Modular Home not attached to Foundation

I ran across this last week and it’s creating quite a stir. While evaluating the home erected in 1994 I determined it was a modular home and photographed the manufacturer’s data plate located under the kitchen sink.

Then looking at the structure, I noted in the report that there were no visible attachment points of the dwelling to the foundation at the sill (Defect) and the columns were not attached to prevent lateral movement. (Defect). The client is going for a VA loan. The foundation was a full basement with poured foundation walls and floor.

These were my comments:

*1. Foundation: Poured concrete–>HUD Permanent Foundations Guide for Manufactured Housing (4930.3G). This is being provided as a guide for clients purchasing a manufactured home using government insured loans (VA, FHA, etc.) Many times, these homes require a certification by a licensed professional engineer to ensure there is a permanent foundation including appropriate restraining devices. This type of inspection exceeds the scope of a home inspection. However, there is evidence this home may not comply with these standards as lateral attachment points were not readily visible. If a certification exists, it was not made available to the inspector on the day of inspection.
For your reference:

Definition of Permanent Foundation for Manufactured homes:. Permanent foundations must be constructed of durable materials; i.e. concrete, mortared masonry, or treated wood - and be site-built. It shall have
attachment points to anchor and stabilize the manufactured home to transfer all loads, herein defined, to the underlying soil or rock. The permanent foundations shall be structurally developed in accordance with this document or be structurally designed by a licensed professional engineer for the following:
1.Vertical stability:
a. Rated anchorage capacity to prevent uplift and overturning due to wind or seismic forces, whichever
controls. Screw-in soil anchors are not considered a permanent anchorage.
b. Footing size to prevent over-loading the soil-bearing capacity and avoids soil settlement. Footing shall be
reinforced concrete to be considered permanent.
c. Base of footing below maximum frost-penetration depth.
d. Encloses a basement of crawl space with a continuous wall (whether bearing or non-bearing) that
separates the basement of crawl space from the backfill, and keeps out vermin and water.
*
2. Lateral stability. Rated anchorage capacity to prevent sliding due to wind or seismic forces, whichever

controls, in the transverse and longitudinal directions.
More information can be found at this website:
http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/guidebooks/4930.3G/index.cfm**2. Piers/Pilasters/Posts: Steel posts 3"–> Permanent columns must be restrained at the top and bottom to resist displacement and those posts that use a height adjustment should have the screw embedded in concrete or permanently disabled after installation.

The lender evidently is not making any stink about not having to meet the HUD guidelines. I asked the Realtor if the lender is aware the home is a modular home and she didn’t know.

The seller is saying the home should be "grandfathered in " since the home was erected prior to the standards coming into effect in Wisconsin. The home inspector that inspected the home prior to them purchasing this home about 4 years ago never mentioned a foundation issue including the steel posts.

What would you do?

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VA requires an engineer’s certification that the unit is permanently attached to the ground. No certificate…no loan. Your report is not enough to support or to kill a deal. I wouldn’t worry about it.

Your post references “modular” *and *“manufactured”. Those are 2 different things and every home inspector should understand the difference and be sure to use the correct language. Nothing personal.

Judging by the photos, it is not manufactured but is modular and is not regulated the HUD codes you referenced but by standard building codes.

It is a modular home (no steel frame, remnants of axles, HUD plates on each section, etc. as would be present on a manufactured home). I recognize the difference.

But the home is still not attached to the foundation. Is that not a problem (thank-you gravity!) Fortunately, we do not live in a seismic area but we do get hit with straight-line winds.

Modular homes, like mobile homes, are “manufactured” homes in that they are built somewhere else and brought to the site. Modular homes are built to local standards and mobile homes are built to HUD standards and bear the tag.

Both must be permanently attached to a foundation. VA and FHA require an engineer’s certification to that effect.

By the way, some modulars are built on steel chassis. You cannot go by that to determine if it is modular or not.

HUD does not put plates on modular homes.

http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/rmra/mhs/mhslabels.cfm

Did the home have an attic? Post an exterior photo or 2.

