Today's Manufactured Homes are a Safer Shelter than You Know (359)

Patti Boerger, , ,



Today's manufactured homes are vastly superior to the common mental images of much older “mobile homes” or “trailers.” Manufactured homes represent almost 10% of the U.S. housing stock and are home to approximately 22 million people. Today's manufactured home is just over 1,300 square feet, 3-bedrooms/2-baths, and is built to a rigorous federal building code. They are often indistinguishable from other home types in a neighborhood.Manufactured homes are quality constructed and adhere to a federal building code. Congress passed the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act in 1974 to assure safe housing for low-income Americans. In June of 1976, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) implemented federal building safety standards (the HUD Code) which have been updated through the years to strengthen wind resistance, improve foundation and anchoring systems, and to improve energy efficiency as well as accessibility and universal design concepts. Also, there has not been a “mobile home” manufactured in this country since 1976. Since then, they have been called manufactured homes.With established quality controls, homes built to these new standards are done so by trained craftsman in climate and quality-controlled factories as opposed to building materials sitting in the rain at a job site. Screws and anchoring bolts of a required caliber are used instead of nails. In addition, high-quality epoxy glues are also used at every seam where walls, floors, and ceilings come together. The homes are engineered for wind safety, soil conditions, and energy efficiency based on the geographic region in which they are sold.Newer, properly installed manufactured homes perform comparably to traditional site-built homes in wind events. It's important to remember that severe storms such as an EF2 (wind speeds between 111-135 mph) or higher tornado don't discriminate between the type of structure they will damage (churches, homes, commercial buildings etc.) As weather is construction-type agnostic, the weather safety messaging should be as well. As an alternative to traditional warnings, which direct those in “mobile and manufactured homes” to abandon them, MHI suggests that ANYONE, regardless of the structure they are in, should be encouraged to seek the best available safe shelter. Unfortunately, most people living in factory-built homes constructed to the rigid and enforced HUD safety standards do not know the difference between “Mobile and Manufactured.” The current language is not only confusing but contributes to many people deciding to unnecessarily evacuate when they should shelter-in-place, introducing additional problems for local public safety officials.The Manufactured Housing Institute is a Weather Ready Nation Ambassador, and has been working with the National Weather Service's Office of External Communications leadership to improve awareness of the safety of today's properly installed manufactured homes. MHI has partnered with WeatherCall to promote a rapid notification and emergency messaging service to help residents of these homes make the best possible sheltering decisions.The presentation features photos and videos of today's homes and communities, showing how today's manufactured homes performed in a variety of recent wind events. This is one start to beginning the dialogue with the broader weather industry. MHI asks for your help in spreading the message about how the much-improved construction and installation practices and the safety of these types of homes and to not inaccurately portray the safety of manufactured homes. The larger objective is to share current information to improve the overall severe weather messaging to help manufactured home dwellers make better, more informed decisions regarding their personal safety.