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Small Eco-Modular Homes Gain Popularity

June 28th, 2010 Comments off presents News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, “Homes in a box” to create new markets for factory built homes

But first…these stories.

Small Eco-Modular Homes Gain


Modular homes made from salvaged materials and touting green furnishings are perfect for eco-conscious homebuyers

Those in attendance at the Dwell on Design conference in Los Angeles were in for a treat—the auction of a fully furnished, one-off green designer home. The 400-square-foot modular home uses 80-90 percent salvaged materials and was created by Reclaimed Space. According to the article on Treehugger, the reclaimed galvanized metal and pine that comprise the structure of the home comes from a 19th century farm and livery structures in New Braunfels, Belton and Shiner, Texas.

In addition to salvaged materials, the home also touts reused furnishings fashioned with organic upholstery, LED fixtures, Electrolux appliances, recycled quartz countertops from CaesarStone, recycled glass tiles, and a dual-flush toilet with greywater tank sink. Reclaimed Space specializes in green construction, incorporating salvaged wood into the design of the home. The auction is on eBay with proceeds from the auction will benefit Global Green USA.

Small pre-fab homes made of sustainable materials are cropping up everywhere. Ranging from 400 to over a thousand square feet, these innovative structures incorporate green elements, from salvaged materials to grey water hookups, to ease the buyer burden on the planet. Though 400-square-feet is the size of the average American garage nowadays, many are discovering that smaller spaces mean closer (literally) families and less opportunity to acquire unnecessary junk, preferring it to the large “McMansions” that have also sprouted up in clusters over the last few decades.

Whether these homes are part of a growing trend towards environmental sustainability or the predicted backlash against large homes, the structures prove that one need not sacrifice style and quality to maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Source: Treehugger by

BY: l.clapper

HUD Proposes New Rule to Allow On-Site Completion of Factory-Built Manufactured Homes

WASHINGTON – ( – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is proposing new regulations that would permit builders of manufactured housing to complete construction at the home’s installation site, rather than in the factory. Under current HUD regulations, a manufacturer must obtain HUD approval for on-site completion of each of its designs.

HUD’s proposed rule would simplify the manufactured housing construction process by establishing new uniform procedures that would, under certain circumstances, permit manufacturers to complete construction of their homes at the installation site without obtaining advance approval from HUD. The proposed regulations would not apply when a major section of a manufactured home is to be constructed on-site. Public comment to this rule is due by August 23, 2010.

National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, which went into effect on all manufactured homes on June 15, 1976, authorizes HUD to establish and amend home construction and safety standards for the industry. It also authorizes HUD to conduct inspections and investigations necessary to enforce these standards.  The HUD Code has undergone updates since its passage, including the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, also known as the MHIA of 2000.

“Up next, ‘Homes in a box’ to create new markets for factory built homes”

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“Homes in a box” to create new markets for factory built homes

Jamie Weber’s vision could eventually translate into jobs at Golden West Manufactured Homes in Albany.

Weber, a home builder from Kennewick, Wash., has created a new concept of prefabricated homes that that fit in containers, and Golden West is currently putting out prototypes.

Last Wednesday, Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa, John Pascone of the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corp. and chamber of commerce President Janet Steele were among a group of city officials and business leaders whom Weber led through the Albany plant.

He told the group that the homes can be folded, collapsed and set into a standard 40-foot cargo container to ship worldwide. Expectations are that more than 100 homes can be shipped from the Albany site each week.

American Container Homes has partnered with Clayton Homes, parent company of Golden West, to perfect assembly line output for the units. It could mean up to 100 jobs at the plant.

“I wanted a green product that could collapse for shipping and then set up quickly when it reaches its destination,” Weber said.

Units are of various sizes with numerous floor plans. Constructed of steel and magnesium composite, homes are mounted on steel frames or concrete pads. Family dwellings and relief structures are included among the plans.

Anthony Hemstad, executive director of the World Trade Center in Tacoma, has helped Weber negotiate prospects for relief use with agencies in Washington, D.C., and nonprofits.

“There are lots of models,” Hemstad said. “The idea is to bring American style homes to the rest of the world.”

Weber says units are virtually indestructible and resistant to fire, wind and insect infestation. He says orders are in the thousands, not the hundreds.

Weber said producing the homes at Golden West is a logical step for his company.

