What I Learned at the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show

Ever since I started my career in the manufactured housing industry, I have heard about the big manufactured housing show held in Louisville Kentucky each January. Last week, at the invitation of my friends at the Michigan Manufactured Housing Association, I finally got to see it for myself.

I must admit, it was quite impressive. There were almost 60 homes (both modular and manufactured) on display, and plenty of venders to keep me supplied in pens and key chains for years to come.

Photo courtesy of The Louisville Show

 

The big surprise was how many folks approached me to talk about problems with installation. Specifically, problems with their local code officials. If you have followed this blog over the past 3 years, you know that I have written on this topic several times. But attending the show, and hearing from so many people with similar stories about code enforcement, I knew we should talk about it once more. Here is a sampling of what installers, community owners and retailers were talking about:

  • Code officials requiring vertical tie downs for manufactured homes in Wind Zone 1.
  • Local requirement to add smoke alarms to the home.
  • Code officials requiring licensed plumbers to perform all plumbing tests, and the assembly of the shipped loose drain lines.
  • Requiring blower door testing to every manufactured home.
  • Code officials that refuse to sign off on required forms (namely HUD 309) for fear of being penalized.

While individually, these issues might not seem like much, collectively they illustrate that 44 years after the manufactured housing program began, we have done a terrible job educating the code enforcement community on manufactured housing.

So, what can we do about it? Plenty!

First, we need to start involving the industry leaders (trade association and manufacturers) when these issues come up. All too often, installers and retailers are quick to do whatever the local code official asks, just to pacify him or her. In other words, we go along just to get along. This needs to stop. With the support and involvement of the folks at the top, we should be looking at ways to educate and win over the local code officials.

Next, we need support from HUD. As you all know, fewer and fewer states are participating in the manufactured housing programs along with HUD. Too many of the ones that are participating have drifted very far away from the program principals. Whenever given the opportunity, we need to encourage HUD be more visible with every state government. Not just with the people who run the programs, but rather with those who establish the policies…such as the Governors and Cabinet Secretaries. Additionally, we need to encourage HUD to start assuring that all states are held to the same expectation. Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats!

Also, we need to continue to become the experts on manufactured housing. By now you all should have a copy of the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, and if you don’t have a copy, Click Here. Next, you need to actually read it! Become the expert that the code officials can come to whenever they have a question!

The same is true with the home installation instructions. Read them! When you find things that seem odd, talk to the factory QC department and engineers (not sales or service staff). Maybe they can be changed or better explained!

Know the importance of the building permit application process. Organize your documents with a Manufactured Housing Building Permit Coversheet (click on the link).  Forget the single page pier print, and start submitting (and following) DAPIA approved details to support everything you do to assure a properly installed home.

Finish the whole process off by keeping good records and completing the Installation checklist. Here is one I created should you want to use it:  Expanded Manufactured Housing Installers Checklist PDF!

Maybe I will see you at the show next year!

The HIGHS and lows of 2019!

As we start a new year, I thought I would look back and assemble a list of some of the manufactured housing installation highs and lows from 2019.

Let’s start with the HIGHS:

  1. Installer record keeping is catching on! I visited with quite a few installers last year and was pleasantly surprised to see how many of them met me at the job site with a job folder in hand! It was no surprise that the installations done by these professional installers were some of the best I have ever seen in over 30 years of inspecting installation!
  2. Improved skirting application. Thankfully, I ran across only a few installations where the vinyl skirting was fastened directly through the bottom course of vinyl siding. Several installers were attaching 2 x 4’s to the bottom of the home to attach the skirting, others used Skirt Back’r (Tiedown Engineering) or something similar. Add that to the homes where the manufacturer provided a double starter strip, or extended the wall sheathing below the siding, and it is pretty clear that we are getting better at skirting attachment.

    Consider flashing to prevent water from seeping behind skirting channel.

I need to add a note of caution when talking about skirting attachment. Be sure you don’t create an area where water can seep behind the skirting channel, especially if the manufacturer extends the wall sheathing below the siding. In that case, you should consider installing some flashing to keep water from getting into the joint.

  1. Improved Site grading. More installers are bringing a couple lifts of fill dirt to the job sites to better groom the site for proper drainage.

    A couple lifts of fill dirt is often needed to grade a site!

  2. New resources are starting to emerge. Such as the construction blog and quarterly newsletter from Clayton  Click here to visit their site. And as we discussed last week, the availability of several installation manuals on-line is also a big step forward!

