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Preparing the site for modular and manufactured homes

Site preparation and professional home setup are absolutely necessary for maintaining the quality construction and durability of your manufactured home.

Before your home is setup, you must make sure that the site has been prepared properly and is accessible. If you are setting up your home on your own land, your manufactured home dealer can give you advice on how to prepare the homesite. If you will be living in a rental manufactured home community, the community manager will probably take care of site preparation. Before signing anything, ask about this and any other costs that may be involved.

A very tight fit!

You are responsible for site preparation if you are having your home setup on your private property. It's a good idea to have the person who will be setting up the home to come and inspect the homesite beforehand.

These are some guidelines you can go by:

  • The site HAS to be accessible by the truck transporting your home to the homesite. That babbling brook that you love so much may be nice but if it has to be crossed by a little bridge that a car has trouble crossing - something else will have to be arranged for the truck delivering the home.
  • For modular homes, the crane operator is the one who will determine if the site is unsafe. If he thinks it is, he can call off the set. Easy access and a level crane pad as close to the foundation as possible must be provided. You want to get this one the first day, you don't want to have to redo the site and recall the crane operator to come back. Cranes are not cheap. More about cranes...
  • The site must be as level as possible.
  • The site area must be cleared of trees, rocks, and any other debris.
  • The soil must be well-graded and sloped to allow water runoff. The babbling brook is nice but a stagnant pool is not.
  • The soil must be packed down so that the foundation will not shift around just because the ground is soft.

 

NOT a good idea...

 

This is not the ideal spot to place the home. WE wouldn't want to live here - would YOU? The site really does need to be leveled and cleared. Can you imagine how hard this would be to heat or cool? And if the wind gets up... well, we don't even want to go there. And skirting. Do they make enough for this?

You may be able to do some of this work yourself, like removing trees, shrubs and debris. Most site-preparation, however, such as grading and packing the soil down, require a professional. A professional will know how to make sure the homesite is well-prepared and has proper drainage.

Constructing a Foundation for Home Placement.

Some financial institutions and rental communites have foundation requirements. You will need to find out what they are. You will also need to follow the manufacturer's instructions, that built your manufactured home and comply with any local laws. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) also have special foundation requirements. You will need to make sure that the manufactured home dealer you are buying the house from, is aware of any regulations you must meet concerning the foundation of your new home.

If you place your home on your own property, you have the option of choosing from a number of different foundation types. Several types of foundations are available, from concrete slabs to full basements. Remember, local codes reflecting the different climates and soil conditions must be followed. A professional installer will know which foundation codes are required by local law or what is required by your financing institution.

Those who know what's what in the manufactured home world will tell you that the foundation is everything. All steps of the foundation process should be checked as it is built. The builder must comply with local building codes and manufacturer specifications regarding dimensional tolerances, central support locations as well as the types of anchoring/bracing used. The builder should verify every step of the process and most definitely when the foundation is complete. There isn't much leeway in the dimension of the homes, if the builder says the foundation needs to be say 28.5'x44.75' then that's what it better be. Differences between the diagonal measurements should never exceed 1/2-inch. However, diagonal measurements alone are not enough to guarantee a “square” foundation. If you want to do some research on your own, look this up: Pythagorean Theorem. There's something to keep you busy.

Ok, we'll tell you what it means... The Pythagorean Theorem is a formula that tells you if something is square. The formula is: Length of diagonal = length of one side squared + length of the other side squared ( then square root the sum of these two numbers). Now you can amaze people with how smart you are!

And unlevel home can cause lots of problems! Settling will cause all kinds of problems in an foundation that is not level. If you have a gap of 3/4 of an inch at the marriage line where one side is higher than the other, then water lines won't match up, electrical conduit won't match up, siding on the ends that have to be closed will not line up. And that's only if it is higher on one side than the other. If one module is unlevel, you will have even more problems. You can have a large gap at one end and a huge one at the other and it will never seal.

It just takes a little bit of uneveness to become a big problem elsewhere. Check for level at the top of a foundation with an optical or laser-transit level. Slight variations may be corrected by shimming, which would have to meet the manufactured recommendations. A foundation may have to be completely rebuilt if any problems can't be fixed.

Some important things to know before the foundation is backfilled.

  • The home shouldn't be backfilled until:
    • The home is completely set
    • The foundation has been waterproofed
    • The basement floor, if there is one, is poured
    • The bracing has been installed
    • The home has been inspected by the state building inspector

     

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