On August, 29, 2011 The Gazette published a response article in defense of modular buildings.
” Re: “Failing grade for trailers” (Gazette, Aug. 6).
The Gazette’s story on emergency classrooms in Haiti called into question the quality and durability of those modular classrooms.
The reporters cited issues such as “incredible heat, unsatisfactory sanitation facilities, lack of ventilation, leaks, mould and, in one case, high levels of formaldehyde,” as well as questioning whether they are, as billed, hurricane-proof.
In 2004, four hurricanes hit Florida, causing over $50 billion in property damage. What went underreported was the fact that 1,600 manufactured homes built to the 1994 wind standards of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were hit by those hurricanes.
How many were blown off their foundations? None.
How many were destroyed? Zero. Based on reading The Gazette’s story, would readers know that those classrooms, if properly installed, could withstand 140-mile-per-hour hurricane winds?
The story also said that the modular classrooms did not have running water and latrines. Imagine Haiti’s devastation. There are problems with infrastructure, transportation, shortages of materials and a host of other things.
Bathrooms in classrooms require hookups to sewer lines. There is no failure in design or construction if proper utility hookups were not done.
On the reported issues with air quality and mould: no air conditioning was evident in the photos, and it was not mentioned in the story. These modular units were probably designed to have air conditioning installed on site. Without air conditioning in a highly humid climate, mould could form. Blame nature, but not the builder or those who provided humanitarian relief.
Formaldehyde exists in most construction. It is found in building materials, resins and fabrics. It is also part of your body chemistry. Energy-efficient construction is “tighter,” so formaldehyde’s effects on the eyes in hot conditions are more acute. Air conditioning is a solution.
Can we believe that those involved wanted to do a bad job for Haitians? We do not know enough to cast blame on anyone or anything, other than the difficult conditions in Haiti.
Modular and pre-fab construction is used worldwide in commercial, office and residential housing. More than 20 million people in the U.S. and Canada live in factory-built homes.
Hundreds of thousands are employed by the industry and its suppliers. The article does an injustice to builders of manufactured and modular homes and those who dwell in them by using derogatory terms like “trailer.” The media should use proper terminology and avoid outdated stereotypes.
L.A. (Tony) Kovach Publisher, Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management (MHMSM.com) Chicago