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The Act of Improvement
By George Porter
Improvement is hard! The hard part is not finding something
to improve upon, but the doing. It is the doing than causes change
and sometimes people just can't stand it. Change can cause a person
to ask themselves if any change at all is necessary or even really
an improvement. You might want to try to tell yourself that in
fact those changes are making things worse! Most of this stress
is brought on by the process of change, the doing. As human beings
we tend to focus a little more on the now than the future. What
is usually left out of all this turbulence is the question, "What
good things might happen if I make all these changes?"
The Manufactured Housing Improvement Act, signed into law on
December 27, 2000 is the biggest change ever affecting the industry.
What about the HUD Code in 1976? Well... it mostly affected manufacturers.
They had to have inspectors, service records, and proof that their
homes would perform like the new HUD building code said they had
to. They needed engineers, designers, and lots of new people to
keep track of all the new paperwork. Some factories had almost
all this to begin with, most didn't. For some it was not too hard
to comply, for others it was a true revolution. For a few it was
just too much, they closed. I don't think any of them liked it
much, but they didn't have a choice.
There were very few parts of the HUD Code that affected dealers
and none that directly affected installers. Installation was left
to the discretion of each state with no clear guidelines or help.
Some states did some something, most states didn't. For 24
years HUD had nothing to do with state installation programs but
they had people everywhere in the manufacturers' plants. It sometimes
seemed a little silly. For instance, according to federal law,
a factory had to build a home to withstand at least wind zone
1, and, through extensive testing, they had to prove it to the
federal government's engineers before it would ever get a HUD
seal. The home could then be shipped to one of many states that
simply didn't care if you anchored the home or not. Either these
states had no installation standards or no enforcement or simply
nobody was interested in being in charge of the industry at all.
So what was the good of all this factory inspection, paperwork,
and government oversight when, if you shipped it to the right
state, all these standards and safeguards were literally left
at the factory door. Well.... those days are over, or at least
The HUD Code now covers it all! While the original code affected
hundreds of manufacturers, this addition to the code will affect
tens of thousands of installers and dealers. This is the HUD Code
for the rest of us and it is a lot more than a building code.
The installation of Manufactured Housing in this nation is
going to be standardized. This doesn't mean that all homes will
be installed the same everywhere but it does mean that all states
will be enforcing the new (and the old) HUD rules the same. Basically
if you have a 30 lb. roof load home from the factory you will
have to give the home a 30 lb. roof load foundation. A wind zone
2 home will have to have anchors installed just as the factory
manual says it needs. There will be exceptions for special engineering
requirements such as flood zones, unusual terrain or climate.
Basically 98% of the installations nationwide should be straight
forward, just do what the manufacturers manual says.
Here is a brief summary of the key points in the new code as
it applies to installation.
Not less than 18 months after the appointments of members of
the Consensus Committee are completed; the Committee will develop
and submit to the Secretary proposed model standards. Such standards
shall, to the maximum extent practicable, be consistent with the
home designs approved by a DAPIA, and the designs and instructions
provided by manufacturers. After receiving recommendations from
the Consensus Committee, the Secretary will have another twelve
months to develop and establish the model standards.
State installation programs, established pursuant to state
law, must include standards that meet or exceed the protection
provided by the model standards that will be developed by the
HUD Secretary. HUD's standards must also, to the maximum extent
practicable, be consistent with the home designs approved by a
DAPIA, and the designs and instructions provided by manufacturers.
The Consensus Committee and the Secretary are required under
the Act to consider whether proposed standards are reasonable
for the particular geographic region, and to consider the probable
effect of such standards on the cost of the homes.
State installation programs must include installation standards,
training and licensing of installers, and an appropriate level
of inspection and installation of the homes.
The act requires manufacturers to provide design and instructions
that have been approved by a design approval primary inspection
agency (DAPIA). Following the establishment of the model standards,
a DAPIA may not approve designs unless they provide equal or greater
protection than the model standards.
If any state does not enact a program under state law within
five years of the enactment date of the Act (December 27, 2005),
HUD will develop and administer such a program.
In states where the Secretary implements a program, the Secretary
may contract with an agent for implementation, except that such
agent shall not be a person or entity (other than a government),
nor an affiliate or subsidiary of such a person or entity that
has entered into a contract with the Secretary to implement any
other regulatory program under this Act.
During the five-year period from the enactment date of the
Act, no state or manufacturer may lower existing state or manufacturer's
There is much more to this Act than installation but clearly
the biggest change for the industry will be these rules. If we
can get beyond the "doing" of this act we will be first
class affordable housing nationwide in every sense of the word,
and that's the good that will come of this change.