From the collection of the
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San Francisco, California
HOW TO BUILD AND OPERATE
A MOBILE-HOME PARK
HOW TO BUILD AND OPERATE
A MOBILE-HOME PARK
L. C. MICHELON
Director of Management Services, Industrial Relations Center
The School of Business
The University of Chicago
Copyright 1955 by Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association,
20 North W acker Drive, Chicago 6, Illinois. All rights reserved.
Sixth Printing 1959. No part of this publication may be repro-
duced in any form except upon 'written permission from the
The mobile-homes industry is comparatively young. It is
essentially an outgrowth of the camping-trailer industry which
prevailed during the early thirties.
As a mobile-home industry it has faced growing pains and the
need for adequate standards and planning. Much of this need has
been in the field of the trailer park, known today as the mobile-
Professor Michelon, who had spent several periods in Florida
studying mobile-home park development and its relation to re-
tirement programs, came to the conclusion that there was a
definite need for a text on the construction of such a park.
The Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association, which with
its Park Division had spearheaded the planning of such parks,
readily joined with his cause.
Mr. Michelon then proceeded to construct his own park and
from such construction weave the pattern to help other prospec-
tive park operators.
The Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association acknowledges
the work of Professor Michelon and appreciates the part played
by the staff of the University of Chicago Industrial Relations
Center, which participated in the retirement research program
at AlA Mobile Home Park, Melbourne Beach, Florida.
The Manufacturers Association takes pride in the publication
of this text, the first complete volume covering the construction
of a mobile-home park.
MOBILE HOMES MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
PART I. PLANNING A MOBILE-HOME PARK
CHAPTER 1. EXPLORING THE MOBILE-HOME PARK BUSINESS ... 3
Be Your Own Boss The Need for Mobile-Home Parks Have
You Got What It Takes? -How Much Money Will It Take?-
Have You the Right Kind of Business Organization? Get
the Facts Opportunity Unlimited Check List of Personal Quali-
fications and Other Factors
CHAPTER 2. FINDING THE RIGHT LOCATION ... 17
Factors Affecting Location Topography and High Level of
Land Site Provisions Yardsticks of Cost Conclusion
CHAPTER 3. DESIGNING A MOBILE-HOME PARK 24
Large and Attractive Spaces Angular Parking of Mobile Homes
Suitable Auto-parking Areas Concrete Patios and Sidewalks
Hard-surfaced or Durable Roads Buildings, Landscaping, and an
Appealing Entrance MHMA-approved Layouts of Mobile-Home
Parks Tips in Designing a Mobile-Home Park
CHAPTER 4. GETTING READY To BUILD ... 34
Retaining a Competent Attorney Inventory of the Laws Affect-
ing Utilities and Buildings Bill of Materials Selecting the Right
Items for Subcontracting How To Get Definitive Bids Setting
Cost Goals and Staying within Them Avoiding Liability from
Injuries during Construction Getting Waivers of Lien on Work
Fully Paid For Conclusion Sample Specifications for Service
PART II. BUILDING A MOBILE-HOME PARK
CHAPTER 5. CLEARING AND GRADING YOUR MOBILE-HOME SITE . 53
Making a Ground-Elevation Map Clearing and Grading Equip-
mentSome Key Factors To Keep in Mind Estimating the Cost
of Clearing and Grading
CHAPTER 6. SEWER SYSTEM ... 57
Planning a Sewer System How To Construct a Sewer System
The Septic Tank, Distribution Box, and Drain Field Recom-
mended Mobile-Home Sewer Connection
CHAPTER 7. WATER SYSTEM ... ... 70
Factors To Consider When Installing a Water System Location
arid Development of Wells Pumping Equipment Storage Dis-
tribution System Disinfection of the Water System Inspection
and Maintenance Suggestions for Installing Metal Water Pipe
CHAPTER 8. ELECTRICAL SYSTEM 76
Wiring Diagram Sample Specifications for a Park Electrical
CHAPTER 9. BUILDING THE ROADS 82
Grading and Laying Out the Roads Suggestions on Contracting
Road Work Conclusion
CHAPTER 10. PATIOS, SIDEWALKS, AND SHUFFLEBOARD COURTS . . 86
Patios and Sidewalks Shuffleboard Courts Conclusion
CHAPTER 11. BUILDINGS IN A MOBILE-HOME PARK 90
Recreation Building Service-Laundry Building Hobby Shop
and Lathhouse Conclusion
PART III. OPERATING A MOBILE-HOME PARK
CHAPTER 12. BEFORE You OPEN FOR BUSINESS 97
Licenses, Inspections, and Insurance Promoting and Advertising
Your Park Registering of Guests Refuse Disposal Fire Pro-
tectionPreparing Effective Rules and Regulations Tips on
Handling the Clientele Learning How To Park and Connect
Up a Mobile Home
CHAPTER 13. How To KEEP USEFUL BUSINESS RECORDS . . . 110
Some Simple Records To Keep Preparing a Balance Sheet and
Profit-and-Loss Statement Conclusion
CHAPTER 14. INCREASING NET INCOME 115
Income from the Use of Telephones Income from a Park Laun-
dryIncome from a Park Store Income from Bottled-Gas Fran-
chiseMobile-Home Sales and Service Park Electricity Keep-
ing Overhead Down
CHAPTER 15. How To ORGANIZE A RECREATIONAL PROGRAM . . . 119
Typical Recreational Activities Making Recreation Pay
Planning a Mobile-Home Park
Exploring the Mobile-Home Park Business
BE YOUR OWN BOSS
Sit back and relax. Imagine a beautiful, landscaped tract of
land 10, 15, or 20 acres located in a nice resort area away from
the dirt, noise, and tension of the city. Or perhaps in a nice sub-
urban area, out far enough to be beautiful and in close enough
to be convenient.
On this land sets a new way of life the mobile-home com-
munity. You are the head of that community. If it were an
elective office, you'd probably be the mayor. But you're its head
because you've shown the initiative to start one of the many
mobile-home parks needed today.
Now, imagine your community in operation. You see attrac-
tive mobile homes placed on neatly spaced lots with sidewalks,
paved roads, and street lighting. See Plate 1.
You see, too, a new kind of community spirit. People no
longer live in isolated homes socially insulated from one an-
other. They are now part of a self-contained community, where
people can have sociability when they want it or privacy when
they need it.
What does all this mean to you? Just this. If you start a
mobile-home park, you'll be going into a business that is needed
and which, in most cases, will be highly profitable. Beyond that,
you'll be starting a new way of life that cannot be duplicated by
other forms of housing.
You can, of course, work for someone else. And this may even
be better than owning your own business or being your own
boss. Any business of your own requires good planning, extra
work, and some worry. You've got to plan, save, sacrifice, and
learn from inevitable mistakes. Problems are the rule, not the ex-
4 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
When you go into business, for example, there will be respon-
sibilities to your family, employees, and creditors. Meeting the
payroll and paying monthly bills are heavy loads. Important de-
cisions will be made by you every day. If you make too many
mistakes, you face the danger of losing your capital or your
earnings will be much less than working for someone else.
Regardless of these difficulties, you've probably said to your-
self, "I want a business of my own." All of us, at one time or
another, want to create our own opportunities and build our
And, after all, there are many bright sides to the picture!
When you start a business, you're boss. When new ideas come,
you can put them right to work or drop them as quickly. There
are risks plenty of them. But, if all goes well, you can pay your-
self a good wage and a husky dividend. Since no one can fire
you, success in business makes ownership permanent and of last-
Then there is the pride and security that comes with the own-
ership of income-producing real estate. It is a real pleasure to
own a mobile-home park, watch it grow and flourish, and know
that it is yours.
The fact that you're reading this book puts you ahead of the
thousands of dreamers who build air castles and never carry out
their visions with concrete plans and action. It is possible, too,
Exploring the Mobile-Home Park Business 5
that, when you finish reading, you will be enthusiastic about
becoming the owner of a mobile-home park.
THE NEED FOR MOBILE-HOME PARKS
From time to time we're going to refer to "mobile-home
parks" and "trailer parks." You may wonder why different
terms are used. Are they just different words to describe the
same thing? Or do they reflect some real differences in the parks
we're going to talk about? We think you'll agree that a "mobile-
home park" represents a basic change in mobile living. Here's
The trailer-coach industry was just getting started in the
1930's. Even as late as 1940 the industry had turned out only
10,000 trailers. Most of these trailers were small and were used
by sportsmen for vacations and by construction workers located
temporarily in out-of-the-way places. Trailers didn't have bath-
rooms, nor were their kitchens equipped with the ultramodern
conveniences new mobile homes contain.
Today, the production of mobile homes exceeds 65,000 units
a year. Modern mobile homes are much larger and more luxu-
rious than those of fifteen years ago. They may be 35, 40, 45
even 50 feet in length. Some come in two sections. Most of
them are equipped with complete bathroom facilities, plush liv-
ing-rooms, up-to-date kitchens, and full-size bedrooms.
People, therefore, are now finding mobile homes a practical
and economical form of permanent housing. It is estimated that
more than two million people are now living in them. And our
retired folks millions each year are finding the mobile-home
park an ideal retirement community. See Plate 5.
The only similarities between the trailers of 1940 and the
mobile homes of today are wheels and mobility. Everything else
is different including electrical installations, brakes, heating
arrangement, interiors, and frame and body construction. Yes,
the change is as great as from the horse and buggy to the auto-
What has all this done to trailer parks? Briefly, the parks built
to accommodate small, nonmodern trailers are obsolete. Their
6 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
spaces are too small. Roads are not wide enough. Electrical
wiring is not heavy enough to handle the loads required by
modern kitchens, hot-water heaters, and increased lighting. Such
parks generally do not have sewage-disposal systems or indi-
vidual coach connections. And, since they were not properly
planned, they do not present the attractive community appear-
ance mobile-home owners are looking for.
Fully equipped kitchens, including range and re-
frigerator, are standard equipment in mobile
Today's mobile homes are built in a wide variety
of floor plans, from small one-bedroom models to
large homes with sleeping accommodations for
All furnishings, including major appliances, are
included in the purchase price.
Many models contain built-in air conditioning,
built-in television facilities, automatic garbage-dis-
posal units, and other convenient appliances.
With the exception of some special purpose and
vacation models, today's mobile homes contain
complete sanitary facilities, including tub or shower
The point is clear! Mobile-home parks are an underdeveloped
part of our economic structure. Of the more than twelve thou-
sand parks in the country, only about four thousand are ap-
proved by the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association. And,
in the face of an increasing demand for new mobile homes and
better parks, more and more parks are getting obsolete every
Keep in mind, too, the differences between mobile-home parks
and motels or efficiency apartments. A mobile-home park has a
large part of its facilities underground in the form of sewer lines,
Exploring the Mobile-Home Park Business 7
electrical connections, water connections, and so on. Deprecia-
tion and maintenance are low, since you don't have to keep up
a large number of buildings or continually replenish furnishings.
Moreover, when a mobile home is permanently located in your
park, the occupant usually cares for his own space and takes
pride in doing so. In this way, your customers take over some
of the burdens of your business. And, if you're a congenial man-
ager, they'll volunteer to help on other things. See Plate 4.
So, when you start a modern mobile-home park, you'll have
many things in your favor. You can depend on the long-term
growth of the mobile-home industry, on a large retired popula-
tion that will take to mobile living, and on the fact that many
older parks are not designed to meet the needs of today's mobile-
HAVE YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES?
The success of a mobile-home park depends largely on the
ability and resourcefulness of its owner. Some people go into
business with a vague desire but without the necessary drive or
knowledge. Others start on a "shoestring" or refuse to keep
books and prepare profit-and-loss statements. Generally, people
fail in business because of (1) lack of capital; (2) lack of knowl-
edge; (3) lack of initiative; or (4) poor records.
A mobile-home park requires a manager with many talents.
It requires a knowledge of local, state, and federal taxes and
municipal codes; simple accounting methods; the ability to get
along with people; and the mechanical ability to fix things.
You must be a jack-of-all- trades and a master of as many as
possible. You must be able to work with your hands with
faulty plumbing, simple electrical repairs, and the like. You must
be able to work at the idea level with promotional programs
and advertising. You must be able to work at the social level
meet people, enjoy their company, and get well liked.
An important asset is a strong desire to be independent. This
expresses itself in many ways. You may be one of those who
worked your way through school or who took a chance on part-
time business activity, like selling newspapers or magazines.
8 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
To be successful in business, you must be resourceful and
adaptable. You must be able to make decisions about constantly
changing situations, since your livelihood will depend on your
ability to cope with problems as they arise.
You have a better chance if you're a self-starter. You're a self-
starter if you recognize good ideas, initiate activities based on
these ideas, and carry them through to completion. In large or-
ganizations the responsibility for initiating and carrying out
activities resides in someone "higher up." You do as much work
as you can during your shift; and, if there is more than you can
do, the man on the next shift takes over. When you own your
own business, you are the "higher up." There can be no "buck-
passing" or shirking of responsibility.
You needn't have all these qualities when you start out. But
you should strive for them, since, as you develop these qualities,
you will increase your income and make your mobile-home park
a more profitable and satisfying activity.
A simple check list of personal and other qualifications is in-
cluded at the end of this chapter. Look it over carefully and try
to gauge your chances of success. It is intended merely as a
rough guide to some of the factors affecting your future success.
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL IT TAKE?
You may want to know how much money you need to start
a mobile-home park. An exact figure is not possible at this point,
Exploring the Mobile-Home Park Business 9
because the capital needed will vary with the size of park, the
location, the cost of land, the park design, and the types and
sizes of buildings. Moreover, mobile-home parks are quickly ex-
pandableso it is possible to start out small and to grow as
quickly as the business requires.
Naturally, a park of 40 mobile-home spaces will cost much
less than a park of 70 spaces. The cost per space of a 70-unit
XYZ TRAILER PARK, INC.
BALANCE SHEET AS OF JANUARY 1, 1955
Bank and cash
First Federal (savings account) .
Tools and equipment:
TOTAL ASSETS .
Authorized capital stock
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND CAPITAL
13,000.00 $ 14,813.52
10 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
park, however, will be lower, because the buildings, roads, sew-
ers, and land can be spread out over more units. On the other
hand, the net income from a park of 70 mobile-home spaces will
be much greater than from one of 40.
A balance sheet covering the actual construction costs or a
park of 79 spaces is illustrated. This is a "Gold Star" park
located in the South and complete in every detail. As you can
see, the cost is approximately $1,000 per space, including land.
Let's assume that a park of 50 spaces, with adequate land for
expansion, represents a good beginning for most prospective
park operators. On that basis the original investment will vary
from $45,000 to $60,000, depending on the location of the park,
the number of buildings in the original design, and the amount
of construction work the prospective owner does himself.
HAVE YOU THE RIGHT KIND OF BUSINESS ORGANIZATION?
When you start your mobile-home park, there will be so
many pressing problems that you may not consider the kind of
business organization that is best for your operation. When
you're worried about capital, picking a site, construction prob-
lems, and a hundred-and-one other things, it is natural to delay a
serious consideration of the form of organization.
Will you run the business as a proprietorship? Will you go
into partnership with someone? Will you set up a corporation?
Each form of organization has its advantages, and you should be
familiar with them.
Don't make the mistake of starting a business with friends
or relatives, thinking you don't need a clear understanding of
the responsibilities and contributions of the various people in-
volved. In the long run the best way to keep friends in business
is to make clear in advance what everyone's responsibilities
are going to be.
A person often overlooks this because he is sensitive about
how a partner or relative will take it. Experience proves, how-
ever, that more trouble is caused when things are not spelled
out than when a definite understanding is reached. Both parties
like to have the issues clarified but are sometimes too polite to
Exploring the Mobile-Home Park Business 11
bring them into the open. Make sure you discuss them thor-
oughlyin advance before you go into business.
Here, in brief, are the advantages and disadvantages of the
different forms of the business organization. Check with a good
attorney to see which type is best for you.
Most small businesses are owned and operated by individuals
on a proprietorship basis. The individual proprietorship leaves
the owner completely independent. He can conduct his business
as he sees fit and take whatever steps are necessary for its suc-
cess. Since he takes all the risk, he has all the authority.
The complete independence of the owner is itself one of the
greatest disadvantages of the individual proprietorship. He may
carry out his plans with complete freedom, but, since only one
person is involved and capital and experience are limited, his
chances for success are reduced. Also, the debts of an individual
are collectible against his entire estate and are not limited to
the assets of the business. The unlimited authority of the pro-
prietor, therefore, carries with it unlimited liability that may
expose the owner to losses far greater than in some other form
of business organization.
An individual proprietorship is best when a business can be
managed efficiently by one person and when the owner has
little need for outside financing.
A partnership is an association of two or more persons in a
business enterprise. The partnership is similar, in many ways,
to the individual proprietorship. It is easy to organize and re-
tains the personal element of the owners.
The responsibilities, liabilities, sharing of the profits, and the
authority of the partners are provided for in an informal or
formal agreement. The agreement is usually in writing, but it
may be implied through the actions of the parties. To avoid
misunderstandings, a partnership should be defined in writing
when the organization is formed.
12 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
The written agreement is known as articles of partnership. It
is typewritten, signed by the partners, and notarized and con-
tains information about the partners, name of the firm, nature
of the business, amount of capital to be contributed, sharing of
the profits and losses, compensation to partners for their serv-
ices, arrangements for withdrawing or increasing original in-
vestment, provisions for dissolving the firm, and so on. Any
attorney can draw up a good draft of articles of partnership.
There are many advantages to a partnership. It permits the
pooling of capital, experience, skills, and contacts of two or
more individuals. It spreads the risk, increases the possibility
for expansion, and improves credit standing. As a rule, the com-
bined effort of several partners is more effective than the in-
dividual proprietor. Its ease of formation and the simple pro-
cedures for reorganizing the partnership relationships make it
an effective means for bringing together the business interests
of several people.
There are several disadvantages, too! Legally, the actions of
one partner are binding on the firm and on each partner of the
firm. Claims and lawsuits that arise from the acts of one partner
can be satisfied against the other partners, as well as against
the firm itself. Most state laws, however, require that creditors
exhaust partnership assets before attaching the private properties
of the individual partners.
A corporation makes possible the accumulation of a large
amount of capital by means of stock shares and the investing of
this capital in a single business in which the individual investor
is not liable beyond the value of his shares. Corporations are
created by the state through a charter that represents a con-
tract between the incorporators or prospective stockholders and
the state. The organization is perpetuating and does not depend
on the life of any one stockholder. The issue and sales of shares
permit the separation of ownership and management. People
can be hired for their managerial, technical, or productive abili-
tieswhether or not they have capital to invest.
Exploring the Mobile-Home Park Business 13
When a corporation is chartered, it is authorized to do busi-
ness and to own and manage property. Personal liability is
limited to the shares held by the individual; so, if failure occurs,
the stockholders' personal properties are not affected.
Corporate organization has the advantages of limited liability,
centralized control and management, and the ability to transfer
or sell ownership shares. It is adaptable to businesses that re-
quire more capital, larger operations, or a reservoir of technical
or administrative skills.
