Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tiny House Industry Leaders Meet with IRC

About a week ago I posted an article, Tiny House Industry Begins Long Road To IRC Inclusion, originally published by Tiny House Build, about their efforts to be included in the IRC code regulations.

Their portion of the IRC hearings just concluded and once again I would like to share an article from Tiny House Build about what was accomplished by the tiny house folks. It's a good read and shows the passion and dedication needed to make tiny houses part of the IRC which would make it harder for companies to sell storage sheds and barns to people wanting to build a tiny house.

Update from the ICC Hearings in Kansas City

by Andrew on October 25, 2016 in Codes and Zoning, Helping Each Other/Inspiration, Zoning/Codes

IRC hearings.png

I know many of you have been waiting patiently for an update from the International Code Council (ICC) Hearings in Kansas City. As I write this, I’m in flight on my way back home and Gabriella is on her way to Seattle area. As much as we are exhausted, we want to get this update to you so that you can get a sense of what the experience was like.

Here’s the summary: we cleared two major hurdles on the track to approval of tiny houses in the international residential building code (the IRC). We are PSYCHED, BUT to be clear, we have NOT received the complete and final approval. There is one more significant step in front of us that will take place over the course of this next month. We have more work ahead of us but we truly had the very best outcome possible at the hearings.

Check out this short video we made right after the approval.


Weeks before the hearings actually began, I assembled a group of some of the finest tiny house folks I know to create a team to defend the tiny house proposal.  This team included Macy Miller, BA Norrgard, Jeremy Weaver, Meg Stephens, James Herndon, Zack Giffin, and David Latimer. Our team had the honor of being mentored by ICC hearing veterans Martin Hammer and David Eisenberg. Martin and David were co-authors of the straw bale code that was recently added into the 2015 IRC. They know all about presenting new technologies to the ICC, including dangerous pitfalls to stay clear of. We were humbled to have their guidance and owe a huge part of the success of the hearings to them.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Tiny House Build article

Toyota Positioned to Enter US Market After TPP Approval

If you're feeling self-conscious that your new Toyota Camry doesn't quite match your living situation, then it's OK. Now you can have a generic beige house to match your generic beige sedan!

Toyota has been in the business of mass-producing modular homes for almost forty years. It's not exactly a secret; there was apparently a big media blitz to announce newer manufacturing initiatives back in 2006. But they're only doing it in Japan, and it's not nearly as well-advertised as the 2014 Corolla.

 The automaker began building houses in 1975 on an assembly line just like its cars. A handful of Toyota dealerships also sold housing plans. The goal, Toyota said at the time, was "truly wanting to make Japanese homes better."

Call it Toyota's vision of what Sears did in the early half of the 20th century.

In the late 1990s (you know, when the Prius made its debut), Toyota began looking at more environment-conscious manufacturing choices.

Toyota began operating on three major principles that ensured future housing production would be green-friendly. First, they would develop and use products that would meet environmental safety guidelines. Houses would be built with materials and technology that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, use materials with smaller concentrations of formaldehyde and ensure that all houses would be sustainable for at least 30 years.

Next, they made sure the construction process would reduce waste, increase water conservation and lessen its impact on global warming.

Finally, Toyota would partner with businesses that were also green-friendly, making sure that all aspects of production from suppliers to builders left the smallest footprint.

Over the last three years, Toyota has produced more than 5,000 homes each year.

Looking back at the auto industry in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, we saw imports like Datsun (Nissan), Toyota and Honda just beginning to make inroads into the US because we no longer wanted those boats that the Big Three; Ford, GM and Chrysler; were building. Compact, fuel efficient cars were in demand and the Japanese automakers were more than happy to provide them. They now have built some of the most efficient auto factories in America and are leaders in the field. In NASCAR, Chrysler is out and Toyota is in.

Fast forward to today and these same importers are waiting for our housing market to want what they offer. First will be the imported models followed quickly by Sony, Toyota and other foreign manufacturers buying and building factories here.

With the US signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership looming, a lot of tariffs and restrictions on Pacific Rim built homes would be lifted.

Vancouver Embraces Modular to Ease Housing Crisis

Not only is the City of Vancouver allowing modular pods on private property to house an aging population that does not need or want to go to senior housing, they are now considering fast-tracking permits for standardized, modular laneway homes as a way to help boost the city’s rental stock.

