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Why Is It So Hard To Do The Right
By George Porter
Installation in this country is about to reach "critical
mass." This is an atomic energy term that means the reactor
is in danger of a meltdown unless correct action is taken immediately.
The folks over in the conventional homebuilding business must
be ecstatic. Here we have been gobbling up more of their portion
of new housing every year, with several states accounting for
over 50% of all new homes, and they had no idea how to turn this
thing around. Conventional and modular home builders have been
racking their brains about what to do here and they have not found
a way to get back their customers. Truth is, they never will as
long as the HUD Code industry can provide affordable housing in
a timely manner with a high degree of consumer satisfaction. Their
only hope would be for us to shoot ourselves in the foot because
they have very little control over what we can do.
Right now, I feel we have taken dead aim on both feet and have
begun to put pressure on the trigger. We have committees all over
the place trying to figure out if the ground freezes under our
homes in the winter up north and if it really does, will it affect
our homes? The answer to this question has been around ever since
the ice age, of course it does, unless you take steps to prevent
the ice from forming under the supports of the home. Most homes
require some support in several places around the perimeter and
if you don't either dig down lower than the frost goes or insulate
the foundation under the ground it will heave. Insulated foundations
have been used all over the world for 50 years; I have carried
all the engineering technology in a folder in my briefcase for
the last 7 years. I have showed it to everyone but no one is all
that interested. They want to find a way that will not change
the old ways of doing things and yet prevent the home from flexing
and cracking the drywall. Good luck!
I was recently in a state that does not require tiedowns on
the homes if they are located in a rental community. As I was
driving down the interstate I could see some very dark clouds
up ahead of me. As I got closer the clouds got darker and the
radio started announcing severe storm warnings with possible tornados.
I started to encounter heavy rain, high wind and hail. I drove
to the nearest overpass and parked under it with about 30 other
cars. The rain increased until you could not see 20 feet and then
the wind really started to scream. I am absolutely sure the wind
speed was over 80 mph. and the rain was totally horizontal. The
car started to shake and I thought, this is it! I am about to
get hit by a tornado and I can't think of anything to do except
sit here and let it happen.
I was very concerned that all 30 cars were going to get swept
into a big pile with me at the bottom or the concrete bridge was
going to get knocked down on top of all of us or both. Suddenly
the wind died down and the rain stopped and it was over. I later
heard on the news that a tornado had overturned several trucks
on the same road.
As I started to get back to normal and continue the trip, I
had to think about the people who live in manufactured housing
in this state. They have an installation law with enforcement
that they take very seriously, but the requirement for anchoring
in rental communities has been specifically omitted. You only
have to anchor the home if you own the land! What were they thinking
of when they made this up!
There are several states that have similar anchoring regulations
and many more that do not require frost-protected foundations,
even though the factory set-up manuals say that you need both.
As the states begin to enact set-up regulations they sometimes
try to preserve the old way of doing things; and this, I fear,
will be our undoing.
In some cases Government is prevented from doing what needs
to be done and they become frustrated and look for other ways
to regulate the industry. How about this idea by the State of
Pennsylvania? The HUD Seal on every home is the federal guarantee
that the home will perform to it's assigned roof load, it's proper
wind load, and it's appropriate thermal efficiency. Pennsylvania
says how can it do that if it has not been set-up yet. It is just
sitting on some wheels and it can't hold the roof load like that.
Without anchors it can't take the wind loads involved. A multi-section
home has nothing but a plastic sheet on one wall so how can that
be energy efficient? How can the government issue a HUD seal when
what the seal guarantees has not done yet? The home can't possibly
do all these things until it is properly installed, and they feel
the HUD Seal should not go on until then!! Do you know what this
means? It means that every home installation will have to be inspected
by a federally approved and authorized inspector on site before
it gets a HUD Seal on it! This is real, it has national supporters,
and, like it or not, it makes enough sense to receive serious
attention and possibly be enacted. It is happening because this
industry can't seem to enact scientifically accurate and politically
sound installation laws that can provide the HUD Code with the
backup it needs to keep its promise to the home buyer. In defense
of the industry in Pa. they have tried very hard for at least
the last 5 years to get an installation law passed. They have
spent enormous amounts of money and time lobbying but the politicians
just don't want to do it for some reason. Everyone in the industry
and especially the industry regulators want it passed, so who
is blocking the legislation? Obviously someone who knows it will
be good for the manufactured housing industry and bad for them,
wonder who that could be?
We are currently doing great, but if we persist in our present
direction concerning installation we will surely snatch defeat
from the jaws of victory. We can't afford to think it will all
go away. Maybe if we can just hold it off for a few more years
things will change? My guess is that they surely will and not
for the better.
If your State has good laws that deal with reality and have
a proper degree of regulation then none of this may affect you.
The other States with bad or no laws are about to go for a ride
in a blender, and they may not be able to regain control. I hope
they don't take the rest of us with them. The conventional building
industry will not come to our rescue, they will just sit back
and watch their market share grow. They probably won't even thank
us for it.