Manufactured Home Installation 101

As you dive into the world of manufactured housing, you have probably wondered how the installation process of a manufactured home works. Home installation is a critical stage in the buying process. When your manufactured home arrives at your fixing site from the factory, proper and professional installation is of the utmost importance.

Poorly executed manufactured home installation can lead to leakages, bowing, warping, and other problems that can impact your home’s lifespan and durability. If a manufactured home is installed correctly, it should be just as stable, reliable, and strong as any traditional site-built home. To ensure a smooth installation process – and to better equip you with the knowledge surrounding the process of manufactured home installation – we’re discussing an overview of the manufactured home installation process.

Site Selection & Preparation

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s builder’s instruction manual lays out all of the national HUD standards as the base regulations for manufactured home installation. Their standards are nationwide but each state also has its own standards based on criteria such as average soil and climate environment trends. The manufacturers also produce an installation manual for each homes to further guide certified installers during the installation process.

In most states, including Alabama, it’s unlawful for any person to occupy a manufactured home unless the home has been installed by a HUD-certified installer. The certification means that the installer is specially trained to install the unit in compliance with the manufacturer’s detailed instructions, HUD codes, and state regulations.

A professional installer will conduct site preparation services, including laying the foundations, anchoring the home into the ground, bringing in utilities, laying the landscaping, and so on.

Common site-preparation criteria and issues include the following:

  • Access: The vehicle transporting your home must be able to get to the home site easily and safely. Depending on the location of your site, you might have to cut trees, take down fencing, use a bulldozer to widen access lanes, or contact the utility company to remove wires in order to accommodate the load size of the home being delivered.
  • Site clearance: The site area must be cleared of trees, shrubs, rocks, and debris in areas where footings are to be placed.
  • Pushing dirt for the mobile home foundation
  • Grade the site: The site must be properly graded and sloped so that rainwater will drain away from the manufactured home as opposed to pooling underneath it. Where walls or other physical conditions prevent grading, the site will need drainage basins or swales to manage water runoff.
  • Soil conditions: The soil should be packed down and level so the foundation won’t shift around due to soft ground. You’ll also need to determine the site’s soil bearing capacity as this will impact the type and size of foundations.

Manufactured Home Foundation

Constructing the foundation on which your home will sit is a major task of the overall installation process. There are two basic types of foundation: those to which the home is permanently affixed, and non-permanent foundations. We detail some of the options, below.

  • Piers and Beams: Shallow, non-permanent foundation constructed of cinder blocks placed at intervals beneath the undercarriage frame of the manufactured home and along the marriage line of the structure. Piers and beams work best in mild climates where the ground does not freeze. The blocks, however, might settle over time, causing the ground to shift. In that case, you might need annual re-leveling.
  • Block and Footing: The same as pier-and-beam except the masonry blocks are placed on concrete footings so the foundation is significantly more stable. Settling can still occur, however.
  • Floating slab: The most popular permanent foundation, a floating slab is exactly what the name suggests — a concrete slab, laid on top of the ground. It usually contains a steel reinforcement bar or bolts which serve as an anchor point. When the slab is cured, the home is rolled on and tied down to the anchor points in the concrete. Variations include:

– A pit-set foundation lays the floating slab in an excavated shallow pit, a foot or two below ground level. Walls are poured around the perimeter to be even with or slightly higher than ground level.

– A roll-on foundation recesses the pit, often five feet below grade. Reinforced walls are then poured so the home’s floor can be positioned at ground level.

A floating slab foundation is economical to use in areas that are prone to frost heave and gives a very secure, stable, and permanent foundation.

Work with an Inspector

Do not sign anything until the home has been completely installed and inspected by the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commissions. All manufactured homes – including used homes that are being moved to a new location – must be inspected by the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission upon completion of the installation process. Only after the Commission has completed the evaluation should you call your manufactured home, “home”. A manufactured home may need to be re-leveled at regular intervals. Homes with complex foundations or that are high off the ground should be checked annually for the first few years to ensure settling or shifting hasn’t occurred.

To learn more about the process of construction, installing, and living in a manufactured home, browse the many resources at the Alabama Manufactured Housing Association website.