Basics That Every Manufactured Home Professional Must Know-Retailer Responsibilites

We have been talking about some of the basics of the manufactured housing program, and today I want to focus on one particular area of the Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement Regulations; Subpart F-Retailer and Distributor Responsibilites.

Before we dig into this discussion, it is important to note that with one exception, the requirements listed in Subpart F only apply to new manufactured homes to the first purchaser.

This subpart lays out three critical elements of the manufactured housing program:

  1. That a retailer may not sell or lease a new manufactured home that does not meet all applicable requirements of the HUD Code (24 CFR 3282.252).
  2. That the retailer must forward any and all information regarding the performance of the home to the manufacturer (24 CFR 3282.256).
  3. That the retailer must inform the manufacturer of the location of any manufactured home they sell, both new and relocated (or used) manufactured homes (24 CFR 3282.255).

Let’s break these down a little bit.

Everyone knows that a new manufactured home is pre-empt from state or local building codes. However, it is easy to forget that preemption is earned by assurance that new manufactured homes meet the federal building code. Without exception!

Manufacturers Certification Label

To put some teeth in the assurance that every new manufactured home meets the HUD Code, retailers are prohibited from selling or leasing a new manufactured home if a code related problem is observed. Unless a new manufactured home meets all applicable code requirements, it cannot even be offered for sale or lease! This prohibition of sale remains in effect until the problem has been corrected by the manufacturer, or the retailer when authorized by the manufacturer to make the repair or correction.

Now, a retailer is not expected to inspect every new home looking for problems, but rather have a basic understanding of the HUD Code and report any possible issues. I think it is a reasonable assumption that all manufactured home retailers have a copy of the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards. If you don’t have a copy of the HUD Code CLICK HERE and print yourself a copy.

This prohibition of sale remains in effect until all goods and services agreed to in the sales contract with the purchaser have been delivered. If installation is included in the sale, then the home must meet the standards throughout the completion of the installation. If you are not providing installation, make sure you are fully disclosing the installation requirements to the purchaser prior to the sale! More on that in a future post.

In my opinion, the most important provision of the manufactured housing program is that retailers must tell the manufacturer of all possible failures to meet the HUD Code. There are no exceptions to this requirement. If you believe that a new manufactured home has a problem, you must report it to the manufacturer. If you get a consumer complaint that might be code related, you must report it to the manufacturer. If you receive information from any source that might suggest a problem with a new manufactured home that you sold, you need to tell the manufacturer. Without exception!

If the home is out of warranty, it doesn’t matter! Tell the manufacturer. Even if the service manager tells you to stop reporting, keep on reporting every possible code violation. Even if the issue concerns an appliance or fixture, the regulations require you to report the issue to the manufacturer and they can make a determination regarding any further action. And equally  important, keep a record of everything you report!

Lastly, a retailer must inform the manufacturer where their homes are installed. Typically, this is done by submitting the purchaser card provided by the manufacturer. If you have ever seen these purchaser cards and wondered why there are three, it is because this requirement goes beyond new home sales, but applies to any relocated manufactured homes as well. The remaining cards are for subsequent sales and/or locations of the home.

Purchaser Cards from Manufacturer to report home location.

If the cards are missing, retailers are still required to send the same information to the manufacturer that the card required, most importantly the serial number of the home and the location.

You never know when the manufacturer may have to take some sort of remedial action or notification to address a problem with a home they have produced. For more information on the purchaser card, check out 24 CFR 3282.255 and 3282.211. Click Here for these regulations

The only exception for this requirement is if the manufacturer is out of business.

That is a quick overview of Subpart F.

There are still other retailer requirements, such as retailer alterations (3282.254),  consumer and dispute resolution disclosures (3282.7 & 3288.5) and proper handling of homes being stored and displayed. For more information on these issues, check out this post from November 2017, Four Things Every Retailer Must Know!

