By Steve Anderson, UMHAG Past President & MHCC Member
The Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) is an interesting group to serve on. During this past meeting there were several issues that were critical to all current and future manufactured homeowners.
First and foremost was the issue regarding changing the HVAC standards for all manufactured homes to ASHRAE 60.2. To put this in English, this is a home ventilation standard that would provide a higher rate of ventilation than currently exists in manufactured homes.
A study that was commissioned by HUD that was by compiled by several reputable sources, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), that discussed the health factors for manufactured homes. In it, the study was critical of the methods used by manufacturers for heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. It specifically recommended changing the standard to the ASHRAE 60.2.
My friend, Michael Lubliner, who is also a homeowner, is an engineer who has researched this subject for years. He and I argued in favor of this topic. He pointed out that the current standards were not adequate and that no testing existed that showed that they performed as they were supposed to.
I contended that when studies that were made by organizations such as the CDC that concluded that existing standards left homeowners vulnerable to toxic molds, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and other combustion byproducts – everybody should take notice.
The manufacturers did everything possible to block this. Since it takes a 2/3 majority to pass a change in the standards, we were sunk if we attempted to make this as the sole standard. What wound up happening was a compromise. It isn’t good, but it is something we were forced live with. At least we got it within the HUD Code.
What wound up happening was that it was included as an option for homeowners when they order a new home. The problem is that unless a homeowner is either a mechanical engineer, works in the air conditioning industry, or knows somebody who is familiar with the HUD code – they won’t have a clue that this is possible.
Another item that came up after the agenda was completed had to do with water heaters. We did win one minor victory inasmuch as we were successful in forcing the System’s Subcommittee to review the placement, types, and other issues regarding water heaters.
This is a major undertaking, particularly with those of us whoever have ever had to replace or work on water heaters in our homes. A proposal that I submitted regarding a shutoff valve being placed near the water heater never reached the supporting agency and it was never logged in – even though it was sent at the same time as another proposal I sent it which was logged in.
This brings me to that proposal. This proposal would have required that the infrastructure surrounding a manufactured home’s installation be maintained in accordance with the public works standards of the local community. Most of the Consensus Committee said it was not within the scope of the law to make such a policy.
I argued that it was within the scope and that the infrastructure had to deal with the overall cost of ownership, which was a concern of the committee – something which was always being brought up by the manufacturers. We were soundly defeated – which was not a surprise.
There were other items of interest that were discussed that dealt with wind standards, vinyl siding, and quality control. Those items were relatively non-controversial. The biggest problem was how to word the motions in order to accomplish what the committee wanted to accomplish.
It was an interesting trip. We hope to accomplish more at our next meeting sometime next year.