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The Manufactured Home Windstorm Story Not Told ~ Lives saved with Proper Installation

January 7th, 2015 No comments

Jasper County Mississippi was one of three counties targeted by one or more EF2 tornadoes over the weekend of January 3rd. Thirty-Three homes were destroyed in these weather events. This is certainly tragic, and news. Of course the media outlets focused on the “mobile home community” where six of the homes were destroyed. These six homes were all reported by local media as “mobile homes.”

First, why did the news media focus on the 6 ‘mobile homes,’ vs. the dozens of conventional houses that were destroyed. Is that media bias?

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The NBC news report on this previous southern tornado incident – shown in the photo above- includes these comments:

For three days this week, dozens of twisters raked across the South and Plains, killing 38 people and destroying hundreds of homes.”

So why didn’t the Mississippi news media in this recent incident focus on the dozens of conventional houses destroyed? Why did their coverage focus instead on ‘mobile homes’ destroyed?

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Manufactured Home on right was the least expensive home in that market area,
while the conventional house on the left that loses its roof and suffers major damage
cost about 4-5 times as much as the MH.
Still photos credit: NBC News/IBHS Hurricane Wind Test video.

To be fair, it is entirely possible that all six of these older factory built houses reported by the MS media were in fact “mobile homes;” meaning pre-June 15, 1976 houses built in a factory. There have been no mobile homes built in the U.S. since June 15, 1976!

The likelihood that all 6 of those MH’s were ‘mobile homes’ is limited. Perhaps 20%-25% of the factory-built houses in use in the U.S. today are truly “mobile homes,” meaning built pre-1976 federal construction standards. Those national safety and construction standards are proven to make modern manufactured homes (MH) as safe or safer than conventional construction, so long as they are properly installed.

Those federal standards, commonly called the HUD Code for manufactured homes, upgraded the homes and turned pre-code ‘mobile houses’ legally into ‘manufactured homes.’

Manufactured homes” isn’t just a nicer, fancier or newer name for a mobile home. The new name reflects an improved way of building the homes to make them stronger, safer and better! That’s good for consumers and for the MH industry too.

tornado-OK-5-20-2013-manufactured-home-posted-mhpronews-com

Why is one house crushed and the neighboring one damaged but structurally
intact? Many times the answer is proper MH installation.
Moore, OK May 5, 2013. that destroyed hundreds of conventional houses,
as well as dozens of mobile and manufactured homes.

But even a good product has to be properly used. A good manufactured home has to be properly installed. In some areas, manufactured homes didn’t have state or federal standards installation until the last decade or so.

12MSdamage-weather-com-industry-voices-mhpronews-

Photo above from recent MS tornadoes. Notice that the home, even though it rolled,
someone could have survived inside it. Do you see any anchor straps on this house?
In fact, even without straps, there were no deaths in this incident. Credit – Weather Channel.

anchoring-manufactured-home-credit-miami-herald-posted-industry-voices-mhpronews-

What is likely is that these six homes in the MS incident had improper or no tie down installations. Why do I say that? Simple! Because the community owner’s manufactured home was clearly unmoved in that same tornado, as the same news video footage revealed.

The home that survived that MS tornado had relatively minor damage and was reported as still very much livable. It was apparently ‘tied down.’ So what about the others right next to that properly installed home?

Here are the most reasonable scenarios on the 6 “mobile” or manufactured homes that were destroyed:

  • The mobile or manufactured homes had improper installation and/or no anchors/strapping. Anything not anchored to the ground is likely to go flying – or in the case of a house that weighs as much as 30,000 pounds for a single section – may roll or get badly damaged.
  • The houses had improper additions attached to the mobile or manufactured home. Hurricane wind studies reported by IBHS and NBC News indicate that 80% of all MHs lost in hurricanes are not the failure of the home itself, but rather are damaged by faulty add-ons that in turn cause a part of the home to open up to severe winds that then further damage or destroy the home. Wouldn’t that principle also apply to tornadoes?
  • As an interesting side note, a town in FL is considering a law requiring outside Air Conditioners on conventional houses to be properly installed, because those ACs that aren’t tied down are often picked up by high winds – and when they go flying – are dangerous!
  • High winds and tornadoes aren’t a manufactured home issue, it is a proper installation issue!

The second bullet applies the same to conventional housing as site built housing.

Notice that this hurricane wind test was performed in a special facility by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).   The house on the right is ‘fortified,’ the one on the left is regular site build construction. The same sort of thing can happen with a tornado. Who says? This video of a conventional house in Iowa capture by a bank ATM camera! It shows a conventional house swept away in seconds by the tornado winds once contact is made.

