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Author: Ashely Clayton

Prefabricated Housing Concepts for the Low-Energy Future

Prefabricated Housing Concepts for the Low-Energy Future

As homebuyers up and down the West Coast prepare for a net-zero energy mandate – looming large on California’s horizon – these low-energy manufactured homes are providing a glimpse into of the future modern housing in the Golden State.

 Net Zero Housing Concept

First displayed at the October 2016 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo Held in Los Angeles, a team of engineers and architects produced a modular home comprised of 1,790 ft.². Designed for entertaining and flexible living requirements, the home has movable walls that separates the living room and a secondary bedroom. Providing a variety of floor plan options, the primary wall rotates to display a media screen on one side and art on the other – depending on the guest list at your next party. For the master bedroom, the builders included a Murphy bed that, when put away, provided a fall down – to create an office space.

Flexible and offering incredible versatility, these futuristic modular homes offer an additional 200 to 300 ft.² based on the wall configuration.

Innovative and energy-efficient, these futuristic modular homes include a dishwasher that reuses water from the final rinse cycle for the next load and a “power wall” to store electricity from photovoltaic solar panels.

Though some “forward-thinking” builders are pushing the sustainability envelope—and such a home might be in demand today—it is unlikely that homebuilders en masse will pursue the concept anytime soon, according to the team of developers.

“The rising cost of construction and labor are forcing us to do things in different ways, but unfortunately the homebuilding industry is not quick to adopt change,” noted one of the architects.

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Energy Efficient Technology and Manufactured Housing

Energy Efficient Technology and Manufactured Housing

Energy Efficient, Fiscally Responsible, And Good for the Earth… today’s manufactured housing is responsible homeownership.

In addition to the helping the environment with the latest in energy efficient technology, today’s modern manufactured housing models can also offer their owners huge savings over traditional stick built homes.

A win-win situation, this means you can build your next home to your specific liking…while keeping it environmentally friendly.

Manufactured housing is technologically ahead of the game when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint. If you consider the facts that they require less building material, are constructed in-factory (eliminating the wasteful nature of job site construction), require less space than traditional houses and can be built from renewable resources, it’s easy to see how thousands of homeowners are turning to the prefabricated housing industry more environmentally friendly housing.

 Energy Efficient Building Materials

Today’s modern manufactured housing units are built from materials that will last a lifetime, reduce waste and save precious valuable resources. Not only will today’s homebuyers be saving money on replacement items, they’ll also will be reducing landfill waste. Some manufacturers – upon request – even use recycled insulation, can utilize recycled lumber for studs and opt for LOW-VOC materials, such as particleboard and paints; these materials do not our toxin free.

Green Manufactured Housing Designs

A friend to the environment, manufactured housing offers numerous other eco-friendly features aside from just renewable building materials. Manufactured Housing also offers numerous green building techniques that can turn your home into its own sustainable resource.

For instance, many manufactured homes are equipped with photovoltaic, self-generating electric solar panels. Since technology has drastically reduced the size and weight of these once large panels, going green is easier and less expensive than ever. For example, you can add:

  • Small wind electric systems to generate your own electricity
  • Lightweight roof-mounted air collectors for solar water heating
  • Solar electric or photovoltaic systems (PV) to produce pollution-free electricity
  • Sun-shading devices for cooling your home, rather than relying on expensive electrically-run appliances

Speak with your manufactured housing retailer about today’s green building techniques for your new prefabricated home. The addition of these energy-saving technologies, such as insulated windows, energy-efficient doors, timed thermostats, on-demand hot water heaters, energy-efficient lighting and appliances and geothermal heat pumps…are just a few of the great ways to ensure that your next prefabricated housing unit will be energy efficient in the long run.

Speak with a manufactured home lender today

Five Tips to Buying Your Next Manufactured Home

Five Tips to Buying Your Next Manufactured Home

Anyone can overpay for their manufactured house – leading to their ultimate disappointment. Compiled below for your shopping pleasure, are five helpful tips to buying your next manufactured house.

A manufactured home, prefabricated home, or a traditional stick built home – regardless of its construction technique, the home buying process is an incredibly stressful process for the majority of individuals who undertake the task. Buyers can easily avoid potential housing issues by understanding manufactured home dealers operate in a similar manner to your average car dealership. And like your average car dealership, manufactured home retailers use the markup and commission system. By understanding your fiscal parameters, financing options and understanding the retailers ultimate motivation is your best strategy against overpaying.

