Mention a commercial mobile unit and you may draw a mental picture of a manufactured home – and you wouldn’t be too far off, other than most commercial mobile units are used as classrooms, offices, or other non-residential purposes. Mobile units are a good, reduced cost alternative to a permanent stick built structure, especially if the need for the unit will be short term. One of the unique aspects about a mobile unit that makes them so appealing is the ease of making changes to the interior of the units. Another is that their frame, axles and wheels remain permanently attached to the structure, making them less costly to move. When necessary, the axles and wheels can be removed to meet the height requirements for the set. Wheels and axles are easily stored under the units.
Today’s mobile structure is designed and constructed with high-quality construction materials, much like an onsite stick built structure. However, mobile units, like modular units, are constructed on assembly lines inside temperature controlled buildings, starting with a basic steel frame. Once the subfloor is constructed, a wave of various craftsmen and women move in to install everything from the walls and roof to the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. Every new building assembled is unique and will be constructed to meet the needs of the manufacturer’s client or the end user. Mobile structures can vary in size from a small single wide 8′ x 20′ unit to a multiple 36′ x 66′ structure – or larger.
Mobile units are moved with over-the-road trucks specially designed for hauling mobile structures – instead of having a kingpin receiver like a normal over-the-road truck, these trucks have ball hitches which can be raised or lowered to facilitate pick up or delivery. When smaller units are delivered – like an 8′ x 20′ unit for example, the driver will usually set and level the building himself. Because of the special equipment normally needed to set larger, single unit and multiple unit structures, the drivers will deliver the units for a company like EZ Systems to set.
After the unit(s) are delivered, the set crew gets to work prepping the building for the installation. The protective visqueen, plastic straps and wood lathe on the open side of the unit needs to be removed and disposed of. The crew will then set up the ‘roll gear’ – wood beams, long heavy-duty aluminum pans, rollers, bottle jacks and heavy rectangular steel bars are all used in concert to move the buildings as necessary.
As soon as the roll gear is properly supported, leveled, in place and supporting the structure, the building itself will be leveled. Once everything is level, the building can be moved into location. Lighter buildings can be rolled into place by the set crew pushing it across the roll gear. Heavier buildings may require comealongs or other devices to roll them into position.
If necessary, the wheels and axles will be removed and stored under the units. Once the unit is in place, secured, and leveled, the steel strapping that helps limit any torque to the building during shipping are cut and removed. The same process is followed for subsequent units.
Steel piers are set on 2″ x 12″ x 18″ pressure treated wood pads under the building to level and support the structure. The steel piers will range in size from 6” to 30” tall and are placed according to engineered drawings.
Once in position and leveled and bolted together, the unit will need to be secured for seismic and wind shear. Steel straps secure the structure to ground anchors; the type of anchor used is dependent on the surface: dirt, grass, and gravel could be secured with either an auger device or a cross drive device; asphalt are usually held in place with a cross drive device, and concrete would use an expansion bolt – also known as a molly bolt. The steel bands are strapped to the frame of the unit, then fed through split bolts on the anchors and tightened using a ratchet and box wrench, making sure the straps wrap around the split bolt at least one and a half times. The straps work in unison with each other to secure the building against earthquake or high wind loads.
Once the units are placed and secured, any additional custom build out requirements can be taken care of in the inside of the building. Flooring or carpeting installed, temporary or permanent walls installed, drop ceiling tiles replaced, and any other custom requirements or maintenance can take place.
EZ Systems is well versed in every aspect of setting, tearing down, remodeling, and refurbishing mobile and modular structures. Over the last twenty-five years, we have worked on thousands of mobile and modular units, gaining superior experience in the process. In addition, EZ Systems manufactures our own line of ‘demount’ interior walls and doors, which are easily installed, moved, or removed from mobile and modular units. Our walls are foam core panels sandwiched between vinyl wrapped sheetrock or luaun. The wall panels are held in place with aluminum tracks on the floor and ceiling, between each panel, and at each end of the end of every wall. Sound dampening boards can be added to the panels for additional sound control. Wall panels can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. and include aluminum tracks, self-tapping screws, and instructions for installation.