When we look at the video of the 6 destroyed MHs and the one that survived provided by the news outlet, you can faintly see the strapping under the home still standing. By contrast, we can’t see ANY strapping or evidence of anchors from the video on the 6 destroyed homes.

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This tragic MS story could have been educational, not just sensational. The media could have said, the lesson here is that a manufactured home that is properly installed is no more vulnerable to a tornado than a conventional house.

Then, the media could have said, if you own a mobile or manufactured home, why not use this tragedy as a reminder that it is pretty low cost to anchor your home properly, vs. the terrible loss that could take place if your home has no anchors.

Today and for many years, manufactured homes have to have proper installation as mandated by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000). The media and public officials should note that the MH industry WANTED these standards, the industry asked for this law! Which means, as an industry we want our home owners to be safe and have the most possible peace of mind!

Perhaps good reporters need to learn a bit more about current best practices and that the HUD Code for manufactured homes now nationally blankets the manufactured home industry coast to coast. Maybe the media and their news directors need to read the reports and watch the testing videos that show the strength of properly installed manufactured homes in high winds.

Maybe, just maybe, the media needs to quit focusing on events that shine an implied bad light on a large section of the housing industry and instead re-focus on how more families are becoming home owners with quality built manufactured homes, at a fraction of the cost of “site built” homes.

No house above ground is completely safe in a tornado. But there are plenty of examples of manufactured homes that survive right next door to some that don’t. The difference? In many cases, the answer is clearly the quality of the home’s anchoring/installation.

An improperly installed manufactured home won’t stand up to a tornado of any real magnitude, then again, neither will “site built” homes.

The media should make sure of their facts before they report and should always use the proper terminology. The report as it stands leaves more questions than answers. The media shouldn’t target manufactured homes, when site built houses are just as vulnerable, and at times, more so.

One bit of good news they got right in the report is that there were no serious injuries or fatalities, and when it comes down to it, that is the most important news information that we can get. ##

victor-frost-fairfield-homes-land-texas-posted-inspiration-blog-mhpronews-com--150x150Victor Frost

Fairfield Homes and Land.

Wow!

December 20th, 2014 No comments

A drowning MH retail lot has been turned into a viable business, in just 90 days. Okay, now that I have your attention let me explain. Several of the businesses that I own currently and in the past, have been profitable. I have been in the manufactured home business for only 2 years as of October 2014. Our retail center is positioned between Dallas and Houston, in a town with a population of less than 4,000.

After struggling for 2 years doing it “my way,” I hired a professional marketing and sales coach. WOW!!! What a difference this guy has made. You may be thinking that “he,” the sales coach, just pointed out the obvious and had us do what we knew deep down we should be doing . . . and you would be correct.

However, as Paul Harvey said, “here is the rest of the story” (or part of it ;-).

I met our coach two years ago in Tunica at the manufactured housing show. I even purchased a book he was selling. So why did it take 2 years to call him for professional help?

Being a hard-headed Texan may be part of it; however, I thought I could just do what I had been doing and the business would grow. My retail lot looked good enough and surely people would want to buy their new home from me.

Flags were flying and the doors were open 6 day a week. Hundreds of cars drove past our lot every day, and that was the problem, they just drove on by.

There were days when not one customer called or came in to our dealership. I had been floating the business for 20 of the past 24 months. My way was not working, and I only had enough capital to last about 6 more months.

After many sleepless nights, and much praying, I picked up the book I had purchased in Tunica and began reading. A few days later, I made the call.

Hiring a marketing and sales coach to rescue my struggling MH Retail business was put into play. After all, professional sports teams have coaches. The coaches train the team during the week and on game day.

I wanted our team to become a professional Manufactured Housing sales team that was successful. Bi-weekly virtual sales training began immediately. After the first session with our sales coach, we all began to see MH in a completely new light. Phrases like, "affordable luxury," "systems-built" and "custom homes," were phrases that had previously never come to my mind about MH.

To say our sales coach opened our eyes is an understatement. He not only educated us on marketing and sales, but he began to systematically motivate us in ways that are hard to express.

He began with a process. Yes, a precise process that even ebbs and flows with real life situations.

The excitement has become obvious to all of our employees. One recently commented that he has seen more homes sold in the past 60 days than the previous 6 months, and another commented on how the attitude is undeniably so positive that it is exciting to be at work.

Breaking old habits is hard and yes, sometimes painful; however, the proof is in the results.

Sales have exploded, and with so much growth we are recruiting two more sales agents for our sales team. With the right training, attitude and practice, success is very much attainable.

I will begin to share our real life sales experiences in my next column, “WOW”! ##

Dwayne-Somerville-Fairfield-Homes-and-LandDwayne Somerville

Fairfield Homes & Land