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This Industry is Putting On Weight
By George Porter
This year at Christmas my mother baked 24 dozen chocolate chip
cookies, Guess who ate most of them and gained 12 lbs in three
weeks. It is not healthy or even sane but that is the way it is,
I can't help it. It will be gone in a couple of months because
in order to do what I do I just can't weigh this much.
The homes in this industry are just the opposite from me. As the
business got healthier over the years the houses have been getting
heavier, much heavier.
In this article last month we discussed how to make a home
sit on the dirt without sinking. You determine the load bearing
capacity of the soil with a Pocket Penetrometer and then you can
easily find the correct footing size if you know how much weight
you have to hold. This brings us to the question of how do I find
out how much the home weighs?
One of the things I always do in my seminars is find a few
guys in the class who have been setting homes for at least 25
years and ask them; "How much weight does the foundation
of an average 1500 sq. ft. home have to hold?" The answer
is always the same; " About 30,000 lbs." Then I ask
the whole class if they agree and they always do, after all, these
guys have been doing this for a quarter of a century. They certainly
ought to know. Then the class is informed that they have missed
the correct answer by about 100,000 lbs. They don't believe it
and look at me like I have lost my mind.
Lets think about what the home has to do. First it is required
by the HUD Code to have a certain roof load. Most of the country
is required to have at least 20 lbs/s,/ft. This means that the
roof must be able to hold 20 lbs. on each and every square foot
of it. If you have a 1500 sq. ft. home then do the math; 15000
sq/ft x 20 lbs = 30,000 lbs. The same HUD Code states that the
floor load on all homes is 40 lbs./s,/ft. If we again do the math
we get; 1500 sq/ft x 40 lbs. = 60,000 lbs. The total so far is
90,000 lbs. and we still have to add the weight of the home itself.
This is the weight that the class was thinking about at the beginning
and it probably is about 30,000 lbs. Add it all up and you get
120,000 lbs! In some places in the rocky mountains you are required
to have a 120 lbs./s./ft. roof load. This home would weigh in
a 270,000 lbs., you better know what you are doing here.
That is what the foundation has to be capable of holding and
it is a bunch! You didn't think the foundation just replaced the
wheels did you? The wheels are just enough to carry the box around
and they are not made to hold a roof full of snow and a house
full of people with waterbeds. This might be worth remembering
when you move a used home with lots of furniture in it or let
your sales units sit out on the lot unblocked in the blizzard
of '96. The northeast is already sold out of snow shovels and
salt, next will come drywall and spackeling. The industry really
is getting healthy and fat and we will have to learn to carry
our weight well or we will appear a little saggy with ugly bulges
here and there. Sort of like me after the cookie season.