Beware of US built mobile homes that do not meet Canadian standards.

This week’s topic is about the dangers of buying an out of country mobile home.  I have come across two brand new trailers that were built in the U.S. that did not meet the national building code. If you are a regular follower of my thoughts you will know I try to steer away from talking about codes. I am not a codes officer and do not try to mimic the important work they do. Having said that I want to bring this important issue to your attention in the hopes that I can prevent you from making the same mistake two of my past clients have made.

The issue surrounds the need for a home to have vapor barrier.  In our climate the interior and outside temperature can vary as much as 60 or more degrees Celsius. With such a wide range in temperature across a wall or ceiling there is a strong possibility that frost will build up. We see it quite often on our windows in winter. The accumulation of frost is caused by moist air coming in contact with cold air. The key to preventing this is to place a layer of vapor barrier on the warm side of the insulation to prevent the moisture from entering the wall where it can make the contact.

On two separate occasions I have come across new trailers that did not have vapor barrier in the walls or ceiling. As you can imagine frost in the winter naturally built up in the walls or ceilings and before you know it these unsuspecting folks had moisture related issues including mold. The trailers in question were both CSA approved and had the “Meets national building code” stickers. These stickers are important but they do not guarantee that Canada standards were followed, only that Canadian standards were supposed to be followed.

In both cases the repair costs of these nearly new homes was extensive. To add vapor barrier after the fact is so costly it is almost not worth it.  My advice is, if you are buying a mobile home built across the border ask specifically if it has vapor barrier.  The sales person is likely going to be quick to say “of course” but press the issue and dig deeper to be as sure as you can be. If there is an attic hatch open it and check for yourself. If you can’t find any ask your lawyer for a compliance letter that will allow you to return the trailer for a refund if it is missing the vapor barrier. Sounds extreme but it is an extreme problem so be prepared.