Two years ago, we bought an old, ramshackle mobile home, and it was both one of the worst, and one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Repairing a mobile home isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance – they’re not like stick-built houses. Mobile homes have their own standards of measurement which make your average parts – like windows or doors – difficult to work with.
Add to that our mobile home being roughly 40 years old just compounds the problem.
When Gabe first had the idea of buying a mobile home to put on our section of the family farm, I spent a fair bit of time perusing ads for decent homes in our budget.
Gabe vetoed all of them. I think with mobile homes being so cheaply constructed he just couldn’t wrap his mind around putting $7-12,000 into one.
Finally one day an ad popped up as I was scrolling through Facebook for just $1,000. I showed it to Gabe, and he immediately called the owner.
the next day, the home – or should I say project – was ours.
We went into this knowing that our renovation skills were minimal, but determined to do our best.
First, we had to dismantle the skirting, get it unhooked, prepared our property, and finally move the mobile home out to our farm.
After that we began tearing into walls, floors, and ceilings with the intention of stripping it down to the shell so we could repair electrical wiring, build it back up with nicer materials, and basically have an all new interior.
But is wasn’t meant to be.
We realized pretty quickly that we were in over our heads. Neither of us have much experience or skill with carpentry and home renovating, so it took another month or two just to get the master bedroom subfloor redone.
In the end, we hired out the rest of the flooring project.
Then we started making some hard decisions about the rest of the house.
My hope was to drywall the entire interior, and Gabe’s plan was to build a freestanding roof over the entire house in order to shield it from bad weather, and make it easier to cool in the summer.
All of the things we wanted to do would make our mobile home really nice but…
- It would still be a mobile home
- And we would have put so much money into it that we would have been well on our way toward buying a much nicer house.
So we didn’t.
At some point, we had to make a choice between what we wanted now, versus what we wanted most.
- Painted most of the paneling, only putting drywall on the walls we had to tear into to fix electrical issues.
- Replaced only 1/3 of the ceiling.
- Hired help with the floors
- Resealed the existing roof
- Put in nice kitchen cabinets
- Got a bargain on kitchen appliances
- And moved in
- Then put in a septic system.
- It’s been a year since then and we’ve taken a lot of notes.
Heating and Cooling
This mobile home isn’t nearly as hard to heat and cool as we feared it would be. I tried to get central heat and air put in, but aside from the cost, no contractors really want to work on a mobile home, so we ended up putting in two window units which have had no problem cooling the house, and the one in the living room has no problem heating up the main area.
The unit in our room however doesn’t heat as advertised at all, so we’ve added a few electrical space heaters, and I’m happy to say, they’ve kept us plenty warm so far.
One thing of note was that the electrical breakers couldn’t handle the stress of all those appliances, and Gabe ended up wiring additional lines just for the two window units.
Secondly, in rural areas, wood heating stoves are popular, I grew up with them, and I’m sure one would keep us nice and warm, but there are two problems. One is space – mobile homes are small, and a wood heater would displace either the sewing machine, bookshelf, or dining table. Secondly, mobile homes are tinderboxes, so a wood heater would be a major fire hazard.
As I mentioned, we resealed the roof, knowing it was leaky (and the reason we had to replace so much of the ceiling!).
Unfortunately, that first resealing didn’t work very well, and our new ceiling now has the water damage to tell the story.
Running out into the rain to throw a piece of tin over a leak, and at one point having a bucket on the floor catching water in the living room was not a fun period of time.
But I’m happy to say that after a second resealing using a second brand of sealer, we seem to be leak-free.
We’re replacing a large chunk of the ceiling in the living room, but I’m hopeful that we can simply paint over the rest.
But take note: if you ever buy a mobile home make sure your roof is leakproof before moving on!
There is no storage in a mobile home
We’ve done what we could to maximize space-optimized our closet, torn out the bathtub in the master bath (leaving the shower – so yes, we’re still getting clean ;)), removed the dryer in favor of laundry room/pantry shelving, and are working on adding more shelving.
I’m a fan of keeping things minimal. I operate best when I have clutter-free spaces, so while I find the lack of storage space challenging, I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing.
I’m forced to purge and get rid of things that we don’t really, truly need. I have to come up with systems to keep things organized or it quickly turns to chaos.
I’m okay with that.
And we do have a barn, so storing things, like books, that we really do want to keep for later isn’t a problem.
Has buying a $1,000 mobile home been worth it?
Despite not doing the full dismantle and rebuild we had originally intended, our mobile home is nice (on the inside). We have all new kitchen cabinets (the originals were literally crumbling and mostly fell apart during the moving process), and nice kitchen appliances which was my biggest concern.
We’ve done some customizing, like tearing the old air HVAC/water heater cubby that took up a huge chunk of the kitchen out and replacing it with functional cabinets – the air ducts under the house rendered the system useless anyway, thus, the window units.
We now have a full-sized water heater in the back of our closet instead of the half-sized one that was in the cubby as well.
We installed lots of pantry shelves in the laundry room, which are handily right next to the kitchen which has worked well since I have a weird aversion to dryers and line dry my clothes anyway, making more room for shelves.
There’s no doubt that this house is more functional and easier to live in than our last rental home, and I have no regrets about the trade whatsoever.
