Preparing Your Manufactured Home For A Disaster: Earthquake Retrofit
In regards to manufactured housing, the foundation is everything. A manufactured home built on a solid foundation by a contractor is better constructed, more robust, and more disaster resistant than most site-built homes. Manufactured homes are built to withstand the vibrations and shaking expected during transport from the factory, so they are stronger than other types of housing. But any home built on a weak foundation will suffer when disaster hits. Often manufactured homes are erected on weak slender foundations to save money. It’s not worth it. Here are some tips on what to look out for and how to prepare your home before a disaster happens.
1. The importance of hiring a reputable setup contractor to plan the setup of your home and protect your investment cannot be overstated. Professionals know from experience, and it is always wise to pay for their expertise rather than mistakes made by those figuring it out. Another benefit of professional contractors is that they will always follow HUD, state, and local regulations and permitting processes. This way, you don’t have any unexpected complications.
2. If your home is dislodged from its foundation, it can warp, causing doors and windows to jam shut. In addition, plumbing, water heater, utility, and gas connections can break, leading to flooding or, worse, fire. If a home is not dislodged from its foundation, any damage it suffers will likely be minor and not life-threatening. So securing the house to the foundation is key to preventing extensive damage. This is the goal of retrofitting. To keep the home on the foundation.
3. The best option is to go for a permanent foundation with earthquake bolts connecting the home. This will provide resistance to both shear forces and vertical forces, providing protection from earthquakes and winds. The foundation could be a retaining wall with crawl space under the home or a full-fledged basement. The point is it is a permanent structure and, if built correctly with proper drainage and reinforced rebar, will withstand storms, winds, and earthquakes. This is an excellent way to go if natural disasters are a significant concern.
4. If you have a home built on a non-permanent foundation, you can improve things significantly with retrofitting to provide resistance to shear and lift forces. The best way is cross-bracing. Cross-bracing is cables or steel in an “X” shape connected to the home and foundations. This provides resistance to the shear forces of winds or earthquakes that knock houses off their foundations. You can also use ERBS (Earthquake Resistant Bracing Systems) jacks which are attached to the foundation and provide stability and prevent movement.
5. You may be able to get tax rebates and perhaps even grants to retrofit your home. It can cost between $2000 to $10,000 to retrofit a house, so it’s worth looking into the possible government programs to help you out. Tax rebates are provided at the federal level, so most people should be qualified to receive this benefit. But numerous communities also provide extra incentives, so look around and see what is on offer. For example, communities that regularly experience disasters often have programs to make housing safer and reduce the cost of natural disasters.
6. You can find valuable information on Earthquake Resistant Bracing Systems (ERBS) on the FEMA website (https://www.fema.gov/). White papers provide specific information and guidelines to help you make good decisions about how to be best prepared at (https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_p-50-1-seismic-retrofit-guidelines-8252021.pdf).