Older-Model Manufactured Home Leads to Mortgage-Free Living

The Lacefields purchased an older-model manufactured home to save money and lessen their environmental impact.
By Roberta Lacefield
June/July 2014
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The author, Roberta Lacefield, and her husband downsized their possessions in order to live comfortably in their small space.
Photo by Roberta Lacefield
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We started with an older-model manufactured home. It gave us a place to live as we decided what else we needed. We liked the idea that we were "recycling."

We purchased this used manufactured home and then remodeled and added on as we had time. Though it has worked well for us, it has been a hard home to live in because the perception in this country is that anyone who lives in a manufactured home is actually “trailer trash.” We prefer to think that we live in a recycled home that allows us to keep a very small footprint on the Earth. However, sometimes I do wish we had a fancy home with many rooms (that we would have to use energy to heat/cool and only use occasionally) because our homes are so much a part of the way we judge each other in our country. It truly is tough to rise above all that.

Our one-bed, one-bath manufactured home cost $7,500, including delivery and the heat/AC pump. Setup cost us about $500. We changed out the windows (to double-hung, double-pane), added a porch on the front made of wood that we milled on our Wood-Mizer sawmill, and put a mudroom on the back made primarily from salvaged materials. Our total cost was under $10,000.

Our home is 750 square feet. It is a single-wide that is only 52 feet long. It is small but my husband reminds me to envision living on a boat. If you make every space count and get rid of your "junk,” 750 square feet is actually a lot of room for two people — especially in a warm climate where so much of our time is spent outside.

We had a professional team level the home on the site and skirt it. A professional connected the heat/AC. We did all the other work. Today, I added an electrical outlet to the peninsula countertop. It is amazing how a little thing like that can make a small space so much more convenient.

We actually had no obstacles with the mobile home, especially compared with a site-built cabin we have on the river in the same county, which was a huge pain with many obstacles. This surprised me because the mobile home was used. I expected to have to bring some things up to code (especially because of our experience with the other property), but the inspector really didn't seem to care. Just plug it in and go!

I'm not sure we would do it again. Even though we live in a community that values conservation, there is such a strong stigma against "trailers" that I feel I have to justify and apologize for our choice. Also, there is something that simply does not feel quite "grounded" about a manufactured home — I miss that solid foundation that comes with site-built. Finally, because of our space limitations, I had to make some tough decisions on some furniture to which I had an emotional attachment. On the other hand, our land taxes this year are $30. That is mighty hard to beat! We do get to celebrate all the way to the bank.

Decide how important other people's opinions are to you. If you can handle the stigma, there are some strong upsides to a manufactured home.

Read other debt-free home reports like this one by perusing Debt-Free Living in Your Dream Home or visiting our Debt-Free Home Reports collection page.


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Post a comment below.

 

CookieWoman
6/20/2014 7:20:06 PM
I think it's a great way to live especially since you seem to be happy and well rounded so what if someone Else doesn't like it do they have to live in it No they Don't!! So whatever you want to live in and however you want to live is your business & No one else's You Know !! Really If You Want To Live In a Straw Hut It Would Be Your Decision You Know.Now If You Were Hurting Someone I Could Understand The Concern But Your Not So Live and Laugh All The Way To The Bank!! Enjoy Life Live Love and Laugh as Much As Possible Okay !!! Sincerely Yours F.J.B.

Mitannica
6/20/2014 7:08:36 PM
Don't know where this home is situated, which state/county, but there are untold number of mobile homes propped up on conventional house foundations, which then get stucco-ed outside and/or otherwise made completely house-like. Exterior trims around windows and doors, concrete steps and landings with railing, etc. can very well erase the"trailer" impression. I know this because I'm a manufactured home (a.k.a. mobile home) community manager for longer than 20+ years. It is still not too late for a great makeover for Roberta and family.

THOMASD
6/20/2014 5:43:51 PM
Ron and David, Both of you have excellent visions. I wish I had your circumstances. I just wonder... have you condidered gray water to irrigate, clivus multrums for the shitter, water source is what?

Ron
6/20/2014 2:04:02 PM
I have opted to sell my house in the city of Edmonton to develop two acres in rural Alberta to become mortgage free as well. I found a 1984 1180 sq ft 16x74 mobile with three bedrooms and two bathrooms for $17,000. I plan to put in a full basement and upgrade with new siding, windows, french doors a deck and put an overhang across the south facing side for summer shade with an array of solar panels as the roof. This will look like a nice ranch home when it is all done. And I will be mortgage free with free water and power on this little hobby farm for my family.

DavidSutter
6/20/2014 8:23:26 AM
There is a stigma that comes with living in a mobile/manufactured home, but it all comes down to "who decides your worth?". We moved from a two story home with a full basement to a 14'X70" home with an in-law suite built on the back which my son and his wife live in. With banks not wanting to finance single-wide, it makes it easy to find a used one at a great price. We have a beautiful screened in front porch, a productive garden, apple and pear trees, blueberries galore and chickens. Life has become so much more simple and satisfying. Before I worked and was gone all the time and still couldn't afford the organic fruits and vegetables we desired on our dinner plate. Now, we enjoy those fresh from the garden. Blueberry pancakes anyone? I just picked a mess of 'em!








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