Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What is the Current State of Pennsylvania’s Industrialized Housing Program

It’s been a year since the two men that used to oversee PA’s Industrialized Housing Program retired. I decided to take a look at what has happened to the Program over the past year.

First, here is the official message about modular housing directly from the state’s website:

Modular housing, which is primarily designed for residential use, is wholly or mostly made, constructed, fabricated or assembled in manufacturing facilities. These structures are then shipped to the home site for assembly and installation. The modular home does not include a structure or building classified as an institutional building or manufactured home.

A modular home is different from a manufactured house as it is designed only for installation on a site built permanent foundation and not to be moved after the installation. Generally, modular homes comply with the same building code as conventional, site constructed homes.

Every modular home and component constructed for placement in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must be certified and bear the Pennsylvania Insignia of Certification (shown to the left), as well as the insignia of the inspection agency that evaluates and approves the designs, facilities, construction techniques, materials and quality assurance program used in each facility.

Although modular homes are built to comply with the model building codes and are exempt from the PA UCC, building officials make important contributions to the effective administration of the program. In addition to their oversight in terms of site preparation, foundation construction and utility connections, building code officials shall assist the Department by conducting site inspections of modular housing and components prior to installation for apparent damage occurring during transportation and other apparent non-conformity.

What I found is no plan to replace either of the men that retired. In fact their positions and responsibilities have been absorbed into other departments. But has this been a bad thing? You decide!

Since then, new regulations have gone into effect; insignia fees for out of state manufacturers have increased, requirements for third party inspectors have changed, plant certification requirements have changed and the state should be regulating commercial modular buildings, a growing industry in PA.

It appears that the program may be dying a slow death and that would be a shame.

Just like some other states, PA seems to be pushing problems that were once addressed by the Industrialized Housing Program back down to local inspectors that never had to deal with many of the situations handled by the former Program directors.

Maybe we should start asking where the label fees collected are being uses. It surely isn’t supporting a vacant program.

Additional regulations being imposed on modular factories and builders, the thinning of the herd when it comes to state regulatory agencies and budget downsizing are hurting a lot of the advancements modular had been making with the directors of every state’s modular permitting and inspection programs.

1 comment:

Tom Hardiman said...

Gary, I spoke with Mike Moglia last week about their status. I've been working for a decade to get commercial out from Labor and Industry and with the residential program. It was one of those recently retired folks in PA that stonewalled us for a decade - two bills passed and signed by Governors, regs drafted, reviewed and approved, then stalled due to budget concerns. Mike still says "delayed" rather than dead, for moving commercial over.

The residential side is still in tact, understaffed for sure. What additional regulations are being imposed on modular factories in PA? Or is that more of a general comment? And how does this hurt the advancements we have been making with directors in other states?