Differences Between Industrialized and Manufactured Homes

Factory-built homes come in two broad categories: Industrialized Buildings and Manufactured Homes. Nowadays, it can be almost impossible to determine whether a home is an Industrialized Building or a Manufactured Home by just looking at the home. However, though their appearances may appear similar, there are differences between these two types of homes in terms of their construction, the applicable building codes and regulations that govern their construction and installation, and the authority having jurisdiction responsible for their conformance to the applicable codes and regulations.

“Manufactured Home” refers to a class of homes built after June 15th, 1976 whose design, construction, and installation is regulated by the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. Prior to 1976, these types of homes were colloquially known as “Mobile Homes” given their ease of transportability, but the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 established and codified their construction standards. Unlike the prescriptive nature of state regulations and building codes, the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards are performance-based and provide standards for design and construction, strength and transportability, fire resistance, and energy efficiency.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the design and factory construction of manufactured homes through third-party agencies: Inspection Primary Inspection Agencies (IPIAs) and Design Approval Primary Inspection Agencies (DAPIAs). Further, HUD often partners with States who act as HUD’s State Administrative Agency (SAA) to help oversee each State’s Manufactured Housing Installation Program and resolve consumer complaints. To this end, Virginia’s State Building Codes Office acts as HUD’s SAA.

“Industrialized Building” is defined in the Virginia Industrialized Building Safety Regulations to mean a combination of one or more sections or modules, subject to state regulations and including the necessary electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilating, and other service systems, manufactured off-site and transported to the point of use for installation or erection, with or without other specified components, to comprise a finished building. These types of homes have a rich and vibrant history, dating back to the early 1900’s when Sears, Roebuck, & Co. popularized their kit homes. Unlike Manufactured Homes, the design, installation, and construction of Industrialized Homes are regulated by the Uniform Statewide Building Code.

Virginia’s State Building Codes Office is the administrator of the Virginia’s Industrialized Building Program and, as such, serve as the authority having jurisdiction for all of Virginia’s Industrialized Buildings. Much like HUD relies on third-party agencies for the design and factory construction of Manufactured Homes, the State Building Codes Office relies on third-party agencies for the design and factory construction of Industrialized Buildings. For Industrialized Buildings, these agencies are called, “Compliance Assurance Agencies (CAAs),” and they are responsible for reviewing building designs, inspecting the construction of buildings in the factory, and certifying the buildings through the application of the Virginia Registration Seal.

While the State Building Code’s Office monitors the performance of CAAs through application and auditing processes, local code officials are responsible for handling permitting, site inspections, and the issuance of certificates of occupancy for Industrialized Buildings.

For additional information or if you have questions, please contact The State Building Codes Office by calling 804-371-7150, or via email at SBCO@dhcd.virginia.gov. You can also visit our website at https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/

Building Safety Month

This May is the 40th year of Building Safety Month. Each year, the more than 64,000 members of the International Code Council (ICC) take part in Building Safety Month to promote the importance of building codes for providing a strong and resilient built environment, and regularly updated codes that ensure that communities are protected during and after disasters. This year’s theme is “Safer Buildings, Safer Communities, Safer World” and the weekly themes include disaster preparedness, water safety, resiliency/sustainability/innovation and training the next generation. Never is the importance of resiliency and disaster preparedness more clear than in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic we are currently experiencing.

As we prepare ourselves for the increased severity and frequency of natural disasters, building safety is even more important. Disaster mitigation through the adoption and enforcement of building codes is one of the best ways for communities to prepare and protect against future disasters. Homes and buildings that are built in compliance with building safety codes and the officials who enforce the codes are essential to helping communities minimize the risks of death, injury and property damage in the event of a disaster.