However, with that said…
Knowing what I know now, I might choose to buy a newer mobile home that cost more money up front, but didn’t need so many repairs. It wouldn’t be as functional as our current home, because we wouldn’t have made modifications in our mobile home repair, but it would have been a lot less work. A mobile home that we could move on to our land and move into right away would have saved us several months rent, putting us ahead financially.
But with that said…
For several years, we’ve been renting houses, and even when our financial situation improved, they weren’t the best houses because we were trying to save money to “get ahead”.
This house is far from perfect. There are going to be things that we have to fix along the way. I may never find a way to make the window frames look nice.
It will always be a sow’s ear.
But I’m so glad to have a house that’s mine.
I can’t even describe the difference in my mindset from living in someone else’s house to now living in my own.
I can make plans, change things, take responsibility for the state of the house – I can do what I want.
I just put screws in the wall today, without even thinking about our security deposit, because we don’t have one.
I’m hanging things on the walls, collecting furniture, planning a fire pit for the back yard… all because we bought this old mobile home for a thousand dollars, (then put another ten thousand in it of course).
We’re tucking money away to fund investments because this little house has lowered our cost of living.
Sometimes I worry about what happens if it truly starts falling apart, or if we end up living here more years than we planned.
If the first scenario happens (most likely as a result of the second), then we move. We with the benefit of living debt-free/rent-free and the nest egg that comes with that.
So I’ll take the sows ear. It’s pretty rough around the edges, not pretty at all on the outside, the roof might start leaking again, who knows what else may happen.
But I’ll take it.
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I enjoyed the update. Your journey here has been interesting to me. I’ll confess, I couldn’t have taken this route myself, but I think it was/is such a great idea! Have you kept track of the total you have put into it now? Best wishes on meeting all your goals!
Yes, I wrote the total out somewhere and it was just about $10,000, which is a lot, but thankfully it includes a lot of permanent things that will last beyond the trailer itself, like Getting electric lines run, and a septic system put in.
Good for you!!! Saving money and not acquiring debt!! It looks very nice inside. The kitchen is lovely, and YES, you own it. No money wasted for ever, on rent! Good for you!!
If it isn’t as nice as you like outside. a can of outdoor paint in blue will always modernize it and clean up the look. And /or paint the door a deeper or lighter blue. And if you buy a couple small bushes and a couple small trees, it gives it a homier look. Often can get paint for cheap at many hardware stores, that were ‘bloopers’. Can get trees and bushes on sale, in early spring and on big discounts in September and October.
Yes! I totally want to paint it this spring. We haven’t chosen a color yet, but blue would be nice!
Very nice. I went through a seperation which financially forced me to buy my one bedroom 12×40 mobile. 5.000 paid. Livable but want to fix it up also but hate the nasty park it’s in but my it’s my home. Does teach you to simplify your live. I’m in learning process no. Any advice would help. [email protected]
I’m about to inbark on this journeyand Mobile home living I am in the process of purchasing a land and purchasing a mobile home hopefully for no more than $2,500 I am so excited to be able to do this at this point in my life and by this time next year I will be a homeowner with something that is mine it is a fixer upper and I’m willing to take that on I know it’s not going to be easy because it pretty much needs to be cut it but that’s okay with me it will be mine and I won’t know payments the way I look at it is I’m investing in 2 my future so all the money I put into it at some point may give me an investment in return I already have big plans I’m going to got it and redo the floor planning as well as making a Don and when it’s all said and done I’m going to stucco the outside to keep the heat in and the cool in I just hope we are successful in our journey yours looks awesome
Texas Silver says
The painted paneling looks nice. Almost like bead board. I like the interest of the paneling opposed to a flat wall. Did you install a backsplash for the kitchen? I was curious how your bathrooms turned out.
Thanks! I like the painted paneling a lot more than I thought I would.
I didn’t/haven’t installed a backsplash. It’s just the painted drywall behind the cabinets. It’s something I’ve toyed with doing, but it’s pretty low on the priority list.
We renovated our master bathroom to take out the garden tub and make room for more storage, the other bathroom the only thing we replaced is the floor. You don’t see pictures of them because they’re always a mess. ???? But I need to clean them up and take pics.
I love mobile homes, probably because I grew up in a few of them. I really love older ones…they actually put in some neat details back then. Yours is beautiful! Congrats! Keep posting!
You wrote rook instead of roof at the end 🙂
Thanks for the catch.
Delores Murray says
We lived in an 8 X 40 mobile home many years ago, with 4 children. It was two bedroom (HA) anyway we put in bunk trundle bed in the middle bedroom. Painted everything, removed doors to give us a better flow. There was no central air or heat, so had a gas heater put in the living dining room. Hubby made a large drop leaf table so when not in use was against the window in the living room. Had fun redecorating the kitchen it was so small just actually a turn around sink, turn stove, turn walk through with the fridge there, turn counter. But like you I nearly cried everyday we lived there because we OWNED it no payments no landlord, it was ours. Might mention, we had an out house the first couple of years because could not hook up to water for bathroom. Loved every minute we lived there on 40 acres in the Montana mountains.
Wow, that makes our house look downright big! But yes, owning your own place makes it all worth it!
