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.

 

Difficulties With Porches

A few years ago, I was called upon to investigate a complaint filed by a homeowner in a very high end, 55 and older community. The complaint was generated because the homeowner believed that there was mold growing in the crawl space under her home and she was hyper sensitive to air born mold spores.

To paint a better picture, these were all two section homes installed on a masonry (block) crawlspace, on frost protected concrete slabs that were poured 3’ below the surrounding grade.

Once backfilled, the slab will be below the frost line.

The crawl space was properly moisture proofed and the sites were well graded for proper drainage. But the inside of the crawl space was soaking wet even on the nice summer day when I visited.

Notice the wet blocks under the porch area

And sure enough, you could see mold and mildew on the bottom board and in the floor cavity where the access panels were not replaced. The homeowner had a legitimate gripe.

 

As you know, water is needed to support the growth of mold, so we just needed to find the source of the water. The water source was easy to find. The lawn sprinklers!

Every evening, the automatic lawn sprinklers would slightly overspray the grass and water was landing on the recessed porch decking on the end of the home. The porch was decked with composite material that was installed with just enough of a gap for the water to pass through and collect in the crawl space. The ultimate problem was that the crawl space was constructed around the outside of the porch, instead of just around the living area of the home. So, with every lawn sprinkle, rain or snow that landed water on the decking, water was being introduced into the crawl space.

So, I decided to see what the manufacturers installation instructions say about recessed porches. Most installation manuals have two sentences dedicated to this topic, back somewhere around page 95 of most manuals: “Run the skirting along the perimeter of the homes heated, conditioned space. Do not enclose with skirting areas under recessed entries, porches or decks unless the skirting is of the fully vented type and installed as to allow water to freely flow out from under the home”.  And to complicate matters even further, the ground vapor retarder is not to extend under “recessed entries, decks or porches”.

It would be difficult for an installer is to design a crawl space enclosure-skirting that “allows water to freely flow out from under the home”.

Home sits in a “pit” No way for water to escape.

And even if you did, the homeowner would likely do some landscaping that might act as a dam and trap the water in the crawlspace. Easy to see in these two pictures that any water landing on the decking is going straight into the crawl space.

Water gets captured inside skirting.

 

As we are seeing more homes being constructed with these decked porches we need to take a harder look at this issue. Running skirting underneath the home is difficult at best. I have run across one example that is well done. In the picture below you can see the porch area is only enclosed with a vinyl lattice that allows any water to escape. And yes, there is a crawlspace wall (skirting) under that front end wall.

Crawlspace under front end wall, behind lattice work.

 

Maybe some manufacturers have a better idea. But don’t take my word for it, grab an installation manual, turn to the section Complete Exterior Work- Install Skirting. Let me know what you think.