When you buy (or sell) a manufactured / mobile home, many times the loan involved in real estate transaction will either be an FHA or VA loan. However, FHA and VA will only fund the loan if you can prove that the foundation under the home is a permanent foundation.
But what is a “permanent foundation” and where do I find it’s proper definition? Well, in HUD Publication 7584, is where you will find its definition. The definition is quite extensive and geared, mainly, towards professional engineers.
The HUD 7584 publication is also called the HUD Permanent Foundation Guide for Manufactured Homes, or PFGMH. It is published by the United States department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This 400 page manual is intended for new construction of manufactured home permanent foundations. If you have an existing foundation and are in need of a permanent foundation certification, then the existing permanent foundation shall meet the intent of the PFGMH.
A manufactured mobile home foundation that does not meet the intent of the PFGMH is considered non-compliant, and one that does meet the intent of the PFGMH is considered compliant. Only a professional engineer licensed in the state of where the home is located can make this determination.
In its most simplistic definition, a permanent foundation will generally consist of a skirting to keep out vermin and water, footings and piers to support the home from gravity loads (such as snow and live loads), anchorage to resist lateral loads such as high winds or an earthquake, and other considerations.
The reason why a professional engineer is required to determine whether it is permanent or not, is because of the safety issues involved with a structure that houses people. Professional engineers have the training and educational background to determine if the foundation is safe and habitable, and also “permanent” as defined by HUD.