Mobile Home Park - Different Types of Utility Systems
|When you first buy a mobile home park, you are a little terrified of your water and sewer system. What if it breaks down? Can I afford to fix it? Will my tenants get mad and leave if the water goes out for a couple days?|
One of the key things to remember is that each mobile home park's utilities has its own personality. Just like people, all utility systems have their own strengths and weaknesses. The key to living with your utility system is to recognize its unique "personality" and to accept it for what it is. Here are a few of the different types of utility systems and their typical strengths and weaknesses found in majority of Mobile Home Parks:
Mobile Home Park Utility Systems
PVC Water Lines
If you have PVC water lines, you are a very, very fortunate person. There are very few parks out there that have them. They are the best. Nothing else can compete with them. Before you get too excited, make sure that the whole system is PVC. A lot of times, the park owner has retrofitted PVC onto metal lines where they come out of the ground. To have a PVC system, it has to be 100% PVC below and above the ground.
Metal Water Lines
Burying metal in the ground is not a great idea. Metal rusts. So metal water lines are a time-delayed disaster. But how much time do you have? In some cases, a whole lot. I have seen metal water lines that have virtually no corrosion despite the fact that they're 50 years old. If you think about it, virtually all the water lines you can think of (unless you live in a brand new subdivision in a town that was entirely built in the 1990s) are made of metal. And everything seems to be O.K. Sure PVC is better, but metal can be just fine. And there's nothing you can do about it. Can I sleep at night with metal lines? You bet I can. I have had little trouble with all my metal lines, and I can definitely be proud of them with all their faults.
Cast Iron Sewer Line
These are very rare systems. Of course, they are easy to work with. They don't cave in. They can deteriorate over time, theoretically, but I've never actually seen that happen. We've only had one of these systems, and the only fault it had was a series of "bellies", where the flow was slightly uphill in places to it would not drain properly. You would never lose sleep over a cast iron system.
Clay Tile Sewer
This was the standard design from about 1900 to the 1970's. Most of what you see out there is clay tile. It's basically sewer pipe that is ceramic and it looks like pipe made out of the same stuff as the flower pots at the fancy nursery. It is really a pretty good system. I have had many clay tile sewer systems, and I was not worried about them when I went to sleep each night. The biggest weakness with clay tile is tree roots.
The clay tile pipe does not fit together so tightly that tree roots can't find a way to get into such a terrific water source. So when you have clay tile, you will be doing a lot of rooter roto repair calls. But that's a manageable expense.
The other weakness with clay tile is its inability to survive jetting of the lines. When you "jet" a line, you spray extremely high pressured water down the sewer lines to push any debris into the city main line. The high pressure spray can often cause a cracked pipe to cave in. When we discontinued jetting our clay tile lines, we had no further cave-ins.
Thin-Walled Plastic Sewer Line
This is the bad boy of the sewer pipe world. This is the crazy, undependable cousin of real utility lines. This junk will cave in all the time & sometimes in 50 foot segments. Having this type of sewer system is like inviting a mass murderer over as a house sitter. It might be O.K. or it might be a catastrophe. It's like the crazy gun slinger in a spaghetti western who might shoot you or smile at you. Living with that type of uncertainty will drive any sane person nuts.
The only thing you can do with this type of system is tough love - if it can't work properly, then replace it. And make sure you budget for this eventuality when you buy the park. If I was looking at a park built with this junk, I wouldn't touch it unless I could re-pipe the entire park into PVC, and still have a great return on investment. And that's probably where you are going to end up, either replacing the system at one time or in sections over time. I can't sleep well with this stuff.
PVC Sewer Line
This is the Cadillac of the industry. It is, if properly installed, flawless. Whoever invented this stuff was a genius. I can think of no weakness with PVC. If you have a full PVC sewer system, then you are very lucky indeed.
If you have PVC water & sewer lines, you are a very, very fortunate person. There are very few parks out there that have them. They are the best. Nothing else can compete with them. Before you get too excited, make sure that the whole system is PVC. A lot of times, the park owner has retrofitted PVC onto metal lines where they come out of the ground. To have a PVC system, it has to be 100% PVC below and above the ground.
Like people, water and sewer systems come in all types of shapes and sizes. But that does not mean that certain types are to be avoided or discriminated against. It is possible to accept the type you have, and be happy with it. You just have to understand the character flaws, and work around them.
|Dave Reynolds is a successful real estate investor that has specialized in the purchasing of Mobile Home and RV Parks for the past 12 years. He has the keen ability to quickly assess deals, cut through hype, measure upside vs. downside risk, and make sound decisions. He has owned and operated over 55 Mobile Home & RV parks over the past 12 years in 16 different states. He currently owns over $10,000,000 in mobile home park real estate.|
Dave Reynolds received a B.S. in Accounting from Mesa State College in Colorado in 1992 and attended graduate school majoring in Accounting and Taxation at Colorado State University in 1993-1994.
Frank Rolfe was born in Missouri, the "Show Me" state, and has been starting up businesses since high school. He has had two big successes: a billboard business that he sold to a public company in 1996, and a mobile home park business that he sold to various buyers beginning in 2004. He always has several start-ups in the hopper - currently an old time photography business, a web-based educational products business, an art school, and a return to the billboard business. Frank Rolfe holds a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University.
Dave Reynolds and Frank Rolfe have combined forces to bring the real estate market a better perspective on the multiple successes you can have with Mobile Home Parks. Together they have a combined experience of 20+ years and over $100,000,000 worth of deals under their belt.
|Copyright 2002-2019 All Rights Reserved. Published with Permission of Author. No part of this publication may be copied or reprinted|
without the express written permission of the Author and/or REIClub.com.
Back to Top