http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/undercover/modular-homes-built-...

 

A tip of the leather to Chief Gallagher and Fox 25 News ( Joe Shortsleeve.. this is how investigative reporting is done!)

I sent the link to the video to all of our personnel as well as the the Building Department and Code Enforcement.

The building department has sent me a listing of modular homes in the City.

 

The void space between floors in the 2 story modulars has basically made what was "platform construction" to "horizontal balloon frame". Forewarned is forearmed!

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I built 15 in a middle/upper class subdivision back in the early 90s. I said as we were building them, and still say today, you couldn't give me, nor could you pay me to take all 15. To think people pay 300K and up for these death traps.
Very informative, thanks.
Ron, thanks for passing this on. I am sharing this with our State Fire Marshals office and all my Chiefs in our County. Good information to share.
Thats so not good. Thanks for the info.
Good post Ron! Good info!
A "modular home" is nothing more than a couple of single-wides stapled together.
Before we say this is "great" informative news reporting by Fox.... this fire was reportedly started from an improperly discarded cigarette butt in an "occupied" residential dwelling. It was nearly fully involved upon arrival with the occupants barely escaping with just their clothes on their back. Sorry something doesn't add up. Where is the story about delayed notification? What type of detectors were installed? How did a cigarette create a fire so intense that the smoke detectors didn't sound until the occupants were already outside? Where is the story on the new standard on self extinguishing cigarettes? The glue factor cited in this story is located on the backside of the gypsum board... board that has a fire rating.

I fully understand the excess glue issue, and some less than "high end" modular manufacturers use the glue as a primary wall or ceiling board attachment. But I have seen quality manufacturer's that use just as many sheet rock screws as any stick builder along with the glue together. The glue is used to assure the walls will remain in tact while being shipped over the road to the jobsite.

The horizontal "void space" is a concern but if a stick built guy uses TGI's you have the similiar void spaces underneath the stick built floors. There is a code for maximum vertical void space before it needs to be protected. The horizontal ballon concept is still only able to spread until it reaches the sill plate and can only spread laterally at that level. This doesn't explain the fully involved house in the story. A stick built home using TGI is made with scrap OSB chips glued together and I can honestly say they burn pretty damn fast.

The bigger issue that I am not sure if anyone understands is you can have VERTICAL balloon construction in an improperly set modular home.

Anyone have an idea how? Especially if this is a compartmentalized "platform" construction. Well if your foundation is out of square in a modular home, when the boxes arrive from the factory, remember these boxes are perfectly square, built in a controlled environment, in a jig. The out of square foundation forces the set crew to make decisions in the field. If you set the boxes flush on the leading edge of the foundation, it leaves a void horizontally and VERTICALLY in between the two boxes, times that by multiple floors and you have a gap from gable to gable basement to attic. If the set crew flushes the two inside boxes the homeowner and anyone walking outside will wonder why the foundation is flush on one end and not on the other. They usually spilt the difference and then cover up the interior void so no one sees the gap. Stick built guys will hide an out of square foundation while framing and building the home, this is why somethimes you find out of square interior walls when you try and make upgrades later in life.

But as far as quality, if you have a quality manufacturer, they are built better, with 20-30% more wood that any stick built home, not too mention the R factor for energy conservation is far better than some stick built frame crew eye balling openings after a day/night at the bar.

Can you determine if it is stick or modular during a fire? Well if you look at any of the interior (center) walls where they meet the next room, the trim on a modular is twice as beefy, modular walls are back to back 2x6" studs, so your trim molding will be around 11" as compared to just 4" with stick built center wall that are made from a 2x4" studs and thats a nugget from my advanced building contruction class.

I will agree with the voids, they can be hidden and possibly unknown unless your code enforcement inspector is really sharp, but post fire this is why I always demand aggressive lateral and vertical overhaul to assure the fire remained in the compartment and not into an interior wall void.

If we as an industry could just agree to install residential sprinklers in all dwellings, we would NOT be discussing a possible near death experience from an improperly discarded cigarette.

That should have been the headline of the story not glue...

FETC
I heard an older ff call them "vertical lumberyards" once...... yep, sounds like he was right.

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