How do I evaluate a trailer?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cathanna, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. cathanna

    cathanna Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    New York
    I'm going to be looking at a piece of property with a trailer on it. Don't know anything about trailers. What questions should I ask? Supposedly it's well-kept. Also, what is "forced air?"

    Thanks for a list of questions.
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    May 22, 2003
    Zone 7
    Forced air is a term for a furnce that provide forced air thru a duct system. Ask if the forced air is a gun burner or a pot burner. Gun burner types are preferred and will sometimes burn #2 fuel and a pot burner will typically burn more costly kerosene/#1 fuel. Gun burners are self igniting and pot burners have a pilot.
    As you drive up to the trailer look at the siding the see if all the panels are the same shade/color, mismatched means someone has made a repair. Go to the toilet and near the throne and tub determine is the floor is sound. It should not spring up and down by pushing your foot on it. These floors are subject to rot. Look at the windows, see if they are awning type, if so they will leak lots of air. Look at the roof to see if it is rusty, if so it is prone to leak. You can tell if it is leaking by looking under the rusty areas on the ceiling side of the home, the ceiling will be discolored. Look near the exterior walls on the interior side to see if the walls near the floor and the floor are damaged. This would be from leaks at the roof edges. Check the water heater and determine if it is leaking. Look under the sinks to see that it is dry and the bottoms on the cabinets are not rotted. Have someone to open a receptacle in one of the bedrooms to determine if it is wired will aluminum (silver colored) wire. If so, leave.

  3. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2003
    Whiskey Flats(Ft. Worth) , Tx like what you see, and the price is right , Hire the Best Inspector you can find and let him ASK all the questions . Then after you discuss his inspection use that information to Make an offer . If, you PAY for the inspection , then YOU and YOU only get to see the results. DONOT share with the owner of the property until you make an offer or if it turns out Bad and you decide NOT to make an offer propose that both owner and yourself will Split the Inspection fee, pay your half and walk away.........fordy..... ;) :)
  4. newlifeintx60

    newlifeintx60 Member

    Sep 1, 2003
    Texas, North of DFW.
    Please listen to what agmantoo says about aluminum wiring " Have someone to open a receptacle in one of the bedrooms to determine if it is wired will Aluminum (silver colored) wire. If so, leave" You will need to check for this.

    Take the covers off a receptacle, look at the wiring ( Do not take the owners word on this!) make sure it is NOT Aluminum it was common in manufactured homes in the 70's and early 80's and can be very dangerous.
    Copper (CU) wire will look redish, dark or brown. Aluminum will look silver bright or even white.

    Unless you know electrical wiring very well you can not make it safe (Even de-rating it is sometimes not enough) Don't let the owner or realtor tell you it is safe.
    I have rebuilt three mobile homes with AU (Aluminum) wire and it is a lot of work and hassle. Had a MIL who almost lost her place to an over heated outlet in the bedroom. Today in home building almost no one uses AU in houses, execpt for entrance wire (from the street to the meter)

  5. Cygnet

    Cygnet Guest

    Everything agmantoo said, with emphasis on walk-away-from-aluminum-wiring.

    Also, have a look under the house, look for puddled water, which is not a good thing. (Leads to mold damage and may be a sign of leaking pipes.)

    Check the house for rodent infestation; mobiles can be really bad about this. Look for rodent droppings under the kitchen sink, etc. Rodents can be killed; the damage they leave behind can be expensive to fix.

    Check faucets, hot water heater, appliances, etc. for leaks, make sure everything works -- mobiles are made with the cheapest possible parts and appliances and things like exhaust fans (bathroom and kitchen), light fixtures, hot water heater, fridge and stove and dishwasher, etc. -- they're all prone to failure.

    In newer model homes, 2X6 construction is much better than 2X4 construction. I've got a new 2X6 home and my electric bill in summer is around $130. (Air temps get into the 120's in the summer) My neighbor's got 2X4 walls and pays about $200 for a DW the same size.

    Stand outside and have a critical look at the home. Is it crooked? Listing to one side or another? Walk around it and make sure everything's true and square. If it's sagging because the jacks have sunk, this can be fixed depending on the degree of sag, but I've seen drywall crack in the process. If it's listing to one side or another, it's probably not structurally sound.

    If it's got metal siding that's dinged and dented, there's no fixing it short of replacing the siding. (Around here, people stucco them with good results.)

    No skirting? You want skirting. This isn't just there for cosmetic reasons, it also helps to prevent the wind from getting under the home and flipping it over. :)

    On that note, is it tied down? Is this in an area where it NEEDS to be tied down?

    Look at the porch, if it has one. Is it well made? Sound? Porches aren't cheap.

    Has anyone put an addition on it? I've seen some real nice additions put on a mobile home and I've seen some that are of the tarpaper-and-pallet variety. If there's an addition, though, there's a good bet that it wasn't done professionally and the wiring and carpentry may not be up to snuff.

    Otherwise, look at the usual house stuff -- do you like the color scheme, the floor plan, what's the condition of the carpet, etc.

    Which way is it oriented? This is important in hot weather climates. You don't want a mobile home that has the long side facing west ... particularly if it's an older singlewide, you'll cook in the summer.

    And if everything looks OK THEN HIRE A BUILDING INSPECTOR. But it's quite possible to eliminate a lot of houses before you even get to the building inspector state. :)

    Oh, and even a well maintained older home isn't worth much.

  6. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

    May 10, 2002
    forced air can also run on natural gas, propane or electricity.
  7. If it doesn't have 2x6 walls and copper wiring, walk away from it. It will take too much to heat in the winter and it will be a fire trap. If it has those two things and you like it otherwise, get an inspector to check out the rest. Good luck.
  8. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    If you know an experienced mobile home moving and set up person, they can give you an excellent overview of the unit also. They usually do detailed stress inspections before moving used units and know where damage potentials are that occur over time.