PREFAB & MOBILE HOMES

Single Wide Mobile Homes: Considerations When Buying

Single wide mobile homes caravan
Gary Merritt
Written by Gary Merritt

While you may see many different styles and sizes of mobile homes today, the standard mobile house still conforms to specific parameters that have been around for a while. Most of the mobile houses found around the U.S. are either single wide mobile homes or double wide homes.

Although there are many different design options to choose from, a mobile home that is of either of the two types will have specific qualities regardless of the manufacturer.

Inside a single wide home

Choosing between a single wide and a double wide is something you’ll probably have to do when you’re looking to buy a home. The best way to make this decision is by first understanding what each of these alternatives has to offer. There are also houses that come with three or more sections but these are not so common.

What is a single wide mobile house?

A single wide manufactured house has a width of 18 feet or less and a length of 90 feet or less. This unique size gives these houses certain advantages and disadvantages when compared to double wide homes which have a width of 20 feet or more although the double wide homes are also restricted to lengths of 90 feet or less (according to Wikipedia).

A single wide home is manufactured in only one section while the double wide will come in two sections and the triple wide in three sections. The fact that the single wide home comes in only one section gives it several major advantages over the multi-sectioned homes.

Vintage single wide home

Why you should choose a single wide

  1. Ease of transportation: Single wide mobile houses are made of individual units and this makes them easier to transport. For a multi-sectioned home, each section has to be transported separately. This means extra expenses when moving the house from one lot to another. According to biggerpockets.com, transporting a single wide home can cost less than half the amount it will cost to transport and join the different sections of a double wide home. Additionally, because one side of each section of a double wide home is open during transport, it is covered by a protective plastic sheet. However, this offers only minimal protection and may expose the interior of your house to damage if ripped off by fast winds.
  2. The cost of buying: A single wide home is the smallest standard mobile house you can get and this translates to lower costs. If you’re cash-strapped and can only afford a certain amount, the single wide is the way to go. However, the features in the home will also play a part in determining how affordable it is. Other factors that will affect the price include the manufacturer you choose, the type of materials used, demand for the model etc.
  3. Land: A single wide home requires less land than a double wide home. If you’re buying the land, space for a single wide will cost you less. The double wide home will also be heavier in most cases and thus a stronger foundation/base will be required. If you already have some land, a single wide home will also leave you with a lot of room for outdoor features such as a pool or a garden.

Single wide mobile house

Why you shouldn’t choose a single wide

  1. Less space: A smaller home will automatically translate to less space. As much as you can optimize the use of this space, if you have needs that will call for plenty of space such as a lot of furniture or a large family, a single wide isn’t your best alternative.
  2. Fitting in: A double-wide home looks more like a regular stick-built home compared to a single wide home. Therefore, if you’re taking the house to a place with a lot of stick-built homes, the double wide home is likely to fit in better.

How to get a single wide manufactured house

When it comes to standard mobile houses, there are two paths to home ownership. You can either get a brand new home from a manufacturer or you can buy a used home.

Mobile homes manufacturing

According to the BBC, as of 2013, there were around 8.5 million mobile houses in the U.S. and this means that even a person looking to buy a used mobile house has plenty of options from which to choose from. Many of these houses are single-wide houses and with the right knowledge, you can get a house that is just right for you.

Considerations when buying from manufacturers

In this case, buying from a manufacturer refers to buying a brand new home and not buying a pre-owned home that was traded in. This is the ideal way of getting your hands on a mobile house because this allows you to get exactly what you want in your home.

Mobile home displayed in factory

Although there are manufacturers who you can buy directly from, there are other manufacturers who don’t sell to individual buyers but to dealers. Clayton Homes usually does this. Apart from the choice of manufacturer or dealer, other things you have to consider include:

  1. Design: When buying single wide manufactured homes from manufacturers, you still have a certain level of control over the design process. Most manufacturers will have their own floor plans from which you can choose from. Thanks to the limited space in single wide homes, manufacturers are now doing a lot more to ensure their houses make better use of the available space. However, these designs may not be to your liking and in this case, the manufacturer may allow you to make certain changes to meet your needs before construction starts.
  2. Extras: Some people think of extras as unnecessary additions that are put in place to drain more money from buyers. However, there are certain additions that are well worth the money you’ll spend. For example, you can spend a little extra to get thicker walls for your single wide. This matters because thicker walls will mean you have a sturdier house and this makes a difference during transportation and in terms of durability. The extra wall thickness also provides space for more insulation. Long-term energy costs are a huge concern and a better-insulated house can bring these costs down.
  3. Insurance: Mobile homes that are made by manufacturers nowadays are required to conform to stricter standards in terms of safety and quality of materials. These houses are also attracting more discerning clients who are willing to pay more for better quality houses. According to trustedchoice.com, older homes can be difficult to insure. This difference in safety and quality of construction is one of the reasons why. Therefore a new single wide will be easier to insure and may even attract lower premiums.
  4. Transportation: Most mobile homes are rarely moved from the lots where they are originally placed. Apart from the structural problems that come with moving, the cost of moving the home is also a major issue and will still amount to thousands of dollars on the best days. If you’re getting your home from a manufacturer, some will transport the home for you and this will save you a lot of money.
  5. Warranties: A warranty doesn’t just tell you that you’ve bought a good home, it also protects you in case something goes wrong. According to mobilehomeliving.org, different manufacturers provide different types of warranties. You will also find that there are separate warranties offered by manufacturers, dealers, installers and manufacturers of individual components. Buying from a manufacturer gives you the luxury of choosing the option with the better overall deal.
  6. Trade in: If you already own another mobile home, trading it in can help to reduce the cost of getting the new home. There are manufacturers and dealers who allow you to trade in your current mobile home in exchange for a lower price on the new home. This can be a very good thing since selling a used mobile home can be tough. Houses that are traded in will either be taken apart for parts or resold as pre-used homes.

