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April 5, 2001     Cape Gazette
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April 5, 2001

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6 - CAPE GAZETTE'S MANUFACTURED HOUSING, SPRING 2001 Manufactured housing taking safety to a new height By Michael Short The old idea that a manufac- tured home is less safe is finally dying. Industry experts say it's about time that old notion was laid to e rest. In fact, many experts argue that federal restrictions and tough new standards for smoke detec- tors and other safety features make the homes safer than stick- built homes. Manufactured housing is the only style housing which must follow a federal Housing and Ur- ban Development (HUD) code. "This code...regulates manufac- tured home design and construc- tion, strength and durability, fire resistance, and energy efficiency. In the early t990s, this building code was revised to enhance ener- gy efficiency and ventilation stan- dards and to improve the wind re- sistance of manufactured homes in areas prone to hurricane force winds...No manufactured home may be shipped from the factory unless it complies with the HUD code and receives the certification label from an independent, third party inspection agency," accord- ing to a brochure from the Manu- factured Housing Institute. George Porter is a national ex- pert on the manufactured housing industry, who is the president of Manufactured Housing Re-" sources. Porter also has experi- ence in the Cape Region, having been a one-time manager of Nas- sau Park before it changed its name to Whispering Pines. Porter notes that new code re- quirements will soon require man- ufactured homes to not only have smoke detectors that run on elec- tricity, but to also have a battery back-up for all smoke detectors. That means all new homes will have an extra safeguard so that both the electricity must fail- and the batteries must be dead for a smoke detector to not function. Porter also notes that manufac- tured homes are traditionally built with a four wire electrical system. Most stick built homes use a three wire system that means only one wire is grounded. In manufactured homes, how- ever, Porter explained that one wire is neutral, one is hot and two are grounded. That is an extra ground and extra safety measure, he said. For example; many stick built buildings could have metal studs that are not grounded. Manufac- tured homes are grounded both at the frame and the electrical sys- tem, he said. "These homes are as safe to live in, if not safer. There are federal regulations which makes them, in my opinion, even safer than stick built," said Bill Beall, land-home manager of Oakwood Homes. Porter said that someone told him once that there is a reason why the news always carries pic- tures of mobile homes after a tor- nado strikes an area. It's because they are the only homes that still maintain enough shape that you can determine what they are after being struck by a tornado, he said. 'Tve seen them survivel40 mph winds," he said. Porter, however, is quick to note that no home will necessarily sustain such great punishment. His point, however, is that the housing is far more durable and far stronger than many imagine. Anchors, braces and tie-downs have all dramatically improved and are all safety factors in high winds. Much of the anchoring effec- tiveness, however, is dependent upon how well the anchors are in- stalled. Porter said much needs to be done nationally to improve in- stallation. "You can take a Ferrari and put old bald tires on it and you really will not have what you should," Porter said. Profiles, demographics illustrate trends in American housing By Jim Cresson Profiles and demographics il- lustrate the growing role of manu- factured housing, which accounts for nearly a quarter of all new home starts annually in America. Foremost Insurance Company, the nation's leading manufactured home insurance specialist, has been monitoring the market since 1979. The company's research provides some insights on manu- factured homes and the people who live in them. The 1999 Foremost study (with 23,000 homeowners responding) revealed the average age of a manufactured home is 17 years, but 30 percent of all homes have been purchased since 1990. The average life of a new, year-round occupied manufactured home is estimated at 56 years. Mobile homes still comprise the biggest segment of manufactured housing in America, but multi- section homes now account for about a third of all factory-built homes, up. from less than a quarter in 1990. Forty-six percent of all manu- factured housing is located on the owner's private property, up from 42 percent in 1990. Thirty-six per- cent is located in a park with monthIy lot rent. The average monthly lot rent is $220, up from $155 in 1990. The average Ameri- can manufactured home park con- tains 125 lots. Who are the owners of manu- factured homes? The average age of an owner is 53. More than half are employed full time; 29 percent are retired. Fifty-seven percent are married; females living alone account for 20 percent of all households. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed graduated high school, while 47 percent attended college, and 10 percent obtained degrees. The average annual household income is $26,900, up from $21,600 in 1990. Average house- Continued on page 7 Manufactured Housing Act of 2000 to set installation norms Nationally, 36 percent of all manufactured homes are locat- ed in parks such as Mariner's Cove on Long Neck Rbad, Wa- terfront homes like those above are the dream of anglers. Sus- sex County's manufactured home growth began in the 1950s when fishermen seeking a seasonal home on the water began leasing lots for mobile homes on Long Neck. Today's manufac- tured housing is light years beyond those first homes, and the industry is ever growing. Success Continued from page 4 tecture and Planning looked into the impact of manufactured home communities on adjacent proper- ties. It concluded: "In all cases re- viewed, the adjacent residential property values showed substan- tial rates of appreciation that were similar to the appreciation of com- parable non-adjacent properties. Neither the private market nor lo- cal public officials differentiate between adjacent and non-adja- cent properties when valuation levels are established." In 1997, the East Carolina Uni- versity Department of Planning conducted the most extensive study to date on the topic. It ana- lyzed the impact of both scattered manufactured housing and manu- factured home communities on neighboring site-built homes. Even this study came to the con- clusion that the presence of manu- factured home communities or in- dividual manufactured homes had no impact on the property values of adjacent site-builtresidential properties. What's more, manufactured housing appreciates at the same market rate as other homes in the same neighborhood. As with all housing, manufactured homes are subject to the same market factors that affect appreciation. Those factors include: the initial price paid for the home; the housing market or community in which the home is located; the age and main- tenance of the home; the inflation rate; supply and demand for homes in the area; and the extent of an organized resale network in the area. By Jim Cresson In the last days of his presiden- cy, Bill Clinton signed the Manu- factured Housing Improvement Act into law, signaling a radical change in the industry. A Manufactured Housing Insti- tute (MHI) summary of the Act (P.L. No. 106-569) notes primari- ly that the law wilt provide a more timely method of establishing higher standards to which manu- factured homes are built. De- signed to keep the 1-976 HUD Code up to date, the law calls for the creation of a private sector consensus committee to make recommendations to the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development at least every two years. The consensus committee will make standards and enforcement recommendations to the HUD secretary, who will have unlimit- ed authority to accept, reject or modify them. If the secretary does not act on the recommendations within a year, the secretary must appear before Congress and ex- plain why. This is designed to provide incentive to HUD to move recommendations in a time- ly manner, allowing industry to keep up with the rapidly changing construction and safety technolo- gies. The result should be that con- sumers Will get the highest quali- ty, most cost-efficient home pos- sible. .z: The law is aimed at developing home installation standards that would be enacted in all 50 states by 2005. It outlines how state in- stallation programs, established pursuant to state law, must in- clude standards that meet or ex- ceed the protection provided by model standards developed by HUD. The law requires the consensus committee and HUD secretary to consider whether proposed stan- dards are reasonable for the par- ticular geographic region and to consider the probable effect of such standards on the cost of the homes. State installation programs must include installation stan- dards, training and licensing of in- stallers and an appropriate level of inspection of installation of the homes. The law also requires manufac- turers to provide design and in- structions that have been ap- proved by a design approval pri- mary inspection agency. If any state does not enact a program under state law by 2005, HUD will develop and administer such a program. That rflhy'be done by contract with a local agent for implementation. And no state or manufacturer may lower existing state Or manufacturer's installation standards between now and 2005. The law also requires states to establish a dispute resolution process to end the "ping-pong" problem where responsibility for proper installation or correction of defects is shifted from con- sumer to manufacturer to in- stallers and retailers. A dispute resolution timelfne of one year will correspond with standard manufacturer's one year warranty for reporting defects. Such a dispute resolution pro- gram does not have to be estab- lished pursuant to state law; how- ever, if any state does not have such a program in place by 2005, HUD will develop and administer one. The law was broadly written to provide states with maximum flexibility to establish an installa- tion program that is best suited to their individual needs. It does not impose minimum standards, rather it ensures that manufac- tured home installers are ade- quately trained and installation in- spections are conducted to ensure complianc e with stat e installation standards.