Myth- Mobile Homes Can’t Stand Up To…

…tornadoes!

https://www.youtube.com/user/latonyk

Photo courtesy of L.A. Tony K

Simply put, I call BS.

In a recent article in the Clarion Ledger out of the (great?) state of Mississippi, writer Jerry Mitchell is adamant that manufactured homes are death traps.  Death traps! Hyperbole much?

I used to worry about the quality of manufactured housing and had those concerns reinforced by the insurance industry over the years, until I learned some new information about government mobile home classifications (Check it out…I write about it in my past post Mobile Home Insurance- Some new information!) that led me to do some research on housing standards.

A mobile home manufacturer once informed me that our homes must be built to withstand travel to wherever folks have prepared their property for delivery. This means the home must be exposed to the elements at travel and head-wind speeds of more than 80 mph on the highway and must withstand rough terrain while hauling them into obscure places, often down country paths and they stay together to be joined and made into a whole home that lasts for decades to come.  Federal law stipulates the requirements in the Federal Registry document “Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards-Specific Requirements for Designing the Transportation System”

The sound in the video below is a bit hard to track, but the visual speaks for itself regarding the ability for a manufactured home to withstand heavy winds.

With proper site preparation and tie downs, these homes should be as safe as any stick-built home in my humble opinion.  After all, since the new HUD standards of 1995, these homes are built with many of the same materials as stick-built.

In the article, Mitchell writes,  “In 2007, tornadoes struck Lake County, Fla., and killed 21 people.” “All of them were in mobile homes,” Simmons said. “People are dying in storms where they wouldn’t die in permanent homes.”

This may be, but perhaps that mobile home park was the most significant living area in the path of that tornado. Perhaps the highest density of people who were home at the time of the tornado were those in mobile homes rather than stick-built homes.

In other words, there are so many variables that could be contributing to people in mobile homes being killed in tornadoes that just simply the fact that they are in a mobile home at the time is not enough to confirm that it is, indeed, manufactured housing that is failing these folks.

An article dated May 1st at KOAA news states that “57% of deaths have occurred in mobile homes.  28% of deaths have occurred in vehicles.  14% of deaths have occurred in homes.” Personally, I see this as an indictment on the path tornadoes take and the fact that that if they hit a mobile home park, they will hit more homes at once, as these parks concentrate more homes per square yard than regular stick-built neighborhoods often do.  These statistics are really subjective and loose assumptions are being made.

This is not a negative commentary on people who live in mobile homes, because we are, in fact, people who live in a mobile home.  But it must be pointed out that many who choose to live in mobile homes live on smaller incomes.  Many of them may just simply ignore warnings to leave their homes due to the fact that all they have may be in that home. This could also increase the danger of being injured while staying in the house.  One more reason why the perceived “facts” represented in Mitchell’s article are suspect.

In “Tornado Alley”, or the stretch of land from most of South Dakota spanning to Dallas, TX, many of the home owners have been convinced that they cannot build homes on basements because of the rocky terrain.  And yet, many companies sell underground storm shelters to those same residents.  Go figure.  Homes in these areas are spread out due to farming and greater sized land tracts. The odds of a home being hit are lower than many homes in a mobile home park being hit. And it follows that more people would die in mobile homes due to this discrepancy.

It is only my opinion, but if you choose to live in an area in which tornadoes are regularly tearing about neighborhoods over and over, it might be time to move, whether you live in a manufactured home or a stick-built home. This goes for those who live in fire-prone, earthquake prone, landslide prone, winter storm prone, hurricane prone, heat-wave prone, areas of our great nation as well.  Regardless of where you live, there will be dangers.  Be smart. Look for a safe manufactured home built to HUD standards and have it installed in the safest way necessary for where you live.

While it is true that mobile homes and trailers have been known to last many decades (some 40-60 years depending upon level of care!), and many of these older single-wide homes may be built to lower standards, to claim that all manufactured housing is dangerous and less viable in a tornado is simply irresponsible for this “journalist”, Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion Ledger.  Be sure to let Jerry know what you think by calling (601) 961-7064.

If you are still concerned that, as the article states, that “they are not built to any kind of code”, please refer to the full document “Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards” for the full list of construction requirements for modern manufactured homes.

This is just me railing on about “journalists” speculating and assuming things and reporting them as fact. So, please, forgive me for a post that is not my normal happy-clappy tale! I promise, next post will be back to great project ideas. If you like this post, please take a moment to share it with your friends.

End of rant!

Happy mobile home living,
The McGees

 

16 Comments:

  1. Last year, a community in my state of Arkansas was devastated by a very strong tornado. The homes in the neighborhood hit the hardest were stick built on slabs. following the storm, only the concrete slabs with plumbing rough ins were left. It is my understanding that these homes were built to “minimum code”: able to withstand 80mph winds for 3 seconds. I live in a 1992 12×60 constructed in florida. Wind zone I certified up to 110mph. Due to the frugal nature of my purchase, I was fortunate enough to be able to finance a below-ground safe room. Anyone living in a tornado-prone area should attempt to be underground for severe weather, if feasible. Had I purchased a large, stick built home, I might not have afforded my safe room. I love my mobile home, not because Im ignorant, but because its mine, and I have my priorities straight! I will also be debt free in two years, so hows that for an uneducated trailer-dweller?!? To all you naysayers, enjoy the 30-year rat race!

    • Hi Hannah! Thanks for visiting and posting a comment.
      I LOVE your comment! Thank you for putting it so well. You are so smart to make a home choice that keeps you safe as well as makes life much simpler and happier. It's the best, isn't it? And debt free on top of it!

      You're brilliant!
      Thanks for sharing your experience. We love happy endings :-)
      Enjoy your happy spaces.

