According to a study by the Foremost Insurance Company, 88 percent of manufactured homeowners report satisfaction with their housing choice. Likewise, a most recent Owens Corning study, conducted by National Family Opinion, found that 93 percent of manufactured home owners are satisfied with their housing choice.3
Siting and placement of manufactured homes
According to the U.S. Census, over 65 percent of manufactured homes were placed on private property, while the remaining 35 percent were sited in residential land-lease communities. The percentage of manufactured homes placed on private property has been growing over the last decade, and this trend is expected to continue as more and more residential land is zoned appropriately to allow for manufactured housing.
Rural and suburban markets have traditionally been the stronghold of the industry. While this remains true even today, manufactured homes are increasingly being used in urban areas. Two converging factors virtually ensure manufactured housing will play an ever-growing role in providing housing in urban neighborhoods - the escalating cost of new housing, and the rising use of technological and design innovations in homes.
Are manufactured homes more vulnerable to fire than site-built homes?
Manufactured homes are no more prone to fire than homes built on-site. As a matter of fact, a national fire safety study by the Foremost Insurance Company showed that site-built homes are more than twice as likely to experience a fire than manufactured homes. The study showed that the number of home fires is 17 per 1,000 for site-built homes, while only eight per 1,000 for manufactured homes. 4
What is responsible for the improved safety of manufactured homes? Strict construction standards. Foremost Insurance Company's marketing research department took an in-depth look into the fire frequencies of manufactured homes built before the advent of the HUD Code construction and safety standards, as well as homes built after the standards went into effect in 1976. Foremost's researchers found that post-HUD manufactured homes experience less fire incidences and have lower fire losses than pre-HUD manufactured homes.
Some fire resistance features of the HUD Code include strict standards for flame spread and smoke generation in materials, egress windows in all bedrooms, smoke detectors, and at least two exterior doors, which must be remote from each other and reachable without passage through other doors that are lockable. Site-built homes are required to have only one exterior door, and no "reachability" requirement.
Another report entitled, "Fire Experience in Manufactured Homes," by Dr. John R. Hall, Jr., which appeared in the May/June 1992 National Fire Protection Association Journal, concluded that manufactured homes built to HUD standards present a much lower risk of death and a significantly reduced risk of injury in fires than units that were not built to HUD Code requirements. The study showed that in fires occurring between 1980 and 1989, the fire death toll per 100 fires in post-HUD homes is two-thirds to three-fourths lower than pre-HUD homes. The fire injury rate is approximately one-third lower than pre-HUD homes for the same period of time.
Historically, a key factor in the severity of fires in manufactured homes is that there are a significantly higher percentage of manufactured homes in rural areas than in urban areas, while the percentage of site-built homes is much higher in urban/suburban areas. A fire in a home located in a rural area has a greater chance of becoming a "total fire" because of the increased amount of time needed for fire equipment to reach the home, since it may be outside a fire protected zone. Studies indicate that almost all fires in manufactured homes are related to human carelessness, disproving the assumption that the structure is at fault. The second leading cause of structural fires in manufactured homes involves mechanical failures, which occur in site-built homes as well. The simple reality is that the manufactured housing industry has been successful in its efforts to produce a safe and fire-resistant home.
3 Foremost Insurance Group of Companies, The Market Facts, 1996 Owens Corning, Beautiful, Affordable, Quality Housing: What Manufactured Homes Owners Really Want, 1998
4 Foremost Insurance Group of Companies, Fire Loss Study, 1986
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