Monday, October 2, 2017

PA Government Loses Interest in Helping Modular Housing Industry

In the face of all the new modular commercial buildings being produced in PA the much anticipated Commonwealth of PA certification program is NOT going to start on Nov 6th as announced.

In spite of the fact of the two pieces of legislation passed into law and regulations published as final that established November 6 as the effective date for the new commercial program, PA has decided to not institute the program.

The positions of the Division Director, Mark Conte and Program Manager, Milt Stoftzfus have been vacant (9 months and 6 months respectively) because of their retirement with those positions moved to other areas in the Department of Community & Economic Development.

There is no plan to replace either of these positions. Ultimately, the state doesn't care about these programs.

For modular home builders this means that the PA program is not staffed and while insignias are being issued by clerical people, there is no-one running the program.

This sounds like another kick in the butt for our rapidly growing industry similar to what happened when MA lost their Modular Housing Director and clerical staff took over.

With PA being perhaps the biggest custom and now commercial modular producing state, what else would you expect but for PA to eliminate its certification program simply by ignoring it completely.

This is why everyone in our industry needs to attend either the BSC Summit and/or MHBA Annual Meeting in Hershey this month.


Tom Hardiman said...

Gary, we will be discussing this at our meeting next week. Mike Moglia is scheduled to present and give us an update. On the commercial side, MBI has been working for over a decade to get the program moved from L&I to DCED. That included two separate legislative efforts, the latest of which was HB 124 in 2013 - WELL BEFORE Mark and Mitch retired.

Many of our state programs are understaffed (which is a serious problem). But its no excuse to ignore state law and your responsibilities (twice).

Builder Bob said...

Score another one for Gary for breaking this news. I would probably have never known this was happening without him. Where else can you find out about what is really happening in the modular industry?

Anonymous said...

I think these programs are very important. If they collapse, local code officials will be able to run all over us.
So the question is, what can be done?

Builder Bob said...

Anonymous, that is already happening in MA where the Director left and was not replaced. Local code officials have little respect for third party inspections.

Tom Hardiman said...

Builder Bob, MBI has been working to get commercial mod moved over for a decade - two bills pushed through, countless meetings w staff. I have personally put in more hours on this particular issue than anyone in the country. Its been one excuse and barrier after another and frankly it was the former director himself the put up most of the barriers.

Its typical bureaucratic junk! They will continue to ignore and push our industry to the side UNTIL WE GET TOGETHER AND PUSH BACK! Hard to have much influence when most of the builders would rather not get involved, or just complain about the effort that is being made. If you don't like the current effort, step up get involved, and make it better.

We have a modular industry meeting next week in PA with 60 attendees. Now, that's the largest meeting MHBA has had in while. But good grief! How can you NOT come to a meeting where we have the modular program officials from several states in the room answering questions about the industry you make your living from? Do you not care what these people do? Do you make your living in some other way besides modular construction? They are impacting your business and livelihood!

How many rallying cries do you need before you get involved?

Anonymous said...

That is great and I will plan on attending. But do you have a plan to get support for the program from Harrisburg?

Stephen Stump said...

Florida decided to do the same many years ago. There has not been an active advocate at the state for over 10 years or more. As was stated above we can still get seals etc.. through the clerical means and there is some support clerically. So they believe they are doing what the law requires. The problem comes in when there are questions arising about Third Party Agency issues/reviews of being too stringent or too lacking in code compliance. Then there is no one to "arbitrate" a proper solution. But if necessary the state still has the "hammer" to put someone out of business (take approvals away) if they are a bad actor. The only other issue is local building officials trying to stop modular installations and not having an advocate at the state to get in between as necessary. However, we have never had such a problem as we build a quality building meeting all code requirements. We aren't trying to do "on frame" modular or "hudulars" etc that make everyone from locals BO's, to nimby's, etc to be upset with the industry as a whole not just the bad actor.

Builder Bob said...

To Tom Hardiman. I checked the speaker lineup for the MHBA SUmmit and saw Michael Moglia was a speaker. Unless he is taking over the reins of the modular side of that agency I don't see any reason someone that runs the HUD factory side of the agency would be of interest in any way to modular builders.

Then I checked out the rest of the speakers and only saw a couple that I would even remotely want to hear.

When are you and Gary going to hold another seminar like the one in MA this year? Now that was great and I learned a lot. I thought you both said that you guys were planning more like that. What happened.

And Gary aka The Modcoach hasn't had a single breakfest meeting this year. I emailed him about this and he told me that he wasn't getting enough response to hold them any longer. That doesn't add up. I think he is just tired of doing it all by himself.

You say builders should be more active in our industry but how do we do that when we don't see much from the MHBA other than a Home of the Month from you and Gary has stopped doing breakfasts, seminars and other stuff.

Come on guys. You both need to step it up.

Maybe it's time we start looking harder at the BSC side of the industry.

Tom Hardiman said...

Bob, Mike Moglia IS the modular guy now. Milt and Mark both retired and their positions are not currently slated to be filled. Mike will be at our meeting next week speaking about modular and this issue specifically, not HUD. We don't represent HUD industry - only modular.

This format is very similar to the MA event but with a few other states presenting. Updates from multiple states with q & a from industry participants - we can't tee it up any better for you.

Meetings take time and money, and every dollar spent there doesn't go towards marketing or advocacy. So it's a tough balancing act with limited resources.

MHBA is doing its best to "step it up" as you say. But our budget is completely dependent on industry support. And like most other trade groups, a small percent of members carry the water for everyone else. We need more water carries!

If you liked the MA meeting, you'll benefit from this one as well.

Coach said...

Builder Bob,

I just wanted to explain to everyone why I haven't scheduled any events this year. It's not because I'm "tired of doing it all by himself". The reason is for the first time in quite a few years builders are extremely busy and I just didn't want to take time from that.

Another reason is that both the MHBA and the BSC have become stronger and better prepared to serve builders and factories.

Tom Hardiman at the MHBA launched the successful Consumer Awareness Program and more builders than ever have joined the Association.

Devin Perry at the BSC has been working very hard on so many fronts for the modular and other system built industries starting a very successful "Lunch N Learn" monthly webcast series and has been instrumental in elevating modular's presence within the NAHB and at the IBS.

They have both stepped up to the challenge.

As for me, I'm hoping to hold some Builder Breakfasts next year and at least 2 Boot Camps but they are getting more expensive every year.