How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

How do I find a good mobile/manufactured home inspector?

Friday, June 15, 2018

A few inspectors out in the Western states, where there are huge manufactured home parks and retirement communities, specialize exclusively in them. It’s all they do. But, in many suburban areas, manufactured homes are less than 10% of the local housing stock and local home inspectors have varying degrees of familiarity with the installation standards and unique problems to look for when examining one. Even in rural counties with a higher percentage of manufactured homes, you might encounter an inspector that simply doesn’t do them.

    Mobile homes built after June 15th, 1976, are constructed under a nationwide building code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They are often referred to as “HUD-code homes” within the manufactured housing industry. So it’s important that you find an inspector familiar with the HUD code, how it differs from local building codes, and also how HUD has upgraded the code standards over the last few decades—especially installation requirements.

    We suggest you call at least a couple of inspectors that serve your area and, after you get past the all-important “how much do you charge for a mobile home?” question, be sure to ask about a few other things listed below:

  1. Are you familiar with the HUD code for mobile homes? The answer should be something more than just “yes.” Ideally, the inspector will tell you about special training in mobile home inspection--which revolves around understanding the HUD code--and maybe a little about recurring issues found in local mobile homes. If the inspector tells you “Oh, we do plenty of them, and they’re not much different than a regular house,” move on to the next one on your list.
  2. How many mobile homes do you inspect each month? In some areas of the country, mobile homes are a small percentage of the housing stock, so it may be unrealistic to expect that an inspector does more than a few. But pretty much all rural areas have lots of mobile homes and it will be easier to find an inspector with years of experience examining them.

  3. Do you check the “data plate” for the correct wind zone and roof load zones? The data plate is a paper sticker that HUD requires the manufacturer to place in every mobile home, listing important information about its construction. If they don’t know what a data plate is, move on.
  4. I’m concerned about the “belly board.” How do you do to check it? The belly board is the plastic sheeting that seals the underside of the mobile home. You should expect that an inspector will visually inspect the underside for any openings in the belly board. This will require crawling under the home or, at least, removing the skirting in several locations to look around. Again, if they are vague about how they check the belly board, keep looking. 

    If you having trouble finding a local inspector, see our blog post I can't find a local home inspector. What should I do? for a suggested strategy.

  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

Is a home inspection required? 

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION 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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