NBC News Today Show – Manufactured Home Performs better than Conventional Housing construction – in IBHS Hurricane Wind Tests

The recent NBC News Today Show segment broadcast Wednesday morning, 7.23.2014, created significant interest from across the U.S. and beyond about conventional housing construction vs. manufactured home (MH) performance in wind storms. The punch line could be the following quote:  Regarding this previous portion of the test, IBHS indicated: “When one of these high wind-rated HUD-Code homes is installed on a permanent foundation, in most of the country, it would end up resisting wind storms better than surrounding site-built homes.”


Stills credit – NBC News Today Show video.

That strong statement from Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison – President and CEO at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – seems to echo positive on-video statements from Julie Rochman, President and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

IBHS invited MHI to be present during the hurricane wind testing. MHI staff present during the testing included their VP and General Counsel, Rick Robinson and Jenny Hodge, Vice President and director of their National Communities Council (NCC) division. Jennison told ManufacturedHomeLivingNews that MHI staff were observers and not allowed to influence the testing.


The carport shown on the single section
manufactured home at left was properly engineered. Note the site built houses
roof is flying off, while the Wind Zone 1 Manufactured Home’s roof is intact.

Insurance companies – such as American Modern Insurance Group (AMIG) which sponsored this test – have a keen interest in facts relating to risks and loses. So the positive comments provide a level of ‘feel good’ for those living in manufactured homes and those who may be considering them as a quality, affordable home option.


NBC’s Kerry Sanders explained that 80% of severe damage
to manufactured homes caused in wind-storms
is the result of improperly attached add-ons,
such as carports or patio covers. This isn’t the home’s fault, Sanders said,
when it’s caused by faulty installation of an add-on.
The solution is to do add-ons properly.

A number of sources have told ManufacturedHomeLivingNews that the homes used for the test where the least expensive new manufactured homes found in the area. Those tested MHs are said to have been designed for Wind Zone I, when Wind Zone II or Wind Zone III is required for coastal areas subject to hurricane force winds.


 The conventional on-site built house’s roof at the left fails at under 100 MPH,
but the Fortified House design on the right holds up.

The fact that a single section manufactured homes performed better than HUD’s federal design and safety standards requires is amazing for the lowest-cost entry level home. When comparing that to the conventional ‘site built’ house tested by IBHS, the clearly far more costly conventional house did not perform as well as the lowest cost manufactured home. Notice that the conventional house’s roof tears off not because of any ‘add-ons,’ as was the case with the manufactured home that suffered damage due to an improperly installed car port.

In the news business, the motto for many is, ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ News often seeks out or focuses on “the drama,” because it increases viewing or reading. So perhaps it’s no surprise that NBC’s editors focused on the footage of the manufactured home that failed due to the improperly installed add on, rather than on the conventional house that failed or the manufactured home that survived with virtually no damage.

That said, NBC’s correspondent – Kerry Sanders – deserves high marks for using proper terminology in this report. Sanders generally offering balanced statements and clear explanations of the facts. His work reflected professional journalism.

For example, Sanders pointed out that in a study of wind storm damaged manufactured homes, 80% of those were caused by improper additions to the structure. That is also what caused the failure of the first manufactured home’s roof shown in the video below. Sanders explained and showed in slow motion that it was not the roof or the home itself, but improper installation of the carport (add on) that caused a MH roof failure.


Two MHs were tested, the one above had a flawed installation of the carport.
Notice in slow motion, the carport roof rips up, which caused the MH’s roof to separate.
By comparison,
in the other MH shown side by side with the conventional constructed house
above was properly engineered and installed.

After Hurricane Charley, the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) did an extensive report for HUD. Here are experts quoted in brown from the conclusions in that report; please note point #6.

…This significant trend of improvement (in manufactured homes built to the new HUD Code wind standards) was evident in all areas related to the scope of the HUD Code, from roof construction to roof-to-wall connections, to walls and overall structural integrity.

3. Newer foundation installations installed under Florida’s revised (1999) Installation Standards typically performed with a relatively low level of damage. However, Post-99 foundation installations were not flawless, and about 40 percent experienced some level of damage (e.g. slipping on piers and damage to vinyl skirting). In addition, modest amounts of scour and undermining of shallow piers due to wind and rain water run-off were noted in some cases.

