Real Estate Trends & Advice - Another Permit?

Another Permit?
By Jim Palmer Jr.

 The recent sale of a quality manufactured home reminded me that there is a gap in understanding concerning the proper permitting that is required for installing or altering manufactured homes.  In this case a new manufactured home was installed on a city lot, which by city code required a garage.  The garage was added by permanently attaching it to the end of the new manufactured home.  The new owners were careful to obtain all the proper building permits and inspections from the city and the county, as well as a permit for the electrical work in the garage.  This was a first class set up!
Now, years later as the same owner is preparing the home to qualify for a new loan in a sales transaction, they are confronted with the fact that they needed a structural permit from L&I for the attached garage because it is considered an alteration to the manufactured home. 

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is tasked by the State of Washington to inspect manufactured homes at the factory and then in the field if there have been alterations because these structures don’t fall under the jurisdiction of city or county building codes for stick built structures.  Local building departments and contractors usually don’t cause this permitting to happen simply because they are oblivious of that requirement, but mostly because they are really only concerned with their own sphere of responsibility. 

It is not the end of the world for this seller!  It’s just a hassle and a surprise to be stuck with the bill for this inspection which must happen prior to the close of the sale. Of course it is much more difficult to assess structural quality once it is covered by sheetrock!  Additionally, the new lender may require any deficiencies to be cured that are discovered during the L&I inspection process.  For example, if the added garage structure is not self supporting and is relying on support from the outer wall of the manufactured home, then the inspector may require that additional supports be added or that a structural engineer certify that the weight of the added structure does not compromise the structure of the manufactured home.

Armed with this knowledge you may be more able to eliminate stress at the sale of your manufactured home because you can be proactive in satisfying this requirement ahead of time.