James Cook says
Great job! Grew up in a 1970s 12’x70’ mobile home. After my parents divorced, Mom and I renovated the inside. Learned that carpet and linoleum were put down before walls are installed, so had to cut along base of every wall to remove old carpeting. Had to first cut the sheen on the paneling to make paint stick, and painting every groove more than once! Buying a new section of ceiling panel is better than trying to patch and plaster the ceiling. Definitely different than the types of projects you see on DIY home shows. Still glad we did it. Gave new life to a home we had already lived in for 12 years in three states. Discovering how a mobile home is constructed influenced material choices: paneling instead of drywall, vinyl tile instead of ceramic, laminate instead of granite. Mobile homes are affordable housing, so renovation should stay in an affordable range.
So true! Mobile homes are WAY different than stick built houses. We had to paint over the paneling grooves 2-3 times as well.
Ur in the same mind set as me were just a few days I mean a few days away from getting are sows ear of a old trailer it needs a lot of fixing up but I’m so ok with living in something that’s all mine and even better were Scot free of payments were getting ares for $2500 and I’m ok with that I know it’s going to take hard work and time but I’m more than ready for this chapter in are lives its freeing. I just found ur update I was wondering how things went awesome that u feel so happy with ur choice
Sarah G. says
Ah! Good to know all of this! Thank you for sharing so much of it!
We bought a lot and a trailer as well! It was very damaged from rain & had to completely strip the kitchen area! It’s been 4 years & we are still fixing things here and there but I do enjoy not paying rent to anyone as well & knowing it ours ????
Great job! I am impressed and thinking about buying a trailer to move out on my parent’s place. I am also from the same area of Texas!
You are an inspiration and provided excellent advice.
Marit Olson-Catz says
Lord, it seems as though my roommate and best friend and I have mirrored your buying choice. Last year we bought a 8,000 dollar home without a bathtub, built in ’87, single wide. We’ve put 7,000 in so far but must have a new roof. It’s depressing to look at….
Are there any national ( we live 40 miles from Milwaukee) dealers of cabinets, and every othersoits and spots we’ll need.?
I’m stealing your fix for painting the paneling white yours looks so modern and one project we could tackle ourselves. In some areas did you smooth ridges with drywall?
You are an inspiration. I’m sick of hating my home and it was for sale 7 years before we came along, so ditching it not,frankly an option. We’re in our midfifties I’ll die here, better start to love it.
Thank You for any reply you might make to me. Rock on with yer bad self!
Sincerely, Marit Olson-Catz
Scott Champion says
Good article. Thanks for sharing. I just purchased a mobile home myself, a 1989 so newer with standard shingled roof and central heat/air. I have began to totally re-do the interior. I removed the batten strips and used fiberglass tape and drywall compound to smooth out some of the walls and painted with sand textured paint. Other walls I’m doing shiplap. There are a lot of creative ways to modernize the look without gutting what’s there. Everything you tear out has to be replaced and costs money. I am trying to remember it is a trailer, don’t overspend, but if you like it, choose it-don’t just by the cheapest either.
I have found some nice appliances/ light fixtures, and more on craigslist or social media sites.
Thank You for the further motivation
Leslie S. says
After reading this you gave me hope. Thank you. My husband and I were blessed with a 1974 mobile home. Lots of work to be done.
Bobbie Lingo says
Where did you get the cabinets?
Barbara A Franklin says
Congratulations on your hard work remodeling your mobile home. We did the same ours was a 1974 Buddy, we did the work ourselves, its not perfect but its home and a place we can afford being on social security. It still needs painting outside but waiting on cooler weather. We have painted inside and replace subfloors and put down laminate floors.We replaced an outside wall and rebuilt it due to terminate damage but its stronger than before. Our roof is metal and could use sealing but doesnt leak.
Jane Bradley says
I have the same cabinets and counters in my home. what type of backsplash did you put up. I’m having a tough time figuring out what would look good.
Ms. San says
I bought a 38 yr old ‘Park model’ that’s 400 sq. ft. I’ve removed all the paneling and wall cabinets on the walls, rebuilt closet to double the space. Then did my own wall texture and taping. Replace flooring in bedroom with vinyl plank, covered a window; framed, insulated, Sheetrock, taped and textured the whole living/dining area then primed and painted. I also replaced base boards and added crown moulding.
You can do the work slowly learning and following Utube videos. I’ve invested in really good ‘man’ tools and have learned to use those too! Oh by the way I’m 65 yrs old! YOU can do it!
I love your story, my husband and I have a 98 Paul Harbor we love it it’s in pretty good condition we have done some work on it but it’s worth it, BECAUSE IT’S OURS ???? and we thank God for it. We have a lot more projects to do. Thank you their is some good information in your story.
Scarlett McGee says
Your mobile is amazing! My husband & I bought a 20 year old manufactured home 2 years ago & all it needed was new windows, floors, doors, plumbing & a lot of paint :).but we really love the semi-rural location & we need something to keep us busy
(we forgot that we are old & supposed to be enjoying life-according to the kids). So good for you with your project…you’re going to be decades ahead of your friends with that nest egg.