What do you mean “basement of crawl space”?

Here are some supplemental pictures of the exterior and attic as requested. Good catch on basement OR crawlspace - Good Catch. That statement was copied directly from the HUD definitions Chapter 1 - 100 ©(1)(d)

Here’s a link for the HUD software if interested

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Double-wide. Manufactured home. Not modular.

Could be a double wide or a modular. Both still need to be permanently attached to the foundation. Do you have photos of the tags?

Data plate and state seal attached

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OK, where is the HUD label you mentioned? Absent a HUD label, I say it’s modular based on the wood floor framing you showed.

Agreed. Manufactured homes are usually strapped.

Your photo cuts off the bottom where it describes the codes that the building complied with. If they were local or state, you have a modular. If it was built to HUD standards, you have a double wide.

The “approval” sticker was put in place prior to setting the unit on the foundation so there is a possiblity, depending upon your local enforcement procedures, that no one has ever officially inspected the installation as of this post.

When I do inspections for engineer certificates required by VA and FHA, I am instructed to photograph the sections that are bolted to the foundation. You are correct in noting their absence…but your report, while being of value to your client, is meaningless to the lender.

Sorry, Here’s the bottom part of the data plate:
Codes and standards complied with: Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code 1992. Wisconsin Electrical Code 1990, Wisconsin Plumbing Code 1989

This is a letter I’m formulating to the Realtor. I’m working on the last paragraph. Maybe this is way too much information…

Here is some additional information for you. As I mentioned at the inspection on 3/12/11 a home inspection is not a code inspection. However, attachment of the home to the foundation is something that I look for as part of the structural part of my inspection. When this wasn’t visible that threw up a flag. Modular homes are different than Manufactured homes. Modular homes fall under the Uniform Dwelling Code Standards (Comm 20- 25). Uniform Dwelling Code became effective as of June 1, 1980 (Comm 20.03](http://legis.wisconsin.gov/rsb/code/comm/comm020.pdf)) Attachment of the dwelling to the foundation is covered in Comm 21.18 Subchapter 5 – Foundations. Attachment methods are described in detail. Posts and columns are explained in detail Comm 21.25 (6)

Manufactured homes are build on permanent metal chassis and transported to the site and remains part of the structure. In Wisconsin, The statutory definition for a manufactured home is: A structure that is designed to be used as a dwelling with or without a permanent foundation and that is certified by the federal department of housing and urban development as complying with the standards established under 42 USC 5401 to 5425. The definition also states that a manufactured home includes a mobile home, unless a mobile home is specifically excluded under the applicable statute. These structures are built to HUD codes. All manufactured homes manufactured on or after April 1, 2007 and installed in Wisconsin shall be installed in conformance with the provisions set forth in this Manufactured Home Installation Manual.

*It might be helpful to have a copy of the building permit and a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy. *

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I don’t know why you’d write a letter to the salesperson, but that’s your business.

Check your verbs: “*are build” in 2nd paragraph is incorrect.
*

Thanks, It’s addressed to my client and copied to their Realtor. I’ve received two voice mails from the seller this morning which I’m waiting to return after I work through this.

Last Paragraph (so far)
It is our responsibility to inform you to the best of our ability of the condition of your home as we observed on the day of inspection. I just want to make sure that you are aware of the facts. The foundation defects as reported are most definitely repairable. I would recommend contacting Wausau Homes as they are the manufacturer for their recommendations for repair. If not repaired, the home will not be solidly attached to the ground and this may be something that you may have to deal with when selling your home in the future. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

It’s your business and reputation and, by all means, do what you feel is the right thing to do to advance both…but…the scope of a home inspection is to simply observe and to accurately report those observations.

Our duty to our client is to be accurate and unbiased. There are a variety of ways in which they can use the information that we provide them and attempting to guide them in any particular direction detracts from our objectivity, IMO.

My advice is to allow your report to speak for itself and for you … and to say no more.