      The McGees

  2. It's really impossible for anything to remain intact after taking a direct hit by a tornado. Maybe, the mobile homes in Florida were very old and not built by today's standards. You brought a great point about how mobile homes have to withstand 80 mph winds while being transported. So after reading your article I'm more impressed with a mobile home but still nothing can beat a tornado shelter. Now that the weather has gone crazy, a personal storm shelter is looking better all the time.

    • Thanks, Jack. I do agree that storm shelters are a great idea. But in today's economy, they aren't really realistic for the average home owner. A manufactured home can be put on a basement, however, and this can be a safe space to get to in an emergency…even in Oklahoma where they have perpetuated a myth that they cannot have basements because of their rocky ground. A basement is a great investment and can nearly double your living space if you finish it.

      Thanks for visiting!

  3. Ii agree the article was very biased……..we are getting ready to remodel the kitchen in our 1982 single wide…..people keep telling us that we are crazy to put granite counter tops in…that the floor won't hold them……..I had my doubts at first but the Hubby says that they are just as strong or stronger then a stick built so not to worry!!!!

    • Welcome to our site, Kathy! And thanks for commenting. I believe that no granite counter tops (or even tile in bathrooms and on floors is another we’ve heard) are more myths about living in mobile homes. We have a 250 lb Pellet stove in one room. We have a 300 lb weight resistance machine and another set of steel weights that weighs 450 in another room. We know many people who have put waterbeds in even older mobile homes and these can weigh anywhere from 1300 lbs for a single to nearly 2000 lbs for a king. Mobile homes have steel joists running all along and across the bottom of the home. I’m pretty sure your kitchen floor can hold granite counter tops…it holds your refrigerator doesn’t it? Ahhhhhh…..I think the graeter concern would be whether or not your cabinets could support the granite, not the floors. If you are trying to put granite on top of older, cheap mobile home cabinets, this will probably be a mistake. If you want granite, maybe you should make the investment in new, quality cabinets as well. Personally, if I could stand to spend the money on them, I would have granite counter tops in a heartbeat. If you do install them, please visit us again with links to pics. I would love to see it! Happy remodeling.

      The McGees

      • We are not using the original cabinet…..we are using solid wood cabinets that were given to us…along with double ovens, a Jenn aire down draft cook top……so with a little readjustment some sanding and staining…..we will some very nice cabinets…..we figure that the whole remodel will cost us somewhere around $8000….we are going from ceiling down everything will be changed..including a laminate floor all the way trough the house…..itwill take us a few months..but will get it done!!!!!!!

        • Great to hear, Kathy! The cabinets sound terrific. If they are solid wood I would imagine they should be just fine support for granite counter tops. It sounds like you are off to a great start. When we did our kitchen remodel, we planned down to every last second of how we would do it to avoid long periods of time without the ability to cook or wash dishes. I think all told, we had about a week and a half that we didn't have access to the sink and another week we had to use the microwave to cook most food. If you plan it right, you can really minimize the impact on your eating experience!
          We haven't decided what to do with our ceiling yet…4 years later…What are you planning to do with your ceiling? Good luck to you!

          The McGees

  4. Thank you for an honest rebuttal. Unfortunately there sre many who love to perpetuate myths about moblie homes without bothering to know the reality of today's manufactured homes. There is one central source where anyone can get the facts about manufactured home regulations, construction, storm safety, fire safety, and much more versus the site built home.That site is ManufacturedHomes.com where I have written 200+ blogs regarding manufactured homes of today and mobile homes of the past. P.S. I have spent over 50 years involved in every aspect of the manufactured/mobile home industry.

    • Thanks, Ben. I appreciate your comment. And thank you for sharing the ManufacturedHomes.com site. I will be sure to check it out. I'm always looking for real information about our homes and am glad to have another resource. I appreciate your commitment to educating us!

      Beth

  5. Suzanne Melton

    Crystal sent me…

    I just went to the Clarion-Ledger's article and posted a comment. Follow this link and click on Comment (between Tweet and Email). http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2014/05/0

    You two also need to go straighten them out…

  6. Thank you for posting this article and combating it with the truth. For some reason Mobil homes in this country are synamous with failure and under educated people. This is so far from the truth, I am a college educated mom with a B.S. Degree. We chose our manufactured home because it was the nicest house on sale in the country that we saw. Nearly brand new and charming . Those that come in are shocked to see that a MFH is not a run down tin can, everyone is just impressed at the craftsmanship of our house. The stereotypes out there are way out dated and false. Thanks for exposing the truth.

    • Thank you for commenting, Noelle. I don't see why they seem synonymous with failure, since to me, it is a sign of good character that a person is financially responsible, non-materialistic, and can live more sustainably in a modest home. I like not being a snob!

      Thanks for visiting our site. Come back again soon!

      The McGees

  7. Bravo! Bravo!

    As soon as I read that article I started seeing red..lol…I had to re-read it several times to make sure I wasn't reading an article written in 1982.

    I can't imagine why a professional journalist wouldn't take the time to cover a topic without bias or hyperbole. It seems like he was being paid based on the amount of misinformation and the use of outdated resources and quotes.

    It's so frustrating to have to fight just to have the truth revealed when it comes to manufactured homes and the media.

    You did an excellent job of rebutting everything. Thank you for all the great information you so freely share with us and your dedication to making sure the truth is revealed.

    • Thank's Crystal. I'm not sure what purpose this writer had to report such rubbish, other than that fear leads. Maybe his family owns a stick-built home building business! It was pretty easy for me to dig out the information about housing standards. He could very well have done the same if he was inclined to do real journalism. This is the state of our media today. Glad you liked the post!

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