In today’s housing market, manufactured homes are a more affordable alternative to traditional single-family homes. Data suggest that over 20 million Americans are housed in approximately 8.5 million manufactured homes. The data consist of about 7% of all owner-occupied homes in the United States. The increase in the popularity of manufactured homes calls for more strict inspection processes to ensure the safety and durability of these structures.
Hurricanes and severe weather events have caused more rigid inspections to be critical, given the potential for significant property damage, which has caused millions of dollars in the past. For example, Hurricane Isabel in 2003 resulted in 450 million dollars worth of property damage in North Carolina.
In response to such devastating events, bodies like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have established comprehensive standards for the foundation of manufactured home structures.
The Role of Professional Engineers in FHA manufactured home foundations.
Manufacturing home foundation inspection requires expertise and a deep understanding of construction standards and joint issues. Therefore, homeowners, lenders, or potential buyers must engage a professional engineer experienced in this field. These professionals have extensive knowledge about the specific requirements that ensure the approval of the FHA or VA home loan.
They thoroughly inspect the manufactured home’s foundation and provide a detailed written evaluation. This report contains an assessment of whether the foundation complies with the most recent FHA and VA requirements and any potential issues that might affect the structural integrity or safety of the home. This detailed assessment guides the homeowner, lender, or buyer in understanding the foundation’s condition and taking any necessary remedial action.
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Basic FHA Requirements for Manufactured Home Foundation Inspections
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) set guidelines for FHA-manufactured home foundations to meet several basic requirements. These are designed to ensure that the home can withstand bad weather conditions, such as high winds, and to prevent moisture-related issues:
Earth anchors and straps
1. The manufactured home must be equipped with earth anchors and straps. These help the structure resist the forces generated by hurricane winds, thus preventing displacement or overturning of the house.
Removal of the tongue, axles, and wheels
1. Once the manufactured home has been placed on the site, the tongue, axles, and wheels used for transportation must be removed to ensure stability.
1. A vapor barrier, at least six mils thick, should be installed on the ground in the crawl space. The vapor barrier prevents ground moisture from reaching the home’s wooden structures, thus protecting against dampness, mold, and wood rot.
1. Stabilizer structures that prevent the home from moving in longitudinal and transverse directions are mandatory. These contribute to the overall stability of the house.
Piers at strategic locations
1. Piers should be installed at either side of exterior doors and window openings exceeding 48 inches. These piers provide additional support to these large openings, which are typically weaker sections of the home’s structure.
These basic requirements are the first step toward ensuring the safety and durability of a manufactured home. However, a comprehensive inspection involves further detailed standards, which will be discussed in the next section.
FHA Detailed Requirements for Manufactured Home Foundations
Beyond the basic requirements, there are more specific standards that manufactured home foundations must adhere to. These rules cover multiple aspects of the construction process, such as excavation, foundation materials, structural requirements, and foundation design:
1. Foundation walls or footings must extend below soil subjected to characteristic volume or seasonal changes to the unaffected ground that provides good bearing.
2. Frost can cause the floor to swell, and it’s essential that a foundation wall or footing be below the extreme frost depth in frost-prone areas. In regions with expansive soils, excavation and refilling with graded sand and gravel may be necessary to avoid swelling and shrinkage damage.
1. The foundation and footings should be made from durable concrete and ABS foundation pads. These materials must be able to safely support the loads imposed on them, taking into account the specific characteristics of the local soil.
1. All exterior walls, marriage walls, wall posts, piers, and columns must be supported by a sound foundation system that can safely bear the imposed loads. Piers are typically made from dry stacked concrete masonry units measuring 16″ x 16″ x 8″.
2. For easy access to the crawl space, the floor’s height above the finished grade should typically be 18 inches below the bottom of the floor joists. While the ground level must be 12 inches below the bottom of the chassis beam.
1. The foundation design must accommodate all applicable lateral loads (like seismic or wind) and gravity loads (such as dead, snow, and occupancy). For example, in case of seismic or wind activity, the manufactured home should be securely attached to its foundation to resist uplift and overturning. Similarly, the house must resist horizontal sliding forces from seismic or wind activity.
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FHA Requirements for Manufactured Homes with a permanent foundation
If you’re considering a manufactured home foundation inspection for an FHA loan, the home must meet additional criteria:
1. The manufactured home must have been built after June 15, 1976.
2. Floor space should be at least at minimum 400 square feet.
3. The house needs to be a single-family dwelling.
4. All new manufactured homes must have a one-year warranty from the manufacturer.
5. All manufactured homes need to have an FHA-approved water supply and sewer system.
6. It must comply with the manufactured home installation requirements issued by HUD.
7. Each section of the manufactured home must have a red HUD certification label.
Why You Need a Manufactured Home Foundation Inspection
There are several reasons to consider a manufactured home foundation inspection. For instance, before buying a manufactured home, it is obligatory to get it inspected by a licensed professional.
Your lender or bank will request a written report confirming that the manufactured home foundation meets the HUD standards. Assuring the lender that the home is safe and structurally sound reduces the risk of lending money for its purchase.
Similarly, once your new manufactured home is built in the factory, it must be installed at your chosen location. Again, the lender will require certification from a licensed inspection contractor to verify that the foundation complies with the applicable rules. This requirement applies when you approach your lender to refinance your manufactured home.
Hence, understanding the process of manufactured home foundation inspection and its importance is crucial for homeowners, potential buyers, and lenders alike.
How a Manufactured Home Foundation Inspection Works
Manufactured homes differ significantly from traditional block homes, primarily in how their foundations are constructed. Manufactured home foundations are typically built on piers that support the home attached to the I-beams. Understanding the inspection process can help ensure your home meets all requirements and standards.
Choosing the right inspector
1. When selecting a foundation inspector, verify they hold a relevant license. A license ensures they have the inspector has the qualifications and knowledge to conduct the inspection correctly and thoroughly.
1. The inspector will evaluate if the home is securely attached to the foundation to ensure structural stability for the manufactured home’s foundation. They will also review the state of the piers, I-beams, and overall foundation to identify any potential issues or non-compliance with FHA and HUD requirements.
Engineering Certification by a licensed professional engineer
1. The inspector will then prepare an Engineering Certification. This document verifies that the home’s foundation complies with all relevant standards and guidelines. This certification is often a mandatory requirement for loan approval or refinancing.
FHA Manufactured Home Foundation Inspections in Texas
The company you select for your manufactured home foundation inspection can significantly impact the process and the quality of the results. They specialize in conducting foundation inspections and certifications to meet VA and FHA loan requirements for manufactured, modular, and mobile homes.
South Texas Lending works with various stakeholders, including manufactured home dealerships, individuals, title companies, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders, to facilitate the loan approval process. They comprehensively inspect the footings, foundation materials, and foundation design. Following the inspection, they issue a certification document detailing the evaluation.
In our role as a trusted mortgage lender, South Texas Lending understands the value of reliable and thorough inspections. We have collaborated with professional home inspection companies to ensure our clients’ prospective homes meet the highest standards for seeking VA or FHA loans for manufactured, modular, or mobile homes.
Regarding foundation inspections, we recommend a company like Powell And Sons, known for its excellent work and expertise in this area. The professionals from these kinds of companies are often licensed engineers who bring their knowledge to the inspection process, ensuring all aspects of the foundation, from the footings to the design, meet the strict VA and FHA loan requirements.