Manufactured Homes: Anticipating Utility Service Requirements on Your Private Property
An important consideration when placing your new manufactured home on your own property is the “what, where, and how” to prepare for utility connections, such as water, sewer, gas and electricity.
The utilities at site must be compatible with the requirements of the home as ordered, and vice versa. Failing to understand the process can not only be disappointing, but can also be expensive to rectify after the fact. The following are some guidelines to follow that could prevent some common mistakes and make the process towards occupancy pleasant—as it should be.
Keep in mind that much of what needs to be accomplished in utility installation and connection can be subject to the requirements of utility companies and/or the local housing authority. It is best that you do not authorize your new manufactured home to be built before accumulating the information, time frame, and costs of the utility requirements.
Employ a licensed general contractor that has local experience in contracting and installing all of the functions required to prepare and connect the manufactured home to the utility services. The total bid from your general contractor should include not only the normal pricing for the utility installations, but should include the anticipated charges for overruns, if required. A general contractor would be responsible for all of the work performed, whether he completed the work or employed sub-contractors for portions of the work. Often the dealer/retailer will serve in the capacity of general contractor or refer you to someone experienced and licensed to perform the functions of utility site preparation. Sometimes the customer will assume the position as the general contractor. We do not necessarily recommend that a purchaser act as general contractor because of the obvious problems associated with coordination of subcontractors and the potential liabilities involved.
Water and Sewer
The water may be from a public water system or a well and the sewer can be from a public sewer system or a septic system. The cost for the well and septic system will vary from site to site. Sometimes it is impossible to get an accurate estimate due to unforeseen circumstances. For example, a contractor may bid a well at $5000. But because he had to drill deeper than anticipated and go through rock, the well cost $9000. You should discuss with your retailer how cost overruns such as this will be handled in advance.
If you have public water service, a water main runs under the street outside your home delivering clean, treated water. The municipality that provides the water system will meter the amount of water used and will bill customers on a regular cycle, such as monthly or quarterly. A water line is run from your home to the street, where a municipal crew will tap into the water main. There will be charges for tapping into the public water system.
When a well is used as the water source, permits must be obtained and the water from the well must be clean and have sufficient flow. Costs include drilling the well, which includes a fairly complicated and expensive drilling rig, the well casing, pump, and commercial laboratory testing of the water. The electrical supply for the pump and its connection to the home must also be considered in the cost estimates.
If your municipality provides a sewer system, this will require a pipe to be run from your home to the street. Then either a city crew or certified plumber connects your home to the sewer system. As with public water, there will be charges for tapping into the sewer system and monthly or quarterly bills for usage.
If public service is not available, a septic system will be needed. The types of systems vary and can range from $3,000 to $15,000 depending upon the system needed and the conditions of the soil and water tables on the property. Permits, testing, and inspection are normally requirements when installing a septic system. A permit from the municipality for an approved septic system must be submitted to the lender.
Gas sources include natural gas and propane gas. Lenders will often require a letter from the utility or propane company stating that the gas or propane service is available to the customer. Permits and inspection are normally required for both types of gas service, and for propane, a tank must be leased or purchased. Only a qualified plumber or LP gas serviceman should be allowed to connect your manufactured home to the gas source to change appliance orifices or to adjust gas burning appliances.
For electric power, a letter is usually required from the power source proving eligibility. Costs are related to the distance from the power supply box and the home. The greater the distance, the greater the cost. In some rural locations, you may need to bear the costs of poles and transmission lines to your home site. Only a qualified person can connect the electrical system of your manufactured home to the electrical power source. In most cases that is a licensed electrician.
You may want to consider some new technologies such as solar and wind to provide some of the electricity for your new manufactured home. These technologies have higher upfront costs, but are good for the environment and will reduce your monthly electric costs. Choosing new energy generating technologies, EnergyStar rated appliances, and heating and cooling options like geothermal heat pumps, can significantly reduce your cost of providing electricity to your manufactured home.