ARLINGTON, Va. — properly installed manufactured homes are as safe as traditional homes during a storm, and in hurricane zones, the standards for manufactured homes are more stringent than regional and national building codes for site-built homes. The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), the national trade association for the factory-built housing industry, is working to clear up the negative stereotypes about manufactured homes and inform the public that since 1976 they have been built to rigorous federal standards.
“The standards for manufactured housing are subject to robust compliance and quality assurance regulations, sometimes more stringent than those for traditional site-built homes,” says Richard Jennison, President and CEO of MHI. “The building materials in today’s manufactured home are the same as those used in site-built homes. The homes are engineered for wind safety based on the geographic region in which they are sold.”
In areas prone to hurricane-force winds (Wind Zones II and III) of the HUD Basic Wind Zone Map, the standards for manufactured homes are equivalent to the current regional and national building codes for site-built homes. Manufactured homes are designed to withstand wind speeds of 100 miles per hour in Wind Zone 2 and 110 miles per hour in Wind Zone 3.
In addition, federal regulations for manufactured homes require the involvement of design and quality assurance professionals during construction to verify that the home is built correctly. Conventional residential construction does not require all of this. Each manufactured home also bears a label certifying that is has been designed, constructed, tested and inspected to comply with the federal standard. MHI also urges individuals to be safe during a storm and to seek proper shelter.
Jennison added, “A tornado and hurricane’s deadly force does not selectively discriminate between a site-built, a manufactured home or any structure.”
Standards and Research The federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (better known as the HUD Code) are a stringent series of construction and safety standards and regulations that ensure that manufactured homes are superior to mobile homes. The name “mobile homes” refers to homes built before 1976, when the HUD code was implemented. Since then they have been called manufactured homes, constructed in a controlled factory environment and built to the HUD Code. These federal standards regulate manufactured housing design and construction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and quality.
In 1994, HUD revised and increased its wind safety standards after Hurricane Andrew stuck in 1992. The result was that during the hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004, not one manufactured home built and installed after 1994 was destroyed by hurricane force winds.
In May 2001, Texas Tech University’s Wind Science & Engineering Center in Lubbock, Texas, conducted studies on the effects of strong winds on manufactured housing. A single-section manufactured home, built to Wind Zone I standards (for regions not likely to experience hurricane-force winds), was exposed to the prop wash of a C-130 transport aircraft which created winds in excess of 90 miles per hour. After prolonged exposure to such winds, the manufactured home experienced only limited damage, primarily loss of roofing shingles and some minor structural damage.
In 2007, the federal government established standards requiring all new manufactured homes to meet minimum requirements for installation and anchoring in accordance with its structural design and windstorm standards. In addition, states have the authority to establish additional installation standards above the minimum federal standards. State governments may establish installation and anchoring requirements for homes depending on soil conditions and other factors in their state.
A 2014 Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) test found that manufactured homes performed better at high winds than traditional-built homes when any attached structures are properly installed. It also suggested that improperly installed attached structures like carports and patio roofs, are what cause about 80 percent of the damage in manufactured homes.