October 5, 2009

Sustainable Manufactured Homes

Last fall Clayton Homes introduced the Green ihouse, a new sustainable option in the manufactured housing industry. Clayton Homes, a component company of Berkshire Hathaway, is the United States' largest manufacturer of manufactured housing.

While pre-built housing is not a thing of the future, integrating sustainable living into the theme is. The ihouse boasts features like Bamboo flooring, no V.O.C. paint, solar panels and a rain water catchment system. The exterior of the home is simple in appearance and it does not look like a home you would find in a typical American suburban neigborhood. In my opinion this is one major downfall of the company's design. Manufactured homes do not need to be mobile in appearance.

Manufactured housing got its start around the turn of the century when several companies began producing mail order homes, the largest was Sears and Roebuck. Sears sold over 100,00 mail order or "kit" homes between 1908 and 1940. Sears Modern Homes were homes that a customer could chose from a catalog or design on their own and have shipped via rail, ready for assembly. The kit included everything from flooring to asphalt roof shingles to drywall (which was a new innovation at the time).

While Sears was not an innovator in home design or construction techniques; the innovation of pre-fabricated homes has proven to be more healthy for our environment. The ability to mass-produce the materials used in manufactured homes lessened manufacturing costs, reduced construction waste and in turn lowered costs for customers. Not only did precut and fitted materials shrink construction time up to 40% but Sears’s use of "balloon style" framing, drywall, and asphalt shingles greatly eased construction for homebuyers.


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