Installing a manufactured or modular home

After you have found a manufactured or modular home dealer you are comfortable with, checked on all zoning laws, prepared the new homesite and are satisfied with the details of your home's transportation and installation, you are ready to have the home installed on its new site.

Although the manufacturer is the one who will be doing the installation every manufactured home manufacturer is required by federal standards to provide instructions for installation. If you are buying a modular home, you probably should check with the retailer to see if a copy of the installation procedure is available. The installation of your manufactured home is not covered by the manufacturer's warranty but by the person responsible for the installation itself.

Thousands of manufactured homes are installed on sites every year without problems. You should not have problems if your home is installed by a reliable retailer or by a company that specializes in manufactured home installation. Installation is every bit as important as buying the home itself. Improper setup can significantly reduce the life of even the best constructed home.

Check for damage as soon as you receive your home and report any problems to the manufactured home dealer or transporter as soon as possible by letter, keeping a copy for yourself. If any damage has been done during transport, it should be fixed before or during setup but you need to make sure it is. You will also need to do an inspection after the home is setup and another after the home has time to settle in. The manufacturer's written warranty on the home usually will not cover problems that are caused by improper installation.

Usually, the manufactured home dealer will install your home or contract a professional installation/setup crew to do the work. In most cases, the price of your home will include the cost of installation. Be sure to check this with your retailer before you sign the sales contract. If installation is not included in the price, YOU may have to contract with a separate company to install your home. Your retailer will probably be able to provide you with the names of companies who install manufactured homes.

Be sure to get IN WRITING what installation services are provided, who is providing them, and who warrants the work. The manufactured home dealer should absolutely put in writing what services are included in the price of your home. It is up to YOU to make sure it is. In this way there will be no misunderstandings about who is responsible for what.

Regardless of whether the retailer or a separate company installs your home, you should follow several guidelines:

  • Ask the contractor the steps involved in installation so you understand them.
  • It's a good idea to have the contractor write these steps into the contract.
  • Ask if there is a written warranty covering your home's installation. If not, then ask to have it put in writing. If they will not - find someone else.

Using these guidelines, you will know what to expect, how to check for it and will know if it is done properly. You will also know what is warranted and what is not.

The price of your home usually includes all of the steps involved in the setup or installation of your home. This is not always true, however, so ask to see an itemized list, in writing, before signing the contract, detailing what steps will be covered. For instance, the retailer may be the one to arrange for the foundation to be poured but it might be YOUR responsiblity. You need to make sure who is responsible for this and all of the steps below.

#1 - The Foundation for Your Home. The manufacturer's instructions need to be followed and local laws complied with. The financial institution financing your home may have foundation requirements as well as the community you will be placing the home in, (if you are placing your home in one of these). The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) also have specific foundation requirements. Your manufactured home dealer will need to be made aware of any of these requirements.

If you are placing your home on your own private property, you can choose from a number of foundation types. Several types of foundations are available, from concrete slabs to full basements. (You can read more about foundations on the "Preparing the Site" page, listed in the Table of Contents in Section 2). All foundations must meet local codes, allowing for the different climates and soil conditions. A professional installer should know which foundation codes are required by local law or what is required by your financing institution.

Moving in the first half. #2 - Transportation of Your Home to Your Homesite.

The manufacturer normally is responsible for transporting the home from the factory to the manufactured home dealer, and the dealer is usually the one responsible for transporting the home to your land. It is your responsibility to make sure that any access roads will allow the passage of the truck and the home. Low hanging branches, tree stumps or large rocks must be removed before delivery can be expected. Narrow bridges or streets, low hanging power lines, sharp curves or steep grades might cause you to have to plan another route.

Moving in the second half. #3 - Setting Up or Installing The Home As mentioned on the setup page, there are quite a few steps involved in the setup process. If you need to refresh your memory, return to the page called "Setting up the home" in this section.

#4 - Leveling The Home It is very important that a professional setup crew install your home. If it isn't done correctly you are going to run into problems sometime down the road. Proper leveling is a vital step to assure that the weight of the home is evenly distributed to avoid problems such as interior wall and ceiling cracks, cabinetry separating from the walls and ceilings, improper drainage of plumbing and doors that don't open and close properly. Leveling must be done according to the manufacturer's specifications.

