7 Clever Ways To Design Your Own 2-Story Trailer Or Manufactured Home
Already utilized every square foot of living space in your mobile home and still looking for more? A 2-story trailer or manufactured home might be the solution. If you’re surprised to hear that this is even an option, that’s completely understandable. Because it’s difficult, expensive, and slightly risky. Not many people attempt it.
However, if you’re a serious DIY-er or willing to put down the money to drastically improve your home – we want to help you realize what options you have.
What to consider before you begin?
What will it cost?
This answer will range dramatically depending on these few things: which method you ultimately choose to go with, the materials you use, and whether you do it by yourself or hire a contractor. Generally, we’ve found most people end up paying anywhere between $27,000 to $50,000 from start to finish.
However, everyone’s situation is unique. You will need to carefully budget and plan out expenses to avoid any nasty surprises. As with any big project, make sure you have an “emergency fund” should costs spiral or something go wrong.
In some cases, you will have no option but to hire professionals. Or high-end equipment, such as a crane, like when you need to raise the home. This will add a few thousand dollars more to your total.
Do I need any permits or permission?
Yes! What specific permits you require will depend on your state or local city authorities. The good news is that they won’t be too expensive to obtain, usually around $100-$200. If your home is located in a park, you should also consult your park management first.
Even if they don’t have explicit clauses against construction projects in the park, they (and the other tenants for that matter) might not be too happy with the noise and discomfort.
Electricity and water
From the very beginning, you will need to factor how you are going to extend utilities to the second part of your home. If you aren’t experienced and skilled in working with plumbing or electricity, you should get an independent contractor to do this for you.
Most people do not install anything that requires plumbing on the second floor. This is simply because it is difficult to do. It could also lead to water damage to the original ceiling and structure.
What do you want or need?
You can’t go into any major home construction project without a clear vision and a goal. Why are you thinking of designing a 2-story manufactured home or trailer?
- Do you want more living space?
- Maybe you’d like to have an extra bedroom?
- In need of extra storage?
- Or, do you just want extra space to entertain or relax?
The answer to these questions will determine exactly what you will need to include in your second story. For example, plumbing, electricity, etc. as well as how much weight it should bare. Do consider how much space you need.
In 1976, the federal government brought into effect the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards to address concerns regarding the safety and quality of mobile homes. Mobile homes were also officially rebranded as “manufactured homes”.
It’s in favor of any homeowner to be familiar with this all-important document that not only helps you keep your home safe. However, it may also determine whether your home is eligible for financing or even to be allowed within certain parks.
Ill-advised remodeling or construction projects on a manufactured home are common causes for homes to lose their HUD-compliance. While there are plenty of other standards and requirements you should follow, these are the most important to keep in mind when trying to design or add a story to your home:
- No additional structure may bear or lean on the home and should be able to support itself.
- Don’t remove any parts of the wall/roof/chassis that affect the structure.
- You must still have two exit doors within the original structure.
The foundations of manufactured homes are held to a different set of requirements laid out in the HUD/FHA Manufactured Home Foundation Requirements. This document doesn’t only spell out how the foundation of the manufactured home should be constructed, but also: how the home should be attached to it, how high the home should be raised, whether skirting should be installed, etc.
Whether you want to build a basement as extra living space or make an addition to the home, you will need to study these requirements. We highly advise that you make sure to stick to them, too. These requirements need to be met for a home to be HUD-compliant. Different foundations can also cost significantly more or less.
Ways to design and build a two-story mobile home
Make an attachment to the home
One of the most popular ways to add a second story to your mobile home is to build a self-supporting addition and then attach it to the mobile home. Because mobile homes aren’t always built to support a second story or level, this is a great option. Especially if you don’t have to do any work to strengthen the original structure.
It’s also much simpler to do this in a way that won’t affect the HUD compliance of your manufactured home. Additions like carports, sunrooms, and porches/decks are commonplace. Additionally, you can add a double-story structure in much the same way. Of course, the biggest downside to this is that you won’t be able to utilize all the space above the original living area of your home.
You will also need almost the same ground-level space available as the area you want for the second story (if not even more). You will also need to properly prepare the ground to support and stabilize the structure.
