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Where are the Workers?

Original Comment

This was the topic of one of our panel sessions at our recent annual conference. And while our panelists didn’t completely solve the problem, many great ideas were shared. Here’s recap:

Seek employees from traditionally underserved populations including women and minorities. Women make up 47% of the total workforce, but only 30% of the manufacturing sector and just 10% of the construction industry workforce. Likewise, Hispanic and African American workers combined make up about 30% of the construction industry, but collectively make up 51% of the total workforce.

Another source of potential workers are veterans exiting active service. Each year, about 200,000 veterans transition into the public sector and sometimes struggle to find meaningful employment. There are many state and federal agencies and resources available to help connect you with a qualified pool of veterans, including Department of Labor Regional Veterans' Employment Coordinators.

Hiring ex-offenders or felons is a third potential source of workers. While some employers may be reluctant to go this route, there are state and federal programs available to assist. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers who invest in American job seekers who have consistently faced barriers to employment. Employers may meet their business needs and claim a tax credit if they hire an individual who is in a WOTC targeted group. Those groups include qualified veterans, qualified ex-felons, and low- income populations.

Manufacturers and builders should (if they haven’t already) establish relationships with nearby vocational schools, community colleges, and career centers. Consider offering factory tours for these groups.

But most of the best practices shared were aimed at current employee retention. Keeping current workers content is the best way to reduce or avoid labor shortages. Of course, offering a competitive pay and benefits package is the obvious starting point. But others suggested a sign-on bonus and incentives for current employees who recruit new employees.

Other tips include:

-Showing your appreciation for workers. Its not always about the pay. Keep employees engaged and involved; compliment them for a job well done; and make them feel part of the team.

-Celebrate the victories. Throw company parties when reaching certain milestones; recognize employee anniversaries; have lunch catered in once a month for the whole team.

-Consider offering volume, seniority, or even attendance bonuses.

These were just a few best practices shared at our conference. Feel free to share yours here.

Started on November 1, 2021 by Tom Hardiman

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RFI Issued: City of Milwaukee Seeks Offsite Solution for Housing

Original Comment

In what seems to become a more popular solution among elected officials, the City of Milwaukee recently issued a Request for Information that will lead to a Request for Proposals in September.

According to the RFI: “The City of Milwaukee intends to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) in September 2021, to establish a public-private partnership to build a factory in Century City Business Park or its environs. The City’s vision is to create equity through creation of high quality, green jobs, affordable zero energy homes, economic development, and neighborhood revitalization. This is not a project, but a long-term partnership aimed at social and climate transformation, creating an example for other cities nationwide.”

Milwaukee joins other jurisdictions considering to modular and offsite construction to address housing needs. Here’s a few recent examples:

Salt Lake City recently adopted the ICC ANSI Standard for Offsite Construction while officials in Atlanta have been ahead of the curve in addressing alternatives to their housing needs.

Virginia Economic Development officials recently announced a deal for modular factory IndieDwell to open a new plant in Norfolk to build affordable housing.

We recently participated in a stakeholders’ meeting with key agency officials from California’s housing and economic development teams to discuss and gather information about modular housing solutions.

Several states, including Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia also offer incentives for developers to consider alternative methods of delivering affordable housing. With the massive housing demands and continued labor shortages, we expect this trend to continue for several years.

To view the Milwaukee RFI, go here: https://city.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/BBC/images/Housing-Plan/RFIforMilwaukeeManufacturingPartnership.pdf

Initial questions on the RFI are due by close of business Friday June 11th.

Started on June 10, 2021 by Tom Hardiman

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With Biden Plan, American Dream Will Become a Nightmare!

Original Comment

Roland Reagan once quipped “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, I’m from the Government and I'm here to help.” Never have those words rang truer than when I read the White House release on the American Jobs Act and the administration’s plan to deliver affordable housing.

The plan proposes to pair $213 billion in direct funding with more than $100 billion in new and expanded tax credits with bipartisan support to build and modernize housing across the country. Specifically, the plan would expand access to federal subsidies that enable the construction or rehabilitation of more than 1 million affordable rental housing units. A significant portion of those funds would bolster the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC), the primary vehicle to address affordable housing in our country.

Let’s pause right there to address the elephant in the room. The LIHTC Program has not been able to meet anywhere near the need for affordable housing in this country. In our own white paper published in 2019, we cited a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition in which they reported:

A shortage of seven million available and affordable rental homes for America’s Extremely Low-Income (ELI) renters in its annual report, “The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes 2019,” released on March 14, 2019. This shortage leaves only 37 available and affordable homes for every 100 ELI renter households. The Coalition found that no state or major metropolitan area has an adequate supply of rental housing for its poorest renters.

So, the Administration’s answer is to dump more tax-payer money into a program that is not working. But that’s just the beginning of the problem. In the release, the plan calls for a requirement for employers to pay workers prevailing wages; enter into project labor, community workforce, and local hire agreements; and use workers from registered apprenticeships and other labor or labor-management training programs.

Did you know that the prevailing wage rate for a carpenter in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania is $55.54 with fringe benefits? Given the extreme labor and housing shortage, how will forcing contractors to pay inflated unions rates do anything to help address affordability? Short answer: it will not. It will simply drive developers away from the LIHTC program and construction of affordable housing units altogether. The projects simply will not pencil out.

But we’re not done yet. Yesterday Biden’s Commerce Department leaders also announced their desire to double the tariffs on Canadian lumber from 9% to 18.32%. Does anyone in D.C. realize what has been happening to the price of lumber over the last year? How does adding 9% to the cost of Canadian lumber make housing more affordable. Once again, it does not!

We have been working with various state housing authorities to encourage incentives for developers to be more innovative and efficient. Give them points for tax credits for things like delivering housing in a shorter amount of time, at less costs, or with less environmental impact. Put it back on the developers to drive the innovation and create the efficiencies. But not this!

I’ve been in the government affairs arena for many years. I don’t think I recall any proposal as counter intuitive to its goals as this one. This proposal if passed without changes, will absolutely lead to less housing options and more homeless families. These families do not care about political payoffs to organized labor - they need real solutions. And there are few to be found in this proposal.

Started on May 27, 2021 by Tom Hardiman

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Blue Sky Thinking

Original Comment

I enjoy cutting grass. Maybe it’s the visual of how much progress I’ve made and how much work is left. If only our business and life goals could be so clear and obvious.

The main reason I enjoy this work is that it gives my mind time to wander and think about big picture stuff. Some of my best ideas have been generated during a good grass cutting session (some really bad ones too!). Its not uncommon for me to come to the office and start a conversation with “I was cutting grass this weekend…” followed by the groans and “here we go” by my teammates.

So, I was cutting grass this weekend and started thinking about the enormous opportunity our industry has ahead. We all know about the housing and skilled labor shortages which have resulted in many modular companies remaining very busy these days. And that’s great.

But we also know about the material price instability and labor shortages within our own industry, and these are significant concerns and barriers to growth. These issues are so prevalent that there have been calls from well-intentioned, but misguided sources for “the industry” to do something about this.

Our industry trade association can help educate potential customers and lead them to your door. We can send you leads. We can help train your people and build your network of professionals. We can promote your company through awards, service, and sponsorships. And we have been successful in removing and reducing regulatory barriers that limit growth. But I’m struggling with how we can help control lumber prices or motivate people to work.

So, I started thinking “what would I do if I ran a modular home factory right now.” Keep in mind, I have never run a manufacturing facility but in the interest of finishing this post, I’ll share my thoughts.