This time of year is usually marked by the call from building departments to focus on the importance of building codes and the role the building safety profession plays in ensuring that the buildings in our communities are safe and resilient. During a typical Building Safety Month, local building departments would be spreading the word through public events at their local home improvement stores or municipal buildings. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, on March 30th, as a matter of public health Governor Northam issued a temporary stay-at-home order mandating social distancing, the cessation of all unnecessary travel, restriction on public gatherings and temporary closing of all non-essential public facilities. To comply with the orders and protect the health of their employees and the citizens they serve, local building departments have had to cancel plans for in-person events and rely more on other methods of promoting Building Safety Month. More information on the 2020 Building

Safety Month can be found on ICC’s 2020 Building Safety Month webpage:

While the coronavirus pandemic and the associated orders affect government operations at every level, especially challenged are the officials charged with the enforcement of Virginia’s building codes.  In addition to exploring new ways to effectively promote 2020 Building Safety Month during the coronavirus pandemic, local building departments have also had to change how they deliver their services and are increasing or implementing methods to reduce contact such as virtual inspections, web based document submittals and electronic plan reviews. The Virginia Building and Code Officials Association has put together a fantastic resource to verify the operating status of local building departments (https://vbcoa.org/operating-status/).

The Department of Housing and Community Development has also made several changes to reduce person-to-person contact while still providing the same level of services.  The Jack A. Proctor Virginia Building code academy (VBCA) has pivoted from in-person training to a remote schoolhouse. They have pivoted their curriculum to function in a fully online environment. In the immediate, the VBCA scheduled five online administrative and continuing education offerings. Over the next weeks and months, certification classes, which would have been cancelled due to the coronavirus, will transition online thanks to the hard work of DHCD staff.  The State Building Codes Office has also made some changes to allow the 2018 Code Update Process to continue by moving all code development workgroups and other stakeholder meetings from in-person meetings to web-based meetings. 

A couple of the benefits that have been realized through this unplanned transition to 100% web-based meetings and training classes are increased meeting participation by those that were not able to attend in-person meetings previously due to travel challenges,  time savings from eliminating travel and meeting room preparations and reduced travel for agency staff and stakeholders.  These benefits not only save time and money, but decreasing the number of vehicles traveling on Virginia’s roadways also reduces fossil fuel consumption and impact on the environment.  Lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic are likely to change the way we all do business in the future, even after the social distancing, public gathering and travel restrictions are no longer in place.

Additional resources:

DHCD’s COVID-19 Resources Page: https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/covid-19

ICC’s COVID-19 Resources Page: https://www.iccsafe.org/advocacy/coronavirus-response-center/

Virginia’s Fire Safety and Prevention Codes

When buildings or structures, except exempt structures such as farm structures, are constructed in Virginia and when work is done on existing buildings and structures, the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) ensures that a minimum level of safety is achieved. After the work is completed, the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC) ensures that the level of safety in those buildings and structures is maintained. The USBC regulates construction-related aspects of fire safety and the SFPC regulates certain maintenance and operational related aspects of fire safety in existing buildings and outdoors. Both regulations incorporate provisions of the International Fire Code (IFC), a national model code that contains a comprehensive set of fire safety regulations that was developed to be used as a stand-alone code in jurisdictions that do not have a building code, or to be used in conjunction with the International Building Code (IBC) in localities that utilize the IBC as their model building code. The IFC also contains fire prevention regulations related to operations and the maintenance of buildings, structures, and systems, that can be referenced in jurisdictions that have a fire prevention code.

In Virginia, the IBC is incorporated as part of the USBC for construction. The IBC references the IFC for requirements related to hazardous materials, spray finishing, high-piled combustible storage, tents, and several other items. Each time the IFC is referenced, those provisions of the IFC are incorporated as an enforceable part of the IBC, and since the IBC is incorporated as part of the USBC, those referenced provisions of the IFC are incorporated as part of the USBC. When enforcing the USBC, it is important to remember that any references to the IFC are just that, and are not a reference to the SFPC.

The SFPC in Virginia is applicable to certain operations and to the maintenance of buildings and structures after a certificate of occupancy is issued or the work regulated by the USBC is completed and approved. It also includes some regulations specific to items that are not regulated by the USBC, such as food trucks. The SFPC incorporates those portions of the IFC, not incorporated by the USBC, that are related only to operations and the maintenance of buildings, structures, equipment, activities, and systems. The administrative provisions of the SFPC state that any provisions of the model codes that relate to the scope of enforcement of the code are deleted and replaced by the administrative provisions of the SFPC. Since the scope of the SFPC does not include the design, construction or installation of buildings, structures, systems, equipment or fire protection systems, those provisions are not incorporated as part of the SFPC.

The Virginia SFPC was edited during the 2015 code update cycle to remove references to construction requirements brought in from the IFC, in an effort to eliminate confusion over what is enforceable in the SFPC and what is not.

