Posted 05-29-2004 at 23:14:23
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My understanding is that a modular home is a house built in sections in a factory and then carried on trailers to the final location where the sections are connected as they are set on some kind of foundation, with no provision to move it again. A mobile home is built on a steel frame with axles, wheels and tires and is designed to be set on blocks or some kind of foundation under the frame. Unless the axles have been removed from a mobile home, it usually is relatively easy to get them moved.
A modular home is usually on a conventional foundation and should be built to the same standards as a site built house.
So I wonder if the house you are looking at is actually a double-wide mobile home, rather than a true modular home, considering the metal "foundation". If so, I would be very wary. The standards that the industry had in the 70's were very low for mobile homes and they tended to deteriorate badly over time. I lived in one for a long time and found that I almost had to pay someone to haul it away to get rid of it after I built my new house. It ended up being worth almost nothing.
The mobile home cost a lot to heat until I added a wood stove, suggesting lousy insulation. I had lots of problems with water leaks and found that the floor decking was particle board, which kind of dissolved in a few places. I had to put Snow Seal on the roof every other year, or else I had ceiling leaks which discolored the ceiling board. I never could keep the mice out--there were just too many places for them to get in, but found that if I let cats live in the crawl space, I seldom caught a mouse inside. But I always had traps set. The windows in my mobile home were of poor quality and had to be weatherstripped to keep out the wind.
On the other hand, the mobile home didn't cost much to begin with (2 years old when I got it) and got me through a time when I didn't earn much money and was raising a young family. It was cheap living when I needed it to be.
But my experience with old mobile homes has been that they were pretty junky. And unlike most houses, they depreciate badly and might be a very poor financial investment. But a 1975 model should be about as low valued as one would ever get, assuming it is in fact a mobile home.
I would have a professional home inspection done. And I would make sure that the home inspector has experience with mobile homes. I would also do some research as to what such a mobile home is worth in your area. If the home is in good shape, the price might be very good or might be much more than it is worth.
Mobile homes can work out very well for people or can be a nightmare requiring constant attention. Find out how long it has been in the present location and learn more about the "foundation". It might be fine for you, just make sure you don't pay too much for it. Good luck!