Mobile homes often get a bad rap in media of all types; from country songs to movies. Most of the time they depict these homes as easily demolished. The truth is far from this. Most often, mobile homes that see the most destruction are simply in wind zones they aren’t meant for. How do you know if you are setting your home on land in an approved wind zone; especially if you don’t even know what wind zones are? Thankfully, there are ways to determine this information and ensure that you purchase a home and set it up with ease of mind.
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Different Types of Zones
Mobile home manufacturers often have differing standards for their homes, usually based on their local audience. For example, the majoriy of manufacturers will not build homes to withstand a Zone 3 Wind Zone Rating, but there are several manufactures in Florida that will. Because of this, it is important that you use these maps to make sure your home complies with local wind, heat, and snow load zones.
Failure to account for these standards could delay the installation and approval of your new home. First, it’s important to understand these zones and what they mean to you.
- Wind Zones
It might sound crazy, but different areas of the United States experience different strengths and wind types. You’ve likely heard of "tornado alley", and assumed that only those states experience high winds. However, this isn’t the case. There are varying degrees of wind, depending on seasons and other meteorological events. As such, experts divide the US into three wind zones.
- Thermal Zones
If you are a gardener of any sort, you likely know about the different zones for planting. You might not be aware that HUD dictates mobile homes' design and installation based on thermal zones. Simply stated, the temperatures experienced in different areas of the U.S. determine the different zones. Similar to wind zones, there are three thermal zones.
- Roof Load Zones
The roof load zone, also known as a snow load zone, operates slightly different from the other zones mentioned above. The creation of these zones dictates how manufacturers design roof slopes for their homes. The purpose of the different zones is to ensure that loads such as snow are properly supported. If you live in an area where snow is common, you most likely understand the damage that snow can cause when it builds up and weighs down on objects like tree limbs and roofs.
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Understanding the Wind Zones
Hopefully, you now understand the regulations the United States government places on building and installing mobile homes. Through the housing authority HUD, homes are installed with each zone in mind. We specifically want to focus on Wind Zones today. As mentioned before, there are three designated zones within the U.S.
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When manufacturers design a home, they must draft a design that can withstand specific wind loads. For Zone 1, the home must be able to withstand wind speed up to 70-mph. According to the Wind Zone Map above, Zone 1 covers the largest area of the U.S.
As the zone numbers go up, so do the wind speeds. In Zone 2, homes are built to resist wind speeds up to 100 mph. Again, looking at the map, most of these areas lie along the coast.
Finally, we come to Zone 3. This area sees the highest recorded wind speeds. As such, homes must include materials and designs that will help them resist these speeds. In Zone 3, homes must withstand wind speeds as high as 110 mph.
How to Know the Wind Zone of Your Home
Knowing your home’s wind zone will help you choose a mobile home that provides not only a roof over your head but also security and peace of mind. Clearly, you would not want to put a home designed for Zone 1 in an area that receives wind speeds like Zone 3. Now that you know where you want to live, how do you determine the zone your home was built for?
When dealing with your home's construction, it might seem easy to let the “professionals” deal with the details. However, knowledge is the most vital tool any person can utilize. As such, HUD stipulates that every home must have a data plate that includes zone maps for wind, heat, and snow loads. You can locate this in one of a few places: inside a kitchen cabinet, bedroom closet, or the electrical panel.
If you can’t locate the data plate, don’t worry. You can request a new one from the Institute for Building Technology and Safety or IBTS.
Can I Trust the Rating for My Home?
HUD takes the responsibility of ensuring the safety of manufactured homes seriously. This department must protect the inhabitants, not the manufacturers, and is especially true when considering the poor record of older mobile homes. As such, the agency has devised several tests that a home must pass before it is approved. Only the agencies authorized by HUD can perform these tests to approve the home. They include the following:
- an agency for the design of the load-bearing components
- an in-plant inspection of the manufacturing process and home
- the manufacturer itself
- and a state supervisor.
Clearly, with all these guidelines, tests, inspections, and regulations you can rest assured that your home is designed specifically for the wind zone you plan to live in.
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Anyone looking to purchase a home wants assurances that their investment is sound; even when purchasing a mobile home. You hope the place you choose to live provides you with security, stability, and peace. Knowing that manufacturers have built your home specifically for the wind zone you live in will give you just that.
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