Vernon and North Okanagan News
Park model homes don't fit code
A province-wide recall has been issued for any owners or occupants of mobile homes built by Riske Creek Manufacturing, and its principle Andy Tower.
The British Columbia Safety Authority issued the recall on Wednesday after finding some mobile homes built by the Salmon Arm company don’t comply with gas or electrical certification standards and may be hazardous to its occupants.
That issue is not disputed by Tower, who acknowledges that his company has been locked in an ongoing dispute with the BCSA for the past three years.
“There are issues with our units that they have pointed out, (and) I understand that,” he explains.
”The same issues that exist on our units that they’ve pointed out to us exist on probably hundreds of units in the area and when I bring it to the inspector’s attention, they choose to ignore it and tell me its not for my concern. That’s the basis for the argument.”
Tower tells Castanet that his company constructs a product that has recently become increasingly popular in a niche market, where consumers are looking to downsize their lives following retirement. Many of these units are referred to as park models and are no larger than 12’ X 38’, but have all the same amenities and creature comforts as an actual house. They can even be trailered in and dropped off as permanent residences at RV parks.
The catch is that these homes don’t necessarily fit into any particular building code and instead Tower says they exist in a gray area somewhere between an RV and a house.
“There’s a grey area between park models, which we build, and the BC Building Code. And we find ourselves in that grey area and in our view BC Safety is struggling to comprehend what should apply where,” explains Tower.
“I build well in excess of the park model building codes, which are different than the BC building codes, but depending on the application, BC Safety is struggling to govern that. They don’t have the adequate regulations in place to govern it, so they’re struggling and I’m caught in the mix.”
This is where Tower says the problem lies, as he thinks the BCSA needs to update their resources and regulations to include a separate category for these new buildings. He says these units do not require building permits when they are installed at RV parks and run under a different classification and different construction practices than what the BC building code would dictate.
“Not all the information that they have available to them covers all applications of these units. And because the popularity of these units and park models in resorts, its quickly becoming the new norm and everyone wants to go this way for their retirement property.”
The BCSA did not respond to Castanet’s messages for comment prior to posting the story, but Wayne Lock, a provincial gas safety manager with the BCSA says the uncertified installation of gas appliances creates the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tower says he has already updated a number of the problem units on the market and tells Castanet that BCSA has informed him of 25 more that need to be corrected. He also admits there has been friction between the two sides as they attempt to come to an understanding, and says he is being unfairly treated because he challenged them in the past on this same issue and in his words, “stepped on some toes.”
He also alleges the BCSA has slandered his reputation, threatened him and had inspectors address him with profanity at his own facility.
“I ask for direction on what to do, how to do it and so on and they choose not to respond to me. And the latest development has been this recall,” notes Tower.
“I have an issue with their business practices. I have brought this up numerous times and they choose to ignore how their inspectors deal with people in the field.”
In turn, Tower says he has been reluctant to deal with inspectors, thus compounding his problem. However, he has been doing his due diligence with all the appropriate certification companies for the past year.
“I’ve done a large number of the corrections already,” says Tower.
“I’m still in the process of trying to finish the corrections they have stipulated. In the process I have enlisted new certification company’s to take over certifying our products, so anything leaving the factory presently is on side with everything that would be applicable in every condition and every environment. We’ve done our due diligence to make sure everything is covered and even in the grey areas, we’ve done our due diligence to cover those.”
Tower says this nightmare has cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years and has completely destroyed his reputation. He has had to scale back half of his workforce and says his next course of action is to seek legal counsel or wade through political channels.
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