The disadvantages of a corporation are many and should be
carefully considered. The cost of incorporating and the expense
of issuing and transferring stock may be high for the business
involved. The limitations and regulations imposed by the state,
as well as increased taxes, often outweigh the advantages. A
key disadvantage is the difficulty of obtaining outside financing.
Creditors know they are restricted in proceeding against in-
dividual stockholders, so they are usually hesitant about ex-
Where a simpler form of business organization is practical,
the disadvantages of corporate organization may be important
enough to discourage its use.
GET THE FACTS
"Knowledge is power" particularly where your own business
is concerned. A little planning in the beginning, a little knowl-
edge at the start, talking it over with people already in busi-
nessthree or four days spent this way may avoid years of
grief later on. Sound planning will help remove many of the
risks that experience will otherwise teach in an expensive way.
Weigh carefully the advantages and disadvantages, the difficul-
ties and rewards, the requirements in capital, work, and knowl-
Get copies of the state laws and municipal codes that will
affect your mobile-home park. Check with attorneys and archi-
tects who are familiar with applicable statutes and building re-
quirements. And let the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Associa-
tion know you're going to build a park and where you intend
14 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
to locate. They have on hand several approved park designs
that will help you get started. They also have information
available relating to health and sanitation laws.
Don't go into the mobile-home park business if you expect
to get by without work, heartaches, and major problems. Noth-
ing worth while is that easy.
The mobile-home park has unlimited opportunities, but its
success depends more on the owner than on any other factor.
If you talk over your plans with others, have a good mobile-
home park design, have a good location in mind, develop the
necessary qualifications, and meet your clientele halfway, your
chances for success will indeed be excellent.
You'll be going into a business where long-term growth is
assured. You'll be engaged in a genuinely satisfying activity
and along with economic independence will come a new way
of life and many friends.
A mobile-home park is challenging. It is tough to start. But
it's usually successful. And always worth while.
CHECK LIST OF PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS
AND OTHER FACTORS
Here is a simple check list of items to consider before going into the
mobile-home park business. Study it carefully and try to evaluate your
qualifications as honestly as possible. There is no set standard against
which to check yourself, but most factors should be favorable before you
go into business for yourself.
1. Do you have initiative and perseverance?
2. Do you work well with others?
3. Have you sales ability?
4. Can you organize the work and allocate the time of others?
5. Can you assume responsibility?
6. Do you have imagination?
7. Do you have common sense and good judgment?
Experience and Education
1. Have you had experience in the mobile-home park busi-
Exploring the Mobile-Home Park Business 15
2. Have you had experience in a business similar to mobile-
3. Have you a good general education?
4. Have you had special training that will be an asset in your
5. Have you ever supervised the work of others?
6. Have you ever hired people or met a payroll?
7. Have you dealt with the public? .
8. Have you read the information available on mobile-home
9. Have you written to the Mobile Homes Manufacturers
Association for advice and information?
1. Have you made a careful estimate of the money you will
2. How much will you invest in land? .
3. What will your buildings cost? .
4. How much will you invest in equipment and fixtures?
5. Have you thought of insurance liability, fire, theft? .
6. How much will you need for at least six months' operating
expenses (rent, salaries, supplies, gas, light)? .
7. Have you enough money to cover your personal living ex-
penses until the business begins to pay? .
8. Have you a reserve for emergencies?
9. How long do you estimate it will be before the business
makes a profit? .
1. How much of your savings will be needed in the business
2. How much do you have in the form of assets that, if neces-
sary, you could sell or borrow on to get more money?
3. Is your credit such that you can borrow money from a
bank or other financial institution?
1 . How much money do you make at the present time?
2. What would be your estimated income as the owner of a
3. Are you willing to get along for a while on lower earnings?
4. Are you willing to risk uncertain earnings for the next
year or two?
Economic Status of the Community
1. Is the business trend in the community you're thinking of
up, down, or stationary?
2. Is the community industrial, agricultural, or residential?
16 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
3. Are the major businesses and industries old and established,
or are they new and expanding?
4. Is the business diversified, or is it a one-industry town?
5. Is the population of the community growing, decreasing,
or staying about the same?
6. Are transportation facilities, professional services, banks,
schools, and so on adequate?
7. Are the civic associations aggressive?
8. Have any mobile-home parks failed in the community?
9. Have you checked to see how much business activity there
is and how it would affect your business?
10. Are your competitors well established?
11. Are their parks obsolete by modern standards?
12. Does the community welcome mobile-home parks or is it
1. What do the local businessmen think of your chances of
2. Have you talked to your banker? What does he think of
3. Would he lend you money if you needed it?
4. Have you talked to representative citizens to get their
5. Have you figured out how many employees you will need
and how much you will pay them?
6. Will you be able to get along with part-time help?
7. Do you know what the usual wage scale is in the commu-
nity in which you intend to set up business?
8. Do you have a bookkeeping system worked out?
9. Have you decided on what brochures and letterheads you
10. Have you determined your business policies in regard to
rental per space, advertising, business hours, and the like?
11. Have you inquired about the cost of adequate insurance
to cover damage from storms and floods, damage suits,
public liability claims, and loss from burglary?
12. Have you checked with your local, town, city, or state
authorities in regard to licensing requirements?
13. Have you checked with the local health authorities to be
certain that your business will meet with the requirements
of the community?
Finding the Right Location
Next to the manager, location is the most important factor
in the success of a mobile-home park. The best-built park poor-
ly located is just a white elephant. Nothing is more discouraging
than to build a model park, open for business, and then wait
for customers who aren't coming in.
Remarkably little attention is given to location. In the en-
thusiasm of starting a park, the owner may, after too hasty a
check, buy a tract of land and start construction. It is the rare
person who compares locations, lists their advantages and dis-
advantages, and makes his decision only after looking at all
possibilities. A month spent shopping around may save thou-
sands of dollars and months of anxiety.
So, when you start your mobile-home park, compare the
advantages and disadvantages of three or more locations. Don't
buy land because it is cheap or available. Make sure it is suit-
able for a park, then consider the cost and how it can be
18 Hoiv To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
Building a park on a poor site is like putting up a $50,000
home on a bad lot. You just cannot afford that kind of economy.
FACTORS AFFECTING LOCATION
The first thing to do when looking over a given area for the
location of your park is to talk to the local mobile-home dealers
and the Chamber of Commerce to see whether a new mobile-
home park is needed. Check existing parks to see whether they
are full and prosperous.
When you're sold on the general area, then begin looking
for a park site with these points in mind:
1. Proximity to a good shopping center
2. Availability of city water and sewer lines
3. Frontage on hard-surfaced roads or arterial highways
4. Nearness to resort areas or recreational facilities
5. Availability of hospitals, movies, television, and so on
6. Possibility of drawing on the permanent residents of a metropolitan
7. Strategic location in terms of transient traffic from all directions (Be
careful, however, that you do not locate near heavy industry or rail-
road tracks, where noise or objectionable odors prevail)
8. Characteristics of the area that is, whether in a growth, recession,
or stability stage
9. Topography and high level of land
10. The size and shape of the site
11. The original cost and additional costs of clearing, grading, and land-
12. Proper zoning
Some of these factors apply to certain locations but not to
others. For example, if your park caters to permanent, working
residents that is, to those who use mobile homes for year-round
living you should pick a site:
1. Near commercial transportation
2. Convenient to shopping districts and places of employment
3. Close to school facilities
4. Where zoning and other laws are not too restrictive
5. Where the land area is of such size and shape that you can get a maxi-
mum number of spaces per acre
6. With certain characteristics that is, whether the area is in a growth,
recession, or stability stage
Finding the Right Location 19
The city-type park is usually located on the outskirts of a
large town or city. It need not be on an arterial highway, al-
though this may be an advantage. Such parks advertise for per-
manent residents and build up their clientele over a period of
time. Because they cater to permanents, there is no pressing
need for an elaborate recreation building or recreational pro-
Resort locations present another problem. Mobile-home parks
in resort locations cater to a less permanent type of clientele,
although they try to build up permanent and recurrent clien-
tele, particularly of the retired type. See Plate 4.
A resort park need not be located on an arterial highway or
even on the outskirts of a metropolitan area. But, whenever you
can get these advantages, by all means do so. Your chances of
getting immediate customers are better whenever a park is
located on or near an arterial highway. Be careful, however, of
locating on a highway unless you have some tourist attractions
or recreational facilities near by. Some parks were started on
highways, only to see mobile homes pass by on their way to
other sections of the state. They now find themselves catering
to overnight guests only.
So balance off the short-term advantages of transient cus-
tomers with the long-term advantages of permanent-type clien-
tele. Try to get as many permanents as you can. They are the
"overhead carriers" that assure you an operating income year
in and year out. Transients seldom stay long enough to develop
loyalty to your park.
Resort parks are found in all areas of the country but pre-
dominate in Arizona, California, and Florida. California has
more than 2,100 mobile-home parks; Florida has about 1,100.
Of the 2,100 in California, 1,233 are MHMA approved and 224
have "Gold Star" (highest) ratings. Of the 1,100 in Florida,
623 are approved and 93 have "Gold Star" ratings. Florida's
parks vary from locations near large cities like Sarasota, St.
20 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
Petersburg, Tampa, and Miami to those near small cities like
Delray Beach, Bradenton, Fort Pierce, and Stuart.
If you start a resort park, canvass the area with great care.
Find out whether people like the area for permanent housing.
Pick a location where seasonal occupancy is long. Short sea-
sons reduce your chances of making a good profit.
A location near well-established mobile-home parks may be
advantageous, because overflows from them may give you an
immediate mobile-home population to draw from. Be sure, how-
ever, you have a park that competes.
A good case is Bradenton, Florida. The Kiwanis Club started
one of the largest mobile-home parks (over 1,100 spaces) there
for retired people and soon discovered they couldn't handle all
the mobile homes coming into the area. See Plate 6.
Other parks started up in the same area, and most of them
found enough customers to operate profitably. Moreover, mo-
bile homes heading for Bradenton from the North had to go
near or through cities like St. Petersburg. Many of them were
diverted to St. Petersburg, where there is a large retired popu-
lation. Today, St. Petersburg has many successful mobile-home
One word of caution! Look out for municipally owned parks
where space rentals are abnormally low. If you don't, you may
find yourself stuck with a noncompetitive rate schedule.
Finding the Right Location 21
How can you be sure you have a good location? The best
advice is to be careful and investigate thoroughly. Don't over-
look the key factors. Go over them in detail, then consider
topography and high level of land.
TOPOGRAPHY AND HIGH LEVEL OF LAND
A mobile-home park requires a large tract of land. If good-
sized spaces are used (40 by 60 feet), you need about 8 acres
of land for every 75 mobile homes. This includes the land
needed for roads, building sites, and landscaped entrances.
High level of land. Mobile-home parks require a high level
of land for good drainage. Large tracts of land are often un-
suitable because of lowness or irregular land contour. Someone
may offer you 8 or more acres at what seems to be a bargain.
But you may find the land so low or irregular that you would
have to spend a considerable sum of money before it would ac-
commodate a sewer system or permit satisfactory septic-tank
operation. Or the land may be so barren or rocky that grading
and landscaping would be major problems.
Remember! The land you buy must be worked on and put
in shape for your park. Buying land because it is big enough,
cheap enough, or near a large number of mobile homes may
cause trouble unless you consider the problems of clearing,
grading, landscaping, and sewage disposal.
Drainage. Pick a site that has good drainage. Check the sur-
vey plat of the property and talk to people near by to deter-
mine whether the area has been bothered by flooding. See a
bulldozer contractor and get estimates on clearing and grading.
Landscaping. Look the land over for landscaping. Check for
bushes, trees, and shrubs that can be built into your landscaping
plan. Landscaping is a major cost, so balance this off against the
original price of the land.
The general minimum requirements relating to a mobile-home
park site are as follows:
The mobile-home court must be well drained, not adjacent to swamps
or marshes, and adequately lighted at night.
22 HOID To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
Each mobile-home space should contain a minimum of 1,000 square
feet, be at least 25 feet wide, and have its boundaries clearly defined. The
space should abut on a driveway not less than 35 feet in width, which
should have unobstructed access to a public street or highway. Mobile
homes should be parked on each space so that there will be at least 15 feet
of clearance between coaches, 10 feet between coaches and any adjoining
property line, 25 feet between coaches and any public street or highway,
and 15 feet between coaches and any building or structure.
Sufficient area should be provided for the parking of at least one motor
vehicle for each mobile-home space. Motor vehicles should not be parked
between mobile homes.
A separate area should be provided for recreational purposes. This area
should be in a location not subject to traffic hazards and should provide
100 square feet of open area for each mobile-home space.
YARDSTICKS OF COST
A comparatively expensive tract of land, favorably located,
may be cheap in the long run, since occupancy and income may
be high enough to warrant the initial cost. On the other hand,
a cheap tract of land, badly located or with bad topography,
may prove to be expensive.
A good rule of thumb is to keep land costs below $200 per
mobile-home space. If the site is to accommodate 70 mobile
home spaces, for example, try to keep the cost of land below
$14,000. Of course, get the land as cheaply as you can, but
don't sacrifice the key factors to do it.
Finding the Right Location 23
Remember location! Next to the manager, it is the most im-
portant factor in the success of your park.
Don't buy land because it is cheap. Study its topography and
try to imagine how your park will fit in.
Check the level of land and consider the problems of clear-
ing, grading, and landscaping.
Try to locate where city water and sewers are available; near
hospitals, movies, and shopping centers; close to commercial
transportation; where a permanent clientele is likely to reside;
convenient to attractive resorts; and on or near arterial high-
ways along which mobile homes travel. Make sure, however,
you keep away from noisy areas or places that have objection-
Pick three or more locations. Study their advantages and
disadvantages, give them a numerical rating, then choose con-
And, by all means, bargain with the owner for a loiv price,
long-term financing, and reasonable interest rates.
Designing a Mobile-Home Park
Designing a mobile-home park is like laying out an attrac-
tive and functional home. No one design is best, but all good
designs incorporate certain essential features.
The essentials of a modern mobile-home park are:
1. Large and attractive spaces
2. Angular parking of mobile homes
3. Suitable auto-parking areas
4. Concrete patios and sidewalks
5. Hard-surfaced or durable roads
6. Street lighting
7. Modern sewer, water, and electrical installations
8. Up-to-date buildings, properly located as to function and appearance
9. A landscaping plan, with an attractive entrance for eye appeal
10. Recreational facilities
LARGE AND ATTRACTIVE SPACES
Spaces should accommodate the largest mobile homes com-
mercially produced that is, 50 feet.
The trend, in recent years, has been to larger mobile homes.
Since you can never be sure of the future sizes of mobile homes,
it is better to have larger rather than smaller spaces.
ANGULAR PARKING OF MOBILE HOMES
Mobile homes should be parked at a 60-degree angle rather
than on a line perpendicular to the road. It is easier to park a
mobile home when the space is at an angle, since the turning
radius is reduced. The 60-degree angle should be located so
that the patio side of the mobile home faces toward the road;
then its occupants will not look directly into the mobile home
parked on the next space.
Designing a Mobile-Home Park 25
SUITABLE AUTO-PARKING AREAS
When you design your park, keep in mind the need for auto-
parking space. Most older parks let the trailerist park his car
right on the space next to his mobile home. This is poor prac-
tice, since cars parked in this way "cut up" your spaces and
destroy your landscaping. They also are fire hazards. It is far
better to widen all roads to 35 feet, so two rows of parked cars
and two lanes of traffic can be accommodated.
CONCRETE PATIOS AND SIDEWALKS
Concrete patios and sidewalks are essential in the modern
Patio sizes should never be less than 8 by 20 feet. Larger
sizes, preferably 9Y 2 by 22 feet, are recommended, since stand-
ard size cabanas and aluminum awnings can be placed on such
patios without further work.
If the patio and sidewalk are put in at the same time, a "one-
section" unit can be used. The sidewalk is part of the patio, so
the forming and cement-finishing operations can be done at
the same time.
HARD-SURFACED OR DURABLE ROADS
Roads are a particularly important part of the modern park
The sizes of our modern mobile homes require that the roads
be well constructed. We will discuss road construction later,
but we can say here that roads should have a good subgrade,
be constructed of material that will withstand heavy traffic,
and of sufficient width (at least 35 feet) to accommodate two
lanes of traffic and two rows of parked cars.
BUILDINGS, LANDSCAPING, AND AN APPEALING ENTRANCE
A good way to save time is to submit your park design to
the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association for constructive
criticism. They will furnish expert assistance free of charge-
to evaluate the practicability of your park plans, as well as sug-
gest improvements in your layout. They have many basic mo-
bile-home park designs on hand that will give you preliminary
26 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
tips on building an attractive and functional park. Eye-appeal-
ing entrances are particularly important, as you can see from
the illustration. See Plate 7.
When you design your park, scale all drawings to size so you
can see how the park will look in final form. Proper dimension-
ing will give you the true orientation of the buildings, roads, and
spaces. Rough hand sketches are always deceiving.
Cut out little pieces of cardboard to represent buildings and
mobile homes and see how everything fits in. Move the "card-
board" trailers down the road and around the corners. Park them
in the spaces shown in your design. This simple process will re-
veal flaws on such things as the turning radii of roads, adequacy
of parking areas, and so on.
Many other things can be done on paper before construction
begins. You can, for example, locate your electric meter boxes
properly. The same can be said for water faucets. The proper
installation is shown on page 68. Note that the water and sewer
connections come up alongside the mobile home.
MHMA-APPROVED LAYOUTS OF MOBILE-HOME PARKS
With these points in mind, let's look at several park designs
approved by the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association.
Look them over carefully, even though they may not fit your
particular needs. A detailed study of them will give you some
good ideas on park construction.
MHMA Plan 1
Plan 1 is a suggested park layout for a rectangular piece of
The area of the property is 385,575 square feet, or 8.85 acres.
All spaces are 40 by 60 feet. Eighty-five spaces are provided,
averaging 9.5 spaces to the acre.
This plan permits rapid expansion, since the park can be
started at the main road and expanded as business increases.
The service building, with laundry, is centrally located so
everyone can get to and from the building conveniently. The
design provides a recreational area but no recreation building.
^ w * * "
28 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
The road is 35 feet in width. The center is blacktopped,
with side parking areas of crushed gravel or stone. Foot walks
are provided, as shown.
Water connections and coach sewer connections are marked
by plus signs (+) and circles (O). Electrical meter posts are
represented by small squares (Q).
Trees are shown on the edges of each patio and are located
to give the maximum amount of shade. The position of trees
will vary, however, with the section of the country and the
angle of the sun. It is important, therefore, to check this before
deciding on your landscaping plan. County agricultural agents
are more than happy to co-operate with park operators on
MHM A Plan 2
Plan 2 is similar to Plan 1 but has space sizes 35 by 50 feet-
providing a total of 85 spaces on a land area of 6.78 acres.