Hot Tip, Understand What You Want From Your Manufactured Housing

First off: Make make sure to exercise your due diligence by doing your homework. Reading this post is a great beginning – but it’s just the beginning.

Be prepared to research each nuance of the individual retailer and manufactured homebuilder – examining as many different online resources as possible. Understand which manufacturers you like best as well as your favorite floor plans and features.

Manufactured home upgrades will increase the purchase price up front but can ultimately save money in the long run, with energy-efficient upgrades saving thousands of dollars over the life span of your prefabricated housing unit.

Prefabricated, Modular, Or Manufactured Housing

In the world of manufactured homes, the old axiom that you get what you pay for remains true.

Chances are, you won’t be able to pay $70,000 for a stylish double-wide unit and get the same fixtures, materials, and construction aspects as a $145,000.00 home. It’s financially not possible.

Buyers are often upset or disappointed with their purchase because their home has low-grade flooring materials, or inexpensive trim, or thin carpet… but they only paid $34,900.00 for a brand new 1000 square foot double wide manufactured home. Of course, the unit should still be professionally constructed and every owner should be 100% happy, but and buyers expectations must align with units price point.

Manufactured Home Features and Upgrades

Certain features and upgrades can drastically extend the life of your home and make living in it more cost efficient and comfortable.

Choose a pitched roof, rather than a flat roof, if possible, this helps increase the lifespan of the roof. Make sure the roof hangs over the edge of the house, that it is properly ventilated and it extends over the home, this will increase the longevity of your new home.

Look for a home with exterior wall studs 16 inches apart (as opposed to 24 inches). Choose vinyl siding rather than metal or hardboard siding and with exterior walls at least 7 1/2 feet high. Housing wrap is always a good idea, too.

Choose high-quality plumbing fixtures, such as standard kitchen and bathroom faucets and sinks (this may require an upgrade). Request a shutoff valve at each plumbing fixture.

Avoid particleboard sub floors. When it gets wet, particleboard is more susceptible than plywood to problems such as swelling, warping and loss of strength. Larger joists, smaller joist-spacing, and thicker subflooring can reduce floor flexing and sagging.

Related: The Insider’s Guide to Manufactured Home Dealers (an article I wrote for

Research Your Manufactured Housing Options

Although you may have chosen your favorite manufacturer, you may get a better price from a different one. Use online reviews and ask for customer testimonials. Receiving  the best price quote for the features you want is just as important as after sale customer service and good references from the companies past purchasers. Of course pretty is important but longevity and service is more important!

Avoid pinning your hopes on only one home or one dealer. Get firm prices from several dealers and several brands either online or via phone, since dealer markups on homes can vary widely.

Check the “blue book” value for a similar make and model from the previous year listed in the appraisal guides online.

Investigate Lending Options before You Visit The Retailers Lot

Investigate your financing options before setting foot on a lot. Check out banks and credit unions as well as traditional manufactured housing lenders.

Historically, manufactured housing retailers finance mobile homes using personal property or chattel loans rather than mortgage loans, at rates 2-4 percentage points higher. Dealers often get a commission for obtaining credit for you, so you may be better off talking directly with the lenders. Even if you end up getting financing through the dealer, you’ll be able to negotiate better if you know your options. Same goes for insurance.

Alabama Prefabricated Housing Industry To Help Harvey Flood Victims

Alabama Prefabricated Housing Industry To Help Harvey Flood Victims

The Alabama Manufactured Housing Industry has responded to a recent “nationwide request” from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

On Thursday, published online reports indicated FEMA has rolled out an industrywide plea for emergency housing to help families displaced by hurricane Harvey in southeastern Texas – and Alabama is answering the challenge.

More than 4,500  prefabricated housing units are required to help throughout southeastern Texas families. Representatives of FEMA  note that a majority of this need will be provided by a prefabricated housing plan located in Alabama – of which, Sunshine Manufactured Homes is one.

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives, approximately 22,000 families are have been displaced by hurricane Harvey. Several of which have already begun the go into the process of requesting disaster help – together with a emergency request for FEMA’s manufactured housing units. A flood of requests (no pun intended) are expected to be returned for processing within the next several days.

Alabama Prefabricated Housing, rolls to the rescue…

In Alabama, there are approximately 12 prefabricated housing plants providing valuable employment opportunities for approximately 4,000 skilled craftsman. According to FEMA, those Alabama manufactured housing plants produced more than 11,000 homes during Louisiana’s recent disaster, not including FEMA’s manufactured housing units. About 70 percent of those homes were exported to other states.

