How Do I Prepare My Site for a Mobile Office? How Much Space is Required?

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Setting up a mobile office isn’t simply a matter of plunking it down on the ground, hooking up the utilities, and you’re done. As with regular building development, considerable site preparation is necessary before installation of the main attraction can begin.


Every mobile office installation begins with a thorough inspection of its planned site – which most mobile office suppliers will do – to determine the site’s suitability for the unit and its delivery, as well as the foundation it will require. “It must be a level site,” said Erica Labiak, consultant for Best Value Mobile Storage in Springfield, Mo. “The site needs to be as big as the office container, plus 120 feet of ground clearance to unload the unit.”


“We need to roll off the office, so we need to back our truck into where it’s going,” said John Rogers, owner of Affordable Portable Housing in Kailua, Hawaii. “Offices are 8 feet wide and up to 40 feet long.” When determining your mobile office’s required footprint, CubeDepot of Santa Barbara, Calif., recommends adding 5 or 6 more feet to the trailer’s length so that installing it isn’t like parallel parking into a tight spot.


Speaking of parking, ample area for office employee and guest cars, delivery vehicle drop-offs and pickups, handicapped-accessible ramps, etc. should be included in the site planning as well. The site should also have a sizable driveway for commuters and deliveries, not to mention the office’s tractor-trailer transporter.


To withstand the heft of the office and its 30,000-plus-pound delivery tractor-trailer, a firm, hard, level asphalt, cement, gravel or stone-paved ground is best. But if it’s grass, soil or another soft terrain, hardwood piles measuring 4 ft. by 4 ft., 6 ft. by 6 ft., or 2 ft. by 10 ft. should go under the office to forestall sinkage and distribute the unit’s weight properly, according to the Eagle Leasing Company of Orange, Conn. Pac-Van of Indianapolis, Ind., recommends a concrete or gravel bed, asphalt paving, or piles of railroad ties. Some state or municipal building codes require mobile buildings to have concrete foundation pads placed all along the unit’s perimeter and matelines or concrete footers poured in place to stabilize the unit’s sub-floor supporting columns, according to Rose Office Systems of Calera, Ala.


The site must be free of debris, vegetation, and any overhead tree-branches or wires that would interfere with the required minimum 20-foot overhead, 12-foot width and 100-foot straight-ahead clearance for a 40-foot-long mobile office and its delivery truck, according to Pac-Van. The site must also be reasonably accessible to water and sewer, electric and gas sources, because all of those hookups must be finalized at the site in accordance with local codes before the unit can be delivered. Underground utility lines must be clearly marked and the site fully staked to indicate where the mobile office is to be positioned, according to ModSpace of Berwyn, Penn.


So, like any conventional freestanding house or office building, a mobile office needs plenty of elbowroom on its site to operate at top efficiency.