Delores Murray says
We bought a new home and now wish we had just done an update. The kitchen isn’t really functional and the bedroom closets had to be redone so we could get everything in them. and there is no pantry or shelves for groceries (I like to be prepared). So we are slowly changing the new home to one we really like.
Love the kitchen in your home
Geralynne Berg says
I lost everything in a divorce and to restart, I bought a used 16 X 80 mobile home- 1999 Dutchman! I love it and it was paid for in three years and with so many family members with skills and with my own abilities, I have upgraded and rebuilt it. It is filled with storage, has two bedrooms and two baths and even a wood-burning fireplace. I put in a pantry, enlarged the laundry room, added kitchen cabinets, remodeled both bathrooms and changed out all the light fixtures and now the flooring. I wouldnt trade it for anything!
Wow, go you! Those sound like fabulous upgrades!
Y would love to see pics
I LOVE your new cabinets! You guys have done a great job!
We have a 97 fleetwood. Been living in it four years with our 4 kids.
I’ve been re sealing the roof this week. What did. You use the second time that worked best?
I’ve sanded and primed all the rust and ready for the sealant now.
We are saving to build a home we hope this year.
I absolutely loved your inspirational story! I have truly been in your shoes. I was raised in a 12×70 1968 model singlewide. I am now the proud owner of it, as my dad passed it to me in his will. It too is not so pretty on the outside but, unlike modern singlewides, it has character! 90% original with the olive green linoleum, sinks, toilet and tub..lol. Your home is yours!! You can do with it what you want! No one can come in and complain or demand anything. I remember my 1st home that I owned (still got that one too 😉 ) I just layed in the middle of the living room floor, and stared at the ceiling and smiled. It was liberating. That little singlewide was mine. I painted, nailed, decorated.. made it my own. It is a 1972 12×70 3 bedroom, two full bath. I stayed there until I bought a new to me, 1991 Redman 14×70 3 bedroom, two bath with a laundry room. Stayed in that until 2018 and now reside in the house we will retire in. I have lived 98% of my life in a single wide mobile home and there is nothing wrong with it at all. Keep your head high and enjoy sweetheart!
Joanie Hull says
Enjoyed your story we are contemplating buying a 40 year manufacture home that needs tons of work the property it sits on is beautiful with a river view and access. We could stick build or replace the trailer but that voids the septic approval which are hard to come by in this location and we don’t want to chance losing that for now. We have built and remodeled homes so I have the confidence to do it but is a soooo reassuring to hear your story. Thanks
Your potential property sounds beautiful! Good luck!
I also have an old trailer. It was my parents and when they passed away it sat empty for several years. It’s a 1974. It had 3 bedrooms but my mom wanted a bigger kitchen so they took one out to make the kitchen bigger. When I came back home I retired and moved in. The floors were almost gone, the water had frozen up so pipes were broke, the toilet was broke. One wall in the kitchen had no window and was all rotted out. One bedroom wall was rotted. I moved in with no water, electricity, plumbing and started working on it. I’m now 74 years old and have been here 13 years doing the work by myself. I’ve replaced the floors, 4 windows, hot water heater, some electrical, rebuilt walls, tore out kitchen cupboards that were falling apart, tore a closet out of one of the bedrooms and yes the roof was bad. It leaked so I had someone coat it for me. It lasted about 3 yrs and I had to do it again. It will have to be redone again this summer and the kitchen ceiling repaired where it’s started leaking. Being a retired senior with no one or funds it’s impossible to get a new roof so I will continue to do my best . I would like to paint the outside, it looks pretty nasty, if I get it done or not , who knows. It’s on my sister’s property so there is no rent, water or sewer to pay. I’ve thought about renting in one of the senior homes but I’m not ready for that yet and I like my privacy. I’m back in the country with my sister on one side and one neighbor on each side, neither being close. It’s home and if it was good enough for my parents until their dying days that it’s good enough for me.
I just bought an old trailer for 2500.
I’m hoping make it my own someday after some remodeling.
Really enjoying your story about the old mobile home. We are a bit older and have been working little by little on our 75 model. Was curious what you used for the roof. I’ve done part of our roof with Flex Seal with great results but it’s expensive. Also, when you painted the walls… Did you prime first? I could have a ton of questions and maybe share some pictures with you sometime. We have a lot more to do on this house. But husband is on disability and is very limited and I’m not much better. Hoping to get help to replace floor and finish the siding.
Gabe used a fiber asphalt roof coating to seal the roof. As for paint, I used a Primer + paint did two coats on most of the walls. There was some lighter colored paneling in the bathroom that only got one coat.
Ray Opthof says
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your project mobile home. You done good.
Denise L. says
I Loved reading about your project!! It REALLY motivates me to do much needed repairs!! I also live in an OLD single wide!! A 1968 Shultz! I have no one though who could help me w/mine… I am also on disability, but would REALLY Love to do some remodeling & REPAIRS!! Like you, my Roof is now leaking in the kitchen. Tho it started in my bdrm.(which is bowing & I poked it softly, i swear. Lol! w/my cane) a few yrs ago. So it of course, has a hole in it now/still. What was it that you & your husband used the 2nd time to SEAL your roof. I still have a huge bucket of tar, that a friend of mine (lives far from me) just quit coming around to finish what he started! Maybe you would know… Is this good enough to stop the leaking? P.S. I do have family members w/ many SKILLS (& I, too. Except I’m very limited as to what i CAN do) but NONE of them care enough to help. How much did it cost you for someone to do the floors? Sincerely, Denise
Hi Denise, my husband used a roll-on fiber-asphalt roof coating to seal the roof. I don’t know the brand name, but it’s help up very well!