Treat my best employees with much respect so they don’t think about leaving.

Review my benefits and compensation package and see if there are ANY areas for upgrades.

Have a candid conversation with all my builders and vendors separately to discuss ways to streamline costs, processes, and operations.

Contact every technical, vocational and community college within 100 miles of my factory to offer factory tours, paid internships, and even scholarships.

Consider looking outside my “traditional” labor pool into other states and offer relocation assistance for qualified candidates.

Identify any nearby sawmills and lumber yards and explore the opportunity of investing in or partnering with them. Might be crazy, but I’d want to control my material supply to the greatest extent, or at least make money selling my lumber to my competitors.

Start considering any and all alternatives to the materials I’m currently struggling to find at reasonable costs.


Ignore the issue.

Count on my past success and relationships to get me by.

Meet with my competitors to discuss ways to fix or limit price increases, as this would land me in serious legal trouble for possible collusion and price fixing.

Sign a contact or make a commitment six months out without a plan for dealing with material price increases.

Of course, I’ve never owned a factory, and these are just grass cutting ideas that I’m sure most have already considered. These challenges are not likely going to be solved by a one-size-fits-all industry response. Its going to require each company thinking creatively and strategically about how they can best address them. Make time for some blue sky thinking.

Started on April 26, 2021 by Tom Hardiman

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Ready to Work if You Will Permit

Original Comment

By most accounts, states have deemed the construction industry as an essential business and have given the green light for operations to continue. This is good news for the thousands of projects that were halted mid-way through completion and many more that were scheduled to start. But as we all know, the construction industry is made up of numerous contributors and not all are on the same page yet.

Construction projects still need to the reviewed, approved, and inspected to ensure safety and compliance with all regulations. Prior to the coronavirus, many building departments were already lagging in the technology and staff to keep up with construction demand. Now, with code officials working remotely, this bottleneck has proven to be even more problematic.

For the past several years, we have felt that many of the thirty-five state modular administrative programs were understaffed. Some of these agencies still review and approve plans with in-house staff rather than relying on third party inspection agencies. And they do so with a very small staff. What happens when one person leaves that agency? It often takes months, or longer to fill the vacancy and plan reviews take longer to process. Some states still have no over-arching program for approvals, pushing everything to the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). In far too many of these jurisdictions, the locals simply do not have the staff and/or expertise to review these projects.

But it does not have to be this way, and there are a few things in the works to address these bottlenecks.

The industry is currently working with the International Code Council (ICC) to develop an ANSI standard for a Model Administrative Program (or MAP) specifically to address submittals, review processes, quality control plans, and approvals for modular components. This standard is in the early stages of development but will include standard terminology and a process for third party reviews - a key feature to help alleviate these bottlenecks. This standard, and the adoption by states to accept it, is still one to two years out.

The ICC is also directly contacting Congress and FEMA asking for additional support for their code official members. In a recent survey by the ICC, they found that two-thirds of AHJs are working remotely, but do not have the resources to effectively do so. According to their survey, “nearly a quarter of departments lack needed hard copy code books, 4 in 10 departments do not have the capability to conduct electronic/remote plan review, 3 in 10 departments do not have the capability to conduct electronic/remote permitting, and 6 in 10 departments do not have the capability for electronic/remote inspections.”

We are encouraging any state without a program to contact us NOW to begin the process of implementing one. We are also encouraging all states with a modular program to allow the use of independent third-party inspectors rather than trying to rely on in-house staff. As policy makers across the country hail the need for the construction industry to get back to work, please keep in mind that the entire industry network may need additional tools and resources, and the states need to get on board with standard and consistent approval processes.

Started on April 23, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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Construction, Interrupted?

Original Comment

By some accounts, our country seems to have hit the peak in terms of coronavirus cases in most areas. The modular construction industry is more fortunate than many other industries in that many of our factories were deemed essential and allowed to remain open (or reopen after a brief shutdown). But the reality is that it may be another month or so before we can even START to get back to normal (whatever that means).

As you know, the construction process involves many key participants (perhaps too many) and the manufacturer is just one of those players. We checked in with some of our contacts to see how they are navigating this new path.

One supplier stated that they were currently running at a reduced rate because about half of their customers are not working. Those that are working are doing so at a reduced rate. Additionally, about half of their employees are on furlough and their sales staff is on a stay at home requirement.

Another supplier echoed those comments and said they were operating with about two-thirds of their staff and have been deemed as an “essential business.” But unfortunately, most of their customers (residential builders) have been closed.

According to Tom Coronato of Citizen Bank, “We are in a time of historic low rates, and now is a great time to refinance or buy a new home. We are still getting daily pre-qualification activity for folks looking to build and buy new homes all over the country, which is a good sign of the pent-up demand once this crisis breaks. There seems to be a lot of sidelined folks waiting to spend money on homes for the land they own. There is also an uptick in calls for mortgage forbearance and that information can be found on many bank websites, including ours. That may be one reason we have also seen many competitors already exit the construction lending arena.” Coronato continued, “There is a slowdown in the processes as we adapt to the changing environment for things like face to face closing, and appraisal entries.”

Code officials are also having to navigate a new path during this crisis. The International Code Council recently sent an email to all members providing a new series of free webinars related to COVID-19 and building safety. Covering topics such as virtual inspections, online codes access, and digital training, these webinars are aimed at helping code officials navigate the new virtual work environment.

According to one builder in the northeast, “The governor's shutdown order has definitely had an impact on our business, suppliers are running slower than normal, some of our subs have shut down and we can only have one worker on any job site at a given time, so we're definitely not making the progress we normally would. And our entire office staff is working from home now.

Thankfully we had four homes in the final punch list stages so we're getting those wrapped up, but we expected to start several others this month that we've been delayed on. Sales have also understandably slowed, but so far only one deal that we expected has died and we're still in discussion with many prospects. We have 5-6 modular homes on order that have been delayed due to shutdowns. We'll get through this but won't do as much business this year as we expected. We did apply and were approved for the SBA PPP but haven't received funding yet. We also applied for EIDL 2-3 weeks ago but haven't had any response yet.”

The good news is that the construction industry is full of experienced and savvy veterans who have navigated challenges and downturns in the past. Real estate is still a safe bet and interest rates are at historic lows. This may be the biggest challenge yet, but we will get through it.

Started on April 14, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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Taking the Long-Term View, As We Make It Through the Short Term

Original Comment

As we enter week four of remotely working and adjusting to zoom meetings and texting co-workers we once chatted with in the hallways, it’s becoming clear that things may never get back to “normal.” And for those of us over a certain age, that can be a little unsettling. But if we take a longer-term view, this experience may make us better equipped to deal with customers and business in general after this crisis is over.

We no longer have to debate whether technology is going to change our industry – we are now living that reality! Consider that in the last four weeks, we have completely changed how we shop, work, socialize, and entertain ourselves. EVERYTHING is done online, on our I-phones or tablets, and through the use of apps. I used to know people who were reluctant to order anything online. Not now. Those barriers were shattered when the fear of running low on toilet paper set in.

But can technology significantly change the labor-intensive construction industry? How can the various players in the industry adapt to the virtual office or jobsite? For starters, companies that were open to telecommuting prior to this crisis are likely adapting more easily than those who were not open to the idea. Can your architects, engineers, and sales personnel access important company files through a cloud-based server rather than in-house servers? Can your salespeople meet virtually with customers to review plans and make changes online in real-time? Will the construction industry finally be forced to embrace and utilize building information modeling to maximize its full potential?

