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This Is Not The Oldest Profession
In America, But It's Close Part II
By George Porter
In last months article we discussed the history of manufactured
housing from 1694 to the end of the 1930's. It was pointed out
to me by a good and faithful reader named Phil Bergelt in Fla.
that I had neglected to mention in the article that the covered
wagon was responsible for the opening of the American west. I
apologize for this gross oversight and will state now that without
this type of "mobile home" we might very well not have
a Los Angles as we know it today. There are some of us in the
industry who do not wish to take credit for this, all things considered,
and would just as soon leave that part out Phil, but thanks anyway.
In the early 1940's the increased defense production demands
necessitate workers living as close as possible to their production
plants. Government purchases of mobile homes were so large during
1940 to 1943 that public sales of mobile homes were forbidden
by executive decree. Some of the homes were especially designed
as mobile units for the Red Cross.
In the late 1940's the trailer length increased to over 30
feet, allowing the installation of very compact bathrooms. There
was a small toilet and a shower with the bathroom floor serving
as the shower pan. Trailers in 1947 and 1948 were also equipped
with electric refrigerators, bottled gas ranges, circulation air
furnaces and hot and cold running water.
It was around this time that what was a common trailer industry
begun to separate into two distinct types to meet two different
consumer needs. As a matter of fact, It was only in 1947 that
separate statistics began to be assembles for mobile homes designed
as full time residences, as contrasted to travel trailers used
for temporary vacation living.
The 1950's saw a greater mobile home expansion. The length
increase up to fifty feet and rounded ends were boxed off, creating
even more interior space. In 1954 the ten-foot wide mobile home
was introduced. Prospective owners were pleased with the larger
living space but there were also some problems. The special width
necessitated new permit, so in the beginning, manufacturers had
a lot of trouble delivering the homes to dealers and new homeowners.
Consumer demand and higher production of the ten foot wide mobile
home convinced legislators to adopt regulations allowing their
movement on state highways.
By 1962 the twelve-foot wide mobile home was in mass production
affording owners even greater living space. During the mid 1960's
the popularity of the two section mobile home gained in popularity
because states were beginning to limit the width of home that
were allowed to travel on the highway.
Several mobile home manufacturers established the "Mobile
Home Craftsmen Guild" in the early 1960's. The guild members
with the aid of the American Standards Association and the National
Fire Protection Association, developed a mobile home construction
code. Manufactures' products that met that code specifications
were designated by a gold seal. This promotion of standards is
credited with a four-fold increase in production of homes by the
end of the decade. This was the beginning of the kind of numbers
we are seeing today. During the 70's one mobile home was built
for every three site-built homes.
In July of ''76 the H.U.D. Code was established and that is
about where we are today. We have been building to that standard
with only small changes ever since then. Currently it is receiving
lots of attention from many groups, both within the industry and
from outside. This is probably a good thing even though it is
a little unsettling. It is requiring us to think about ourself
and our methods, it also means that other people are recognizing
that we are becoming a very major player in the housing markets
of this country.