It is important to note here that individual lot sizes should
never be less than 35 by 50 feet and that the most popular size
is 40 by 60 feet.
Some park operators want to install a mobile-home sales
agency as an additional source of income. If you favor a sales
lot, you can remove the three spaces to the right or left of
MHM A Plan 3
Plan 3 illustrates how an irregularly shaped piece of land can
Spaces are 40 by 60 feet, giving a total of 55 on 6.09 acres
or an average of 9 spaces per acre.
Other park details are similar to Plans 1 and 2, except that
the amount of road is reduced because of the triangular shape
of the lot.
A buffer type of landscaping is provided around the property
line, where spaces extend along the edges of the park.
So, before you buy land for a mobile-home park, study your
lot dimensions and land contour. Sketch a preliminary park
_i _> U.
o\ " o
1 - v
Designing a Mobile-Home Park 31
design. See whether the land lends itself to economical utiliza-
tion. Keep in mind the problems of sewage, electrical installa-
tions, and water systems.
Plan all phases in advance, since, in that way, you can reduce
costs and eliminate needless effort.
TIPS IN DESIGNING A MOBILE-HOME PARK
Here are some practical tips on design:
A. Zoning. Be sure the property is zoned for a mobile-home park.
Or specify rezoning as an essential part of the sales contract.
B. Taxes. Find out in what manner and how much your park will
be taxed. Also, determine whether your tenants will be taxed, since
this may affect your rental schedule.
C. Size. Generally 50 coach spaces (about 4.5 acres) is minimum for
a profitable park business.
The proportions of the land are important to eliminate wasted
Property should be wide enough to accommodate at least one row
of spaces at each side and one double row in the middle, plus two
35-foot roads between them. Check local codes for required set-
backs on the side rows of the park.
D. Services. Check availability and costs of water, gas, electricity,
sewage and storm-sewage disposal.
II. DESIGN OF PARK
A. Obtain suggested plans from MHMA architect, 20 North Wacker
Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
B. Retain a competent attorney to handle all legal matters.
C. Obtain the services of a local architect who is familiar with the
legal and technical design aspects.
D. If you intend to do the design work yourself, consider these items
1. Sidewalks may be placed at an angle with the lots, so as not to
2. Service building. Check local and state codes on requirements.
In absence of any codes, use a building of the type designed for
MHMA, plans of which are available at nominal cost. Laundry
facilities, if not dictated by local codes, should provide one
washer for each twenty families.
3. Waste cans. These should be enclosed, sanitary, controlled, and
centrally located but not more than 300 feet from any lot.
Pick-up service is the most popular method of maintenance.
Individual lot containers, however, should not be unsightly.
32 Hoiv To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
4. Lots should be marked off individually, with steel, concrete,
or wood posts. Patios should be mesh-reinforced concrete or
masonry and runways, if concrete, should be properly rein-
forced for soil conditions. Runways should at least be crushed-
stone surfacing. Sidewalks should be concrete. Roads may be
18 or 20 feet macadam or blacktop on a sound gravel founda-
tion, pitched to drain, with the remaining sides in crushed stone
or equivalent for car-parking.
5. Electrical. All layout designs, materials, and methods of con-
struction will be subject to local codes and the requirements of
the power company. Find out from your local power company
how much material and labor they will furnish when bringing
service to you.
Find out whether the company will charge by individual meters
or by a central meter.
Street lights. If there is no local code, the minimum is 15-foot
posts 100 feet apart, alternated on each side of the street.
The individual lot service from the distribution post may be
either an outdoor plug-in at the post or underground conduit
from the post to an outlet box on each patio.
6. Plumbing All layout designs, materials, and methods of con-
struction are subject to local codes and health regulations.
a) Storm sewer. Find out if city lines are available. If not, get
proper approval for drainage of the property.
b) Sanitary sewer. Find out if city sewer lines are available. If
not, the choice of sewage disposal depends on the type of
soil, size of park and future extension, maintenance, initial
cost, and local health regulations.
c} Septic tanks. Imhoff tanks and sewage-treatment plants are
some methods used by park owners. See your local health
official, architect, or engineer for your particular needs.
The increasing use of detergents may present a problem in
septic-tank design. At the present time the best procedure
is to bypass laundry waste into a separate tank or compart-
7. Fire hydrants. All lots should have direct access to a road for
quick removal of coaches. Hitches should face the road for this
reason. Some local codes also require hydrants.
a) Future expansion. Always plan for future expansion in the
initial design of electric, water, sewer, and laundry facilities
as well as in the size of land area.
b} Recreational areas. Provide recreational areas of sufficient
size to meet the requirements of the park and the type of
Child and adult areas should be separate wherever possible.
Designing a Mobile-Home Park 33
c) Approvals. Get all necessary approvals of plans from appro-
priate local officials before actual construction is started.
d) The owner must set his own policies concerning dependent
and independent coaches, pets, children, transients, mail
handling, maintenance, and so on.
Getting Ready To Build
There are eight preparatory steps before you begin to build
your park. In the beginning you may feel these steps waste
time that could be put right into construction, but experience
proves they are worth while. The eight steps are:
1. Retain a competent attorney
2. Make an inventory of the laws affecting utilities and buildings
3. Compile a comprehensive bill of materials
4. Select the right items for subcontracting
5. Get definitive bids
6. Set realistic cost goals and stay within them
7. Avoid liability from injuries during construction
8. Get waivers of lien on work fully paid for
RETAINING A COMPETENT ATTORNEY
The first step in getting ready to build is to retain a good
lawyer. He will usually be familiar with zoning and sanitary
laws, taxes, forms of business organization, and so on. More-
over, a lawyer should always be consulted at the time you buy
your land. Most of the letters to MHMA from park owners
who are in trouble bring out the need of retaining a lawyer
you can depend on and in whom you have confidence.
INVENTORY OF THE LAWS AFFECTING UTILITIES
The next step is to check all local and state laws regarding
utilities and buildings. Check all zoning requirements. Do this
right away. Make sure you call on all necessary health and
Reputable contractors will be familiar with the usual sanita-
tion and building codes. It is better to assume, however, that
they are not familiar with all phases of mobile-home park con-
Getting Ready To Build 35
struction. Otherwise, you may end up with a park that will not
be approved for operation.
Perhaps the sewer and water systems are the biggest prob-
lems. State and local laws differ widely, so it is best to check
directly with the local or state health officer.
Submit your plans for approval before you begin to build.
Don't start construction and then seek approval. If you submit
drawings and specifications in advance, health officers will try
to help out by suggesting only the minimum changes needed.
The Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association has a booklet
entitled Trailer Court Sanitation, prepared by the United States
Public Health Service and distributed by MHMA free of
charge as a public service. Get copies right away, so you can
do your planning before you submit drawings to your local
health officials. Also, get copies of all sanitation laws affecting
mobile-home parks in your area.
BILL OF MATERIALS
The third step is to compile a comprehensive bill of materials
for the work to be done. It should include all construction items
and the equipment and tools needed to operate the park after
it is completed.
You'll think of the roads, buildings, sewer system, water sys-
tem, patios, and so on. But you may overlook the hundred-and-
one little things you'll need to operate a park. So, when you
compile your bill of materials, remember the lawn-mower, wash-
ing machines, chairs, office supplies, desk, jeep, jacks, levels,
hand tools, wheelbarrow, rakes, shovels, and so on.
Besides an over-all bill of materials, make separate bills of
material for each major item of construction. A sample bill of
materials for a sewer line is shown in Table 1.
These are needed to get realistic bids from contractors and
building-supply houses. In planning your service building, for
example, specify all items you want in the finished building.
Then check the contractor's bid to make sure they're included.
Find out whether mirrors, hardware, and screens are a part of
his bid. Is the hot- water tank 30 or 50 or more gallons? Will
SAMPLE BILL OF MATERIALS, INCLUDING LABOR ESTIMATE, FOR SECTION OF
SEWER-LINE SERVICING 5 SPACES OF 40 FEET EACH
1. 6-inch tile pipe in 2-foot 100 pieces, including
/ \ \ *_
2. 6-inch T's
3. Js-inch bends
4. 6 X 4-inch reducers
5. 6-inch covers
6. 4-inch covers
7. Mortar cement
8. Portland cement
11. Mortar box
13. Grade stakes
14. C-clamps (large)
1 7. Hand level (at least 2 feet)
1 8. Builder's level or equiva-
lent in professional service
Sufficient to complete
job (estimate) 4 bags
Sufficient to complete
job (estimate) 4 bags
1. Trenching and backfilling
(sandy soil) 18 inches deep
3. Laying-out and grade-stake- 1 man-day
4. Inspection of line and %. man-day
Bid from sur-
veyor or civil
Getting Ready To Build
the lighting be fluorescent or incandescent? Will toilet com-
partments be furnished with toilet-tissue holders, racks, and
coat-hangers? Such items are easily overlooked, but they'll cost
you plenty if you remember them after construction has started.
In the case of the laundry, specify the number of drains and
cleanouts and check whether the bid includes tie-ins with the
sewer system. By making a bill of materials as complete as pos-
sible, you avoid difficulties with the contractor and get a better
estimate of over-all costs. Construction costs are generally high-
er than estimates because of the owner's failure to specify in
detail the items contracted for.
Compiling a complete bill of materials for all phases of the
park's underground and surface improvements will also help
you select the right items for subcontracting.
SELECTING THE RIGHT ITEMS FOR SUBCONTRACTING
Before you build, get bids on all items from three or more
contractors. This will help you decide which items to subcon-
In some localities, for example, contractors have little or no
experience with sewer construction, so their bids may be con-
siderably higher than reasonable estimates of costs. You may,
as a result, be wise to build the sewer system with hired labor
38 Ho'w To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
rather than upset your construction budget by contracting
Or you may find that a particular building is much more ex-
pensive than your original estimate. If so, you can modify your
building plan, reducing its size or changing its design to bring
it more in line with your estimate.
Compiling a detailed bill of materials and getting bids on all
items of construction helps you decide which items to subcon-
tract, which to build yourself, and what modifications are
HOW TO GET DEFINITIVE BIDS
When your bill of materials has been compiled, you still face
the problem of getting definitive bids and picking the right con-
tractor. A definitive bid here means a bid that is complete as
to price, over-all construction detail, and time of completion.
It spells out exactly what the contractor 'will do, at 'what price,
and how soon.
Wherever possible, get a "fixed-price" bid. "Time-and-mate-
rial" bids seldom end up within reasonable cost estimates. There
is always the tendency to pyramid costs or for the owner to
cut the quality of materials to stay within an original estimate.
Make sure the bids you get on any given item of construc-
tion cover similar specifications. Some contractors make a prac-
tice of bidding low, with the idea of stepping up costs after
construction begins. "Unforeseen circumstances" give them an
opportunity to tack on "extras." That is why you should make
a detailed list of the items contracted for; otherwise, bids from
different contractors cannot be compared.
It is a good idea, too, to inquire about the contractors to
whom you have submitted drawings and specifications. Find
out how people feel about them. Check to see who has the best
reputation as a builder. Don't hire the first contractor who
comes along, or one who happens to be in the area in which
you're building. Getting the best contractor may be cheap in
the long run, because he will usually try to live up to his repu-
tation in the community.
Getting Ready To Build
All bids should be submitted in writing. Make sure, too, that
the kind of material and type of equipment are accurately
described. Put a time clause in the contract to keep the con-
tractor on the job after the work is started.
A sample of detailed specifications is found at the end of this
chapter. Study it carefully. Remember, however, that these
specifications apply only to one type of service building and
one area of the country. They are presented here only for the
purpose of illustrating how detailed building specifications
should be. The more detailed you make them, the more real-
istic the bid you will get, and the less trouble you will have
with your contractor.
SETTING COST GOALS AND STAYING WITHIN THEM
Always set cost goals. More important, try to live within
them. Even if your cost goals are "guess-estimates," set them
up as realistic targets. Setting cost goals regardless of how
realistic they are serves the psychological purpose of forcing
you to plan and to do some work yourself. Without such goals
it is easy to run over on one item only to find that you cannot
make it up on another. You then discover, unhappily, that your
over-all costs are much higher than you figured because you
didn't control some particular item in your schedule.
A practical way to stay within your cost estimates is to keep
40 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
a running ledger of construction costs. Since you cannot cut
costs after they've been incurred, you have to see the cost build
up during construction. A periodic entry system will reflect
higher costs as soon as they take place. When any item of cost
gets out of line, you can cut on other items by making modi-
A good idea is to list your original cost estimate of an item
and next to it the actual cost of construction. If, for example,
you estimated the roof of a building at $1,500, but it actually
Cost Goal Actual Cost
Roof $1,500.00 $2,000.00
Siding 600.00 750.00
Plaster 375.00 300.00
costs $2,000, you know immediately you have to pick up $500
elsewhere to come within your cost goal.
This is simple enough, but most people hate to keep books.
It is a tedious job that the average person lets go until it is too
late. Don't make that mistake when you build your park. Re-
cord all costs systematically. Keep separate records for each
major item of construction; as each item is completed, compare
the actual costs with the estimates to find out which items are
out of line.
Never assume that a particular overage is unusual and that it
won't happen again. If you do, you'll find that $100 here and
$100 there will throw your cost goals off as much as 25 or 30
If the accounting work becomes burdensome, let a local ac-
countant handle it on a part-time basis. Pay all bills by check,
Getting Ready To Build 41
fill out the stubs in detail, and turn all bank statements and check
stubs over to the accountant for cost accounting. Have your
bank issue you weekly statements during the construction
period to help you do the right kind of accounting. Also, check
all itemized statements furnished to you by building-supply
houses for accuracy.
The accountant will set up each major item of construction
on a separate ledger sheet and will give you a periodical ac-
counting based on your check payments. All you have to do
is look over his figures and take appropriate action.
You may feel this is a needless expense, but the comparatively
small amount you pay the accountant will be returned many
times in lowered construction costs. And you'll be surprised
how cheap an accountant's services can be, provided you get
the figures together for him by filling in your check stubs
properly. Later on you can use his accumulated figures as a
base for taxes and to determine depreciation charges.
A good example is the case of a recreation building built re-
cently by a park owner. The original design called for a con-
crete block building 24 by 70 feet, including a store, recreation
room, office, and washrooms.
Bids were received from three contractors, but all bids were
considerably higher than the original estimate. Several alterna-
tives were possible:
1. Reduce the size of the building
2. Change the type of construction and kind of materials
3. Cut out unnecessary features
4. Do some of the work himself
As it turned out, all four alternatives were used. The build-
ing was shortened 10 feet. The washrooms were roughed in,
but plumbing fixtures and appointments were left for future
improvement. The roof design was changed, and different
materials were used. The owner finally decided to do his own
painting and decorating, saving about $500 on this item alone.
As a result, the recreation building was finished at less than
the original estimate; and, although it was smaller than the
42 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
original design, it turned out to be adequate for the size of the
In the case of roads, alternative materials may increase or
decrease costs as much as 100 per cent. Of course, roads must
be serviceable, since heavy traffic is involved; even within a
high range of serviceability, however, cheaper materials are
often satisfactory. Although modern parks need comparatively
wide roads (35 feet), the full width of the road need not be
hard-topped. Only 18 or 20 feet has to be surfaced; the re-
mainder can be gravel, shell, or marl.
These are just a few examples. The important thing is to
look into all alternatives. Don't wait until the job is done be-
fore finding out youVe overshot your cost goals. Plan and act
as you go.
AVOIDING LIABILITY FROM INJURIES DURING CONSTRUCTION
When you build your park, protect yourself against liability
The contractors you hire should carry liability insurance on
their workers, but some contractors may neglect to do this.
Since they may be negligent, protect your interests by getting
notarized statements to the effect that they are covered by the
proper kind of liability insurance. Moreover, it is not unreason-
able to have them furnish proof of liability coverage and to
have them post a bond for satisfactory performance.
As an added protection, cover yourself with builder's risk,
public liability, fire, and extended coverage insurance. Better
still, talk your insurance problems over with a good agent and
have him submit a comprehensive insurance plan covering ini-
tial construction and subsequent operations. Don't check with
just one agent, either. Insurance, like everything else, varies
from agent to agent and company to company. Get alternative
bids, based on the same type of insurance coverage. Pick a rep-
utable company but get the most for your money. But don't
try to get off cheap by not carrying insurance. One accident,
one fire, or one hurricane can wipe out all your hard-earned
Getting Ready To Build 43
GETTING WAIVERS OF LIEN ON WORK FULLY PAID FOR
When a construction item is completed and paid for, don't
heave a sigh of relief and feel you've taken care of everything.
You may find that some worker has put a lien on your property
because he claims he hasn't been paid in full. This may happen
if some contractor neglected to pay his workers for work per-
formed by them on your buildings or grounds.
When you pay a contractor in full, get waivers of lien from
him and his workers. Waivers are easy to get, and they'll protect
you against future claims.
The lien laws treat labor as a prior claim on property. Work-
ers can easily place liens against a piece of property, whether
they have the money coming or not. Such liens act as a tem-
porary cloud on the title to property and may prevent its
transfer until they are cleared up.
Any attorney can draw up a simple waiver of lien that can
be used for most construction work.
Getting ready to build is not difficult, but it does involve fol-
lowing up on a number of details.
In the long run it is wise to make an inventory of local and
state laws, compile a bill of materials, select the right items for
subcontracting, get definitive bids, set cost goals, avoid the risks
of liability from injuries during construction, and get waivers
of lien on work fully paid for.
SAMPLE SPECIFICATIONS FOR SERVICE BUILDING
OF MOBILE-HOME PARK
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA
Contract for all work shall be subject to the general conditions for
the construction of buildings or approved contract form by the owner.
The general contractor shall be responsible for his work as well as all
subcontractors working under his contract. The general contractor shall
supply all labor, equipment, power, and such facilities as may be necessary
44 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
to complete all parts of his contract except such labor, tools, and equip-
ment and materials normally supplied by subcontractors in their work.
The general contractor shall be responsible to the owner for the in-
terpretations of the plans and specifications for all general and subcontract
work under his contract. Certificate of liability insurance shall be supplied
by the general contractor to the owner covering the owner from all
forms of damage claims arising from operations under this contract.
Such certificate shall carry a five-day cancellation notice and shall be
subject to the owner's approval as to reasonable adequacy of protection.
The owner shall cover the building and its contents with adequate fire
and wind insurance in accordance with the state of completion of the work.
The owner shall supply the contractor with a certified survey of the
property or assume all responsibility for the correct location for the
Each subcontractor shall be responsible for the completion of his
work and protection of same and shall protect other contractors' work
from damage also. All cutting of other contractors' work as may be
required shall be under the supervision of the general contractor.
Permits and Ordinances
The general contractor shall be responsible to the owner that all
permits, etc., as may be required are obtained by himself or the sub-
contractors before start of any work covered by the various permits.
The general contractor shall also be responsible to the owner as to the
meeting of all local, state, and federal ordinances for the construction
of the building, and, where the plans vary from such ordinances, he
shall inform the owner of the same and make such corrections as necessary
upon proper agreement with the owner.
