Manufactured homes have remained a popular housing option for many reasons, including: low initial purchase price, cheaper maintenance, lower monthly payments, less property tax, and lower insurance costs. If you or your client are looking at purchasing a manufactured home, below is a list of some of the most common defects you are likely to encounter.
Soft floors and walls that buckle at the bottom. These are symptoms of moisture build-up/intrusion that could be caused from a variety of sources. The most common sources are improper drainage of water in the crawlspace due to poor grading or washing machines discharging under the home. Manufactured homes also have a vapor barrier underneath called “belly wrap” that prevents moisture and pests from entering the air-conditioned space. Some homes have a wire or fabric mesh installed over the belly wrap to prevent sagging and to prevent pests from ripping the belly wrap to nest. A large bulge in the belly wrap could be an indicator of a plumbing leak. Puncturing the bulge will let you know for sure it there is a leak causing it. If a plumbing repair requires cutting the belly wrap, make sure to seal it properly with vapor barrier tape that can be purchased at your local home improvement store.
Polybutylene plumbing pipes, also known as PB 2110 pipes. These pipes are white or gray in color and were commonly installed in homes between 1978 and 1995. It is estimated that between 6 and 10 million homes had this type of plumbing installed. It was considered a cost-effective alternative to copper for incoming supply lines and water mains. The problem is that the chemicals used to sanitize public drinking water supplies have been known to deteriorate the plastic resin and cause micro-cracking, then eventual collapse and failure of the pipe. Lawsuits over this issue began in the late 80’s, with a class-action suit that was completed in 2007. If these pipes are still present in the home, this is an excellent negotiation point for the buyer as it can become expensive to re-pipe the entire home.
Pier settlement and loose tie-downs. It is very important that the grade of the lot direct water away from the home on all sides. Improperly graded lots allow water to build-up under the home, leading to soil instability and ultimately pier settlement and loose tie-downs.
Damaged or missing skirting. Skirting is only effective if it goes around the entire structure. A few missing panels opens the home up to a variety of other issues, particularly pest intrusion. Lenders often require a manufactured home to be fully skirted in order to mortgage the property because they know the skirting is one of the best ways to protect their loan collateral.
Premature roof deterioration. A shingle roof over a non-vented or poorly vented attic space in a manufactured home will lead to shingle cracking and curling long before the manufacturer’s stated life expectancy. Metal and membrane roofs are the best types of roofs for manufactured homes.
Leaking skylights. Today’s modern skylights typically have a raised edge that diverts water run-off from the roof surface around the skylight. Older models do not have this feature and are very prone to leaking when not properly sealed.
Window and door leaks. Poorly flashed window and door openings with little or no caulking are prone to leaking. In addition to making sure these openings are properly sealed, it is also wise to consider installing an awning over the opening to provide additional protection. This is why most manufactured homes have several awnings.
Electrical service and wiring. Homes built prior to 1976 commonly utilized screw-in fuse panels (in lieu of modern circuit breakers) and aluminum single-strand wiring. Both of these items are now prohibited from insurance coverage due to current Florida insurance regulations. Most homes have been upgraded to circuit breaker panels and copper wiring, but there are several found every year that still have their original electrical service and wiring.
Even though there are several defects common to manufactured homes, it is important to note that all homes, regardless of construction method, will have more defects as they age. Proper installation and home maintenance are essential in preserving the longevity of your home, whether it be manufactured or site-built.
If you are thinking of purchasing a manufactured home and would like to have it inspected by a company with 15 years of experience in manufactured homes, please call us at 941-749-1152 or visit our full service website at http://www.manateehomeinspection.com.