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HUD's Study OK's Homes for Coasts

July 15, 2006
Acomparison by the Housing and Urban Development department has shown that HUD Code homes built to Wind Zone III specifications are equal in strength to site-built homes that withstand 130 mph winds.

HUD has established specific building codes in Florida for homes that are to be placed in Wind Zone III. It is interesting to note that some Florida manufacturers are building all their homes to meet the Wind Zone III code.

The executive director of the Mississippi Manufactured Housing Association had written HUD for clarification of the new building code requirements for housing on the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. William W. Matchneer III, HUD's associate deputy assistant secretary for Mobile Homes and Regulatory Affairs responded in a letter:

"The emphasis that city and county officials have placed on 130 mph wind speed design requirements has apparently raised questions regarding the acceptability of HUD Code manufactured housing in these areas.

"The primary issue is how the HUD Code compares to the International Residential Code (IRC). The HUD Code Wind Zone III (coastal areas) requires homes to withstand a fastest mile wind speed of 110 mph, while the IRC uses a three-second gust of wind. Logically, most people would agree that a sustained wind of 110 mph is as tough a standard (or tougher) than a three-second gust of 130 mph. The HUD Code official came to the same conclusion.

"Comparing the wind design requirements provided for Exposure Category B in the IRC with HUD's wind design requirements for Wind Zone III and Exposure C in the table of Design Wind Pressures shows the design re- quirements in the HUD standards are comparable to the 130 mph design loads required by the IRC," the letter states.

"Therefore, mobile homes produced to HUD's Wind Zone III requirements will perform equally to homes designed to resist a 130 mph three-second gust velocity under the IRC requirements. We have no reservation in recommending HUD Wind Zone III homes as fully suitable for placement in areas now designated for homes that meet IRC 130 mph requirements, and believe that mobile homes should be considered on an equal basis."

In 2004, the Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA) hired an engineer to compare HUD standard with the Florida Building Code. The conclusion of that study was that HUD's fastest mile 110 standard was virtually equal to, and in some cases exceeded, the Florida Building Code's three-second gust of 130 mph.

It should be noted that new home installation law in Florida is one of the most strict in the United States. The requirements for placing and installing the tie-down anchors, along with the new stabilizers, means those new home foundations are strong and will withstand strong winds. It needs to be repeated again and again that homes built after 1994 that were in the path of Florida hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 sustained little or no damage. Studies and surveys reported that new homes are built strong and compare favorably with site-built homes.

If you live in a home built prior to 1994, or in a home that has not had the tie-downs inspected in the past five years you need to do so NOW as we enter the hurricane season. You want to assure that all your tie-downs are sound and properly installed and I strongly recommend that if possible you should have the new stabilizer installed under your home. These stabilizers will anchor your home and prevent it from moving in any direction.

While you are contemplating inspecting and/or strengthening your foundation consider that your carport and screen room are more susceptible to high winds than your home. You might want to consider talking with a contractor qualified to strengthen your carport and screen room to withstand high winds.

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