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(Editor's Note: The information below is excerpted from "Home to Buy a Manufactured Home," a publication of the Manufactured Housing Institute, produced in cooperation with the Federal Trade Commission's Office of Consumer & Business Education, and the Better Business Bureau consumer information publication, "Tips on Buying a Manufactured Home.")

Thinking about buying a manufactured home? Here are some questions and answers that will help you make a wise, satisfied customer.

 
Discard any pre-conceived notions that your choices are limited. Manufactured homes are available in a variety of siding materials and colors, including metal, vinyl, wood, or hardboard. You may select design features such as bay windows, a gable front, or a pitched roof with shingles. You can add awnings, enclosures around the crawl space, patio covers, decks and steps to give your home the look you want.
 
   
 
Homes are available to meet almost every pocketbook and size requirement. Homes come in a variety of sizes (from 400 to 2500 square feet), with a variety of floor plans that include living rooms, dining rooms, family rooms, fully equipped kitchens, utility rooms, luxurious master baths and from 1 to 4, or even more, bedrooms.
 
   
 

Unlike site-built homes, all manufactured homes are constructed to meet federal building standards adopted and administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Code (also known as the HUD code) regulates home design, construction, strength, durability, fire resistance and energy efficiency. It also sets standards for heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal and electrical systems. Inspectors, known as IPIA's (Primary Inspection Agencies) acutally monitor construction of the homes as they are built in the factories.

The HUD code specifications were developed over the technical advisory committee composed of engineers and industry experts. The code sets performance standards which the homes must meet. This allows manufacturers the flexibility to adopt new technologies while insuring that consumers can be confident that their homes will meet or exceed the qualities found in site-built homes.

 
   
 
Yes. However, warranties to vary among manufacturers. All retailers are required to have copies of the manufacturers' warranties on the homes they sell. Ask to see the warranties covering the home you are considering. By reading each warranty before you buy, you can make sure the home you select has the kind of warranty selection you want. It is important to note that warranties will have different terms and conditions depending on what item is covered. Most manufacturers, for example, offer a one-year warranty on defects or construction flaws. Other items, such as appliances, will be covered by the manufacturer's warranty that is a separate from the warranty from the home itself.
 
   
 

Most buyers will receive warranties from the manufacturer, the retailer, the transporter, the installer, and the appliance manufacturers. Make sure you understand what each warranty covers, how long the warranty lasts, what to do to get service and who will perform the service.

There are two other documents that should also come with your new home. One is the home owner's manual explaining what to do if something goes wrong with your home. This manual is required under the HUD Code. The second is a Super Good Cents pamphlet describing the energy savings equipment in the home.

 
   
 
The Super Good Cents program is a voluntary effort by manufacturers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to produce the most energy-efficient housing in the nation. Originally developed by the Bonneville Power Administration, the program was designed to reduce the cost of developing new power generation capapcity by limiting demand through energy savings. The Super Good Cents energy savings standards are substantially higher than those set forth by the HUD Code (although HUD Code standards were substantially increased in 1994). The energy departments of Oregon, Washington and Idaho have entered into a cooperative agreement to monitor and certify homes that meet the higher energy savings standards. Inspections to certify homes built to Super Good Cents standards are carried out in the plants by the Primary Inspection Agencies.
 
   
 
The many options you can choose will probably include cabinet and window design, wall coverings, wood burning fireplaces, appliance packages and floor coverings. Some models and manufacturers offer more custom options than others. Ask your retailer what options are offered on homes he or she sells.
 
   
 
There are three basic options you can consider. First, you can place your home on land you own or intend to buy. If you choose this option, be sure to check zoning laws, restrictive covenants and hookup regulations. Second, you can place your manufactured home on a leased home site in a manufactured housing development. Third, you can decide to buy a home already on a site in a planned community.
 
   
 

If you are placing a home on your own land, your retailer can provide advice on how to prepare the site. In many cases, the retailer has experienced crews that can handle the site preparation and installation work. By contracting with the retailer for installation, you have one business to hold responsible for the home, the sales transaction and installation completed to your satisfaction.

When arranging for installation, be sure that your site is accessible by the truck transporting your home. This site should be as level as possible. If you will be living in a land/lease community, the community manager may take care of site preparation. Ask about this and any other costs before signing a lease. Community packages may include additional items, such as garages, driveways, decking, storage sheds and landscaping.

 
   
 
Financing is available through retailers and also through commercial finance companies, banks and credit unions. For qualified buyers loan backing through the Federal Housing Authority or Veterans Administration is also available. Make sure you understand all your financing arrangements.
 
   
 
Most people buy their manufactured homes from a retail sales center. Some retail centers are owned and operated by a home manufacturing company; most are independently owned and operated. You should use as much care in choosing your retailer as you do in choosing your home. A full-service retailer can usually arrange financing and insurance for your home, and will probably be the person you will contact for warranty service. A good way to find a reputable retailer is to talk with friends that live in manufactured homes or visit our retailer page for details.
 
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