Has this crisis changed how you order materials? Are you communicating more with your key vendors now in anticipation of restarting operations? And suppose all of this happens and buildings and homes continue to roll off the factory lines? How will they be inspected if code officials are required to stay home in the short term? Would you believe that there are some states currently experimenting with skype inspections? They were doing so to address bottlenecks and staff shortages prior to the outbreak. And how many jurisdictions still do not have a process for online plan submittals? How are they coping now?

Technology is no longer the boogie man for some of the old school thinkers in the industry; it is a necessity for business continuity. Get comfortable with the idea, because this genie is out of the bottle, she’s not going to hurt us, and we can’t go back to our old ways.

Right now, I have a desktop, tablet and I-phone in my office. That is, by far, much more computing power than NASA used to send Apollo 11 to the moon! And I consider myself a fairly low-tech guy. Maybe now is now a good time for a top to bottom review of all your processes to determine where technology can help.

Started on April 7, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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A Look Ahead: Guidance for Essential Workers

Original Comment

As we plan for our third week of working from home, the team here at MHBA wanted to share a few notes about what the upcoming week has in store.

Last week, we notified you that Pennsylvania factories can remain open as essential services. However, given that many had already closed, it may take several weeks before many are functional. Two days ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued its own guidance on “ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKFORCE.” The guidance includes “workers performing housing construction related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage.” The guidance also notes that “This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard.” While this guidance helps clarify essential worker status, again it will take some time to bring our modular factories back online.

We are taking advantage of more people being home, and likely online, by running several Facebook posts that highlight the advantages of modular homes over site-built homes. One post reached over 95,000 people with 2,500 visiting our website to read the full story. As a result, our overall website traffic is up 159% during the past two weeks versus the prior-year period.

But we need your help! We need more content from you. Send us your floor plans and consider submitting a project for our Home of the Month contest. The link to submit can be found on the home page under the Home of the Month tab. Our goal is to further educate visitors to our site, then steer them to you through the online directory, request a quote feature, or the links to your website from our member listing and floor plan pages.

Not to be lost with all the talk of Covid-19 is the fact that the deadline for submitting comments to HUD for their proposed changes is March 31st. MHBA plans to submit comments expressing our concerns that HUD code manufacturers will have a nation-wide, blanket exemption for two story homes and attachments that previously required additional underwriting. We also formally requested that HUD delay the deadline for sixty days because of the COVID crisis. As of today, we have not heard back on the request to delay and will be prepared to submit comments by the deadline.

We also reached out to Fannie Mae, who is in the process of finalizing their lenders guide for modular projects. We requested that additional language be included in their guide to clarify that a HUD code home built under a certain (and confusing) trademark name is not in fact a modular home. The MHBA board considered the possibility of filing a claim with the Federal Trade Commission to fight the use of that misleading HUD product name. But ultimately the board felt the legal fees required to fight that battle (approximately $25,000) would be better utilized on a positive marketing effort to promote the advantages of modular homes over site-built homes.

No doubt, COVID news will continue to dominate the airwaves. It seems from the passage of the new CARES Act, that the government response will be more of a decentralized approach to addressing the crisis, with a majority of funding pushed to the state level, instead of a top down approach. We are assessing those construction and funding opportunities and reaching out directly to state officials to encourage a modular solution when possible.

If your company has an inspiring story about helping during this crisis, please share that with us so we can promote your good works. Also feel free to reach out to anyone on our team with questions, comments, or suggestions. While we are working remotely, email is the best way to reach us.

Thank you and stay safe!

Started on March 30, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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Thank you for the good information.

We are pleased that factory-built housing, as a segment of construction, is considered vital by many states and the DHS. For our company's situation, with plants in multiple states, we need to adopt to local requirements. In those states where we are allowed to operate, we are evaluating the best balance between the safety of our employees, the reliable delivery of materials, and the business needs of our customers. Everyone along that value chain has a unique set of circumstances, and we are evaluating this multiple times each day. For our three Pennsylvania plants, that led to closing their production again this week, even though we are legally allowed to reopen. We are communicating regularly with our employees, suppliers, and builders, and that shared conversation is helping us drive our decisions.

We view MHBA as an important conduit to sharing information, both for the temporary decisions created by the coronavirus, but also for the long-term support and messaging of the outstanding value of modular construction. Thank you for what you do, and hope all companies associated with this type of construction support MHBA so you can continue your good work.

Bob Bender
The Commodore Corporation

Updated on March 30, 2020 by Bob Bender
MHBA COVID Update 3/27/2020

Original Comment

All, it has obviously been a stressful and challenging few weeks for everyone with a lot of questions circulating. While we don’t have all the answers, we want to share what we do know:

First, from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development “Pennsylvania producers of manufactured and industrialized housing may remain open provided that you adhere to social distancing restrictions and taking other mitigation measures to ensure the health and safety of employees and patrons. Please be reminded, the all other restrictions under the Governor’s authority regarding residential construction remains in effect. Third party agencies performing duties under the PA Industrialized Housing Program have been provided information regarding the ordering of PA industrialized housing insignias.”

We caution that this does not mean things will be back to normal quickly. Many factories may find that employees are not willing to return to work yet and it may take a while to staff back up. This also does not address the potential difficulty of availability of local authorities, permits, and inspections. Nonetheless, modular factories in Pennsylvania may begin opening now. As situations change quickly, please check with your state to determine essential worker status.

On a more positive note, there may be niche opportunities emerging from this crisis. One builder mentioned the possibility of “boomerang” parents leaving senior living centers and returning home to live with their children, opening the door for more accessory dwelling units or “granny pods.”

In fact, several builders we spoke with have expressed cautious optimism for the near term. We talked to a few today who indicated that on-line web traffic was up, good leads were still coming in and deals are still being discussed.

It makes sense. With so much uncertainty in the world, real estate has generally been a safe bet. And with interest rates at historic lows, now is a great time to start planning for the future. If you haven’t done so lately, now may also be a great time to spruce up your website content and social media outlets as no doubt many more people are home in front of their screens!

Stay safe!

Started on March 27, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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Modular Industry Response to COVID-19 Outbreak – March 22, 2020

Original Comment

The Congressional bill to address the COVID-19 outbreak is slated to be voted on early this week, but we received a draft for review. While nothing is certain at this point, we do have an indication of the types of facilities that may be included in the package. Those include:

Expansion of military treatment facilities
Temporary quarantine facilities
Funding for FEMA facilities
Mobile Triage Units
Mobile Treatment Centers for Veterans Affairs

Also included in the draft are significant increases in funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for its CDBG Program to address the issues of homelessness and public health. In all, there is several billion dollars available for housing, buildings, and facilities scattered throughout HUD, FEMA, Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other agencies.

Industry Response Moving Forward:

It’s difficult to say exactly how much total funding will be available for facilities and infrastructure when the numbers are this large and scattered across numerous agencies. But it seems as if there will be many opportunities for our industry to help.

We are continuing to reach out to state and federal agencies to promote and encourage modular solutions to this crisis, specifically targeting these agencies with facility needs. Thank you to those who have already sent brochures and information to us listing some of these facility types. We want to categorize and standardize our response to these agencies to the greatest extent possible to ensure we are meeting their needs.

We plan to serve as an information clearing house and a reliable source of information during this crisis. We also plan to continue working with the state governors and provincial premiers to ensure our factories are considered “essential business operations” and to field any requests for facility needs.

Stay tuned and stay safe!