We hired a man from church to do our floors for $2,000, but I have no idea if we under or over paid lol.
I’m sorry you’re having trouble finding help with your house!
Tonya Christian says
Really enjoyed your article. I’ve been looking at a really old trailer that sits on half acre in my area. I just love the lot but trailer needs tons of work.
I also bought a much needing repair mobile home 1996 edition from an elderly bachelor. ???? your story inspires me to share my story of how I have renovated almost every inch over the last 2 years. Before and after pics are mouth dropping. Thanks for sharing!
Enjoyed your post. We are currently working on a 1972 monile home. Previous owners did well taking care of it. I too am frugal and love a redo for a few Dollars. This home is a coastal home and we do not intend to spend a lot. We purchased a ductless heating and cooling unit, removed the old gas furnance to make a closet snd will have to do a kitchen and bath remodel. Consider a metal roof or a pist and beam kit.
I have renovated 4 mobile homes and enjoyed each. I would paint the plywood above the ax and add a framed stain glass over it. I have added 1 x’s around the interior of the window like you’re doing. I want to pull the metal off the outside of one here on the farm and put T1-11 backup and trim it out. But Rome wasn’t built in a day! You’ve done a great job and living within your means is honorable.
MJ Ambrose says
I just bought one that’s about 30 years old – this last December. ????????
I moved in right as everything was shutting down because of the pandemic.
Thankfully the roof seems good. It came with a septic system … although I got well acquainted with the system the first time I ran the wash & it all came up through the toilets and one tub. So I empathize — a lot. I was supposed to have help on things like bugs getting in (I opened the refrigerator to see that the ants had taken possession before I did ????????) but given that everyone is sheltering in place right now I pretty much had to learn as I go so far.
But in my case, aside from the fact that I really hate bugs. The rest of the labor is all good, but the bugs make it hard to sleep ; ) lol — I really wanted to understand fixer-upper‘s in general & see if it was something I could do. So my goal is somewhat different. Originally I also thought I would be able to fix it up and sell it for substantially more (it’s on a fairly large sized lot in a family-owned park) and I’m still hoping that we’ll be able to get more money out of it than we put into it, but I’m starting to understand why that’s less likely with mobile homes. That said, it appears that we bought it significantly under market value. So ????????????????????????
But I know exactly what you were talking about re- finally knowing that you own the home you’re living in. I’m paying less than 1/3 of what I was paying at my apartment complex & I am responsible for the good and the bad. More than that, I haven’t had a real yard in so long that I forgot how much I really enjoy going outside. And all the work I put into it – one way or another that work isn’t just improving someone else’s property. It’s improving mine – until I sell it (we’re thinking two years) and then even in the worst case scenario, I will have learned so much & hopefully be in the situation to put a down payment on a traditional home (I want to move out to the islands in Washington).
I think it’s a whole ton of work, but I’m not stressed out about paying ridiculous rent anymore. I can go outside. And I was very fortunate to end up with neighbors who, even in this crazy time with the pandemic, found a way to hang out in our driveways – across from a small fire, at least 6 feet apart. That kind of experience in the midst of all this craziness is somewhat priceless.
I can really relate to your story my spouse and I also did this we purchased 10 acres of land in hopes of building a farm. The main idea was to build a new home on the property but I got discouraged with the amount of debt we would have upon our shoulders. I came across a $500 mobile home on FB and we purchased it & moved it to our land. It has been a long journey doing renovations but like you said it is ours and the financial burden is less. Thank you for sharing your story.
Deborah DeVault says
My husband and I just bought a 1968 mobile home and are starting to remodel…its our 2nd one now. We paid $2100 for it but it will def be worth it in the end. Great job and nice article!! Deborah DeVault
Do you have any before and after pics of the outside that you could share?
I really enjoyed hearing your journey. We own a 1971 single wide that we paid $1500 for and have been in the process of a complete gut outside and inside. Windows, roof, drywall, turned large dining room into a bedroom and so happy we did it. My husband is very handy and I’m thankful we have yet to hire someone for anything. If I could share pictures I would!
We just bought a 70’s trailer for $500. Its livable but I have high Hope’s and dreams that we can eventually knock everything out and open it up. I think it’s a 11×60. It’s very very tiny. I’ve been scoping storage solutions and ideas for open floor. It is currently a two bedroom one bath but I plan on making it a one bedroom/add storage and closets and redoing everything. So far, we only have $500 in it but after diy costs for materials, we are looking at $2,000. And that’s gutting the whole thing and redoing the roof as well. I’ve got it all down to the last penny and we are also doing the work ourselves, because we both have worked in this kind of field. Wish us luck!
