How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Are mobile homes well built?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

All the explanations about HUD standards, storm-resistant construction, and modern manufacturing techniques are just so much “blah-blah-blah-blah-blah” until you visit a factory, watch them being built, and decide for yourself. Not all manufacturers open their factory to tours—and the fact that a particular manufacturer does not allow you on their factory floor does not mean that they are necessarily of lesser quality—but one Florida company offers a half-hour escorted walkthrough that shows the progress of the construction of their homes, from laying the floor framing on the steel undercarriage all the way to installing light fixtures and door knobs.

    It’s Palm Harbor Homes, between Tampa and Lakeland, at 605 South Frontage Road, Plant City, Florida 33563 ( They do free morning and afternoon tours, three days a week. Call Palm Harbor at 813-719-3335 for details. There are also always at least a dozen furnished models of their homes encircling a pond next to the factory.

    Homes are built “from-the-inside-out,” with the exterior walls going up last. It’s fascinating to see each step on the assembly line, along with the specialty departments that fabricate the cabinets and countertops, tape drywall, run the electrical wiring, and plumb the home.

    Plus, if you want to make a pleasant day of it, stop by Fred’s Market for lunch before or after your tour, at 1401 West Martin Luther King Boulevard, less than 10 minutes away ( It’s a local landmark that’s been around since 1954. They serve a reasonably priced and very popular Southern Style buffet. Call 813-752-7763 for hours.

    Although a factory tour will show you firsthand how well new mobile homes are built, older ones vary in quality of construction according to how old they are and how much they cost when new. All major manufacturers have price tiers with corresponding levels of quality of the siding, doors, windows, roof, appliances, and interior detailing. Premium-priced homes are going to better built. See our blog post How can I tell if a mobile home is well constructed? for tips on how to determine the quality level of a particular mobile home. 

    The caliber of construction varied widely until HUD took over jurisdiction and created a nationwide building code in 1976. HUD has also raised their requirements several times over the years, particularly in storm resistance. See our blog post What year were mobile homes required to become more storm resistant? to learn more.  

   HUD estimates that a mobile should last 30 to 55 years, depending on maintenance, and the Manufactured Housing Institute, an industry organization, pegs it more optimistically at 55.8 years. Visit out blog post What is the life expectancy of a mobile home? for more on this. 

   And, yes, the picture at the top of this page really is a mobile home. It’s the interior of one of Palm Harbor’s triple-wides.

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Want to learn more about inspecting
manufactured/mobile homes? 
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Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES:

Where can I file a complaint if I have problems with my new or used manufactured/mobile home in Florida?

 What are the most common defects in mobile/manufactured home foundation piers?

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

What is a "HUD label verification letter" for a mobile/manufactured home?  

When did a ground cover vapor barrier (plastic sheet) become required under a mobile/manufactured home? 

Is it safe to go under a mobile home? 

Are older mobile homes unsafe? 

What do I need to know bout buying a foreclosed mobile home? 

Does it make sense to buy an older mobile home and remodel it? 

Where do I find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a mobile home? 

How do I find out how old a mobile home is and who manufactured it?

What is the right price for a used mobile home?

How energy efficient is a mobile home?

When were the first double-wide mobile homes manufactured?

How do I upgrade my old (pre-1976) mobile home to meet HUD standards?

What size air conditioner is right for my mobile home? 

Can you move an older mobile home in Florida? 

What does the HUD tag look like and where do I find it on a mobile home? 

Can you put a zone 1 mobile home in Florida?

How can I remove water under my mobile home?

What's the differences between a trailer, a mobile home, a manufactured home, and a modular home? 

What is a D-sticker mobile home? 

What are the tie-down requirements for a mobile home?

How fireproof is a mobile home?  

Can I install a mobile home myself?

What is a Park Model mobile home?  

Does an addition to a mobile home have to comply with the HUD Code? 

What walls can I remove in a mobile home?

What can I do to prevent dampness and mold in my mobile home? 

How can I tell if a mobile home is well constructed?

How can I tell the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home?

       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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