House votes to limit L&I authority 
over factory-built homes

  Olympia, WA - March 15, 2001 - The state House has passed a bill that would move some inspection authority of mobile/manufactured homes from the state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) to local building officials. House Bill 1953, co-sponsored by 24th District Reps. Lynn Kessler and Jim Buck, is aimed at eliminating unnecessary regulations, confusing permitting procedures and paperwork, and giving owners of mobile/manufactured homes more freedom to make alterations to their residences after they have been permanently sited.

  "Basically, our bill would ensure that after a manufactured home has been set up permanently on a piece of property, it would be subject to the same local ordinances, building codes and regulations that apply to any other site-built home or structure," said Buck, R-Joyce.

  The way the law is written , L&I has inspection authority for manufactured-housing units that are constructed in Washington. The scope of that authority extends to factory-built homes even after they are sited (fixed) on a permanent foundation. Unlike conventional site-built homes, which come under the jurisdiction of local building officials, owners of manufactured housing must submit plans for residential alterations to L&I.

In some instances, the application must include an engineering analysis.

The agency also is responsible for inspecting the structures when alterations are completed.

  House Bill 1953 specifies that permitting and inspection authority would be delegated to local building officials where the home is located. The department, however, would continue to have permitting and inspection authority over projects covered by the state electrical installation code.

  Buck says the existing system is unnecessarily burdensome for owners of

permanently sited manufactured homes, who must wade through often confusing permitting- and inspection-procedures that do not apply to site-built residences.

  "Today's manufactured homes are a far cry from those built 30 years ago. We're talking about quality construction materials and workmanship, not 60s-era metal-sided trailers on cinder blocks and two-by-fours," he said. "Once they re set up on the owner s lot, they look like any other stick-built house."

  Buck emphasized the proposal would not change the way L&I monitors and inspects the installation and setup of manufactured homes.

  "The bill would not change what we regard as acceptable standards for installation, licensing of installers and inspections," Buck said. "However, once the federally required one-year warranty on a new factory-built home expires, if the manufactured house is permanently sited, the revisions included in the bill would apply even if the home is subsequently sold to new owners."

  House Bill 1953 passed the House 75-19 and will now be considered by the Senate.

  Buck noted that a similar measure that was approved in the Senate (SB 5703) would authorize a study of the issue.

  "A compromise between the two bills might be necessary, but I believe we should stay focused on solving the immediate problems that we re hearing about from our constituents, many of whom are low-income senior citizens," he said. "Representative Kessler and I are on the same page in recognizing the need for a change in the way L&I is doing business. We re going to work our version of the legislation aggressively, because if it doesn't pass the Senate, our efforts come to a halt and the problems will only continue."


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