Site Examination and Layout of Work
All contractors shall examine the site and familiarize themselves with
such conditions as may affect the use of equipment, and where tempo-
rary roadways may be required they shall notify the owner of the same
and make such arrangements with the owner as may be necessary.
Variation from Plan
No variation from the plans or specifications shall be permitted with-
out specific approval from the owner in writing. This includes sub-
stitution of equipment and material except where alternates are speci-
fied. The owner shall also be responsible on his part that such variations
from the plans and specifications he may desire shall be determined
sufficiently in advance and notification in writing to the contractors
involved from the owner shall be received a minimum of three days
prior to the anticipated work to be done as on the plans, which is to
Getting Ready To Build 45
be at variation from them. In the event of such variation or delay,
proper arrangement shall be made between the owner and the con-
tractor before continuance of the contract.
Cleaning and Guarantee
The general contractor shall maintain the building site in a neat and
orderly manner and shall provide safeguards as may be necessary to
protect all persons connected with the construction from danger to life
and limb. Upon completion of the work he shall remove all surplus
material and debris. The general contractor and his subcontractors shall
be responsible for the performance of all workmanship and material to
a reasonable degree for a period of one year from the date of comple-
tion. The owner shall assume all responsibility for all work not under
the general contract.
Scope of Work for All Contractors
Work shall include all necessary material, labor, such preparation as
necessary, repair of other contractors' work damage by their own
workmen or materials, required inspections, and such corrections as
may be necessary to pass such inspections and cleanup and removal of all
debris remaining from their work during and upon the completion of
their various contracts. Mason contractor shall include as a necessary
part of his contract repairing and closing of necessary chases and open-
ings required by other contractors for the performance of their individ-
ual contracts, where normally required.
All necessary excavation and backfilling shall be done by the general
contractor except as required for plumbing, which shall be done by the
plumber. All backfilling for excavated areas shall be thoroughly puddled
and tamped including fill for floor slabs.
All steel required for reinforcing shall be provided as shown on the
plans or required by conditions. It shall be new stock and free from
loose scale or rust. All steel shall be placed accurately, bars lapped a
minimum of 20 diameters and tied with 18-gauge annealed wire. All
crossings shall be securely tied in the same manner. Floor slab rein-
forcing shall be 6x6 #10 wire mesh.
Masonry and Concrete
All poured concrete shall be transit mixed and of such proportions to
reach a #2000 P.S.I, strength at twenty-eight days. All pours shall be
continuous, and concrete shall be properly tamped and puddled to fill
all voids and openings. All blockwork shall be set plumb and true, flush
joints rubbed, and damaged and chipped corners and surfaces rubbed
and filled. Mortar mixes shall be prepared as per manufacturer's direc-
tions. All slabs shall be reinforced as detailed, subsurface properly pre-
46 Hoiv To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
pared and waterproofed for pouring. Finished surfaces shall be screened,
floated, and steel troweled to a smooth even finish for exposed concrete
work and otherwise prepared as may be necessary for other surface
finishes. A reinforced concrete block lintel shall be poured at all points
shown on the plans. Concrete sills shall be formed after placing of win-
dows by other trades and shall be done in such manner as to provide a
watertight sill with sharp true edges and proper slope for adequate
runoff of water.
All lumber shall be dense #2 or better yellow pine or fir and free
from loose knots, shakes, or sappy runs and shall be sound dry material.
Where the material is to be exposed after completion such as rafters,
etc., it shall be selected for uniform appearance. Roof sheathing shall
be &" interior grade, sound one side, plywood primecoated before
erection. All plates, sills, etc., shall be treated with wood preservative
where contact is made with masonry surfaces. Plates and sills shall be
slushed into place where required for leveling. All plates shall be an-
chored in place with M"x8" anchor bolts at 4' centers into the poured
lintel. All rafters shall be properly crowned and all shall be tied to the
roof plates with hurricane straps. Carpenter shall install and properly
brace for alignment all door and window frames which also shall be
treated with wood preservative. Stall partitions shall be %" plywood,
good both sides, open 18" up from floor and partition section 4' high.
Doors of same material as partition, 24" wide and same height as par-
tition. All work to be supported with %." galvanized pipe with proper
flanges and fittings to provide a rigid and substantial partition. Posts
for garbage area are to be treated with wood preservative and placed
on a double 90-lb. felt material. All posts to be properly anchored to
concrete slab with not less than 2" angle braces with expansion bolts in
the slab. Framework for screening is to be erected as detailed, and all
screening to be weatherproof plastic or alumamesh, including screens
for operating sash in building.
Doors and Windows
All exterior doors shall be \%f' thick and of designs shown. Plank and
batten door to garbage area shall be mill built of &" stock with three
horizontal cross-battens and two diagonal battens in opposite directions.
All jalousie doors shall have wood jalousies. Double-acting door be-
tween washroom and vestibules shall be 12*" wood louvre door. All
exterior doors shall be hung on 34" X 4" loose pin hinges. All locks and
hardware throughout shall be Schlage or Yale. All locking doors shall
be keyed alike. All toilet and shower-stall hardware shall be chrome-
plated with door hinges of a type which automatically return to an
open position unless fastened on user's side, without spring attachments.
Exterior doors to have aluminum interlocking thresholds. All rough and
finished hardware to be supplied by the general contractor.
Getting Ready To Build 47
Roofing and Flashing
The roof shall be dried in with rosin building paper immediately
upon completion of sheathing work and covered with three layers of
15-lb. felt with the top two layers mopped into place. Tin tagging shall
be done with heavy staples through tags into plywood. Care shall be
taken to see that the length of the staple is not longer than the thickness
of the plywood. After the top felt is mopped, it shall be well graveled
and rolled. Heavy-gauge galvanized metal gravel stop and drip shall be
applied at all edges. Flashing and counterflashing shall be applied at the
junction between the roof over the walkway and the wall of the main
building. This shall be let into a raglet in the wall for the top flashing,
and the base flashing shall extend a minimum of 8" up from the flat
roof below, over which the counterflashing shall be placed. All felt shall
be applied in such fashion as to provide a double lap for each layer of
All interior walls throughout except those which are to be tiled shall
have a base coat of vermiculite plaster mixed and applied according to
manufacturer's directions. Over the base coat a finish coat of hard white
plaster shall be placed, with all surfaces brought to a smooth even plane,
all corners neatly made and true and straight. All window jambs shall
be formed to provide accurate and neat trim job. The ceilings of all
showers, slop-toilet stall ceiling also, shall be plastered in same manner
as side wall, using a metal lath base. All ceilings throughout shall be
exposed rafters. The walls of the utility room shall be left unplastered.
All exterior walls including planting bins shall have one coat of
sprayed-on waterproofing which shall be applied with not less than
250 Ib. pressure on a thoroughly dampened wall. Care shall be taken
that the walls are properly prepared before application of material, and
all cracks, voids, chipped corners, etc., shall be prepared so as to mini-
mize all such imperfections. This work shall carry a ten-year written
guarantee which shall be provided to the owner and shall be stated in
such a fashion so as to be applicable to the building in case of change of
ownership. All windows, doors, trim, paint, etc., shall be masked in
such fashion as to be completely protected while work is being done
and after completion masking to be removed and all touching-up
necessary so as to leave a workman-like job shall be done before accept-
Terrazzo and Tile Work
All window sills shall have a ceramic-tile finish in standard color
selections. All stall showers shall be lined with ceramic tile with bull-
nose return at the entrances. The walls behind the lavatories shall be
tiled also to a height of 4' from the floor, and such tile work shall be
48 Hoiv To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
neatly fitted around all lavatory mirrors. The floors of both toilet rooms
shall be covered with mono-terrazzo with gray cement base tinted a
light blue. Chips are to be white marble with approximately two out of
ten parts of pink marble. Floor shall be protected during construction
after first grinding, and upon completion of the final work it shall be
polished and sealed with terrazzo floor seal.
All interior walls shall be sealed with a primer and neutralizer before
application of paint. All walls shall be painted with two coats of an
approved oil-base paint in color selected by owner. All woodwork
shall have a prime coat of white fixzite, second coat of equal parts of
enamel and flat paint, and third coat of eggshell enamel. Woodwork
trim to be in a color selected by owner. Exposed ceilings and rafters
shall be painted in same manner as woodwork. All knots, nail sets,
cracks, etc., to be carefully puttied and filled, and all work is to be
sanded between coats. Exterior work shall be sealed with shellac the
day before painting is to be done on all knots, streaks, etc. Prime coat
shall be applied shortly after exterior woodwork is erected. The second
coat on exterior work shall be tinted to approximate shade of final
color selected. Third coat shall be exterior trim enamel in color selected
by owner. All doors shall have two coats of trim enamel as well as a
prime coat and base coat. The walls and ceiling of the utility room will
not be painted, but all shelves, doors, etc., as shown on plans shall be
painted the same as specified for woodwork.
A panel shall be installed in the utility room providing circuits for
the following services: one circuit for outside lighting including garbage
area and slop toilet, two circuits for each toilet and shower room (one
for ceiling lights and one for wall lights), and two circuits for the utility
room. All wiring shall be grounded properly. All wiring throughout
shall be carried in rigid conduit and where conduit is exposed shall be
neatly fastened to the underside of rafters or bridging. All wiring to be
not less than #12 wire. Switch and outlet plates to be ivory-faced. Con-
tractor to install fixtures to be provided by the owner with an allowance
of $35 for fixture installation. All wiring shall be properly grounded.
Contractor to install all porcelain fixtures in utility room, all supply
panels, switches, outlet boxes, and plates as a part of his contract. Elec-
trical contractor shall arrange temporary power service with deposit
for power paid by the general contractor.
All underground work shall be completed before slab installation.
All soil pipe shall be first-quality cast iron, of sizes shown on plans, to
point of connection to septic-tank lines on exterior of building. Septic
tank and connection to same as well as drainage field are not a part of
this contract. The owner shall arrange for a water connection to a point
Getting Ready To Build 49
determined by the plumber within the building foundation. Plumber
shall make all connections from there as a part of his contract. All in-
terior hot- and cold-water lines shall be copper tube, and work shall be
concealed. Water lines to lavatories and other fixtures on the exterior
walls may be carried around exterior perimeter of building in a trench
a minimum depth of 8".
The following equipment shall be installed, description as for "Amer-
ican-Standard." Equipment of equal quality and manufacture may be
substituted upon agreement with owner.
Waterclosets. Flush valve Madbrook or Sciacto; slop toilet without
seat or cover
Lavatories. Hexagon, 20"xl8", pop-up drain, no legs
Urinals. Bering with one-time flush tank
Showers. /" mixing valve, bent arm and head with volume regulator
All exposed trim to be chrome-plated. A continuous-flow system by
supplying a return line to the hot-water tank shall be installed for the
showers only. All work to be pressure tested before completion of
masonry for vents and work below grade. Vents to be installed as re-
quired and flashing provided for through roof installation, which shall
be provided not later than the day following installation of roof sheath-
ing. Water heater to be a gas-fired 50-gallon water heater with a 50-
gallon-per-hour recovery rate at maximum temperature. Outside spigots
to be installed where shown on plans.
Glass and Glazing
All windows to be glazed with double-strength "A" glass. Glazing
to be done on the site, and all windows are to be backputtied in such a
manner as to make a watertight job. A 20"x24" plate-glass mirror shall
be installed above each lavatory with top edge 6' above the floor. Below
the mirror a 4"x20" bulb-edge plate-glass shelf shall be installed with
Building a Mobile-Home Park
Clearing and Grading Your Mobile-Home Site
Clearing and grading the mobile-park site is an important
part of park construction. Unless your land is properly pre-
pared, you may face other problems, such as faulty sewage dis-
posal and improper surface drainage. It is as important to clear
and grade properly as it is to put a good foundation under a
building. Of course, some parks will be built without changing
the natural contour; but this will affect the depth of trenching
to establish the proper sewer grade and should be taken into
There is a difference between clearing and grading. Some
park owners get a bid on clearing land and assume that it in-
cludes grading and final land preparation. Such is not the case.
When land is cleared, it is simply bulldozed of unwanted surface
vegetation. Clearing follows the natural contours of the land
and does not include the filling-in of low spots or the cutting-
down of high spots to a predetermined grade.
Bids on land clearing, therefore, do not include grading. And,
since grading is expensive, you should know exactly what your
MAKING A GROUND-ELEVATION MAP
The first step in clearing and grading is to have a ground-
elevation map prepared from a series of readings taken with an
engineer's level or transit. As many readings should be taken
as are needed to prepare a reliable profile of the land's contour.
A local surveyor, civil engineer, or competent builder can do
this rather quickly.
A typical map is scaled for distance, and rises and falls in
the land's surface are exaggerated for easy reading. From this
map you can determine how the grading should be done and
Clearing and Grading Your Mobile-Home Site 55
estimate accurately what the cost should be. You can also make
sure that surface dirt is moved the shortest possible distance.
CLEARING AND GRADING EQUIPMENT
The regular bulldozer is used for clearing land. Use as large
a bulldozer as practical, since more clearing can be done in a
shorter time. A 10-foot bulldozer will do 25 per cent more
work than an 8-foot bulldozer, so don't get a per-hour estimate
of bulldozer costs without specifying the size of the bulldozer
blade. This is particularly important when you award a con-
tract on time and material. See Plate 8.
Even when clearing is done for an agree d-upon price, check
the contractor's equipment to see whether it is in good condi-
tion and capable of doing the job. Equipment breakdowns may
lead to needless delays and time costs that is, you may sacrifice
future park income.
A bulldozer may also be used for rough grading; final grad-
ing, however, is usually done by a standard grader. See Plate 8.
For an accurate job, grade stakes are set and marked accord-
ing to the desired slope of the property. The bulldozer or
grader operator then moves the dirt back and forth along the
grade stakes until the desired slope is obtained.
You can see why high-level land is important to your park.
To grade properly, there must be enough dirt to fill in low
areas; otherwise, fill dirt has to be trucked in. It is a lot like
the barber's problem: You can always take it off, but you can-
not put it on!
Here, then, are four important steps when clearing and grad-
ing your land:
1. Have a ground-elevation map prepared by a competent engineer or
2. Make sure the land is high enough so fill dirt will not be needed
3. Get a fixed-price bid on clearing and grading and check the equip-
ment to be used
4. Place finished grade stakes close enough to give the bulldozer and
grader operators accurate guides to work to
56 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
SOME KEY FACTORS TO KEEP IN MIND
When you clear and grade, you're not just getting rid of
undesirable surface vegetation. Land preparation for a mobile-
home park affects the roads, sewers, and surface drainage. Too
steep a grade will wash down surface-road materials; too flat a
grade will hamper the operation of the sewer system.
Sewer systems need a minimum fall to work properly. The
desirable amount should be determined by local health officials.
If the land is graded correctly, the operation of the sewer sys-
tem will be greatly facilitated. And, where a complete park
sewer system is installed, cross-connections of the various rows
and spaces can be achieved by sloping the land to permit a lateral
as well as a longitudinal fall. In other words, the land can be
graded like a tilted table.
Landscaping costs can be cut by having a landscaping plan
in mind before clearing and grading are done. You can then
clear and grade around attractive vegetation, like trees, plants,
and bushes. Why waste time and money clearing away good
native vegetation, only to replace it with expensive nursery
products? Native plants and shrubs do best, so leave them on
the site whenever possible.
ESTIMATING THE COST OF CLEARING AND GRADING
It is hard to give reliable cost yardsticks for clearing and
grading, since costs vary with locations, characteristics of the
site, contour of the land, and subsurface obstacles.
The best way to check costs is to talk with people who have
had similar work done. Meanwhile, shop around among con-
tractors to find out what prevailing costs are. Usually, it is
cheaper to hire bulldozer equipment and operators and super-
vise them yourself.
Regardless of how you do it, have a ground-elevation map
prepared so you can estimate the cubic yards of dirt to be
moved. You can then rule out exceptionally high bids and get
closer to a reasonable cost base.
Where sewage disposal is concerned, a mobile-home park is
similar to a real estate subdivision. Typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea,
and other diseases may be transferred by contaminated food and
water, so every effort should be made to put in the best possible
sanitation facilities. Where public sewage-disposal systems are
not available, satisfactory private installations must be developed.
A sewer system should dispose of human wastes without (I)
contaminating the water supply; (2) providing a breeding place
for insects or rodents; (3) giving rise to odor or unsightly ap-
pearance to park residents or adjacent property owners; or (4)
polluting bathing beaches, streams, or drinking water.
Sewage disposal is complicated because of different state and
local laws as well as varying physical and climatic conditions.
The ideas presented here, therefore, are merely suggestive in
nature. All plans and specifications should be approved by local
health officials having jurisdiction.
PLANNING A SEWER SYSTEM
The first step in planning a sewer system is to estimate the
amount of sewage to be discharged and the sizes of the pipes
and disposal units needed. Generally, 125 gallons of sewage per
day per space should be allowed, with an additional allowance
for laundry and service buildings.
After estimating the amount of sewage flow, check with the
local health officer to find out how large the sewer lines, septic
tank, and disposal fields ought to be.
The next step is to consider the location of the septic tank and
disposal field with relation to the source of water supply, topog-
raphy, soil conditions, and so on. For example, all main sewer
lines should be below the frost line, and soil conditions should
Sewer System 59
be checked by percolation tests to determine permeability or
equivalent experience data should be obtained from local health
Constructing a sewer system is not simply a case of digging a
trench and putting in sewer lines to a septic tank. There are
important engineering factors to consider, such as what materials
to use, how the sewer system will be installed, and how it will
HOW TO CONSTRUCT A SEWER SYSTEM
Important Engineering Considerations
For most private sewer systems, preliminary engineering con-
siderations include (1) grading the land; (2) determining the
sizes of pipe and the number and sizes of septic tanks to use; and
(3) figuring out how the various rows of spaces will be cross-
connected if one main tank is used.
Sewage must have a flow through the sewer lines, and this
flow is obtained by grading the land or by sloping the sewer
lines when they are installed. Generally, you have to grade a
slope into the land, because most states set a maximum limit for
the septic tank and disposal field beneath the surface of the
In many states disposal fields cannot be more than 18 inches
60 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
below the surface. This means that the sewer line enters the sep-
tic tank li feet beneath the ground. Now, if the sewer line is
sloped upward from this point, say, a distance of 400-500 feet,
with a slope of, say, 6 inches in every 100 feet, the sewer line
would come out of the ground after 300 feet. To avoid this, the
slope required is graded into the land.
From a ground-elevation map the land level would be known
before the sewer system was installed, and grading could be
done to provide the proper slope. Knowing the land profile,
grade stakes can be set and the bulldozer and grader operators
instructed to work to the grade marks.
Planning doesn't end here, either. You may find it wise to
break the grade at certain points rather than to have a uniform
slope. By breaking the grade, you may save on grading and still
provide the minimum slope needed for the sewer system.
