Manufactured Housing Resources George Porter


"The very best recommendation I can give as further training is needed or additional assistance in developing training programs is required, my decision will be easy - Let George do it!"

Robert J. Henry
Home Installation Manager Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc.

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First You've Got To Understand The Problem

By George Porter

Over the years, I've heard many theories put forward by the owners of rental communities on the way they want homes installed in their community. Usually it has been just one person talking to another about how they do it and what they prefer to see, and it's usually a very casual discussion.

Recently, however, I attended a large meeting where there was an actual group discussion held as part of the agenda of the meeting to discuss methods of installation in their respective communities. There were about 30 people involved in the discussion. The discussion was lead by a moderator, and it was a rather formal arrangement. They were deciding how many anchors they wanted on each home in their community; how the blocks should be placed; where they should go; and whether or not the home would be allowed to have any footings. I was there as a guest, having given my presentation earlier in the day. The exact location of this discussion will remain anonymous since I do not want to embarrass anyone. The discussion got so far afield that I simply listened in disbelief as these well meaning nice people decided how gravity and wind would work in their park.

They basically reached the conclusion that a certain number of anchors was adequate for the area they lived in, and nobody had any right to pour any concrete in holes on their rented ground for a foundation for multi-section homes. Some went so far as to say that all the homes would be blocked in a very certain way, and in short all homes would be prepared exactly the same way to insure uniformity.

The concept of the community owner or management regulating the installation of all houses within their property is quite common throughout the country. During the discussion, I was asked what I thought a good set of regulations concerning installation should contain. Much to their horror I said all homes should be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions, ANSI Code 225.1 or its equivalent in state legislation, or the sealed drawings of a registered professional engineer for the state in which it's located.

I also stated that is absolutely all they should say about it. Should they invent their own method, they could well be placed in the position of responsibility for the safety, welfare, and economic well being of that house and family. Suppose you decide a certain number of piers under a home are adequate and that is all you want in your community. If it turns out that it did not coincide with the manufacturer's specifications and the home becomes damaged because of it, how could you not be held responsible? I suggested that they were sticking their neck way out when they decided to become engineers and regulators.

Surely the owner of the property has rights regarding how people use his property. No one is trying to say that it's not correct or improper. Without someone in charge, surely chaos would develop rapidly. As I told them at the meeting, first you have to understand the problem. Gravity and wind pay no attention whatsoever to your lot restrictions. Gravity in a rental community is exactly the same as the gravity on a privately owned lot. The gravity they counted on when they designed the home and specified where the piers should go is also exactly the same as the gravity on a rented lot.

I would also like to point out the focus of this discussion was primarily for the benefit of the residents of these communities to ensure their homes are safe and sound. I am afraid the confusion arose from the fact that the property managers had no idea this was supposed to be taken care of by the HUD Code and the directions that came with the home. They were trying to reinvent a wheel which was presumably nearly perfected in the summer of 1976 when the Code was established.

While I'm sure all these efforts were well meaning, I suggested to them they were skating on extremely thin ice. If a problem arose with the home because of their regulations, they could be held responsible. I was immediately asked if I knew of anyone who had been held responsible by a court. I had to reply no; although I was pretty certain there must be one somewhere. My question to them was, "Did they want to be the first?" Do you think it is better to avoid a problem than to realize you have one because you've just been subpoenaed as a defendant in a multi-million law suit. Give it time, it will happen.

Meanwhile, any community owner who details exactly how each home should be setup in his community and does not follow the manufacturer's instructions, and does not act according to the instructions of a registered professional engineer just doesn't understand the problem.