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Mobile home piers & stabilizers:
How to install, inspect, repair manufactured or mobile home piers, stabilizers, tiedowns. Common mobile home structural defects: Piers, stabilizers and tie-down for mobile homes, trailers, double-wides, multi-wide connections. Safety and building codes for mobile homes, double-wides, and trailers, also some campers.
Special attention should be given to mobile home, double-wide or trailer to tie-downs, hurricane and storm damage prevention, and special connections are required between sections of double-wide and multi-wide mobile homes.
Inspection Points for a manufactured home or mobile home pier foundation
Dry-stacked concrete blocks on soil or on a scrap of wood won't meet HUD/FHA standards though if the dry-stacked concrete blocks are set on a below-frost-line footing you may be able to qualify these piers by bonding the blocks using a coating of fiber-reinforced cement/fiberglass or equivalent.
A slab is preferred but not required. A reinforced floating slab may be acceptable. Pier foundations are discussed below.
Assure good drainage away from the piers(risk
undermined piers); (Floating or on frost footings ok)
Missing or improper tie-downs against storm
damage (Northridge disaster & in FL); tie-downs may be driven or
screwed into ground; cables must be taut.
Improper masonry piers-blocks on sides, stacked
debris, failure to remove the tongue, axle and wheels, but on the other hand a completely-removed chassis is imprope.
below the frost line
Piers at excessive intervals (more than 6-8 feet
and/or closer than 3 ft. to the ends of the home)
Piers missing at large sidewall openings
(sliders) or at tip-outs or expanded units or under fireplaces.
Masonry piers require properly-stacked blocks, hardwood
or treated wood or concrete cap, shims; piers sit on
16"x16"x4" concrete pad, pre cast or poured in place, or
12" x 20" treated wood;
Piers less than 36" high can be
single-stacked 8x8x16" block with the long 16" dimension
perpendicular to the frame;
Piers 36" to 48" (or in some special cases up to 80" high) and all corner
piers of more than 3 blocks high shall be double-blocked with interlocking
alternating courses and capped with 5x16x16 solid concrete block or
equivalent; we give pier construction details vs pier height later in this article.
Piers more than 80" high must be double
blocked, alternating courses, laid in mortar and steel reinforcing rods
set in block cells and cells filled with concrete.
NO more than 4" of wood in space between
pier and frame; No more than 1" thick shims and must be tight;
Metal stands (jacks) on soil surface likely to
shift/tip/settle are not permitted; Steel piers should be on concrete soil pads/footings;
Settlement: may show up as hard-to-operate
Our photo above shows sloppy pier and shim installation, set on soft soil, tipping. It is important to take a look under a mobile home or trailer you're thinking of buying. Those hard-to-get-in spots often contain costly surprises.
Mobile home pier foundation height & clearance requirements
2017/06/07 Ashley said:
What is the maximum height a mobile home can be from the ground?
In general the maximum height from the surface of the pier to the top of the last concrete block which would be placed under a beam or girder supporting the manufactured or mobile home floor is 36 inches for a stack of single open-celled 8" concrete blocks [Pier A], or 48" for an interlocked concrete block pier - essentially a 2-block square as we illustrate here [Pier B].
Greater pier and thus foundation heights for mobile homes or manufactured homes may be permitted by codes and standards but will likely require an engineer's sign-off and of course local code-official approval.
Manufactured home floor structure height above ground level
Pier A: Single stack of solid or open cell, 8x8x16 concrete blocks. Maximum height is 36 inches as measured from the top of the footer to the top of the last
concrete block for single-stacks of open-cell 8x8x16" concrete blocks.
Concrete blocks are installed with their lengths perpendicular to the main IBeam. Open cells must be
vertical and in alignment. - Texas (2014)
Pier B: Interlocked double stack of solid or open cell 8x8x16 concrete blocks. The maximum height is 48 inches as measured from the top of
the footer to the top of the last concrete block.
Piers of greater heights are allowed if they are within limits established in adopted
federal standards. The pier is capped with a minimum 16x16x4 concrete cap. Open cells must be vertical and in alignment. Each course of open cell blocks must be perpendicular to
the previous course. - Texas (2014)
HUD/FHA Manufactured Home foundation requirements
HUD/FHA Manufactured Home foundation requirements add specifications that may be beyond the minimum stdandards specifide by manufactured home producers, including the following:
The foundtion or footing below the piers described above must be made of reinforced concrete that extend below the frost line
Piers must be constructed of solid materials - that is, the hollow-core concrete blocks described in the Texas code are not permitted. Piers can be made of solid conrete block, reinforced concrete, treated wood posts, or steel posts.