The finished slope of your park has a definite effect on surface
conditions, such as the drainage of roads and spaces. This is par-
ticularly true where fine gravel or shell is used. Even in the case
of hard-surfaced roads, water may run down the pavement so
fast that it accumulates at the back of the property, creating un-
desirable pools of water and eroding the subgrade of the road.
When you install the park's sewer system, ask yourself these
1. Will the land be graded to provide the proper slope for sewage flow?
2. Will the slope permit sewage disposal to take place without creating
surface drainage problems?
3. Will the sewer system be large enough for maximum park operation?
Specific Construction Techniques
A sewer system is relatively easy to install, provided the fol-
lowing procedures are used.
Materials. Buy all materials in quantity to take advantage of
lower prices and contractors' discounts. Shop around for tile
pipe among suppliers who handle it on a wholesale basis.
Vitrified tile pipe is generally used for the sewer lines. Tile
pipe is durable and easy to maintain; however, substitute mate-
rials like orangeburg may be used if approved by health au-
Main sewer lines in mobile-home parks are usually 6 inches in
diameter; 4-inch laterals are used for connecting individual units
to the main line. Cleanouts are provided at least every 100 feet
or closer, and manholes every 400 feet or where there is a change
in direction of 90 degrees.
Standard tile pipe comes in 2 -foot lengths, so it is easy to
figure how many sections will be needed for any given job. The
difficult part is figuring out how many fittings that is, Y's, T's,
and bends you'll need. These fittings are easy to get when they
are part of a large order but may be harder to obtain when only
one or two fittings are needed to finish the job. So, compile a
complete bill of materials when you do your planning and be-
fore you begin to buy. When large quantities are bought at one
time, the supplier will usually distribute the pipe alongside the
trench in small piles, reducing the amount of labor when the
pipe is installed.
Trenching. The next step is trenching. This may be done by
trenching machines similar to the one illustrated. See Plate 8.
Where wages are reasonable, however, hand labor can be used.
Machines cut trenches quickly, but long, exposed trenches have
a tendency to cave or wash in. A simple point often overlooked
is to keep the excavated dirt on one side of the trench so back-
filling can be done quickly from one side.
Grade stakes. The third step in constructing a sewer system
is to set pairs of grade stakes on opposite sides of the trench
62 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
about every 20 feet. A 1 by 6-inch crossboard can be clamped
to each pair. A uniform slope can then be obtained by stretching
a line (between nails on the crossboards) down the center of
Installing sewer pipe. Several items are needed to install sewer
1. Hand trowel.
2. Mortar box.
3. Mortar, composed partly of Portland cement, mortar cement, and
sand. Good mortar can be made from three parts of Portland cement,
three parts of mortar mix, and twelve parts of sand.
4. A gauge stick, inserted into the pipe after it has been installed, to
determine whether the pipe has the correct grade. The gauge stick
is made so that, when it is placed inside the pipe, its vertical member
crosses the string stretched between the grade stakes. The vertical
member is marked at the right grade.
The first section of pipe is set into the opening of the septic
tank and mortared in place.
The second section is then laid as follows:
1. Take some mortar and pat it in the palm of the hand until it forms a
flat ovular shape.
2. Place two or three pads of the mortar on the lower half of the bell
end of the first pipe. The mortar should cover the bottom half of
3. Insert the second section of pipe, with its small end fitting into the
bell end of the first pipe.
4. Place the gauge stick in the end of the second section of pipe, making
sure it rests on the inside of the pipe and not on the bell. The gauge
Sewer System 63
mark should line up with the string stretched along the trench. If it
does not line up, add or remove dirt from under the bell end of the
second section until the gauge mark lines up with the string.
5. Press mortar between the bell end of the first pipe and the small end
of the second pipe, covering the opening remaining at the top half.
Using the trowel, make a smooth joint all around.
6. Take a stick with a wad of cloth or brush on its end and clean out
the excess mortar inside the pipe just laid. Do not move the pipe in
You are now ready to lay the third section of the pipe.
A good worker should lay at least 125 feet of pipe in an eight-
hour day. So, check the daily progress on your sewer lines to
see you're getting your money's worth. At the end of each day,
make sure all exposed sections are plugged and that all T's and
Y's are covered. If a trench caves in, or debris is blown into an
opening, it may cause faulty sewer operation later on. Tile-pipe
covers can be ordered at the time the pipe is bought; these
fit into the bell end of the pipe and can be dropped in place as
T's and Y's are installed.
Be rather liberal with T's and Y's, because they serve as in-
spection holes and are convenient places for cleanouts.
Don't run water in the sewer line until all pipe joints are com-
pletely dry. The water will wash away the mortar and result in
leaks or weak joints. You can, however, check any section of
sewer the day after it has been laid; to do this, simply flush the
sewer line with a hose and check for leaks and proper flow.
THE SEPTIC TANK, DISTRIBUTION BOX, AND DRAIN FIELD
The main features of a private sewage-disposal system are
illustrated below. The main sewer line empties into the septic
tank, which retains the solids from the sewage while the fluid
passes from the septic tank into a distribution box which dis-
tributes the fluid uniformly along a number of drain fields into
the soil. Joints in the drain field are left open for this reason.
If one large septic tank is used, locate it at a low point in the
park. This helps insure the slope needed for the sewer lines and
permits you to place your wells at some higher point in the park.
Keep sewer fines and drain fields at least 100 feet from water
* _ z
Seiver System 65
wells. The distance will vary from state to state, but 100 feet is
generally accepted as minimum.
The next step is the construction of a septic tank large enough
to service the park. Many factors affect the design and construc-
tion of a septic tank. In some areas the water table is so high that
a large septic tank would be under water. In this case, several
smaller tanks can be used. Where the water table is deep enough,
however, one septic tank is preferable, since cleaning and main-
tenance are simplified. Check with your local health officials as
soon as possible and get their suggestions.
A septic tank is a settling tank that retains the solids in the
sewage for a sufficient period to permit satisfactory decomposi-
tion by bacterial action.
The septic tank, used with a subsurface drain field, is con-
sidered the best way of disposing of sewage where public sewers
are not available. Contrary to popular belief, septic tanks are not
used to remove disease-producing bacteria from the sewage.
They simply separate the solids from the liquid, so the liquid can
be disposed of by filtration into the soil. Since solids are retained
in the tank, the tank should be large enough so that removal of
sludge does not become a problem.
The materials used to build a tank should resist corrosion and
decay and should be established a minimum distance of 5 feet
from any building. It should be located where there is adequate
area for the disposal field.
The size of the septic tank should be based on the maximum
daily flow of sewage, a retention period of about twenty-four
hours, and adequate sludge storage.
There is little need for partitions, baffle walls, or connecting
pipes from various chambers in the tank itself. These simply add
to cost and reduce the efficiency of the tank by decreasing
sludge storage capacity. They also increase the velocity of flow,
which in turn interferes with sedimentation.
Where a large septic tank is used, dosing siphons may be
66 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
needed. They are used to flush out the various lines in a disposal
field at frequent intervals.
The septic-tank cover or slab should be designed to support
a dead load of 150 pounds per square foot. When constructed of
concrete, the slab should be reinforced and about 4 inches thick
and watertight. If it is constructed in one piece with the tank,
it should have at least one manhole cover.
Septic tanks are easy to maintain. With ordinary use, the
average septic tank should be cleaned only every two or three
years. It is a good idea, though, to inspect the tank every twelve
to eighteen months to check the depth of accumulated sludge.
Septic-tank sludge may contain disease-bearing bacteria, so it
should be disposed of by burial or by other methods approved
by the health department.
A distribution box is a chamber into which the septic tank dis-
charges and from which sewage enters the disposal field. The
drain tile from the disposal field is fed through the distribution
box, which equalizes the sewage flow in all lines. It also serves as
an inspection manhole.
The distribution box is located at the upper end of the drain
field and is connected to the septic tank by a short sewer line.
The box should extend about 12 inches above the inlet pipe and
should have a removable cover. Drainage lines should run in
straight lines wherever possible. Horizontal bends should be
avoided but, when necessary, should be made with tight joints.
The box need not be more than 18 inches in width nor longer
than is necessary to accommodate drains for effective outlet
capacity. Diversion baffle boards are advisable in public installa-
tions because individual lines can be shut off for repairs when
they become water-logged.
A disposal field is an open- jointed system of pipe through
which sewage fluids are distributed for absorption into the soil.
Disposal fields should be at least 100 feet from any water well,
/ / \-MSTe* ox \
^S / \ \ 10' LOT LINE OFF SET WHER
. V *r \ lo ~~-^ LOT8 *" E BACI< T0 ACK
ICAOAM OR ASPHALT
Lot Diagram Showing Outlet Locations
Seiver System 69
25 feet from any stream, and 10 feet from dwelling or property
lines. A minimum distance of 50 feet from drilled wells may be
permissible where the well casing extends watertight to a depth
of 50 feet or more. The footage required for a disposal field de-
pends on the absorptive qualities of the soil, the width of the
trenches, and the maximum number of persons served.
The permeable quality of the soil can be determined by per-
colation tests. But local health authorities can generally supply
reliable experience data.
Drain-tile sections should be spaced i to i inch apart, and the
upper half of the joints should be covered with a strip of asphalt-
treated paper before the tile is covered. All lines in the disposal
field should be separated by at least three times the width of the
trenches, with a minimum spacing of 6 feet.
The grade of the tile should be within 18 inches of the sur-
face, except when the depth of cover must be varied to obtain
and maintain an even grade. If the total depth of the field lines
exceeds 30-36 inches, seepage pits should be considered. In ex-
treme northern parts of the United States, where the ground
freezes to depths of 5 and 6 feet, specially designed disposal
trenches may be needed. To avoid placing the tile deeper than
3 feet, the trenches may be excavated to a point below frost line
and filled with coarse gravel.
RECOMMENDED MOBILE-HOME SEWER CONNECTION
The mobile-home sewer connection shown in the illustrations
is recommended by the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Associa-
tion. Note that all individual sewer risers are trapped and sealed
against undesirable odors. Since the frost line varies with differ-
ent parts of the country, the trap may be set higher or lower to
meet this condition. Drainage should be away from the mobile
home when parked.
The locating dimension for the sewer outlet (in a 40 by 60-
foot space) is 22 feet from the rear lot line, as illustrated.
An adequate supply of safe water is needed to service each
mobile home in a park. Where public water is available, its
treatment will usually meet the requirements of local health offi-
cials. Where no public supply is convenient, a private supply
that conforms to health regulations must be developed.
Besides the problem of health protection, you must decide
how water will be provided for lawn-sprinkling and car- wash-
ing. The consumption of water per mobile-home space may in-
crease from 125 to 250 gallons a day if the same water system is
used for lawn-sprinkling and other purposes.
Double water lines can be installed where artesian wells are
available one for use by the mobile-home occupants, the other
for general use throughout the park. The wells that supply
water for the mobile homes can be equipped with pumps and ex-
pansion tanks, while the water-sprinkling system can be oper-
ated directly from well pressure. Booster pumps can be used
where natural pressure is too low.
So study the water problem with care. You may save money
on an initial installation, only to find that your operating costs
are prohibitive. A greater initial investment, on the other hand,
may provide more water at less cost later on.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN INSTALLING A WATER SYSTEM
The first step is to figure the maximum water demand of your
park. Table 2 gives the estimated maximum water demand, based
on the number of spaces.
Remember, however, that water pressure means little unless
volume is considered. For this reason the size of pipe should be
carefully determined in advance. Keep in mind future expansion
as well as current needs. Remember, too, that a 2 -inch pipe will
Water System 71
deliver four times as much water as a 1-inch pipe because cross-
sectional area increases as the square of the diameter. This simple
relationship is often overlooked, resulting in an inadequate sup-
ply of water. When small pipes are used, the volume of water
must be obtained by increasing water pressure. This, however,
ESTIMATED MAXIMUM WATER DEMAND FOR TRAILER COURTS
Number of Number of Demand Load
Coach Spaces Fixture Units (GPAf)
25 150 55
50 300 85
75 450 115
100 600 145
150 900 195
200 1,200 235
250 1,500 270
300 1,800 305
may lead to broken hose connections and increased wear of the
Pay particular attention to your choice of materials. Where
corrosion is a problem, as it is near salt-water areas, treated gal-
vanized or heavy plastic pipe should be used. Plastic pipe has
been improved to the point where installation is simple and long
life is assured. Metal pipe, preferably copper, should be used
above the frost line so electrically heated tape can be applied in
freezing weather. All pipe material must be approved by local
LOCATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF WELLS
Be careful about the location of your wells. Pick a point of
high elevation and make sure that neither surface nor under-
ground contamination can enter the water supply from pit
privies, subsurface pits, or septic-tank systems. Safe distances
should be determined after checking with the local health officer;
but wells should generally be located not less than 100 feet from
any septic tank or less than 150 feet from any cesspool. Sewer
lines should not be laid within 50 feet of the well, unless specially
Water System 73
constructed. The minimum depth at which safe water can be
obtained varies with soil formations and local conditions but
should never be less than 10 feet.
No pumps, well casings, or suction pipes should be located in
any pit, room, or space extending below ground level or in any
room or space above ground which is walled in or otherwise in-
closed, unless it has free drainage by gravity to the surface of the
ground. A sanitary seal should be provided for the annular space
between the drop pipe and the casing. Pump-room floors should
be of impervious construction and should slope from the pump
pedestal to the floor drain. The floor drain should not be con-
nected to a sewer or to any pipe in which sewage may back up.
The floors of rooms above ground should be at least 6 inches
above the outside ground surface, and in every case the pump
pedestal should extend at least 1 2 inches above the floor.
There should be sufficient storage capacity in the system to
assure an adequate supply of water at ample pressures in all
parts of the system at all times. Where the trailer-court system
is connected to a public water supply, storage facilities may not
be necessary. Storage reservoirs should be located above ground-
water level and in such a location that surface water and under-
ground drainage flow away from the structure. All reservoirs
should be constructed of a permanent, watertight material and
should be covered.
A park water system should supply 6-8 gallons per minute at
a minimum pressure of 20 pounds per square inch to each
mobile-home outlet. An upper pressure of about 40 pounds is
The Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association recommends
that water outlets for coaches be located as illustrated on pages
74 H oiv To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
67 and 68. The underground connection is also shown. This
gives a neat connection and a short run to the coach outlet.
The connection coming up from the ground should be a mini-
mum of 4 inches above the surface and have two 1-inch valved
outlets. Check valves should not be installed on the riser, be-
cause a hot-water tank without a pressure relief valve may ex-
plode if the water cannot back into the system.
The outlets should be threaded so that a connection can be
made from one outlet to the mobile home, leaving the other for
lawn-sprinkling and fire control. The ground around the riser
pipe should be graded to divert drainage away from the connec-
In cold climates the riser should be encased in 6-inch vitrified
clay pipe, with the intervening space filled with insulation.
When the coach space is unoccupied during cold weather, the
outlet should be protected from freezing by a heater tape con-
nected to the court's electrical system or by drainage of the
DISINFECTION OF THE WATER SYSTEM
When they are first installed or repaired wells should be dis-
infected with a chlorine solution recommended by the local
health officials. The chlorine should remain in the well for 12
hours or more, after which the pump should be operated until
the water is free of chlorine odor.
The expansion tank or reservoir, the water-distribution sys-
tem, and the piping in all buildings should also be disinfected.
The entire system should be filled, and all taps and mobile-home
outlets should be opened until the chlorine odor is noticeable in
the water coming through. All outlets should then be closed and
the solution allowed to remain in the system for 12 hours or
more, after which the system may be flushed with water from
A bacteriological sample should be taken and tested to deter-
mine whether the water is free of contamination. Disinfection
must be repeated where necessary.
Water System 75
INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE
A park's water supply system should be approved by the local
health officer before and after it is placed in operation. Samples
of the water should be collected periodically and tested for un-
SUGGESTIONS FOR INSTALLING METAL WATER PIPE
Certain precautions should be taken when laying water pipes.
They should not be laid in water, nor should they be flooded by
water or sewage during the laying process. Dirt or other con-
taminating materials should be kept out of the pipe, and all water
pipes should be disinfected before they are placed in service.
Installing the pipe itself is comparatively simple. Galvanized
or black pipe comes in 21 -foot sections, with a coupling at one
end. The male end is brushed clean of dirt prior to being joined
with a coupling from another section of pipe. Before being
joined, however, pipe compound is placed on the male threads to
make the connection watertight and easy to remove later on.
Various fittings are available, like T's, L's, unions, reducers,
risers, hose bibs, and valves. A catalogue of fittings will help you
recognize them and their functions. Such fittings are used to
make bends, to install risers from underground lines, to shut off
the water system for repairs, and so on.
You can save money by installing your own water system.
And, with some practice, you'll be able to put in hundreds of
feet a day. Contracting out a water system is expensive because
of the retail price paid for the pipe and the labor cost of instal-
ling it. If you do your own work and buy pipe wholesale, you
can realize a savings of as much as 30 per cent. If you contract
the job out, however, it is still a good idea to know how to install
pipe, because you may be called on to do emergency repair
Modern mobile homes are large, luxurious, and come equipped
with electric refrigerators, garbage-disposal units, television
sets, washing machines, air conditioners, toasters, water heaters,
and fluorescent lights. Mobile homes, therefore, use about as
much electricity as a house.
An undersized electrical system in a park makes mobile living
inconvenient, since trailerists have to turn off some of their appli-
ances when others are in use. All modern parks have heavy-duty
electrical wiring and they publicize it in their promotional pro-
There are other items to consider when making your electrical
installation, such as street lighting, timing switches, separate dis-
connects for repair purposes, and meter boxes with tamperproof
lids. You must also provide for future expansion or soon find
your main and secondary leads from the power source under-
sized. It is a good idea to provide 220-volt, three-wire service to
each space for use of air conditioners or other heavy electrical
Although it is more costly to install, underground wiring of
the direct burial type is generally preferable to protruding poles
and overhanging lines. Overhead wiring often gives a cluttered
appearance but is justified when an underground system cannot
When underground wiring is installed, wire one size larger is
used than when overhead wiring is involved because voltage
drop is greater. Moreover, direct burial cable must be placed at
least 2 feet or more underground to avoid mechanical injury. So,
when repairs are needed, they are usually more costly. On the
other hand, there is little danger of storm or wind damage, and
the need for poles, insulators, and so on is eliminated.
78 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
An important point is to keep on hand an accurate wiring
diagram, particularly for an underground installation, so you
will know the general electrical layout when repairs are re-
quired. List all runs, wire sizes, and important junction and feed
A sample wiring diagram for a mobile-home park is shown on
the previous page. This is just one of many possible installations.
It is a good idea to have all final wiring diagrams approved by
the local power company.
In the park covered by the diagram the master disconnect
switch, distribution panel, and time clock are located in a locked
room of the service building. From this central location electric-
ity is fed to all areas of the park with a minimum of voltage
drop. From this room the park's entire electrical system can be
Direct burial cable is used throughout and is placed at least 2
feet beneath the ground. As you can see from the diagram, No.
2 burial cable is used as main leads; the other wires are reduced
to No. 4 and No. 6 as the distance from the main leads increases.
