Adobe Acrobat Reader
The K.I.S.S. Principle
By George Porter
A long time ago, in another life I think, I went into the US
Army to learn to be a helicopter pilot. These were complicated
contraptions that were constantly trying to go their own way,
at least during the first part of my flight training. At that
time the Army had many civilian flight instructors and mine was
a guy named B. D. Gallion. I never understood how come all the
instructors there were overweight, grumpy, smoked a lot, and seemed
to be recovering from some sort of malady until about noon. When
I became an instructor pilot a few years later I figured it out,
it's because the crazy students are always trying to kill you.
At any rate ol' B.D. was one of the crustier ones and he was
always yelling (sometimes screaming) for me to pay attention to
what was going on. He introduced me to the KISS principle; it
stands for "Keep It Simple Stupid!" Whenever I allowed
my enthusiasm and ambition to overload my brain and get me mentally
lost he would slap me as hard as he could on top of my helmet
with his clipboard and yell into the intercom "Remember the
KISS principle you X#*~!!" This was definitely not the new
modern Army. Small wonder this managed to stay with me for the
last 35 years. It applies to almost everything I have been involved
in and especially the set-up of homes.
There are some simple basic principles that will never change
and they apply to our housing the same as any other type home.
Here are a few:
#1. Water will not run uphill by itself.
This applies to plumbing and site preparation most of all.
If the septic tank is higher than the home then the sewer won't
work. If the Department of Sewage, or whoever says that the tank
goes there then you are going to have raise the home. Recently
I heard of an installer who said that he didn't have enough blocks
on the truck to do that and besides that, no one was paying him
to do the extra work, so he set it too low to drain. Guess who
is involved with some lawyers. Wouldn't it have been simpler to
just go get some blocks and do it right. You can argue about the
$ 20 for blocks without the lawyers later. (You should have talked
before you took the job)
Site preparation has been covered enough in this column lately
so that we don't have to go into details. No piece of paper,
no politician, the lack of money, shifting of blame, or wishful
thinking will ever make water run up hill. Boiled down to its
simplest form, somebody has to do it right or everyone's got a
problem. Deal with it, ignoring the problem is not "keeping
#2 Gravity will cause things to sag if they not supported.
I guess this applies to people as well as homes. If the guys
that designed the home say you must block it in a certain place
then you have to do it. It doesn't matter if the last one you
did didn't need blocking in the sane place, or if the footings
are not in the right place, or if you don't have the blocks, or
you don't feel like it. You have to or there will surely be problems
and that is not keeping it simple. Want a simple rule? Support
both sides of any opening 4 foot or wider, where the studs do
not go all the way to the rafters, anywhere on the perimeter of
a chassis. This includes the marriage wall, windows, recessed
entries and doors.
#3 Wind causes things to blow away.
Every home in the U.S. is supposed to have a certain number
of anchors and all this necessary information is listed in the
factory manual that comes with the home.
Some parts of the nation don't have any regulations about this
or they have some sort of "compromise legislation" that
says you only need a few anchors here and there. To the best of
my knowledge no one ever got into trouble by using too many anchors,
but there have been some huge multi-million dollar lawsuits about
using too few. Keep it simple, use at least the factory recommended
number, even if it might be more than the local ordinance calls
for. There have been hundreds of people who wish they had.
#4 If we don't take care of our customers someone else will.
That someone might be your competition in the next town or
it might be the modular housing industry as a whole. When that
happens you can KISS your business goodbye.
If you can't see how this could happen, then I know an old Army
flight instructor in Texas who can put it in a way you will surely