Hurricane Hermine: Manufactured Homes vs. Traditional Homes

To quote Henry Rosovsky, Harvard historian, “never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs by facts.” We understand exactly what that means in reference to manufactured home wind and storm safety.

As damage from Hurricane Hermine is splashed across the 24-hour news cycle, showing destroyed homes throughout Florida and along the Eastern seaboard, there are, no doubt, potential manufactured home buyers who may feel somewhat reluctant to purchase a new manufactured home because of concerns regarding wind safety. Many in those storm-prone areas of the country have vivid images of news coverage following hurricanes and or tornadoes depicting “mobile homes’ or “trailers” damaged or destroyed by high winds.

What most don’t realize, is that those sometimes sensationalized images did not necessarily reflect damage incurred by other types of homes in the path of the same storm. That being said, the “mobile home” of the past and the manufactured home of today have little in common when it comes to wind and storm safety. The advancements in manufactured home building technology and federal regulations specific only to manufactured homes have contributed to a well-documented wind safety record.

In a recent press release, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), the national trade association for the factory- built housing industry was working to clear up the negative stereotypes about manufactured homes – Informing the public that since 1976 modern manufactured homes have been built to rigorous standards.

Hurricane Hermine: Manufactured Homes vs. Traditional Homes

United_states_average_wind_speed“The standards for manufactured housing are subject to robust compliance and quality and assurance regulations, sometimes more stringent than those for traditional site-built homes,” says Richard Jennison, President and CEO of MHI. “The building materials in today’s manufactured homes are the same as those used in site built homes. The homes are engineered for wind safety based on the geographic region in which they are sold.”

The three designated wind zones subject to  HUD regulations, revised in 1994, are noted as roman numerals on the U.S. Basic Wind Zone Map:

Zone I   This includes most of the nation in non-hurricane-prone areas.  Manufactured homes required to be built to withstand a-136 miles per hour wind speed. (Fastest mile.)

Zone II and Zone III  The standards for manufactured homes in these zones are equivalent to the current regional and national building codes for site-built homes. Manufactured homes are designed and constructed to withstand wind speeds of 150 miles per hour in Wind Zone II and 163 miles per hour in Wind Zone III, based on standards from the 2012 International Building Code.

One of the many regulations is that exterior walls of a manufactured home are to be tightly engineered to withstand multiple forces, and the weight of the roof bearing down on top of the walls. There are also specific regulations regarding the home installation and ground anchoring to resist wind forces as required by the HUD Zone Map designation.

As a result of these requirements manufactured homes produced since 1994 have been proven to be equal, and in many respects safer than site built homes during tornadoes and hurricanes. (It is important to note that there are not any homes built to withstand winds of 200+ miles per hour winds.

MHI also urges individuals to be safe during a storm and to seek proper shelter. Jennison added, “A tornado and hurricane deadly force does not selectively discriminate between a site-built, a manufactured home or any structure.”

MFH ANALYSIS AND REFERENCES: The naysayers that believe that a manufactured is not safe as a site built home may continue to shy away from discovering America’s only affordable high-quality housing alternative.

Hopefully, many of those will review the following research examples of how today’s modern manufactured homes have fared in elevated wind conditions.

A study by DR. K.R. Grosskopf at the University of Florida found that not one manufactured home built after the 1994 HUD Code changes was destroyed by four hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004. The same phenomenon occurred in the Gulf Coast region during Hurricane Katrina, with newer manufactured homes performing beyond expectations.

In May 2001, Texas Tech University’s Wind Science & Engineering Center in Lubbock, Texas, conducted studies on the effects of strong winds on manufactured housing. A single-section manufactured home built to wind Zone I standards was exposed to the prop wash of a C-130 transport aircraft which created winds in excess of 90 miles per hour. After prolonged exposure to such winds, the manufactured home experienced only limited damage, primarily loss of roofing shingles and some other minor damage.

A 2014 Insurance Institute for Business & Home safety (IBHS) test found that manufactured homes performed better at high winds than traditional-built homes when any attached structures are properly installed. It also suggests that improperly site installed attached structures, like carports and patio awnings are what cause about 80 percent of the damage in manufactured homes.

Learn More about Today’s Modern Manufactured Homes

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