No. 4 burial cable is run to the recreation building, because a
variety of facilities are involved. Current is needed for regular
lighting, electric hot plates during potluck dinners, general store
and grill use, and the 300-watt flood lamps that light the entrance
to the park.
Street lights are carried on No. 12 burial cable. Ten 100-watt
bulbs are carried on these lines. They are controlled from a time
clock which automatically turns on the lights at a given time in
the evening and shuts them off at twelve o'clock midnight.
Used light or telephone poles may be obtained from local
utility companies at the time they are being replaced. Check
with your local company, and you may be able to get some of
The accompanying tabulation shows the amount of current
recommended for various sizes of burial cable.
Plate 9 shows a typical meter-box installation. The box cover
Electrical System 79
is locked, preventing children or others from tampering with
This MHMA design requires underground conduit and buried
wire from the meter box to the patio (see p. 80).
ALLOWABLE CURRENT-CARRYING CAPACITIES OF IN-
SULATED CONDUCTORS IN AMPERES
Size A WG Rubber Types R Rubber
MCM RW Type
14 15 15
12 20 20
10 30 30
6 55 65
4 70 85
3 80 100
2 95 115
1 110 130
SAMPLE SPECIFICATIONS FOR A PARK ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
Here is a sample set of specifications for installing an electrical
system for a park of fifty mobile homes but capable of being ex-
panded to one hundred spaces.
Service. The main service line is to be run with No. 2 wire in rigid
conduit. The main switch is to be a 200-amp. fuse solid neutral discon-
nect switch, surface-mounted.
Feeds to each mobile-home station All feeds to mobile-home stations
are to be installed according to plan, and no deviation is permitted. All
cable and wire are to be trench-laid, park-way cable or direct burial
type. Trenches must be at least 18 inches deep.
Meter stations. Each station is to have junction boxes buried 18 inches
deep, with 1-inch conduit leading to meter housing boxes and No. 8
wire feeding the meters. Splicing in the junction box should be made
with split wire connectors and insulated with adequate turns of varnished
cambric tape painted well with glytol. Junction boxes are to be filled
with insulating compound and tightly covered.
\&S 9- HO. 8 SERVICE ENTRANCE
UN. l" 6ALV. CONDUIT
I. CO* CLASS C TREATED
POLE OR EQUAL
METER Br ELECTRIC CO.
DETAIL OF METER
METERS CAN BE
MOUNTED ON BOTH SIDES
t4 - NOTCHED IH
i" BOLT SET FLUI
Electrical System 81
The main feeds to each row of stations should be switched and fused
with 100-amp. 220-volt solid neutral disconnect switches. The meters
are to be connected with alternate sides of a 220 circuit to balance the
load as nearly as possible.
Meter housing cabinets are to be mechanically grounded and neutral
wire grounded to the water pipe at each station.
Street lighting. All lighting circuits are to be installed as shown, using
direct burial wire. Rigid galvanized conduit is to be run from the junc-
tion boxes to the weatherhead on the light poles. The lighting will be
on two circuits, properly fused and switched. Circuits will be con-
trolled by time clocks.
Conditions. All meters, fixtures, and labor for the entire electrical
installation will be furnished by the contractor. The contractor will
furnish posts for meter stations and do all trenching.
The owner will furnish light poles and meters.
Once installed, an electrical system is difficult to change. It
pays, therefore, to plan on the side of heavier installations. This
is particularly true when underground wiring systems are used.
Get all the local technical assistance you can. And, by all
means, keep in mind future expansion. This will help you decide
on the sizes of wire to use and will assure your guests a sufficient
amount of current at all times. As mobile homes get more com-
plicated in electrical equipment, there will be an increased
power-use factor over the years.
By planning for the future, you will avoid ending up with an
Building the Roads
Good roads are essential, since mobile-home parks must ac-
commodate heavy traffic. Many parks are obsolete today because
their roads are not wide enough nor durable enough to handle
the mobile homes being produced.
The width of roads determines how cars will be parked. In
older style parks, cars are parked right on the lot alongside the
mobile home. This destroys landscaping, particularly after heavy
rains, and increases fire hazards.
The Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association recommends
road widths of 35 feet, with a hard- topped center of 18-20 feet.
Cars may then be parked on either side of the hard-topped road-
The parks illustrated in Plates 1, 2, and 3 have excellent road
systems. The roads are wide and hard-surfaced, and the park's
"entrance neck" is designed to slow down traffic to the recom-
mended speed of 5 miles per hour. Other parks make use of
specially designed bumps in the road.
GRADING AND LAYING OUT THE ROADS
Grading and preparing the subgrade are the most critical parts
of road construction.
Roadways should be staked out and grade-marked in advance,
so the blader can cut the proper contour of the road. It is by no
means simple to get proper turning radii and gradual sloping
curves, so roads should be laid out with the help of an engineer
or road-builder. Turns should be limited to 90 degrees wherever
After the roadway has been staked out, you must decide on
the depth and type of subgrade material and grade accordingly.
The amount of fill needed depends on ( 1 ) the amount of money
Building the Roads 83
you want to put into roads; (2) the type of fill used; and (3)
whether hard-surface roads are involved.
The depth and type of fill will depend largely on the area in
which you locate. Different kinds of road materials are used in
different pans of the country. Where gravel is available, gravel
or macadam roads are popular. Where shell and marl are native
to an area, roads are made from marl and topped with shell.
Where asphalt is readily available, you'll find roads made from
gravel, marl, or crushed stone and top-dressed with asphalt. It is
always more economical to use native materials, since freight
charges and handling are reduced.
Few mobile-home parks have complete concrete roads, be-
cause they are comparatively expensive. Many do have asphalt
roads, which are easy to repair and capable of carrying heavy
When building the roads, keep in mind the runways for your
mobile homes. A mobile home has to leave the road when it is
parked next to a patio; where the natural ground only is used,
large mobile homes usually get stuck backing in or pulling out.
You can eliminate this problem by blading out and filling in the
runways when you're doing the roads. Or the concrete runners
can be used, as shown on page 68.
SUGGESTIONS ON CONTRACTING ROAD WORK
When awarding a road contract, specify in detail the amount
and kinds of materials to be used. Try to get a fixed-price bid
rather than one based on time and material.
After awarding the contract, check on the depth of fill to be
sure you're getting your money's worth. If you contract for 6
inches of fill and get only 5, you're being short-changed 16! per
cent. To check for uniform depth of fill, bore small holes at
various places on the road and measure the thickness with a
If you're going to act as contractor that is, hire machines and
operators and buy materials yourself check each truckload of
fill to make sure you're getting what you pay for. You can num-
ber each truck with a piece of chalk; measure the length, width,
84 Hoiv To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
and depth of its body; and record its cubic-yard capacity in a
little notebook. Then, as trucks come in with materials for the
road, check off their number in the notebook and mark down
the number of hauls. You can total up the cubic yards at the end
of each day and figure the daily material cost.
Another way to insure the proper amount of fill is to measure
the depth of cut made by the blader at the time the roads are
graded. Then, hose down the subgrade with water and remove
all ridges of sand or dirt. This is important, since mounds or
ridges of sand or dirt creep to the surface and eventually make
road repairs necessary. A road is no better than its subgrade, so
smooth it out along its entire length.
Watch the crown and slope for drainage. If the ground has
been prepared correctly, there should be a gradual slope, permit-
ring drainage after a rain. But, if this slope is too steep, road
materials will wash away particularly if roads are not hard-
surfaced. On the other hand, dips and flats in a road will hold
water and present a messy appearance after a rain. A crown in
the road will drain water into the edges of the road, so gutters
and curbs are good to have. Where the soil is quite permeable,
as in sandy areas, they may not be needed, and the money saved
can be used for other park improvements.
Ready-mix concrete companies furnish their customers a
"concrete calculator" for figuring the cubic yards required for
any given job. This type of calculator also can be used for mak-
ing estimates of the cubic yards of road fill. Get one and keep it
Here's a word of caution. If you hard-top the center of your
roads, make your specifications as detailed as possible and get at
least three bids. Asking a contractor to hard-surface your roads
means nothing, unless you specify the kind of fill, the depth of
subgrade, the depth of penetration of the asphalt coating; wheth-
er it is going to be a regular road mix or seal coat; and so on. If,
for example, a contractor picks up 3 inches of fill and shoots it
with asphalt and rolls it, the bid will be considerably higher than
if he picks up only 1 inch and shoots it and rolls it. Yet the sur-
face will look the same in both cases. If he picks up 3 inches and
Building the Roads 85
top-dresses it with pebble stone or other surface material, it will
be more expensive still. So be specific when you ask for a bid on
It is hard to give a reasonable figure for building roads for a
mobile-home park because so many different materials and meth-
ods can be used.
The best advice is to make sure the roads are wide enough,
properly sloped and graded, and based on suitable fill. If you do
not hard-top immediately, make sure the road's basic construc-
tion will permit you to do so later on.
Do the mobile-home runways when you build the road, since
it is easier at that time and more economical.
Patios, Sidewalks, and Shuffleboard Courts
Patios, sidewalks, and shuffleboard courts are essential in an up-
to-date park. Consequently, a considerable amount of cement
forming and finishing will be required when your park is built.
Patios, sidewalks, and shuffleboard courts should be not less
than 4 inches thick and should be reinforced with wire mesh to
prevent cracking. When patios and sidewalks are finished, peri-
odic joints should be struck to prevent cracking through the
solid face of the concrete. Expansion joints are also worth while.
Some park operators like to color or tint the concrete. Where
this is desired, coloring can be dusted onto the top quarter-inch
at the time the finishing is done.
PATIOS AND SIDEWALKS
A concrete patio serves as a front porch, whether or not awn-
ings or cabanas are used. Your park will be most successful,
therefore, if every space has a patio.
Standard patio size is 20 by 8 feet by 4 inches, but many park
operators prefer larger sizes to accommodate cabanas or large
awnings. Patios are "slick" finished in some areas, but a
"broomed" finish may be desirable where snow or ice prevail.
When sidewalks and patios are installed at the same time, they
can be formed and finished as one unit. Standard forms can be
used, made from suitable metal strips, or the best grade of
straight-edge lumber. The sidewalk is then an integral part of
the patio (see p. 68).
When patios and sidewalks are laid out, drainage should be
away from the mobile home when parked. Water should not
drain toward the mobile home.
Patios, Sidewalks, and Shuffleboard Courts 87
Laying Out Patios
Patios can be quickly and accurately laid out by two men
working with metal or cloth tapes. After the first patio in a row
has been satisfactorily located, the four corners can be set with
wooden dowel pins. Using these as reference points, one man
can run a tape from one space to another, while the other man
holds the center of each pin. A regular square can be used on the
corners, after which diagonal readings can be taken to make sure
the patio is setting square.
If a transit is available, as well as a person to operate it, all four
edges of the first patio can be extended with the aid of the in-
strument. As one man "sights" through the transit and gives a
straight line, the other man runs a tape and accurately locates all
patio edges in a given row. It is important, therefore, to get the
first patio exact.
Forming and Finishing a Patio
The preparation of sidewalks and patios is similar to any con-
crete pouring operation. The ground should be watered down
until it is free of all ridges. Check the center of the formed area
to make sure there are no convex surfaces to cut down the thick-
ness of concrete and weaken the patio. Sections of wire mesh
should always be overlapped at least 6 inches.
By using the regular concrete calculator previously described,
estimate the amount of concrete needed for any given patio. A
patio 20 by 8 feet by 4 inches, for example, takes about 2 cubic
yards of concrete. Overlaps in concrete patios are not desirable,
so try to order the right amount of concrete.
Get a good grade of concrete and don't pour it too wet; other-
wise, it will weaken upon setting. Make sure the cement-finisher
uses an edging tool and gives the patio a neat, rounded edge
that will not chip or break easily. Have him strike joints cleanly.
Sidewalks should have expansion joints about every 30 feet and
should be struck every 4 feet. Keep all patios and sidewalks from
setting too quickly by watering them down for several days.
After the patios have been finished, specify in your rules and
88 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
regulations how holes will be drilled for anchoring awnings or
cabanas. Such holes are made by the use of specially hardened
drills. A park resident should get your permission to make any
necessary holes, should use the proper kind of lead lag liner, and
should make a neat screw insertion. Patios are easily mutilated if
a person tries to do it in some other way.
Keep cars ofT your patios! Unless you make it a definite rule
not to park or wash cars on patios, someone will unconsciously
do it. Patios are not designed for auto traffic, and edges can be
easily broken off.
Shuffleboard is a popular game in mobile-home parks. It is
played in most southern parks and is now invading our northern
Building a shuffieboard court is comparatively easy, although
the accuracy of forming and finishing is greater than for patios
or sidewalks. Be extra careful when preparing the subgrade for
a shuffleboard court. Use both wire mesh and felt.
The surface of the shuffleboard court must be smooth and
level in all directions. No slope for drainage is allowed, because
the disks used in shuffleboard would slide off the court.
Shuffleboard courts can be made longer than the playing area,
so people can stand at either end. In areas where people play in
the sun, canopies and benches are often provided.
Because a mobile-home park requires a considerable amount
of forming and cement finishing, it is a good idea to estimate
all such work and drive the best possible bargain with a ready-
mix plant and masonry contractor.
Although cement-finishers seem expensive on an hourly basis,
it is a mistake to get a cheap cement-finisher who does poor
work. Oftentimes, the amount paid per hour is deceiving, since a
qualified finisher can cover a larger amount of surface area with
better-quality workmanship. Wherever possible, therefore, get
a price per square foot of area formed, poured, and finished.
Patios, Sidewalks, and Shuffleboard Courts 89
By contracting out all your cement forming and finishing,
you can get a better price, since the contractor can depend on a
certain amount of work over a given number of days rather than
making trip after trip to pour one or two sidewalks or patios. If
you get a fixed-price bid on labor for each patio and sidewalk
combination, you can order the concrete and pay separately for
the labor. Where the cement-finisher furnishes the forms and
does the forming, check the forms to make sure they're in good
condition. Patios that are out of line do not present a good ap-
pearance and make it hard to square-up cabanas when they are
Buildings in a Mobile-Home Park
When you start your mobile-home park, you can be quite
flexible about the number and sizes of buildings.
In the North it isn't so essential to have a recreation building
as in other parts of the country where you cater to resort or
retired clientele. You can set aside a recreational area but need
not construct a recreation building. The trend, nevertheless, is
toward a recreation building, since people prefer it when they
live in a park for long periods of time. See Plate 10.
There are compensating factors, too. A recreation building
can be self-liquidating by incorporating a park office and store.
If your park is some distance from a shopping area, a small
store may be an excellent addition. If it handles grocery items-
together with soft drinks, candy, cigars, cigarettes, notions, cos-
metics, and a small grill it can be made to carry the entire over-
head of the recreation building and may even make a contribu-
tion to net income.
Part of the recreation building can be used for offices and
storerooms. This will provide much-needed space for tools and
supplies. A washroom can be installed in the recreation building,
but check your state laws, since some states require two 'wash-
rooms (men and women) or none. If capital is limited, rough
in the plumbing and put in the fixtures later on.
The main recreation room should be designed without interior
obstructions, since it will be used for movies, square dancing,
and potluck dinners all of which require a large amount of open
area. See Plate 11.
Acoustical materials are desirable, since sound bounces off
bare walls, making it hard to hear.
Buildings in a Mobile-Home Park 91
Lighting should be fluorescent to provide good light distribu-
tion as well as to reduce power consumption. And, to amortize
the building and its upkeep, make the greatest use of coin-oper-
ated machines in the recreation room such as soft-drink, candy,
and cigarette dispensers.
Some parks install mailboxes in the recreation room, making
a daily mail call on their public-address system. Other parks
have private mailboxes. A simple, alphabetically arranged com-
munity mailbox can be made from plywood and attached to the
wall of the recreation room.
The service building is the most important single structure in
a mobile-home park. When trailerists check a park to decide
whether they want to stay, the service building is probably the
first thing they look at. If the building is well designed and neat
and clean, they usually stay on to see whether they're going to
like the management. But, if the service building is not appealing,
they pull out or just stay overnight. See Plate 12.
A well-designed service and laundry building is illustrated.
The building is 25 by 50 feet, built of Spanish plaster with stain-
less steel, glass block, and red trim. Putting both facilities in one
building allows you to centralize plumbing and heating and to re-
duce the roof area and the number of outside walls. See Plate 13.
The Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association has an ap-
proved design and floor plan for service buildings. It is intended
as a basic guide to prospective park operators and points up the
features that other designs should incorporate. Architecture,
materials, heating, and ventilation will vary with the park's loca-
tion. But the number of washing machines, showers, and toilets
will remain substantially the same.
A washing machine for every 20 spaces will guarantee amor-
tization of equipment and will give adequate service without
presenting scheduling problems. A blackboard, however, should
be placed in the laundry, so women can write their names oppo-
site the day and time they want to use a machine.
All rooms in the building should be designed for ease of clean-
92 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
ing. This usually implies terrazzo or rile floors, tile showers, and
easy-to-clean window sills.
Where extreme heat is needed, centralized heating is prefer-
able. Check into the most economical and efficient form of heat-
ing for the locality in which you locate.
Finally, ventilation is an important factor and should be given
Landscaping can make a drying yard quite attractive.
The general requirements for service buildings are as follows:
1. Each trailer court should be provided with one or more service
buildings adequately equipped with flush-type fixtures. No service
building should contain less than two toilets for females, one toilet
for males, two lavatories and one shower for each sex, a urinal for
males, a laundry tray, and a slop-water closet. To serve more than
twenty dependent trailer coaches, additional fixtures should be pro-
vided in the ratios mentioned below.
2. Toilet facilities for females should consist of at least one flush- type
water closet for every ten dependent trailer coaches; toilet facilities
for males should consist of one flush-type water closet or urinal for
every ten dependent trailer coaches. Urinals should be substituted
for not more than one-third of the toilet fixtures required for men.
Each water closet should be in a private compartment.
3. Toilet facilities for males and females should be separated, if located
in the same building, by a sound-resistant wall.
4. A lavatory for each sex should be provided for every ten dependent
trailer coaches. A bathtub or shower for each sex should be pro-
vided for every twenty dependent trailer coaches. Each bathtub or
shower should be in a separate compartment.
5. Laundry facilities should be provided in the ratio of one unit for
every twenty trailer-coach spaces. Drying space in the ratio of 50
feet to each coach space, or other adequate clothes-drying facilities,
should be provided to accommodate the laundry of the trailer-court
A slop-water closet should be provided in a separate room in the
service building. Each service building should:
a) Be located not more than 200 feet from any dependent trailer
coach and at least 15 feet from any trailer coach and 15 feet or
more from any trailer-coach space;
b} Be of permanent construction and be adequately lighted;
c} Be of moisture-resistant material to permit frequent washing and
d} Have sufficient toilet and laundry facilities, according to require-
ments promulgated by the health officer, to serve adequately both
males and females;
Buildings in a Mobile-Home Park 93
e) Have adequate heating facilities to maintain a temperature of
70 F. during cold weather and to supply a minimum of 3 gallons
of hot water per hour per coach space during time of peak de-
f) Have all rooms well ventilated, with all openings effectively
g) Have at least one slop-water closet supplied with hot and cold
water in a separate room.
