drier climate. The drier climate has a minimum effect on mobile homes compared to the subtropical rains of Florida.
Having said that, saying that mobile homes live shorter without balancing the given circumstances is just an overstatement.
The Quality of The Materials Used In Mobile Home Construction
Most mobile homes are made out of metal, wood, and vinyl, while stick-built homes are mostly made of concrete, metal, and wood. Although many of the mobile homes have footings that are made of poured concrete, mobile homes are not permanently attached to them.
The quality of materials used and how the mobile home is set up also play a bigger role in the longevity of mobile homes.
Having said that, mobile homes are built with high-quality materials and follow strict building standards. Mobile homes are lighter than traditional homes not because of low-quality materials but because of their lighter materials. Most of the actual materials used in both homes are almost the same except for the bricks and concrete used in stick-built houses.
Another reason why mobile homes are lighter is the roofing. Most mobile homes use steel, composite, and rubber membrane roofing as opposed to stick-built homes’ traditional shingles.
Mobile Homes’ Construction Process
Mobile homes are constructed to last longer and are not meant to be temporary. The HUD construction standards set the uniform quality of mobile homes nationwide. This means that mobile homes that are manufactured below the given standards will not be approved to be used as permanent dwellings.
Stick-built homes are built permanently on solid concrete foundations and many suffer cracks that result in the sinking of the house. Mobile homes, on the other hand, are built atop solid steel chassis and frames that could pretty much last forever. And since they are built to be transported, they are pretty flexible and sturdy. Since mobile homes are built in the factory, they are not made by bare hands so precision is needed.
The National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards ensure that mobile homes are built to uniform strength, durability, and stability, and the materials used are designed for maximum longevity yet we are told that mobile homes can only last between 30 to 55 years.
Factors That Impacts The Longevity And Lifespan Of Mobile Homes
So what really impacts the lifespan of a mobile home?
- Improper Initial Installation
Based on our experience, much evidence suggests that improper initial installation is one of the major reasons why a mobile home can have a shorter lifespan. As we discussed, the materials and construction process are all guided by high-quality standards, but the installation is not. The installation of a mobile home is technical and should not be done by inexperienced people. The initial installation should be checked by an experienced and certified inspector to make sure it is properly done.
- The Quality and Design Of Foundations
The foundation has the most important job as it supports the whole weight of the mobile home. Just as in stick-built homes, when the foundation is poorly built, the house can collapse. The same applies to mobile homes. When part of the foundation cracks and breaks down, the mobile home can tilt and there can be an avalanche of problems when the house loses its balance.
The actual condition of the soil where the mobile home is sitting can also affect its longevity. If the land is not graded well or left loose, the foundation can sink over time and can create an imbalance in the structure sitting on top of it. Add rainwater that can deteriorate the land and you could have a major problem on your hands.
There are many types and designs of foundations used in mobile homes. Some are expensive and some are cheap based on the type of land where the mobile home is to be set up. The location and soil conditions have a big role in deciding what type of foundation is needed in order for the home to be placed safely and correctly.
- Man-made Damage Due To Irresponsibilities
Damage created by its owner is a big reason why a mobile home doesn’t last. While many people take very good care of their possessions, some people do not. This is evident in cars as well as some vehicles that are several years old and are in better shape than more recent models. Some 10-year-old cars smell like flowers while some several-months car smells like sewer. Although people don’t intentionally destroy their mobile homes, the lack of proper care, cleaning, and maintenance is a big factor in why the mobile home deteriorates faster than its natural depreciation.
Finances also play a major factor in why owners are not taking care of their mobile homes. When the owner is in financial turmoil, the home is always the last thing to be taken care of. The lack of cleaning can attract mold, wet spots, and water leaks could turn badly water leaks, and everything. If these damages will not be taken care of immediately, expect the mobile home to give up sooner than later.
Humans can create more damage than nature can give. For example, when the owner of a Florida mobile home goes back to Canada and stays there for four months, their mobile home can attract some problems such as mold, soft spots, and even termites. If the mobile home is not well prepared for its owner’s absence, a small issue can turn into something much larger fast.
- Natural Disasters
Natural disasters are responsible for much housing damage (both mobile homes and traditional homes) in critical areas like South Florida. A strong hurricane can totally wipe out the entire mobile home. But natural damage like water leaks on the roofing can be repaired immediately. Minor natural damages can not be a problem if the mobile home is properly maintained.
How To Extend The Life Of Your Mobile Home
Extending the serviceable life of your mobile home is not a difficult task to do if you are just responsible enough to take care of your shelter. As mentioned above, if you are buying a brand-new mobile home, make sure to have it installed properly. If, however, you are buying a used mobile home, proper maintenance is the key in order to giving your mobile home more years of existence
Here are some simple tips to help you prolong the life of your mobile home
- Roof Maintenance
The roof is the most important part of your mobile home as it protects everything under it. Water leaks can destroy the whole ceiling which can then destroy your appliances, furniture, and everything. The roof leak over a period of time if left unrepaired can cut the total cost of your mobile home in half and you may find yourself selling your home to a fixer-upper when you can’t afford to have it repaired anymore.
Skirting is one of the most important features of a mobile home and not just for having good looks. Animals love the shade and the small space underneath your mobile home is a great place for rodents, snakes, and other insects like termites to live. cats, rabbits, raccoons, and even stray dogs can call this space their home if you don’t have skirting, and this could give you a major headache, especially when a cat gives birth underneath your home.
A handyman friend told me that he had a lot of experience finding all sorts of animal skeletons under many mobile homes he repaired and the new owners often find themselves horrified.
- General Maintenance and Cleaning
Sometimes, a simple act can save a lot of money. One of my new neighbors bought a mobile home from an old friend who passed away a few years ago. The mobile home they purchased has an external faucet underneath the carport that was running, they did not know this until months after their purchase causing extensive water damage to the skirting of the mobile home. When Pat opened the faucet, it broke and the water showered all over the place. They were planning for a long California vacation. The plumber said the faucet would likely break even if it wasn’t checked and could result in massive repair costs as some power tools are stored nearby. Those power tools could have been soaked in the water.
- Immediate Action
We know procrastination is a bad habit and could result in a myriad of problems. Wherever there is a small issue, make sure to act immediately and no not wait until a small problem becomes a large issue. For example, when you see a wet spot, investigate where it comes from and why. Some people ignore smaller issues only to find themselves spending a lot of money due to their negligence.
The longevity of a mobile home primarily rests on how we take care of it. Although natural disasters and bad weather can be a big factor, regular maintenance, and cleaning play a vital role in maintaining the good condition and value of our home.
If you are planning to buy a mobile home, don’t believe other people saying that mobile homes don’t last. Mobile homes last as long as the owner wants them to last.
If you need more information about mobile homes, we are always happy and willing to give you more information. Contact The Mobile Home Dealer if you are looking to buy or sell a mobile home!