The Grissim Guides to Manufactured Homes and Land

Book Excerpts / From Chapter 9

Selecting the Right Home

Let’s assume you’ve done your research, qualified for a land-home deal, nailed down a home site, and calculated you can afford a home in the mid-range with several options. You’re also prepared to shop defensively, and may have with you your personal advocate. Make a day of it (or a weekend ) and visit several dealerships. In fact, promise yourself you will. Don’t get bogged down. Enjoy yourself. After all, you’re looking at candidates for your future happy home....

Three things to do as you look over each lot model:
  • How does it smell as you first walk in? In contrast to the mildly intoxicating "new car smell" that we all know and love, some cheaper new manufactured homes can smell of chemicals, including formaldehyde, widely used in all kinds of adhesives and bonding agents: carpeting, laminated counters, interior veneers, and joinery. The phenomenon is called outgassing; it happens in site-built homes as well but because manufactured homes are built in a few days (instead of a few months), the odor is more prominent.
  • You can often detect at least trace amounts of this distinctive odor in all homes; it will disappear over several months as the home "cures," but here’s an unscientific rule of thumb (or nose): The cheaper the home construction, the greater the smell (low grade carpeting is a common odor source). Don’t be misled by the explanation that the home is so magnificently air-tight that some residual odors remain in the absence of ventilation. This is only partly true. The nose knows. Another indicator: if musty or mildew-y smells are present, go on high alert. Also, if air fresheners are in the home, be cautious and inquisitive....