HOBBY SHOP AND LATHHOUSE
Resort-type parks are now putting in hobby shops and lath-
houses. These are good additions, particularly for semiretired
and retired clientele.
Retired people like to do gardening and landscaping. If a lath-
house is operated as part of the park's landscaping program,
cuttings can be taken from growing shrubs and started in the
lathhouse until they are big enough to transplant. A small lath-
house is shown in the illustration. See Plate 20.
A lathhouse is easy to build and can be made from scrap lum-
ber. Its basic function is to cut down the amount of sunlight, so
small cuttings can take root for transplanting.
Larger parks in resort areas are also providing hobby shops for
their retired clientele. These people stay for long periods of
time, provided the park makes available diverting hobby and
craft activities that capture their interest. Such activities include
woodworking, ceramics, textile painting, clay-modeling, and
other craft activities.
The hobby shop illustrated is 14 by 42 feet and is constructed
of concrete block. The roof is aluminum sheeting. It contains a
variety of woodworking tools as well as workbenches for people
who paint or clay-model. See Plate 20.
Electricity is metered, and the clientele pay a membership fee
for the use of tools. To minimize public liability, people are
asked to sign waivers of liability in case of injury. The park also
maintains adequate insurance coverage.
Storage lockers, available on a rental basis, can be included in
the building to make it self-liquidating. See Plate 13.
The most complete mobile-home park, therefore, has the fol-
94 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
1. Service and laundry building
2. Recreation hall, with store, offices and storerooms
3. Hobby shop
To start a park, however, you need only a service and laundry
building and an office at the entrance to the park. If the office is
properly designed, it can be made an integral part of a recreation
building later on.
It is not practical to present standard designs for each of the
buildings described. The MHMA, however, has available sev-
eral drawings and specifications which may be the basis for de-
signing buildings suitable to your park. Study them carefully
and incorporate their good points in your building design.
If you intend to build a 50-unit mobile-home park for around
$50,000, try to keep over-all building costs below $20,000. You
have to equate the advantages of more elaborate buildings with
the advantages of more income-bearing spaces. On the other
hand, if you put all your money into income-bearing spaces,
without suitable recreational or store facilities, you may end up
with spaces you cannot rent. As in everything else, it is a case of
interdependence and balance.
You alone must decide, depending on the area in which you
operate and the kind of clientele you're going to have, hoiv
many and what sizes of buildings you're going to need. The
minimum requirement is a modern service and laundry building
and office with adequate space for a recreation building if you
decide to build later on. If you do not allow for it in your origi-
nal plans, you may not have the land or right location later on.
Operating a Mobile-Home Park
Before You Open for Business
You need blueprints before you start construction. You also
need an operating plan before you open for business.
Generally, this means arranging for licenses, inspections, and
insurance; providing for social security taxes and workmen's
compensation; promoting and advertising the park; preparing an
acceptable and effective set of rules and regulations; using finesse
in handling clientele; and learning how to park and connect up
a mobile home.
LICENSES, INSPECTIONS, AND INSURANCE
First, make sure you have paid the necessary license fees, have
undergone the required inspections, and are covered by the
proper kinds of insurance. Park owners eventually take care of
these items, but the new operator is so pressed with other prob-
lems that he may overlook them.
You must obtain an operating license similar to a hotel or
motel. If you're inside the corporate limits of a town or city,
you'll need both city and state licenses. If you operate a park
store, gas station, or mobile-home sales agency, separate licenses
will be needed. Check into the licensing situation and make sure
Be sure to become a member of your local or state mobile-
home association. They will supply help and advice on many
park problems. It is usually a good idea, too, to join the local
Chamber of Commerce, since it sells your community to others.
The next step is to get all inspections out of the way. Get
your sewer and water systems approved as quickly as possible.
This is usually required prior to licensing.
Write to the Mobile Home Manufacturers Association, give
them the necessary information on your park, and request a field
98 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
inspection as soon as convenient. Try to build a park that quali-
fies for a "Gold Star" rating. This will have an immediate effect
on business, since people are always looking for a park that is
rated "Gold Star" by the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Asso-
Remember that about 60 per cent of the possible score de-
pends on landscaping, cleanliness, and appearance. So keep this
in mind when you landscape and maintain the grounds.
Also, take a close look at your insurance coverage. Do you
have public liability insurance? Is its coverage broad enough and
high enough to be practical? Are the buildings insured against
fire? Have you comprehensive coverage? Are you liable for
workmen's compensation insurance?
PROMOTING AND ADVERTISING YOUR PARK
Your park's success is going to be determined by the facilities
and services you provide. If you give good service and provide
clean and sanitary facilities, people will recommend your park
to other trailerists, and your business will grow. This takes two
to three years, however, so you should promote and advertise
your park right away to start people coming in.
Some of the most effective ways to do this are:
1. Writing, phoning, or visiting the local paper and radio station
2. Using strategic highway signs and markers
3. Printing attractive park folders
4. Supplying picture post cards and personal cards
5. Advertising in mobile-home park directories and trailer magazines
6. Writing personal follow-up letters on reservation requests
Let them know you're in business. When you open for busi-
ness, pay a visit to your local paper and tell them about your
plans. Do likewise with the local radio station. Usually, editors
are more than glad to announce the arrival of a new business.
Try, if you can, to place an ad about the same time, so you can
hit the reader or listener with the kind of information you want
him to have.
Highway signs. From a map or extensive check of the sur-
rounding area, pick strategic points on incoming roads where
Before You Open for Business 99
signs can be placed. When using highway signs, look out for
1. Don't try to put too much lettering on any one sign.
2. Make the letters big enough so they can be easily read.
3. Make sure the sign gives the park's location.
4. Emphasize the park's rating.
5. Give the park a distinctive name one the average person can re-
6. Use striking colors and fluorescent materials.
7. Make sure you've received permission from the property owner to
place the sign, so it isn't torn down or removed.
8. Don't depend on one sign to do the job. Use a series of signs or se-
quencesso trailerists who give a passing glance to the first one will
not miss the second. Try to keep all signs similar in pattern and color,
to build an association in the person's mind between your park and
the signs along the road.
The MHMA has some excellent signs available at low cost, which
all prospective operators ought to make use of.
Folders, post cards, and personal cards. You can promote
your park by a descriptive folder that presents the advantages
of your park and the area in which it is located. If the folder is
written in sparkling language and covers the features the average
trailerist is looking for, it will bring people into your park. And,
when they leave, let them take some printed folders along to
give to others along the road.
Folders should be of such size that they can be inserted into a
regular business envelope and preferably printed in two or more
colors. Odd-size folders require special envelopes or must be
folded several times to fit them into a standard envelope.
Besides a folder, it is a good idea to have colored post cards of
the park for your clientele. They generally like to drop a card
to their friends in other parks or in other parts of the country;
and, in so doing, they give their friends a picture of your park
and what it has to offer. Where the landscaping is striking, or
where the service or laundry-room facilities are particularly
modern, capture these pictures on the card. They will be your
Reservation correspondence. Perhaps the most effective pro-
motional material is the personal letter you write to people who
100 Hoiu To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
want to know about your park after they have seen your ads,
signs, or listings.
Treat each letter as a personal item to be answered in detail.
It is easy, under the pressure of daily problems, to drop a printed
folder in an envelope and mail it. Or to jot down a few lines
scribbled in handwriting and to mail it to a person who has asked
It is far better to answer each letter in typewritten form, with
a friendly, though not catering, tone of voice. Let the other fel-
low know you want his business; tell him about your facilities;
and make him feel he's welcomed in your park. Do everything
you can to write the letter in terms of what a trailerist is looking
You may think, and with justification, that this takes a lot of
time. Yet, it is your best assurance that people will be favorably
impressed and will come to see what you have to offer.
So, write each letter as though it is the last one you have to
write. Take the point of view you're going to make this letter
the best one you've written. If you do, many people are going
to write back saying that they appreciate your taking the rime
to write such fine letters to them. Even if they don't visit your
park, you can be sure they will pass along favorable recom-
mendations to others.
Mobile-home park directories. In your promotional work
check the deadline dates of the various park directories. MHM A
has a directory that comes out once every two years. More than
40,000 copies are distributed. Make sure you're included in the
latest one, that you have been properly inspected, and that the
rating given your park is part of the advertising copy.
If your ad is a large one, have an attractive layout prepared
by a local advertising agency. Don't write the ad yourself, unless
you have had experience doing so. A little money spent on mak-
ing the ad effective is good business, since such ads run one to
two years before they're revised. When the ad appears in proof
form, check the proof carefully to make sure everything is cor-
rectthe address, phone number, directions, spelling, and other
features that make for a hard-hitting ad.
Before You Open for Business 101
These are some preliminary promotional ideas that may be of
value to you. There are others you will think of; but, if you
begin with these, you can expect results.
REGISTERING OF GUESTS
It is important that all guests be registered properly.
The registering of guests is required by law; but, equally
important, it provides an opportunity to go over the rules and
regulations with your clientele as well as a chance to do a good
public relations job. First impressions are often lasting, so make
the best impression you can.
If you design your own registration card, include the follow-
1. The names and addresses of all mobile-home occupants stopping in
2. The make, model, and license number of each motor vehicle and
102 HOID To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
3. The state, territory, or county issuing the mobile-home license
4. The dates of arrival and departure of each mobile home
Some park operators also use the back of the card for record-
ing a person's hobbies, age, interests, and so on. This information
is then used in their recreational and social programs.
A sample registration card is illustrated on page 103. It is typ-
ical of the many possible styles and has been widely used.
When getting ready to operate, satisfactory arrangements
must be made for storing and disposing of refuse.
Three practical methods are possible:
1. You can provide centralized holders with refuse containers. The con-
tainers can be set in underground holders. In either case, centralized
containers should not be more than 150 feet from any mobile home.
2. You can furnish individual refuse containers and have them hauled
away periodically or emptied into a garbage truck. Where this is the
practice, be careful to keep debris from littering the ground. Also,
inspect the containers frequently and clean and disinfect them to
eliminate odor and bacteria.
3. A third possibility is to employ a pick-up service like the "Dempster
Dumper. 11 This consists of a large receptacle with hinged doors, which
is left at the park and exchanged for a new receptacle when the old
one is filled. Since the receptacle is merely exchanged, there is no
transfer of contents and no danger of spillage.
Regardless of which method you use, keep these points in
The storage, collection, and disposal of refuse should be so managed
as to create no health hazards, rodent harborage, insect-breeding areas,
accident hazards, or air pollution.
All refuse must be stored in flytight, watertight, rodent-proof con-
tainers, which should be located not more than 150 feet from any
mobile-home space. They should be provided in sufficient number
and capacity to prevent any refuse from overflowing.
Racks or holders should be provided for all refuse containers. Such
container racks or holders should be so designed as to prevent con-
tainers from being tipped, to minimize spillage and container deterio-
ration, and to facilitate cleaning around them.
All garbage should be collected at least twice weekly. Rubbish should
be collected frequently enough to prevent it from overflowing avail-
able containers. Where suitable collection service is not available from
f 1 *
XYZ TRAILER VILLAGE
ILasc First Middle
LOT NO. STREET PHONE
104 HOID To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
municipal or private agencies, the mobile-home park operator should
provide this service.
Where collection service is not available, the mobile-home park oper-
ator should dispose of the court refuse by incineration, burial, or
transporting to an approved disposal site.
Garbage should be buried only at a place authorized by the health
officer, and should have a minimum of 12 inches of compacted earth
cover placed over it.
Incinerators should be constructed only with approval of the state
and local health officers. Such approval should be based on a review
of the plans and specifications for such incinerators and approval of
the site where they will be located.
Be sure you make provisions for adequate fire protection.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
1. The court area should be subject to the rules and regulations of the
[name of political subdivision] fire-prevention authority.
2. Mobile-home court areas should be free of litter, rubbish, and other
3. Portable fire extinguishers of an approved type should be kept in
service buildings and in all other locations and should be maintained
in good operating condition.
4. Where a public water system is available, standard fire hydrants
should be located within 400 feet of each mobile home.
5. Fires should be made only in stoves, incinerators, and other equip-
ment intended for such purposes.
PREPARING EFFECTIVE RULES AND REGULATIONS
Operating a mobile-home park is easy, provided you get off
on the right foot with your clientele.
A new operator is so anxious to make a success of his park
that he may overlook the need for rules and regulations. As a
result we find him making "deals" with some individuals and
not with others. He may, for example, establish a rate schedule
for one person and a different schedule for another. He may
go overboard on taking in children and pets, allowing laundry
to hang indiscriminately throughout the park, permitting spaces
to be cluttered with unattractive debris, and so on.
Experience proves that trailerists are best satisfied when a
definite set of rules and regulations, in printed form, is avail-
able for everyone to follow. If you're going to take in chil-
dren, specify the circumstances. If you want to allow pets, de-
Before You Open for Business 105
cide what restrictions you're going to have. If you're going to
let people hang laundry on their spaces, ask yourself how the
unattractive appearance of the park will affect the building-up
of new clientele. If you allow people to speed through your
park, how are you going to prevent injuries to children and
These are some important things to keep in mind. Among
others, you must decide how you're going to handle phone calls;
how phone calls will be paid for; the office hours you will
have; how you will take care of emergency situations; how
you're going to schedule the use of the washing machines in
the laundry; and so on.
No one set of rules and regulations is going to work for all
parks. You must, therefore, design a set of rules and regulations
for your own park operation. They can be printed or duplicated
in ditto or mimeograph form and made available to each park
guest when he registers. A sample set of MHMA rules and
regulations are included here for your information. These can
be used as is or can be adapted to suit local conditions.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
1. All tenants must register at the office upon arriving in the park, and
rents are payable in advance in accordance with the park rates.
2. All tenants should notify the management as far in advance as pos-
sible when planning to check out. Tenants must check out at the
office for clearance before vacating the park.
3. No loud parties will be allowed at any time, nor will loud radios or
other excess noise be tolerated.
4. Drunkenness or immoral conduct will not be tolerated.
5. No alcoholic beverages will be permitted to be served or consumed
in any building which is park property.
6. It will be necessary to hold parents responsible for any damages
caused by their children, and tenants of mobile-home space respon-
sible for the conduct of their guests and pets.
7. No peddling or soliciting or commercial enterprise is allowed in the
Park without first obtaining the consent of the management.
1. Mobile homes must be parked on each lot in a uniform manner, and
upon arrival in the park the attendant will instruct the driver as to
the proper position for parking and assist him if necessary.
106 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
2. The park attendant will make the necessary electrical connection to
the meter or outlets, and the cord must be rubber covered and
weatherproof. No occupant shall tamper with the meter box or other
electrical equipment. In case of blown fuses, call the park attendant.
3. The park attendant will assist in completing the water and sewer
connections if necessary. In no case shall the sink drain directly on to
the ground, nor shall water be thrown onto the ground.
4. Fences around each mobile-home lot tend to make the park more
attractive; however, they must all be a uniform 18 inches in height
and painted, preferably white.
5. Lawns may not be dug up or disturbed without permission of the
management, and any type of temporary or permanent building or
masonry work must first be approved by the management, and, if
approved, shall not be removed from the park without permission
of the management.
6. Each mobile-home space must be kept neat and clean, and no storage
of bottles, cans, boxes, or equipment around or under the mobile
home will be tolerated.
7. No drying lines for the drying of wash will be permitted on the
mobile-home lot. All wash must be hung in the drying area provided
by the management.
1. Cars shall be parked only in the designated areas and, if not being
used, shall be taken elsewhere for proper parking or storage.
2. No washing, repairing, or overhauling of cars is permitted around
the mobile-home lot or in the roadways.
3. The speed limit in the park of 5 miles per hour must be observed
at all times, and we ask that drivers use their brakes instead of their
horns whenever possible.
PARK BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES
1. Newspapers or other waste material must not be left in showers,
toilet compartments, or other parts of the buildings or park. Deposit
in proper containers.
2. All garbage must be wrapped and placed in the proper receptacles.
3. Do not put bottles, cans, and similar rubbish in with the garbage, but
only in the receptacles provided for that purpose.
4. No pets will be allowed in the utility buildings at any time.
5. Children under seven will not be allowed in the utility buildings
unless accompanied by an adult.
1. Use the washing machines only at the time assigned to you by the
2. Do not bathe children or pets in the laundry tubs.
Before You Open for Business 107
3. Do not overload or abuse the washing machines and, in case of any
trouble, call an attendant.
4. When drying the wash, it shall be hung only in the designated places.
1. Permission must be obtained from the management if you wish to
keep any pets in the park.
2. If you have obtained permission to keep a pet, it must be kept on a
leash at all times whether being exercised or on your mobile-home
3. Noisy or unruly pets or those that cause complaints will not be
allowed to remain.
4. Pets may be bathed on the individual's mobile-home lot only.
And don't skip people. They'll always tell you that they
never received a copy and didn't know what the rules and
regulations were. So, when anyone registers in the park, hand
him a set of rules and regulations. In the long run this will
make you more friends than enemies, and your business will
grow as a result. Everyone likes to stay in a well-managed
park one they can be proud of and can show to their friends.
TIPS ON HANDLING THE CLIENTELE
Let's discuss briefly some of the ways in which clientele can
be handled. Here, again, there's no ideal method. Everyone has
to feel his own way and adapt his approach to what the situa-
tion requires. We may, however, point out some things that
will prove helpful.
The first thing to look out for is the tendency to go over-
board in doing things for people. Naturally, this is a matter of
degree. You can't be unco-operative or standoffish, or people
will feel you don't want their business. But doing too much
for people and not charging them for it creates the prece-
dent that they can continually depend on such service at no
cost. When you get busier, you may find yourself pressed to
do these things. Some of your people may then feel that, since
you now have business, you are independent and no longer
care about them. It is possible to be friendly without being
too familiar; it is possible to give good service without losing
108 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
Another precaution is not to meddle into the few squabbles
that go on in a mobile-home park. After all, when you have
forty or fifty families together in the same community, a certain
amount of gossip will take place. If you meddle in this gossip,
or begin to sympathize with certain sides, you'll find people
much harder to handle. So stay out of these situations. Don't
take sides. Just go about your business.
At times people will come to you to have something fixed.
It may be a washing machine, faulty plumbing, lack of toilet
tissue in the washrooms, or one of a hundred little things that
go wrong in any sizable operation. A few of them will come
to you in a belligerent tone of voice, or critical frame of mind,
and will sound off about why you don't run the park more
efficiently. By that time, you may be inclined to fly off the
handle and take a defensive point of view. If so, forget it! Keep
quiet until the person is finished, then explain as best you can
and take steps to see it doesn't happen again. You're always
going to run into people like that as long as you're in business.
So reconcile yourself to it right away.
