Basic Legal Requirements for Placing Mobile Home on Land in Oregon

When installing a manufactured home in Oregon, you must comply with federal laws, state laws, and local rules and regulations, as described here.

By , J.D. · University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Placing a manufactured home on your land allows you the freedom of home ownership without spending as much as you would for a site-built home. You cannot, though, place a manufactured home just anywhere. When installing a manufactured home, you must comply with federal laws, state laws, and local rules and regulations. Understanding these requirements in advance of buying both your land and your manufactured home will help avoid future headaches.

Federal and State Law Controls on Manufactured Homes

Under the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act (42 U.S.C. 5401-5426), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") oversees the statutes, standards, and regulations relating to the safety and construction of manufactured housing. States and local governments cannot establish construction and safety standards that are different than those standards set by HUD.

The federal standards assure that manufactured homes are quality built, durable, safe, and affordable. As a result, in Oregon, a manufacturer will comply with these construction and safety standards when building your manufactured home.

A home that complies with the HUD standards will have an insignia of compliance tag, which shows that it's ready for installation. Local jurisdictions may require proof that the manufactured home bears that insignia before allowing you to install your home.

While HUD sets the construction and safety standards, state and local governments can still establish standards for installation. Oregon's installation program is administered by the Department of Consumer & Business Services – Building Codes Division ("DCB"). The DCB, though, typically contracts with or appoints local municipalities to inspect and issue permits for the installation of manufactured dwellings. Most likely your local jurisdiction, whether city or county, will be the governing entity that inspects and issues permits for the installation of your manufactured home.

Talk to Local Planning Department Before Buying Land and Home

Once you identify the piece of property you want to buy, speak with the local planning department to confirm that you can place a mobile home on it. Local governments regulate building and placement permits in light of the local zoning ordinance and building code.

Assuming a manufactured home can legally be placed on your property, you will also want to review the zoning ordinance. Look in particular at whether manufactured homes must be a minimum size (for example, 1,000 square feet), whether you must install skirting around the base, what roofing and siding material are allowed, and what other requirements apply to the installation of your manufactured home.

These requirements could impact what manufactured home you buy. For example, if your property is in a zone that allows only manufactured homes that are over 1,000 square feet, you do not want to buy one that is 800 square feet.

More to Consider When Before Buying Land and Installing a Manufactured Home

In addition to zoning requirements, there are a number of issues to consider before buying land for your manufactured home. These include:

  • Legal access. Whether the property is developed or undeveloped, it is a good idea to check with the local road department to determine whether access is feasible. If a new driveway is necessary, you might want to find out how much it will cost before you buy the land.
  • Utilities. You probably want water, electricity, and so forth in your home! If you find that utilities are unavailable, don't assume right away that the land is not worth buying. In fact, the price of the land will hopefully be less as a result. If utilities are not available, though, you will want to confirm what utilities you will need, that you can, in fact, install those utilities, and that doing so is not cost prohibitive.
  • Foundation type. What foundation type is required will depend on the conditions of the building site, design of the manufactured home, and snow loads the home is designed to withstand.
  • Waste disposal. If you are buying in town, make sure there is a sewer connection on site (or that you can make a connection). If buying in a rural area, where there is no sewer, make sure there is a septic system or that you can install one. Septic systems take space because of the drain field that is required.
  • Transportation permit. Manufactured homes might need an oversize-load permit from the Oregon Department of Transportation ("ODOT"). The installer might take care of any necessary transportation permit for you, but you should confirm. If you have questions about this issue, contact ODOT's Motor Carrier Transportation Division - Over Dimensional Permits Unit.

You'll Need a Building Permit

You cannot install a manufactured dwelling in Oregon without first obtaining from your local municipality all necessary permits. At a minimum, you will need a building permit, but might also need electrical, plumbing, or mechanical permits.

Talk to your local building department to determine what permits you will need before beginning to install your manufactured home. If you fail to do so, you might have to pay double fees or worse, have to remove your home if you discover it cannot lawfully be on your land.

A Licensed Installer Must Do the Installation

Installation of manufactured dwellings in Oregon must be done in accordance with the Oregon Manufactured Dwelling Installation Specialty Code. A licensed installer should be familiar with its numerous technical requirements. Installers must be licensed to install manufactured homes through the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.

If you're buying new manufactured home, installation might be included in its purchase price, but confirm this with the seller. On the other hand, the cost of transporting and installing a used manufactured home is not usually included in the purchase price. If you have to hire an installer, make sure it has the necessary license and is familiar with Oregon code.

Dispute Resolution for Installation Problems

The DCB mediates problems that occur in connection with the installation of manufactured homes. Mediation affords parties an opportunity to resolve disputes without going to court. If a dispute arises regarding the installation of your manufactured home, contact the DCB Building Code Division to learn more about this program.

A licensed installer should be able to address many of the concerns that arise during the installation. However, if you have legal questions about the installation of your manufactured home, including matters relating to the zoning and building permit requirements, a land use attorney can help answer those.

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