Thanks For Your Support

In 2016 when I retired from my position with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, my plan was to work a few more years and finish my career working with manufactured housing installers and retailers.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many of you supported me by attending training courses, following this blog or simply reaching out for advice or assistance. Your support was a constant source of inspiration for me. I hoped that through this blog and my training courses, I could share information beyond what is currently provided by the industry or government agencies.

Well, four years have flew by and now is the time for me to move on.

If there are links, documents or articles throughout the many blog posts that you would like to save for future reference, make a copy of them now. At some point in the near future, this subscription for this site will expire and it will be gone.

As for training, you will still be able to take my on-line HUD approved installers training (both initial and continuing education) for a few more years. https://www.licensetobuild.com/manufactured-housing/#ce/

As for me, I plan on spending my time turning big pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood. Here is a look at a bit of my work. If you want to see more of my hobby, follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

In closing, let me leave you with a favorite quote:

“Choose your future before your future chooses you”!

Best Wishes!

Time to Register for the HUD/SEBA Installation Inspector Webinar

Below is the registration link for the webinar on Inspector responsibilities being held on November 10, 2020 at 11:00am EST. The presentation will provide a general overview of the HUD Installation Program with specific information provided for Inspectors of manufactured homes.
Register here:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6744818151772645391
If you have any questions prior to the webinar, please send them by email to hudinfo@sebapro.com.

You may want to share this information with inspectors and other interested parties.

HUD/SEBA Hosting Inspector Webinar

The HUD Office of Manufactured Housing Programs, along with their contractor SEBA, will be hosting a webinar on Inspector responsibilities on November 10, 2020 at 11:00am EST. This presentation will provide a general overview of the HUD Installation Program, which was fully implemented in Pennsylvania on October 1, 2020, with specific information provided for inspectors of manufactured homes.

Registration for the webinar will be available on November 3, 2020. Please save the date, and send any questions you might have in advance to hudinfo@sebapro.com.

Also, the program website has been updated. Check it out at https://www.manufacturedhousinginstallation.com/

Pennsylvania under HUD installation as of Oct. 1. What you need to know!

If you are a manufactured home installer or retailer in Pennsylvania, you need to be fully aware that the HUD installation program is taking effect October 1, 2020.

Here is what you need to know:

HUD will require reporting for all NEW manufactured home installations not completed by Oct. 1.  Just because a job is under contract or started before Oct 1, doesn’t mean you don’t have to report to HUD.

The installation standard is the same. New Homes must be installed to the current manufacturer’s installation manual.

For retailers, you must provide a consumer disclosure to perspective purchasers of new manufactured homes prior to the contract signing. The disclosure used in the past does not meet the new requirements. The disclosure must indicate among other things that the HUD installation program applies.

Here is a sample of a Consumer brochure if needed. You can make your own or edit the images on this one. Refer to 24 CFR 3286.601 for the specific details. HERE.

Retailers must also provide monthly reporting for every new manufactured home sold, and every new manufactured home installed utilizing HUD forms 305 and 306.

Everything you need to know about this reporting and copies of the form are found HERE.

For installers, you must report every new manufactured home (within 30 days) utilizing the HUD form 309. Before you sign the form, you must have the installation verified by a qualified inspector. Your code inspector under the PA UCC is the best option.

Everything you need to know about this form and the inspection requirements are found HERE. 

For relocated manufactured homes, not much changed. Keep in mind that HUD has nothing to say about relocated homes. So this is solely between the code official and you. However, a HUD licensed installer will need to complete the PA Certificate of Compliance for Relocated Manufactured Homes.

Everything you need to know about relocated manufactured homes, including the installation and habitability guides and the certificate of compliance are found HERE.

If you are a part of the Pennsylvania manufactured housing industry, maybe you want to try to re-establish a state operated installation program. If so, start talking with the folks that make these decisions, such as your state legislators or the governor’s office. Tell them to fill the vacant positions at DCED that provide adequate staffing for this program.

Resources & Links for Manufactured Housing Installers

Several folks have asked for a single blog post with a list of the various resources that installers that we have talked about in past posts. So, here is the list I assembled. If you know of any other resources worth adding, please share with me or in a comment.

Also, this blog will not be available forever, so be sure to save these resources and links to your favorites for future use.