Local governments in Virginia are required to enforce the USBC. Enforcement of the SFPC is at the option of the local governments. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has the authority to enforce the SFPC in those localities in which there is no local SFPC enforcement.

The USBC and SFPC contain enforcement procedures that must be used by the enforcing agency as well as provisions for administrative appeals to resolve disagreements that may occur between the enforcing agencies and an aggrieved party.

Submitted by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

May is Building Safety Month

Every year in May, DHCD celebrates Building Safety Month by raising building safety awareness.  Building safety and the codes involved are what will ensure we have safe, sustainable structures for generations to come.

Building Safety Month is an international campaign to raise awareness about building safety, the benefits of modern up-to-date building codes and to help individuals, families, and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures.  Virginia has statewide building and fire codes that are regularly updated to protect our citizens from disasters like fires, weather-related events, and structural collapse.   

The topic for week one of Building Safety Month is ‘Preparing for disasters: Build strong, build smart’.  DCHD is currently in the 2018 code change cycle, in which it helps stakeholders from all over Virginia create and develop modern, up to date codes.  A new Resiliency Sub-workgroup will meet throughout this cycle to review the codes and make recommendations to increase resiliency. Keeping codes updated with new technology and standards will help keep communities safe in the event of natural disasters.  The public is welcome to participate in the code development process.  Resources can be found on https://va.cdpaccess.com.

The topic for week two of Building Safety Month is ‘Ensuring a safer future through training and education’.  DHCD partners with the Virginia Building Code Officials Association (VBCOA) and the Virginia Plumbing and Mechanical Inspectors Association (VPMIA) to award scholarships to students in the code arena.  This year, students must write a 1000 word or less essay illustrating how having building codes in place can increase the level of confidence within a community. DHCD not only focus on education and outreach during the month of May.  DHCD’s Jack Proctor Virginia Building Code Academy provides important training and education to the code enforcement industry throughout the year.  The Building Code Academy successfully provided an estimated 4,392 instruction hours in 2018, offering courses in every facet of the codes.

The topic for week three is ‘Securing clean, abundant water for all communities’.  Currently, DHCD staff is working with the Virginia Department of Health in an effort to develop regulations for harvesting rainwater for potable reuse. Being able to harvest rainwater would reduce the strain on water supplies and open doors for providing water to communities in need all over the commonwealth.

The topic for week four is ‘Construction professionals and homeowners: Partners in safety’.  DHCD works closely with code officials and homeowners on a daily basis, including modular and manufactured home owners, providing technical assistance, helping resolve issues and enforcing the safety regulations related to manufactured and modular housing..

The topic for week five is ‘Innovations in building safety’.  The construction industry is increasingly utilizing more technology and many homes or parts of homes today are constructed in factories and delivered to the installation site.  DHCD is currently working with multiple stakeholder groups on initiatives to utilize alternative building methods and materials.  Some of the topics being explored are 3-D printed houses and homes made out of shipping containers. These new methods of construction are not only innovative, but they might also provide additional temporary and affordable housing options, not only in Virginia but across the globe.

Code officials and design professionals work every day to ensure the buildings we enjoy are safe.  We encourage you to take a moment this month to appreciate Virginia’s building and fire codes and those that enforce them.  It is because of them that we can be confident that the structures where we live, work and play are safe and resilient.  

Thank you to the Va. Department of Housing and Community Development for contributing this article.

DHCD Update

Significant changes to Uniform Statewide Building Code

As you may be well aware, the 2015 USBC went into effect on September 4th of this year. With each code update cycle, we receive a substantial amount of code change proposals and this cycle was no exception. There were several noteworthy changes made to the USBC, both at the national and state level.

Listed below are a few examples of those changes:

Exemptions from Permits (VA)—Work on billboard safety upgrades to add or replace steel catwalks, steel ladders, or steel safety cables was added to the list of permit exemptions in chapter 1.

Exceptions to the Exemptions (VA)—Building officials may now require a permit for work that is normally exempt where located in a flood hazard area.
Food Processing Establishments and Commercial Kitchens (ICC)—Facilities used for food processing/preparation 2500 square feet and under can now be classified as a Group B occupancy.