If any of these problems should occur because your home was not properly leveled, the manufacturer's warranty will not cover the repairs. The manufacturer is usually only responsible for the construction of the manufactured home. The installer is the one to speak to if you find any problems. This is why you want to make sure the installation was warranted by the installer.

Insist on walking through the home before the installation crew leaves to check for signs of improper leveling. You could take a marble and set it down on a vinyl floor, it won't work on carpet). See if it rolls around significantly. If the water and the sewer are hooked up, run a little water into the tub and see if it runs to one side. Doors are not a good indicator. If a door swings or is hard to open or close, it doesn't necessarily mean the house is unlevel. The door could need to be readjusted.

You could use a level if you have one and know how to use it. A minimum length of four feet should be used. Anything smaller might not give an accurate reading. You don't have to check EVERY room but it is a good idea to check several, including at least one in each section if it is a multi-section home. You will need to do a double check in each room you inspect. For example, turn the level North/South, then turn it East/West to get the best reading. It doesn't matter so much which part of the room you are in when you do this.

After installation is completed and you have walked through the home, it is very important to check the leveling of your home after it has had time to settle. If the foundation has settled too much in one spot it could cause the house to become unlevel. The frame and I-beams may also settle unevenly.

It would be a good idea to check leveling on your manufactured home 2-3 months after installation and every year thereafter.

#5 - Anchoring The Home to the Foundation. It is mandatory in most locations and required by most lending institutions that a manufactured home be anchored to the ground. Even if it is not required in your area, it is a very good idea to have this done. Anchoring a manufactured home to the ground helps protect the home from shifting and also should prevent damage due to high winds. However, no anchoring system on a manufactured home will survive a direct hit by a tornado, hurricane or a tractor trailer doing 80 miles an hour. You can't expect ANY type of home to safely survive those situations.

Anchoring must be done according to the manufacturer's instructions, included with each manufactured home or as required by the local codes. Anchoring should be done by professionals. It isn't anything you should consider doing yourself. Be sure that anchoring the home is part of the installation process and written into the contract.
GET IT IN WRITING!

#6 - Finishing The Home. Finishing the home consists of joining the carpets, putting the molding on and finishing the exterior siding - if the home is multi-sectional. This is also the time that the foundation fascia or skirting is installed and any landscaping is done. When installation has been completed, you should expect the setup crew to clean up their mess. Anything you do not want to keep should be hauled away by the setup crew. Broken cinder blocks, bits of wood and molding, pieces of sewer pipe, plastic sheeting, vinyl siding not used and any other debris of this type should not be left behind. Soda cans, lunch wrappings and even cigarette butts should be cleaned up as well. This ALSO should be written into the contract.

#7 - Connecting Utilities to The Home. Installation of a manufactured home should include connection of utilities to your home such as water, gas, electrical, and sewerage lines. If this was not included in your installation price, YOU will have to contract for these services yourself. Your dealer should be able to tell you who is available in your area.

INSPECT YOUR HOME AFTER INSTALLATION

Before you move into your new home, you need to check it over thoroughly. Discovering problems early and reporting them to the retailer or the installer, within the warranty's time limits, is very important. Otherwise it will be your responsibility to take care of any problems not found or reported within this time frame.

This report should be stated in a letter with the problems listed. A phone call will usually not be enough, plus it is hard to prove you made the call. Always keep a copy of any letters or emails for yourself, including any received from the persons you contacted. If you DO report anything and do not get satisfactory results, there is a page listed in the Table of Contents in Section 1 of this website called, "Problems after a purchase?" It will tell you what you can do in that situation.

Realize your dream!

Some More History

The Manufactured Housing Improvement Act was signed into law on December 27, 2000. It will bring about many changes in the industry but one of the major changes will be the standardization of installation from state to state. When HUD's secretary establishes model standards, states will have a set time to implement these standards within their laws. Part of this will include training and licensing of installers and an appropriate level of inspection. Now, the homes that HUD has ensured are well-built, will also be installed with higher, more consistent standards.

Home | Section 1 | Back to Section 2