Such a move could speed up the development of backyard homes on the estimated 60,000 lots that can accommodate them in neighborhoods across the city. While the entire city is zoned for laneway (alley) housing, just over 2,400 permits to build them have been issued.

For now, the city plans to test modular construction in pilot projects on city land, including a 40-home temporary social housing project at Main Street at Terminal Avenue. Over time they hope to expand laneway homes in the broader city.

That may include developing a standard template for homes that would — straight out of the factory — meet the city’s permit requirements. Such a system could reduce waiting times for approvals as well as costs to customers.

The idea already has staff thinking about what they could do — provided there is enough interest from local homeowners — to encourage the growth of a new modular housing industry within the city limits.

Doing so could reduce transportation costs and emissions while sparking job creation.

On Monday at Robson Square, there will be a modular home will be on display for public viewing until Nov. 1. It’s an example of one of the temporary units destined for 1500 Main Street in early 2017 for low income residents.

The display dwelling is spartan but comfortable. There is a small but fully-equipped kitchen, a shower, sink and toilet, in-unit climate control, and enough living space for one person — or two in a pinch. The room lets in natural light through thin, horizontal windows high on the walls.

Every part of the home — including the foundation — can be transported from site to site. That is key, because staff are testing the idea of hosting modular homes for short stretches of time on unused land awaiting redevelopment. The builder for the Main Street project is Horizon North, a Canadian company that will take four weeks to pump out the 40 homes.

Look for other Canadian and even US cities to look at the benefits of permitting modulars in laneway (alley) and empty lots as well as providing designated tiny house communities within city limits, providing all utilities and most importantly, mailing addresses giving the residents a job searching advantage.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Multifamily Starts Down 38% in September - Ouch!

New-home construction in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in September on a plunge in multifamily building while permits rose more than forecast, in signs of fitful progress in residential real estate.

Residential starts declined 9 percent to a 1.05 million annualized rate, the lowest since March 2015, a Commerce Department report showed Wednesday in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a rise to 1.18 million. Permits, a proxy for future construction, jumped 6.3 percent to the fastest pace since November.

The latest figures raise the likelihood that homebuilding, which accounts for about 3 percent of the economy, dragged down gross domestic product growth in the third quarter for a second straight period. While hiring is solid and mortgage costs are near historical lows, faster wage gains and broader access to credit would boost sales and encourage developers to break ground on more residences.
“Residential construction may have been a drag on growth in the third quarter,” said Ryan Wang, an economist at HSBC Securities USA Inc. in New York.

“Multifamily construction is starting to level off,” though “single-family still seems to be on a gradual growth trend,” he said.
Work on multifamily homes, such as townhouses and apartment buildings, slid 38 percent to an annual rate of 264,000. Data on these projects, which have led housing starts in recent years, can be volatile. Starts on structures with at least five units were the lowest since June 2013.

Estimates for total housing starts in the Bloomberg survey of economists ranged from 1.1 million to 1.2 million. The previous month was revised to 1.15 million from a 1.14 million pace.

Sneak Preview of the Revised PA Industrialized Housing Program

The full approval of the revised Industrialized Housing Program regulations will be published in the October 29, 2016 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. This publication will initiate the one year preparatory period leading up to an effective date of October 29, 2017.

The biggest change is the establishment of a certification program for commercial industrialized (modular) buildings. The program is patterned after our current program for industrialized housing. As a result, modular buildings entering the first stage of production on October 29, 2017, produced for placement in Pennsylvania will need to comply with program requirements and bear an insignia of certification issued from this department. Existing commercial modular buildings will be unaffected by this regulation.

In addition there are a few other changes that are worth noting:
  • Established a definition of “residential permanent foundation” which has been lacking from our regulation.
  • Revised the definition and expectation for the “Site Installation Inspection Checklist”. This checklist will be expected to be more reflective of the actual tasks required at the job site.
  • The plant certification process has been made more flexible and will rely on the third party agencies recommendation for the minimum level of surveillance needed to assure the facility can produce conforming homes and or buildings. This eliminates the past requirement for 10 complete homes subjected to 100% inspection to achieve certification and will recognize a portion of the certifications that may have been conducted for other states.
  • The qualifications of third party agency personnel will be published annually. You can expect that these qualifications will match the requirements for personnel performing under the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code Act.
  • Establish a fee structure for commercial modular buildings of $60 per module for factories located in Pennsylvania and $90 per module for factories located outside of Pennsylvania.
  • The fee for industrialized housing modules produced in Pennsylvania remains unchanged at $40. The fee for industrialized housing produced in out of state factories is set at $60 per module.

