How to (Legally) Relocate Your Mobile Home

Mobile home laws are unique and can change depending on where you live and where you’re moving. Before moving your mobile home, get to know the local laws in your area, and in the area you’re relocating to. 

According to the US Census Bureau, almost 18 million Americans live in manufactured or modular homes.

Commonly referred to as mobile homes or trailers, nationwide statistics show that gross housing costs are approximately 40% less for manufactured homes than for apartments and traditional homes.

Once primarily the domain of low-income families in areas where community development was minimal, mobile homes have become increasingly popular in recent years.

In addition to their affordability, most mobile homes are eco-friendly. They are also available with tons of options and amenities. And you guessed it – they’re movable.

That said, even if you’re just moving your manufactured home across town, it’s never as easy as hitching it to your pickup and hitting the road.

Let’s see why.

How Much Does it Cost to Move a Mobile Home?

Though it’s not cheap, mobile home transport is affordable compared to buying a new home.

Your final cost will vary based on numerous factors, but moving a single wide mobile home within 50 miles generally costs between $4,500 and $9,000, whereas moving a double wide the exact distance costs between $10,000 and $14,000.

You can see a full breakdown of the costs to move a mobile home in our full post. 

Can Your Mobile Home be Moved?

When considering a mobile home relocation, you’ll first need to determine whether your unit is up to the rigors of a move.

In other words, is it structurally sound and movable based on federal, state, and local laws?

For various reasons, including age and structural issues caused by water, termite, or accident damage, older manufactured homes are often unfit to move. Still, you’ll need to rely on professional mobile home movers to make this determination in most instances.

In addition, thanks to a national Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) law, if your mobile home was built before 1976, it probably cannot be moved even locally.

Did You Know?

Depending on the size and age of your mobile home, as well as the distance between your old and new sites, some transport companies will require new trailer tires to be purchased before they’ll move your unit.

Consider the Size of Your Home

Mobile homes fall into three categories –

  • Single section units – 14 to 18’ wide x 55 to 80’ long (between about 800 and 1,400 square feet)
  • Double section units – 24 to 32’ wide x 55 to 76’ long (between about 1,300 and 2,400 square feet)
  • Triple section units – 36 to 45’ wide x 55 to 56’ long (between about 2,000 and 3,000 square feet.

If your mobile home consists of two or more sections, it probably can’t be moved in one piece, which means additional costs and risks during disassembly, transport, and reassembly.

Zoning Issues when Moving a Manufactured Home

When moving manufactured homes from state to state, you and your mobile home mover will need to abide by several federal HUD regulations.

HUD divides the country into three distinct zones based on each region’s susceptibility to storms like hurricanes and tornadoes.

Manufactured homes sold in each zone must meet or exceed these regulations, and you can’t always move homes from one zone to another.

For example –

If you own a relatively new mobile home in Texas (Wind Zone 1) and want to move it to North Dakota (Wind Zone 3), it’s permitted because the requirements are stricter for Texas than for North Dakota.

On the other hand, you probably can’t move it in the reverse direction – from North Dakota to Texas – because it wouldn’t meet Zone 1 specs.

Below is a breakdown of each zone by state –

  • Zone 1 – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina
  • Zone 2 – California, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina
  • Zone 3 – all remaining states

In addition to national wind zones, you’ll also need to be aware of the county and local zoning laws and ordinances, which aren’t generally problems if you’re moving into a mobile home community.

However, you’ll need to make sure your home has proper zoning moving to private property.

Did You Know?

Some municipalities prohibit trailers older than 10 or 15 years old.

Relevant Mobile Home Moving Laws

1. Your Home Will Need to be Up to Code

Before 1976, there weren’t many laws regulating the manufacturing process of mobile homes, and the quality of construction and materials used varied considerably.

In most cases, you can’t move homes build before 1976, and many states, counties, and towns have their own safety codes and restrictions regarding –

  • Plumbing and electrical systems
  • Insulation
  • Roofing
  • Fireproofing

Though federal regulations can be a hassle, they ensure that mobile homes are safe, strong, and comfortable.

Educating yourself is always wise, but if you’ve hired an experienced mobile home mover, they should walk you through the process.

2. Get a Moving Permit

The regulations governing mobile home moves vary depending on where you’re moving from and too, but you’ll almost always need a moving permit issued by the state or county.

To get one, you’ll need to prove that there aren’t any unpaid taxes or liens associated with your home and that you own it outright, in which case you’ll need a Certificate of Title.

Dealing with government bureaucracy can be tedious, time-consuming, and downright frustrating, so give yourself plenty of time to get it taken care of to avoid move day glitches.

Did You Know?

Most mobile home movers will require you to have a moving permit before they’ll commit to helping with your relocation, so make getting one a pre-move priority.

3. Hire Top-Notch Professional Help

Sadly for do-it-yourselfers, DIY mobile homes aren’t an option unless you’re moving your home from one side of your property to another.

In short, laws require mobile homeowners to work with a licensed, bonded, and insured professional moving company.

Like you would with traditional moving companies, always vet the companies you’re considering. Get multiple quotes, and compare their estimates side-by-side to ensure they’ve included all the same services.

4. Verify Legal Requirements

Knowing the legal requirements for moving a mobile home both at origin and destination are key.

Your new county or town may have more strict laws and building standards. If so, your old trailer may not make the grade.

Either way, it’s better to know upfront.

Keep in mind that if your manufactured home is more than 10 or 15 years old, you may need to jump through more hoops. For example, proving that it’s livable and move-worthy.

5. Contact Your Local Government

Remember, your mobile home mover should take care of some of the legal wranglings around moving your mobile home moved. But you’ll want to collect your information as well to make sure that they don’t overlook anything.

Mobile home movers will handle transportation-related documents and permits. However, it’ll usually be up to you to take care of local zoning issues and housing requirements as a homeowner.

You can generally find this information by calling the county government or office of the Building commissioner.

They’ll be able to fill you in on any requirements around age and building codes. They can also tell you about any zoning issues that you’ll need to be aware of.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Will my mobile home movers need a police escort?

State laws governing the transportation of oversize loads vary. But your professional movers will need a police escort in some cases in some cases.

Do all mobile home parks have different rules?

Most mobile home communities have different park rules, zoning and building codes, and other laws and regulations.

Can you move a double-wide trailer in one piece?

You can’t move single wide mobile homes in one piece, but double wide mobile homes often cannot.

Will my mobile home mover remove the skirting?

Some mobile home movers will do it for you, while others require homeowners to do it themselves.

Do you consider mobile homes motor vehicles or real estate?

Always consult with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before undertaking a mobile home move. Still, since they’re not actually land and you can move them by towing, manufactured homes fall under the motor vehicle category. You won’t label them as real estate.

How much notice must I give before vacating my lot?

It varies from mobile home park, so read your lease agreement and always provide written notice before moving.

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