How safe is a modular home in a hurricane?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Although a modular home is built in a factory, it is manufactured and installed to the same building code standards as a site-built home. So in Florida that means it will conform to the extensive hurricane-resistance requirements of the Florida Building Code, and stand up to hurricane winds as well as a site-built home that was constructed in the same year.

   The video below tells the story of a modular home in Mexico Beach, Florida, that was the only house on its street to survive Hurricane Michael, a Cat 5 storm in 2018.

    Many people confuse a manufactured home, which is the name now used for what was once called a mobile home, with modular homes. Manufactured homes do not meet the hurricane resistance standards of modular homes, although their storm resistance has significantly improved over the last 20 years. 

    Newer manufactured homes can look virtually identical to a modular home from the outside, especially ones that are “pit set,” so here’s how to tell them apart:

• If you look in the crawl space under the home, a manufactured (mobile) home is constructed over long steel I-beams. You will not see steel I-beams under most modular homes.

• A modular home has a continuous, permanent foundation around the perimeter of the home, which is usually a concrete block stem wall. A manufactured (mobile) home has stacked concrete block piers and tie-down straps running into the dirt, along with some sort of skirting between the bottom of the structure and the ground all around. Because some manufactured homes are installed on a permanent foundation—very few, actually—you can only use this difference to verify that it is definitely not a modular home when you see stacked block piers.

• A manufactured (mobile) home is built to HUD standards and will have a HUD data sticker attached somewhere inside the home. Each state has its own standards for modular homes and, in Florida, the construction is supervised by the Florida Department of Community Affairs, which also requires that their sticker be placed inside the home. The HUD data sticker is usually located on the wall of the master bedroom closet, on the inside of the cover door of the electric panel, or inside of a kitchen cabinet door.

    To learn more, go to our blog posts What is a pit set mobile home? and How can I tell the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home? and How much hurricane wind speed can a mobile home survive? and What year were mobile homes required to become more storm resistant? and Are mobile homes well built?

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Here’s links to a collection of some of our other  blog posts about HURRICANE RESISTANCE:

 How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

 Should I buy a house that has hurricane flood damage?

 Should I buy a house with hurricane flood damage that has been repaired?

• What can I do right now to prepare my house for a hurricane? 

 Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? 

 How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?   

• Can I do my own wind mitigation inspection?  

• What is the wind mitigation inspection for homeowner's insurance? 

 What is the best emergency back-up generator for the power outage after a storm? 

 Can I run a window air conditioner on a portable generator? 

 What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction? 

 Is a metal roof for a mobile home approved for HUD Wind Zone 3? 

 Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane? 

Which trees are most likely to fall over on your house in a hurricane? 

What can I do during a hurricane to reduce the possiblity of roof damage?

• Why is it a dangerous mistake to attach a carport, porch, or room addition directly to the roof of a mobile home? 

How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida mobile home is before I buy it? 

What is the average life expectancy of a whole-house standby emergency generator? 

 What size generator do I need to run my submersible well pump? 

• How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida house is before I buy it?

   Visit our HURRICANE RESISTANCE and MODULAR HOMES pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.


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