(a) Policy. In order to promote the purposes of the Act, the Department will permit the sale or lease of one or more manufactured homes not in compliance with the standards under circumstances wherein no affirmative action is needed to protect the public interest. An add-on, including an attached accessory building or structure which does not affect the performance and ability of the manufactured home to comply with the standards in accordance with § 3282.8(j), is not governed by this section. The Department encourages innovation and the use of new technology in manufactured homes. Accordingly, HUD will permit manufacturers to utilize new designs or techniques not in compliance with the standards in cases:
(1) Where a manufacturer proposes to utilize construction that would be prohibited by the Standards;
(2) Where such construction would provide performance that is equivalent to or superior to that required by the Standards; and
(i) compliance with the Standards would be unreasonable because of the circumstances of the particular case, or
(ii) the alternative construction would be for purposes of research, testing or development of new techniques or designs. If a request for alternative construction is submitted and the facts are consistent with these principles, the Secretary may issue a letter under paragraph (c) of this section stating that no action will be taken under the Act based upon specific failures to conform to the Standards or these regulations, provided that certain conditions are met. The issuance of a letter under paragraph (c) of this section will not affect any right that any purchaser may have under the Act or other applicable law and will not preclude any further agency action that may become necessary.
(b) Request for alternative construction. A manufacturer may submit a request for alternative construction of a manufactured home. The request should be sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Manufactured Housing Standards Division, 451 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20410. The request must include:
(1) A copy of the manufactured design or plan for each nonconforming model which a manufacturer plans to build;
(2) An explanation of the manner in which the design fails to conform with the Standards, including a list of the specific standards involved;
(3) An explanation of how the design will result in homes that provide the same level of performance, quality, durability and safety as would be provided under the Standards;
(4) A copy of data adequate to support the request, including applicable test data, engineering calculations or certifications from nationally recognized laboratories;
(5) An estimate of the maximum number of manufactured home units affected and the location, if known, to which the units will be shipped;
(6) An indication of the period of time during which the manufacturer proposes to engage in the manufacture, sale or lease of the nonconforming homes;
(7) A copy of the proposed notice to be provided to home purchasers;
(8) A list of the names and addresses of any retailers that would be selling the nonconforming homes; and
(9) A letter from the manufacturer's DAPIA indicating that the design(s) to which any nonconforming homes would be built meet the Standards in all other respects.
(c) Issuance of the letter by the Secretary -
(1) Contents of the letter. If the Secretary issues a letter in response to a request for alternative construction, the letter shall include the specific standards affected, an explanation of the proposed activity or design, an explanation of how the request is consistent with the objectives of the Act, and any conditions that the manufacturer must meet.
(2) Letter sent to IPIA, DAPIA and SAA. The Secretary shall forward a copy of the letter to the manufacturer's IPIA and DAPIA along with a letter authorizing the DAPIA to approve plans containing the alternative construction, and authorizing the IPIA to permit use of the alternative construction, provided that the conditions set forth in the letter are met. The Secretary shall also forward a copy of the letter to the SAAs in the State of manufacture and the State(s) in which the homes are to be located, if known.
(3) Alternative construction in additional models. In cases where the Secretary grants a letter under this paragraph that is not model-specific, the Secretary may permit the manufacturer to include the alternative construction in additional models. In such cases, the DAPIA shall notify the Department of additional models that incorporate the alternative construction.
(d) Revocation. The Secretary may revoke or amend a letter issued under paragraph (c) of this section at any time. Such revocation or amendment will be prospective only. Where manufacturers have requested alternative construction for research, testing or development such alternative construction may not achieve the anticipated results. Therefore, the Secretary may require a manufacturer to bring those homes into compliance with the standards if, after the alternative construction has been in use for a period of time specified by the Secretary, these homes are not, in the Secretary's judgment, providing the levels of safety, quality and durability which would have been provided had the homes been built in compliance with the Standards.
(e) Notice to prospective purchasers. Manufacturers receiving letters under paragraph (c) of this section shall provide notice to prospective purchasers that the home does not conform to the Standards. Such notice shall be delivered to each prospective purchase before he or she enters into an agreement to purchase the home. The notice shall be in the following form or in such other form as may be approved by the Secretary:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a letter to (Name of Manufacturer) concerning the homes in (location if known). As designed, the homes do not meet Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards regarding (brief statement of manufacturer's nonconformance).
HUD has evaluated the alternative construction and believes that it provides an equivalent level of quality, durability and safety to that provided by the Standards.
For further information about the specific Federal Standards involved, a copy of the letter issued pursuant to 24 CFR 3282.14(c) is available from this retailer or manufacturer upon request.
(f) Serial numbers of homes constructed using alternative construction. Manufacturers shall provide the Department with the serial numbers assigned to each home produced in conformance with the letter issued under paragraph (c) of this section within 90 days of their date of manufacture. Each serial number shall include the letters “AC” to indicate that the homes was produced under alternative construction procedures.