To increase the use of technology and to encourage innovation in the manufactured housing industry, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows prefabricated home manufacturers to make houses in accordance with their “Alternative Construction of Manufactured Homes” regulations.
A prefab home manufacturer should request to the HUD an Alternative Construction (AC) letter for houses that do not conform to the normal requirements in the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards at shipment time. With the alternative construction, HUD permits manufacturers to use new techniques and designs that are not in compliance with the standards set by HUD. The department allows alternative construction in cases:
- Where the prefabricated homes manufacturer plans to use construction that would be prohibited by the standards set by HUD normally;
- Where the construction would offer performance and efficiency that is equal or superior to the required standards set by HUD;
- Where compliance to standards would not be reasonable owing to the circumstances of the case; and
- Where an alternative construction method is used to develop new designs and techniques or for the purposes of research testing.
Alternative construction needs approval from HUD and close coordination by the home manufacturer between In-Plant Inspection Agency (IPIA), the Design Approval Agency (DAPIA), and the State Administrative Agency (SAA). In addition, it is the responsibility of the home manufacturer to make sure that the buyer of the prefab home is notified of the alternative construction techniques that are applied to the house.
The Alternative Construction process needs the home manufacturer to submit the details and drawings to HUD, explaining the features the manufacturer intends to build that violates the set standards. The HUD approval needs notification to the proposed buyer of the home regarding the work and an onsite inspection for the work that is finished in the field. Moreover, the prefabricated homes manufacturer will need to provide cumulative quarterly status reports to the HUB on houses that are built and inspected under each of the approved AC letters.
Information shared on the HUD website will offer manufactured home users basic details of AC provisions of the Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement Regulations. A prefab home can be identified as AC home by the letters AC in the serial number of the home, which can be found on the chassis cross-member. The serial number can also be found on the data plate of the home.