Discussion Forum Topic:

Tides Turning in the Bay State?
Original Comment:
About a year ago, a group of modular manufacturers and contractors, both residential and commercial, spent the better part of a day with the director of the Manufactured Housing Program listening to proposed updates and expressing our concerns over some of the regulations. The industry was task with helping to review, revise and re-write the regulations that would ultimately become the 9th Edition of the building code.

The industry responded by submitting over thirty separate comments including relatively minor clarification comments as well as more substantive comments. A the time we were informed that the time-line for the proposed new edition would be short (i.e. the next few months). After six months, it seemed as if the state had just been giving lip service to wanting our input and no real changes were in the works. That was until last week when the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Standards (BBRS) approved the draft version of the 9th Edition, the first step in the adoption process. Upon reviewing the draft, we were pleased to see that at least twenty-five of the industry comments were included, many verbatim. Among the proposed changes was the deletion of fifteen requirements currently listed in the quality control manual. Many of these requirements were redundant, unnecessary, and had little to do with quality control. Another change was clarification on how to treat existing relocatable buildings differently than newly constructed units.

While its a little too early to celebrate, it is impossible not to point out a few major changes that have occurred in the state in just the past few years. It was not long ago that the modular industry was dealing with horrendous, negative, and false press as a result of one modular home that caught fire and one overly-zealous volunteer fire chief who found his fame and glory in defaming our industry. After pushing back on these false attacks, the industry was able to build some credibility (and perhaps some sympathy) from other BBRS members. But more importantly, we found a modular program administrator in Steve Kennealy who was willing to sit down with the industry he oversees and talk through the issues openly and honestly.

How refreshing it is to have a state administrator invite industry comments, and actually incorporate most of those comments into the regulations. If only a few other state program administrators would be so willing to improve their programs! But this is also a cautionary tale. Now that the state has taken it's leap of faith and incorporated our proposed changes, it is incumbent upon the industry to follow the rules! Any shortcuts, missing forms, or other "cost saving" measures will have a devastating long term effect on industry as the agency's trust will have been lost. It is this type of self policing that will ultimately lead to fewer restrictions, faster approvals, and timelier project completions.

We will continue to seek further improvements in this state program, as well as all others. But please do your part by following the exiting rules so that the industry is not saddled with additional ones. As they say, it ain't over til its over, but this is a huge step in the right direction for Massachusetts!
Started on November 16, 2015 by Tom Hardiman
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Additional Comments:
I was at the meeting Tom mentions. I was very impressed with how well Tom Hardiman and Steve Kennealy worked together and how open they were to our comments. I had never experienced anything like that in my previous 30 years. Thanks to both of you.
Updated on November 16, 2015 by Andy Gianino

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