If you are a manufactured housing professional, you must have a copy of the Manufactured Housing Construction & Safety Standards (HUD Code). Get the most up to date version HERE

An equally important resource for installers is current installation manuals for the homes being installed. In a post from December 30, 2019 I provided links to Clayton, Champion, Skyline and MHE installation Manuals (along with all of their various brands). Here is the link to that post (scroll down through the posts for the actual links): Are Your Designs Up-To-Date?

Always be certain to check with the manufacturer for updates to their manuals.

If you have followed this blog for very long, you know the importance of installer record keeping. The problem is, nobody really defines what records should be retained. Here are links to two important documents that installers should use to help in these regards:

Manufactured Home Building Permit Application

Expanded Manufactured Housing Installers Checklist PDF

While the checklist and coversheet really help with organizing the required records, be sure to keep the support documents as well; pictures, receipts, installation manuals, contracts, documents of problems reported, etc.  Don’t forget that if you are installing new manufactured homes, the federal regulations (24 CFR 3288) require the INSTALLER maintain records for three years!

When it comes to relocated (or used) manufactured homes, the original installation is a good resource but often hard to find. Here is a link to several older manuals as well as a great generic manual from the state of Pennsylvania.  Also the Pa. site includes a tool to assess the home itself! REMINDER….Don’t use these documents for installation of a New Manufactured Home! Follow the installation manual shipped with the home for all new homes!

Click Here for Mobile Home Living Site

Click Here for Pennsylvania MH Site

In a lot of my classroom trainings, I have shown a video of how attached structures can damage manufactured homes during wind storm. Many people have expressed interest so here is the link for that video: Click Here

Finally, health concerns have pretty much ended my in-person trainings for installers. However, you can access on line trainings for your initial or renewal HUD license at:  Builders License Training Institute

Again, save these links on your computer for future access!

HUD Installer Continuing Education Opportunity

As you might have guessed, the Covid-19 pandemic has made us rethink the ability to hold in-person training classes. While on-line training is available, many prefer to interact with the instructor and have the ability to ask questions.

With that in mind, I have partnered with the Michigan Manufactured Housing Association (MMHA) to hold a live installer training via “ZOOM” on October 27, 2020.

This 8-hour training will fulfill the continuing education requirement for HUD licensed manufactured home installers.  You will need to access to a computer, tablet or smart phone to participate.

For registration, contact Scott Walsh at 517-999-6877 or e-mail swalsh@mmhrvca.org. You will be emailed a “ZOOM” link after registration. Class size is limited to 50 participants.

Please see the attached registration form for additional information. MMHA 2020 HUD Renewal Registration 2-Fillable

More Problems to Spot!

In my previous post, I shared a picture of a recently installed manufactured home and asked you to spot the problems with the set. Given the positive reaction and number of views that post received, I decided to do it again with a five more images.

Let’s see what mistakes or problems you can find! My findings are listed below each picture.

 

In the picture above, I counted six problems. Here are the violations I see:

  1. Skirting not installed to allow for frost heave.
  2. Ground vapor barrier not in place.
  3. Organic material (grass) not removed.
  4. Cap blocks are not full size (double block piers need double cap blocks).
  5. Anchor strap buckle not installed at the top of the frame (I-Beam)
  6. No strap protection where the strap contacts the sharp edges of the frame.

 

Obviously we have the bent gas line, but don’t overlook the other problems:

  1. The anchor strap is close to 90° (vertical), we all know that 60° is the maximum strap angle.
  2. No strap protection where the strap contacts the sharp edges of the frame.
  3. The pier cap blocks are not proper material. For concrete cap blocks, generally 4’ solids are required.
  4. The pier shims (wedges) are undersize (4” x 6” is required).
  5. Damaged gas line.

 

Ok, this home is placed on a concrete slab with a masonry crawl space enclosure. Let’s assume that the slab will be protected from frost heave when the backfill and final grade is completed, and that the soil bearing capacity is 2000 PSF (typically needed for a poured in-place slab). Looks pretty nice, but are there other problems?

  1. There is no ground vapor barrier under the concrete slab (you should be able to see the plastic sticking out a little from under the concrete).
  2. The crawl space encloses both the front and rear porches. Which means water will be repeatedly entering the crawl space with each rain or snow.

 

Here is a manufactured home where the installers are completing the marriage line joint at the roof. The straps should be 26-gauge metal. Let’s assume these straps are the correct thickness (while I doubt it). But what else do you see?

