Zoning – the basics
If you’re a complete newbie to home or property ownership (and your dad wasn’t a contractor), you may need a quick introduction to what zoning is.
And for a definition, we turn to an appropriately titled “What is Zoning?“ article. It offers the following: “Zoning is a tool that most cities use to govern “uses” (e.g. residential, commercial, or industrial), the size of buildings, and how buildings relate to their surroundings, including other buildings, open spaces, and the street.”
So, if you always just presumed you could plop a mobile home down on any old piece of property anywhere, you’re in for a disappointment. Even property that looks perfectly-suited to a mobile home in your eyes might not be a proper landing place. It could be that the property you want is zoned for commercial use. In that case, you might be prevented from placing your mobile home because the home is a dwelling.
Everybody loves mobile homes, right?
Manufactured housing is your domicile-of-choice. Therefore, everyone is friendly and welcoming of mobile homes in their area, right? Sadly, no. In fact, it turns out that not everybody loves this housing choice as much as we do.
According to the Manufactured Housing Institute, “There is a growing trend of municipalities trying to use zoning and other land use regulations to restrict or eliminate manufactured housing in their jurisdictions. These actions could reduce the supply of critically-needed affordable housing for working families across the country and may be discriminatory under the Fair Housing Act.”
Limitations on zoning for manufactured homes
However, there are restrictions on local government that wish to limit mobile home placement. According to MRSC.org, “Local governments may not enact construction, safety, and energy standards that are stricter than those established the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since Congress passed the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974.”
So what are the regulations in your area?
The zoning ordinances that you’ll need to know about will depend on where you live. Since ordinances may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, you may have different requirements depending on where you’re trying to place your home.
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What are some examples of possible regulations?
If you’re looking to get a feel for the type of things zoning requirements may regulate, here’s a little something to get you started. Please note that the author quoted here is generally talking about North Carolina. So, other states may have different requirements.
David W. Owens identifies some possible zoning requirements: “Many ordinances also include various appearance standards to integrate the units aesthetically into surrounding neighborhoods with site-built homes. These standards typically include requiring a pitched roof, skirting around the underside of the unit or location on a permanent foundation, and orienting the unit to the front of the lot.”
How can you find out what your area’s ordinances are?
Because we can’t tell you what your area’s zoning for manufactured homes will include, you need to do some area-specific research. Thus, you need to learn what the zoning ordinances are where you live. Or where you’re moving to, as the case may be.
Your zoning officials
How can you do that? While some of the information may be available online, we suggest you make it a priority to call your local zoning officials. Alternatively, you could go to your locality’s administrative building in person to get information.
Others to whom you could talk
Additionally, you may wish to consult your local mobile home dealer or manufactured home retailer. They should be aware of the rules and regulations regarding permits, house placement, and property location. If they’re installing the home for you, they’ll likely include the permits and other fees in their total cost.
Manufactured homeowners in the area
We don’t recommend that you view other manufactured homeowners as a definitive resource. Especially when it comes to zoning requirements since they may not be experts. You would not want to miss something vital and important. However, they may be able to offer helpful suggestions as a result of their own experience.
One more tip
If you’re moving into a park, study up on the park-specific rules. You’ll definitely want to know what is expected of you and your home before you commit to moving in.
Now that you know a little more about zoning for manufactured homes, you may have other questions if you’re about to move. Check out our What Is The Average Cost To Move A Mobile Home & Other Moving FAQs. Or take a look at 5 Things You Need To Do Before Moving Into A Mobile Home Park.