How Can You Tell Which Manufactured Home Walls Are Load Bearing?

If you plan to make changes to your home, perhaps some remodeling work, you probably need to locate load bearing walls before embarking on your project.

All manufactured homes come with studs in their walls, and mobile homes (built before 1976) are made mainly the same way.

However, you are still going to find manufactured homes made with 2″x3″ inner wall studs.

Bear in mind that non-load bearing interior walls are added to divide up the house’s inner space and don’t serve any structural purpose.

So, How Can You Tell Which Manufactured Home Walls Are Load Bearing?

It is quite easy. There are multiple ways to it.

1. Locating A Load Bearing Wall – Double Wide Homes

The process of identifying a load-bearing wall in a double-wide home can be a little complicated:

Method 1 – Joists

If your home has a basement, start from there.

Otherwise, proceed to the beneath of the floor and find out from there.

Look out for columns and beams—often made from a tough metal—running from one extreme side of the floor to the other.

Your load-bearing walls should be on top of those beams. Also, all walls made to stand on a foundation qualify as load-bearing walls.

Method 2 – Marriage Lines

It is near standard for load-bearing walls in double-wide homes to be the exterior walls and walls along the seam or marriage line in a double-wide. In other words, if your home is a double-wide, start at those lines.

In some situations, it would be essential to find out the type of wall you have at hand as some companies tend to take a slightly different arrangement approach depending on the material used to make the wall.

Most homes come with gypsum or vinyl wall panels or simple VOG panels.

Vinyl coated walls often feature a shiny finish with a pattern such as flowers printed on a paper beneath the coating and top of the gypsum.

Most builders prefer VOG panels because of their ease of installation and lightweight signature.

Method 3 – The Attic

Look at the joists of the floor if you can easily see them beneath the floor, from your basement looking overhead the floor.

Alternatively, you can go up in the attics and look down on the joists in this section. Look and note down their direction.

Typically, a load-bearing wall is perpendicular to your floor joists.

Method 4 – Checking the Blueprint

The blueprint method is the easiest and most accurate way of identifying the load-bearing wall.

Examine the home’s blueprints to find out where the original supporting beams were placed.

You can ask for a copy from the company that made your home if you don’t have a copy of the blueprint with you.

2. Locating a Load Bearing Wall – Single Wide Manufactured Home

Most single wide homes out there don’t feature a load-bearing wall.

It is becoming standard for single wide homes to come with no load-bearing walls at all unless you ask for a custom made unit and insist on it.

The reason why manufacturers ditch them is straightforward – the number and length of the roof trusses are enough to support the weight of the whole structure as well as that of the roof.

However, the ceiling that normally extends between two different heights on a single wall is a good indicator that you are looking at a load-bearing wall.

This is the only known sign in single wide homes that a shear/load-bearing wall is in use at that point.

So, look for that when inspecting a single wide home. Each manufacturing company does things a little differently, but the arrangement is normally the same.

Can You Remove the Load Bearing Wall in a Double-Wide?

In one word – NO, unless qualified specialists are involved.

Manufactured home homeowners are advised to leave their home’s marriage lines alone.

Tampering with or trying to make thoughtless modifications on a marriage line in a double-wide can create roof leaks, which may weaken the structural integrity of the home and even give rise to many other costly issues.

It is recommended that you begin by understanding the project’s needs before thinking about removing the wall on a marriage line.

It is also important to understand that the weight held by the wall needs to be redistributed perfectly.

As you can tell, the remodeling project can take a great deal of construction knowledge, math, and experience.

Marriage walls also serve to support the roof ridge beam. The beam needs to be in a specific length and thickness to hold the home and roof’s weight and distribute it down the ground.

If you remove a section of the load-bearing wall, whether, at its marriage line or base, you may need to add reinforcement.

Removing the load-bearing wall at its marriage line is always followed by redistributing the weight with, say, a span or post support system or beam.

This’s when things begin getting serious, and you will need to hire a professional contractor alongside a licensed engineer to avoid mishaps.

Your mobile home was made to stay as it is, so making modifications requires a careful approach with experienced professionals, or else serious structural failures could occur.

What Do You If You Can’t Locate the Load Bearing Wall by Yourself?

Have you tried your best and failed to locate it, or you’re just too busy?

Don’t fret.

There are three people you can call for assistance:

1. Call the Manufactured Home Manufacturer

The original maker of your home can provide precise information regarding the load-bearing wall location.

If your home is new, the company may not charge you for the service, while older homes may attract a fee straightaway.

If they do, bear in mind that such a fee is nothing close to the structural damages that can come up from unknowingly tearing down your load-bearing wall.

2. Call A Building inspector

If you are having doubts, then you should consider calling your local building inspector.

Builder inspectors work with many types of homes every year, so there’s no chance they would fail to locate what you want.

Note that professional building inspectors normally charge for this kind of consultancy service.

Home inspections normally charge several hundred dollars. The rate can vary a bit widely depending on the size of your home and market – a high-end home can attract an estimated fee of $1,000.

3. Call A Home Remodel Consultant

The best thing about home remodeling consultants is that they will locate everything and work on your project.

If you hire them to work on whatever remodeling project on your mind, they may push the consultancy fee aside to focus on the entire work’s pricing.

Some independent companies give their services to assist would-be house improvers and decide how to embark on the project.

Such companies may employ interior decoration experts, construction managers, and other experienced improvement experts.

Still, when making changes to a wall, you are not certain is load-bearing, the companies may be in a good position to advise you about the whole project and whether the changes modification is safe.

Above all, be cautious

Avoid removing parts of your wall on your own unless you are certain of the load-bearing wall location.

As stated before, modifying your home or damaging the load-bearing wall can weaken the home’s structure and even put it a risk of collapse.

In A Nutshell

While you shouldn’t embark on any home modification project on your own, you still need to locate the load-bearing walls before hiring the professionals to work on them.

Single Wide homes almost always don’t come with load-bearing walls.

For double wide homes, there are several ways of locating them. One such method is the joist approach.

If your home has a basement, go down there and find out from there.

Look out for columns and beams—often made from a tough metal—running from one extreme side of the floor to the other. Your load-bearing walls should be on top of those beams.

It is near standard for load-bearing walls in more modern double-wide homes to be the exterior walls and/or walls along the seam or marriage line in a double-wide.

In other words, if your home is a double-wide, start at those lines.

In some situations, it would be important to find out the type of wall you have at hand as some companies tend to take a slightly different arrangement approach depending on the material used to make the wall.

The blueprint method is the easiest and most accurate way of identifying the load-bearing wall.

Examine the home’s blueprints to find out where the original supporting beams were placed.

You can ask for a copy from the company that made your home if you don’t have a blueprint copy with you.

You can better seek the advice or even service of your local building inspector.

Related: What Does It Mean When the Bedroom Wall Is Warm or Hot to The Touch?

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