Existing Building Code Overhaul (VA)—One of the most significant changes this cycle was the complete re-organization and overhaul of the Existing Building Code (previously the Rehab Code). This was a concerted effort to make this code, which is mandatory for existing buildings, less confusing and more user-friendly.

College Labs (VA)—Another notable change was the creation of a new section for higher education laboratories. This carve-out was added to both the Virginia Construction Code and the Virginia Existing Building Code, Parts I and II of the USBC respectively.

DHCD continues to work with our stakeholders ensuring a comprehensive and collaborative code development process for building and fire regulations in Virginia. If you have questions about any changes or the upcoming code change cycle, slated to start early next year, please contact us at (804) 371-7000 or sbco@dhcd.virginia.gov.

ICC Conference and New Codes in Effect

2015 Virginia Codes

The 2015 edition of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) went into effect on September 4, 2018, and the 2015 Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC) will be effective October 16, 2018. As with past editions of the USBC, during the first year immediately following the effective date, a permit applicant can choose to apply under the 2012 USBC or the 2015 USBC. After the one-year period (September 4, 2019), all permits must be issued under the 2015 USBC.

All DHCD code enforcement certificate holders are required to complete DHCD approved Code Change Training within 12 months of the effective date of the new codes and all users of the codes are encouraged to attend 2015 Code Change Training to better understand the changes in the 2015 I-Codes as well as the Virginia amendments to those codes.

For more information visit http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/va-building-codes/training-and-certification/training/code-change-training-cct.html

2018 International Code Council Conference

The International Code Council’s annual conference will be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center October 21-29. This will be the first time an ICC Annual Conference has been held in Virginia. The conference will include networking, education, exhibits, the Building Safety and Design Expo and Public Comment Hearings on the 2021 I-Codes.

The conference activities will conclude on October 23rd and the Public Comment Hearings will take place October 24-29. This is a great opportunity to experience the code development process first hand without having to travel very far.
For more information visit http://media.iccsafe.org/2018_ICC_AnCon/index.html

Information provided by:
Skip Harper/MCP
Senior Construction Inspector II
State Building Codes Office
Division of Building and Fire Regulation
Department of Housing and Community Development

State Fills Key Roles at DGS and DHCD

Christopher L. Beschler has been appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to head the Virginia Department of General Services, replacing Rich Sliwoski who recently announced his retirement. Beshler is a long-time administrator for the City of Richmond. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with an M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. “Chris’ experience in both the public and private sector brings a unique, broad-based expertise in developing positive relationships,” said the governor’s office in their announcement. The leadership transition is expected to take place in mid-October.

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development has promoted Cindy L. Davis to Deputy Director for Building and Fire Regulation. Davis fills the position was left vacant by Emory Rodgers who recently retired. DHCD’s Bill Shelton remarked, “Cindy is very knowledgeable and will continue Virginia’s tradition of quality leadership in the development and administration of building and fire codes and a national leader in the field.”

Free Online Code Seminars

The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) Parts I, II, and III become effective July 14, 2015.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) offers free online educational seminars through the Virginia Building Code Academy Knowledge Center. These learning units can be self-reported to the AIA, but be sure to save the provided certificate for your records.

If you have any questions, Contact Marshall Dreiling at (804) 237-1769 or mdreiling@aiava.org.

Building Code App Under Consideration

Iphone_2Technological advances provide smart-phone applications for just about everything anyone can imagine, up to and including up-to-date code inspection results on construction projects.  Would it help you in your work?  If so, say so.  And while you are at it, mention other ideas that you have to make implementing or interpreting the building code easier.

The Department of Housing and Community Development begins in June its negotiations for the publishing of the 2012 Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.  In addition to publishing the code, the International Code Council could provide such modern apps.  For what should DHCD negotiate?

Please send any ideas, input or recommendations to Cindy Davis at cindy.davis@dhcd.virginia.gov.

What tools would help you do your job?  Whether from compliance, design, or construction standpoint, today’s technology and tools are changing, and DHCD would like to be able to provide the products that will most benefit its client groups.

DHCD hopes to negotiate and provide some of these new services or products, or at least encourage their development. If you can imagine it, send it.  This can be as complex as mobile apps for inspections that include a checklist, video, photo or commentary of code requirements when you click on them from your tablet or smart phone. If it will benefit you and your jurisdiction, DHCD wants to know.