Started on March 22, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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Modular Construction Industry Poised to Help Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Original Comment

Modular building manufacturers in the U.S. can quickly provide ready-to-use facilities to meet housing, education, and health care needs.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – The modular construction industry, led by trade groups Modular Building Institute (MBI) and the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA), have been working with state and federal officials on ways to support housing and emergency response efforts.

MHBA has been advocating for greater use of modular construction to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis well before the COVD-19 outbreak. “With modular factory production lines idle, there is nothing our industry can do in this crisis,” said MHBA Executive Director Tom Hardiman. “We have the capacity to build thousands of medical clinics and support facilities now and we are calling on our leaders to keep our factories open and let us help.”

MBI members are well poised to help supply rapidly-deployable buildings, such as temporary medical clinics, in times of crisis. “By working with the National Governors Association, we are positioning MBI as a clearinghouse for information for any state requesting space for surge capacity or any other need during this crisis,” said MBI Government Affairs Director Jon Hannah.

Along with other organizations such as Associated General Contractors, the modular industry is calling on Congress to take the following actions:
•Provide the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) loan programs with increased funding for small businesses in the construction industry;
•Create and vigorously fund a similar program for construction businesses that do not qualify for assistance through existing SBA loan programs;
•Provide financial assistance to contractors who incurred losses when public owners—who themselves utilize federal funding—delay or terminate projects as a result of COVID-19-outbreak;
•Extend the filing deadlines for business returns and suspend the payment of all business taxes to the federal government for the duration of the pandemic; and
•Make substantial and long-term investments in federal construction programs to address housing, health care, and education needs, which have all been exacerbated by this crisis.

Started on March 20, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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Advancing Modular Housing Initiative

Original Comment

MHBA is aggressively promoting the modular home movement at the federal and state levels with an effort we are calling our “Advancing Modular Housing Initiative.” Nearly every local, state, and federal housing authority struggles with the affordable housing gap. Yet many implement policies we feel are counter intuitive towards reaching their goals. In several states, one agency imposes restrictions that have a negative impact on the goals of another. Navigating this maze of local, state, and federal bureaucracy is time consuming and often frustrating. But we feel that the modular industry can play a bigger role in addressing our nation’s housing shortage.

Here are seven ways MHBA is working to advocate for the modular home industry.

1) Creating a level playing field – First and foremost, no housing “product” should have a government-supported unfair advantage. This week, we met with eight Congressional representatives including the Chairman of the House Finance Committee and Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. We discussed our concerns over the proposed new HUD regulations that would allow the manufactured housing industry to confuse the public and encroach into the modular home market share with its new “CrossMod” product. We will also be submitting comments on the regulations and encouraged Congressional leadership to question the motivation behind these proposed new regulations.

2) Address fairness and equity in financing modular projects – Over the past several months we have been working with Fannie Mae to develop a guideline for financing modular projects. In the past, Fannie Mae had been reluctant to guarantee loans for modular projects (multi-family condos in particular) requiring special (duplicative) underwriting. After our lobbying efforts, Fannie Mae has eliminated this second underwriting requirement and has moved further to better educate their lending community. Later this month, Fannie Mae will publish and distribute its lenders guide to financing modular projects, a publication the industry helped write.

3) We are working to get language included in future appropriations bills impacting low income housing tax credits and community development block grants that would incentivize agencies to consider housing projects that meet certain goals such as reducing material waste and reducing construction schedules.

4) Developing Industry Standards – The International Code Council (ICC) is currently developing two new ANSI standards for the modular / Offsite construction industry. One standard (ICC/ANSI 1200) will be more informative in nature and focus on aspects such as design, transportation, staging, and mod to mod assembly of larger projects. The second standard (ICC/ANSI 1205) will create a standard review and approval process for modular projects including third party inspections and standard requirements for quality assurance. MHBA/MBI Executive Director is the co-chair on this standards committee working group.

5) We continue to work directly with the State of Virginia through their housing, economic development and building code agencies to recommend policies that will encouraging greater participation from the modular home industry. We are scheduling calls and meetings with top policy officials in other key states to mirror these efforts in Virginia. We have a call set later this month to discuss housing policies in Ohio and have begun reaching out to other states for similar meetings.

6) Challenging restrictive zoning and HOA covenants - MHBA continues to be industry advocate, pushing back against ill-informed, outdated, and restrictive covenants that continue to pop up around the country. Last year we were successful in overturning one such case with the Michigan Supreme Court. No other trade association stepped up to help.

7) State Program Rules and Administration – Ultimately, this is where many bottlenecks occur, adding time and money to your projects. Next week while at MBI’s World of Modular Conference, we will meet with modular program officials from ten states to address excessive and burdensome regulations, greater use of third-party inspection agencies, and other ways to streamline the approval process.

These specific efforts are in addition to MHBA’s ongoing Consumer Awareness Program (CAP) which helps to educate and better inform thousands of potential home buyers each month. Our popular “Home of the Month” contest, online advertising, and regional radio ads are intended to drive consumers back to modularhome.org where they can learn more about modular homes and ultimately find a builder in their area.

If you are a modular home builder or manufacturer, please remember that MHBA is the ONLY national trade association that is focused exclusively on this industry and we have no competing interests within our org chart. If your company or potential customer is experiencing unfair treatment or discriminatory application of policies against modular homes, please feel free to contact our association for help.

Started on March 6, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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I appreciate the update. These initiatives are great strides to improve the industry.

Updated on March 6, 2020 by Cary Orlandi


Great information !!!!

This is exactly what we need


Updated on March 6, 2020 by Gary Casazza
Virginia Approves an (Almost) All of the Above Approach to Housing

Original Comment

Virginia State officials have given the green light to a variety of new products and processes in an effort to address the affordable housing gap. Under the new Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC), tiny homes and modified shipping containers will be covered under “alternative methods of construction.” Additionally, panelized homes will now be included in the State’s Industrialized Building Safety Regulations, the program that regulates the modular industry.

In addition to these specific code changes, the State is also exploring modular and other off site solutions in several of their state programs that offer grant funding to address housing. MHBA is working with these agencies to offer recommendations that might translate into business opportunities for the industry.

“In an age where government regulations typically hinder our growth opportunities, it’s refreshing to work with a state that sees our industry as a partner to help reach their goals,” said MHBA Executive Director Tom Hardiman.

Virginia is also one of the first states in the national to offer “innovation credits” under their Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. Under this program, two additional multifamily projects were approved utilizing offsite construction techniques.

Not included in the housing options this cycle was the greater use of “accessory dwelling units.” The State is still reviewing the potential advantages and challenges with ADUs. MHBA plans to continue working with Virginia as well as approaching other states to encourage them to embrace a similar approach to housing.

Started on March 4, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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Alternative Affordable Housing with Modular Construction

Original Comment

MHBA Executive Director Tom Hardiman recently met with several key officials in the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to discuss “alternative housing” solutions to help the state bridge the gap of affordable and safe housing. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways in which the state, through its various departments and divisions, can address its housing shortfall using more modular and manufactured housing. The primary challenge facing the state is the lack of “traditional” homebuilders available and/or willing to bid on projects.

The state recently received over $90 million dollars through various housing program grants from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The discussions at this meeting focused primarily on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and Acquire, Renovate, and Sell (ARS) Program which are funded at about $20 million in this current budget.

There are rules, conditions, and limitations on each of these programs which may be preventing builders from participating. There may also be a general lack of awareness and understanding of the program funding by the modular industry. It was clear from the meeting that the State realizes it cannot meet its goals without changing some of their processes and practices.

The modular industry, through MHBA, has been asked to step up and make policy change recommendations. As such, MHBA is soliciting input from the industry to gauge interest from builders and manufacturers doing business in Virginia to assist in an “alternative housing task force” for the purpose of drafting a series of proposed rule changes.