“It’s the closest assembly line mechanism for us and we developed a strong relationship with the plant,” he said. “The hope is to get Albany to capacity and then expand to other Clayton plants around the country.”

Up to 24 units a day could be output from two assembly lines. Because green aspects are stressed, Weber said Golden West’s Energy Star rating is a plus.

One of the main uses for the homes is to provide low-cost housing in areas needing disaster relief. Units can be purchased for as little as $25,000 and can reach destinations within days by truck, ship or rail.

Designs are in place for a 32-bed hospital and schools.

Prototype production is expected to begin within 90 days.

Crews from Weber’s small Tacoma plant are helping Albany workers adjust to the procedure. Weber said the idea is to run two assembly lines, likely requiring 50 people each. Golden West currently employs about 135.

“We’re creating American jobs through American innovation,” Weber said.

This story courtesty of Gazette Times, Corvallis, OR.  You’ll find these and many other factory built housing Industry news stories on our website at

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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Bringing the Pieces of Home Together

June 25th, 2010 Comments off presents News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, Experts Say While Important, Title 1 Only Part of Financing Puzzle

But first…this story.

Bringing the Pieces of Home Together

They are the Rodney Dangerfields of new housing; they get no respect. Often misnamed and misunderstood, they are the exception to the rule. But for homebuyers like Jamie and Andrew Kach, they make sense, the said to Leslie Mann, in special to the Tribune Newspapers

Collectively called factory-built homes, they are built in whole or in part in factories, then moved to their home sites where they can be permanently installed. These factory built homes are outnumbered by conventional “stick-built” houses.  Nevertheless, they offer significant benefits to their buyers.

“It was way faster; the house was up in a week,” Jamie Kach said to Mann.  Kach stated they left their Chicago condo for the green space and great schools found in the Highland Park area. “I have friends who have built (site-built) houses that took months and months. Also, this was much less hassle. We didn’t have to wait for subs to show up or deal with weather delays.”  Kach stated.

Before meeting with Neil Fortunato of Green Building Technologies Inc. in Highland Park, Kach explained that she wasn’t familiar with factory-built homes. “He showed us that with a panelized house, we could have a high-quality house with our own floor plan and green products like spray-foam insulation.”

The Kaches chose panelized builder Sterling Premium Building Systems in Wausau, Wisconsin.   Fortunato’s Green Building Technologies  had worked with Premium Building Systems before. Kach met with a Sterling representative at Fortunato’s office.  There they selected the doors, hardware, roof shingles, siding, staircase/railings and windows that would become the elements of their new home.

Upon the arrival of the Kaches’ panelized sections, Fortunato’s crew assembled the floor, wall and roof sections.  Next came the exterior, made of  a fiber-cement siding and reclaimed brick. Move-in day is planned for September, once interior crews finish their work.

“When people hear ‘factory-built,’ they think of mobile homes,” says Fortunato, who built two Sterling houses before the Kaches’ home.  He explained that today’s factory building is a far cry from the mobile homes of old.

Unlike pre-HUD Code mobile homes, factory built homes of all types today offer quality and control advantages that conventional housing simply can’t touch. There is less waste in the construction process.  The homes are built ‘tighter,’ so they are more plumb as well as energy efficient.

Factory building has a different reputation in other parts of the world.  Emanuel Levy, of the Systems Building Research Alliance, based in New York said: “They are more common elsewhere, especially Japan and Sweden. In many other countries, ‘factory-built’ equals ‘high-quality,’ o they don’t have the stigma they have here.” In went on to explain how in England, buyers call them MMCs (modern methods of construction).

Product manager Steve Wirtala from Sterling explained: “We’re building inside, away from the weather, so we can control the quality,” “Everything is plumb and square and totally customized. If there is a con, it’s that things move fast, so you don’t have time to make a lot of last-minute changes.” Using the panelized process, Wirtala explained that start to finish the process takes about 3 months.

