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Community and Q&A

Mobile home floor plans’ fatal flaw

Anneal | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

From a practical perspective mobile homes have a fatal flaw…no indoor storage space.

Now that awesome construction is available, it’s time to bring mobile homes into the mainstream by re-thinking space and floor plans, especially storage space requirements!

There is no space for the stuff a normal family/person needs to store. So what happens? The place starts to look like a junk heap because there is no storage space. People start to store stuff outside, maybe put up a shed…maybe they rent a storage unit…there goes the supposed savings.

The energy efficient Vermont mobile home is way too small to be a two bedroom, two bath home. It may sound impressive that they FIT two bedrooms, two baths into approx. 700sf , but come on. Let’s get real. These are more like a hotel room than a home. They are designed as temporary residences. And $100,000 for a temporary residence is way too high no matter how well they are constructed.

Designers, please rethink the floor plans with realistic space requirements. Think outside the box ;-).
I have a couple ideas if anyone is interested.

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  1. user-757117 | | #1

    Anneal G,
    A wise man once said something like this: "It is better [from an energy efficiency pov] to build a good unconditioned out-building to store extra "stuff" than to build a larger house for that reason."

  2. rocket190 | | #2

    Where are you finding a 700 sf "factory built" or manufactured home? Most are 1200 sf minimum, unless you are looking at park models which are designed to be a cottage.

    Manufactured homes are no different than any other home that doesn't have a garage. A detached or attached garage or basement. A garage can be built for around $30 per square foot

  3. Anneal | | #3

    OK my bad ;-)
    I am only speaking about single wide mobile homes.
    INTERIOR dimensions: 12 x 68=816sf. Agreed, 116 sf can make a huge difference.
    Many would possibly be 12 x 58’ long=696sf
    I see no desks, no dressers, no place for linens, toys. I guess no bookshelves since we are now mostly tablets? How many clothes should a family have? Are those beds full or queen? The floor plan does not give dimensions.
    How many sf per person should there be for 20 years? The advert shows four people.
    An outdoor building is quite right for seasonal storage. But I am talking about day to day. What living space does your family of 4 need day to day for 20 years? What about a dog?
    This home cannot possibly satisfy a family of four for 20 years. This is temporary housing for a family of four. $100,000.
    For two people it would work. But the floorplan is still wrong.

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Single-wide mobile homes are what they are. If you don't want one, don't buy one.

    There are advantages as well as disadvantages to living in a small house. The advantages include this one: a small house enforces order and requires owners to trim the number of possessions they store. Sailors have known this fact for centuries.

    A small house is also easier to clean and, at least in theory, less expensive to heat and cool.

    Small houses also have disadvantages, which you have listed. If you can afford a big house, and you want one, no one is stopping you from building one. If you can only afford a small house, it's time to make some compromises.

  5. Anneal | | #5

    Living small is great! I think mobile homes are great. But, my looking at this floor plan is that it is not practical. I am just encouraging designers to think differently and practical when it comes to small spaces. Where is the vacuum cleaner, floor mop, broom, bucket, ironing board kept? Outside? In with the CERV, probably. Why are there two exit doors? I can tell you right now the door in the living area will be blocked by a storage unit of some kind and never used. Probably the window next to the living area door would be blocked by some storage unit also. Why are there so many windows? Why two full bathrooms? Why not have a toilet/sink room and then a “bath” room like in other countries? Why two windows in the bedrooms? That limits where to fit furniture. Who decided those bedrooms even need set closets? Why not think more like other countries where they use mobile closets they can move around as lifestyles change? Think IKEA. Think practical for small spaces.

  6. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    Q. "Why are there two exit doors?"

    A. Because two exterior doors are less expensive than three. One door would be illegal. Fire codes require at least two exterior doors.

  7. bigrig | | #7

    Less is more in my opinion. Over half the square footage of my house is full of "stuff" I rarely (if ever) use. What is the average size of a house in Japan? How about Great Britain? How much space can a person really use on a day-to-day basis? I use one small bedroom, bath, kitchen and a portion of my basement for laundry.

    "A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff." - George Carlin

  8. homedesign | | #8

    I always provide at least 2 exterior doors for a residence ... and egress windows per code....
    however, I'm not so sure that 2 exterior doors are REQUIRED by code.
    Martin, which code are you referencing?

  9. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #9

    I must admit that I don't have a code citation to defend my assumption. I appreciate your correction.

  10. rocket190 | | #10

    Anneal, have you looked at all the options available? Mobile homes are ordered like buying a car. You can pick and choose from hundreds of different combinations of baths, bedrooms, closets, etc. Most manufacturers are going to include items that most customers want and will help sell units, i.e. two full bathrooms and lots of windows.

