From my first day working in the Manufactured Housing Industry, I was told how manufactured housing is “affordable” housing, and that preserving affordability was a top priority. Through the years, I saw how adopting new code requirements were often derailed solely based upon their potential impact on the cost of the home. Arc-Fault protection, carbon monoxide alarms, and an energy/insulation standard that is 24 years old are only a few code provisions that are not adopted or updated largely because of their impact on the price tag of the home.
When it comes to the cost of installation, I think affordability has been forgotten.
Over the past ten years, we watched the roll-out of the installation standard and the installation program which seemed to have an impact on affordability. Let’s take a look at some new requirements that effect affordability:
Bonding/Insurance: I spoke with a couple installers, and it seems that the average rate is about $300 per year to comply with this HUD installation program requirement. For the independent, self employeed installer, this is quite an added expense. While I am not saying that being bonded and insured is a bad idea, I wonder how many installers have had an action taken against their bond or had a claim made against their insurance. I am sure there have been a few, but are there sufficient claims to justify this added cost?
Paperwork: Regardless of which state you are in, you now have an additional paperwork burden. It could be monthly HUD reporting, state labels, decals or certificates. Retailers now have installation disclosures, dispute resolution disclosures, HUD reporting, on top of the existing reporting requirements.
Recordkeeping: The dispute resolution program requires all installers to maintain records of every new manufactured home they install for a minimum of three years. Documents such as contracts, checklists, installation manuals, service requests, parts requests, etc., all must be collected and retained.
New Installation Requirements: There are so many items added to the installation process that directly impact affordability of the home, that I am hesitant to list them. But consider the added costs of water supply line pressure testing, and anti-scald temperature testing (tub and showers), DWV testing, electrical continuity and operation tests, polarity check, and gas line tests. The costs of acquiring the needed testing equipment and the additional time to conduct these tests have a considerable effect on the price of installation and as a result, the home.
You may be asking yourself “how did installation costs get so out of hand”? In my opinion, it is due to the lack of installer representation on the Manufactured Home Consensus Committee (MHCC) which has the job of advising HUD on these matters. I know that HUD and the MHCC have worked closely with the trade associations in developing the installation standard, but very few installers are members of these associations and few if any were at the table during these discussions.
With this in mind, I wanted to inform you all that the next Manufactured Home Consensus Committee meeting is being held on September 11-13, 2018 in Washington D.C. The meetings are open to the public, but I don’t think too many installers will be in attendance. You could email a proposal or comment to the Consensus Committee Click HERE.
Maybe just let them know how all of the changes have impacted the affordability of manufactured housing.
For more information on the Manufactured Home Consensus Committee, Click Here