Manufactured Homes do not fall under the State Building Code of Washington since they are not built on site. The Department of Labor and Industries has been tasked with the supervision of Manufactured Homes at the factory as they are being built and in the field once they are placed on a property. Their oversight includes alterations to the Manufactured Home after they have been placed on the property. Any alteration to the home that penetrates the skin or changes structure or systems must be inspected by L&I.
When asked if they have had an L&I inspection, most MH home owners look like they are deer in the headlights and answer that they aren’t sure. The truth is that most contractors are not aware of the requirement to have the Department of Labor and Industries inspect those changes on MH’s. They obtain the local permit from city or county, but hardly ever do they obtain an L&I permit. The rub comes when the home owner wants to sell the home. The WA code concerning this situation basically says that, “It is illegal to sell or offer to sell any manufactured home that has been altered unless it has first been inspected by L&I.” If the home owner fails to comply, there is rarely a consequence,…unless something happens to the home in the future that is caused by an illegal alteration.
For example, what if the homeowner added a porch that was supported by the roof of the MH home that was not designed to handle additional roof load? Ifit caves in and hurts someone when the winter dumps an unusual amount of wet snow the new owner will be looking for accountability. When an astute attorney finds out that there were no L&I inspections for that porch addition, they are likely to collect from the previous home owner and the broker.
In a recent case a distraught homeowner berated the broker who insisted that they do an L&I inspection on portions of a home that had been altered. The homeowner resisted because of the cost to be compliant with L&I expectations. Once the homeowner found that the rules only require the inspection, and not the repairs, they calmed down and worked through the issues with the buyer. The informed buyer bought the home anyway, despite the disclosure that the alterations did not meet L&I standards.