The LOWS:

  1. The Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee met twice in 2019 (in April and in October). This generally would be a good thing, except the committee membership still does not include installers. This committee is responsible for the development of the vast majority of the current installation program requirements and now they are again looking at additional changes to the installation process. The failure of installer representation is completely illogical. As I like to say, if you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu! And installers are still not at the table!

Should you want to express your thoughts to the Consensus Committee, you can email HUD at: mhcc@hud.gov or the contractor that administers the operation of the committee at: mhcc@homeinnovation.com

If you would like to learn more about the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee, check out their information on the HUD website: Click here for HUD MHCC

 

  1. The loss of states participating in the manufactured housing program should be seen as a huge warning sign for the industry. In the past year, New Jersey completely ended their relationship with the manufactured housing program and Pennsylvania dropped their installation program. In addition, far too many of the remaining states have drifted very far away from the basic program principals. The lack of strong and informed state participation undermines the sustainability of the overall program. The manufactured housing program does not exist because of written laws or regulations, but rather because of a federal-state-local government partnership that understands, respects and defends the manufactured housing program. This partnership makes these laws and regulations come to life.
  2. The continued stubbornness of the industry. There are still too many installers that operate under the “we have always done it that way” mentallity. Far too many industry professionals continue to use negative terminology, such as “mobile homes” and even “trailers”. All too often we are reluctant to have a business-like discussion with our building code officials because they might get mad. Keep in mind, just like swimming, if we don’t keep moving forward, we will eventually sink!
  3. The service side of our industry remains focused on fixing problems, as opposed to preventing them from ever occurring. Before patching cracked drywall, adjusting cabinets or counters, or resetting windows or doors, service technicians should be called on to identify the source of the problem. Rarely do factories provide meaningful feedback regarding improper installation, and as a result, we miss out on opportunities to improve.

 

Moving into this next decade, I believe that there is a lot of potential for the manufactured housing industry. Potential to increase our share of the housing market, potential for installers to improve their bottom line, potential to become the housing solution for a country that is desperate for high quality, yet affordable housing. But…if we don’t expect more from our industry partners and ourselves, this potential will never be realized. So, let start by building on our “Highs” and working to eliminate our “Lows”.

Are Your Designs Up-To-Date?

Just like last weeks lasagna in the back of your refrigerator, manufactured home installation manuals don’t last forever. Professional manufactured home installers must be certain that they are following the most up-to-date installation manual, which would be the one that was shipped inside the home being delivered from the factory. But how many manufactured home installers actually hold off their work waiting for the current installation instructions to arrive along with the home?

If you said “none” you are correct!

But there is no other process in place to provide manufactured home installers with the appropriate installation instructions. As a result, installers often are found to be using out-dated or obsolete designs, missing important installation requirements, or just installing every home the same way using the same techniques that they used years ago.

Additionally, far too many installers use engineered designs that might have been handed down from retailers, other installers, or some other random source. The problem is, all too often these engineered designs are outdated, and have been not accepted by the manufacturer and their design approval agency (DAPIA).

I have recently been made aware of a few manufacturers that have modified their requirements for a very common foundation/anchoring system. But most installers missed the change as there is no mechanism to keep them up-to-date.

Equally important, there is no way for an installer to know whenever a manufacturer updates their full installation manuals. Several manufacturers that have not updated their manuals since 2008. Others publish revised manuals almost as often as I change my socks!

But how can a professional installer assure that the details they use are the most current, besides waiting for the home delivery to start construction?

Keep in mind, that if you are the installer responsible for the overall installation of a new manufactured home, you are required to keep records for three years. These records should contain DAPIA approved designs, and details or instructions to clearly illustrate the entire installation process. Ultimately, you must be able to answer any questions regarding how the home was placed on the site by producing the design or instructions you followed. It is critical that you are utilizing the correct installation instructions!

Why not ask your manufacturers to start providing product bulletins every time there is a change to the installation instructions? These product bulletins could be sent to each retailer and maintained in a binder for regular access by installers.

I know that a few manufacturers have their installation manuals available on-line. Most notably:

Clayton, Click Here For the Site

Champion, Click Here For the Site

MHE, Click Here For the Site

Skyline, Click Here For the Site

This is a great idea, but it would be even better if installers could sign-up for email updates to keep them informed of any changes.

Ultimately, professional installers (and retailers) need to expect improved communication from the manufacturers. Start a dialogue with the Quality Assurance Manager or Engineer at the factory. Maybe there are some processes in place that you can utilize. If not, maybe he can develop a process to keep you informed.

Bottom line, you need to know that every home is properly installed, and following outdated instructions places you and the manufactured home in jeopardy!

RUST!