We just bought a 1964 trailer for $500 back in July 2020. It’s fairly livable but so tiny. I literally purged everything but a few outfits and baby pictures of my kids. We are now empty nesters. I want to change the space all around but cant put my head to it. So many ideas and then comes the stuff I’m not good at. Like the electrical and plumbing. Hubby is good at that stuff. We plan on gutting this thing in spring. I’m just lost for ideas even though I have a million if that makes sense. It’s also an 11 x 60 and very very tiny. Thw second bedroom is a catch all.
I just came across this article on Pinterest. I am currently looking at a mobile home in a 55 and older park. I am 49 but apparently if the house is in my parents name- then I can live there. Housing is VERY hard to come by. In comparison- the 71 double wide I’m looking at is $180000. Yes you read that right. I live in the Napa valley. It’s insanely expensive.
Wow! I hope you find a solution!
this just makes me smile – I just paid my parents $1k yesterday for my mobile estate (as I call it) … mine is also 40 years old (well, it’s a 1981). We are actually getting ready to replace the living room floor and put down tile / vinyl most likely; any additional photos are welcome!
Angela OReilly says
Well, you did a great job, you didnt say why you didnt gut it? Many people in my community did that. But I did not. We paid 180,000 in the florida Keys with a 17ft dock and its an ocean front community of mobile homes and rv lts. The florida Keys are VERY EXPENSIve.. Most houses on our island outside our park are priced over 400,00 for a handy man special!! For a snowbird, we are very lucky to have found this gem.. 6 years ago we started with a 1972 dry lot trailer which we renovated (9 thousand invested) and bought for 78,000.. Sold it 3 years ago for 143,000 then upgraded to our current 1978 trailer. So Ihave 806 sq ft , we made 1 br. into 2, painted, new plumbing, new wall unit airs ( 3). we dont need heat in Fla Keys..We upgrated electric in Fla room (which is our living room and Master br.) This year some more electric, next year new flooring on trailer side. I wish I could have gutted it, but like you we are not carpenters or skilled trades people and labor is EXPENSIVE in Keys.. Its the way to go..especially for minialists!!
I forgot to mention ours is a condo, so we own the land…..
Hi, I was wondering what’s the brand name of your mobile, and what’s the 2nd brand of roof sealant you used, last any before kitchen an bath and outside pictures, thanks
I believe it’s a Fleetwood, and the sealant is Roofer’s Choice Wet ‘n Dry Roofer’s Cement.
I love your story and that you shared your struggles concerns and useful tips. I do have a question, I’m currently in the process of starting a 1975 mobile home reno and wanted to address the roofing situation. What is the best, as far as you know, recommendation for ensuring your roof is waterproof and secure?
Donna Hoy says
We have a 1982 manufactured home that we are in the process of redoing. We had someone put a rubber membrane over the existing roof. Cost us two thousand eight hundred dollars, but no more leaks. Thanks!
Crystal S. says
I love this article. I see so much of myself in what you wrote. Thank you for sharing.
We have been working on our old 75 model for a few years. We’re getting older and it’s harder every day. But we’ve made a lot of progress. I posted pics of the outside on your update post. We’ve done a lot on budget but we’ve had to get help to replace the living room floor and so the siding outside. I’m 65 and husband is 59 on disability. So you can imagine the difficulty.
We were gifted a 1979-80 model 2 bedroom, 2 bath mobile. Had to move it 11 miles to our property. We decided we would only repair enough of it to live it as we were living in an RV since our house burned down. We did have to replace all the subfloor. The old man is a carpenter by trade, so that helped. We replaced all the wallboard with sheetrock in the master. Added more insulation. Then I did the mud and tape and textured all the walls in the master and bath. Used the same color scheme since it’s an ensuite bath. The master had a bed pedestal, which I’d never seen in a mobile before, but I liked it! That’s the only place there’s carpet. We did laminate in the bath. The rest of the floors are still unfinished. I took all the kitchen cabinet doors off and repainted everything. It has a L shaped wet bar between the kitchen and livingroom. The livingroom side has brown fleather button tuck above and below. But it’s kinda cool. Our biggest problem now is the roof doesnt leak but the drip edges are gone. So the rain just runs down the windows and doors into the walls. So we’re looking at a roof over. He wanted to rebuild the old house but I know him and we’d both die before that ever happened. Carpenters house is never done, so the old saying goes. LOL So far we’ve invested maybe $500. The property is paid for. So we only have utilities and taxes to pay. It makes for much cheaper living.
We as a family bought a 1977 14×70 mobile home in 1996 put it on 20 acres. We had to clear the land first my husband myself and children even dog drug limbs to help. We poured the pad moved the home and left it for winter. When spring came we started working on the house no well yet or septic had to carry water from the lake that was near us they had a hand pump and had to carry it up hill 5 gallon at a time. We started working on the water pipes first the bathroom next then the hallway from a leak in the bathroom and laundry room. Finally had well and septic put in. New carpet tile in the kitchen. It took about a year to complete all these things. I’m glad we did all this work. We’ve had this place for 25 years now and I’m glad we did all this work I’m satisfied to live in a old mobile home it’s paid for and the land is too.
Just curious, what was the estimated cost of these repairs?
Just curious, what was the estimated cost of these repairs?
What did you use on your ceilings? Loved your honest & open comments. We appreciate your experience!
