So, let’s get to it!
The anatomy of a mobile home porch
To roof or not to roof
One of the first questions you should ask yourself when installing a porch is whether you should or not. Secondly, what kind of roof you want to install. These questions will have a considerable bearing on the whole project; from the time it takes to complete the structure of the railing to the weight it’s meant to support.
A roof on your porch can have a number of benefits. It shields the deck of the porch and the home from bad weather, and it creates a pleasant shaded area in which to relax. However, it will also come with extra responsibilities.
The HUD Code (more on this later) has very strict requirements on how to attach the roof of an addition to your mobile home. You might also require additional or more stringent permits.
Did someone say “sunroom”?
If you are planning on building a porch with a roof, you might consider going all the way and creating a sunroom or screen enclosure. Building these aren’t too difficult from building a porch and a roof as the walls are made using relatively lightweight glass panels.
In fact, you can buy whole sunroom or screen enclosure kits online that you can use to build one yourself. Sunrooms are great because you can have a birdseye view of the outdoors while running your AC on full blast or shielding yourself from the wind or rain.
If you go this route, you might want to install blinds or light curtains as well as it can get pretty hot inside when the sun is beating down.
Your porch needs to have a solid foundation to stand on, just like your home. In most cases, your foundation should consist of a solid concrete slab that’s at least 12 inches thick. Check your local building requirements as well as what will go best with your house.
The rails of a porch are not just there for your safety, they are also an important aesthetic element of your porch. You should treat them with the respect they deserves. If you build a roof, you should think of how the design of these two elements will combine with one another as well as how you will incorporate post beams if you want to support a roof. If you have little kids, you might want to think about solid knee walls.
It goes without saying that the deck of the porch is absolutely paramount in importance. You will probably spend a lot of time on this surface, and it needs to be able to withstand the daily strain. Additionally, it also needs to be able to stand up to the elements, mainly from moisture from rain snow, etc.
By far the most popular material to use for these kinds of decks is still wood. If you go with that, you will need to make sure that you properly waterproof them as soon as you finish building with a few coats of deck stain.
The deck will be supported by a framework of beams and joists that run perpendicular to each other underneath. The width of which should be determined by your foundation as well as how much you want your porch to be raised. Usually, this should be consistent with your home’s level.
In most cases, your porch will be raised to the same level as your mobile home. This means that you probably want one or two sets of stairs leading down from it, especially if the porch encloses a doorway.
Don’t worry! If you are brave enough to tackle an entire porch as a DIY project, then building a set of stairs isn’t that difficult. It’s commonly accepted that the ideal height for a single step is 11 inches. So, plan how many steps you need based on that and buy materials accordingly.
Generally, you would want to keep your skirting consistent with that of your actual home for a coherent look and feel. A skirting will also help to protect the foundation of your deck as well us its underside. Nowadays, you can get very attractive skirting kits that will raise the curb appeal of the addition and your entire home.
Get a little fancy
- Think about lighting: This depends largely on how you will be using your porch. Lightning isn’t a requirement but is a good idea if you plan to use it as a reading room or will spend a lot of night time there.
- Furniture: Again, this isn’t so important, but if you plan to put heavier furniture like couches, lounge chairs, or entire dining sets on your porch you should make sure it’s strong enough to support it and provides sufficient coverage.
- Trim: The trim is the small ornamental decorations that run along the bottom of the edge of a roof. It’s fashionable to install these on porches for aesthetic reasons; they are also pretty affordable.
What do I need to know about a mobile home porch?
Am I allowed to build a front porch?
Unfortunately, this is dependant on your local or state authorities. You should contact the city department for zoning and planning and approach them to ask for permission to make any additions to your home. Only proceed subsequently to their approval.
Also, if you live in a park, you should probably ask the management, regardless of what your lease agreement says. It’s only good manners to warn there might be some noise and disruptions. Some parks will ban this kind of construction altogether.
What the HUD Code says
When it comes to your manufactured home, the HUD Code is the ultimate authority on what to do and what not to do. It’s short for the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act that was brought into effect in 1976. You can read more about it here. Not only does it lay out which standards manufactured homes should be built to, but it also says in which instances a home is no longer HUD compliant.
Your addition could break your home’s HUD compliance. The most common way is if you build it in such a way that the addition bears its weight on the home. However, it goes into more details such as how to fasten/blot the addition to the home, how to attach the roof, the foundation of the addition, etc. A certified manufactured home contractor will know how to stick to the HUD guidelines.