Lately I have been running into situations where manufactured homes have been damaged as a result of excessive rust to the metal parts under the home. I am seeing reports of rust on the frames, gas lines and anchoring components. In my opinion there are two different sources of these problems; one is a problem with the installation, the other may be a potential problem with the design of the homes.

The installation problem that has been causing rust issues should be obvious; improper site grading. Compounding the issues of poor site grading, a home placed in a pit that collects water can accelerate corrosion of the metal parts under the home.

Pit set-area under the home is lower than the surrounding grade. Water fills the crawl space.

 

The rules for grading a manufactured home site are no different then site grading for any other home. The site must slope away from the home by ½” per foot for the first 10’. If needed, a swale can be cut into the ground but bottom line, you MUST grade the site to shed water. Flat sites are not acceptable. If the site cannot be properly graded, the home should not be placed there! I like to encourage installers to bring a few lifts of fill dirt to the site to allow proper grooming of the site.

Rusted frame in a pit set home.

 

However, there are still too many manufactured homes being installed in pits. What I mean is, the area under the home is excavated to be below the surrounding grade, and as a result it collects water. I can think of no better way to encourage rust than to place the home over a pool of water.

If you have no choice than to set the home in a pit, you should be constructing a masonry crawl space consistent with the state or local building code. This would mean a frost protected, damp proofed, perimeter wall that will prohibit water infiltration. Ultimately, keeping the crawlspace dry.

This crawl space is parged (damp proofed) to prevent water infiltration.

OK, but there is also another issue that seems to be contributing to the rust problem that is outside of the installation process. I am talking about recessed porches. It appears that in some cases, as water comes through the porch decking boards, it is leading to rusting of the frame in these areas. Keeping in mind that the frame must be able to transport the home for its intended life, these rusted frames can represent a failure to meet the HUD Code. We all know that the frame is painted to protect from rust and corrosion, but is it good enough in the porch area?

Decked porch lets rain drain onto the frame!

Frame under porch area with significant rust.

 

I know a lot of installers have begun using plastic shims (wedges) on the piers in the porch areas, as the typical hardwood shims have been rotting away as a result of water coming through the decking boards. I think this is smart!

Typical plastic shims

 

As a professional installer, be certain that the homes you install are placed on properly graded sites to allow water to drain away from the home.

If you happen to see, or if someone tells you about frames rusting under the porch area, be sure to report it to the manufacturer (regardless of warranty). Maybe in the near future, we will see a better way to protect these frames to improve the durability of the homes!

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.

***

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.

***

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).

***

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.

A Few Basics of the Federal Program that Manufactured Home Professionals Should Know, Part 1

When I was in junior high school, we conducted an experiment to see how a particular statement could get twisted as it was passed along from person to person. After being whispered across the classroom, the information had very little resemblance to the original statement. We immediately learned not to trust everything that you hear.

I think the same thing happens in the manufactured housing industry. Often what we learn about the manufactured housing program gets passed down to us from our supervisors, colleagues, regulators and others. And just like that experiment in school, the facts often get twisted if not completely forgotten.

With this in mind, I think we should take a look at a few of the provisions in the manufactured housing law and regulations, that well intended professionals have a responsibility to know.

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One of the things I share in all of my training classes is that every new manufactured home MUST comply with all applicable standards; without exception! However, sometimes folks in our industry will enter into a contract or waiver with the consumer, attempting to create an exception to the program requirements (See Who Really Owns the Tires & Axles? for an example). If this is you, check out the following section of the Manufactured Housing Construction & Safety Standards Act.

§5421. Prohibition on waiver of rights.
The rights afforded manufactured home purchasers under this chapter may not be waived, and any provision of a contract or agreement entered into after August 22, 1974, to the contrary shall be void.

That seems pretty clear to me, a new manufactured home must fully meet the code and program requirements, without exception. Even if a consumer signs a waiver, the federal law renders that waiver void!

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A few times I have encountered folks attempting to create a loophole in the program by misconstruing the definition of “purchaser”. Their thinking is that they could buy a new manufactured home from a manufacturer or retailer, becoming the first purchaser and re-sell the home to the consumer, thereby ending the protections of the manufactured housing program to the consumer. Well, take a look at the definition of “Purchaser” in the Manufactured Home Procedural & Enforcement Regulation 24 CFR 3282.7(aa).

Purchaser means the first person purchasing a manufactured home in good faith for purposes other than resale.

If your purpose is to re-sell the home, you are not the purchaser.