    However, your rant isn't very useful because most stick built homes are going to have the same issues you are complaining about. As others have noted, your dilemna seems to be that the homes are simply too small for your preference, which can be rectified by spending more money for something larger.

    If you really want your head to explode, start reading about the Tiny House movement. There are plenty of people in functioning homes under 500 some cases much less.

    How did people survive years ago when family sizes were 10, 12, or even 20 people in a house that averaged under 1600 sf? I learned from my foreign friends that there is a dramatic difference in their purchasing habits. They generally buy fewer, but more high quality items. The less you have, the less you need to store.

    Think of all the useless kitchen gadgets people accumulate. How many get used? I guarantee you if you visit a family in Italy, their food will likely be much more delicious than anything we can create, and is constructed with the most basic of tools.

  11. Anneal | | #11

    "Because two exterior doors are less expensive than three." Ha Ha! When asked what I would pay per sf on the rant thread I wanted to say as little as possible. :-)

    Regarding space: A fairly large utility/mud room makes up for a lot. I hate to sound sexist but I don’t think men, who are doing the majority of the designing, recognize that this is an important quality of life fact.
    Regarding this floor plan:
    Remember this is supposedly for a family of four.
    Expand the utility room to enclose the washer/dryer, small freezer, and a utility sink if possible. Move the kitchen down to do this. Cabinets to ceiling. A bit of counter space. It seems like a huge amount of space for the CERV unit. May it be a bit of overkill. Remove the living area window that will be blocked by the homeowner anyway and move the living area door to the utility/mud room. Also forget about trying to put a dining table in and extend the counter seating. Remove that dining window also and put a wall of 12” or 18” deep cabinets that could perhaps be used as desk area. Combine the little closet by the back door with washer/dryer area into one closet. Make the second bath a ½ bath or eliminate it completely and give the bedrooms a little more space. Even a foot. In the other bath give it a tub instead of a shower only and put what I think is suppose to be hallway linen closet inside the bathroom. Make the kitchen cabinets go to the ceiling. Again, remove one of the windows in each bedroom and remove the closets. That might bring the cost down a bit. Just a few thoughts.

  12. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #12

    You're not the only person who has strong opinions on home design. Almost everyone who visits this site has strong opinions, and they are all different.

    If you know what you want, build it. If you can't afford to build it, you're just like most Americans, and you'll have to rent an apartment, rent a house, or buy an existing house you can afford.

  13. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #13

    Rick wrote:
    "if you visit a family in Italy, their food will likely be much more delicious than anything we can create, and is constructed with the most basic of tools."

    As I try and explain to my wife when she asks when I will finish building our kitchen after seventeen years in the house...

  14. user-1005581 | | #14

    I was quite surprised at the virtual lack of any helpful suggestions and problem solving and multiple sarcastic remarks. Also at the apparent disdain of a woman who possibly doesn't have enough money to buy a bigger and better home. This is America and we have millions of very low-income people.

    The problem with the design of single-wides is that they are designed as down-sized homes.The designers should look at motorhomes to get ideas on how to make them more livable.

    I've been a realtor in southwest Florida since 2002 and have seen a lot of homes and how people live. Regular 1,200-1,600 square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-car-garage homes have very little built in storage space: a closet in each bedroom, 3'x3' linen closet in the bathroom or hall, maybe a pantry that same size. Since the ground-water level can be 1'-2' below the surface in our summer rainy season we have no basements. Attics are crisscrossed with trusses and susceptible to mildew due to high humidity year-round so they rarely get used for storage. Drive around on a weekend and you'll see garages half or completely full with things being stored and the cars parked in the driveway. Builders haven't a clue how to design for people to live in their homes. Of course I have met some very minimalist people who fit everything in the specified storage.

    I have had a 11'x56' trailer since 2002. A home I later purchased was foreclosed when the real estate market came to a halt. Back to my trailer which I had gutted as you described: removed all the dark wall paneling, ceiling, interior walls and insulation. In two weeks I'll be starting a complete rebuild. New flooring starting with the metal frame and all new 2x4 studs in the walls due to extensive termite damage. I'll have a totally new floorplan. A solid ash closet 13' long that matches the bedroom set will determine the bedroom length. Then only a short narrow hallway to the kitchen with toilet and vanity (2.5'x6') on one side and shower for two and vanity (6'x6') on the other. I already have the two vanities and a 12"x30"x42" high cabinet to go over the toilet. Galley kitchen 8'x11' with the path to the hallway through one side. Kitchen cabinets to the ceiling, no range but rather a two-burner cook-top, high-quality oven about the size of the microwave. A dining booth for four will be a part of the 11'x15' livingroom. Finally an 8'x11' office that someone else could use as a bedroom. One long wall of the livingroom might be completely covered with built-in cabinets.

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