Site Preparation for a Mobile Home: What It Means and Why it Matters
Site Inspections, Contractors, and What to Expect on Delivery Day
Last week we talked about some of the most important aspects to consider when purchasing a piece of property for your manufactured home and today I want to go over what happens after you buy the land and it’s time for the all important site preparation.
This is a multi-step process that cannot be accomplished alone. I am a diehard lover of DIY, but this is an area where I will fully admit you want and need professional expertise. It will cost more (it always does) but it will be done with guarantees, certifications, and, in some cases, warranties.
Always Get a Site Inspection!
Rule number one in buying a manufactured home—Get a site inspection. I would say NO exceptions, but there are some very, very few exceptions. You probably aren’t one of them.
Responsible, knowledgeable manufactured home dealerships will have a site inspection scheduled usually after your credit approval has been processed by the target lender for your home. Whether or not your property is well suited for a mobile home is not something you want to find out after you buy it.
A site inspection is essential for the safe and smooth delivery of your home. During a site inspection, an experienced manufactured home delivery professional will evaluate all aspects of your property—from the trees, soil, county, elevation, distance to utilities, fences, etc.
If you have already purchased property and haven’t yet done research into the county permits, possible floodplains, or availability of utilities, the site inspection agent will typically be able to offer insight about these requirements in your area.
After the site inspection, an estimate will be drawn up on the work needed to ready the property for a home. This could include things such tree-limb removal, county permits, base-pad, or fence removal.
Just because you receive an estimate from the site inspection company does not mean you must permit them to do the work. You have the option of finding your own local contractors and getting your own estimates for the work required for the home delivery.
Choosing a Contractor
Taking control of your site work can feel daunting. Contractors get a bad rap—it seems everyone has a horror story to share of getting duped and stolen from, so I understand the fear.
However, there are many, honest, hard-working, reasonable companies that would love to have your business and help you become a homeowner.
Your responsibility when looking to hire a contractor is to research them. Go to their website, look for reviews, ask around your neighborhood, visit their place of business and make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured. This will be necessary in permit approval, loan requirements for the work, and making sure they can pay for any mistakes!
Your sales team should be willing to review the estimates and help you determine the legitimacy and accuracy of the bid.
NEVER opt for a contractor that asks for money in full before the work is completed. It should never be a requirement, and if it is, go with another company.
Lastly, communicate your schedule needs with the contractors to ensure they can finish the work by the factory’s estimated completion date for your home. Contractors will certainly have other jobs, so be aware of their realistic timeline.
The only exception to being your own general contractor (the person in charge of choosing and scheduling contractors) is when you are using a government loan. In this instance, your home dealership will be in charge of coordinating the site preparation as there are more requirements and legalities involved for these situations.
Base pads are not really optional in Texas and an essential component of site preparation. The soil, humidity, and heavy rainfalls make base pads necessary for a level home and proper water drainage.
A typical base pad in South Texas is referred to as caliche, or gravel. This is the base pad needed in a conventional loan or cash buying situation. The caliche is rolled and compacted into a level surface of about 4 to 6 inches in height and 1 foot larger on each side than the home to be placed there. Depending on the distance to materials, contractors in the area, and elevation needs, caliche base pads can cost from $2,500 to $4,500.
The base pad requirements change if the loan option being pursued is a government loan—FHA or VA. In this instance, concrete runners are required. This allows for permanent anchors to be fixed into the home and foundation. For this base pad the cost goes up considerably into the range of $6,500 to $10,000.
For more in depth details of base pad needs on your manufactured home please download our free Buyer’s Guide, which describes not only base pad options, but also every single aspect of a manufactured home purchase.
Site Preparation Matters
Nothing can be more of a disappointment to you and your home expectant family than the delay of your home delivery. But it can and will happen if the home site has not been properly prepared for the home.
Do not make the mistake of thinking the site preparation items were a suggestion. If permits need to be acquired, tree limbs need to be removed, areas need to be leveled, or a base pad needs a certain height, this is a requirement.
Oftentimes before a delivery, the delivery coordinator will request pictures to confirm all site preparation is completed. This is normal and reasonable, and could potentially save you thousands in mileage costs if adjustments are needed prior to home installation.
Although the delivery process can at times be frustrating or confusing, it is important to remain flexible with the understanding that there are many parts working together–your home’s factory “offline” date, the availability of drivers, the permit approval for transport, and even weather are all factors that contribute to delivery scheduling. Failure to prepare your site only adds to this already delicate balance.
We strive to ensure our buyers don’t encounter too many surprises during the home-buying process. That’s why we offer up front pricing, schedule site inspections, and provide a delivery estimate page.
After all the paperwork is signed, you have officially “closed” on your home. During this time you have been finishing the site preparation of your property—removing low hanging limbs, scheduling the installation of your base pad, getting on the waiting list for utility service—and it is finally time for your home to be delivered!
I can understand this is a BIG DAY. Often, a home buyer will have been working through the process for months—loan paperwork, ordering their home, preparing their site—and it all comes down to this moment!
Unfortunately, though, if a buyer has not been properly communicated with, they can almost be… let down. Their home is delivered, placed on the base pad… and then nothing.
This is because manufactured home installation is a multi-step process. The delivery of your home is only the beginning. It is typically 24-72 hours until the home enters the “set-up” process.
Set-up is where the home is placed on cinderblocks and leveled, the tires are removed, and steps are brought to access the front door. Delivery day is cool, but set-up day is really what customer’s should be looking forward to, or risk being disappointed by their home unceremoniously being “dropped-off”.
For double-wide homes, which are transported in two halves, another step is required called “trim-out”.
This is where the home’s interior and exterior are seamed together with trim, paint, and the finishing of carpet/linoleum. Don’t move furniture into your home until this has been completed! In most cases, trim-out will take place about 3 days from the day of set, but depending on weather conditions, location of your home site, and density of the schedule, it could take a week or more.
The good news is you don’t have to wait from the trim-out to get moving on your utilities. Once the home is set-up, you can start doing your water-hookups, electric hookups, and calling for that much needed air conditioning unit (once you have the pesky a/c disconnect box hooked up!).
Professionals Are Essential
The key to all of this is—use professionals! As you can see, the site preparation and installation of a mobile home is not always cut and dry. Professionals who have been in the industry for a long time have experience. They know the lingo, the tedious rules, and how to solve a problem before it happens.
Buying a home is hard enough without having to navigate all of this new territory by yourself. Choose a dealership willing to not only sell you the home you want, but to guide you through the other components as well.
What’s that saying—don’t get caught with your pants down! You need a company willing to answer any question, talk you through any procedure, and ultimately make you feel comfortable with each decision—whether it has to do with the financing, transportation, installation, or utilities of your home.
Information is power, some companies want you to have that power and others want to keep you in the dark in order to have power over you.
As the Grail Knight once told Indiana Jones, “You must choose… but choose wisely.”