Essential Mobile and Manufactured Home Jargon

By: Eric Badgely

Mobile and manufactured homes, being different than stick-built homes, have some of their own unique components and systems. Many of the terms are unfamiliar to the uninitiated. The article below will de-mystify some of the language associated with these homes.

If you are a real estate professional, and list or sell mobile or manufactured homes, there are a few terms that you should know that are not familiar to the average consumer. For example, usually nobody can see much underneath these units because they have built in vapor barriers. These are under the floor and go by various names: bottom board, road barrier, rodent barrier. The bottom board obscures much of the plumbing, electrical and structure. However, if it is all cut up around toilets and sinks that might provide a clue that there have been problems with the plumbing.

Another word that is used with manufactured homes is 'ribbons'. Some manufactured homes merely rest on soil held up by concrete blocks that might be sinking into the earth. The better installations have ribbons or even full concrete slabs. Ribbons are strips of poured concrete that support the piers. The narrower ribbons, or a slab, are a great improvement over blocks that are resting on bare earth.

'Tie-downs' are metal straps that hold the home to the foundation/ground. These are primarily for wind, tornado, and hurricane protection in some states. In Washington State the concern is flooding and that, during a major flood, the units might float away. In most parts of the country that have building codes, newer installations have ribbons or slabs and tie-downs. However, make no mistake about it, there are still many mobile and manufactured homes out there that are not compliant with the new standards. They are not on sound footings and likely do not have tie-downs either.

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