The factory built housing world is comprised of many elements.  One is HUD Code or manufactured homes.  Manufactured homes can have the same residential look, quality and livability as conventional construction.  Manufactured homes can range from entry level product that is solid and safe, yet basic in appearance and amenities.  But once installed more upscale modern manufactured homes can also be indistinguishable from site built counterparts.  Because the HUD Code is federal and pre-emptive, modern manufactured homes can be designed for a certain climatic and wind zone and placed anywhere in the U.S.  Manufactured homes can be single or multi-section, can be placed on permanent foundations or over basements, and can be multi-level or ‘two story’ as well.  Sizes for manufactured homes range from 400 square feet, to well over 3000 square feet depending on their configuration.  Using special designs, they can have tall roof elevations, and the same types of siding or exteriors as conventional construction.  Garages or other elements can be added to manufactured homes once on site.  Manufactured homes can often be half the cost of conventional construction, yet the safety, energy efficiency and durability are required by law to rival conventional building through the HUD Code’s ‘performance’ building standards.

Modular and panelized homes are built to local building codes, such as the Uniform Building Code or UBC.  Modular and panelized construction can range from the very modest dwellings to literally modular mansions that could be 10,000 square feet or more in size.  Costs tend to be 10-30% lower than conventional on-site construction.

All methods of factory building are faster and more efficient, so they have large green advantages of conventional construction.  According to the National Association of Home Builders, prefab construction is about 5% of all conventional building.  New manufactured homes are some 10% of the current total of new housing starts, according to statistics supplied by the Manufactured Housing Institute.

Mann’s research reminds us that factory-built houses aren’t new. Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward shipped home kits to buyers by railroad in the earlier 20th century. In the 1940s, the Lustron Corp. used the old Tucker automobile factory in Chicago to build steel framed houses. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright worked on American System-Built Houses in the 1950s.  World wide, factory building is in vogue today.

“We have not, as an industry, learned to promote our homes,” admits Vic DePhillips, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Building Systems Councils. “The buyer must make it his mission.” to learn what home and style makes the best sense for their situation. “I recommend visiting the factory too,” adds DePhillips. “Everyone’s Web site is pretty, like model homes. But at the factory, you’ll see their work firsthand.”

Housing consultant Fred Hallahan of Hallahan Associates in Baltimore, told Mann that Americans built 13,000 modular houses in 2009, which was down from the 2005 peak of 43,000. Hallahan explained that modular and panelized building has taken a slide, along with conventional construction.’s Tony Kovach, the editor for a trade journal that covers all elements of the factory built housing industry, explained: “Factory building is well poised for a rebound.  There is a lot more interest by the main stream media than before.  There are also books like Sherri Koones new series, like “PreFabulous Homes!” which are drawing more and positive attention to the world of factory built housing.  With incomes down, and most elements of modern factory building being so much greener and more affordable, factory building in America is the way of the future.“ Kovach said.

Factory-built houses are more concentrated in some areas than others. John Perry, chief executive of Contempri Industries Inc., a modular house manufacturer in Pinckneyville, Ill told Mann that: “Sometimes, we are excluded because a town is union-controlled,” Some cities… “don’t allow permits for anything ‘factory-built.’ But other towns, like Antioch, are fine with it and have even gone as far as to send their inspectors to our factory.” In states that are “home-rule,” like Illinois, he adds, each municipality is free to set its own rules. “So it’s like having 32,000 little countries, each with its own rules,” says Perry.’s Kovach explained that the problem that Perry described is part of the reason that Congress gave the manufactured home side of the factory built housing industry its pre-emptive status over local building codes.  “In principle if a manufactured home has been designed for an area’s climate, roof load and wind zones, manufactured home builders can get in theory the benefit of bypassing the types of hassles that Perry described to Mann.” Kovach explained.  “The challenge is that in some towns, in spite of the passage of the HUD Code and its many updates, regulators don’t always honor the intent of the federal manufactured housing laws.  Where they do, because building hassles are simplified and costs are controlled, the consumer wins.”

Since June 15, 1976, when the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (the “HUD Code”) kicked in – there have been no more mobile homes built in the U.S.  Legally the updated style of that construction is now called a manufactured home. Manufactured homes includes amenities once restricted to stick-built houses such as tray ceilings, whirlpool tubs and walk-in closets.

