Reminders-HUD Dispute Resolution Webinar-June 27 & Upcoming HUD Installer Trainings

HUD and their contractor, The Savan Group, are holding a webinar on Tuesday, June 27 at 2:00 PM eastern time ( 1:00 PM central) to share information regarding their Dispute Resolution Program.

Installers and retailers of NEW manufactured housing should make a effort to participate in this free webinar, to better understand any possible implications for you and your business.

Pre-registration is required, so CLICK HERE to pre-register. You can also pre-register at:

I have been informed that this webinar will be recorded for viewing at a later date. Visit to view the archived webinar.

For installers in need of training for a HUD issued installer license, there are classroom training opportunities on the calendar:

July 17-18, 2017 Elkhart, Indiana

July 19-20, 2017 Jackson, Michigan

August 14-15, 2017 Cilo, Michagan

$120 per person. Pre-registration is required. Contact me for more information:






Manufactured Housing Installation Inspection Findings from NTA

NTA, Inc. is a national engineering firm that has been involved in the manufactured housing industry from the beginning. NTA may be best known for performing in-plant inspections, along with reviewing and approving construction designs for manufactured housing producers. However, NTA has also have been very active in conducting installation inspections in those states where HUD has assumed the oversight of manufactured housing installation.

NTA recently compiled the results from their installation inspections, and posted the top 5 failures on their blog. I think it is worth a look so we can re-examine our own practices in an effort to improve our installations. You can go to their blog by CLICKING HERE.

Thanks to NTA for granting permission to share this with you.


HUD Newsletter-JUNE 2017

HUD has just issued their latest edition of  “The Facts-HUD’s ManuFACTured Housing Newsletter”, and I am attaching a copy (mh newsletter – 6-15-17) for your convenience.

Installers may want to skip ahead to page 4 of the newsletter where there is  valuable information regarding the HUD’s oversight of the Manufactured Housing Installation Program and Dispute Resolution Program.

I hope you find this helpful.



Piers- Part 4-It’s All About Location!

So far, we have talked about pier construction from top to bottom, but as you know, it’s all about location! And not quite as simple as you might think!

Typical Pier Print, missing piers at windows.

 One big problem when it comes to pier location is when installers only follow a “pier print” as opposed to actually digging into the Manufacturer’s Installation Instructions. While pier prints may be helpful, they are often in error and rarely show all of the piers required. Make sure to read all the notes on the pier print, they all refer you to the installation instructions. Remember, simple pier prints generally have not been reviewed and stamped as approved. So, if a pier is missed at either side of the picture windows, or under marriage line columns, or any other location, is the sole responsibility of the professional installer. 

Since the manufacturer’s installation instructions require the installer to prepare a sketch to determine pier locations, the pier print may be helpful when starting your sketch. But we need to crack open the instructions to find all of the piers required that might be missing from the pier print. 

If you have been installing manufactured homes for a long time, you know that piers are needed at openings in the side wall or marriage wall that are 4’ or larger. But some locations that are often missed.

6′ side wall opening, needs support piers

 Multiple windows that are installed in openings in the side wall over 4’, even if the individual windows are under 4′, often need support. When you see two or more windows together, determine if the header above the window is spanning the entire opening, or are there support studs dividing the opening.  If there is siding between multiple windows, the opening is divided. If the windows are joined with a mullion or “H” bar, consider it one big opening and not divided.  Some manufacturers require piers in all cases where windows are ganged together. As always, check the installation instructions! 

6 piers needed along this side wall.

When it comes to doors, there is little variation between manufacturers. Most manufacturers require support at both sides of doors located along the side wall. No supports are needed if the door is located at the end wall of the home.  

One style of pier saver under a patio door.

We are seeing many manufacturers reinforcing the floor to eliminate piers under patio doors. I hope to see this trend continue and expanded to eliminate piers at all doors and windows.  Truth be told, when pier savers were first introduced several years ago, I was a skeptic. But I was proven wrong and now I highly recommend them! If your manufacturer does not offer pier savers, you need to ask for them!

Adjustable outriggers support patio door opening.

 It is also worth mentioning that several manufacturers have approved the use of “adjustable outriggers” as an alternative to piers at certain door and window openings. There are differing design limits depending on the home manufacturer. Some limit the use of an adjustable outrigger to side wall openings not greater than 4′. Still others allow adjustable outriggers to support each side of a 6’ patio door in the south roof load zones. Some manufacturers approve the use of adjustable outriggers in the middle roof load zone as well.  Check the approved manufacturer instructions before you proceed. I suggest giving a call to the plant Quality Control Manager and ask him to send you their approved design on adjustable outriggers.

 Did you know that most manufacturers require “intermediate supports” to support marriage wall openings greater than 10’? Piers spaced 10’ on center maximum are required. See the third bullet on the chart below. 

 Also, supports are required where heat duct crossovers go through the rim joist (unless the home has a perimeter frame system). See bullet #4.

There is the troubling requirement (see the last bullet) that installers are to provide a support “Under heavy (400 Lbs. or more) items such as heavy furniture, waterbeds, fireplaces or fish tanks”.  Troubling for two reasons:

1.       The installer will never know where the homeowner is going to place heavy furniture, a fish tank or waterbed!

2.       The direction is too vague. Where is the support to be located? Under the frame (chassis)? Under the perimeter joist or marriage line? And if the manufacturer installs the fireplace, why don’t they beef up the floor in that area?