Thank you for this post. I’d love to hear another update and see pictures. I bought a mobile home in 2007 as a starter home. I am 38 now (14 years ago) I still live here. I was thinking about remodeling some of it since I’ve been here so long. Like 2/3 of my rooms are catch all’s now and I’ve pretty much given up on having kids bc my husband won’t help me clean them out. Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I didn’t purchase this place. The one thing I would like is to have finished walls so I could paint. I’ve always wanted a house I could paint the walls in. After seeing your post I am almost thinking of trying to paint here. Thanks for the inspiration. People always act like everyone in the US must be rich and we all live in these mansions and it’s not true. I wish there were real reality shows showing real people with real life problems and real renovation shows showing people remodeling mobile home and normal stuff. Sorry for what seems like a rant. It’s not I’m just tired of Life really and it’s been hard coming to the realization you’re too old for kids just bc you wanted to be responsible and wait to give them the best life you could but you couldn’t give them a good one so you just didn’t have any. Sorry ????
We just purchased and are renovating a 1960 Peerless mobile home for $50,000 with lot rent coming in at $1000 a month. I’m trying to not over-invest in the renovations as I don’t know what purpose the trailer will serve. We gutted the bathroom and tore off the deck and are knee deep in rebuilding/renovating both, currently. When the weather is nice, we’re outside. When it’s awful, we’re working in the bathroom. My intention is to leave something more beautiful than I found it and so that’s where we stand. Thank you for sharing your journey. Keep up the great work!
Wendy Zayas says
About one year after my husband and I got married in Key Largo, Florida we had to move to Missouri. We stayed with my grandma in a trailer park with lots of trailers lined up almost perfect. we started to get to know people around us. In fact this older couple just fell in love with our family, so much that they wanted to bless us. They decited to sell us their trailer and property for $10,000. We had it paid off in four years and then they gave us back the money we paid for rent with. So make the rest of the long story short, we still own and live in the trailer today. I myself moved out because of reasons not related to the trailer. And really i wish the dam thing would just stop being livable.Their dad lives there to. All they pay is electric and water. Free rent. Two kids were born and three raised there. Three grand babies and its a three bedroom one bath trailer.
So if you have a chance to get into one and you own it, i guess its worth it for the cost but when you do get it make a due date you move out into bigger and better things. Good luck to anyone who puts their life through living in a trailer park.
After moving from Key Largo, Florida in 1988. My new husband and baby moved in with my grandma in a trailer park. We got to know the people well. One day an older couple asked us if we would want to live and own their trailer. We agreed. In five years it was ours and they even gave us back the $10,000 we paid over the years. To this day our family lives there. With almost all the same trailers lined up perfect. We raised three kids and now three grandkids have lived there. I myself left there four years ago because i needed more for my life. The walls were getting smaller and there was no room for me any longer. My daughter her boyfriend and new baby girl live with my middle son and my ex. Sometimes i wish we never would of bought the trailer but i guess its better then being homeless.
I do regret leaving and my heart still wishes i didnt give up. Im happy. I met a man with a home, in fact we own five different places. Two of them are trailers. So if anyone is thinking about buying a trailer. Make a due date to move out or you will be stuck there the rest of your life. Good luck.
What did you use for the ceiling in the kitchen ? We are remodeling an old trailer as well .
My husband and I bought A 1969 mobile home ,single wide 12′ by 56′ 2 bedroom one bath in pretty good shape but Ugly as sin,I have been scouring the internet for remodel ideas,so many I think I went into overload, my hubby is a great handy man and I am hoping to learn but not real positive,we want to go through inside and out wiring plumbing insulation I also want to move the washer and dryer from the bathroom hookups are opposite the sink tub nd toilet that share a wall Of the bedroom that I want to make the laundry my biggest problem is making a plan I have no idea where to begin or what in what order HELP
I live in a 1970 single wide with my 48 year old son. I’m retired & disabled. The trailer & property were already mine so no payment. But I feel like its falling down around my head. Kitchen cabinets are falling down, floors all need replacing, & we won’t even get in to the bathroom! However your post has given me hope & inspiration. Thank you for sharing this.
I wish you had more photos of all of the improvements that you wrote about. Thank you for what you did share!
We bought a 1957 mobile home as a vacation place that allows us the opportunity to spend summers in a beach town we normally wouldn’t be able to afford. We are directly across the street from the beach. Homes with direct beach access are super pricey and way out of our reach. We paid $8000 12 years ago and we’re just a five minute walk or a two minute golf cart drive to the beach. We do have lot rent but because it’s a seasonal park, it’s only $230 a month which includes our electric, sewer, water, garbage pick-up, and even karaoke nights and special events. The park does offer free Wi-Fi but we just get our own because it’s easier for streaming. Our trailer was in good shape when we purchased it so we never had the need for a major remodel. It also had a deck, shed and an additional screen room so storage was never an issue. I love it because it’s so darn affordable. We have spent 50 times more on maintenance for our main home than our trailer. Seems like our main house always needs something and it’s always something expensive. Our trailer is easy to maintain because it’s much smaller. Our neighbor just recently sold his vintage trailer and got $40,000 which means we have actually made money on this place! Yes, it helps that this is an in demand tourist area but I was shocked. I never thought a mobile home would increase in value. When we get ready to retire our goal is to sell our home, spend our summers at the beach and then buy another mobile home in a warmer location for winter. Michigan has beautiful summers but I can do without our winters!
what did u put up for ceiling? it looks real nice. did it cost alot.
