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From the collection of the 

7 n 

T~> "r m 
o Jrreiinger 

v JLjibrary 

San Francisco, California 






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 
copyright oivner. 


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- 
home park. 

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. 




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 


Factors Affecting Location Topography and High Level of 
Land Site Provisions Yardsticks of Cost Conclusion 


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 


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 


Making a Ground-Elevation Map Clearing and Grading Equip- 
mentSome Key Factors To Keep in Mind Estimating the Cost 
of Clearing and Grading 


Planning a Sewer System How To Construct a Sewer System 
The Septic Tank, Distribution Box, and Drain Field Recom- 
mended Mobile-Home Sewer Connection 


Factors To Consider When Installing a Water System Location 


viii Contents 

arid Development of Wells Pumping Equipment Storage Dis- 
tribution System Disinfection of the Water System Inspection 
and Maintenance Suggestions for Installing Metal Water Pipe 


Wiring Diagram Sample Specifications for a Park Electrical 
System Conclusion 


Grading and Laying Out the Roads Suggestions on Contracting 
Road Work Conclusion 

Patios and Sidewalks Shuffleboard Courts Conclusion 


Recreation Building Service-Laundry Building Hobby Shop 
and Lathhouse Conclusion 



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 

Some Simple Records To Keep Preparing a Balance Sheet and 
Profit-and-Loss Statement Conclusion 


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 

Typical Recreational Activities Making Recreation Pay 


Planning a Mobile-Home Park 


Exploring the Mobile-Home Park Business 


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 
own security. 

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- 
ing value. 

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. 


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 
or both. 

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- 
home owners. 


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. 


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 



Current Assets: 

Petty cash 

Bank and cash 

First Federal (savings account) . 

Fixed Assets: 


Organization expense 

$ 4,748.00 

Recreation building 


Service building 


Laundry building 
Hobby-shop building 


Sewer system 


Water system 






P.A. system 


Trailer furniture 


Trailer equity 




Tools and equipment: 



Other .... 


Electrical system 









Authorized capital stock 
Treasury stock 


Operating profit 


$ 100.00 
13,000.00 $ 14,813.52 

$ 18,371.66 



$ 99,400.00 




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. 


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. 

Individual Proprietorship 

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. 

Corporate Organization 

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- 
tending credit. 

Where a simpler form of business organization is practical, 
the disadvantages of corporate organization may be important 
enough to discourage its use. 


"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. 


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. 

Personal Qualifications 

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- 
home parks? 

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? 

Capital Requirements 

1. Have you made a careful estimate of the money you will 

need? . 

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? . 

Financial Resources 

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? 

Personal Finances 

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 
against them? 

General Considerations 

1. What do the local businessmen think of your chances of 

2. Have you talked to your banker? What does he think of 
your setup? 

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 
will need? 

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. 


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 

City-Type Park 

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-Type Park 

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. 


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. 


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- 
able odors. 

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 


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. 


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 


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 are essential in the modern 
mobile-home park. 

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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 




o o 

^ 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 
this problem. 

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 
the entrance. 

MHM A Plan 3 

Plan 3 illustrates how an irregularly shaped piece of land can 
be used. 

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 



. \H 

_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. 


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. 


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 
waste space. 

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. 

8. General 

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 

tenants anticipated. 

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 


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. 


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 
utility officials. 

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. 


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 




Quantity Needed 


1. 6-inch tile pipe in 2-foot 100 pieces, including 

/ \ \ *_ 

sections (straight) 

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 

9. Sand 

10. Trowel 

11. Mortar box 

12. Cleanoutswab 

13. Grade stakes 

14. C-clamps (large) 

15. Crossboards(l"x6"x8') 

16. Twine 

1 7. Hand level (at least 2 feet) 

1 8. Builder's level or equiva- 
lent in professional service 

7 extras 
7 pieces 

5 pieces 
5 pieces 
2 pieces 
5 pieces 

Sufficient to complete 
job (estimate) 4 bags 

Sufficient to complete 
job (estimate) 4 bags 
1 yard 



1. Trenching and backfilling 
(sandy soil) 18 inches deep 

2. Pipe-laying 


2 man-days 
2 man-days 

3. Laying-out and grade-stake- 1 man-day 
marking (professional 


4. Inspection of line and %. man-day 


Local whole- 
sale price 

Local whole- 
sale price 

Local whole- 
sale price 

Local whole- 
sale price 

Local whole- 
sale price 

Local whole- 
sale price 

Local whole- 
sale price 

Local whole- 
sale price 

Local whole- 
sale price 

Prevailing labor 

Prevailing labor 

Bid from sur- 
veyor or civil 

Owner and 

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. 


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 
it out. 

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 


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. 


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 
per cent. 

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. 


When you build your park, protect yourself against liability 
from injuries. 

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 


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. 



General Conditions 

Contract for all work shall be subject to the general conditions for 
the construction of buildings or approved contract form by the owner. 

General Contractor 

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. 

Owner's Responsibility 

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 
structure involved. 


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. 

Carpenter Work 

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. 

Electrical Work 

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 
chrome-bracket supports. 


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 
bid includes. 


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. 


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 


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. 


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. 


Sewer System 

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. 


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 
be tested. 


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- 

Sewer System 


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 
the trench. 

Installing sewer pipe. Several items are needed to install sewer 
pipe properly: 

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 
the bell. 

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 
the process. 

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 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 

o o 

o _, 

* _ z 


-I O 

--I -4-^-XJl 


-i th 

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. 

Septic Tank 

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. 

Distribution Box 

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. 

Disposal Field 

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, 





Sewer-Water Connections 

/ / \-MSTe* ox \ 


. V *r \ lo ~~-^ LOT8 *" E BACI< T0 ACK 


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. 


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. 

Water System 

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. 


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, 


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 
health authorities. 


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 


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 
the wells. 

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 


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- 
wanted organisms. 


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 


Electrical System 

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 
be used. 

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 
these poles. 

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 
electrical connections. 

This MHMA design requires underground conduit and buried 
wire from the meter box to the patio (see p. 80). 


Size A WG Rubber Types R Rubber 

MCM RW Type 





Types T 


14 15 15 

12 20 20 

10 30 30 

40 45 

6 55 65 

4 70 85 

3 80 100 

2 95 115 

1 110 130 


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. 












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 
obsolete park. 

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 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. 


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 
road work. 


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. 


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 
serious consideration. 

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. 


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- 
lowing buildings: 

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 

4. Lathhouse 

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. 


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 
you're covered. 

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? 


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 
these pitfalls: 

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 
best salesmen. 

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 
for information. 

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. 


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- 
ing information: 

1. The names and addresses of all mobile-home occupants stopping in 
the park 

2. The make, model, and license number of each motor vehicle and 
mobile home 

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 


Date in 








f 1 * 
! F 











ILasc First Middle 














































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 
flammable materials. 

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. 


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. 



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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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 
be impractical. 

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. 


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 
moving picture: 





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 . 







Trailer tax 

Taxes and license 


Miscellaneous petty-cash items 

Garbage pickup 



General supplies 

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- 
loss statement. 

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. 


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. 


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. 


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 


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 
other suppliers. 

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." 


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. 


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- 
gas franchise. 

By all means, keep detailed cost records and scale them down 
wherever possible. 


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- 
formality . 

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. 


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 



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. 


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- 
agerial time. 

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. 

IN U-S-Aj 


4 'I 





Hi 1 


f , i 

PLATE 2. Mobile homes offer a comfortable way of life 








J 5 





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 

: si- 

It ill