Clearance between manufactured home floor structure & ground:
The minimum ground clearance allowed from the bottom of the floor joists to the ground surface is 18 inches. Here is an example citation for U.S. manufactured homes excerpted from the Texas code:
If the manufactured home is installed according to the state's generic standards, a minimum clearance of 18 inches between the ground and the bottom of
the floor joists must be maintained.
In addition, the installer shall be responsible for installing the home with sufficient clearance between the I-Beams and the ground so that after the crossover duct prescribed by the manufacturer is properly installed it will not be in contact with the ground.
Refer to §80.25 of this chapter (relating to Generic Standards for Multi-Section Connections Standards) for additional requirements for utility connections. The Installer must remove all debris, sod, tree stumps and other organic materials from all areas where footings are to be located. - Texas (2014)
Depending on where you live there may be local regulations that differ.
Also keep in mind that the tie-down or stabilization system required for mobile homes, particularly in high-wind areas, will set practical limits on mobile home heights from the ground in that the tiedown systems have their own particular dimensions, anchor point requirements, and installation specifications.
Common Questions about Mobile Home Support, Piers, Structure
Question: (Jan 10, 2013) summer said: trailer is falling apart, is it fixable?
Hi me and my mom and my siblings and my two young kids live in a 3 bedroom trailer and its falling apart I need to see if its fixable or not
Reply: set repair priorities for a mobile home
Summer, if you are not able to do the work yourselves, which sounds like th case, I think you need to start with asking for an inspection and a repair cost estimate from a local contractor who repairs mobile homes.
Be sure to focus on and plan the financing of repairs in this order:
1. Fix things that are dangerous, that could kill or hurt someone, including not just slip and fall hazards but electrical or heating hazards or fire hazards including missing safe exit doors or stairs and inadequate structural support and tie downs (if you are in a high wind zone)
2. Fix things that flat don't work and that you need, like flushing toilets or running water
3. Fix things that are causing rapid costly damage to the home such as serious roof leaks or leaks in walls that are rotting the structure, inviting in termites or carpenter ants, or are damaging the heating or electrical or other systems.
Those three things are the top repair priorities.
Question: failing masonry block piers below a mobile home
4/24/14 Anonymous said:
Hi, me my husband live in a 3 bedroom mobile home and it is on a hillside and it has been here now for 18 years and is starting to come off the blocks and we do have tie downs on it.
My question is if we get more tie downs will it hold in place for awhile until we can find someone to come and reblock it.
Reply: having an idea how much pier movement has occurred, how rapid, over what period of time, & what's its cause can help determine the level of risk and the priority of repair
I really can't guess without having a better idea what is the cause, what is the rate of movement, and what site conditions might lead you to expect that the movement will continue slowly versus reach a point of sudden dangerous collapse that could lead to serious injury or worse.
You need to have some idea of why the mobile home is moving and what risks are involved.
And you want to have some idea of how much movement has already occurred. If the building is basically level and the total movement you see is trivial then you might have time to wait for repairs.
Even small movements can be dangerous if they rupture a gas line or an electrical connection, and movements that break the waste piping can create a health hazard.
If you can find an engineer who has experience with foundations, piers, and who knows the geology and soil conditions where your home is located, that'd be the best person to ask to take a look at the situation.
If you can't find or can't afford such an expert, a local foundation contractor or excavator who is experienced and knows the area might be able to give at least a simple initial opinion even if it's one that is less qualfied or less expert.
Finally, if there is no movement of the soil or hillside and if the problem is entirely one of poorly built or deteriorated supporting block piers, that should be less worrisome and easier to fix even if one simply added additional temporary support as blocking or a similar system. For that task ask a local mobile home installer for assistance.
Red flag when inspecting the piers below a manufactured or mobile home
Floors out of level more than an inch across the width or length of the home
Open cracks that you can stick your finger into between wall and floor or wall and ceiling
Piers that have tipped over, collapsed or crushed
Piers sinking or settling into the ground
Piers made of home-made stuff like stacked up boards, bricks, or other stuff
Pipes or electrical wires that have been disturbed, torn, or broken by movement
Watch out: a broken gas line is an immediate explosion hazard: if there are gas leaks leave the building without turning on or off anything electrical (a spark can cause an explosion).
