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Leanne Fleischer
December 30, 2022
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Live Safe in Your Tiny Home With NOAH Certified Remote Digitized Inspections

If you’re reading this article, you’re more than likely considering a bus conversion or tiny home project and considering NOAH Certified as your 3rd party inspection company.   Let’s face it, transforming an old school bus and living the nomadic life has gotten to be pretty cool and wildly popular these days. The “Skoolie” trend is indeed on the rise.  

And, while these old relics have gotten new life, the traveling nomads want to have the peace of mind they’re living in a safely built, energy-efficient vehicle that’s been inspected and certified by a third-party inspection company, like NOAH Certified.  Whether living full-time in your bus or traveling the country for the summer, it is truly better to be on the safe side and get your bus certified. Certification is worth its weight in gold. 

The Beginning

In the past, many “alternative” homes were being built without any oversight, with no inspections being conducted by licensed inspectors.  Robin Butler saw this as an issue and began to consider solutions. “Builders were building tiny houses to whatever standards and codes they saw fit. Many builders were experienced, but some were not, and building a tiny house on a movable foundation has challenges that a home on a fixed foundation does not.” said Robin.  

NOAH’s Process

He was concerned that these builds might not be built right and that something could just blow off traveling down the highway. Robin knew these potential safety issues needed to be addressed before anyone got hurt or the tiny home suffered damage in transit.  Besides all of this, the movement needed to self-regulate before the government stepped in. So, in 2015, Robin stepped up to help the tiny house community ensure safer builds. And, NOAH Certified was born.

In 2016, NOAH officially opened its doors and quickly became known as The Original National Inspection Company for Tiny Houses on Wheels.  Robin started NOAH Certified to fill the void of almost no oversight on Tiny House builds.   How did NOAH fill this void? Robin began by setting tiny house-building standards using national standards from the RV and home-building industry. And, even though NOAH Inspection and Certification is a voluntary process, builders seemed more than ready to sign up for NOAH’s services to obtain assistance in the building of safe tiny houses. In the first years of NOAH, over 100 builders across the nation became members. 

In 2019, Robin attended a Great American Tiny House Show and met a gentleman on the speaker panel that was converting a school bus for full-time living.  Now, better known as a “Skoolie”.  Wanting to make sure he was doing right and safely converting his bus, he inquired with Robin about the inspection and certification of his bus conversion project.  And, that’s when NOAH Certified added other types of inspections, including RVs, vans, and bus conversions.  

NOAH is like a building department for tiny homes on wheels. To receive a Certificate of Compliance and the NOAH seal, each builder must agree to build to the NOAH standard. The NOAH certification seal provides a visible symbol and confirmation that each specific home has successfully completed the entire inspection process performed by NOAH inspectors. Inspections are performed and/or reviewed by certified professional inspectors at five critical stages of construction to comply with the NOAH ANSI+ Standard. NOAH ANSI+ Standard The NOAH ANSI+ Standard incorporates ANSI 119.5, NFPA 1192, and NFPA 70, in addition to energy and structural standards from residential building codes. 

NOAH inspects each and every build, not the manufacturer or builder. The remote inspections are performed between the builder and the inspector using live-stream video and audio allowing the inspector to guide the builder through each inspection. Photos, inspector notes, and any other supporting documentation are also attached to the inspection records. The inspection records and videos are archived in the cloud and cannot be deleted or altered which ensures ultimate reliability. These digitized inspections are archived for future use by municipalities, future owners, and other interested parties. 

All inspections are conducted at critical stages of construction such as a bus shell, trailer, or foundation, framing, gas and water lines, electrical, and insulation. The builder may schedule inspections when it is convenient for them. NOAH keeps on file a permanent record of the report which is stamped with the inspector’s name, date, and the time of the report. Any compliance issues are also flagged and color-coded for follow-up. NOAH inspection and certification gives the municipalities the opportunity to see the build as if it were a home permitted, built, and inspected in their jurisdiction.