6. Add-ons such as screened porches, carports and garages generally performed very poorly across all age groups of construction. In most instances, the connections of these add-ons failed, resulting in damage to the home. Aluminum roofing from add-on construction was a common source of wind-borne debris.”

Ron D’Ambra, with Professional Warranty Service Corporation, told us that, I think the article should also emphasize the need for properly attaching any addition to any home, with proper permits and testing and/or engineering supporting documents, to assure the addition does not effect the integrity of the home.” D’Ambra praised the manufactured home, because it well out-performed its design standards.

A video was posted on ManufacturedHomeLivingNews a year ago about a manufactured home that survived a tornado and was later tested under high sustained winds.


While rare tornadoes, such as the one that devastated Moore, OK May 20, 2013,
stay on the ground for 30 minutes, most are on the ground for about 7 minutes.
A house may be in the wash of a tornado for 30 seconds or less. Subjecting a
house to a 30 minute test is well beyond all norms. The photo
above is a still from the video on the page linked below. That MH also survived that test.


That earlier video linked above resulted in literally hundreds of comments shared. Some frankly questioned the reliability of the information shown in the linked video, but this latest IBHS report shown on NBC’s Today Show dovetails nicely with the facts presented.

Here are sample comments from those who viewed the video.

Catherine Collingwood wrote,To all those calling BS: I SURVIVED an EF2 passing within 100 feet of a 1992 model singlewide. It hit in the middle of the night and I was asleep, by the time I woke up and realized what was happening there was no time to do anything other than roll off the bed away from the windows.  I was not in a trailer park; I was on a private lot with the home installed on top of a hill.  The damage?  It severed our cable TV connection and cracked a couple of windows.

A few years later I was living in a 1998 model singlewide when Hurricane Floyd hit; this time in a park but I was away from the flooding.  I evacuated the home and stayed the night in a shelter.  The next morning, after a thorough inspection, the only damage found was blown-out underskirting.  Oh, and due to 72 hours without power I lost the entire contents of my refrigerator.

In both cases, the total cost of the repairs were so low that I didn’t even bother to file an insurance claim.  In fact, in the second case, I didn’t even hit my deductible.”

Rebbeca Cox wrote, “Watching the video, I never heard you try to claim that a manufactured house was SAFE in a tornado, just that they are SAFER than they used to be, and that they may even be as safe as site-built houses.” And “It is nice to hear that they have improved so much in recent years.”

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Such unsolicited comments lead up to the one received from Colt Miller, who stated…”the point isn’t that you will be safer in a MH versus a stick built during a hurricane or tornado. The point is for 33% average less across the board you can build a home to the same code or better than a stick built…” meaning, on-site built house.

For those who may wonder if additional anchoring to their existing manufactured home may be useful, a third party study commissioned by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) regarding the effectiveness of additional anchoring.  The 26 page FEMA document stated that, “No structure in the sample for which retrofit tie down anchors were provided, appeared to be damaged due to anchor failure.” While no home is immune to storm damage – and as FEMA’s report clearly expressed, damage to studied homes was done – proper installation and “anchoring” is useful and an effective protection for the home and its occupants.

Jennison told MHLivingNews.com that,  “It should be noted that IBHS’s stated test objective was broader than simply developing mitigation measures for strengthening carports and attached structures.  According to the test material:  ”A secondary objective was to demonstrate the superior performance of manufactured homes built to HUD-Code Zone III standards.” Yet following the test, the director of the IBHS told the crowd how impressed she was at the performance of the Zone I home itself.” 

America faces high demand for quality, affordable homes. Modern manufactured housing (MH) offers that to millions, for some 25-50% less than conventional costs, depending on region and type of home selected, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. MH is often is often similar or lower than apartment rent.

Home shoppers, investors, public officials, not-for-profits and the media are taking a second look at manufactured homes for good reasons. The rising new manufactured home sales levels over the past 4 years suggests tens of thousands every year like the value they see. ##

(Editor’s Note: A related article with more details published just before the NBC broadcast is linked here.)

l.a.tony.kovach-publisher-manufacturedhomelivingnews-com-mhpronews-com-mhc-md-com-By L. A. “Tony” Kovach

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