Friday, May 4, 2018

ABC 5 TV Boston Does Hatchet Job on Modular Housing Industry

While thousands upon thousands of homeowners throughout the United States are completely happy with their new modular homes, ABC 5 in Boston is on the side of several rightfully outraged homeowners that are blaming an entire industry for not delivering their dream homes.

This is a terrible position for any homeowner to be put in. Their home was bought in good faith through a builder they trusted. The bank gave them a mortgage that they are paying on even though they can’t move into it.

Only one thing could make this worse; inviting "Undercover" Mike Beaudet to the party and giving Kevin Gallagher, the ‘15 minutes of fame’ Acushnet Fire Chief another forum to spout about the horrors of modular housing.

CLICK HERE to read ABC 5's "State oversight of modular homes criticized"

Modular home factories across the breadth and width of this country build hundreds of new modular homes every week. You have to wonder why the only state that seems to have a problematic experience with modular is Massachusetts.

An excerpt from the ABC article:

“The state used to have a position of director of manufactured buildings, but that post has been vacant for more than a year.

There was a task force assigned to look at these issues but it never met and was disbanded."

The state office that was responsible for all claims against manufactured home builders was for all practical purposes dismantled leaving both the consumer’s and the modular home industry’s best advocate, Director Steve Kennealy, without a job. One has to ask if any of these lawsuits would have reached this point if the state of MA has not done away with that agency. We will never know.

The story does state one fact that can’t be disputed. “The state only requires the private inspector to view each section of the modular home once, and unlike the process for homes built on site, inspections are even allowed to happen in the factory after the boxes have been constructed, walls and all.”

What is not mentioned in the article is every factory has a QA inspector walking through the modules every day doing inspections. If something gets past them, then the factory should be held accountable. However, in my career in home building and in the modular industry I have found that most of the problems occur at the job site.

Once the modular home leaves the factory gate it is taken for a ride on a carrier, lifted into place with by a huge crane, set on the foundation by a set crew that makes sure the house is sealed from the weather and finally it is finished by the customer’s builder.

Set crews and crane operators get specialized training.

But the person ultimately responsible is the builder.

Over the years we seen builders with insufficient training building homes, builders that have run out of money during the building process and worst of all, just taking deposits and running off with the customer’s money leaving customers to clean up the mess. However, these problems are found more often in site built homes than modular home builders but it’s funny you don’t hear about that.

Mike Beaudet and Kevin Gallagher seem once again on a mission to hurt an entire industry that housing and construction experts say is the future of home building in America.

In response to this story, Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the Modular Home Builders Association issued the following:

The TV station reached out to MHBA last week to say they were doing a story about the lack of oversight on the modular industry in Massachusetts. We replied with the quote in the story stating that there was oversight and in fact Massachusetts has one of the more robust programs in the country. When the piece came out, it was clear that the station was trying to paint a negative image of the modular industry as a whole by talking with three unhappy modular customers. Now, we don’t like it when anyone is dissatisfied, but the station found what appears to be the only three dissatisfied customers in the last two years, one of whom had multiple opportunities to walk away from a bad builder and chose not to.

In the minutes recently posted by the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Standards (BBRS) Rob Anderson, Codes Chief in Massachusetts, indicated that a survey was forwarded to the head of each building department in the commonwealth on February 21st asking whether or not they have experienced any difficulties with manufactured buildings over the last 2 years. About 70 responses were received. Most responses indicated no issues, some identify deficiencies that had been resolved and a few reveal ongoing issues. History demonstrates that, in most instances, difficulties relating to manufactured buildings occur during the set.

MHBA is aware of three ongoing issues as reported by Boston’s WCVB-TV. It is unclear from the BBRS minutes if the 70 responses represent 70 modular projects or 70 building department heads who may have experience with multiple modular projects. Assuming 70 total projects, the industry can definitely state the we have a 96% satisfaction rate in the state of Massachusetts (67 satisfied out of 70) over the past two years. While we all want to achieve 100% customer satisfaction, we know that sometimes there are factors out of our control. We will also put that 96% satisfaction rate up against the site-built home industry any day!


Tom Hardiman said...

Thanks for sharing Gary. If anyone has a video testimonial (or even a written one) feel free to send those to us. We are going to put together a positive piece on how and why modular is better than site built. Time to go on offense and put a stop to this nonsense. send them to

Bill Hart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Hardiman said...

Bill - what are you talking about? They found 3 families out of .....70 that weren't happy. How many people do you suppose are unhappy with site built contractors - each and every day! Yet that doesn't make the news. Its just a given that site-built will be over budget and not on schedule yet, no news stories. Did you know that one of the families in the story had two chances to walk away from the home before it was delivered - and chose to keep working with the same builder whom she'd already had numerous issues with? Probably not. Did the reporter bother to probe a bit more and ask some hard questions? no. It was a one sided piece aimed at making the industry look bad. I know we have work to do, but we don't need crappy journalism making our work harder. And I guess I don't see defending the industry I represent as bragging.

Anonymous said...

