Throughout my career, my involvement with manufactured homeowners has been after they lived in their homes for a while. As a result, I have heard more than my share of complaints, questions, misunderstandings, and fake news! This led me to conclude that we could certainly do a better job introducing these new manufactured homeowners to their homes. So, as a start, here is my list of the top 10 things we should talk about with our customers:
1. The importance (and location) of the data plate.
I know they are required to be permanently attached to the home, but we all know that far too many data plates peel off the walls, get painted over, or otherwise disappear from the home. Explain to your customer that the data plate should be preserved. Especially should they ever want to sell the home. If it peels from the wall, it should be saved with other important documents.
2. The Importance of the Certification (HUD) Label.
Like the data plate, tell your customer about the importance of preserving the certification label(s). Not only in the event of a future sale, but it will be needed to re-finance or for relocation.
3. That tripping one Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacle can shut off the power to other receptacles in the home.
Show your customers how GFCI protection is provided in each bathroom, outside receptacle, heat tape receptacle, receptacles serving kitchen counters, and certain locations within 6′ of wet bar sinks. Make sure they know that while some receptacles that don’t have a test button, they are still protected! Show them how to test the GFCI, and reset them as well! (Search the HUD Code at 24 CFR 3280.806(b) for exact locations)
4. The importance of the Bottom Board under the floor of the home.
We all know that installers of cable or satellite television, telephones, etc. always slice holes in the bottom board of the home to run their cables. Not only do we need to warn our homeowners about attacks from these “technicians”, but inform them how the bottom board is critical for keeping conditioned air in the floor cavity where it belongs! Remember, the bottom board is not only intended to prevent critters from getting into the floor, it also serves as the pressure envelope enclosure. Holes in the bottom board mean losing conditioned air into the crawl space, and lead to higher energy costs!
5. Make sure any future landscaping doesn’t impede water from draining away from the home.
Landscape timbers, flower beds, or mulch borders can easily trap water and direct it right into the crawl space! Talk to the homeowner about the importance of allowing water to drain away from the home. Once you have completed your site grading, take pictures for your home file as evidence that you did your job properly!
6. That smoke alarms are generally equipped with a hush bottom.
Far too many people have told me that they disconnect their smoke alarms because of nuisance alarms caused by smoke from cooking. We certainly know that this is a dangerous practice, but have we introduced our customers to the alternative solution? Tell folks that pushing and holding the test button (or a separate hush button) will temporarily silence the alarm. This is a much better idea then disabling the alarm!
7. That a carbon monoxide alarm can be added to their home at a minimal cost.
Just because the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code) doesn’t require a CO alarm, doesn’t mean you can’t add one. More and more local municipalities are requiring every home with fuel burning appliances, and/or an attached garage, to be equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm. I think we would be wise to get ahead of this, and provide the same level of protection as required in other residential building codes. I suggest ordering homes with an extra receptacle in the hallway (outside the bedroom areas) just for this purpose. You might just save a life!
8. That the water temperature at the showers and bath tubs is limited by anti-scald fixtures for their safety.
The general complaint is that the water is not hot enough. Take a few minutes to explain how the anti-scald fixture limits the water temperature to 120°. Remember, Installers are required to check the water temperature at each tub and shower. Click Here to read an earlier post on this topic.
9. How they can bring fresh air into the home (whole house ventilation) without opening the windows or doors.
I have always been a big fan of the whole house ventilation systems designed to introduce fresh air into every manufactured home. When people complain of poor indoor air quality, I would ask if they were familiar with the ventilation system. Most of the time, the answer is no! Sometimes it is operated by a switch in the thermostat (or automatically whenever the furnace blower runs), sometimes it is a simple exhaust fan in another area (like utility room). Either way, make sure our customers know about this feature.
10. That the home is not designed for future additions or modifications.
Remember, typically a manufactured home is not designed to support the added weight of carports, garages, three season rooms, etc. Not to mention how these after-market additions can add to the wind load imposed on the home.
Hopefully, you are already talking about these items with your customers. If not, consider how the extra few minutes spent educating your customers can bolster their overall satisfaction with their home. I think you will find it will be time well spent!