Just like permanent homes need to comply with certain safety standards, you should know that the same goes for your mobile home. Are the standards the same for mobile homes? No! Mobile homes have their very own act with standards and regulations that are thoroughly covered. The act is called “the HUD code” and this article is here to help you make sure your home is HUD compliant.
What is the HUD?
What is commonly called HUD stands for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development. It is a cabinet department under the Executive branch of the U.S. Federal government.
To sum it up, the key responsibilities of the HUD is to:
- Take care of the nation’s housing needs.
- Ensure fair housing opportunities.
- Development of the nation’s communities.
- Establish the regulations and standards necessary to ensure safe and affordable homes.
In their own words the mission statement of the HUD is:
“HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving the quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business.”
To find out more about HUD visit their website.
The HUD and mobile/manufactured homes
According to the HUD mobile homes are homes built before 5 June 1976 when the Federal National Mfd. Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 (or simply the HUD code) came into effect. Since then these homes are legally referred to as Manufactured Homes, even though in the U.S. they are still commonly called mobile homes.
A manufactured home is a “structure constructed on or after June 15, 1976, according to the rules of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, built on a permanent chassis, designed for use as a dwelling with or without a permanent foundation when the structure is connected to the required utilities, transportable in one or more sections, and in the traveling mode, at least eight body feet in width or at least 40 body feet in length or, when erected on site, at least 320 square feet.”
So in short if your home:
- Was constructed after 1976,
- Made to live in as a home,
- May or may not have a permanent foundation when connected to water/electrical utilities,
- Can be transported as one or more sections,
- At least either 8 ft.in width or 40 ft.in length,
- Or 320 square ft. in total when erected,
Then congratulations! You live in your very own manufactured home! With great power comes great responsibility however and this means your home needs to be HUD compliant. The Standards your home needs to meet are published in the Code of Federal Regulations under 24 CFR Part 3280.
The HUD Code:
- Provides standards for the
- Performance, and
- Installation of manufactured homes.
- To ensure the
- And the safety of these homes.
Some of the areas the standards cover:
- Body and Frame Requirements.
- Thermal protection.
- Fire safety.
Because the HUD code is a national regulation most producers can ship nationwide without worrying about state and local regulations.
So technically the term mobile- or manufactured home is interchangeable. Older mobile homes were more like huge trailer homes and are not very popular today. The mobile home industry tried to use the HUD code and the new term “manufactured home” to rebrand.
Is a modular and mobile/manufactured home the same thing?
You have most likely come across the term “modular home” and on first glance, it’s easy to confuse the two. But are they the same?
No! Although they might look very similar today there are many key differences between modular and mobile homes. Here are just a few examples:
|Manufactured homes||Modular homes|
|Must adhere to the Federal HUD code.||Must adhere to state/regional requirements. Inspections are done after assembly on site.|
|Pre-constructed completely in the factory on a permanent, fixed-wheel chassis. They are then towed to the site.||Separate sections are assembled at the factory and transported on flatbed trucks to the site. Here the sections are combined by construction teams.|
|Manufactured homes remain on their steel chassis and are rarely moved. They also usually don’t have basements.||Modular homes are usually placed on permanent foundations that have basements.|
For a full explanation of differences, read this article. The most important difference is that modular homes does not apply to the same act as manufactured homes. If you do own a modular home you will need to check your state/regional regulations.
Basic HUD requirements for mobile/manufactured homes
How do I know my home meets HUD requirements?
The obvious starting point is to see whether or not your house was built in accordance with the HUD code. All sections of a manufactured home built after June 15, 1976, in the U.S. should have two items that prove it was built to adhere to the HUD code:
- Certification label, or HUD tag – This is proof that your manufacturer has, to the best of their knowledge built the home according to the HUD requirements.
- Data plate – This contains various general information about the home. It can list the equipment that came with the home, the wind zone it was made for as well as model information.
See the images below for examples.
Exactly where this certificate or data plate is placed differs from home to home and manufacturer to manufacturer. You might need to play a bit of hide and seek to find it. Common places to check is inside cabinet doors, under the sink, around the breaker box, etc.
Example data plate:
The certification label should be somewhere on the outside of your home. It looks like a red plaque with basic information like the manufacturer, model and year. It will look something like this:
Also, check the tongue or frame of your home for a stamped number. That is your mobile home’s serial number and identifies your home the same way a VIN number identifies a car.
These two identifiers merely prove that the manufacturer was aware of the HUD code and tried to stick to it when the home was built. If there is anything non-compliant about the home after it was manufactured they can be held liable.
How to check if your house is HUD compliant
The HUD code is very thorough. After many incidents and bad publicity, the HUD set out with its Safety and Standards regulations of 1976 to fix the image of manufactured homes and improve their safety considerably.
It is, therefore, impossible to list all the conditions here. It is just as unlikely most homeowners possess the skills and knowledge to check every condition themselves. We recommend you familiarize yourself with the entire act or let a professional inspect your property at least once.
