Fleetwood Homes Why I Hate Them
I Hate Fleetwood, shows the nether-side of craftsmanship to be avoided by fine home builders everywhere.
Sure Fleetwood Homes probably says they're doing better now. And maybe they are. But this was the Fleetwood "double-wide" product in 1978.
So please read on. Learn how NOT to build a house, how to completely rebuild your collapsing Fleetwood Manufactured Home's roof,
a little about tools and construction, and maybe
a little about human nature. It's The Fleetwood Homes Remanufacturing Project!!
Cheerfully, Fleetwood Ho !
The Fleetwood Manufactured Home Nightmare
My first mistake was to think my Fleetwood Manufactured Home was temporary. Yes, I was young, so it seemed permissible to buy a crappy little "starter home"
with the stated presumption that "I'd be upgrading soon." Well, soon stretched into late, and I began to think that maybe my crappy little
neighborhood wasn't all that bad. The trees I planted were shooting up, the lawn was green, and the view was 60 miles of clear skies and
mountains. And besides, the "rich people" homes up the valley were darned expensive, and their view wasn't any better
than mine. Yes, I had a couple of engineering degrees and plenty of money to buy one of those hoity-toity boxes, but honestly I had
other things I'd rather do with my cash.
Although my starter Fleetwood Manufactured Home home seemed nice enough at first glance, a few "tell tale" omens popped up right off. Suggestions of disaster.
Portents of doom. Like the water line to the
toilet held in place by a water-swelled leather thong. (Is this
1987 AD or 1987 BC?) And the fact that all the shut-off valves had to be replaced, otherwise the water couldn't be turned off OR on.
Yes, I foolishly thought these were just a few minor burbles the few corners cut, and everything else in my Fleetwood Manufactured Home
was bound to turn out fine.
Oh, and don't forget the indoor/outdoor carpet nailed to the "porch thing's" floor. The porch thing really isn't a porch, but more of a recessed
front door and window. And its floor was covered with a protective aluminum sheet. And the aluminum was piereced by nails securing
the carpet. And rain soaked the carpet and
seeped in around the nails. And the water disintegrated the particle board supporting the aluminum. And my Fleetwood Home's
porch thing basically disolved into goo.
Meanwhile, the plastic frame on the front door window was buckling in the sun, cracking and exploding. Obviously, the frame wasn't designed
to withstand the heat from direct sunlight and the heat trapped by the confining glass storm door. True this was an exterior door.
But apparently it wasn't designed to be outdoors. Or maybe it was designed to only face directly north. But whatever the case, an exterior door
that disintegrates in sunlight makes about as much sense as an SUV that disintegrates when it splashes through a puddle.
Now certainly, I thought to myself, this had to be the last of the Fleetwood Home foolishness.
But wait, then I was in the crawl space repairing a pipe
on my Fleetwood Home (the plastic pipe was laying against the tip of a nail) when I noticed a problem
with the heating ductwork. See, the house is manufactured in two halves, then trucked to its final resting place.
When it is "set up," the set-up guys connect the two halves
of the heating system with a giant flexible duct. It hooks to one half of the house directly under the furnace, and crosses to the other half
where it hooks
to a special connection intended specifically for this purpose. But oops... the setup guys missed half of the hooks on one side, leaving a
gap about 6 inches high and 18 inches long for hot air to shoot out and into the crawl space. So no wonder one half of my Fleetwood Home seemed a
little cold on those 30-below-zero nights.
All of its warm air was heating mice and cats fighting for turf in the coziest crawl space on the planet.
Certainly this had to be the last of the foolishness. But wait, one rainy day when returning home from work, I grabbed the doorknob on the
back door and was knocked to the ground by an electric shock. Odd, I thought, doorknobs aren't supposed to be electrified. So, naturally, I
investigated. As expected, the doorknob was metal. It attached to a metal door, which attached via metal screws to the metal siding on
the house. The metal siding, in turn touched the main electric box (metal), which had a connection to the grounding wire. The grounding wire
clamped to the main water supply line, which should then ground the house. Consequently, if a short occurred anywhere, then theoretically
a circuit breaker should blow. But wait, digging down a foot I found that the water supply line changed to plastic, which means that the
house wasn't grounded at all. Further, it meant that any short to ground would electrify the entire skin of the house, all the window frames,
and both doors.
Searching for the offending short, I discovered a melted wire touching the grounded wood stove installed by the previous owner. Why did he
install the wood stove? Probably because half of his furnace heat was being blown into the crawl space. Anyway, taking his cue from Fleetwood Homes
and the setup guys, he did as shoddy a job as manageable, and consequently a wire to the low-temperature fan switch was laying right against
the fire box. Naturally it didn't melt until after I bought the house.
After this accumulation of problems and foolishness, I began to feel a swelling resentment.
True, the heating and grounding problems could not be blamed directly on Fleetwood Homes. After all, they probably didn't supply the setup guys,
and they certainly didn't install the fireplace.
colossal screwups were part of my home, my Fleetwood manufactured home, and although it may not make any sense, this is when I first began to hate my
Should I sell and upgrade? I thought to myself. I stewed on this for perhaps a year. And perhaps during this time, nothing else bad happened. No
windows mysteriously exploding, no Martians with hammers living inside the walls, no walls caving in, no toilets exploding off the floor
in a geyser of sewage. No, nothing like that. So, lulled into a state of complacency, I stayed in my
Fleetwood home. And this turned out to be a mistake second only to buying my Fleetwood home in the first place.
Some Examples of Fleetwood Manufactured Home Quality
Wow! Not one of my brain cells ever considered the possibility that the roof is supported entirely by 1x2s and kitchen
Love that kitchen paneling!
Oop... I stand corrected. Some of it is "bedroom" paneling.
What truly amazes me is that insulation is present at all.
After all, if a home is built of toothpicks, why bother with insulation? Stranger still, it has SEVERAL layers of insulation.
True, some of it was wet.
But still, this really doesn't make any sense. It's sort of like installing a weed whacker engine in a cadillac, and then going to the
trouble of adding heated leather seats with fully adjustable lumbar support. If cadillac did this, and if the salesman popped open
the hood to proudly display the smoothly humming weed whacker engine, how many sales do you think they would have? None. Zero. Not one.
Now suppose the Fleetwood Homes salesman had done something similar and proudly exclaimed,
"Our roof trusses are manufactured from the highest quality 1x2s and kitchen paneling!" How many of these homes would Fleetwood have
sold? None. Zero. Not one. However, the cadillac engine is easy to see. The roof trusses are not. So an unsuspecting person purchased
this home from Fleetwood, and then it was sold to another unsuspecting person (me).