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Trailer house converted to dream ranch home
We got around the out-of-reach down payment, high interest rates and budget-busting mortgage payments for a new home by breaking the financial monster down into smaller pieces and 'building' our dream ranch house over a matter of several years. Our 'different approach' started with an affordable, fully furnished mobile home that measured 14 by 70-ft.
We lived in comfort all the eight years it took to create our ranch house, with central heat in winter and air conditioning in summer. Modern mobile homes are energy efficient, easily financed and insured.
As the photos show, we took a plain-looking mobile home, set it on a full basement, added a bedroom at the back, extended the living room at the front, put on a new roof and siding and ended up with a very good-looking (and quite 'conventional' in appearance) ranch house. The average person driving by would never guess it started out as a mobile home.
Whether new or used, the mobile home should be as wide and long as possible. Although future additions will expand it, the mobile home itself will be the main part of the finished house. It should be no less than 12 ft. wide, but 14 ft. is better. In a mobile home, two feet, of additional width makes a tremendous difference in floor space. Make sure the home is of quality construction with a beefy foundation frame and walls with rugged framing.
A solid foundation is required when making a mobile home into a permanent home. The first thing needed is a 'blueprint' of the basement walls, supports and beam locations. This doesn't have to be elaborate but must be accurate. I measured our home very carefully and made the outside dimensions exactly two inches shorter and narrower. This allowed a 1-in. projection of the foundation all around.
For all but the last two courses of the basement walls, 12-in. blocks were used. The last two courses of block are eight inches, and they were laid after the home was placed on the foundation. It had to be done this way so the I-beam frame of the mobile home would clear the wall as it is moved over it.
Enough support must be provided to prevent the frame of the mobile home from sagging anywhere along its length.
Support points must be no more than 10-ft. apart.
As indicated in the drawing, we used four sets of double 4-in. I-beams and two sets of block wall supports (pilasters) between the two end walls. The 4-in. I-beams, plus the 2-in. frame beams, on the mobile home, created a gap an even 16 inches between the home and the foundation walls. The last two courses of 8-in. block (blocks actually are 7 5/8 in. with 3/8-in. mortar joints) fit the space exactly.
When the basement walls were finished (except for the last two courses), the entire length of the front wall had to be firmly backfilled so a bulldozer could maneuver the home to be parallel with the wall and about one foot from it. The setup crew then used jacks, I-beams and rollers to position the home on the foundation walls.
Before backfilling, we made sure the wall wouldn't collapse from the weight of the backfill and all the equipment so close to it, by rigidly bracing it inside with 2 by 4's and 2 by 6's angled down from the wall to the back footing.
As soon as our home was set up, and water, electric and sewer connections were made (provision for these should be made ahead of time, of course), we moved right in and started living.
Because there still was a large hole in our basement where the back bedroom was to be, we began construction on it next. The floor was built first and the framing was cantilevered six inches beyond the back wall of the basement to make the room a little wider. The innner ends of the floor joists are supported by a triple, 20-ft. 2 by 10-in. beam. The beam is suported under the center by a pilaster and I-beams.
Siding was removed from the mobile home to expose the wall studs. Then, extension walls were assembled on the floor, raised into position and fastened solidly to the wall studs. A 2 by 6-in. ledger, also fastened to the wall of the mobile home, supports the roof rafters. It's positioned so the finish


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1987 - Volume #11, Issue #2