Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Inspecting a Mobile Home Part II

After you've inspected the inside, you're ready to inspect the outside. When inspecting the outside of a mobile home, make sure you inspect the entire home all the way around.

The first thing you'll want to check is the structure of the home. Usually, homes have two kinds of siding depending on the age of the home. They are:

1. Wood
2. Aluminum

If you are inspecting a home with wood siding, feel the wood and make sure there are no soft spots. If there are soft spots, determine how the problem occurred. How is moisture getting to the wood? Do the gutters (up above) need to be replaced?

On my first deal, I looked at a home with wood siding. It had soft spots on parts of the wood siding, it looked like a few boards needed to be replaced. I brought in 5 contractors to look at it to determine the problem. I found out the gutters (up above) needed to be replaced. The gutters had holes in them (yes, the home was over 10 years old) and when it rained the water would just go through the holes in the gutters running the side of the home. Over time, the water seeped into parts of the wood siding thus creating the soft spots I found in the wood.

If you find some soft spots when inspecting a mobile home with wood siding, determine how many boards need to be replaced and the labor it would cost to fix it. Regarding working with contractors, you can work with them either by having them provide the materials and do the work, or you provide the materials and you just hire out the labor. I will have an article about working with contractors here down the road.

The other type of siding mobile homes tend to have is aluminum siding. Usually, aluminum siding requires less maintenance and attention than wood siding homes. Make sure there are no rusty spots and all the siding is in place. Be sure to watch out for gaps in the siding which may allow weather elements such as water, sleet, snow, etc, into the home.

After you determine the condition of the siding, next thing you'll want to check out is the roof. Ask the seller when the last time the roof was replaced and/or re-sealed. Usually, if they are re-sealing the roof it's best to do it every 2-3 years. Ask the seller if they have had any leaks and/or other problems with the roof and be sure to write things down.

When inspecting the roof, I like to take a step back to see the top of the roof. Make sure things look in tact and in order. Watch out for any gaps or anything that may look like they have patched things up. If you see anything that stands out, point it out to the seller and ask them to explain what you are noticing.

Check out the gutters (up above). The gutters need to go all the way around the house. Again, ask the seller when the last time the gutters have been replaced and if they have had any problems with them. It's very important to make sure the gutters are working properly so the water is being routed properly when it rains.

Next, you'll want to check out the a/c unit. Have the seller turn it on (from the inside). Make sure it is working properly. Again, ask the seller when the last time they changed it and if they have had any problems with the unit. (You'll notice you'll be asking these same questions over and over again as you inspect each part of the home).

Look at the windows. Make sure there are no broken windows and they keep away the outside elements. You'll also want to check out the skirting - make sure it's in tact. If there is no skirting, ask the seller why and how long it has been unskirted. (If you are inspecting a home in a mobile home park, usually it will be skirted per the rules of the park but not all the time).

Go all the way around the home inspecting all the things up above. Jot down anything you notice that may need some work. Point these items to the seller and ask them if they are going to do anything to fix it up.

Lastly, be sure to obtain the serial number of the home. This is important so you can check to see if there are any liens and the seller is the owner of the home. You'll have to check with your state to determine which agency regulates Manufactured Homes. Usually, the serial number is on the back of the home. If you do not see a serial number, ask the seller. With very old homes, usually the serial number would be on the title.

Once you've completed your inspection and jotted down all your notes, ask the seller how much they think each item would cost for the things that need fix up work. If they do not know, just ask for an estimate of what they think. Then, ask the seller if they would be willing to fix it up themselves or give you a discount for selling "as-is." This will come in handy when it comes time for negotiation.

Depending on how comfortable you feel, you may want to bring in some contractors to give you estimates on the fix up work. After looking at several homes, you'll start to feel more comfortable with estimating the fix up work involved.

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