Manufactured Homes: Most Regulated and Inspected Housing in the United States
(Part 1 of a 3 part series)
Manufactured homes are the the only form of single family housing in the country subject to a federal construction code. Every aspect of the manufacturing process is controlled and inspected to be in compliance with this U.S. Congressional mandate. You might ask, why are manufactured homes singled out from other types of housing?
In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the mobile home burst upon the housing scene as a form of housing that most anyone could afford. The incredible demand resulted in dozens of manufacturing plants building low priced mobile homes throughout the country, in states where regulations governing construction and health and safety were virtually non-existent.
Mobile home builders produced homes quickly and as cheaply as possible to sell these homes at a price to be competitive with other builders with little regard to the integrity of the product or the welfare of the purchaser. Most buyers of mobile homes were placed in rural areas where land was inexpensive and not subject to zoning jurisdictions.
In the meantime, there were manufacturers on the west coast that were producing quality mobile homes for homebuyers to be placed on expensive land or in modern mobile home communities. The state of California, for example, regulated factory built homes to a standard that would eventually be a template for federal regulations that were to follow.
With the support of the responsible members of the mobile home industry, the U.S. Congress passed legislation in 1976 to establish a federal building code for mobile homes. This legislation is the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act, which went into effect June 15, 1976. The federal code is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development (commonly known as the HUD CODE). The federal standards regulate manufactured housing design and construction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and quality. The HUD CODE also sets standards for the heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal, and electrical systems.
It can be generally acknowledged that a building code is only as good as the enforcement system that accompanies it. The manufactured home enforcement program required by the U.S. HUD CODE is a thorough and efficient system designed specifically for the factory production environment. Because the factory pace differs from that of the construction site, the manufactured home enforcement system is necessarily different too.
The goal in both cases, however, is the same: to ensure the highest degree of safety in the design and construction of the home. Ideally, a building code should be backed up by uniform and consistent enforcement. The HUD enforcement system relies on a cooperative federal/state program to ensure compliance with the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards(the HUD CODE). HUD enforces the HUD CODE through its agent, the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards (NCSBCS).
Editors Note: Please refer to part 2 of this series regarding the inspection process that absolutely assures home buyers of a safe and quality constructed manufactured home.
(Photo via Clayton Homes)