Until the media and public perception catches up with the modern realities of factory building, the numbers of factory built homes are likely to lag behind conventional construction.  “But the reasons for this are a lack of information.” Kovach states. “When you get passed the old myths, here are the new realities.  All types of construction – even on site building – use elements made in a factory.  Cabinets, roof trusses, lumber, all of these things are pre-cut or built in factories.  So are the appliances, the wiring of a home, etc. So the question is, are you going to assemble all of your parts on site – as so called stick builders do, or are you going to do most of your building in factory – move it to the final site and permanently install the home?  Everything is site completed, but most everything starts in a factory somewhere!  So once you get passed the old mobile home myths, it is logical to see that the evolution and future of home building in America will be based in American factories.  This also gives us a source of potential job creation that the U.S. economy sorely needs.” Kovach said.  “Great quality, durability, safety and appeal.  That’s factory building today.  You can spend more on conventional construction, but why would you want to do that when you can achieve the same or better outcome using factory building.”

“Up next, Experts Say While Important, Title 1 Only Part of Financing Puzzle, but first a message from our sponsors”

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Experts Say While Important, Title 1 Only Part of Financing Puzzle
by Industry in Focus Reporter Eric Miller

ELKHART, IN June 17, 2010—It’s a well-known fact, the manufactured housing industry is suffering from a lack of financing. To many in the know, the key to restoring its availability is 1) the full implementation of the Title I program improvements approved by Congress in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and 2) the implementation of Duty to Serve (DTS) underserved markets by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs).

Yet representatives from Fannie and Freddie were not present at a recent Housing Finance Summit on June 2 in Elkhart, Indiana, sponsored by Congressman Joe Donnelly. Moreover, many industry members were disappointed that the proposed rule to implement the DTS provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) does not include either chattel transactions or land-home packages where the land and the home are subject to separate liens.

Few industry observers minimize the potential positive impact from Title I program improvements or including chattel loans in DTS; Congressman Donnelly calls it an essential component of ensuring that the manufactured housing industry remains competitive.  Meanwhile, there’s a quiet move forward for community operators to self-finance manufactured home purchases. Meeting success, major industry players are gathering data that will later be presented as evidence of positive performance to banks hoping to lure the banks into the chattel loan market.

For the time-being, availability of financing remains tight, and industry consultant George Allen says the alternative has been for manufactured home communities to take equity from their properties and function as banks. It’s an alternative a growing number of community operators are embracing. Allen points out that this market grew from a couple million dollars in loans in the late 1990s to somewhere between $3.5 billion and $5 billion in 2009.

“It’s the future, at least for the time being,” Allen says.

While owner-originated financing still represents a small portion of the over-all manufactured home market and is largely used to finance existing homes, the evidence of profitability is mounting. Currently Allen notes positive performance statistics on housing loans originated on site in manufactured housing communities are being melded together by a major but unidentified loan servicer assisted by three or four of the largest land-lease community portfolio owners in the world.

“The goal is to offset and negate lingering bad taste from the Green Tree catastrophe,” Allen says. Once a major player in the chattel loan market, Green Tree’s parent company Conseco experienced huge losses on its portfolio and filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

Allen explains how banks could be approached. “Positive performance will be made public to the right banks at the time. Then we’ll say, “Here’s what we’ve learned and here are the results. This is why you should come back into the chattel loan business.”

Some in the industry see the absence of representatives from the GSEs at the financial meeting in Elkhart as further evidence these organizations are not interested in providing chattel loans. To consultant Kenneth Rishel, this is, on the surface at least, understandable.

“Every time the government has tried to do personal-property manufactured home loans, they have lost money,” Rishel says, explaining that in his view, the reason is a failure on the part of GSEs to acknowledge that manufactured housing loans are a specialized product.

Rishel says his own company, Precision Capital Funding, hasn’t had a loss in 35 years of lending on personal property.  Rishel explains that in order to make manufactured home loans and not lose money, that top performers apply a lot of things to underwriting and servicing that the government has never applied.

“They (the FHA) don’t understand it and don’t have the knowledge to make those loans,” Rishel says. To him, as important as it is to show banks and the government that the loans can be profitable, it is equally important to help them acquire the specific knowledge how to do so.

“It’s going to require a willingness on the part of the people in the industry to spend time and money to sit down with the GSEs and teach them what they don’t know,” Rishel says, adding that the plan also would require their willingness to learn.

To industry advocates in Washington, none of that negates the importance and immediacy of implementing regulations already on the books.

“Initially, it could mean more than 20,000 homes,” says Danny D. Ghorbani, President, Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). “Some say up to 25,000 homes. FHA Title I implementation would help the industry and consumers tremendously.”