Housing Industry Learning New Terminology for Senior Market

What are the terms that housing industry experts expect to run with in the future? Have they found the words that are absolutely taboo when marketing to seniors and aging baby boomers?

For example, any phrases that include the word “challenged” are no longer acceptable. And, while “universal design”, “vistability” and “aging in place” have become important to builders and designers of all marketing niches, boomers and seniors have keen ears and sharp eyes for specific terms.

“The word that tests best with young seniors in our research is ‘vitality’,’’ said Sharon Brooks, partner in Brooks Adams Research, a Richmond, Va.-based firm specializing in research for residential real estate companies and economic development agencies. “Other strong choices are ‘comfortable’, ‘choices’ and ‘individuality’.’’

Brooks said words her company was trying to eradicate from the industry vernacular included: facility, unit, ambulate, socialization, activities, residents and dementia.

“Mature adults” was considered the best descriptor while “seniors” was not seen as a bad word, nor was “retirement”, according to Brooks Adams’ surveys.

And, it’s important not to loop all seniors into one category - especially regarding electronic communication. Brooks said that while older seniors (75-plus) rate the words “computers” and “Internet” negatively, younger seniors (60-75) rate them very positively - in fact, significantly more positively than boomers rated the two words.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Spokesman-Review article

Friday, October 21, 2016

Clayton Obtains ISO 14001 for All Its Factories

Clayton, one of the largest home builders of modular and manufactured homes and builder of site-built homes, recently announced that all 36 of its home building facilities in existence in 2015 have attained ISO 14001 registration by implementing the sustainable building guidelines of the International Organization for Standardization.

One of Clayton's guiding principles states, "We will leave Clayton and the world better than we found them." It is no doubt this statement holds true as Clayton home building group became the first manufactured home builder in the U.S. among members of the Manufactured Housing Institute to receive the ISO 14001 certification when its building facility in Rutledge, Tenn., achieved the distinction during the first quarter of 2015.  

The company has since been working hard to have all of its home building facilities follow Rutledge's lead.  In 2015, the company made a commitment to have all 36 of its home building facilities ISO 14001 registered by the end of 2016 in order to promote greener building practices and builder safety. It has achieved that goal.

One facility purchased in 2016 has not yet attained the ISO 14001 certification, but will in the near future.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

MHBA Annual Meeting a Huge Success

It hardly seems like 4 years ago when the MSBA was just about ready to close shop and today there is a very healthy and growing Association, renamed the MHBA, Modular Home Builders Association, ready to work hard for its members and the modular housing industry.


Today at its Annual Meeting in Harrisburg, the MHBA began to flex its muscle with a new marketing program, a renewed vigor and a push to increase its membership by going after modular home builders to join with others to continue the growth.

Tom Hardiman, the Executive director of the MHBA opened today’s meeting by welcoming a lot of new faces and introducing outgoing President, Pat Fricchionne of Simplex Homes.

Pat expressed his appreciation about how far the MHBA has come in just a short time and thanked everyone for supporting it under his watch.

Incoming President Bob Bender, Commodore Corp, was introduced and promised to keep pushing the pedal to the metal in making sure the MHBA is the organization where the modular industry can to turn to for help and marketing.

Bob Bender, Left, Pat Fricchionne

In an unusual start to the actual meeting, both Bob and Pat were put on the ‘hot’ seats in the front of the room and answered questions from the membership about topics that are of real concern to the builders. How does the modular home industry differentiate itself from manufactured (HUD) housing? This is a very real problem and quite a bit of time was spent on suggestions for the MHBA for the next year.

Ken Semler, seated on left, Mike Zangardi

When Bob and Pat were done, Ken Semler, Express Modular, and Mike Zangardi, Ritz-Craft, moved into the ‘hot’ seats to present the new and so far, quite successful marketing effort known as the Consumer Awareness Program (CAP). Last year the builders themselves asked that a fee be added on each module built and paid for by the builders. That program has proven itself and is being ramped up. The “Ready, Set, Built” slogan is already gaining traction with the public.

