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Pros And Cons: What Foundation Should I Choose For My Home?

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A couple of quick tips:
Leveling the home and checking it periodically to ensure it is still level is crucial to maintaining a manufactured home in good condition over time. If your home has a permanent foundation, then you should only have to check it every other year. If the foundation is non-permanent, then you should check it yearly. An unstable foundation is a big reason manufactured homes develop leaks or other issues. If there are uneven places, you can place hardwood shims to even things up again. You can do this yourself, but hiring a professional might be the best bet, mainly if you cannot crawl around under your home.

Something fundamental but often overlooked is to grade the area to provide drainage. Too much water can cause leaks and create unstable ground allowing foundations to sink. This creates an unlevel platform for the home, putting it at risk of cracks and leaks.



Permanent Foundation Types:

A. Pit foundation: A pit foundation consists of excavating the foundation area and building a floor and walls. Sort of like a shallow basement. Typically they are excavated 2 feet down, and 2 feet above the ground providing an enclosed foundation.

Pros:

  • Room to place utilities under the home and provide easier access.
  • Provides a more admirable aesthetic making the home appear more like a stick-built home.
  • It is easier to get a mortgage for a manufactured home with a permanent foundation.
  • Better at maintaining level support over time.
  • Able to be placed on a slope.
  • It will do better in an earthquake.

Cons:

  • It is more expensive than a non-permanent foundation.
  • Requires permits and must conform to building code.
  • Susceptible to flooding.

More complicated than simple non-permanent foundations. It will require more time to prepare.



B. Roll-on foundation: A Roll-on foundation has an excavated foundation like a pit, but instead of a wall above ground, it is flush with the ground, so the home looks directly on the ground.

Pros:

  • Room to place utilities under the home and provide easier access.
  • Provides a nicer aesthetic making the home appear more like a stick-built home.
  • It is easier to get a mortgage for a manufactured home with a permanent foundation.
  • Better at maintaining level support over time.
  • Able to be placed on a slope.
  • It will do better in an earthquake.

Cons:

  • It is more expensive than a non-permanent foundation.
  • Requires permits and must conform to building code.
  • Susceptible to flooding.
  • More complicated than simple non-permanent foundations. It will require more time to prepare.

C. Basement foundation: A basement foundation is a full basement under the home. It provides the benefits of the pit and roll-on foundations but is large enough to be used as part of the home, extending the usable space.

Pros:

  • Provides extra living space.
  • Room to place utilities under the home and provide easier access.
  • Provides a nicer aesthetic making the home appear more like a stick-built home.
  • It is easier to get a mortgage for a manufactured home with a permanent foundation.
  • Better at maintaining level support over time.
  • Able to be placed on a slope.
  • It will do better in an earthquake.

Cons:

  • It is more expensive than a non-permanent foundation.
  • Requires permits and must conform to building code.
  • Susceptible to flooding.
  • More complicated than simple non-permanent foundations. It will require more time to prepare.


Non-Permanent Foundation Types:

A. Floating slab foundation: A floating slab foundation is rebar reinforced poured concrete slab. The home is then tied down to J hooks installed in the concrete. The poured slab is usually around 6″ thick and allows the slab to move when the ground freezes, thereby avoiding cracking. Another variant is to have poured slab strips rather than a solid slab.

Pros:

  • It is easy and inexpensive.
  • Does not require special permits. Builders will already be familiar with the technique.
  • Resistant to frost.
  • Could have a crawl space if you wish to allow access under the home.

Cons:

  • No easy access to the underside of the home if no crawl space is provided.
  • Cannot be used on a slope.
  • Slab movement could damage plumbing if not controlled.
  • It is hard to get a mortgage for a manufactured home without a permanent foundation.

B. Piers: Piers are long supports set into the ground at depth to support the home. They can be short for a typical home placement or long to provide extra flood clearance. They are usually made of cylindrical concrete but could be other materials.

Pros:

  • It is easy and inexpensive.
  • Does not require special permits. Builders will already be familiar with the technique.
  • Resistant to flooding and frost.
  • Crawl space is easily accessible.

Cons:

  • It is hard to get a mortgage for a manufactured home without a permanent foundation.
  • Could sink into the ground and cause uneven foundation support.


C. Footings: Footings consist of cinder blocks, steel frames, jacks, or these elements. They hold the house up off the ground and are placed on the dirt or, in better setups, a small pad placed on the dirt.

Pros:

  • It is easy and inexpensive.
  • Does not require special permits. Builders will already be familiar with the technique.
  • Resistant to flooding and frost.
  • Crawl space is easily accessible.

Cons:

  • Cannot be used on a slope.
  • It is hard to get a mortgage for a manufactured home without a permanent foundation.
  • Could sink into the ground and cause uneven foundation support.

D. Runners: Instead of a full concrete slab poured for the manufactured home to be set on, companies will pour “runners.” Runners are concrete slabs approximately 2 feet in width and 6 inches in depth that run the length of the home and are placed directly under the “Metal I Beams,” where the metal jacks, cinder blocks, or concrete piers are placed to support and level the home. This method is much less expensive because the concrete is only going where it will be used. For example, a doublewide home has four Metal I-beams as part of the chassis or frame, two for each half; therefore, four “runners” are strategically placed, per manufacture prints, underneath the home instead of a full concrete slab.

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