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If you still say that you are in the “mobile home” business, as opposed to the “manufactured home” business, I’ll guess that you still wear leisure suits, listen to ABBA, and drive a Ford Pinto. There hasn’t been a “mobile home” produced since June 15, 1976. Except for modular homes (constructed to a state adopted building code), any single-family home built in a factory in the past 43 years is a “Manufactured Home”. Check out 24 CR 3282.8(a)

Using outdated or misleading terms to the purchaser can have unintended consequences. Better get with the times and use the correct terminology!

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Have you ever been told that a local building code official is not permitted inside a manufactured home? I have heard that claim for years, and it is not true! What the regulations actually say is that a building code official may not inspect a new manufactured home for compliance with the HUD Code. Basically, the code official should trust that the inspection process in the factory was sufficient (see 24 CFR 3282.11(b) of the regulations for more detail).

However, a code official entering the home is not a problem. I contend that a code official should enter every home to check the data plate information. And since the HUD Code doesn’t address certain construction standards that many other residential building codes require, the local code inspector is within his rights to look for items like carbon monoxide alarms, or baluster spacing (if the home has railings installed inside the home) to name a  few.

I have always advocated that every manufactured home professional should have their own copy of the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards. Without a copy of the HUD code, you will never be able to determine if the code official has exceeded his local or state authority and started to tread on the federal program.

CLICK HERE to access the HUD Manufactured Housing web site to download a copy of the HUD as well as the federal law and regulations!

It might be a good idea to explore more of these type of issues in future posts. Please keep in mind, these posts are my personal opinion, and are not to be construed as anything more.

Who is Responsible for Drywall Cracks?

If you have been installing or selling manufactured homes for any length of time, you have likely had to deal with problems with the drywall in the home. We all have seen manufactured homes with loose wall panels, cracked ceilings, popped nails, broken mud joints and the like. No doubt you have been told by the manufacturer’s service department that they are not responsible for drywall, leaving it for you to repair. Maybe the manufacturer had you sign a written agreement that absolved them from the responsibility for drywall problems. Maybe you were told that drywall cracks are not covered by the warranty. Often, transportation is blamed as opposed to the manufacturing process.

But should installers and retailers assume the responsibility for drywall problems? Well, let me give you my take on the issue.

Obviously, improper site grading or a poorly constructed foundation can lead to issues with the drywall. And any problems that are the result of improper installation should be the responsibility of the installer.

But if the installation is correct, the manufacturer should get involved. And the first thing the manufacturer should do is to  determine if the drywall failure is strictly cosmetic or if it represents a code related issue. Without getting too deep into the details, here are a few code requirements that depend on proper drywall application.

In many manufactured homes (especially single section homes), the drywall on the ceiling is called upon to help the home safely  distribute the wind loads. Also, the ceiling board provides fire protection in terms of meeting prescribed flame spread limitations. It also provides both a thermal and vapor barrier. These are all code related requirements.

Structural failure of a ceiling panel

What about the drywall on the walls of the home? On the sidewalls, the wall board is often called upon to add rigidity and strength. Often the end walls and certain interior partition walls are designed as shear walls. These shear walls use the drywall panels to prevent the wall framing from racking, which allows them to transfer wind forces into the floor system of the home. Just like the ceiling, the drywall on the walls also meet flame spread requirements and keep the conditioned air inside the home where is belongs. These issues are much more than cosmetic.

So what is a cosmetic issue as opposed to a structural, code related issue? A hairline crack in the joint compound at a panel seam is unsightly, but generally not a structural issue. However an irregular shaped crack above a door or window, panels that have pulled loose from the roof trusses or wall studs, or any fracture in the actual paper covering of the drywall would indicate a potential failure to meet the code, and should be forwarded to the manufacturer.

This crack could indicates the wall panel may be damaged.

By now you are likely thinking, what about transportation? The Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standard has already addressed this issue:

3280.903   General requirements for designing the structure to withstand transportation shock and vibration.

(a) The cumulative effect of highway transportation shock and vibration upon a manufactured home structure may result in incremental degradation of its designed performance in terms of providing a safe, healthy and durable dwelling. Therefore, the manufactured home shall be designed, in terms its structural, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems, to fully withstand such transportation forces during its intended life. (See §§3280.303(c) and 3280.305(a)).

So, if the drywall cannot survive being trucked from the factory to the job site, maybe the home was incapable of withstanding these transportation forces. The manufacturer should want to look into this to be sure that they are meeting the code. Bottom line, the next time you receive a new home and the drywall is broken, cracked or loose, be sure to document the condition and forward it to the manufacturer. And don’t be so quick to accept responsibility for problems that might not be yours!

Manufactured Home Installations Are Changing!