Build over the home
This approach is similar to the first one, however, you should be more careful when you go about it. Using this method, people build a structure that goes around or covers a part of their mobile home and supports a second floor above it. Once again, unless you want to affect the HUD compliance of your home, this structure can’t touch or bear on the original home.
If you have a pitched or raised roof, it will obviously be much harder to pull this solution off as the structure will need to rise above the entire home. It will also be hard to build access to this floor from the home below. Another problem is to support the entire floor without bearing on the home. So, if you aren’t worried about HUD compliance, it would be more feasible to have the original structure support this floor.
Another consideration is how you will incorporate this into the exterior design of your home. Most people would want it to blend as seamlessly as possible. Here you will also have two options: create a solid structure in which case you will need to add in windows/doors. Or, just built a frame structure and try to blend the posts into the exterior design.
Think about a “tiny house”
It might surprise you to know that the common type of two-story homes today are so-called “tiny homes.” These homes measure just a few hundred square feet. In fact, they have become a popular choice for those who want to keep their housing costs down and embrace a minimalist lifestyle.
Obviously, building a smaller home is also cheaper and less difficult. It’s easier to build a safer and more structurally sound two-story home the smaller it is. If you want an example of a fantastic tiny manufactured home, just check out The Vista from Champion Homes. It features a beautiful second-story balcony to relax on. If you shop around, you can find plenty of similar homes.
Install a raised roof
Another way to have a second floor in your home is to install a raised or pitched roof with sufficient space to live in. You can do this yourself or buy a roof-over kit that professionals will place on top of your home. They will also secure it to your manufactured home.
Most manufactured homes that are reasonably new can support a roof over. However, you will need to make sure that both the home and the new roof can support the extra weight of treating the attic as a living space. The bonus that comes with a pitched roof is the great improvement of the curb appeal of your home. Plus, many people choose this as a way to break up the boxy and generic look of their model.
Pitched roofs are also more stable and durable. A high-quality installation can help protect and strengthen your home.
Build a basement
If you want to double your living space, building upwards is not your only option! Although rare, some homeowners would rather dig into the ground to expand their homes. It’s completely possible to build a basement that spans the entire area of your manufactured home while adhering to the HUD code and HUD/FHA Manufactured Home Foundation Requirements.
The trickiest bit will be to build in-basement access to your mobile home. And you will need to be careful not to harm the chassis or the underbelly of the home. Building a habitable basement will also be relatively expensive. It could cost tens of thousands of dollars depending on the size and facilities. Moreover, it will be extra challenging and costly if your home is already on the property. You will need to hire professional services to lift the home so that the basement can be constructed.
Lift the home
We don’t recommend this method if you already have a manufactured home on a piece of land. However, it could be a valid option if you own your own piece of land and want to buy a manufactured home to place on it.
Manufactured homes need to be raised off the ground to protect them from the elements as well as any potential floods, etc. You could use this requirement to your advantage to lift the home high enough to turn the space below it into a living area or a carport.
As long as the piers or support columns meet all the requirements for mobile home foundations and the HUD code, you should be fine from a legal perspective. An advantage is that the floor will be on ground level, and consequently, it will be easier to install utilities.
Building on to an existing home vs. from scratch
This is the primary decision you will need to make if you have an existing home or trailer. The biggest consideration is your HUD compliance, building right onto the original home might be the easiest from a practical perspective, but will almost always result in your home losing its HUD compliance.
Some people like the challenge of building a two-story structure from scratch. There is a lot of gray areas involved when building your own home. And that’s not strictly speaking real estate. Real estate always requires permits from your local city authorities.
However, if you want any of the same benefits that are afforded to manufactured homes or trailers, such as loans, etc., you will need to build it according to the relevant codes. Then, you’ll have it inspected and certified by a licensed inspector.
It’s totally doable, but …
We hope that these clever ways to design your 2-story mobile home help you realize what paths are open to you and to choose the best one for you. It’s definitely not something that you should take on lightly. We strongly encourage you to read up more on each process and try to find examples of what others have done or what’s possible.
If you enjoy taking on major projects to improve your home and make it more comfortable to live in, you might want to check out these 3 mind-blowing single-wide additions. Alternatively, there is a whole series of guides dedicated to remodeling different parts of your home on our blog.