The Property Owner’s Guide To Preparing Your Land For A Mobile Home

open field with sun setting behind

You’re ready to make a move—a literal move with your mobile home. And it’s not just any relocation. It’s an exciting transition that will land your mobile home on land you own. Whether it’s property you purchased long ago or recently, it’s nearing the proper time to get that mobile home settled.

open field with sun setting behind

Of course, like other things related to home buying or moving, it will be a process. You’ll need to get things ready instead of diving ahead without thought or preparation. So let’s explore some of what you may need to do to make it all come together.

Real property

Getting out of an apartment into your mobile home is an exciting time. It could feel like you’re finally getting a “real” home of your own. Something that belongs to you. But when it comes to “real,” there’s actually another meaning of the word to consider, too.

A manufactured home can actually be one of two different types of property. There’s real property, then there’s personal property. You can think of a manufactured home that’s personal property as somewhat similar to your car in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, a mobile home that counts as real property—think of that as more along the lines of a regular stick-built house in the law’s eyes.   

Let’s say in your case, you’re putting your beautiful new manufactured home on property you own. And it will be legally affixed to the property. Thus, your mobile home will be real property.

Get started with a list

If you’re the type of person who loves organizing and systematizing, get started with a to-do list. Here, you can take stock of all the projects that you’ll need to complete before your home can be moved. Plus, you can also note what activities will be associated with moving the home itself.

Obviously, each property owner’s list will differ. Your property may be ready for your mobile home almost immediately. Or you may have a gorgeous plot with a lot of potential, but it’s in rough shape currently. If so, you’ll have to spend more time to get it ready.

Get ready for that manufactured home

Expect that your to-do list will change over time. When you discover a new task that needs to be done, add it to the list. And try to pay attention to whether any tasks need to be done in a particular order. For instance, grading your ground might fall before putting in a driveway.

Here are some possible “to-do’s” (and one “don’t”) to get you started:

  • Take down trees – Tree removal might be necessary if you have a densely wooded piece of property. And even if your plot of land isn’t a forest, there may still be trees in the way. If they’re located where you want to place your mobile home, down they come! 
  • Brush removal/cutting/mowing – If your property has been left to itself for a while, you might have your work cut out for you. Time to bring in a tractor and mower if the job is too big for a standard lawnmower. 
  • Planting grass – While you may need to put in a lawn at some point, don’t do it yet. Remember that there will be a lot of traffic on your property to get things ready and place your home. Thus, you or others might end up un-doing your grass planting efforts. 
  • Grading – When you’re dealing with uneven terrain, you may find you need to grade the property. This is the direction to head if you need to create level ground. If you feel like breaking your back, you can do it with a shovel (depending on the area’s size). But if you have a large project you may want some larger equipment. Or, you may want to hire an excavator.

Water – the kind you want & the kind you don’t

  • Drainage – This a related consideration for your property. Of course, you’ll want any stormwater or other runoff to be directed so as not to flood your new mobile home. Plus, you don’t want it collecting in your yard either. Design your property layout with this in mind. Check out How to Achieve Better Yard Drainage from Family Handyman. 
  • Septic – Clearly, this is a home element you won’t want to forget. In some locations, you won’t have amenities like sewer and water provided by the city. Thus, your situation could call for a septic tank and a leach field
  • Necessary permissions for septic – Keep in mind that your locality’s health board may need to sign off on your septic situation. If os, you’ll need need to show them the septic system plan. However, if you’ve hired someone to put in the septic system for you, they might take care of this.
  • Water – Just as any home needs a way to get rid of waste, any home also needs water. Not going to be on city water? Then, it’s probably time to dig a well. Head to Skillings & Sons’ 10 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Well Driller. And remember to check on any necessary permitting. 
  • City amenities – On the other hand, your property may be located in an area with water and sewer provided. If your property already has these services associated with it, reach out to the locality’s water department. They should be able to help you transfer things from the previous owner’s name to your name. However, if it’s not set up, you’ll need to get it connected. Again, reach out to the local department that handles water and sewer services.

Electricity & more

  • Electric – Electricity is such a major part of our everyday lives that you couldn’t forget it for long. Contact an electric provider in your area to get started. If your new property isn’t far from your old place, you may be able to transfer your account. 
  • Driveway – When it comes to putting in a driveway, you’ll have to make some decisions about what kind you want. Should you go for gravel? Or will you opt for blacktop or cement? In fact, you may decide to do some comparison shopping to decide which one is best for you financially. Take a look at Brian Martucci’s Types of Driveways for Your Home – Materials & Costs
  • Foundation – Selecting your mobile home’s foundation is another step. What kind of foundation will best for your situation? Do you want your mobile home to have a full basement or just a crawl space? Head to our Applying The Permanent Foundations Guide For Manufactured Housing for more on mobile home foundations.

