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Manufactured home owners sometimes get a little defensive.  When describing our houses we feel that we have to start out with the disclaimer, "These days, manufactured homes are just as good as �stick built�."  (For those new to this, "Stick Built" homes are the ones framed on site").

If you haven�t been in a new manufactured home recently, give it a try. I think you�ll be surprised and in most cases these days, it�s hard to tell the difference from a traditional built home.  Pre-built, modular and manufactured are terms to get used to. These homes are quickly becoming the rule instead of the exception.  With out belaboring the point I�ll just say that expense had nothing to do with our decision to go with a manufactured home. Price-wise we could have gone any way we wanted but we went with a manufactured home because of the convenience of knowing what we were getting and the quality of the latest technology.

Yes, our previous house burned up in the Cedar Fire of 2003 but actual construction on our new house didn't begin till January 2005. At that time Bill Raver, our contractor and neighbor, came in and bulldozed the pad, widened the road, installed a new culvert and began the foundation. He was the one who also supervised the placement and took care of all the details involved with tying a manufactured home together. He did a great job.

Of course we have special circumstances that have brought the price up a bit. We wanted a foundation that was above and beyond what is typically done on a manufacture home. Catherine is very concerned about earthquakes (she works for the SDSU geology dept.), and the home is placed on a hill where the wind has been known to reach 80 MPH or more. Preparing for all those issues added to the foundation construction expense. I did the electrical, sewer and water tie-ins myself.

The Electric

The previous owner used aluminum wire which he buried without conduit and what the fire didn't get, the gophers did. When the insulation on underground aluminum wire is damaged, moisture gets in and the aluminum tends to oxidize. Some sections of this wire were nothing but bloated lengths of powder. (Not sure what shape the gopher is in)

Unlike the previous owner who didn't worry about building permits, my work had to pass inspection by the county. Buried power lines must be in conduit and at least 18" deep. That's 18 inches to the top of the conduit and the inspector walked the trench to make sure I didn't cut any corners.

There was a lot of confusion over what SDG&E was responsible for and what I had to do myself. Everyone had a different story. As it worked out, I had to install my own power pole and electric meter. The hole for the pole has to be 5 feet deep and no more than 100 feet from the main transformer. I had to mount the pole and install the meter and main service breaker. Ever buy a telephone pole? No problem, just drop by your local telephone pole store the next time you go out for groceries. FYI, I found one for $190.

Usually this work would be done by a licensed electrician but over the years I've picked up enough knowledge to do it myself. The inspectors realize that people in the back country have to do a lot of their own work but they still make sure you don't have any code violations. The bid I got from the electric contractor was $45 per foot. The trench is about 100' and I'll be darned if I'll pay to have someone do something that I used to do for the Physical Plant as a matter of course.

Not too technical and my material cost was $200 plus $1,200 to SDG&E for the new transformer that they mounted on the closest power pole. Not bad compared to what the contractor wanted.


The home was built in Arizona by the Factory Expo Company and shipped in two sections to our house site in California.  We had some problems during that process but the company didn't charge for any additional expenses. Actually, they've been very good to us and I highly recommend them. (No, we're not getting paid for this endorsement)

The new house is bolted together and I�m slowly beginning to feel like life is returning to normal. We have power, phone, gas, water, Direct TV and even Direcway satellite internet. Right or wrong, sitting around the TV makes me feel like we�ve finally moved in. I suspect that prehistoric cave men felt the same way when they were able to relax around the fire with their family.

I didn�t document the construction process very well. It seemed like I was always in a rush to keep ahead of the inspectors and our contractor kept me hopping, doing the work that I had agreed would be my responsibility. During those days I just didn�t feel like getting out the camera to record my efforts.

Though our new house is modest, we now have amenities that most people take for granted. In the country, water pressure is a luxury and a side effect of meeting new fire codes is that we were required to modify our plumbing. Indoor fire sprinklers are now mandatory and to pass inspection, I had to install an auxiliary water pump that boosts the household water pressure to over 50 PSI. The welcome side effect is that we can now take showers that don�t just drool water.

We have two bathrooms, a dish washer, central heating and air conditioning. This three bedroom house is allowing me to set up my own office and I�ve been slowly moving in my computers and ham radio junk. The nicest thing is that I�m no longer under a deadline and can relax and take my time.

The forest service appreciates the fact that we don't have burnable vegetation close to the house but I've been planting trees and shrubs. We're looking forward to the time when the property won't have that scraped, bare dirt look. It will take years to accomplish that.

Since 1999