Venice mobile home residents frustrated with city rules for rebuilding

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — When Walter Tresselt finally returned to his mobile home park after Hurricane Ian swept through, he thought a bomb went off. Now, the Venice resident is trying to fix up his daughter’s own mobile home after it was hit during Ian. But he’s encountering some resistance.

“Nothing like kicking you when you’re down,” Tresselt said. “It’s just not right, I don’t think.”

The City of Venice recently posted guidelines for repairing or rebuilding mobile homes to their website — regulations Tresselt said weren’t around before.

“As far as I know, what I read,” Tresselt explained, “You have to get an engineer to get approval to do almost anything.”

According to city documents, mobile homeowners must get appropriate documentation, permits, and sometimes engineer approval for major repairs, like replacing more than 16 square feet of flooring — something Tresselt himself would have to do.

Minor repairs, like replacing a window with one of the same sizes, do not require any government approval.

“Kitchen, the floor got flooded,” Tresselt said. “There’s all mold and stuff in behind the cabinets.”

As for those cabinets, if Tresselt wants to make changes that require new plumbing and electrical wiring, that’s a major change and would require an engineer’s plan or the original blueprint for the mobile home, something the city of Venice said many people probably don’t have anymore. Tresselt estimated an engineer would cost at least $2,000.

“I know they want to make sure that the places are safe, I understand that part,” Tresselt said. “But that was a little extreme to me.”

In a phone call with 8 On Your Side, the City of Venice said these requirements are not new, though many residents in the city may have made changes under the radar since homes were built decades ago.

Building Official Steve Beckman said, “Regulation that requires things done a certain way and costs money can be difficult for people.”

Other residents understand where the city is coming from.

“Oh, we need them,” said Susan McDowell. “Because, amazingly enough, the houses that are new didn’t have much damage at all. It was more flying debris and stuff.”

With the frustrations of fixing up his daughter’s mobile home, Tresselt and her have decided to leave their separate mobile homes and move into a new place together — outside city limits.

“Does it really require that kind of diligence to make people go through that to get their places fixed up so they can live?” Tresselt asked.

Beckman did have some advice for people trying to find an engineer. He suggested getting multiple quotes, talking to neighbors to see who they’re using, and if you can wait a little, do so. It might help lower costs and help weed out potential scams.

If you’d like to find out more about the rules and regulations regarding rebuilding in the City of Venice, you can find their FAQ here, and the Division of Motorist Services Manufactured Housing Section here.