OMHC clarifation of homeowner involvement in manufactured home installations

In Ohio, owners can do all or part of their manufactured home’s of the installation.  Further, only Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission (OMHC) licensed installers can do those parts of the installation for which an installer is hired.  Until now, the OMHC had not fully clarified the homeowner qualifications or responsibilities should they choose to do all or part of the installation.  The OMHC’s Issuing permits to homeowners is intended to clarify the qualifications for a homeowner choosing to do the installation.  This memo is also clarification for the OMHC certified inspectors, who are the permit issuers mentioned in the memo.

Included with the OMHC memo was the Homeowner-Installer Agreement.  This agreement was developed because of past misunderstanding or poor communications between homeowners and installers resulting in an incomplete or unacceptable manufactured home installation.  I have been personally caught in the middle of a disagreement between a homeowner and installer over who was responsible for parts of the installation work.  The worst case was a licensed installer whose only responsibility was to disassemble a home, move it to a new site and set it up temporarily, while the homeowner thought he was paying for a complete installation on the new site.  The agreement is to clarify the duties and responsibilities of the homeowner and the installer.  This document could also provide legal protection for the installer, although installers should seek legal clarification on that issue.

Amazingly, most installers did not have such written agreements until now.  I can understand that many installers nowadays are just happy for the work.  But installers, as well as homeowners, need to think about protecting themselves.  I am sure you have heard before that verbal agreements are worth the air on which they are written.  Those words are not advice; they are fact.  Keep in mind that if the OMHC agreement does not contain all of the various installation elements, be sure to write addenda that include elements not listed.  Mentally go through the installation step-by-step to assure that all elements are included, and have a written contingency agreement to cover those elements that neither the homeowner or installer has considered.

Additionally, if more than one installer is going to be hired for various parts of the installation, be sure to have an agreement with each of the installers.  And, homeowners, do not get caught in disagreements between an installer and anyone with whome he subcontracts.  Each party, the homeowner and the installer(s) with whom the homeowner has agreements, will be held responsible for their parts of the installation agreement.

All of this being said, prospective Ohio manufactured home owners, unless you really know how to install a manufactured home according to the current OMHC Rules, I strongly encourage you to hire a licensed installer to do the work rather than doing the work yourself.  At the least, refer to the OMHC installation rules (http://www.omhc.ohio.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=nZcOuC49aLY%3d&tabid=66&mid=927) to verify whether you have the skills and qualifications to do the work.  Also consider whether you have the proper equipment to complete the installation.  Even if you might have done manufactured home installation work in the past, installation requirements have changed dramatically in the last few years.  You may find that you no longer have the needed skills, abilities or equipment to satisfactorily complete an installation.

I have found most homeowners do not have the skills to fully complete parts of the installation to which they have agreed.  Inspectors will usually provide instructions for you to complete the job.  But, keep this fact in mind, every time an inspector visits the property to attempt an inspection, you will be charged for the visit.  The price is usually $100 minimum.  You could end up paying more for the installation than you would if you had originally hired an installer.

Most of all, consider that this will be your home and an important investment.  If the home is properly and professionally installed, it could be in place for many years and possibly as long as a site-built home.  It also has a good chance to gain value.

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