“Obviously, this effort will look at smaller modular plans and target lower- and middle-income families,” said Hardiman. “But we think that is an area where our industry can have a bigger impact if some of the more burdensome regulations were removed.”

Bigger picture: Virginia is hardly the only state struggling with this. Every state receives CDBG and other housing funds and the shortage of contractors is well documented and widespread. MHBA plans to test this alternative housing effort in Virginia and use the concept to set meetings in other key states, while continuing to advocate for broader regulatory changes for the modular industry.

MHBA is also reaching out to officials in D.C. to arrange meetings in March. While one topic will certainly be the misguided marketing efforts with the manufactured housing industry’s “CrossMod” product, the focus will be on how the modular home industry can help address affordable housing nationally. If you are interested in participating in this conversation, beginning with the Virginia task force, please email Tom Hardiman at: tom@modularhome.org

Started on February 20, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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Why MHI’s New CrossMod™ Isn’t a Mod at All!

Original Comment

You may have recently heard about a new trademarked housing product from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) called CrossMod™. According to their sales literature, the home:

“represents the blending of features built on-site to create a new class of homes for our industry (cross or crossover) and the innovative, efficient methods used in off-site home construction (mod or modern). Additionally, MHI’s research found the undefined use of “mod” drew favorable associations to the terms “modern” and “modular.” While nine percent of respondents said they would consider purchasing a manufactured home, 46 percent said they would purchase a CrossMod™. This is why the distinction between the two categories is so important for attracting more home buyers to our products.”

Please read that paragraph again, let it sink in, and fully understand exactly what is going on. The term “manufactured home” only appeals to nine percent of potential home buyers. But add the “undefined use of mod” to the name and suddenly it jumps to 46%!

MHBA and the commercial trade association MBI, have invested considerable resources into research, education, surveys, and alliances to help improve the public’s perception of the term “modular.” And its working! Today, modular construction is poised to explode in growth.

Dozens of universities across North America now teach architects, engineers, and construction managers about modular construction. This was not the case five years ago! “Modular” didn’t suddenly become popular and acceptable overnight. It did so in part because our industry trade associations made it a priority years ago.

Putting a manufactured home on a permanent foundation, adding a pitched roof and a porch doesn’t make it modular. It makes it a damn nice manufactured home. And that’s nothing to shy away from. Take pride in your own industry and own it! But don’t high-jack our industry because your marketing team thinks it will help with sales.

These new products will inevitably be used as comps when assessing the value of true modular and site-built homes. How is that fair? What happens to the value of the tens of thousands of “regular” manufactured housing units when the industry itself turns it back on them.

I will never make a disparaging remark about a manufactured home. It is a viable and affordable housing solution that is much needed in this country and has provided decent living accommodations for countless people. But it’s NOT a modular home. If this CrossMod™ is built to the federal HUD code, it’s a manufactured home. Calling it something else is just dishonest, disingenuous, and intentionally misleading.

We are calling on the Manufactured Housing Institute to stop marketing this product and to stop misleading the public. We are asking the public to ask one simple question when considering this product: “What code is this built to?”

If I have a bike with two wheels and a seat, and it propels forward as a mode of transportation. Can I call it a Harley Davidson? After all, there are some similarities.

Started on February 7, 2020 by Tom Hardiman

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MHBA Annual Conference Draws Record Crowd

Original Comment

The team here at the Modular Home Builders Association HQ would like to thank all of those who attended, exhibited, and sponsored our recent annual conference at the Hotel Hershey. Nearly one hundred industry people participated making this event the largest in MHBA history!

Participants heard Professor Ivan Rupnik from Northeastern University discuss global best practices and innovation. Rupnik’s key take away was that innovation at some of the most successful companies did not happen overnight, but rather with a mind set of continuous improvement over time.

Attendees also explored net zero modular homes with Alison Donovan of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation and discussed improving efficiency with Colby Swanson and Professor Joe Louis from the University of Oregon.

We also want to thank the modular program officials from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia who attended and shared updates from their state programs. Mike Moglia from Pennsylvania announced that his team will soon expand by one additional staff person and that commercial projects would be incorporated into the program within 18 months.

Lastly, we want to congratulate Dreamline Modular and Excel Homes for winning the MHBA 2019 Home of the Year! Thanks again for helping to make this another successful event.

Started on October 16, 2019 by Tom Hardiman

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Original Comment

From time to time, we receive questions from our followers on social media about modular homes. This week we received some questions about setting modular homes. MHBA reached out to Anthony Zarrilli of Zarrilli Homes, LLC in New Jersey (www.zarrillihomes.com) to help answer these questions.

Q. What are the standard recommend qualifications of an installer of modular homes?

A. Standard recommended qualifications should be looked at prior to hiring a modular home builder. Your builder should have experience in both modular construction as well as traditional stick frame. Typically, porches, decks, detached/attached garages have to be done on site. This is over and above the modular home finish. Also, someone who is detailed oriented, organized and can set and keep to a schedule with a tentative completion date. The more details on the scope of project and schedule through completion that can be offered the more successful the job will be and ultimately happy you will be with the project.

Q. Wondering what the normal setup time allowance should be for a 2 section off frame modular home?

A. From the time the home is delivered to the property (and set on foundation) the time to complete should be 60-90 days. Depends on any/all site finish work (site work and/or decks/porches, etc. that need to be done over and above the modular home.)

Q. If a house arrives at a site and the prep is not complete to set the house how long could it sit on the trailer before being set?

A. A modular home should not be delivered to the site until the foundation and site it prepped and ready for the home set. If by chance, there is a delay due to high winds or inclement weather a few days will not harm the home modules. I would recommend that they should not sit on trailers for more than 5-7 days.

Q. Are there standards for tolerances in spacing between the sections?

A.There should be no more than 1” between modules. And ANY/ALL spaces should be filled in with products like or similar to Great Stuff expanding insulation on all floors, walls, ceilings and gable ends spacing in roof. It is common to have some spacing but excessive spacing is a sign of poor workmanship and/or house set.

Q. Is it common for the dimensions of the house not to match the dimensions of the foundation?

A. Typically, a house may not match the dimensions of a foundation by ½-1” and can be addressed on site with shimming, packing out, etc. There is a small tolerance that is acceptable but more than that could be a problem. However, each design has its own criteria.

Thanks, Anthony, for addressing these questions. If you have a question about modular homes, feel free to send those to info@modularhome.org.

Started on August 7, 2019 by Tom Hardiman

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Michigan Supreme Court Makes Historic Ruling in Favor of Industry-Backed Homeowner

Original Comment

The Michigan State Supreme Court recently handed down its ruling in the Thiel v Goyings case, involving a homeowner who utilized modular construction and a neighbor who opposed its use. MHBA filed an Amicus Brief in support of the homeowner in this case.

When David and Helen Goyings considered building their retirement home in Timber Ridge Bay neighborhood in Allegan, Michigan (north of Kalamazoo) they began speaking to Tim Cassidy at Heritage Custom Builders/Tim Cassidy Builders. “We’d seen some homes Tim built and were impressed with the quality,” Helen Goyings said in an exclusive phone interview with MHBA. “We liked that we were able to pick out and design our home the way we wanted because we didn’t want a cookie cutter home.” Goyings continued, “And, his homes were so well built, better insulation, thicker walls, and just a better product than the stick-built on-site home.”

