Relevel an Old Doublewide
We spend quite a long time with our customers explaining how to relevel an old doublewide. Yesterday's home leveling experience was interesting to say the least not just because of the actual job but also because of the interaction with the homeowner which turned out to be very frustrating and ultimately an unprofitable waste of time.
Not because of the parties that were involved but because of their different goals.
So what was this Old Doublewide like?
This older 2 section home in particular must have been circa. 1970.... 20 x 48 foot double wide situated in a park somewhere in central Florida I'm not going to give away the names of the home owners or say the actual park so we can protect the innocent here.
It is just a good example of how the objectives and expectations of the homeowner and contractor can be so very different.
The Underside of the Mobile Home was in Pretty Bad Shape.
This home had an aluminum shed attached to the house at the back and a raised Florida sun room on the front with an aluminum carport and a roof over. The I beams of the home were approximately 8-10 inches off the ground which was loose sand.
The base pads were 1 1/2 " thick concrete paving slabs with pyramid shaped deck posts on top, most of them were not actually touching the beams and those that were touching were shimmed out with any old pieces of wood or just about whatever anybody could find. However some piers had new style pressure treated wedges.
The piers themselves were 8 - 12 feet apart.
None of this is particularly unusual on a home this old.
On top of that the underbelly of the house was almost nonexistent with fiberglass insulation hanging down from the floor joists and laying all over the floor.
This home was completely out of level and had been so for many years with one corner of the home almost touching the ground. I looked around underneath the mobile home and took plenty of photographs. I wanted to show them exactly what the problems were, including the piece of concrete piling which appeared to be holding up most of the kitchen floor.
Previous Bad Experience with Handyman.
The homeowners had recently had a few bad experiences with handyman services who apparently attempted to level the house with a 3 foot torpedo level unsuccessfully. Someone had apparently tried as best they could to replace the missing Piers. Bearing in mind that it was almost impossible to get under the house it was not surprising that the work was carried out ineffectively.
Over the years the elderly homeowners have made improvements to the inside of the home including the installation of new floor coverings which appear to be vinyl style parquet flooring. The kitchen had some major renovation work done to it in the past and was a configuration I've never seen before with the cooker and the main work surfaces being on a diagonal.
The center of the house, which includes the kitchen area, had an open span of 24 feet with No Center Piers at each end to transfer the load from the roof down to the foundation and the home was clearly sloping off to the back corner from the kitchen area.
Conclusions of the Inspection.
Okay so so far it's going to be a difficult job in particularly bad conditions under the the home.
This was not a job I was going to do at my base rate as extra time would be needed to level the home and extra costs would be involved providing the materials for the necessary extra support piers.
The Conversation with the Customers.
This is where things went rapidly downhill as we sat down with the homeowners to explain their options the costs and the reasons for having certain things done. I explained to them that they needed their home to be releveled and that I would also add some extra piers to give better support by increasing the footprint, I explained blow-by-blow how I would do the job.
"So you're telling me that you will level my house and that my floors will be perfectly level"
to which I replied
"That's not what I said, what I did say was that I would level your home. By which I mean your "I" beams will be leveled and I will add extra piers where necessary but I cannot guarantee that your floor (which is made out of wood and has been sagging down for maybe 20 years) will come back and be perfectly level."
I also explained to her that I was a mobile home contractor and that I was licensed to level mobile homes but I was not a floor contractor.
So we went backwards and forwards for approximately 1 hour whilst she asked me the same question 15 different ways trying to get me to say that the floor would be perfectly level on completion of my job.
The final straw was when the conversation moved to anchors or the lack thereof and I suggested at least 6-7 anchors per side to which she replied
"That's going to be included right?"
"No, that is not included!"
"Well it should be because we are going to pay you a lot of money."
I guess the definition of a lot of money depends on your situation at the time, to me I was going to do the job for the least I could possibly do and earn a living, while she on the other hand considered anything over $200 to be way too much money.
Needless to say we advised the couple on what needed to be done and have not taken the project.