It seems Bill Hart is a defender of "the way we have always done it". Nobody/No product is perfect but he is perfectly happy to troll this site try to deride those that would promote this industry. Of course Tom is going to promote and defend modular construction. It is a better way to build and site builders are finding it. Bill Hart appears to have no problem with site builders doing their braggadocios videos given all of their lawsuits. Take a look at DR Horton or one of the other big builders and all of their BBB complaints. You will see thousands and thousands of them. And almost all of them are ignored/not-responded to by the builder. Why doesn't that make the news?

Anonymous said...

Every industry has problems. That why we have litigants. If your new car is to defective to drive there is the lemon law. Tom Hardiman and modcoach are trying to help an industry that is maligned and continually compared to mobile homes. As an industry insider (factory sales rep) for more than 14 years I have seen just about every possible problem. It is my opinion that the vast majority of the problems are caused by set crews and builders that do not have any training on how to set and finish the homes placed in their care.
No matter how big a PIA a builder is we do not take it out on the customer's house. That would be stupid and probably result in lawsuits.
Bill Hart, your observations of the current modular manufacturing are wrong. Very wrong. Thanks for being part of the problem.

NYBuilder said...

I am certainly confused by one thing...and i'm not a defender of the "old way of doing things." if MHBA knew a story was coming from Fox 5 in Boston, a known opponent of modular, why didn't the ass'n do anything to get out in front of it? membership fees go towards this type of defense of our industry, no? I understand that Budgets exist and marketing against a Fox affiliate is difficult but if all the members were to have received a uniform statement from MHBA and were instructed to post on websites, social media, etc...that's a pretty far reach. I don't know, that part just seems confusing to me. seems like an opportunity was either ignored or missed.

Bill Hart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
الإستثمار الآمن في جورجيا said...

Good discussion. All that persons are just blaming each other to save himself, good very good, But I think they should remind that they have committed to do best with sincerity. I wish they will never do it again...

Tom Hardiman said...

NY Builder - when the story broke, we posted our reply on our discussion forum and emailed it to all our members. Did you not get it?

Bill from Danvers said...

That was our house on the news. I am not here to rip you even though we have every reason to be angry at the industry. This site’s priorities explain how we got into this predicament. Like some of you, we also question the decision not to get ahead of this story. We were before the BBRS with cameras rolling several months ago. Industry players and the State all knew this was coming. You would think someone might have done something to change the storyline. We chalked it up to the callous indifference we have encountered in this industry.
First, I want to set the record straight--we walked away from our first builder long before the house arrived. Signature Building System’s Vic DePhillips convinced us to complete our modular purchase, then held us hostage with false promises and years of delays before building its defective, incomplete product somehow “certified” by PFS. He was also responsible for its catastrophic installation by his own hired, “certified” subcontractor and despite his “best” SBS supervisor overseeing their work. So before you make any more false assertions, those are the FACTS!
Your solutions to the problems exposed by Channel 5 are misdirected. Blaming sympathetic victims is a risky approach in any venue and generally backfires. The outpouring of support, even from strangers, has been striking. Preempting the story with a social media blitz would only affect homebuyers basing their biggest life purchase decision on Facebook posts. And producing pumped up testimonials has little value when overshadowed by our nightmare images. Fear guides people and our house scares everyone. Blaming builders and/or installers only emphasizes doubt/uncertainty in potential buyers. What matters to consumer confidence is knowing companies stand behind their products and won’t tolerate inexcusable behavior of bottom-feeding manufacturers that don’t care if they drag their industry down with their shoddy, unsafe, non-code compliant construction. An industry expressing outrage a manufacturer would do this, demanding accountability, and working to be a better industry is what will resonate with viewers. Your choice.
I imagine some manufacturers build their products to Code, take industry standards seriously and address problems in good faith, but some try to get away with anything. We shake our heads about the “surveys” the State just took upon which you make false assumptions of “satisfaction” and somehow equate to your touted 96% success rate. It’s not in the State’s interest to obtain/disclose real numbers, as that would expose its own continuing lack of oversight. Why don’t you demand PFS put the rubber stamp down and raise the bar for your entire industry so the underbelly doesn’t send grossly defective houses into MA hurting honest players when outed. We know many more victims of these shoddy practices from different manufacturers too. Which do you think people will believe--the fake survey results or disturbing images on Channel 5’s next segment of other victimized homeowners the industry claims don’t even exist?
SBS already gave your industry a bad name in a series of news reports in 2011. It got caught then manufacturing a house without fire/draft-stopping, no vapor barrier, irregular labels, and shoddy construction everywhere--just like our house and those after us! It’s hard to shout the party line of “isolated incidents” with this kind of history. Try redirecting the next Beaudet segment by expressing contempt for the manufacturer’s conduct and taking corrective action instead of sound-bite lip service. Or, just continue to deny problems and cry victim. The industry’s lack of common decency has been a real punch in the gut for many, which came through on the news. I guess being an MHBA featured sponsor gets you a free pass on your association’s own Code of Conduct.

Photos don’t lie. Your image problem is really an accountability problem! Tell PFS their disgraceful performance is crushing consumer confidence and demand more from your unethical, bad faith manufacturers. That will be your best advertisement.