For the next two months we
are going to discuss “used homes.” The
problem is that sometimes I don’t understand what I know about them. For instance everyone knows that every new home
comes with some very specific instructions that are the law in all states that
have laws. Because the HUD Code is a
performance code, all homes are not the same.
Different manufacturers have different ways of getting the job done. If
you don’t follow the instructions correctly then at the very least the warranty
is probably void and at the most, the home is severely weakened. They really are all a bit different and some
are very different. I understand this
and I hope you do too. What I don’t really
understand is why, as soon as someone buys the home, they can all become the
same. Most states allow you to use the
original manual (if you can find it), an engineers sealed directions (used
homes get a lot of this I am sure), or they have a generic code that you can
follow. Lots of states have nothing, I
can think of at least 15 right of the top of my head.
So… if you can put a home
together with a generic code then why do we need all this manufacturer specific
stuff when it is new? Some say we have
to have the generic directions because if we don’t have the new installation
instructions any more we have to have something and this is the best we can do.
Well, all the car companies seem to always have the directions available for
models up to 90 years old! Every spark
plug or tire ever used on any car in the world is catalogued somewhere! Mostly because you need to know these things
to make the cars work like they are supposed to. I am pretty sure we need to do
the same thing with our homes somehow.
Take Fleetwood for example; for years every Fleetwood home in the
country used lag bolts in the roof, then they decided to use an engineered beam
that is much lighter and just as strong, but you must not put a lag through
it. The lag would weaken the top cord of
the beam and cause a real structural problem.
Fleetwood did not introduce this beam in every factory in the system,
only some of them, the manual in the home will tell
you what to do. When some of these homes
“become” used homes, what does your state code say to do when you button up the
home? You can’t find the original
manual, what do you do?
The correct answer is to
THINK! You look at the beams in the
“multi” when it is apart. If it has the
engineered beams then you do the strap thing like Fleetwood wanted, if it has
the two by three or bigger beams then you can lag it. Another clue is to look for lag holes in the
roof, which brings me to something else I don’t quite understand. How many times can you lag a roof before
there is nothing left to lag to? If you
have 41 lags in a 60-foot roof (@18”) then can you put the new lags back in the
same holes? If not, how close can you
put the new lags to where the old ones were?
If so, do the holes left by the old lags weaken the beam? I certainly have opinions, but I officially
don’t know, and I have never seen the question investigated or addressed by
It gets worse; I know of
seven totally different ways manufacturers have invented to put their homes
together. It would be silly to put lags
in a Clayton when you have pre-drilled boltholes put
there by the factory. If you put lags in
a Skyline roof when you should have picked up the roof panel and lagged it down
at the big beam below the roof, you will not have anywhere near as strong a
Different wind zones and
roof loads will also sometimes change the way the roof is interconnected. Generic codes will probably be fine for
footings and anchoring. The four-foot
opening on the sidewall rule applies to virtually all homes (except for one out
west). But, the roof is a serious
problem. Not only does it enable the
home to meet its roof load requirements, it also makes it possible to maintain
its rigidity in a storm. The roof connection, along with the floor and end
walls in a multi-section is what makes the two pieces act as one. If they are not properly connected then the
home can literally become unsafe. That
proper way was the way the manufacturer said to do it, period. We need to know what that was to get it
Most of the states that
have regulations addressing the interconnection of multisection
homes use the 1994 or the 1987 ANSI A225.1 Code, neither of which is being
printed anymore. The ‘94 code says use #
10 x 4 inch screws 12 inches on-center, staggered intervals. OK, so we have a 4” screw going in a roof at
a 45 degree angle. Ideally we would have
2 inches of wood around the screw in one side of the roof and two inches in the
other half to connect the two sections. But you can’t do that at 45 degrees and
a little gap in the roof further reduces the screw in the wood. When you put a soil anchor into the ground at
a 45-degree angle you need to have the anchor 1/3 longer so it will get to same
depth as if it went straight in. I guess
the same rule applies to wood screws, so…. if the penetration of the wood screw
is reduced by1/3 it becomes a little over 2.6 inches available for penetration
or 1.3 inches per side (with no gap)!
This isn’t much to hold a house together with folks! Those using the ’87 version are supposed to
use lags and I think we have covered that.
The point is, we need some
better guidance I think and here’s why.
The better we protect the consumer with used homes, the more new ones we
will sell. When have you ever see damage
to a home after a storm on the TV and the announcer says, “but this was a used
home, not a new one.” Did you know that
according to the states I checked with, that up to 70% of ALL of the sales in
this industry nationwide are used homes?
If we can create a better market for used homes we are paving the way
for the lenders to come back, because all of their collateral is “used.” Give this some thought, more next month.
George Porter is a consultant to the manufactured housing industry. He is
president of Manufactured Housing Resources, P.O. Box 9, Nassau, DE 19969,
(302) 645-5552, fax: (302) 645-1152. One of the services his company provides
is a seminar on the proper installation of HUD-code housing. Mr. Porter has
been active in the Delaware Manufactured Housing Association since 1975.
Visit Mr Porters Web Site at www.george-porter.com
or send him e-mail at [email protected].
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