By adopting NOAH as your inspection team, you can show your clients, insurance companies, and municipalities that their personal safety and their investment is a priority to you.  The process for inspecting Buses, Vans, and RVs is much the same as a Tiny Home on Wheels, but obviously, there is no trailer, and the framing is pretty much already done. With that in mind, these types of conversions start the inspection process at Stage 3, which includes plumbing and electrical, then onto insulation. These are inspected to the NFPA 1192 code. 

The 5th and final stage is a walk-through and the inspector double-checks everything, including any outstanding items that might have been flagged in previous inspections. That seal and certificate of compliance are not sent out until the inspector gives his own “Seal of Approval”.  

NOAH Membership

NOAH Certified Memberships come in different shapes and sizes. Manufacturer membership is renewed annually and includes two Seals.  If you’re building your own Tiny House on Wheels, NOAH offers a DIY membership.  Because someone building their own home might take more than one year, this membership is good for the life of the builder and includes one NOAH Certified Seal.  In addition, NOAH offers a DIY and Manufacturer membership for Bus, Van, RV, and vehicle conversions. 

Lastly, NOAH offers a membership option for educational institutions.  There are a huge number of schools building Tiny Homes on Wheels and this option will help school-building programs build safe structures. This is the ultimate learning experience for a student studying architecture or construction.

Also, NOAH offers the prospective member a pay-in-full option or you can opt for a payment plan. Once the sign-up process is complete, NOAH members receive access to the NOAH Member Portal, which includes Inspection guidelines, the NOAH member manual, information on codes, and types of housing this is where the builder schedules and confirms their inspection times.  Have a question for an inspector? A NOAH member also receives unlimited consultations, which are also scheduled in the member portal. 

Benefits of NOAH Certified Membership

NOAH is there for you every step of the way.  From a live person answering the member support line to offering inspections from 9:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Saturday.  You don’t have to go it alone. That is a statement others cannot offer.  But, more than that, the benefit of living in a safely built, certified structure inspected to a higher standard is what means the most to our members and to those that purchase a Tiny Home inspected by NOAH.  That means safety on the road, which means any question or guesswork is eliminated during your build.

A NOAH Certified home can potentially help with financing, insurance, and placement.  A NOAH seal can also mean getting into an RV park whereas, no NOAH seal might mean getting turned away.  NOAH has gained quite a great name in the industry as of late.  As more and more people go for a simpler life and more affordable housing, builders that care about their buyers and their own homes are turning to NOAH for remote, digitized inspections.

Conclusion

Every team member at NOAH believes in the mission, the purpose, and the importance of Inspection and Certification. We believe everyone should have peace of mind and freedom to live as they choose. And, to live safely.  

We also know the positive effects that our efforts have resulted in a better outcome for the Tiny House Industry. 

Robin Butler, Founder, and CEO of NOAH Certified: “My sincerest wish is that NOAH continues to utilize its platform to set the standard. As standards change, we will inspect to any new criteria because our business is ever-evolving to ensure compliance with all relevant building codes. Until then, we will continue to perfect our inspection process and serve residential housing of all shapes and sizes, continuing to further the Tiny House movement.”

Article written by Leanne Fleischer

Prior to joining NOAH Certified, Leanne was the Office Manager for the UCF Business Incubation Program in Apopka, FL. She started her career as a travel agent and has experience in executive assistance, office management, marketing, and social media.

Leanne’s role at NOAH includes Member Support, social media, Blog Writing, and Human Resources. Leanne is the friendly voice on the other end of the line when you call NOAH Certified. She genuinely enjoys every aspect of her job with NOAH.

Leanne also assisted NOAH with all that is involved in gaining ANAB ISO 17020 Accreditation for the NOAH Certified inspection process.

A fourth generation Floridian, Leanne enjoys gardening, cooking, boating & playing with her Labradoodles, Lars and Dusty.

You can reach out to Leanne via email:
Leanne@noahcertified.org

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