I think we have covered this topic pretty thoroughly,  but here are a few final points:

Perimeter Pier Location

The manufacturers are required to identify the point load support areas of the home with tags, paint, or in some other way so that the identification is visible after the pier is installed. I have seen too many tags or markings misplaced. So, make sure you know where supports are needed. If in doubt, call the QC manager.

Over spaced first pier!

 There is some variation when it comes to the first and last support piers at the ends of the home. Some manufacturers indicate that the pier must be located within 12” of the end of the I-beam. Others want the first support pier to be 24” from the end of the floor to the center of the pier, and yet another within 24″ of the end of I-beam! So, double check that you doing this correctly.

 Also, watch for shear wall straps (sometimes called G-2 strap) that may require piers, and other manufacturer specific requirements. We will explore the topic of shear walls at a later date.

 Ok, that is a lot to consider. Make sure you aren’t overlooking some odd window configurations that may need support and work with your manufacturer to have them add floor reinforcement at every possible location.  Watch out for marriage line spans that may require intermediate supports. If you haven’t been preparing sketches of the pier layout, make sure you start, and keep a copy in your home file! 


Piers-Part 3-Pier Components

The previous two blog postings have concentrated on pier footings and caps. Now we should look at the pier itself to make sure we understand the backbone of the support pier.

Two Core Block

Most piers are constructed with dry stacked concrete blocks. As we mentioned in the previous posts, a single stack concrete block pier can typically carry a pier load up to 8,000 lbs. (with an exception made for at least one major manufacturer). I have had installers ask me about the difference between 2 core and 3 core blocks. For our purposes, there is no difference. There is a defined top and bottom to the block, but that is for the laying of block and the application of mortar (the webs of the block are slightly wider at the top to give a bigger surface for the mortar). This doesn’t impact their ability to carry loads should you stack them up-side down.

Look over the typical “Load on Frame Supports for Homes Not Requiring Perimeter Blocking” chart below. There are very few configurations that exceed the 8,000 lbs. where you would need double block piers.

NOTE: this chart is for a typical manufactured home. If you are installing a manufactured home that has features like a steep pitched or hinged roof, high side walls, tray ceilings, terra cotta roof tiles, stone veneer finishes, etc., the pier loads can be significantly higher. Always consult the installation instructions for the home you are installing!

The bigger issue that should concern professional installers is the pier height. In general, if you are using single stack block piers, there are two height limits to keep in mind:

  1. The piers at the corners can be no more than 3 blocks high (approximately 24″ plus the cap block)
  2. Typical piers along the main beam are limited to 36″ high.

Should you exceed either of these limits, you need to use double stack (16″ x 16″) block piers. Unless your pier is 67″ or higher, dry stacking of the blocks is acceptable (mortar is not required between or filling the blocks). If you need to construct a pier higher than 67″ most installation manuals require you consult a professional engineer. I did notice that Clayton Homes provides a design in their installation manual for double stack block reinforced piers up to 108″ high, however the footing and pier require reinforcement and there are some big concerns with anchoring a home that high above grade.

Given that rarely are piers overloaded with our conventional installation methods, I am still surprised at the number of installers that continue install manufactured homes with double block piers. Bigger is not always better, and often it is more difficult to construct.


Double block pier not properly positioned on the footing. Note the  crack in the block.

A double block pier that is not properly capped, or not properly centered on the footing, is more prone to failure than a single block pier that is well-constructed.

There are some other pier options available that I think we should take a quick look:

  1. The Steel Support Pier. I haven’t seen a lot of installations that use steel support piers, but maybe it is time to reconsider this option. First of all, these steel piers must be listed and labeled to show they are properly designed, manufactured and can carry the loads. If you are buying from one of the major suppliers, you will likely be fine.

In general, these steel support piers are limited to 6,000 lbs. This is sufficient for pier spacing of 8′ apart supporting a typical 14′ or 28′ wide manufactured home. Also be aware that the adjustable riser (screw) should not extend more than 2″ when finally positioned.

Steel support piers must be painted or otherwise protected from corrosion, and must be stamped with their capacity.

I understand that the material cost compared to concrete block may be slightly more, but I think you will easily save that much in labor.

  1. Pre-cast Concrete. As above, pre-cast concrete piers must be labeled and listed, and here is where I find the problems. Very few of the pre-cast concrete piers I have seen were fabricated in a facility where a quality control program is overseen by an independent inspection agency, with testing or calculations to determine the capacity. To be blunt, if some guy is making pre-cast concrete piers in his barn or garage, it is a good bet that these piers are not labeled or listed. Stay clear!

If you are using any pre-cast concrete piers, ask your supplier to provide evidence that their products are labeled and listed.

  1. Helical Pile Foundations. This could become a more common foundation in the future, especially in areas of deep frost penetration.

    Installation of a helical pile foundation

    This foundation installs quickly, with no concrete, no excavation, and it is removable! BUT, you need to get approval from your manufacturer before you proceed.

Ok, I think we should talk just a little more about supporting manufactured homes with piers, so in a few weeks we will look at pier locations to properly support the manufactured home.

As always, refer to the installation manual before you proceed. If you have any thoughts or images, feel free to send them my way!