The modern mobile home emerged in the 1950s, partly as the result of increased housing demands in post-war America. In addition to a new primary housing choice, mobile homes also offered a low-cost choice for vacation or retirement homes. Today, owning a mobile home in Florida can offer a great vacation choice, seasonal home or investment, but can also present some unique homeowner challenges.
Florida law requires mobile home manufacturers to warranty their homes for a period of no less than one year from the date of sale. Installation of the home must also carry a one-year warranty from the date of the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy. Homes must be purchased from a licensed Florida mobile home dealer for this warranty to apply.
Expenses for mobile home setup can significantly add to the cost of a mobile home. While Florida law dictates that mobile home manufacturers furnish printed setup and installation instructions for each home they manufacture, setup must be completed by a licensed installer. Installers must be licensed by the Florida Bureau of Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Construction and provide proof of a surety bond and liability insurance. Additionally, all electrical and plumbing installation must be completed by licensed contractors.
Florida offers a wide selection of mobile home parks and communities, many with beach or river access, or close proximity to other tourist attractions. The nonpermanent nature of mobile homes allows homeowners not only the ability to choose a location suitable to their taste, but also to relocate the home to a new location. Mobile home parks often provide access to areas or locations not available or cost-prohibitive to traditional home construction.
Mobile home insurance in Florida can be expensive and offer limited coverage. Even with hurricane tie-downs and other safety equipment, mobile homes in Florida are extremely susceptible to flooding, wind damage or complete destruction in a major storm. These facts put mobile homes in a high-risk insurance category, resulting in high premiums and deductibles, or even a lack of companies willing to write new policies.
Although Florida mobile homes must conform to strict HUD and Florida construction guidelines, the basic nature of a mobile home makes it an unsafe choice during a storm. Florida's tropical climate can present many weather issues during the year, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, lightning and tropical storms. Most of these natural occurrences can easily destroy even the most well-built, modern mobile home. Mobile home owners also fall under mandatory evacuations more often than other types of homeowners.
Jeff O'Kelley is a professional photographer and writer, currently based in the Tampa, Florida area. His images and words have been featured by websites and publications such as CNN, Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Times. O'Kelley holds associate degrees in telecommunications and website design from St. Petersburg College.