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First You've Got To Understand
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
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
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.