  1. The straps (and several fasteners) are installed on top of the roof shingles. These straps should be installed directly on the roof decking.
  2. It might be hard to see, but it appears that several of the nails have cut through the straps.
  3. The nails for the roof shingles are installed wrong! Remember, place the fasteners below the tar line! Not above the tar line as in the picture

 

 

This picture is looking down the marriage line of a home placed on a frost protected slab.

  1. The marriage line support pier should be turned to be perpendicular to the marriage line of the home.
  2. Along the edge of the picture you can see the masonry cap blocks are not 4″ solid cap block.
  3. There appears to be a single spacer and set of shims on the pier. Remember, a double pier requires full size cap blocks, double spacers (if needed) and two sets of shims (or wedges).

Ok…feel free to comment if you found additional issues or maybe you disagree with my assessments!

As always, check the installation instructions for exact requirements and in the meantime, stay safe!

Can you spot the problems?

I was looking at this new manufactured home the other day, and at first glance thought it was a really great set. The footings, pier construction, anchoring and assembly of the two sections were done to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. And the cherry on top was that the patio cover was free standing (notice the columns placed against the front wall of the house).

In spite of all the good effort, 2 major problems exist and likely will have a negative impact on this home, which will effect the overall durability. See if you can spot them on the picture above.

Ok….did you find them?

  1. The skirting wraps around and encloses the after-market porch.
  2. Site grading with stones/rocks.

OK…let’s break this down a little bit. Starting with the skirting.

As you know, almost every installation manual is pretty much the same and they all say something like: “Do not enclose with skirting areas under recessed entries, porches, or decks (whether constructed as part of the home or added on site) unless the skirting is fully vented and installed as to allow water to freely flow out from under the home.”

I admit that I don’t know exactly what is meant by “fully vented” skirting.  But it seems to me that this center-vent skirting does not do the job. We need to be concerned with excess moisture in this porch area leading to mold and mildew growth and accumulation on the underside of the decking boards. Left unchecked, it will lead to premature rot and deterioration of not only the porch but the adjoining house.

Site grading: we have talked more about site grading than any topic and still don’t get it right. Keep in mind, we are trying to get water to drain away from the home as quickly as possible. That means we must use well compacted soil to grade the site so that the water runs across the surface of the ground without soaking in. We need to use clean, compacted fill dirt, NOT ROCKS!

The grading needs to slope always from the home ½” per foot, for the first 10’ around all four sides of the home.  If you are unable to achieve that big of a footprint around the home, you will have to cut a swale or use some other means to get the water away from the home. But under no circumstance can you properly grade a site with stones or rocks.

We all know what water can do to the footings supporting manufactured homes. In the winter, the footings will be more susceptible to frost heave, and in the spring and fall, as wet soil has a lower bearing capacity,  footings are more likely to sink and settle.

I encourage all installers to start bringing fill dirt into every job site. You can elevate the area under the home and properly groom the site to shed water, not absorb it! Have the fill dirt delivered in 6” to 8” lifts and compact it with heavy equipment and check compaction with a pocket penetrometer.

A good resource regarding site grading is available from the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center. Below is a link to this resource.

Click Here to access: PHRC Site Design Considerations for Manufactured Housing

Three Problems with the Manufactured Housing Installation Program

Almost 20 years ago the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) was signed into law establishing (among other things) requirements for the installation of all new manufactured homes.

It took roughly eight years for regulations to be written, and another eight years for the installation program to take effect across the entire country.  Let’s take a look at some of the changes brought about by the “Improvement Act” to determine if things actually improved.  Here are my top three issues:

Manufacturer’s Installation Instructions (24 CFR 3285)

The MHIA required that HUD, along with the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) establish a “model installation standard” that serves as the basis for the manufacturer’s installation manual. As a result, every manufacturer began to adjust their installation manuals to reflect the new model.

So how did that work?

I think that most would agree that the current installation manuals are confusing, extremely complicated, overly burdensome and don’t reflect typical installation processes. As a result, I contend that the installation manuals are generally ignored by both the manufactured home installers and installation inspectors.

If you start leafing through any of the current manuals and you’ll see what I mean.  For example, why can’t I use a 2” solid concrete cap block but I can use 2” hardwood? Is pressure treated lumber allowed? What size spacer is permitted? I know I can use a single block pier up to 36” high, unless it is at the corners of the home, then it must be shorter, or at the marriage line where it can be higher! Don’t get me started on footing charts, longitudinal (end-wall) anchoring, pocket penetrometers, frost protection, torque probes, loads on point, shear wall straps and floating slabs! Also, why aren’t the newer anchoring systems listed in every installation manual?