Keep in mind, this is my informal interpretation of these requirements and should never be confused as actual law or regulation.

Basics that Every Manufactured Home Professional Should Know. Focus on Modular Homes, Garages & Site Installed Furnaces

In our last post we started taking a closer look at some of the important elements of the manufactured housing law and regulations that you should know. Today, we will look at a few more.

During an installer training class last week, our discussion landed on the difference between a manufactured and modular house. I like to point to 24 CFR 3282.12(c) of the Manufactured Home Procedural & Enforcement Regulations. Simply put, a modular home is ONLY intended to be placed on a permanent foundation, such as a masonry crawlspace or basement. While a manufactured home may be placed on a permanent foundation, it is not required.

Taking it a step further, a modular home is not intended to be moved once it is installed on the basement or crawlspace. A manufactured home must always remain permanently transportable regardless of the foundation used for support.

And finally, a modular home is designed and constructed to the state adopted building code (such as the International Residential Code) while a manufactured home must meet the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards (AKA the HUD Code).

In a nutshell, we should never see a modular home being relocated or moved. They are designed for their specific site to a site-specific code, placed on a basement and often with the transportation components (chassis or carrier) removed. While a manufactured home must always retain the ability to be moved (permanent chassis), it is not restricted to a specific foundation, and is designed and constructed to a federal building code.

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Recently we have been seeing many more manufactured homes with attached garages. To assure that the home can safely and structurally handle a garage, the manufacturer must design and produce that is garage-ready. The process the manufacturer must follow is known as “Alternative Construction”. You may have been introduced to Alternative Construction (AC) in the past whenever a manufactured home had a hinged roof. While we could argue the benefit of the added expense and paperwork required just because the home had a 5/12 roof pitch, there is a huge advantage to going through the Alternative Construction process if you are planning on attaching a garage to a manufactured home.

Garage Ready home being installed.

Alternative Construction is basically an authorization from HUD to the manufacturer to allow them to construct a manufactured home that may not meet a specific provision of the HUD Code, but as a result of the “alternative construction” the home performance of the home is not affected.

So, if the manufacturer produces a “Garage Ready” home that has been evaluated under the Alternative Construction process, you can have confidence that all of the HUD code considerations have been taken into account. Things like the distance from the bedrooms to an exit door (without passing through the garage), that there are no windows looking into the garage, there is fire rated wall and door separating the garage from the home, and the structure of the home can accept any additional loads resulting from the garage attachment.

If you just attach the garage without benefit of the AC process, there is no assurance that the home will remain structural sound and safe as required by the HUD Code, and you assume the liability in the event any issues arise. It is always important to remember that the HUD Code still does not address carbon monoxide alarms. So please make sure you consider this important safety feature when adding a garage to a home.

Consider providing carbon monoxide alarms for homes with attached garages or that contains fuel burning furnaces, water heaters or fireplaces.

 

You should also know that Alternative Construction extends to much more than garages and hinged roofs. Alternative Construction provides a way to customize the manufactured home to fit many of the needs or desires of your customer. Tank-less water heaters and wheel chair accessible showers are common consumer requests that can be provided through the AC process. So, if you or a customer is requesting some non-traditional features in their home, maybe Alternative Construction is the process you should explore. For more information check out 24 CFR 3282.14. Also, an earlier post on this topic.

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On a similar note, did you know that the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards allows for the field installation of the furnace? The HUD Code requires that the manufacturer provide connection points to the air supply and return ducts, but the actual furnace may be provided by the installer.

This is ideal for a manufactured home being placed on a basement or maybe utilizing an alternative fuel source, and no additional approvals is needed. It is provided for right in the code.  For more on this, check out 24 CFR 3280.709(e)(6).

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Ok…that is enough for now, but there is plenty more to talk about in future posts!

The highlighted text will direct you to the referenced requirement. And as always, the views expressed are mine and should not be taken as anything more than my personal opinion.