Building codes vary from state to state and even from town to town. Enforcement of building codes also varies considerably. It even varies between types of construction, such as between modular and stick construction. Simply put, modular home building code enforcement by modular manufacturers and local inspectors is tougher than that for stick build homes.
Why Modular Home Building Code Enforcement Is Tougher
It’s not that local inspectors intentionally treat the two forms of construction differently. It’s that the third-party factory approvals required for modular homes always force the factory to build to the current code. However, there are no independent inspections that compel local officials to implement code changes immediately for conventional construction. It sometimes happens that local officials take months before they implement new codes.
An Ironic Example of Modular Home Building Code Enforcement
One of my customers became upset when this happened with her modular home. Before selecting us, she did a lot of shopping with local stick builders. None of them mentioned the new wind bracing codes for homes built in her area along the shore. When we mentioned the likelihood that her home would have to comply with these codes, she cited the fact that none of the stick builders had mentioned this. We agreed that we would get the plans drawn and see what the code officials required.
Sure enough, the independent inspectors hired by the factory to comply with the state’s modular home requirements flagged the home as needing several structural enhancements to meet the coastal wind conditions. The customer was so upset that she went to the local inspector and asked if she needed to do this. He said that he had not yet been enforcing this code with local builders, although he planned to do so. But he also added that he could not override the third party inspection company because they were right about the new requirements and the state would not allow him to waive them.
It ended up costing our customer a few thousand dollars to beef up the structure of her home. On the other hand, she was quite glad to have this additional strength when her home was blasted by some strong winds from a hurricane that later hit her area. After all, there was a good reason the state building officials had adopted the new codes.
For more information about modular home building code enforcement, see Why Build Modular in my book The Modular Home