Hi-Tech Housing Products
At Hi-Tech Housing, we feel our real business is acting as a group of construction sub-contractors to assemble “off-site” portions of our customer’s project in modular form to the extent that it makes economic sense. While about 80% of our sales… are of custom single-family, multi-family and commercial projects, we do have over 200 pre-engineered home designs that may fit your clients’ needs exactly or provide a good starting point for customization.
Our pre-engineered home designs are organized into collections based on building code and several broad categories of specifications, so we begin this discussion with an introduction to the building codes under which we build and our system of specifications.
Building codes. Our facility is certified to build in many jurisdictions under the following model building codes…
International Residential Code (“IRC”): In the United States, this model code developed by the International Code Council for one and two-family dwellings of up to three stories has been adopted by every state, usually with local modifications, for the regulation of site-built homes as well as “pre-fabricated” and “modular” homes. Every state has established regulations governing how the designs and specifications for “pre-fabricated” and “modular” homes are approved and how the work done in the factory is to be inspected by an authorized independent entity. (Work performed at the building site is still inspected by a local building inspector.) In most states, their version of the code applies everywhere, but some allow some degree of county or city variation. An example is Illinois, where Chicago, Cook County and surrounding counties have their own building codes. We warrant that modular homes we build will meet the state version of the code. We ask that your builder determine if there are any local variations or applicable zoning regulations and covenants and provide us with the details.
Section 9 of the National Building Code of Canada/CSA-A277): As required by federal legislation, all provinces and territories have adopted construction standards for permanent homes built on-site based on the National Building Code of Canada (“NBCC”), which is developed by the Institute for Research in Construction, an arm of the National Research Council of Canada. The Canadian Standards Association (“CSA”) has developed regulations for the application of the code to homes largely built in a factory and inspection of the homes in the factory. The CSA-A277 standard specifically applies to homes intended to be permanent structures, but with significant on-site work. Homes built in a factory under these standards are commonly called “modular” or pre-fabricated” homes. The NBC has a strong emphasis on energy efficiency and protection from moisture damage. There are details that vary among the provinces, which also allow varying degrees of local discretion. There are also significant variations introduced by the various provincial hydro-electric utilities. We warrant that the modular homes we build will meet the provincial version of the code and rely on your builder to determine if there are any local variations.
Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Code (US): This national code was established in 1975 and replaced a hodgepodge of state and voluntary codes for what were then called “mobile homes.” Since this code is administered by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (“HUD”), it is usually referred to as the “HUD code.” Homes built under this code are limited to single-family homes, must be nearly completed in the factory with regard to structure, heating equipment, and finishes such as siding, roofing and interior wall and ceiling materials. While many manufactured homes are sited on leased land and are treated as personal property, many others are placed on permanent foundations and may be treated as real estate. However, the code requires that all manufactured homes must be built on a transportable chassis, usually a steel frame, so that they are at least capable of being relocated. The HUD code is a national pre-emptive standard, and state and local variations are not permitted except for foundation guidelines. HUD contracts with independent engineering firms to certify that the home design conforms to the code and to inspect the manufactured home in the plant while it is being built. Compared to the IRC the HUD code has more sections permitting a wide variety of materials and methods that meet a performance standard and fewer sections mandating specific materials and methods, which allows some cost savings. While it is possible to build a 1-1/2 story or 2-story HUD-code home, it is almost always not cost-effective because of the mandated transportation chassis, unless there is some local advantageous tax treatment.
Canadian Relocatable Homes/CSA-Z240, Z241 and A277 on-frame: “Manufactured” and “mobile” homes in Canada, that is, homes with integral chasses accommodating one or more relocations, are designed and produced under several standards developed by the Canadian Standards Association (“CSA”). These standards closely follow the National Building Code of Canada with the addition of standards for the transportation frame which emphasize structural performance and over-the-road safety. The Z240 standard requires that the home be completed to the extent possible in the factory. There are relatively few provincial, territorial and local variations, and most provinces have implemented Z240 with less aggressive energy-efficiency standards than for under the A277 standard. The Z241 standard is similar and applies to smaller homes typically called “park models.” It is possible and even common to build an A277 modular home with the Z240 transportation frame standard. These homes are usually referred to as “on-frame modular” homes. They must conform to all of the provincial, territorial and local variations in the National Building Code, but can take advantage of the greater flexibility of the NBC in the work performed at the building site. This version of the A277 standard is often used in remote areas and where a traditional foundation is problematic (e.g. permafrost).
Multi-Family and Commercial Codes: If your firm builds more than one and two-family dwellings, you may also benefit from our off-site construction expertise. We build such structures under the International Building Code (“IBC”) in the US and under the relevant sections of the NBCC. To learn more, see the “How we Do Business” section under the “Commercial” heading on this web site.