How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

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How do I determine the age of a very old mobile home?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Finding The Age of Pre-1976 Mobile Homes 

The “National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974” became federal law on June 15, 1976, and provided the framework of what we now know as the HUD Code, a national building code for manufactured/mobile homes. It was the first, and remains the only, national building code.  

    Homes built after HUD took over responsibility for setting and enforcing quality and safety standards are required to have a data plate attached inside that lists when, where, and who manufactured it. A serial number must be etched into the front cross-member of the steel undercarriage, and a numbered, red metal “HUD tag” is affixed to the exterior of each section of the home. Any one of those three places in the home will either tell you exactly when the home was built or provide info that can lead you to it fairly easily.

    Homes built before the 1976 HUD takeover of mobile home standards did not have to meet any of these requirements. They were built under a patchwork of state and voluntary industry standards that varied depending on where the home was produced. But all manufacturers affixed a paper data plate with the manufacturing information somewhere inside the home. 

    Most of those paper stickers have been tossed during a remodeling or covered over in layers of paint, and the ones that are still in place provide little information. The data plate shown below is from Homette single-wide in Orange Blossom Gardens, Lady Lake, Florida. We know it was built in 1970 from the local property appraiser’s website, but no date of manufacture is shown on the certificate. Also, the pre-HUD Hurricane wind structural zone is different than today.

Look For a Metal Medallion Or Plaque

    Luckily, manufacturers riveted official-looking metal medallions to many pre-HUD homes, usually near the entry door. Their purpose was to overcome the general public’s perception that “trailers” were shoddy construction. Most of the medallions have remained in place over the years and are still legible. The MHMA-TCA (Mobile Home Manufacturers Association - Trailer Coach Association) “Gold Seal” was used between 1964 and 1975 by member companies and, while it does not have a specific date reference stamped on it, the medallion does indicate the home was built during that time period.

    The Nationwide Consumer Testing Institute medallion is one that provides somewhat more specific information. The institute provided testing for certification of construction standards for mobile home manufacturers. An enlargement of the bottom area of the plate shows that they certified that the home was built to ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard A119.1-73. ANSI standards are updated every few years and the last two digits indicate this is the 1973 version; so, this home was manufactured sometime between 1973 and when the nationwide HUD-code began in 1976.

    And here’s another old medallion that indicates the home was produced to the 1969 ANSI standard. The data plate was still intact at this mobile home, so we were able to determine that the actual year of manufacture was 1973.

    While the medallion may not be able to pin down exactly when your older mobile home was built, it will get you an approximate age range pretty close to it. 

     For homes built after HUD took over in 1976, see our blog post How do I find out how old a mobile home is and who manufactured it?

       Visit our MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES  page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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