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Shipping Mobile Homes Normally Cost Out-of-Pocket Dollars

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2001 – Visit the DoD "It's Your Move" web site at www.defenselink.mil/specials/itsyourmove/.

The mobile home lifestyle strikes the fancies and suits the pocketbooks of many service members and DoD civilian employees. And some relish the idea of taking their homes with them when they change duty stations at government expense.

But Military Traffic Transportation Command officials warn: "History has shown that moving your mobile home will most likely result in excess transportation costs, which you are responsible for paying." And, they said, that cost could run over $1,000.

The government will only pay up to what it costs to ship the members household goods weight allowance to the next duty station.

Last year, 97 service members moved their trailers. Many more got rid of their trailers because of the high cost of moving them. For example, a married E-4 with four years of service and two children and a trailer home is authorized to ship 8,000 pounds of household goods. Transportation officials calculate that shipping the trailer and packing and unpacking rates would be $37.80 per 100 pounds, which results in the government paying up to $3,024 for the move.

Based on the weight of the household goods, the shipping cost comes to $1,532, which means the service member's out-of-pocket cost to ship the mobile home is $1,492.

DoD civilian employees are authorized to ship their mobile homes as long as it's included in their permanent change of station orders, according to Dennis Barborak, an MTMC traffic management specialist.

"Those who want to ship a mobile home must own it or have permission from the lien holder to move it," Barborak said.

He said safety-wise, the body and chassis of the mobile home, including tires and tubes, must be roadworthy and will withstand the rigors of the move. The home must also meet the size and weight limitations imposed by the state to which it's being shipped.

Mobile homes can be shipped to and from duty stations in the continental United States and Alaska with the government paying for transportation and accessorial services.

"But the government will not pay for replacement parts, brake repairs, tires and repairs and maintenance performed en route, except for labor cost to repair tires and inner tubes," said Gail Collier, another traffic management specialist.

Collier said eligible service members and civilian employees have three options to ship their mobile home:

"Owners can tow their mobile home and file for reimbursement," Collier said. "They should keep receipts of such expenses as fuel, oil, tolls, parking, permits and escort services, to support their claim for reimbursement."

Another option is to have the government arrange the move. The local transportation office and the commercial carrier assumes most of the responsibility. However, the owner is responsible for ensuring that the mobile home is roadworthy, it complies with state codes, has the required primary axles, tires and brakes and is mechanically sound.

The third option is to obtain written authorization from the local transportation office to draw an advance mobile home allowance from the government. Collier emphasized that mobile home owners must obtain an itemized invoice identifying all costs incurred from the carrier and promptly settle the account with the finance office after completing the move.

Regardless of the method used, those who ship mobile homes are covered by the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees' Claims Act for loss and damage during transit. However, homeowners must be able to show that they didn't contribute to the loss or damage.

The government will pay for mobile home carrier's transportation charges, including movement via a circuitous route, when required.

DoD will also pay for bridge, road and tunnel tolls, ferry fares, state or local transit permits and oversize charges and permits.

The government will further cover labor costs for removal and installation of skirting, clocking, unanchoring and anchoring, packing and unpacking of household goods in the mobile home, repairing tires, disconnecting and connecting utilities, disassembling and reassembling expando or fold-out rooms and renting extra axles with wheels and tires attached.

This covers costs associated with movement of a doublewide mobile home.

"Usually personal property inside the mobile home that was not factory installed may not be shipped due to safety reasons," Collier said.

Barborak said there are many items that shouldn't be left inside when shipping your trailer. These include, concrete blocks, skirting, metal awnings, steps, fences, central air conditioners, garden storage sheds, swing sets, satellite dishes, outside television antennas and yard and porch furniture.

Other items that shouldn't be left inside a mobile home include snowmobiles, motorcycles, motorbikes, bicycles, lawn mowers or heavy tool chests. The no-no list also includes fuel, ammunition, flammables, waterbeds and full aquariums, and live animals and plants or flower boxes.

Barborak also advises removing such valuables as money, bonds, stocks, jewelry and furs. "The carrier will not be liable in any way for intangible property, nor for the intrinsic or sentimental value of an item," Barborak emphasized.

"Service members need to be aware that they're responsible for meeting certain restrictions on such structural designs and the roof and heating and cooling system for the area they're moving to," Collier said. "Failing to do so may mean that the destination county may refuse hook up to water and electricity.

A service member is entitled to Storage-In-Transit of their mobile home up to 90 days. An additional 90 days may be authorized for conditions beyond the members control. Storage may also be authorized for local moves if the owner is ordered to vacate the premises by the commanding officer of the installation.

"If an emergency or hardship arises, the owner should request a 90-day extension," Collier said. "But, no matter what the circumstances, the government will not pay for more than 180 days. After that, the owner must pay the cost of further storage."

Mobile home owners can get a copy of "Moving Your Mobile Home" pamphlet at: http://www.belvoir.army.mil/jppsowa/HomeCore.htm.

A copy of the pamphlet can also be obtained at local transportation offices.

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