Manufacturers began producing trailers in the 1930s. They became a familiar sight, especially on highways west like Route 66, and the size and sophisticated features of travel trailers expanded over the years. Soon families, especially those of itinerant workers in industries like road and bridge construction, began to live full-time in their trailers, which had grown to a then-amazing 8-feet wide. The bigger versions became known as “house trailers,” and appeared in Hollywood movies like The Long, Long Trailer, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

   State highway restrictions limited the width and length of trailers until an industry veteran, Elmer Frey, found a loophole in the law that allowed him to begin selling his new “TenWide” model. The innovation caused a furor at the 1954 Florida Mobile Home Exposition, with some manufacturers claiming he was destroying the industry by breaking through the 8-foot width barrier. But the Trailer Coach Manufacturers Association had just changed its name to the
Mobile Home Manufacturers Association (MHMA) the year before, with manufacturers of travel trailers (called “recreational vehicles” today) breaking away to form a separate association.   Change was happening rapidly in the industry, and manufacturers had renamed their new, larger product a “mobile home”—primarily to create some distance from the shoddy reputation that trailers and, specifically, trailer parks had acquired over the years. The shape of the homes was changing too; away from the aerodynamic, rounded corners to a more house-like design. Further image buffing occurred in the 1975, when the MHMA changed its name to the Manufactured Housing Institute. It also managed to get HUD to mandate a few years later that HUD-code homes formerly known as “mobile homes” could only be called “manufactured homes.”

   So, over the course of the 20th century, trailers became house trailers, which became mobile homes, and finally manufactured homes. If you want to read more about the colorful history of the manufactured home industry, we suggest getting a copy of Wheel Estate - The Rise And Decline Of Mobile Homes, by Allan D. Wallis (Oxford University Press, 1991).


  Here’s links to more of our blog posts with useful information about buying and owning a mobile home:

  1. Does it make sense to buy an older mobile home and remodel it?

  2. Where do I find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a mobile home?

  3. How do I find out how old a mobile home is and who manufactured it?

  4. What is the life expectancy of a mobile home?

  5. What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

  6. What is the right price for a used mobile home?

  7. What does the HUD tag look like and where do I find it on a mobile home?

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection


More blog posts about mobile homes:

  1. How can I tell if a mobile home is well constructed?

  2. How can I make my mobile home look more like a house?

  3. What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure mobile home?

  4. What is the life expectancy of a mobile home?

  5. How can I tell the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home?

  6. Where are the load bearing walls in a double-wide mobile home?

  7. What is the plastic sheet called that covers the underside of a mobile home?

  8. Why is there such a big gap under the doors inside a mobile home?

  9. How much does it cost to move a mobile home?

  10. What does the HUD tag look like and where do I find it on a mobile home?

  11. Why are there cracks in the wallboard in a mobile home after its moved?

  12. Can I remodel an old mobile home without a building permit?

  13. What is a Park Model mobile home?

  14. What year were mobile homes required to become more storm resistant?

  15. How do I find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a mobile home?

  16. Does an addition to a mobile home have to comply with the HUD Code?

  17. What can I do to prevent dampness and mold in my mobile home?

  18. How can I know if my mobile home meets HUD Code?

  19. Do I need stairs at all exit doors from a mobile home?

  20. Why are there two VIN numbers on some mobile home titles?

  21. Where are Wind Zone 2 and Wind Zone 3 for mobile homes located?

  22. What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

  23. Can you move a mobile home that is 20 years old in Florida?

  24. What is a pit set mobile home?

  25. Does a single-wide mobile home have interior bearing walls?

  26. Is 7 feet a normal height for a wall/ceiling in a mobile home?

  27. Do you have any tips for buying a used mobile home?

  28. Why is the floor tile cracked in my mobile home?

  29. Why is it important that a mobile home stay level throughout its lifetime?

  30. How much venting is required for mobile home skirting?

  31. What do I need to know about building an addition to a mobile home?

  32. What is the average lifespan of a wood deck?

  33. What is the best air conditioner for a mobile home?

  34. What is a D-sticker mobile home?

  35. What is the life expectancy of a modular home?

  36. How do I upgrade my old (pre-1976) mobile home to meet HUD standards?

  37. When was the first double-wide mobile home manufactured?

  38. Why is my double-wide considered a HUD home?

  39. How energy efficient is a mobile home?

  40. Can I tell the year of a manufactured/mobile home from the HUD tag (red tag)?

  41. Can a mobile/manufactured home have a high radon problem?

  42. What are the HUD requirements for selling a remodeled or renovated mobile home?

  43. How many mobile/manufactured home manufacturers are licensed to sell their homes in Florida?

  44. Can a mobile/manufactured home get termites?

  45. What are the limitations on homesites where a mobile/manufactured home can be located?

  46. What does a home inspector look for when examining a mobile home crawl space?

  47. How do I look for mold in my mobile home?

  48. What is the difference between the electric service to a mobile home and a site built home?

  49. How can I make my mobile home more energy efficient?

  50. What are the ventilation requirements for bathrooms and kitchens in mobile homes?

  51. How much is a used mobile home worth?

  52. What would cause half of a double-wide mobile home to lose electric power?

  53. What are the common problems to look for when buying a mobile home that is older than 40 years?

  54. How many manufactured/mobile homes are there in the United States?

  55. Can I convert a shipping container into a HUD-Code manufactured/mobile home?

  56. Where do I find the water heater in a mobile home?

  57. How do HUD-code mobile/manufactured home standards compare to the IRC building code for site-built homes?

  58. What are the right words for the parts of a mobile/manufactured home?

  59. What is the right humidity level in a mobile home?

  60. Can you do a mobile home inspection with no electric power or water?

  61. What is the difference between a manufactured/mobile home water heater and a regular water heater?

  62. What is an “RP” sticker for a mobile home?

  63. What is a manufactured home?

  64. What is the building code for mobile/manufactured homes in Florida?

  65. Where do I find the VIN/serial number on a very old (pre-1976) mobile home?

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