The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has announced proposals for updating the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, commonly referred to as the “HUD Code.” “Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards” was published in the Federal Register, and marks the largest set of changes to the HUD Code in more than 20 years.
The aim of the proposals is to foster the Biden Administration’s goal of expanding the supply of manufactured housing as a component of its efforts to address the nation’s housing supply challenges.
“Manufactured homes are an important element of the nation’s affordable housing supply,” said HUD Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia R. Gordon. “These proposed updates, when final, will help to expand the availability of safe and affordable homes that align with current design trends and construction methods.”
Containing new and updated standards, including 88 standards incorporated by reference, the Proposed Rule will bring the HUD Code in line with more recent manufactured housing industry standards, and further improve the quality and safety of manufactured home construction.
Key proposed additions and updates included in the Proposed Rule will allow:
- Materials that facilitate modern design approaches and improve quality: Updates to reference standards for materials (wood, steel, piping) and products will align with other building standards, will allow the use of more modern design approaches and installation of alternative materials, and will improve the quality and safety of homes for consumers.
- Ridge roof designs: Revising definitions and regulatory language will allow certain specified roof ridge designs (peak cap and peak flip roof assemblies) without a requirement for specific on-site inspections by a HUD-approved agency, except for certain exclusions. This type of roof installation is common throughout the industry and uses technology that is time-tested. This will be beneficial for manufacturers and consumers by incorporating more recent design practices into the regulations and eliminating unnecessary inspections and associated costs.
- Multi-unit manufactured homes: Proposed changes to regulatory language address multi-unit dwellings, proposing allowance of up to three units while assuring comprehensive fire safety to multi-unit occupants by adding benchmarks and guidelines that meet Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety standards. This may help to further leverage manufactured housing as a means of addressing affordable housing needs.
- Open floor plans, truss designs, and specifications for attics: The updated requirements for exterior door separation and structural design requirements will improve allowances for open floorplans while maintaining fire safety, clarify unclear provisions, and allow potential for optimization of truss design. In addition, the proposed rule will include more clarity regarding structural design requirements for attics.
- Accessibility improvements: Modifications to standards for accessible showers will comply with nationally-recognized disability standards for roll in showers. This will eliminate the need for HUD alternative construction approval and reduce cost and burdens for manufacturers and consumers.
- Modern and energy-saving appliances: Updating and adding new standards will allow for the use of more modern and energy efficient appliances, including gas-fired tankless water heaters, eliminating the need for HUD alternative construction approvals for use of such appliances.
- Additional process efficiencies that save time and reduce costs: Improved language stipulating prerequisites for the process of obtaining installation licenses will increase flexibility for installers; updates to water system piping testing procedures will decrease on-site testing time; and utilization of appliance QR codes for manuals and information will reduce paperwork and bookkeeping.
When finalized, the updates contained in the Proposed Rule will enact a significant number of recommendations made by the federally-mandated Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC). Further, the updates will eliminate the need for manufacturers to obtain alternative construction approvals for frequently requested features and materials that already meet or exceed HUD standards.
The MHCC is a Federal Advisory Committee body charged with providing recommendations to HUD’s Secretary on the revision and interpretation of HUD's manufactured home construction and safety standards, and related procedural and enforcement regulations. The MHCC is charged with developing proposed model installation standards for the manufactured housing industry. By regulation, HUD has included the MHCC in the process of revising the Manufactured Home Model Installation Standards, Installation Program Regulations, and Dispute Resolution Program regulations.
The proposed updates are available for public comment for 60 days. Comments must be submitted via the methods described in the Proposed Rule.