Will it increase my home’s value?
Yes! We come across this question a lot. Despite mobile homes coming a long way throughout the last few decades and gaining more and more credibility as a stable and permanent place of residence, people are still skeptical over the possibility to increase their value. If you build a good quality porch that’s attractive, it will undoubtedly raise the curb appeal and the value of your home.
However, there is a caveat. If you build the porch in a way that nullifies your home’s HUD adherence, it will have the opposite effect. People want a house that’s certified to be safe, and that stands up to the relevant standards. They also want a home they can finance. So, if you’re going to increase your home’s value, make sure you stay within the guidelines.
How much will it cost?
A good question indeed. We would be lying if we told you exactly what your mobile home porch would cost to build. It depends mostly on the size of the porch, at what prices you can get the materials, and how much of the labor you will be taking on yourself. Another significant factor is whether you will buy a prefabricated kit or build it from the ground up yourself.
Your porch will consist mostly of wood which is readily available and not too expensive. You should be able to get a close enough quote if you go to your local hardware store with the dimensions of your porch. A kit should cost you between $15-$30 per square foot while hiring a contractor could run up to $10,000. Just buying the materials and doing it yourself should cost around $2,000-$5,000 depending on what kind of porch you build.
Step by step how to build a mobile home porch
Get a plan for your mobile home porch
If you fail to plan, you are preparing to fail! With a project of this magnitude, you can take that to the bank. We can break this step down into three or four sub-steps to make things even easier:
- Get inspiration: As with any home improvement project, you should get as much exposure to other people’s ideas as possible. Search for other projects online and go on Pinterest to get thousands of ideas. This will ensure that you don’t miss out on anything and open you up to new possibilities.
- Prioritize: Next up, prioritize what you need vs. what you want. For example, if safety is a big concern, go for knee walls for now. You can always update the look later on. If you’re on a tight budget, stick to the bare essentials and make a mental note to update the look later on.
- Design your porch: You don’t need to be a trained artist or architect to make a rough sketch of your home and porch. Just use exact measurements, stick to scale as much a possible, and you’re good to go. This will help you to visualize your porch and get the right amount of materials.
- Come up with a budget: You might need to shop around before you set a budget. As we said, prices for porches can vary. So, you might only know how much yours cost once you start getting material prices. Remember to set some money aside as a “disaster fund” should something go wrong.
Get the necessary permits and permissions
Before you buy anything, make sure that you get the necessary permits. No use in buying a bunch of decking boards, joists, and beams if they aren’t going to be put to use. Usually, you go to your local city planning department or municipality to get a permit. They will require a copy of your plans as well as a permit fee. Don’t forget to clear things with your mobile home park management as well!
Create a schedule
Once you have a plan for your porch and any permits, you should come up with a work schedule. Unless you have no other obligations, it may help to try and plan out how long it will take, when you have the free time to work on it, and set deadlines to keep yourself on track.
If you go with a contractor, communicate with them so that you can make sure someone is always at the home when needed and so that you know how long they estimate they will take to finish.
Gather Your Materials
Next up, it’s time to get your materials together. What you need will depend on your porch plan. However, here are some common materials:
- Porch decking
- Joists and beams
- Waterproof deck stain
- Rails/knee walls
- Wood saw/sliding saw
- Measuring tape
- Safety equipment
- Galvanized screws and/or wood nails
- Skirting/siding planks (if you want to cover the base)
- Cement piers
Build Your Porch
We won’t go through the in-depth steps of building a porch. However, we would like just to give you the basics of the process so that you can form an idea of what to expect. Here you can find a thorough guide to building a porch with steps and pictures.
- You should start by demarcating the area of your porch. Use the tape measure and plant sticks or droppers with the rope tied between them.
- Fix the ledger board to your home.
- Plant the posts and lay the foundation of your porch.
- Next, create the framework by laying the beams in between the posts at the top and bottom.
- Install the joists and beams underneath the deck.
- Lay the deck on top of the perimeter and the frame.
- Install your rails.
- Install the roof.
- Waterproof everything made of wood using a waterproof stain.
Enjoy your new mobile home porch!
For more valuable additions you can make to your manufactured home, refer to our article 3 Single-Wide Mobile Home Additions That Will Blow Your Mind.
We hope that you now have all the information you need to consider building your own manufactured home porch seriously. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, and once you have completed it, you will have a fantastic extra bit of living space as well having improved your home’s curb appeal and value.