What to Look for When Buying Used

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What to look for in a home when buying used
What to look for when buying used. Get the home you want, whether it's manufactured, tiny or a park model.

Buying Used Can Save Cash, But Will It Get You The Home You Want?

Whether you are a retiree ready for adventure or single and looking to save while you pursue your career, small house living can be a great solution. But should you buy new, or buy used?

There are many things to consider before making the home buying commitment, regardless of what home you intend to purchase.

If you are planning to live in a downsized home, that doesn’t mean the quality of the build should be minimized. There are ways to save money where it makes sense and end up with a perfectly safe and reliable house that will last for years.

Here are four things to consider when you are looking to buy a used tiny house, park model, or manufactured home.

Check the foundation and chassis when buying used.
Home quality depends on foundational stability and chassis as much as it does the home itself.

A Functional Foundation

Many people looking to save on time and cash will look at purchasing used tiny home trailers from pre-owned flatbeds to unknown chassis on eBay or Craigslist. This is a major red flag. What you want is more than a trailer used to haul hay bales from the farm. This is the foundation on which you will carry your home, your family, and all of your belongings.

Most tiny home contractors are well-versed in quality trailers built to pull this kind of weight. Most THOWs (tiny homes on wheels) run 8,000-18,000 pounds, depending on their length and the materials used to build the frame and siding, and occasionally interior appliances. This is not something to take lightly when starting the foundation of your build. When buying used, you want to ensure roadworthiness and safety by hiring an inspector. Make sure the chassis can handle the weight of your home.

Buy used tiny homes from builders who tow and show their work.
Tiny home builders take their latest creation on the road, often living in them while the home is on the market.

Electric and Plumbing Hazards When Buying Used

Although it is possible to build your own house regardless of its size, people seem more likely to make an attempt at a DIY build with a tiny house over traditional homes. The square footage doesn’t determine the level of danger involved with trying to install your own electrical or plumbing. You may face house fires, burst pipes, floor damage and flooding unless you have the proper training.

You want to be certain the builder of your used small home was a certified contractor and, whenever possible, that they are certified to build tiny homes — park model or MH –specifically.

Aside from the obvious hazards, a DIY attempt at electrical could pose dangers for electrocution, code violations, expensive after-build repairs, or improper breaker boxes. Plumbing concerns can include the use of improper materials for piping, connections remaining without proper sealant, and the ruining of furniture and flooring. Emergency repairs for these mistakes are very costly and can even result in a complete rebuild.

How to buy used homes
A sale representative from Clayton Homes talks with a potential buyer about a park model.

Ventilation, Windows and Insulation

The interior of a park model tiny home at Village Farm in Austin, Texas

Unlike a traditional home build, there is much to consider in the way of insulation and window installation when constructing your tiny home. Buyers must consider things like how often their house will be moved, what seasons it will travel through or be parked in, and how severe the temperature changes might be. These kinds of climate changes can result in mold damage if the home has not had the proper ventilation installed correctly.

It is more costly to install a double paned, tempered window in any home, but if you plan to move your house often, a tempered window can save you thousands in window replacement in the long run when rocks on the highway bounce up and break your glass.

Denim and sheep’s wool, spray foam or traditional fiberglass can be used for tiny house insulation. The cost varies greatly depending on your choice of material, but these changes are benefits of a fully customized build where everything from environmental impact and R-rating can be considered. Be sure to ask your seller what type on insulation was installed in the home as well as its R-value to ensure it will keep you warm enough wherever you park.

Timeline Accuracy

When purchasing a used tiny house, park model, or manufactured home, unlike a traditional stick build home, financing and lenders can be very particular. This means that if you do not plan to pay for your new home in cash, you may need to plan for a few extra weeks before the keys will be in your hands.

Like with any large purchase, be sure to do your research before you commit. Check out certified and trusted builders. Look for professionals within the respective tiny house, park model, and manufactured industries. They will be your best bet for happy and safe small home living for the long-haul.