Unfortunately for the Goyings, their neighbor didn’t like the idea at all. Once construction began and the three modules from Ritz Craft Corporation were delivered for installation, things turned nasty. Matthew Thiel owned a nearby home and opposed the Goyings use of modular components in their home construction, citing the Homeowners Association restrictive covenant. He took the Goyings to court demanding that their new dream home be torn down. Thus, began a four-year legal ordeal for the Goyings family.

After a three-day bench trial, the trial court found no cause of action and dismissed the case in favor of the homeowner. On appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court erred and reasoned that the Goyingses’ home unambiguously fit the commonly understood definition of “modular” but never construed the disputed term used in the covenants— “modular home.” The restrictive covenant in question was written in 2006 and states:

“Manufactured Housing Units. No manufactured homes, whether classified as a mobile home, modular home, or otherwise, and no prefabricated homes shall be permitted on any Parcel in the Premises, regardless of which building codes are applicable to said homes.”

The panel reversed and held that the trial court should have granted judgment in the neighbors’ favor and ordered the Goyingses to tear down their new home.

But the Goyings were not done fighting and not willing to tear down their new retirement home. They appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court in hopes that their case would be heard. When asked if MHBA’s amicus brief helped her family’s case, Helen Goyings said definitively that it did. “It was peace of mind for us that the industry we chose to spend our money with backed us up. It gave us the confidence to continue fighting.” According to Helen, “the amicus briefs filed by MHBA and others were the biggest help in crossing the line to have the case heard by the court because the Court only took up thirty cases this year.”

In making their 5-2 ruling in favor of the Goyings, the Michigan Supreme Court stated in part “this is not a dispute about the definition of the word modular. And It’s also not a dispute about whether modular homes are nice. The dispute is about how the covenants define a modular home—that is, when does a home with modular components cross the line and become a modular home? How do we know a “modular home” when we see one?”

According to Heritage Custom Builders/Tim Cassidy Builders, the majority of the home would be stick-built on-site. This included the entire lower-level walkout basement, garage, roof gables, roofing, front porch, stone columns, deck, and other portions of the home. However, three modular components would be built offsite and delivered to the lot. All told, the completed home’s cost would be composed of about 59% stick-built construction and 41% modular components. This fact turned out to be the deciding factor in this case.

The parties did not dispute any of the (lower) trial court’s factual findings:

-It found that the testimony was uncontroverted that the overall quality of the Goyingses’ home would equal or surpass that of homes that are stick-built on-site.

-The completed home would be indistinguishable from a stick-built home in material quality and workmanship because the modules were constructed out of the same materials as a stick-built home and the construction methods used in the factory were the same as those used to build a home on-site.

-The home was subject to the same residential building codes as a stick-built home.

The lower court also found that the home’s hybrid construction would not be visible. It would be visually attractive, and, from appearances, “it would be unlikely that anyone would know that the home had been built anywhere but on the property.”

The court also determined that although the plaintiffs believed “that knowledge that the construction of the home involved three modules would reduce the value of the other homes in the area,” they did not present any evidence from an “appraiser, expert or other witness to support their belief.”

Finally, on the basis of testimony from the covenants’ drafter, the court determined that the purpose of the covenants was to protect the value of the parcels by maintaining a consistent standard of aesthetics, quality, and value for all homes built within the subdivision. The covenants prohibited manufactured homes, mobile homes, and modular homes on the basis of the assumption that such homes “are not typically going to be of a standard and of aesthetic appeal as what a stick-built home would be.”

In other words, the covenant was written in 2006 ASSUMING that a modular home would not look as nice as a site-built home and would therefore lower the value of nearby homes.

After a lengthy grammar lesson in their opinion, the Supreme Court landed on some key facts:

Ritz-Craft, the company that manufactured the modular components, might describe itself as a “ ‘modular home manufacturer,’ ” but the Goyingses did not purchase a modular home from Ritz-Craft; they contracted with Cassidy Builders and Heritage Custom Builders to construct a home that incorporated Ritz-Craft modules.

Though all these sources demonstrate that the Goyingses’ home is partly modular, they provide no guidance as to whether the modular components were extensive enough to violate the restrictive covenants.

The home does not fit the covenant definition of “relocated residence”—the modules were not a “residence” when placed on the lot. According to the builder, each component was “just a raw piece of construction material” and was “not even close” to being habitable without extensive on-site construction.

Nor does the Goyingses’ home breach the prohibition against “manufactured housing units.” The trial court found that the defendants’ home was mainly stick-built, with modular components integrated into it. And the Supreme Court agreed.

The Timber Ridge Bay restrictive covenants unambiguously prohibit modular homes. The materials, workmanship, quality, and outward appearance of the defendants’ home are indistinguishable from a site-built home.

Modular components don’t necessarily make a modular home. The covenants give us text and context to determine what a modular home is. A fair reading of those covenants prohibits a home that is more modular than not. And the Goyingses’ home is mostly not modular.

What Does this Mean for the Industry Going Forward?

This ruling can only be described one way – historic! MHBA is not aware of any other case in the country where a restrictive covenant against a modular home was overturned. And to have the ruling come from a state Supreme Court is even more significant.

MHBA had to incur legal expenses to file the amicus brief in this case with absolutely no guarantee of a positive outcome. According to MHBA Executive Director Tom Hardiman, “the Supreme Court could have ruled in favor of the Court of Appeals and ordered the Goyings to tear down their home. That would have been tragic. But we are proud to be a part of this ground-breaking ruling and proud of the homes our members build.”

While this case was specifically about whether one home violated the language in its HOA, MHBA believes this ruling will have a ripple effect. “We are opposed to any restrictions that place modular construction at a disadvantage to site-built homes”, said Hardiman. “As we approach 2020, it’s ridiculous that we continue to have this conversation given the lack of skilled labor and low availability of affordable housing inventory in this country.”

Paul Lindsley of Ritz-Craft Homes had this to say about the ruling: “This is a landmark decision for our industry. Systems built product plays a key role in the housing business and that role will continue to grow as site labor challenges continue to mount. My hope is this sets a precedent for future housing discrimination cases, and that it also paves the way for the decision-making process a developer considers when establishing restrictive covenants.”

Tim Cassidy of Heritage Custom Builders/Tim Cassidy Builders witnessed many of the hearings and said, “the attorney for MHBA proved to be very helpful to the case. He was very informed and provided a lot of good insight as to what is happening in the industry.” Cassidy continued, “We are happy with the outcome of this case and for the Goyings family. We built a beautiful home for them and now they can enjoy it.”

MHBA, too hopes the Goyings family can finally enjoy their retirement home!

Started on July 25, 2019 by Tom Hardiman

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Don’t be Confused by a “Hudular” Home

Original Comment

Before you build your home, be sure to ask your contractor this important question: “To what building code will my home be constructed?”

Every state in the U.S. has adopted some version of the base model International Residential Code (IRC) for new home construction requirements. The base model codes are developed every three years and states have the right to adopt and amend these codes to meet their local needs. Some states such as Maryland, are on the most current 2018 version of the IRC, while other states are using the 2015, or 2012 versions.

All site built and modular homes must meet the state and local building codes in effect where the home will be located. A manufactured home, on the other hand, is built to the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Code. To address the affordable housing shortfall, the HUD code homes are built to a less robust and resilient standard and are therefore deemed to be more affordable. This is a federal “pre-emptive” code meaning these manufactured housing units must be accepted in all states. States and localities do have the right to determine WHERE these units can be located through zoning requirements.

