From sinkholes to ever-changing building codes, engineers face some unique obstacles and must be up to the task of confronting those obstacles and providing solutions. One such obstacle is also a difficulty for individuals looking to purchase a manufactured home. There are many requirements and procedures to go through before a lender will provide financing. There are questions to answer and obscure rules to follow in the purchasing process. ORB Engineering has broken down a few of these obstacles below.

What is the difference between a mobile home, manufactured home, and modular home?

These terms are often used interchangeably, but when it comes to building code requirements, the differences are important. In 1976 the HUD code governing building standards for factory-built homes was introduced. This code improved both the quality of the home and the standards by which they were built. As such, all factory-built homes built prior to 1976 are considered mobile homes and all built after 1976 are considered manufactured homes. Manufactured homes are constructed to meet the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standard Act of June 15, 1976. Modular homes are also factory-built homes however the assembly process typically uses a permanent concrete foundation. As such, a modular home cannot be moved once built. Modular homes are more like a traditional home but their price per square foot can sometimes be lower.

What is an FHA Foundation Certification?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has requirements for the foundations of manufactured housing that go above and beyond what is typically provided by the manufacturer. In order to obtain FHA financing, a lender must acquire a foundation certification letter to show that the foundation of a manufactured housing unit meets HUD’s requirements. This certification letter must be provided by a licensed engineer. When doing an FHA or USDA loan on a manufactured home that was placed on the foundation prior to 1996, all underwriters will be requiring an FHA Foundation Certification. The requirements are outlined in HUD’s Permanent Foundations Guide for Manufactured Housing (PFGMH). Below is an excerpt from the guidelines stating what the requirement is:

All foundation systems, new and existing, must meet the FHA guidelines in effect at the time of the certification…. A certification attesting to compliance with this handbook must be obtained from a licensed professional engineer or registered architect. A copy of the certification must be included in the lenders loan file and the insuring binder when submitted to HUD/FHA.

There are 3 requirements regarding the certification specifically:

  1. the certification must be performed by a licenses professional engineer or registered architect
  2. the certification must be site specific and contain the engineer’s/architect’s signature, seal and license number
  3. if the certification shows that the foundation meets the required guidelines, it is acceptable for future FHA loans as long as there is no alterations or observable damage.

ORB Engineering, Inc. is qualified as a licensed professional engineer to perform these inspections for you. ORB’s engineering staff is very knowledgeable of the requirements and standards of the PFGMH and have performed several of these types of inspections. Should the case arise where the foundation does not meet the requirements of the PFGMH, ORB can provide the owner with a plan to bring the foundation up to the required standard.

If you are looking to purchase a manufactured home, get ahead of the game and request a foundation certification inspection. ORB can get you certified and ready before your lender even mentions the requirements. This can help speed up the process and avoid any delays on your closing date.

More to come soon.

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