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Special Series: New Laws Shape Mississippi’s Mobile Home Market

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 Dec 2010 02:49pm | comments
BJ Malley inspects a newly installed home.

New laws require Mississippi inspectors from the state fire Marshall's office to check out every newly installed mobile home in the state. In part one of a two part series, MPB's Jeffrey Hess examines the new rules and their practical effect on the industry.

Improperly installed manufactured homes can lead to ill-fitting doors, windows that don't close, and shifting floors. New rules approved this year, require a state inspection of every mobile home installed in Mississippi since July of 2009.

Scott Barns is the supervisor of the inspection program at the state fire marshal's office. He says poorly installed homes soon develop structural problems.

"It will go for a certain period of time before the problem actually surfaces. And then when it is tracked back, it is usually tracked back to an installation problem. So we feel like doing the installation inspections up front, we are certainly going to curtail a lot of these problems," Barns said.

They have six full time inspectors but there is a total of 27 in the fire marshal's office tasked with checking roughly 5-thousand homes a year.

Installers require yearly training to get a state approved license. Illegal installers can face fines or yearlong jail terms.

On a gray December day in rural Mississippi, state inspector BJ Malley leans on supports and crawls under a home to make sure it is on a good foundation.

"On an average day we do anywhere from seven to twelve of these a day and can drive anywhere from 200 to 500 miles a day looking at houses," Malley said.

This home passes Malley's inspection and gets an approval sticker which tells the electric company that it is ok to turn on the power.

The Mississippi Manufactured Housing Association, an industry trade group, supports the rules. Spokeswoman Jennifer Hall considers it consumer protection and says they even sponsored the training of more inspectors.

"Because when this legislation was passed in Alabama a few years ago, it cut their consumer complaints in half," Hall said.

A properly installed home, Hall says, can last more than 50 years.
The second part of this series focusing on mobile home retailers, installers and residents, will air on Tuesday.

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BJ Malley inspects a newly installed home.


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