Cautionary Tips When Placing Your New Manufactured Home on Property You Own

“Putting the cart before the horse” is occasionally applicable to purchasers of new manufactured homes. Certainly understandable for many who fall in love with today’s new modern manufactured homes, and enter into a purchase agreement before knowing where that home will be located and installed.

Where the home is to be sited is an important consideration that should be addressed simultaneously with the purchase. However, it is not uncommon that the agreement to purchase the home is contingent upon acquisition prior to locating the placement site property. Most professional retailers (aka dealers) will assist you in finding available land. The site you choose and the type of installation will determine your total financial consideration and the type of financing available.

In the U.S., 65 percent of manufactured housing residents who own the home also own the land that it is installed upon, more often than not those placement sites are in rural areas.

The following information is intended to familiarize you with the issues, regulations and building codes that control private placement of manufactured housing.


State and Federal  Regulations and Restrictions

Several states have passed legislation over the last few years that make it illegal for any city or county to exclude a residential designed manufactured home from any residential district within the state. A “residential” manufactured home means “a manufactured home installed on a permanent foundation” which has minimum square footage requirements” and often state and/or  local requirements specifying roofing material, siding material, roof pitch and other types of materials that are customarily used on site-built homes.

Not all land is the same. In fact, some lots and acreage have specific building codes that may limit manufactured home placements, or condition the type of installation.

The most common manufactured home installation in rural areas is setting up the home utilizing a support block or pier method. This is the least expensive installation (set-up) system and is normally included in the price of the home you have selected.

Manufactured housing is required by federal law to be built to the National Manufactured Housing and Safety Standards (HUD Code). In fact, manufactured homes are the only form of single-family built to a national building code. However, local governments can (and often do) regulate the installation of manufactured homes. Check with your city code enforcement office on installation standards. In most cities and counties, a building permit is required to place a home, and a fee is charged for the permit. 


Local Zoning Regulations

Before you site a manufactured home on private property, make sure you understand the local zoning requirements of your city and county. Zoning and land use information is available from a county and/or city land use and planning office. It is best to call and make an appointment with the zoning and planning administrator to discuss your plans and get copies of ordinances and regulations that affect single-family home placements. Typically, planning and zoning regulations deal with the use, location (including flood plan), size, shape, height, and setbacks required for a structure(s).

In rare instances, such as California, there are sometimes fees or assessments that must be paid prior to receiving a permit for placement on any home on private property. In the state of California, there are developer fees and school fees that can cost a few thousands of dollars! These are usually when your home is placed in an “own your own” subdivision, but can also apply to individual property placements.


Restrictive Covenants

Private restrictive covenants are limitations in property deeds that control how you use the land. Many residential subdivisions and some rural properties have private restrictive covenants that go beyond public zoning requirements. Therefore, you should always check to see if the land you are considering  has covenants before you purchase a property. Covenants may be available from the current property owners, the subdivision homeowner’s association (if one exists), and are recorded at the Register of Deeds office, and are available to look at if you have a legal description of the property.

Final Note:  The “hurdles” sometimes required in obtaining government authority to place a manufactured home on your own property does not differ a great deal from the same routine as if you were attempting to build a traditional site-built home on the property. The big difference is that you are placing a home built in a factory that is at least equal and often superior in every respect, and will have a cost up to 50% less than the site-built home.

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