Sharon Twichell says
Thanks for your help! My husband and I just bought the 20 acres adjacent to our home and property. Along with it came, a good, solid 1965 mobile home with 2 car garage. I can not wait to get in there and get to work, this spring.. Like I said, good and solid but needs to desperately be spruced. A little paint, curtains etc….and how in the world to you decorate with a PINK bathroom…toilet, bath and sink. Thanks again, for sharing!
Could you build a house around it? That is what I live in.
Paula Smith says
You both done a beautiful job, My husband and I are in the same situation that you were in I want to thank you for giving us the strength to carry on
Elise New says
Thank you! And good luck!
I “reconstructed” a 1992, 16-wide mobile home about 10 years ago. I, too, wanted a full makeover and wasn’t hesitant to invest, because the mobile home had been custom built to residential code in floors and walls…(the “skeleton” is an essential consideration in investing in a redo). It was solid! I did cover the paneling with 1/4-inch sheetrock (glued to the paneling and screwed to the studs), replaced all the kitchen and bath fixtures and cabinets with residential-grade items, and replaced all lighting and flooring. I bought it for $10k and ended up spending about $30k in the interior. Yes…had more in it than it was worth. However, it let me live there comfortably and cheaply for 10 years before I built my house. Ten years of rent for the same space would minimally have been $70k, leaving me with nothing to show for it. The renovated mobile is still in great shape and now provides me with rental income…a real plus now that I’m on retirement income. No regrets….but you need a long-term perspective.
Mary Morris says
My husband and I acquired a mobile hone built in 1969 for free!! At first I said I get the final word only after I see it ,its a bit rundown as you would expect and very outdated,so ugly as sin! But all in all very good bones,I also had very big plans for it,your story sounds spot like my story,I don’t have any experience doing any of these renovations but My husband does,he is the one who talked me out of tearing it down to its shell and replacing everything!I have done so much research on Pinterest and lots of ideas I have some plans in my head I just have to get a set plan down on paper(exterior,interior(living room kitchen hallway bathroom, master bedroom,guest bedroom/future laundry room,pantry) one room at a time,new wiring,plumbing,,flooring I am so disorganised I don’t know the best place to start,I afraid finishing something and then realizing I have to tear it down to get to something for another praject,this has stopped me from going forward
Thank you for sharing your journey. I’ve often thought Of writing something about the whole mobile home experience, stigma, etc. I live in California and once owned one of those tiny home/park model/ mobile homes that cost $500k to purchase and $1,800 month in space rent. From experience and owning over 10 mobile homes over the years you can do just about anything money can buy. I had a roof top deck on one home. I also had a neighbor whose vintage (we don’t say fixer upper) home featured in Palm Springs Life magazine. So many amazing things to do….with money.
It’s awesome to hear that someone besides myself has taken this challenge! Congratulations! I’m a widow who lost my home when my husband died. I purchased a 1982 14×70 single wide and renovated it myself, with the help of my 3 sisters and a friend. On an extremely small budget. Never give up! If I can do it, you can. I now have the cutest retirement home ever.
Thank you for this article. My daughter and son-in-law will probably go the mobile home route. Your experience gave me fresh perspective. I hope things are going well for you still.
Delilah T. says
I was working for a plumber/remodeling/ electrician as a helper. He knew of someone giving away a mobile home. To our surprise it had bones about it. I searched for homes under 5k. I got so lucky. 16×60 1987 Ranger. Perfect for me. My Mother let me have 5k to move it, plumbed it, put in new wiring. Pole/ electrical box. Septic system put in.Built the most fantastic kitchen for $800.00 in 2016. Lived in it without water but run a hose from my son’s house. After painting, got used windows and put in Insulation in walls, repaired floor in kitchen and bathroom, painted all the ceilings. I lived in it 6 months, got alimony & got on the grid. My property settlement made the difference next.
Put a tin roof over it. $1400 , screened in porch $1200 ,joining open porch that was ( free). Bought ceiling fans, light fixtures, furniture in every room. Hooked up to propane heater and stove. Had to replace commode which was free, paid for the tub & faucet. Kitchen appliances and washer/dryer. Linoleum rugs in front bedroom and 2 bathrooms $50.00 2 for free. Bedroom rug was fifty. Got a 20ft TV antenna given to me. I get 22 channels free. My income doesn’t support satellite TV. Or internet.
I have approximately $10,000 in my mobile home. Debt free. Over 60ty now, enjoying my life, my way. 6yrs divorced, enjoying my grandkids. When you learn to do things yourself or shown how to do it. It’s worth it. I’m so grateful.
Looks great! We always redo whatever we live in, I would put some 1×4’s on roof with 1” insulation in between and put a metal roof on. That’s our thoughts if we do a mobile remodel. You could then allow a small overhang to help prevent leaking around windows. From past experience my husband says that will be one of the first things he does. I would love to see the whole inside, kitchen looks great!
Wow!! That was a great idea. So happy for you. Thank you for sharing this plan.