Watch out: broken sewer lines are unsanitary and risk making someone sick
Sagging ceilings or floors
Water running below the home that can undermine a pier, causing it to collapse
Mobile Home Foundation Codes & References
MANUFACTURED HOUSING RULES (TEXAS),
[PDF] Effective: November 23, 2014,
Administrative Rules of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
10 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 80, retrieved 2017/06/09, original source: https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/mh/docs/Rules-141123-160514.pdf
GUIDE TO FOUNDATION AND SUPPORT SYSTEMS FOR MANUFACTURED HOMES [PDF], (2002, initally marked "Draft not for distribution") Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R)
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD USER P.O. Box 23268, Washington, DC 20026-3268 USA, Tel: 1-800-245-2691 TDD: 1-800-927-7589 and
PATH (Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing), 451 Seventh Street, SW Washington, D.C. 20410 UDA Tel: 202-708-4250 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, PATH is managed and supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Retrieved 2017/06/07, original source: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/Publications/PDF/foundations_guide.pdf
This document discusses factors to consider in manufactured home (& mobile home) foundation design, non-proprietary foundation and support systems, and proprietary foundation and support systems for mobile homes / manufactured homes.
Note: The contents of this report are the view of the contractor and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the US government.
Ver.3.5 - 04/25/07, updated through 2017 - Steve Vermilye, New Paltz NY and Daniel Friedman, Poughkeepsie NY,
Hudson Valley ASHI Chapter Seminar, Newburgh NY, January 4, 2000, NY Metro ASHI Fall 99 Seminar, Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, White Plains NY, October
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 Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, web search 1/5/2012, original source: portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/ih/homeownership/184 - Quoting:
The Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program is a home mortgage specifically designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska Villages, Tribes, or Tribally Designated Housing Entities. Section 184 loans can be used, both on and off native lands, for new construction, rehabilitation, purchase of an existing home, or refinance.
Also see Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae
 Native American Housing Loan Guarantee Program HUD Section 184 Loans At A Glance, FannieMae, web search 1/5/12, original source: efanniemae.com/sf/mortgageproducts/pdf/section184aag.pdf
 "Modular Home Construction, special defects and inspection methods" Dan Friedman, NY Metro ASHI Seminar, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, White Plains NY, October 4, 1996
 New York State: "Manufactured Homes: an installation guide for the code enforcement official," undated. [Div. of Code Enforcement & Admin. - 518-474-4073, George E. Clark, Jr., Director] - this is a guide tool, not an enforcement code or standard.
 HUD State Administrative Agency (for 36 states) (NY: 518-474-4073) - for complaints
 Manufactured Housing Institute, 2101 Wilson Blvd. Ste. 610, Arlington VA 22201 703-558-0400 www.mfghome.org
 NYMHA, 35 Commerce Ave., Albany NY 12206-2015 518-435-9859 800-721-HOME (they want the Star Program to provide for separate assessment of manufactured homes)
 Consumer Reports: www.consumerreports.org - special report 2/98
 Thanks to home inspector Peter Bennett for eagle-eye editing assistance regarding spelling at this web article series. Little Silver, NJ 07739 Office 732-758-9887 Fax 732-758-8993 Cell 732-245-9817 email@example.com
 Wikipedia provided background information about some topics discussed at this website provided this citation is also found in the same article along with a " retrieved on" date. NOTE: because Wikipedia entries are fluid and can be amended in real time, we cite the retrieval date of Wikipedia citations and we do not assert that the information found there is necessarily authoritative. - Entry on Mobile Homes, original source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_home#Regulation, retrieved 8/14/2012
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Defects and Deterioration in Buildings: A Practical Guide to the Science and Technology of Material Failure, Barry Richardson, Spon Press; 2d Ed (2001), ISBN-10: 041925210X, ISBN-13: 978-0419252108. Quoting: A professional reference designed to assist surveyors, engineers, architects and contractors in diagnosing existing problems and avoiding them in new buildings. Fully revised and updated, this edition, in new clearer format, covers developments in building defects, and problems such as sick building syndrome. Well liked for its mixture of theory and practice the new edition will complement Hinks and Cook's student textbook on defects at the practitioner level.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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