MHARR Senior Vice President Mark Weiss adds to that, explaining that FHA loans currently account for approximately 35 percent of total housing finance market, which to the manufactured housing industry would mean some 17,500 homes. “If we could get proper participation even up to that average level, it would make a tremendous difference,” Weiss says.

Thayer Long, Executive Vice President, Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) also stressed the importance of implementing Title I. He pointed to a recent Harvard study that showed people are looking for less expensive, smaller homes.  That describes manufactured housing, which is well-suited to fill the needs of larges numbers of consumers, so long as they can find financing.

“Title 1 could bring more lenders into marketplace,” Long says. “Even just a three or four percent increase in the number of buyers is significant when you’re talking about 50,000 or 60,000 homes.” Long emphasizes that FHA loans are 90 percent insured, making them particularly attractive to lenders.

Tim Williams, President of 21st Mortgage, says his company is already providing financing for manufactured housing. It’s just that the cost of money is greater and because the rates are higher. As he explains it, this is because it costs the same to originate and service a loan of $50,000 as it does a loan of $250,000.

Williams says access to the GSEs’ low-cost funds could help, but so far the GSEs have ignored Congress’s DTS mandate.

Williams expects some boost when Ginnie Mae approves lenders as issuers of Title 1 loans – he expects 21st Mortgage will be one of the first – but the market impact may be modest.

“It affects only borrowers who qualify under FHA,” Williams explains. “We’re already making those loans using money that costs a little more than six percent. It will give us lower-cost money and open up the market to more customers, but it’s not going to add five percent to industry shipments.”

Ken Rishel estimates that current about six percent of loans that ought to be financed are being financed. While in terms of the entire market, those numbers are significant, Rishel notes that even a doubling would leave that number at just 12 percent.

“That still leaves a substantial percentage of potential sales that are not being financed,” Rishel says. “We still need another way to do it, and the only way I believe is owner-assisted financing.”

“We’re going to see a much greater percentage of community owners getting into community-assisted financing the right way, learning how to finance brand-new houses.” Rishel explained that while this channel is becoming more prevalent, a small but growing percentage goes to finance newly-constructed manufactured houses.

“The customer base is there,” he says; “the only thing standing in the way of industry is lack of financing.” ##

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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Conventional New-House Sales Decline in May

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by more information on will follow this podcast.

Coming up, Habitat for Humanity builds modular home in Ithaca

But first…these stories.

Conventional New-House Sales Decline in


from NAHB

June 23, 2010 – Sales of new conventionally built, single-family houses declined dramatically in May following the expiration of a popular home buyer tax credit program in April, according to newly released figures by the U.S. Commerce Department. The data show that sales fell 32.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 300,000 units, the lowest number on record since the government started keeping track in 1963.

“While today’s numbers are sobering, they were to be expected at the conclusion of the tax credit program and are in keeping with the results of our latest home builder surveys,” said Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

“Clearly the tax credits were very successful in drawing potential buyers back to the market. Now we are seeing the lull in activity you’d expect following the program’s expiration.”

“The big drop-off in new-home sales this May emphasizes how effective the tax credit program was in bringing home buyers back to the market while it was in existence,” agreed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Because many buyers moved quickly to take advantage of the tax credits, sales that would have taken place in May or June were likely pulled forward to meet the program’s deadline – which is why we have been projecting softer sales numbers for the second quarter. But once this ‘hangover’ subsides, we do believe that the improving economy, rising employment, excellent mortgage rates and stabilizing home values will be strong incentives that will encourage home buyers to return to the market.”

Sales of new homes declined across every region in May. The Northeast registered a 33.3 percent decline, the Midwest a 23.9 percent decline, the South a 25.4 percent decline, and the West a 53.2 percent decline.

The nationwide inventory of new homes on the market declined by half a percent to just 213,000 units in May; this was the lowest level in nearly four decades. However, because of the slower sales pace, the months’ supply of homes rose from 5.8 in April to 8.5 in May.

Modular Home Construction A Rising Star In Real Estate Market

Source: PRWeb

Design Options Plus Green Credentials Boost Appeal of an Industry Coming of Age In an Uncertain Housing Market.

San Joaquin Valley, CA PRWeb

With heightened competition for fewer new housing starts, the modular construction industry is well positioned.

And among builders and buyers, modular shell construction strategies — the innovative fusion of the best off-site and on-site craftsmanship — have won enthusiastic followings.