I suggest that the current installation standards be scrapped. The Consensus Committee should write an installation standard that is “performance” based (just like HUD Code). But this time, installers must be involved with the MHCC for all discussions dealing with installation. Maybe think about separate installation instructions for each type of home. Like a separate manual for two section (double wide) homes. Separate manuals with homes that require perimeter blocking or manufactured homes installed in wind zone 2 or 3.  Providing only one manual with every possible scenario in the country is ridiculous!  Just tell us what we need to know to properly install the actual home at hand!

And while we are at it, remove systems testing from the installation instructions. Installers should not be expected to perform the same systems testing that the manufacturer should have performed before the home left the factory. Keep in mind, the manufacturer must design and construct a home that will withstand the stresses of transportation (3280.903(a)). So, if a pipe breaks while the home is being shipped from the factory, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility.

Inspections (24 CFR 3286.511)

HUD requires that 100% of new manufactured home installations be inspected by a qualified inspector. However, no training specific to manufactured housing is required to become a “qualified inspector”.  Just because a person works for a building codes department, IPIA or has an engineer’s stamp doesn’t mean they are qualified, able or willing to inspect the home installation against the installation instructions. To be fair, there are some states that do require training for code officials that inspect manufactured housing installations. However, HUD and most states do not require any such training.

In my opinion, there are far too many people inspecting manufactured home installations that lack the basic knowledge to effectively perform these critical inspections. There are too many inspectors demanding that you “Do It My Way”, while too many others take the exact opposite approach and conduct “Drive-By” inspections. Since the process has become a money-making endeavor for some inspectors, many are afraid of biting the hand that feeds them. And yes, there are plenty of really good inspectors, but it is obvious that the inspection process is certainly not uniform and does not assure that the home was installed according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

We could go on about problems with the inspection process, but I will stop right here. Maybe more work should be done to provide training to interested inspectors. Providing on-line resources for installation inspectors could be helpful.  How about a checklist for inspectors?  What about regional workshops for inspectors, and maybe HUD should be monitoring the performance of both the installers and inspectors alike? Ultimately, HUD should consider working with the International Codes Council to develop and recognize manufactured housing installation training for anyone inspecting manufactured housing installation.

Consumer Education & Installation Consumer Disclosure (24 CFR 3286.7(b)).

As a result of the MHIA, ALL retailers must provide the purchaser with a disclosure that outlines the installation requirements for their state or HUD as the case may be. Educating the consumer sounds like a great idea to me!

EXCEPT very few retailers are aware of this requirement, and even fewer retailers actually provide this disclosure. This disclosure is an opportunity to educate our customers and simultaneously market ourselves to the public.  However, it is an opportunity lost.

I know that a few state manufactured housing associations inform their retailer members of this requirement, but I think that most do not. Additionally, I have not found any follow-up efforts to determine which retailers are not providing this important information.

I have always believed that the best enforcement starts with communication, and issues like this could easily be addressed by simple and on-going communication with the retailers, installers, community owners, etc. It appears that the current method of expecting the national trade groups to disseminate information to the retailers does not work.

If you want to learn more on the consumer disclosure, see my post from November 2017 (Four Things Every Retailer Must Know!) and you can actually download a sample disclosure form.

What can be done?

Understand that while it is very difficult to change the actual law (MHIA), it is not that difficult to change the regulations. But first installers and retailers will have to request that the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee look into these issues. You can submit proposed changes via email to: http://mhcc.homeinnovation.com/

To learn more about the MHCC and see their membership roster, visit the HUD website at: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/rmra/mhs/cc1

HUD Extends Installer Licenses Needing Renewal

As a result of the impact that Covid-19 has had on installer training, HUD has issued the guidance to extend the HUD installer license renewal period.

If your HUD Installer license expires between March 31, 2020 and November 30, 2020, your license is automatically extended through December 31, 2020.

Click the link to read the announcement. Also, you may need  to show this letter to code officials and inspectors as proof that your license remains valid. InstallerWaiverAnnouncement_May2020

Be sure to keep your insurance/bond current, and also keep your reporting up to date.