What is a manufactured home?
A manufactured home is constructed in a controlled environment, primarily inside of a manufacturing facility, and therefore not exposed to outside elements like rain, snow, sun, etc. There are two subcategories of manufactured homes: mobile and modular. A mobile home is built, and remains, on a frame with wheels for transporting. A modular home is built on a frame and then transported to a location and placed on a permanent foundation. When it comes to insurance policies, a mobile home policy is written specifically as a mobile home policy, and a modular home can be written as either a standard homeowner policy or a mobile home policy.
Things to consider when you come across a manufactured home damaged by water:
- Cabinets often are lower grade with stapled joints or vinyl wrapping on cheap lightweight or processed wood. It might be smart to consider replacement as opposed to restoration.
- Trim, baseboards, chair rails, etc. can have varying degrees of quality as well. Often, they are made of lightweight wood such as balsa and then wrapped with vinyl, and depending on saturation, will need to be replaced.
- Flooring material such as carpet and vinyl are manufactured specifically for mobile and modular homes and are made in 15-foot-wide rolls, whereas the normal width is 12 feet. The benefit is that the extra width eliminates flooring seams. Carpeting is typically lower grade and installed before walls are put in. It’s recommended to remove lower grade carpeting when water damaged. Vinyl flooring is typically a “floating floor”, only adhered around the edge, and is easily removed for drying of the sub-floor.
- There are three types of sub-floor that could be used: pressed board, OSB, and plywood. When wet, pressed board subfloors typically swell and become structurally compromised and are likely to require replacement. They also mold easily. OSB sub-floors are stronger and easier to dry. If they have been wet for a long time, they could also become structurally compromised. Lastly, plywood sub-floors are the sturdiest and least vulnerable but are harder to dry.
- HVAC systems can be any of the following: Normal metal ducts, thin metal ducts, foil faced cardboard, and insulated wire wrapped flex tubing. Typically heating vents are flat on the floor, which means that it is more probable that water found its way into the HVAC system. Manufactured homes often have corrugated or flexible venting that may need to be replaced after it gets wet or contaminated.
- The belly, or underbelly, is usually made of a polytype material that is placed under the home between the I-beams and the floor joists. It usually encloses the flooring, ductwork, piping, and insulation. When the underbelly is in good condition, it will act as a barrier, trapping water from water damage that’s incurred inside. This makes it almost always necessary to cut the belly in order to remove any wet insulation and allow trapped water to escape.
- Older manufactured homes don’t always have a full range of electrical service or power supply. Typically, they only have 100-123 amps in total. They may or may not have a 220-amp supply. Electrical outlets in HUD homes are not attached to studs in the walls. This means that if the wall is wet, caution needs to be taken when using the outlet because it could easily pull out of the drywall.
- Mobile home skirting is difficult to match for replacement panels and should be handled with care. For crawlspace access, look for a skirting panel that has been previously removed or ask the homeowner if they have already might have opened the skirting. Most crawl spaces are not clean and difficult to access.
When assessing water damage at a manufactured home, first note the age and condition of the home, and how this could affect the dry-down techniques and the restoration vs. Replacement factor. Be sure to communicate this with the adjuster.
Don’t wait to mitigate! You have a better chance of saving money, maintaining customer satisfaction, and an improved loss ratio.
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