“The modular shell approach continues that trend by adding to the local contractor’s arsenal of products aimed at improving cost efficiency and overall performance, and is steadily gaining market share as a result,” says Curtis Fletcher, president of’s parent Curtcher Building Systems.

“We have seen online interest double in recent months, and expect this to continue as the economy recovers. Exterior and interior home feature options abound, and by using modular shells builders are able to bring in local craftsmen to achieve exactly the finishes they seek — directly benefitting the local economy.”

Modular homes or additions are assembled in factories per the unique specifications selected by each buyer. According to Fletcher, because the modular construction process is more closely controlled there is less waste, less construction site disruption and pollution, lower construction cost (typically 5-10 percent) and a project completion timeline that can be up to 30% shorter.

Many parts of a home are already pre-assembled in module form including window units, pre-hung door assemblies and stairways.

The factory built housing trade journal’s Tony Kovach notes that savings and time lines on modular construction vary by region.  “Some builders tell me they are saving 30% by going mod.” Kovach said.

Consumers are paying ever more attention to environmental issues involved in the home construction process.  Meanwhile, states and municipalities continue to pass new laws and regulations that force the homebuilding industry to continually revise practices.

The hard impact on conventional building has resulted in a “perfect storm” scenario, in which modular home construction providers have an inherent advantage.

“From the modular shell starting point…homeowners and builders can garner both the power of modular plus access to all the most popular custom finishes,” adds Fletcher.

# # #



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Modular home built by TST BOCES

students to become next habitat home

The Ithaca Journal

Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties is going modular for their current build in the Village of Dryden. Through a partnership with the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES Career and Technology Center Habitat was able to purchase “House No. 25”, a 3-bedroom modular house that was built by students on the Warren Road campus. This modular house will become the home of the Couch Family, Geoff and Jessica and their three children.

The modular house was split down the middle and transported on two carriers from BOCES to the 6 Wellsley Drive, Dryden this past week.

Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties, Christy Voytko, says “For Habitat, partnering with BOCES will enable us to better serve our mission. Having this student-built, nearly completed home means that our The Couches will be able to move out of their substandard housing and become homeowners in a much shorter period of time.”

The Tompkins-Cortland affiliate has built 13 stick-built homes in the two counties and has never worked with a modular home before. Fortunately, American Homes in Dryden stepped in to help with the project.

American Homes has professionally installed over 5,000 modular homes in the region since 2000. In addition to educating the affiliate about modular homes, they sent a crew to BOCES to look at the student’s work, arranged for the crane to move the home from the carriers, and fastened the home to the foundation. “American Homes is happy to help our community by working with Habitat, which is great organization with a worthy cause,” says Jack Baker, Manager of American Homes in Dryden.

Habitat held a home dedication on Saturday to celebrate the completion of the home for Amber Little and her family in Lansing. Currently, Habitat is also building a home in Cortland on 33 Arthur Ave.

Don’t forget, you can find lots more factory built housing news and views you can use every day at  These include our Exclusive Industry In Focus Reports by journalist Eric Miller.

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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Clayton-owned development under way near Royal Oaks Golfing Community

June 23rd, 2010 Comments off

Coming up, American Homestar Corporation Celebrates 40th Anniversary

But first…these stories.

American Integrity Insurance Offers

Premium Discounts for Newer

Manufactured Homes

from MarketWatch

AMPA, Fla., Jun 22, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — American Integrity Insurance Company announced today that it is reducing its rates by an average of 10 percent statewide for customers who live in manufactured homes that are 10 years or newer in certain non-coastal Florida regions.

American Integrity officials feel that newer manufactured homes continue to improve in value, size and strength thanks to improved manufacturing combined with new installation standards required by the State of Florida.

Bob Ritchie, American Integrity’s CEO and President said, “We want to underscore our strong commitment to the Florida manufactured home community. We are dedicated to these customers, and as fellow Floridians facing hurricane season, we understand this commitment must be driven by stability, professionalism and integrity. This market segment and manufactured home customers are important to us.”



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Now back to our top stories on News at Noon.


Clayton-owned development under way near Royal Oaks Golfing Community

By Iva Butler

The Daily Times, Maryville TN

The roads are complete on the first phase of a 50-acre subdivision on Morganton Road adjoining Royal Oaks Golfing Community which is being developed by a subsidiary of Clayton Homes Inc.