Servicing the public is not all peaches and cream. But, if you
approach people in the right frame of mind, you will make
many friends and find many things to be happy about. You'll
meet a large number of persons who will be grateful for your
service and hospitality. You'll meet people who will go out of
their way to help you overcome your problems. The group will
always have more good apples than bad ones; and they, in turn,
will force the bad apples to reconcile themselves or get out.
LEARNING HOW TO PARK AND CONNECT UP
A MOBILE HOME
A few park operators open for business without having
parked or blocked up a mobile home. Unfortunately, people
are influenced by first impressions, and some of these are last-
ing. If they pull into your park, and you cannot park or block
up a mobile home properly, they draw the conclusion that
you don't know your business.
So, before you open for business, practice parking a mobile
Before You Open for Business 109
home. Learn how to turn the steering wheel to get the back
of the mobile home where you want it. Try to work up a set
routine for blocking up and leveling a mobile home. Have a
level handy at all times. Be familiar with connecting up mobile
homes for water, sewage, and electricity. Know a little about
the circuit-breaker system in mobile homes and how to change
fuses. Learn how to use a flanging tool and have on hand the
necessary male and female fittings to connect up different types
of mobile homes for water. And try to keep enough large hose
or sewage connections on hand, in the event you have to add
a section to a trailerist's outlet.
When a mobile home is being parked and connected up, the
owner is anxious to settle down and often gets irritable when
asked to put up with needless delays. Nothing is more impres-
sive than a park operator who can park a mobile home quickly,
make the necessary connections, and block it up and level it
properly. To the trailerist, this is tangible proof that the park
is efficiently run and well organized.
Hoiv To Keep Useful Business Records
Not long ago the Department of Commerce found out that
a large number of businesses fail because people do not keep
useful business records.
Keep a good set of business records from the time you begin
construction. Construction costs are important because the
amount and types of invested capital are needed for tax pur-
poses and when you figure depreciation particularly if you sell
the park later on.
Many people who go into the park business neglect to keep
good records of construction costs and then try to estimate their
investment. This often leads to an understatement of capital in-
vestment, cutting down permissible depreciation and the pos-
sibilities of tax savings. The best advice is to go to an ac-
countant and ask him to set you up a simple set of books cover-
ing the original cost of construction as well as subsequent opera-
tions. Where you can have it done economically, hire an ac-
countant to maintain your accounts periodically.
SOME SIMPLE RECORDS TO KEEP
Accounting systems center around a journal and ledger.
Journal. The journal is simply a daily entry of money re-
ceived and money paid out. It describes, on a day-to-day basis,
the financial transactions that take place in your park. If money
is received, it is posted in the journal. If money is paid out, it
is also posted. That doesn't mean you have to run to the journal
every time a customer comes in to pay. Obviously, that would
You can, however, keep a receipt book on hand and issue
receipts for money received. When checks are written for
money paid out, the check stub can be completely filled in,
MOID To Keep Useful Business Records 111
showing the person to whom issued, the date, and purpose of
the check. The purpose of the check is particularly important
because you must decide later whether it is an expense item or
capital item. One is a cost, the other an asset.
The best way to handle your records is to allow fifteen or
twenty minutes at the end of each working day for posting.
You can take the receipts of money received and the check
stubs for money paid out and simply make journal entries for
the entire day's operation. Items not paid by check are recorded
from the petty-cash book.
Ledger. The ledger is simply a way of classifying over-all
costs and capital items. If you buy a large number of items from
a particular building-supply house, for example, you may want
to set them up in a separate account. This can be done in the
ledger, which is alphabetically arranged.
Where there are a large number of permanent residents in
your park, they can be placed alphabetically on separate ledger
sheets, showing space rentals, taxes paid, electricity payments,
long-distance calls, and so on.
The ledger is also used for setting aside reserves for main-
tenance and depreciation. If each item of capital equipment is
posted on a separate ledger sheet buildings, water system, sewer
system, and so on it is easy to figure the annual depreciation
on those facilities. The Bureau of Internal Revenue has an ap-
proved depreciation schedule for each type of capital equipment
and facility. Thus, you can see the full amount of depreciation
allowable and be sure the item will be completely depreciated
on your books.
PREPARING A BALANCE SHEET AND PROFIT-AND-LOSS
There are three key reasons for keeping accurate records:
1. To establish capital investment position for calculation of taxes and
possible resale of the park
2. To determine profits or losses from operations
3. To forecast ahead in terms of income growth or expense reduction
A balance sheet and profit-and-loss statement (called "P and
L") are needed for these reasons.
112 HOID To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
A sample balance sheet is given on page 9. It is simply a
financial photograph of your capital position including all assets
and liabilities as of a given date (say, January 1, 1955). How-
ever, it says nothing about whether the park is currently operat-
ing at a profit.
A profit-and-loss statement, on the other hand, is a financial
XYZ TRAILER PARK, INC.
YEAR ENDING DECEMBER 31, 1954
Rent income from monthly customers
Rent income from overnight customers
Electricity paid by customers (meter income)
Trailer tax (county, city, and schools) paid by customers
Washing machines (meter income)
Gas dryers (meter income)
Total Gross Income .
Taxes and license
Miscellaneous petty-cash items
Soaps, cleaning compounds, etc.
Salaries and Social Security
Repairs and replacements
Depreciation on buildings and equipment
Net income from park operation
It shows profits and losses as they are accumulated over short
periods of time. Most businessmen prepare a "P and L" state-
ment each month. The profits and losses for the month are then
added or subtracted from the balance sheet, giving a new bal-
ance-sheet position. When a park is profitable month after
month, the result is reflected in the balance sheet through addi-
How To Keep Useful Business Records 113
tions to capital equipment or increases in checking, savings, or
cash accounts. Losses, however, cut down the assets on the
balance sheet, because capital is being used up and not being
replaced from current operations.
You can get a quick view of operations by preparing a simple
income-expense work sheet. You simply list the income, by date
and name, on the left-hand side of the page and all expenses,
properly classified, on the right-hand side of the page. Each
day of operation can be seen by simply looking at the work-
sheet, which grows longer as the month progresses. At the end
of the month, you can use the sheet to prepare your profit-and-
When you prepare the statement, bring together the various
accounting records. Go over the checking account to see
whether the bank's statement and yours coincide. If your check
stubs have been carefully filled out, and you have avoided the
use of over-the-counter or outlaw checks, you will simply have
to account for checks that have not cleared the bank. You will
also have to reconcile your receipts for money received against
deposits in the bank and make sure that all income and expense
items check out.
If all records coincide, then take the work sheet and figure
your profit and loss for the month. Items of capital expense
should be transferred to the ledger for depreciation purposes.
Should there be discrepancies, go to the journal and find out
what items are involved.
The only other suggestion is to make sure all accounts are
properly segregated for managerial purposes. There should, for
example, be a separate laundry account in the ledger, so you
can determine how much money has been received from laun-
dry operations. If you have a park store, carry it under a
separate ledger account. Other operations, like a gas station or
sales lot, should be treated separately. In so doing, you can go
to each item and determine whether it is self-sustaining.
Keeping a good set of records is not hard. Most people keep
a poor set of books because they hate detail or do not want
1 14 HOIV To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
to take the necessary steps to make sure the accounting is ac-
curate. Yet, taking the necessary steps on a daily basis makes
accounting rather simple and relieves you of tax difficulties,
penalties, and unnecessary interest charges.
Regardless of how you keep records, the important thing is
to record all items of income and expense. Make sure your ac-
counting methods are accurate in every detail. Use standard ac-
counting procedures, wherever possible. Keep a journal; a
ledger, alphabetically arranged for classifying expense items and
special accounts; a receipt book; a checkbook accurate in detail;
a daily work sheet for managerial purposes; and a petty-cash
We ought to say a word about the petty-cash book, since
you're going to use it every day. It is simply a book in which
you record payments of small amounts of money that are in-
convenient to pay by check. If the laundry man, for example,
should come with clean linens at a time when you're doing
something else, pay him in cash and get a receipt. At the end
of the day, post it in the petty-cash book. At the end of the
month, your petty-cash book should account for all cash items
not paid by check.
Wherever possible, however, pay all bills by check.
Increasing Net Income
Much of your income will come from services other than
from space rentals. In a mobile-home park these include the
laundry, the store, the gas station, mobile-home services and
sales, the bottled-gas franchise, the storing of mobile homes,
the hauling of mobile homes short distances, telephone calls,
and so on.
INCOME FROM THE USE OF TELEPHONES
Install a public telephone for the convenience of your guests
and for the income it represents. If public phones are not avail-
able, prescribe a charge for all calls in your rules and regula-
tions. Set a definite policy on long-distance calls, preferably
having them paid at the time of the call. A good practice is to
have trailerists get time and charges on all calls and sign slips
specifying the date and place called. This gives you a complete
record and insures the payment of all phone charges.
Don't let local calls slip through your fingers. Where public
phones are used, this is no problem. But, if your own line is
involved, collect all local phone charges.
Have your phone bill set up on a first-of-the-month basis to
simplify bookkeeping. Your phone bill and receipts can then
be dovetailed with the rest of your accounting records.
INCOME FROM A PARK LAUNDRY
Some income will be realized from the park's laundry, since
all machines are metered. See Plate 14.
Park operators differ on the advisability of automatic versus
hand-operated machines, but all agree on the desirability of
getting the best dollar return from laundry operations.
The easiest way to make the park laundry pay is to install
116 Ho<w To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
tamperproof meters that permit trailerists to use washing ma-
chines for twenty-five cents for each half-hour. One type of
meter comes with a quarter and a dime slot; then, if a woman
cannot finish her washing within a thirty-minute period, she
can insert a dime and get an equivalent amount of current.
Never put in a twenty-five-cent-an-hour meter, because you
won't be able to cover expenses, much less make money.
INCOME FROM A PARK STORE
A store may or may not be an advantage. If you're located
in an out-of-the-way place, it may be a necessity whether or
not income is realized from its operation. Wherever possible,
try to lease the store out on a percentage basis, since you will
be guaranteed a fixed income with the possibility of realizing
more without actually running the business, making out reports,
or stocking inventory.
When stocking the store, get a large number of different
items rather than a large quantity of fewer items. Use a variable
pricing technique to attract business. People are willing to pay
more for some items because they need them at the time. There
are other items, however, that they prefer to buy at super-
Arrange for an ice-cream freezer from a local dairy in re-
turn for handling their products and carry a supply of frozen
vegetables, fruits, and meats. Milk, cream, bacon, eggs, ice
cream, and other staples are also good sellers.
Carry an assortment of notions, patent drugs, and cosmetics.
They have a greater profit margin than groceries and are gen-
erally bought when needed. Wherever possible, get stamp and
cigarette machines installed.
Another profitable line is the sale of hot dogs, hamburgers,
chili, soft drinks, coffee, and so on.
Finally, make sure your price policies are realistic. Compare
your prices with competitive stores in the area. And, by all
means, keep close checks on inventory and operating expense.
A typical, successful park store is shown in the illustration.
See Plate 16.
Increasing Net Income 111
INCOME FROM BOTTLED-GAS FRANCHISE
A bottled-gas franchise is a good income-producer. Mobile
homes operate on liquefied petroleum gas, so there is a steady
business from your own clientele as well as from transients and
other trailerists in the area.
Gas equipment is not too expensive, but insurance rates go
up sharply. Before you make a bottled-gas installation, there-
fore, check insurance rates and the competitive position of
Remember, too, that people run out of gas at all hours of
the day and night. So set up regular hours for filling bottles;
otherwise, you'll have all kinds of "emergency calls."
MOBILE-HOME SALES AND SERVICE
There is always a demand for mobile-home service and parts.
Some mobile-home owners do not have the time or inclination
to clean, wax, and maintain their mobile homes. You can hire
a handyman interested in doing maintenance and repairs and
build this phase into a good source of income without investing
capital. See Plate 15.
A mobile-home sales site is a good income-producer, but be
careful that you do not divide your time in such a way that
the park suffers. It is hard to run a good park. It is twice as
hard when you also have a sales lot. Moreover, quite a bit of
capital is needed for mobile-home sales, even when they are
obtained on consignment. But, if you find you can handle the
park satisfactorily, a sales site can be quite profitable.
When you accept used mobile homes in trade for new ones,
they can be placed on spaces (until sold) and rented to resort
traffic or to residents needing permanent housing.
It is important to have accurate electrical meters for each
space, to make sure you collect all electrical charges from your
trailerists. Guaranteed, used electrical meters can be bought
for about three dollars apiece, but check first with your local
118 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
power company to see how metering equipment will be handled.
If you have a large number of permanent trailerists, get their
electric bills on a first-of-the-month basis. Then you can set up
a monthly routine of reading meters and collecting on elec-
tricity. It is a good idea, too, to get space rentals on a first-of-
the-month basis. You can prorate a trailerist's space rental for
the first month, so all future rent falls due on the first of the
month. Of course, this cannot be done with transients.
KEEPING OVERHEAD DOWN
A simple point often overlooked is that income can be in-
creased by keeping expenses down. Cost-consciousness is im-
portant in any business, but particularly in a mobile-home park,
since items of expense seem individually small but add up to
large sums of money every month.
Don't let income slip through your fingers because you've
neglected to read electric meters. Don't forget to collect money
for local and long-distance telephone calls. Check the laundry
equipment and meters to make sure they're in good working
order. Get the most profitable items in your park store. Capi-
talize on mobile-home services, rentals, and sales and a bottled-
By all means, keep detailed cost records and scale them down
How To Organize a Recreational Program
Mobile living is popular because it has many advantages over
conventional housing. Two key ones are sociability and in-
Mobile living allows the individual to have privacy if he
wants it, with the ultimate in sociability right at his front door.
It is there when people walk to the recreation hall for their mail,
when they wash clothes in the laundry, when they enter into
the activities in the recreation room and hobby shop. You see
it on the beaches while bathing and fishing, on the shuffleboard
courts, or along the park grounds and gardens. The illustration
shows some of the facilities our better parks are providing for
the recreation of their clientele. See Plates 17, 18, and 19.
TYPICAL RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Mobile-home parks offer the widest range of recreational
activities. Everyone can find something interesting to do.
Table 3 lists some typical activities and the way different
people take to them. A plus sign (-)-) means the group likes
and is generally competent in the activity. A minus sign ( )
means the group does not enjoy or is not particularly com-
petent in it.
Square dancing. Women enjoy square dancing more than
men. Among the men the average worker will develop a greater
interest and competence in square dancing than professional or
Fishing Men excel in fishing. Professional men and business-
men prefer artificial bait fishing, but the average worker goes
in for live-bait fishing.
Gardening and landscaping. Everyone is interested in gar-
dening and landscaping. Gardening and landscaping hold great
120 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
attraction for all people, regardless of position. They like to see
big, flowering bushes grow from little plants or seeds.
Movies, picnics , and potluck dinners. Movies are shown about
once a week, potluck dinners are scheduled once every two
weeks, and outdoor barbecues or picnics are put on once a
month. Women take particular pride in presenting their special
dish at a potluck.
Bingo. This is a popular game in mobile-home parks. The
game combines group conversation with the excitement of the
RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES CARRIED ON IN MOBILE-HOME PARKS
OCCUPATION OF MEN
SEX Business and
Men Women Professional Worker
1. Square dancing -j- +
2. Fishing + + +
3. Gardening and landscaping + + + +
4. Movies, picnics, and pot-
luck dinners + +
5. Bingo + +
6. Photography + +
7. Hobby-shop activities + + +
8. Painting or ceramics + +
9. Shuffleboard, horseshoes
(mild physical games) + +
10. Gossip H- +
11. Discussion and conversa-
tions + +
12. Card-playing -j- + + +
(7+) (5-) (8+) (4-) (6+) (6-) (9+) (3-)
game and the possibility of winning prizes or modest sums of
money. Bingo is well attended, so games are held once or twice
a week. Check, however, to see if bingo is allowed in your state.
Photography. Photography is well liked by everyone, par-
ticularly professional and businessmen. When colored slides are
shown, there is friendly competition to see who has the best
pictures. Generally, those who show slides or movies like the
idea of telling a group where they've been and what they've
Hobby -shop activities. Hobby-shop activities requiring hand
or craft skills are liked by both men and women. The most
Hoiv To Organize a Recreational Program 121
popular hobbies relate to something the person wants or can use.
Men, for example, like to build their own boats, since they
can be used for fishing. Or they may want to make a picket
fence for their lot or furniture for their patio.
Women take an interest in painting, clay-modeling, ceramics,
and sewing. These activities are liked for their usefulness as
well as for intrinsic enjoyment. Women like to pass their handi-
work around and make gifts of them to people in the park.
Gift-giving of this kind increases one's circle of friends and
doesn't cost much, since gifts are usually received in return.
Physical activities. Physical activities in a mobile-home park
are adapted to the various ages of its residents. Shuffleboard,
for example, is popular because it combines mild physical ac-
tivity with personal skill and an opportunity to engage in
friendly conversation. Horseshoe-pitching, on the other hand,
is strictly a man's game.
Card-playing. Card-playing is a daily diet in most parks.
Trailerists like card games particularly canasta, bridge, pi-
nochle, and poker.
This summary may give you some idea of the recreational ac-
tivities carried on in mobile-home parks and the extent to which
they appeal to men and women.
MAKING RECREATION PAY
The operator of a park has to schedule his recreational pro-
gram so that it does not interfere with the park's operation. He
must also find ways of making recreation pay for itself.
A good way to do this is to appoint a committee to assist in
the park's recreational program. Women make good committee
members and usually conduct a recreational program in a sys-
tematic way. A committee with a "live-wire" chairman can
carry on many recreational activities without involving man-
Try to keep the same activities on the same day, so your
clientele get to know the recreational schedule. This reduces
the need for announcements or posters and lets the clientele
schedule their personal affairs accordingly. It is a good idea,
122 How To Build and Operate a Mobile-Home Park
however, to post standard announcements of the recreational
program at the entrance to the park, since this is a good public
relations item for potential customers who may visit the park.
A fluorescent, plastic letter outfit is handy because the letters
can be moved in and out of sliding holders.
Don't start a large-scale recreation program if you're going
to have to pay for it out of other park income. When you start
a recreational program, make it self-sufficient. If you show
movies, for example, have the committee collect voluntary con-
tributions from the group present. When bingo or other evening
games are played, have the committee set up a way of paying
for electricity or other items of expense.
With some planning, recreational activities can be made a
vital part of your promotional program. If you take the easy
way out and ignore the need for recreation, you may find your
customers moving to parks that have recreational programs.
The chief advantages of a mobile-home park are its sociability
and recreation program. Without these you're just catering to
people who need housing; and, over the long run, you may
miss a big future market the semiretired and retired individual
in this country.
f , i
PLATE 2. Mobile homes offer a comfortable way of life
PLATE 8. Bulldozer and trencher at work preparing land for park construction
PLATE 14. Metered washing machines can mean additional park revenue
PLATE 15. Some parks provide mobile-home repair facilities
n j &ia*mm
PLATE 20. Hobby-shop building and lathhouse provide recreation for older park residents