First Time Homeowners - a Mobile Home May Be the Best Affordable Option
With today’s skyrocketing real estate market values and construction costs, many first-time homeowners are limited to buying a mobile home; a viable alternative to conventional frame housing.
Common Problems Associated With Mobile Home Housing
For many, limited assets necessitate purchasing an older used trailer over new. These lucky new homeowners get a crash course on common problems associated with an older manufactured mobile home. Many times the crash course is unpleasant; experienced during initial home setup.
Listed below are common problems resulting from the manufacturing methods used to mass produce trailers. As well as remedy, DIY mobile home repair tips for each:
- Older mobile home flooring often becomes spongy and damaged in select areas; near sinks, the laundry area, and bathrooms; where ever there is plumbing. Due to the widespread use of particleboard – an economical but poor flooring choice.
Fixing these type problems may be a viable DIY home repair for homeowners with modest skill level. First, expose particleboard flooring; note screw or nail placement, indicating seams on floor joists. Note particleboard thickness; adjust a skill saw to cut at that depth when removing the damaged area. The desired result is a clean line over joists so that replacement material (i.e. A/C exterior plywood) can be easily installed.
Match the thickness of the original flooring as closely as possible; less is better than more. Top with 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch masonite for a close match. In areas where the joist line falls under a wall, a piece of 2X8 (or whatever size matches joists) must be “sistered” to the joist; providing a solid surface for replacement flooring installation. Firmly secure the extra piece of joist to the old using lag bolts. Make sure to keep the top edge flush with the original joist.
- Trailers are notorious for roof leak problems – evidenced by brown water stains along the ceiling panel under the leak. (Because trailers “flex” when being moved, the roof or flashing along roof perimeter often develops leaks.) Aluminum colored asphalt roof coating can be rolled on the roof, especially over seams in the metal panels. For more elusive and problematic leaks around the perimeter flashing, take the suspect area of flashing loose, apply RTV silicone (which remains flexible once cured, but makes a great seal) and re-install.
After eliminating leaks, ceiling panel stains should be sealed with pigmented shellac (such as oil-based Kilz) and then painted. For more extensive damage, ceiling repair may necessitate replacing a ceiling panel. This can get tricky; the manufacturing process results in ceiling panels sandwiched between trusses and the wall frame top sill plate. In addition, obtaining an exact panel match is difficult at best, since manufacturers are constantly changing styles and textures of both panel and seam trim design. Handy tip – remove all ceiling seam trim in the room; nail or screw finish lath over the seams. And then paint both the ceiling and lath. Suggestion: pre-drill holes in the lath to avoid splitting.
- Older trailers with jalousie style windows (crank operated horizontal glass panels) commonly leak both moisture and air. A window replacement project not only solves this problem and ensures windows are up to code, but adds significantly to the appearance and value of the home. Remove the old mobile home window from wall framing; carefully measure rough opening. And then replace with a new energy-efficient casement or double hung window to fit that size opening. Make sure that exterior window casing is properly installed and sealed against the elements.
- The kitchen – another area that commonly requires attention. Manufactured mobile home kitchen cabinet construction often uses pressboard and paper, which is not durable. Improperly sealed seams in kitchen counter top laminate material lets moisture in, causing the particleboard underneath to fail. The common practice is to install sink faucets right through the counter top material. When o-rings fail (a common maintenance problem), moisture comes in contact with the exposed particleboard underneath, causing damage.
Kitchen cabinet components can be easily replaced with pre-made, ready to install units widely available at building supply retail stores. Kitchen cabinet and kitchen counter top components in trailers are not as deep as standard components. However, pre-made kitchen counter tops can still be installed over existing cabinetry, with an inch or two of overhang; not a problem in most cases. Note: if there is a substantial gap between counter tops or cabinetry and the wall, it may indicate a moisture problem in the wall framing, causing it to bow.
- Moving, set-up, or mobile home settling can create drywall problems. Drywall repair is challenging because the 3/8-inch drywall commonly used in trailers is difficult, if not impossible, to find. And matching drywall with the same wall covering lamination design is nearly impossible. Other widely used materials include interior wall panel finished off with wall covering lamination. Styles and patterns are frequently outdated, making replacement of damaged panels not a viable option.
One quick fix trick for older trailers with grooved wood paneling is to fill grooves with drywall compound; sand for a smooth surface. Seal with primer, and then install wall paper of choice. Results can be dramatic; nothing short of stunning.
Addressing these problem areas can result in successful mobile home renovation. Sure to drastically increase its appearance, functionality, and value.
For mobile home repair or mobile home remodeling there are other problem areas that warrant mention;
- Double wide mobile home set up involves attaching two single wide “units” together in the middle. This can pose air and moisture leakage and drywall problems if not properly done by an experienced and knowledgeable mobile home service.
- Many older trailers before 1971 incorporated aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring oxidizes and deteriorates over time, interfering with a good connection and causing shorts. Replacement is cost- prohibitive; avoid purchasing one of these homes.
- A mobile home furnace is usually of lower quality than standard HVAC units. Blower shaft bearings and gas safety shut off valves commonly require furnace repair or replacement.
- Older mobile home exterior door construction is often poor quality. Replacement with a quality solid-core exterior entry door is an excellent renovation project; improving energy efficiency, security, re-sale value, and appearance all at the same time.
- Every trailer requires skirting in the set up process. Skirting panels and installation hardware can be purchased at any mobile home dealer. Or, the homeowner can opt to fabricate skirting with plywood or OSB on 2X4 or 2X2 framework. Make sure panels are multi-coated with exterior paint for adequate weather proofing, and that installation is plumb with exterior walls.
Consider Hiring A Professional Contractor
Many mobile home repair issues can be successfully undertaken by a DIY homeowner. Others, such as ceiling repair or kitchen counter top replacement, may require the experience and skill of a professional contractor.
At HandyAmerican.com homeowners all over America can locate a reliable local drywall contractor, ceiling contractor, or interior flooring contractor – quickly, easily, and affordably!
Homeowners sign up without cost or obligation, and post their mobile home repair project online where it is immediately visible to contractor members in their locality, 24/7. Contractors also receive e-mail notification of new jobs, and provide competitive bids in days, even hours from project posting.
Whether seeking a mobile home service provider or a drywall contractor, homeowners can view company profile pages, references, customer comments, licensing/insurance/trade certification, and photos of company staff and recently completed projects online. And then make an informed hiring decision, or hire no one at all. Remember, there is no obligation whatsoever.
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