“Our industry is very strong in Alabama, and because of that we are in a position to help,” said Latham. “As one of the top four states in the country for producing manufactured housing, Alabama is uniquely prepared to meet this need.”

FEMA’s MHUs offer a flexible floor plan, generally including one, two or three bedroom floor plans, “depending on the applicant’s pre-disaster household composition.”

Additionally, many, if not all of these units are handicap accessible. Like traditional home stick built homes, today’s modern prefabricated housing is built in a factory environment devoid of costly weather delays. Bought in bulk, the same materials are put together in an assembly line process – saving money and avoiding financially costly delays.

While FEMA may also provide rental assistance, FEMA manufactured housing units can be placed on the applicant’s property and can house displaced families for years while their homes are being rebuilt.

Photo courtesy of Sunshine Homes’ Facebook page

Manufactured Home Community Provides Real-World Solutions

Manufactured Home Community Provides Real-World Solutions

The average first-time guest to a manufactured home community is often surprised when their uneducated stereotypes prove to be erroneous.

Example: In the musical, The Great American Trailer Park, the author paints the manufactured home community as being inhabited by a plethora of underprivileged, lethargic and poorly educated people on the margins. The play’s main character, an exotic dancer, requires “a place to live that’s cheap and private where people got so many problems of their own they won’t much notice mine.”

Manufactured home communities are not a safe harbor for societies rejects. Primarily owner-occupied, manufactured housing units are overwhelmingly occupied by homeowners. More often than not retirees, these owners must be financially dependable, according to many state laws and community standards. Dramatically more affordable than the traditional stick-built home, many households within these communities have the necessary funds to purchase their units outright – while those with steady incomes qualify for home loans.

Seniors citizens specifically find that manufactured homes meet their financial needs.

Per a 2011 American Housing Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 28 percent of manufactured home owners are 65 years old or over. Today’s modern manufactured home communities provide seniors with resort living with a minimal price tag. Modern communities provide active schedules featuring festive dinners and special holiday events. Generally tight knit communities, these mobile home parks are incredibly easy to make new friends. And, because size matters there, these communities feature low-maintenance properties with small yards, allowing for today’s elderly to experience a sense of independent living. Provided a homeowner needs a handyman for a quick repair, there are always skilled neighbors to turn to for help.

Featured in the modern manufactured home community, seniors and their loved ones will find features that are often missing in site-built neighborhoods. Amenities include recreation halls, pools, playgrounds, tennis courts, putting greens and more. More often than not a gated community, Manufactured home neighborhoods offer a reassuring level of safe. Safety features include gated entrances, perimeter fences, lighting and 24-hour staff.

Top benefits of a manufactured home community

  • Fiscally responsible: Manufactured home communities makes dollars and cents for retirees
  • Snowbirds: With relatively low ownership costs, “Snowbirds” can seasonally migrate from colder climates to warmer ones on a budget
  • Amenities: Many manufactured home communities offer access to communal spaces, pools, exercise facilities, shuffleboard courts and golf courses

Facilities in manufactured home communities can be better maintained than those in surrounding residential neighborhoods. In these tough fiscal times for local governments, public streets, sidewalks and recreational resources are falling apart, but owners of well-built and well-maintained manufactured homes seldom see the decay that can plague site-built neighborhoods.

Not all communities are equal – exercise due diligence

For those contemplating the purchase of a manufactured home and are considering relocating into a specific community, a good place to start exercising your “due diligence” is to talk with senior advocacy services in your state, county or city. These senior advocate organizations should have valuable information for your area and will know the bad actors in your community.

The homeowners’ association (HOA) is also a great source of information. Below are a few key questions to ask them:

  • Have rents increased in recent years? If so, how much?
  • What are the specific terms spelled out in the lease?
  • Does the homeowners Association maintain the “common areas”?
  • If the mobile home park is sold and you have to move, will you be compensated?

Like James Rockford, the old mobile home is an antiquated relic of the past. Since 1976, manufactured homes have been built according to a national building code and inspection system standards. Factory construction can exceed site-built methods. Over half are double- or triple-wide models, according to the American Housing Survey. These models match or exceed a typical single-family home in many real estate markets. Once installed on a site, manufactured homes remain in place. The American Housing Survey reports that less than 18 percent of all manufactured homes were ever moved from one site to another.