Now this all seems pretty clear and straightforward, until a recent move by some in the manufactured housing industry. In an effort to obtain more conventional mortgage financing through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, some manufactured housing companies have developed what is being referred to as “next generation” manufactured homes. These new homes are still built to the HUD code, but with some enhanced features such as pitched roofs and drywall.

To be clear, we have no issue with manufactured housing. The industry has provided quality living accommodations to countless thousands of families over the last several decades. And if you want a manufactured home, by all means you should get one.

But this latest move causes some serious concerns. For starters, the cost of these next gen manufactured homes is roughly equivalent to a basic IRC compliant site built or modular home, which begs the question – why not just build to the IRC? Another potential issue is that these HUD code homes, once placed in a community, can be used as “comps” for appraisers when evaluating modular or site-built homes, even though they are not built to the same codes. Lastly, what will become of the current generation of manufactured homes if next generation homes succeed? Will they be further frowned upon in communities, creating even greater hardships for lower income families?

We sometimes struggle to educate the general public between the differences between a manufactured home and a home built using modular construction techniques. This latest move won’t help.

If your builder can't or won't answer that first question, you should consider finding a new builder! We know a few - give us a call.

Started on June 27, 2019 by Tom Hardiman

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New Report by McKinsey & Company: Modular construction’s time may have finally come

Original Comment

In case you missed it, McKinsey & Company recently published a new report on the staying power of modular construction. The report, “Modular Construction from Projects to Products” makes the case for a ten-fold increase in revenue for the industry in the next decade.

“There are strong signs of what could be a genuine broad-scale disruption in the making. It is already drawing in new competitors—and it will most likely create new winners and losers across the entire real estate and construction ecosystem. There is mounting evidence that this disruption is now happening. Promising signs of a trend that we believe has staying power and growth potential.”

But this report isn’t simply a marketing piece for the industry to tout. It’s more of a roadmap to follow. For example, McKinsey makes several recommendations on what manufacturers will need to do to capitalize on this unprecedented opportunity.

“Companies will need new capabilities in design, manufacturing operations, and digital technologies. Their go-to-market strategies may include deeper partnerships with developers, construction firms, and financiers. They will need to compete with other industries for scarce digital talent. Finally, they will need to introduce and maintain the classic kind of continuous improvement mentality that leading manufacturers have developed over the years.

The lean offsite manufacturing process is far faster than the equivalent building process onsite. This is due to the enclosed and controlled factory environment, the ability to coordinate and repeat activities, and increasing levels of automation.

More importantly, the more standardized, automated, and controlled operating environment of a factory can double productivity above what can be achieved with traditional builds, eliminating a great deal of onsite down time. This is even before considering the productivity benefits of establishing simplified, repetitive processes or advanced automation equipment.

One useful analogy is the automotive industry. Car makers use the same chassis in multiple car models but swap out various features to make different models look and feel distinct. Even within these models, customers are often given options to personalize a vehicle, all of which can be achieved in the manufacturing process.”

In order to realize these gains, all parties involved in the construction process will need to adapt. For example, public policy makers, struggling with affordable housing needs and labor shortages, need to adopt more manufacturing-centric policies to encourage growth, rather than adding new requirements to appease the concerns of skeptical factions within the building process.

We are not yet advocating for full-on automation of modular factories, as that requires significant investment and adds to overhead. But we fully agree with McKinsey’s assessment that manufacturers must embrace a continuous improvement mindset, lean manufacturing principles, and standardize processes where possible.

Started on June 24, 2019 by Tom Hardiman

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High Cost of Regulations

Original Comment

Without a doubt, every industry needs some degree of regulation to protect consumers and ensure safety. But at what point do agencies go overboard and start to actually hurt consumers in the form of higher costs?

On average, businesses pay between $8,000 and $10,000 per employee per year in hidden costs associated with various rules and regulations. That's just an average. Each year, MHBA addresses issues in various parts of the country that easily add to this figure. Automated sprinkler systems in single family homes even if the customer doesn't want them? Add $10,000.

Often, new regulations are imposed where none are needed, or when simple enforcement of existing regulations would suffice. One builder violates a provision of the building code? Add a new requirement for everyone to meet!

Sometimes policies are implemented that restrict the use of modular homes altogether, such as outdated template language in homeowner association agreements.

More often than not we discover the new rules are imposed for one of two reasons: 1) the people proposing the rules don't fully understand the industry and over-regulate to protect themselves or 2) Existing rules were not adequately enforced causing an over reaction.

And more often than not, its MHBA on the front lines addressing these modular home issues on your behalf.

There are lots of reasons modular home builders, suppliers, and manufacturers SHOULD be members of MHBA. Joining together to ensure a level playing field and protecting your business interests sure seems to make sense.

Housing costs in the U.S. are already unaffordable for too many people. Modular homes should be an option to help close this gap, not widen it. But every dollar added for unnecessary new regulations puts the dream of home ownership a little further out of reach.

Started on February 19, 2019 by Tom Hardiman

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So a video must be worth…..

Original Comment

Sometimes it’s difficult to explain the modular home process. When we find a good video, we like to share it with our readers. In this time-lapsed video from Connecticut Valley Homes, watch how the modules, panels, and components come together on site in a matter of hours. Of course, there is more work to be done on site to finish the home before occupancy. But it’s still pretty impressive to see an IRC compliant two-story home under roof in one day on site! Take a look at the video here:


Started on February 11, 2019 by Tom Hardiman

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Differences Between a Modular and Manufactured Home

Original Comment

One of the most common questions we get asked here at MHBA is about the difference between a modular home and a manufactured home. We checked in with Connecticut Valley Homes to address this question.

CVH: When thinking about factory-built homes, make sure you choose the one that is right for you. Modular homes and manufactured homes are both built in a factory offering value, time efficiencies, and quality control to name a few. Both are then transported to your building site. That is where the similarities end.

MHBA: So how are they different?

CVH: The key difference is the building code that the home is constructed. Modular homes conform to the same state and local building codes as site-built homes and often exceed the international residential code (IRC) that all new homes built in the U.S. must follow.
Manufactured homes, formerly known as mobile homes, are not built to the IRC code, but to a less stringent code that is defined, maintained, and enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Now also known as a “HUD” home, “HUD” requirements are set to a lower standard than the IRC code and were created to offer low-cost home ownership to more people.

It also helps to think of modular as a method of building, not a type of home. It is custom-built in sections called “modules” offering design flexibility and can have multiple floors. Plans are approved by a structural engineer and must meet the more stringent requirements of the IRC code. Modular homes can be built in any style from traditional two-story colonials with multiple roof lines to modern styles with beautiful rooftop decks. Since modules are built entirely indoors, materials are not subjected to the elements of outdoor construction like weather, vandalism, theft, etc.

Manufactured is entirely factory-built usually in one to three sections. Each section is built on a permanent steel chassis to support the frame. A manufactured home is all one level since the chassis is unable to support more weight. Because the steel frame is part of the structure and acts as part of the foundation, far less lumber is required during construction and it is much cheaper to “install” at the site.

MHBA: Any other differences?

CVH: Yes, several including cost and resale value, Modular homes will increase in value much like its site-built counterpart. While manufactured homes are generally less expensive than modular and tend to decrease in value. A manufactured home may be more difficult to refinance since it is not attached to a fixed foundation. Also, keep in mind that there may be residential zoning restrictions for manufactured homes in your area so placement in certain neighborhoods could be difficult.

To see other key differences between a modular home and a manufactured home, view the original article here: http://ctvalleymodularhomes.blogspot.com/2018/04/modular-vs-manufactured-homes-what-are.html

Started on November 19, 2018 by Tom Hardiman

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The modular home is financed by the same conventional lenders that finance conventional home and at comparable rates. Manufactured homes are financed through finance companies, generally at higher interest rates.

