A part of my inspection business includes inspecting homes that people are buying or selling that were actually built in a ‘factory’. No, seriously, just like a car, these home are built in a true factory situation. These manufactured homes have changed considerably from the ones built in the 60’s and 70’s, as a lot of these homes built today can rival the fit, finish and attributes of a currently site (‘stick’) built home. The way the manufactured homes are now supported has also made a big change for the better, as I really don’t see the stacked masonry block piers on pressure treated wood pads being installed any more. More and more I’m seeing metal jack type arrangements that are secured to poured concrete pads or steel re-enforced concrete grade beams with the head of the jack securely attached to the steel I-beams of the house unit. Positive bracing is also being employed to minimize earthquake movement/damage. But, I must admit that I still have to shake my head when I see or hear how a Bank won’t loan money on a manufactured home because it doesn’t have a perimeter foundation, because the exterior walls transfer their load by way of the short cantilever of the floor joist back to the I-beams, which is where the real support for the home is set up with the jacks. Besides, there is no real way to adequately make ‘positive’ connection at the walls as this area has been sealed off with insulation encapsulated by a moisture membrane. This transfer of load by the walls via the cantilevered joist is an ‘engineered in’ facet of manufactured homes for several reasons, but mostly for construction of the units in the first place, and, the ease of set-up on the final home site. However, this is also why it is an absolute ‘no-no’ to hang any kind of structure off of the walls (i.e. decks, deck covers, awnings or carport covers/roofs) as the engineering of the home structure unit never took into account these added/additional loads. It’s a well-known requirement that nothing should be attached/hung off the walls of a manufactured home, but it is also a violated requirement that I see all the time during my inspections. Any adjoining deck, patio cover or carport should always be independently supported of the manufactured home unit. Another fact that few bother to learn about or follow the guidance of is that, legally, you cannot do any kind of real repairs, structural changes or remodeling/additions to the manufactured home unit without obtaining a State building permit. A local City or County building permit will not be available or will suffice. Yep, we’re back to the ‘engineering thing’ that HUD originally verified and OK’d when the structure was built and inspected in that factory, and, are about to be altered by the changes/repairs planned to be performed and the materials to be used. The local Building Department has no jurisdiction over the manufactured home, but does have everything to say about how the utilities are installed to or on the property, the foundation that the home units are to be installed on and the adjacent structures like decks, carports, patio covers or additional structures on the property. Doing a little ‘homework’ prior to starting a project involving one of these manufactured homes will possibly save you some grief later.
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