Tom Hardiman talking about legislative issues

Tom Hardiman, not only the Executive Director but also the watchdog of pending and proposed legislation at the Federal, state and even local level, spoke next on what he has done over the last year to fight for modular housing. CT, PA, MD and MA are currently on his radar and members will be kept abreast of what is happening in these ‘hot seat’ states.

Harris Woodward

The final speaker of the day, Harris Woodward, FinishWerks Homes, had everyone’s attention as he explained why “High Performance Homes” could be the one thing that sets modular apart from independent site builders. A few thousand dollar investment by the home buyer in energy saving options can produce not only a real savings for the consumer but in a lot of cases it can give the homeowner a ton of tax credits.

I have to point out that Harris not only builds High Performance homes, also drives a High Performance car. It’s not a Prius. It’s a 2016 Chevy SS, 415 HP 6 speed manual imported from Australia. Talk about dedication to HP!

After a wonderful lunch of Filet Mignon and Crab Cakes, sponsored by Heister House, it was time for electing a new slate of officers and the House of the Year. Let me go back to the lunch for a second. Filet and Crab for a business lunch! If you couldn’t make it to this year’s meeting, I feel sorry for you. Thanks Heister House.

Mike Clementoni

To show recognition of all the efforts of Mike Clementoni, Muncy Homes, during the years when everyone thought the old MSBA was losing members because of the housing recession in keeping it going and believing in its rebirth into what it is today, Mike was given a life time achievement award. We can’t say enough about what Mike has done for the MSBA/MHBA as President for 8 years.

LtoR: John Colucci, Pat Fricchione, Ken Semler, Bob Bender, President, Mike Zangardi, Norm Hall, Kris Megna, Harris Woodward, Lynn Kuhns, Nicholas Fanelli. Absent from photo: Anthony Zarrilli

The 2017 MHBA officers and board members were voted in and are ready to take the MHBA to new heights.

Tom Hardiman Presents Home of the Year to Zarrilli Homes

And finally, in what Tom Hardiman called a very tight race, voters on the MHBA Facebook pages and the website chose Zarrilli Builders in Brick NJ as this year’s winner of House of the Year.

If you are a modular home builder, a factory owner or manager or a supplier to the modular housing industry, you need to join the MHBA today. It is the eyes, ears and marketing effort for our industry and I would hate to see you not enjoy all the benefits membership can bring.

BTW, did I mention that we had Filet Mignon and Crab for lunch?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Sneak Peak at Zarrilli Homes’ Newest Offerings

Anthony Zarrilli, Zarrilli Homes, is never one to rest on his past success when it comes to building beautiful modular homes in New Jersey.

His newest offering for the NJ coastal areas is a series of homes with ALL IN pricing/plans for his customers. NO ONE in his area is doing this type of guaranteed pricing on a COMPLETE home.   

New home buyers will be able to have a brand new home at a price point that meets their needs AND would have the Zarrilli Homes, LLC name to stand behind it along with their 10 year warranty.  

Many other companies offer pricing at these levels but with lower specs, missing items that drive up the finish invoice cost and they do not come with a warranty like the one offered by Zarrilli Homes.  

If you are interested in learning more about this great new line of ALL-IN homes, contact Zarrilli Homes today. Or call them at 732-262-4848.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This Problem is the Reason for Modcoach’s Nov 2nd Round Table

The man on a mission to fix the skills shortage that could decimate the construction industry within 10 years

One man is on a mission to change the construction industry.

Mark Farmer
It must “modernize or die”, warns Mark Farmer, who believes that within 10 years it will have shrunk to a shell of its former self.

He is the author of a bold new Government report into the skills crisis released today which he says will cripple the country, and which it may never recover from.

“I tried to say it in as stark terms as possible – to get people to sit up and take notice,” he says, adding that the Government told him not to pull any punches. “Because if you’re not careful, it will just play out in the background.”

He describes the problem as a “ticking time bomb”: due to an aging population and a lack of new entrants, put off by the boom and bust cycle, the workforce will decrease by 20-25pc in the next 10 years. A 2015 paper by construction consultancy Arcadis, where Farmer used to work, said that 700,000 people need to be recruited in the next five years just to replace those leaving the industry.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article in The Telegragh

For more info on Modcoach's Nov 2nd Modular Round Table, Click Here