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Here are some basic HUD requirements you can check yourself:
1. Your manufactured home must at least have two exit doors. These are doors that lead outside your home and should not be obstructed in any way. In single-wides, these doors must be at least 12-ft. apart and 20-ft. apart in double-wides.
How do I know if my home is a single-wide or double-wide:
- Single-wides are 18 ft. or less in width and 90 ft. or less in length. Because of the size, they can be towed as a single unit.
- Double-wides are 20 ft. or more in width and 90 ft. or less in width. Since they are much larger they are usually transported as two separate units and joined on site.
2. All bedrooms in the home should have a clear exit route to at least one of these exit doors. You may also not install any lockable doors on this route.
3. A manufactured home may only support its own structural components. This means any additions to your home may connect to your home, but is not allowed to lean or bear down on it.
4. All kitchens and bathrooms must have a mechanical ventilation system.
Here is the entire document, you can download it in PDF format for ease of use. Also, you can access more updated HUD law information here.
You might wonder how it is possible for your home to be non-compliant in the first place. After all, homes have to be manufactured according to the act right?
The problem is when you make additions to your home you need permission from local authorities. Often they do not follow the national HUD code and this leads to additions that make your home non-complaint.
What about my foundation?
It is important to note that the HUD code Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (CFR 3280) only pertains to the actual home, the walls, the roof, doors, windows, etc. The Permanent Foundations Guide for Manufactured Housing, HUD Publication HUD-7584 are separate regulations that govern your foundation. Your home is not HUD compliant if these are not also met.
Foundations are also much harder to check for compliance and you should get a professional to inspect your foundation. Here is a list of requirements, as you can see it is hard for the layman to verify. Look at this FAQ from Foundation Certifications, they also provide inspection services.
Although a foundation is permanent you should be aware that the regulations might change over time. If your foundation was compliant a few years ago, it might not be so anymore.
Here are some examples of the requirements for your foundation:
- If your home is in place more than one year it must have permanent concrete footings with tie-downs anchored to them.
- Concrete footings supporting the carriage frame must be placed below the frost line.
- The home’s crawl space must be covered with a material that is rot and moisture resistant. For example a 6-mil polyethylene plastic sheet.
- The tongue, wheels, and axles must be removed.
Consequences of not meeting requirements
- If you intend to sell your home you will most likely be required to bring it up to code first.
- Your chances are also very slim of getting a loan that is secured by the government including the HUD, FHA (Federal Housing Administration), VA (Veteran Affairs) and others. Your home must have a HUD seal to receive a loan from the FHA.
- You will also most likely be denied to refinance with a Federally guaranteed loan.
- In some states you are not allowed to sell your home at all without a HUD seal. Some states only require a manufacturer’s certification in its absence.
What to do if your home is not HUD compliant
As you can see not resolving the issues that cause your home to not comply with the HUD code can leave you with limited financial options. You might also not be able to sell your home without extensive work. In this case, prevention is much better than cure!
Here are some pointers to make sure your home never falls into non-compliance:
1. When buying a new home always make sure there is a HUD data plate and certification label. If buying a home from previous owners also check the data plate and inspect any additions to the home.
2. If you plan to make additions to your home familiarise yourself with the HUD code. Make sure that:
- Any additions do not alter the structure of your home
- Additions do not lean or bear down on your home. I.e. any additions should be able to stand on it’s own should you move your house. In the case of a porch It should have it’s own support on the homes side and not rely on the home to keep it up.
- If you add any rooms to your home it should not block the outgoing doors.
3. If you want a new door in your home only give it a lock if it does not block a route from a bedroom to the outside of the home
How to identify and resolve some basic issues:
What will you need?
- Measuring tape
- A rope/string
- A good eye
Here are things to look out for and fix:
- If you want to ensure that your foundation is up to code the only option is to hire a professional to inspect, and if necessary fix it.
- Take the string and tie it somewhere in your bedroom. Walk to the outside of the house using the shortest route. Retrace your steps and make sure there are no lockable doors on the route.
- If there is a lockable door on the route between a bedroom and the outside simply removing the door or it’s lock will do.
- Check whether all your kitchens and bathrooms have working mechanical ventilation systems. If any rooms don’t have you will need to contact a professional to install or repair the system.
- Measure your home and make sure whether you have a single-wide or double-wide. Check that there are at least two doors leading outside.
- Take a string and string it between the two doors. Mark the distance on the string or cut it. You can now measure the string with a ruler or measuring tape.
- If it’s a single wide make sure the distance between the doors is no more than 12 ft..
- If it’s a double wide make sure the distance between the doors is no more than 20 ft.
- Hire a professional to inspect your home. They know what to look for, even wall composition, etc.
There you go! We hope this article gives you a better perspective on being compliant to the Safety Standards set out by the HUD. It is in your best financial and safety interests to ensure your home meets the requirements.