Moreover, a modular home appreciates in value at the same rate as a comparable site built homes. Manufactured homes depreciate over time just as an automobile or other tangable personal property does.

Updated on November 20, 2018 by Steven Snyder

To expand this commentary on real life experiences with type of residiential buildings.

In California, the State structure type for modular is a Factory Built House. It must follow the CEC - GREEN CODE with an energy report as any site built home. It must be tested by a HERS rater to meet stringent Zero Net Energy qualifications before occupancy can occur as well a Cal Fire inspection fo fire sprinklers..
A local Tax assesor Land Use codehas its own catagories as manufactured home. Typically in writing, we have to inform the Tax Assessor of the States classification. It then is changed to SFR after review. \
This Tax assesor classifixation allows a Title change and for comparable appraisals however you get hit for a penalty (less vlaue) for it being factory built versus site built.

The local building inspector has less inspections and revenue opportunities

Updated on November 20, 2018 by Steven Lefler

Original Comment

MHBA reached out to Ken Semler of Express Modular to get the straight scoop on modular homes, starting with these five “truths.”

Modular homes appeal to the masses of home buyers by offering design excellence through classic architecture. Just view the modular home plan collection at one of the top home plan websites, ArchitecturalDesigns.com. There you will see thousands of examples of top architects and designers whose plans and ideas can be “modularized” and built with the advantages of modular construction. While modern architecture offers wonderful design and beauty, most of America still chooses to live in a home that looks much like the one they grew up in.

A building system is essentially a highly engineered process of producing buildings or components of buildings in a highly cost effective and efficient manner. Roof trusses and floor trusses are components that many are familiar with that are produced using a building system. Almost every residential builder today would not imagine building a home without using roof trusses and even floor trusses. Why? Because they are strong, pre-built (built offsite then delivered and set), and cheaper than building those same components on-site.

Modular is actually a design approach. It is a process that divides a system into smaller parts called modules. These modules are built in a factory using many of the components and subassemblies that are used for onsite construction. These included roof trusses and floor trusses. The advantage is that these components and subassemblies are assembled into larger modules with the assistance of cranes, tooling, and jigs that just aren’t available in field construction. It is the smarter way that industries have discovered to produce custom products using standardized modules or assemblies.

Building in a factory away from the jobsite increases construction efficiency and productivity enables better sequencing in construction processes and reduces weather-related delays. In typical onsite construction, the process is the bottleneck. Everything has to happen in sequence. Building off-site means various aspect of the building is done simultaneously increasing timeframe efficiencies. Overall construction completion timeframes are drastically reduced.

The process of modular construction is the equivalent of construction efficiency. Efficiency means planning the entire construction process. The process builds efficiency in many ways. Here are just a couple:
Better Use of Materials – Material can be bought in the lengths and sized needed versus being cut as needed throwing away the scrap.
Buying Materials in Bulk – Instead of buying materials by the pickup truck load, factories pull the material needs of many homes together to negotiate better prices with suppliers lowering overall costs.
An often overlooked advantage of faster construction is the reduction in interest and carrying costs. With elaborate custom home construction projects that are financed with a construction loan, there are interest charges every month. These expenses are lost with no tangible long term value. By reducing the overall construction timeframe, money isn’t wasted on interest expense.

Resiliency is the intentional effort to design and construct buildings and landscapes to withstand both natural and man-made disasters. Modular homes are built strong. The basis for modular construction is to build a home that meets or exceeds building code. However, the modules that make up a modular building are built off site and transported to that site. The effort of getting from a factory to the building site is about the equivalent of surviving a hurricane and an earthquake before a module ever reaches a jobsite. It is placed on a carrier, driven at 55 – 65 MPH on highways, over bridges, and around curves. It may have to navigate back roads or tight residential streets. This 20,000 – 60,000 pound module is then lifted in the air by a crane with 2 or 4 straps or cables and placed on a foundation.

The resiliency built into every module is displayed at every modular home installation. In most cases, a module will only suffer from minor, if any, dry wall cracks. Structurally, the modules are stronger than anything that is built onsite. Resiliency is then exponentially increased when each of the modules are then connected with lag screws, bolts, and/or straps upon final installation. The strong interconnections between modules make modular homes extremely resistant to wind events as documented in the FEMA study following Hurricane Andrew.
Go here to read the full article: https://expressmodular.com/5-simple-truths-about-modular-off-site-construction/

Hi, I am Ken Semler the founder of Express Modular. I am passionate about this industry, our company, and the products we provide. Modern modular construction provides the ability to deliver healthy, safe, and energy efficient living spaces. Express Modular is a licensed builder/contractor in almost every state. I believe that modular homes provide the best way to deliver virtually unlimited design flexibility at the greatest value.

Started on November 12, 2018 by Katie Nicholson

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Modular Homes and Environmental Stewardship

Original Comment

There are a lot of people claiming that their product is “green” or environmentally friendly, including many modular home builders. But what exactly does that mean? MHBA asked Richard Wildermuth, CEO of Connecticut Valley Homes (CVH) for his thoughts on this.

CVH: There are some of the advantages found in every custom modular home we build. For example, modular homes are engineered to a higher standard of strength than site-built homes because they need to be transported to the building lot, lifted by a crane and set on the foundation. This results in a tighter, more completely sealed building envelope, which transfers into heating and cooling savings for the homeowner.

Another energy savings practice that we utilize is to insulate and seal all the gaps around electrical boxes, switches, water supply lines, plumbing waste lines, dryer vents and oven vents prior to the home leaving the factory.

MHBA: It seems like we hear a lot about inefficiencies around the windows and doors. Can that be addressed in the factory?

CVH: We use long-lasting, energy-saving windows and doors, which keeps temperature and air quality at a stable level and requires less from heating and cooling systems. Our sealed building envelope also prevents drafts through windows and walls limiting the presence of allergens and dust.

MHBA: So, it’s not only energy efficient, it can also improve indoor air quality?

CVH: Yes. Materials are safely stored in the factory while homes are constructed indoors; unlike site-built homes where supplies and framing are exposed to weather which can lead to mold or mildew issues.

MHBA: What about other “green” aspects of building this way?

CVH: Our construction process maximizes the use of construction materials which results in far less waste in landfills. Reduced onsite construction time means less disturbance to the building site. Fewer material deliveries, construction vehicles and less disruption to the surrounding neighborhood than with a site-built home.

To read the original article, go here: https://www.ctvalleyhomes.com/docs/why-modular/environmental-stewardship.asp

About the Author:
Connecticut Valley Homes believes in sustainable construction practices and environmental stewardship. For over thirty years, we have been building inherently green modular homes. Richard Wildermuth, President of Connecticut Valley Homes, was in the first graduating class of the National Association of Homebuilder’s “Green Building for Professionals.” As a Certified Green Professional, he believes in building well crafted, energy efficient homes.

Started on November 5, 2018 by Tom Hardiman

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Some additional Factory Built contributions to a GREEN best building practices environment

Inclement weather protection of materials
Theft prevention
Less Contractors for On Site work and visits on the surrounding neighborhood
Less use of building materials
Less Waste Inside and On Site
Energy Efficiency testing in side the Factory
- Blower Test
- Pressure testing of pipes
Home must travel the highways for wind testing and stress/vibrations equal to a constant earthquake

To name a few not mentioned in this discussion

Updated on November 5, 2018 by Steven Lefler
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