The other day I received a call from a manufactured home retailer who was concerned because a code official refused to issue a building permit unless the installation documents were better organized. The code official wanted the installation details to be organized with a “Manufactured Home Building Permit Application Cover Page”. Other installers in the area had begun using this document to organize the pages, tables and charts from the home manufacturer’s installation manual instead of just using a pier print. As a result, this code official was so impressed that she now requires this cover page for all manufactured home permit applications.

If you are not familiar with the “Manufactured Home Building Permit Application Cover Page” click HERE. It is a simple one-page document where the installer can go through the manufacturer’s installation instructions to organize and detail the information needed for a proper installation. Plus, it is a great start to installer record keeping that is required for all new home installations. For more of an explanation on how this document can help you, click on this link to see the original post.  A Tool to Improve the Building Permit Application Process

This made me think, are there other improvements to manufactured housing installation that are starting to catch on? Well, yes there are!  Here are a few that I have recently observed:

Independently Supported Patio Covers and Carports

While monitoring several installations in Michigan, I was impressed to see how posts and columns were properly installed along the front and back of the carports and patio covers to assure they are independently supported. Just lagging the hanging rail to the home will overload the home, and can possibly lead to structural failure in a wind storm event. If you are still using the manufactured home to support these accessory structures, you need to watch this video HERE.

It clearly shows how attaching a carport, patio cover, or similar structure to a manufactured home (that was not designed for such an attachment), can lead to a structural failure of the home.

Example of a properly supported patio cover

Not only are installers in Michigan improving their installations, but here is a home in Pennsylvania where the porch roof supports itself and does not add additional loads on the home.

Porches Isolated From the Crawl Space

I have finally begun to see installations where the skirting or crawl space enclosure separates the porch area from the rest of the crawl space. We all know that water under the home is a huge problem, and rain water coming through floor decking boards and allowing this water to collect in the crawl space is a big problem.

Rain water coming through deck boards can lead to problems in the crawl space.

Finally, I have been seeing installations where barriers are provided to isolate the porch area from the rest of the crawl space, and the skirting around the porch is held above grade to allow any water that comes through the decking board to flow away from the home.

The lattice only serves to hide the piers and frame. It is installed to allow any water to flow away from the home.

 

Skirting Attachment

Attaching skirting directly on the siding of the home has been the conventional method of skirting application for years, simply because it is easy. However, this application has led to water infiltration, poor performance and appearance of the siding. It is extremely encouraging to see how many installers are now attaching skirting under the home.

Proper skirting attachment, prevents water infiltration and improved appearance.

 

Installation Check Lists

I am seeing quite a few installers have begun to use the installation check list, and have started to customize the enhanced checklist to better fit their particular installations. These checklists, along with the building permit cover page, go a long way to reduce the liability of the installer. Check out this post and download your own copy of the Expanded Installation Checklist.

Manufacturers Getting On Board

As reported in our last post, New Installer Resource & Upcoming Training Available, Clayton Homes started publishing a quarterly newsletter designed to improve installation. Also, I have seen that the Commodore Corp. has been providing their retailers/installers with some home specific foundation details to help streamline the installation process. I am sure that there are some other manufacturers doing similar things, and I hope more follow suit.

Bottom line, the installation process is slowly changing for the better. So, as a professional installer, you should want to be in front of these changes and use them to your advantage.

 

New Installer Resource & Upcoming Training Available

I was just made aware of a new installer resource from Clayton Homes, and according to their introduction it is “intended to increase awareness of the importance of site construction in the manufactured housing industry”. I found a lot of very good information at the website, and I appreciated the illustrations and drawings. Be sure to check out the topics found under the “BLOG” tag and take a few minutes to watch the short videos. Good Stuff! Make sure you sign up for their quarterly newsletter. Click Here for the link.

Also, I wanted to make you aware of some upcoming training dates:

Continuing Education for HUD Licensed Installers is being held in Novi, Michigan on October 9, 2019. Contact Scott at the Michigan Manufactured Housing Association at 517-999-6877 or swalsh@mmhrvca.org

Three initial (or pre-licensure) trainings for installers wishing to receive their HUD Manufactured Home Installer License are being held over the next few months:

October 28 & 29, 2019, in Okemos, Michigan HUD Installer Training Registration-Oct 2019- Michigan

November 7 & 8, 2019 in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania HUD Installer Training Registration-Nov 2019, PA

November 14 & 15, 2019 in Clarion, Pennsylvania HUD Installer Training Reg Clarion PA -Nov 14 15, 2019

And as always, both initial and continuing education trainings are available online at HERE