Plan ahead

Getting your mobile home situation off the ground (or rather on the ground), will require some coordination. Know that things will take time. And try to think ahead to save yourself from unpleasant surprises or waits. 

If you’re moving from a significant distance away, you may want to plan to be there in person at some point (or points). For one thing, this lets you check in and ensure contracted work is being completed as expected. Plus, the folks responsible for turning on the water may refuse to do so unless someone is there. If you don’t know anyone in the area who could show up on your behalf, you may decide to make the trip yourself.

Planning ahead could enable you to consolidate your in-person trips. If indeed there will be tasks you need to physically show up for, try to plan them to coordinate with one another. That way, you make as few trips as possible.

To hire or not to hire

When you have preparation that needs to be done, remember that hiring someone to do it is an option. Of course, some people want to do the jobs themselves. This could be because of the cost savings they realize by tackling things on their own. Or it could be because they just love DIY projects.

However, for some, hiring a professional to complete the work could be the way to go. For instance, if you might consider hiring someone if you:

  • Live far away
  • Want the job done quicker than you could do it
  • Don’t have time to work on the property due to a job or other constraints
  • Don’t have the skills necessary

Ultimately, your decision here could depend on your own abilities, priorities, and available resources.

Yes, it’s yours but…

Your brand-new living experience has never felt closer. Your excitement is building. Maybe it’s because you’re finally about to move out to a peaceful and quiet location as opposed to the city. Alternatively, maybe you’re just basking in the knowledge that you’ll be finally living on land you own.

Even as you stake your claim to this piece of ground, don’t forget others who have a stake in the situation, too. Obviously, you’ll be working with the former owner to come to an agreement about purchasing, etc. But there’s also your local government, your neighbors, and perhaps a homeowners association (HOA). Make every effort to work well with all of these parties for a smooth transition and positive future.

Learn what the locality expects

Do your best to learn about any restrictions that apply to your property—anything you’re not allowed to do. Better to know ahead of time if you’re not allowed to keep chickens, for instance, than to discover it after you’ve started.

Plus, try to understand your contract and what it says—including any easements that give others access to your property. Be sure you’re clear on when you’re allowed to take possession of the property. And, obviously, only operate within that time frame.

Get proper permits

Additionally, be sure that you obtain the proper permits to move your mobile home to its new spot. Sometimes, these will be obtained by the company doing the mobile home moving. However, don’t assume they are. Check first.

Think of the neighbors

Let’s imagine your situation for a moment. You’re feeling energized. And you’re ready to get the work done so you can move in and get settled in your mobile home. At the same time, you do have a regular job. So the preparation will necessitate working after hours.

But you don’t care—you’re full of zeal to get this show on the road. In your mind, it’s completely worth it to put in 15 hour days—8 hours at your job, then 7 hours working on your property. After all, it’s a short-term setup. Working until the wee hours of the morning won’t last forever.

We’re not here to put a stop to your preparation enthusiasm, certainly. But do be sure to think about the big picture, not just your own side of things. Remember, you’re not the only one “involved” roughly speaking. (Unless, of course, you truly did find a property in the middle of nowhere).

There are neighbors. (For the sake of the argument, we’ll even say they’re pleasant, friendly neighbors). However, unlike you, the neighbors aren’t really emotionally invested in your new home. And they may not appreciate floodlights blazing or heavy equipment thundering at 2 AM on the lot next door.

Don’t overstep your boundaries

Thus, be sure you respect that they’re living their lives. Try not to invade their space—whether it’s the soundscape or the landscape. Of course, respect physical property boundaries. But also, be sensitive to the fact that your move could be a big change. Understand that if the lot’s been vacant for a while neighbors may be used to having access to it.

Think outside your own perspective, and cultivate good relationships with your new neighbors. Be friendly and kind from the get-go. You want this to be the start of great, neighborly times ahead.

Keep on improving

At last, you have that home in its place (and all your belongings in their places)! Now, you may need a moment to catch your breath. But once you’ve rested and recuperated, keep creating a great home for you and your family. If your home still needs some important parts, check out Mobile Home Must-Haves: Choosing The Right Steps, Skirting, Doors, etc. And remember to amplify the appearance of your exterior, whether it means creating an outdoor living area or working on your mobile home curb appeal.

About Dan Paton

Dan Paton has been working full-time in this field for over a decade. Both him and his partner, Dan Leighton, formed EZ Homes back in 2006 and have seen explosive growth ever since. Dan works heavily in the administrative role within the organization. He is a jack of all trades type of guy. Dan and his wife have 4 children.

Written by Dan Paton

Dan Paton has been working full-time in this field for over a decade. Both him and his partner, Dan Leighton, formed EZ Homes back in 2006 and have seen explosive growth ever since. Dan works heavily in the administrative role within the organization. He is a jack of all trades type of guy. Dan and his wife have 4 children.

May 17, 2019