Factory of mobile homes

Considerations when buying used single wide homes

Because the homes are pre-owned, you can expect to pay less for used single wide trailer homes. However, what you’ll be paying for the house is only part of the problem. There are many issues to think about when going for pre-owned mobile houses.

  1. Type of Used Mobile Home: There are different types of used mobile houses available. On sites that sell used mobile houses, you can find homes that are simply used, those that are refurbished and others that were repossessed. A used home is simply one that the owners are looking to off-load. They may have stayed in this house for a while and are looking to move to something else or maybe they just had a change of heart. The state of a used home is unpredictable and can range from fairly good to terrible.

Refurbished houses are those that are used but have undergone remodeling before being put on sale. Refurbishing a house can create a big change and increase the lifespan of the house.

Mobile homes community

Repossessed homes are those taken from owners who couldn’t keep up with the bank payments. You can find houses in good condition going for low prices in this category but you should still do a thorough inspection.

  1. What is the real value of the house: Assessing the actual value of a used house is very difficult. While its age can guide you, there are many other factors to think about. The state of utility lines, structural integrity problems etc. When a house is being offered at a price that seems a little too favorable, this is where you have to be very cautious. The owners could be looking to off-load the house quickly due to a hidden issue. You can hire an expert to carry out a thorough inspection.
  2. Transportation: If you’re buying a used single wide mobile house, there’s a good chance that the task of transporting it will fall on you too. Transporting a mobile home is expensive but another problem with used homes is that they may not be in suitable condition to be transported. The walls, the roof or the floor of the home may have lost some structural integrity and this can make it impossible to move.
  3. Is there a better deal: When it comes to the price of used mobile houses, everything is up in the air. If you’re going for a single wide home because you’re restricted in terms of price, you should first do some thorough research. It’s possible that for just a little extra money that you can actually afford, you’ll be able to get a used double wide home instead. The prices of used homes aren’t rigid and under the right conditions, an owner may decide to sell at a much lower price.
  4. Insurance: Mobile home owners have faced certain challenges when trying to insure their homes as mentioned earlier and if you’re buying a used home, you may come be faced with this issue. Insurance premiums or even whether your home is eligible at all will depend on the inherent risks. You may downplay certain issues when buying your used single wide home but the insurance agency will not. This could mean paying significantly higher premiums.
  5. Current Location: Because of the challenges that come with transporting a mobile home, you have to consider its current location. The nearer it is to where you want to transport it to the better. If the house is in a mobile home park, ensure that it’s in an easily accessible location. Moving a mobile home requires a lot of space since heavy machinery such as cranes may be required even for a single wide home.

Installing a mobile home

Buying to Renovate

Rather than spending a lot of money on a brand new home, there are some people who are buying mobile homes with a plan to renovate them. Depending on how much work you’re willing to put in, renovating a single wide mobile home makes more sense since a double wide may need double the work or more.

Although renovating a used mobile house could give you a home that is of the same quality or even better than what you’d get from a manufacturer, according to SFGATE’s home guides, there is a point beyond which it no longer makes financial sense to renovate an old house.

Mobile homes need renovation

Whether done in the short term or over a long period of time, a lot of money may go into renovating a home depending on its state.

If you’re planning to buy a used single wide so you can renovate it, you have to be able to tell if this will make more financial sense than buying a new house from a manufacturer or a used home in better condition.

According to SFGATE, if you’re renovating a house for the purpose of increasing its resale value, the best move is to focus on renovations that will improve the aesthetics within and outside the house. This includes changing things like cabinets, carpets, flooring material, lighting fixtures etc.

Repainting interior and exterior walls is also a great idea. Making the house more energy efficient is also a great renovation project to consider.

This can significantly boost the home’s value because the running costs of the house will matter to buyers. Improving the insulation in the walls, putting in energy efficient windows and doors and caulking can all help in this regard.

Doing major renovations such as changing walls and subfloors may result in a house that is excellent both aesthetically and structurally but you can only increase the price of a used single wide mobile house up to a certain point.

Newly painted mobile home

Beyond this point, buyers will start to wonder if it makes more sense to just buy a new home from a manufacturer. No matter how well you do the renovations, you cannot sidestep the issue of age and some buyers will not look beyond that.

Many lending institutions will not provide financing if someone is looking to purchase a home that is older than 25 years old according to SFGATE and therefore it may still be difficult to sell even after the best renovations possible. If you’re renovating because you’re planning on living in the house then such major moves may make sense.

Is a single wide home the best for you and what’s the best way to get one?

Single wide mobile houses have their pros and cons but they are still some of the most in-demand mobile houses together with double wide homes. Although the price of the house is a factor, it’s not always the limiting factor.

There are many things to think about when you’re debating whether to go for a single wide mobile house or something bigger. When you know what you want, you have to decide whether you want something brand new or pre-owned.

A brand new single wide home can be made exactly as you want with all the space-saving innovations currently available but if you don’t find the prices favorable, you can still go for a used home.

Single wide home in Florida

There are plenty of good deals that you can get when buying used homes but you have to be careful if you wish to avoid the pitfalls. You can also decide to buy a used home and renovate it so you get a much better house but at a lower total price.

However, if you’re planning to renovate, you should consider whether or not it’ll be cheaper to buy a brand new single wide home instead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Merritt
Gary Merritt

Gary did an engineering degree in Vancouver, BC while working in different construction companies both on-site and in the office. He is passionate about manufacturing process and dreams that one day construction of the house will be as simple as ordering a hamburger in McDonalds. His motto is: “It is possible”. Gary is an optimist and works on making changes in housing situation on global scale.

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