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The HUD Code

manufacturedhousing.org - August 25, 2006
Mobile homes are built to a quality-assurance standards administered by HUD.

Industry quality-assurance standards for your protection. The HUD Code regulates the home?s design and construction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency, and quality control. It also sets stringent performance standards for the heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal, and electrical systems.

The Inspection System For Mobile Homes

What Is It? A National Preemptive Code Designed for Factory Building Achieving Parity: Financing and Land Use

Just as site built homes are constructed according to a specific building code to insure proper design and safety, today?s mobile homes are constructed in accordance with the HUD building code. The United States Congress laid the foundation for the HUD Code in the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 by directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to establish appropriate mobile home construction and safety standards that "...meet the highest standards of protection, taking into account existing State and local laws relating to mobile home safety and construction." Every HUD Code mobile home is built in a factory, under controlled conditions, and has a special label affixed on the exterior of the home indicating that the home has been designed, constructed, tested and inspected to comply with the stringent federal standards set forth in the code. No mobile home may be shipped from the factory unless it complies with the HUD Code and receives a certification label from an independent third party inspector.

One common question is, "How does the HUD Code differ from recognized building codes for site built homes?"

A National Preemptive Code

The HUD Code is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, using independent third party inspection agencies for enforcement, and it is the federal counterpart to nationally recognized private sector model building codes. These model codes include the Uniform Building Code of the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), the National Builing Code of the Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA), the Standard Building Code of the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) and the Council of American Building Officials (CABO) One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code. Individual states throughout the country have adopted one or more of the model codes to apply to site-built homes within the state. But the HUD Code is the only code that is mandated to be nationally recognized, and as such it has preemptive status with respect to mobile homes. This national preemptive status is one very important reason why mobile homes are so affordable.

A single set of model building codes for the entire United States is under development by the International Code Council (ICC). The ICC consists of the three model building code organizations, BOCA, ICBO, and SBCCI, as well as CABO. The ICC came to being back in the 1995 ? 1996 time frame. The ICC?s mission is to develop a single set of International Codes that the entire country can enforce rather than jurisdictions choosing between the three regional organizations? codes in use today. The use of a single set of codes to cover structural design of site-built homes, fire safety, mechanical requirements, sewerage disposal, plumbing criteria would be similar to the present system of the single HUD Code for all manufactured housing. By the year 2000, the ICC will have published the International Building Code, the International Fire Code and the International Residential Code to complete the single set of model codes.

Designed for Factory Building

The HUD Code is unique since it is specifically designed for compatibility with the factory production process. Performance standards for heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal and electrical systems are set in the code. In addition, performance requirements are established for structural design, construction, fire safety, energy efficiency, and transportation from the factory to the customer?s home site. Mobile homes are constructed with virtually the same materials used in site-built homes. However, in contrast to traditional site-building techniques, mobile homes have the advantage of using engineered design applications and the most cost-efficient assembly line techniques to produce a quality home at a much lower cost/per square foot. To ensure quality, the design and construction of the home is monitored by both HUD and its monitoring contractor, the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards (NCSBCS). The familiar red seal (the certification label) attached to the exterior of a mobile home indicated that it has undergone perhaps the most thorough inspection process in the homebuilding industry - and passes.

Achieving Parity: Financing and Land Use

Increasingly, acceptance of the quality construction standards of the manufactured housing industry is demonstrated by the availability of mortgage financing through traditional lenders, as well as the Veteran?s Administration, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), which now finance mobile homes along the same guidelines as site-built homes. Also, an increasing number of states have amended their land use enabling legislation to prohibit local governments from excluding HUD Code homes in many single family neighborhoods.

The HUD Code: Built Better By Design

It can generally be acknowledged that a building code is only as good as the enforcement system that accompanies it. The mobile home enforcement program required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a thorough and efficient system designed specifically for the factory production environment. Because the factory pace differs from that of the construction site, the mobile home enforcement system is necessarily different, too. The goal in both cases, however, is the same -- to insure the highest degree of safety in the design and construction of the home. Ideally, a building code should be backed up by uniform and consistent enforcement. The HUD enforcement system relies on a cooperative federal/state program to ensure compliance with the Federal Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards (the HUD Code). The Department of Housing and Urban Development enforces the HUD Code through its monitoring contractor, the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards (NCSBCS). Uniformity and consistency can be maintained better in the HUD enforcement system because of two key factors. First, the inspections take place in the factory, during each phase of construction, and follow behind the manufacturer?s own in-plant inspection and quality assurance teams. This allows for more thoroughness, since time is spent inspecting homes rather than traveling to inspection sites. Efficiency is increased because travel time is limited and necessary paperwork is minimized. Second, consistency is maintained because fewer people inspect more homes. The enforcement procedure is much less susceptible to individual interpretations, as would be the case with on-site inspections in every jurisdiction across the country.

Inspection Starts Before Production Starts Certification Assures the Homebuyer

The HUD enforcement system begins with oversight by the Design Approval Primary Inspection Agency (DAPIA). The DAPIA (a third party inspection agency) must: approve the engineering design of the home; approve the manufacturer?s quality assurance manual for its plant; and coordinate with the other third-party inspection agency, known as the IPIA. The Production Inspection Primary Inspection Agency (IPIA) has the responsibility to make sure the production facility programs and procedures are in accordance with the DAPIA approved quality assurance manual; and, it conducts inspections of homes produced in the factory to assure conformance with the approved design. Three interesting notes: 1) every home is inspected during at least one stage of production, 2) in the course of each plant visit, the IPIA shall make a complete inspection of every phase of production and every visible part of each home in production, and 3) when a new plant is opened by the manufacturer, the first home built according to approved plans is inspected 100% - every step in the building process undergoes close scrutiny by the inspection agency. Along with this, NCSBCS inspection teams conduct representative inspections as a check on the performance of the third party inspection agents and the manufacturer.

Keep in mind that all this is in addition to the inspections carried out by the manufacturer?s own foremen and its quality assurance inspectors.

Certification Assures the Homebuyer

Before leaving the factory, each home must have a numbered certification label affixed to the exterior of each section of the home. This label certifies to the homebuyer that the home has been inspected in accordance with the HUD enforcement procedures and that it complies with the HUD building code. Only when all inspection parties are satisfied that the home complies with the code will the certification label be affixed to the home. A consumer seeing the home for the first time will have the assurance that the home has been thoroughly tested and inspected from the design stage through final construction and found to be built according to the approved design.

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