The project is a development of Wimbleton Properties, a wholly-owned Clayton subsidiary.  Clayton is part of the Berkshire-Hathaway family of companies, lead by billionaire Warren Buffett.

Maryville Planning Commission Monday night granted final approval on 11 lots in Phase I plus a detention basin and common area on 5.88 acres of Morganton Reserve Subdivision.

The development is expected to be completed in three phases. Work on the next phases will start immediately once the previous phase is complete, said Gib Katron, who works in marketing with Wimbleton Properties.

Lots will average one-fourth acre, although some will be larger, he said. The exact style of factory built housing is still under product review, Katron said.

Katron said Wimbleton has several such subdivisions across the country, the nearest being Stonebrook on Highway 70 just south of Dixie Lee Junction in Lenoir City.

“It is very traditional in appearance, like a traditional site-built subdivision,” Katron said.

He expects homes in Morganton Reserve to be 1,400 to 2,000 square feet, with two-car garages and other amenities.

Phase II will have 30 to 35 lots.

American Homestar Corporation

Celebrates 40th Anniversary and 46,000

Homes Built

League City, TX (PRWEB) June 23, 2010 — Celebrating forty years in the single family housing industry is a milestone that few companies achieve, especially in the factory built home segment. But that is exactly what American Homestar Corporation and its 665 employees are doing this year.

From humble beginnings in 1971 as a single model home center on Spencer Highway in Pasadena, Texas operating as Mobile America and featuring Mickey Gilley in their TV campaigns, the company grew to become one of the region’s leading manufactured home retailers.

But when the oil boom went bust in the southwest in the 1980’s in order to survive, the company found it necessary to change its business model and go down a different path.

Company founder and CEO Buck Teeter recognized the market the company could serve was for REO services provided to lenders faced with liquidating manufactured homes whose owner’s had defaulted on their loans. According to Teeter, “we had the infrastructure and talent in place to serve this need and help the financial institutions reduce losses on foreclosed homes. We refurbished and remarketed thousands of homes during this period helping not only the lenders but many homebuyers who were in need of affordable housing at a time when the job market and economy were really bad.”

The market in the southwest soon began a gradual recovery that accelerated quickly through the decade of the 90’s. During this period of rapid growth the company entered the manufacturing segment through mergers and acquisitions and soon had a presence in 28 states with fourteen plants, one hundred thirty five company home centers, eighty five franchise outlets and a large number of independently owned and operated home centers.

In 1995 the company formed 21st Mortgage in a joint venture partnership that included Clayton Homes and several former management team members of their Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance operation. American Homestar also entered the manufactured housing transportation business through an interest in Roadmasters Transit.

With the growth and expansion activities during the decade of the 90’s the company became fully vertically integrated through manufacturing, retailing, finance, insurance and transportation and grew to be one of the largest manufactured housing companies in the U.S.

In the 1998-99 timeframe the manufactured housing industry was severely impacted by its own financing melt down as subprime loans made by many industry lenders went into default. This caused the mortgage backed security market for manufactured home loans to all but disappear. Given the severe impact on secondary market for loans, the lack of affordable financing for entry level homebuyers created a dramatic drop in demand and caused the company to retrench back to its core southwest and south central markets with two manufacturing plants, twenty five company owned Oak Creek Home Centers, Western Insurance and American Homestar Mortgage.

In 2008 the company acquired a third manufacturing operation in Lynn, Alabama, Platinum Homes. It expanded its product offering by entering the modular home building and commercial structures markets and offering the industries first 7-year warranty on its homes.

Following Hurricane Katrina the company was called upon to assist in providing temporary disaster housing to hundreds of families. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike provided the company additional opportunities to provide permanent affordable factory built replacement homes across Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

For families with low to moderate income impacted by Hurricanes Rita and Ike in Texas, American Homestar Corporation is currently building replacement homes under a program funded by Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

According to founder and CEO Teeter, “while the modern energy efficient homes the company builds today bear little resemblance to the homes we built and sold forty years ago, one thing remains unchanged; the company’s commitment to quality and affordability.” American Homestar Corporation is primarily employee owned. ##


“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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Student architects design eco-friendly homes

June 20th, 2010 Comments off

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by more information on will follow this podcast.

Coming up, Student architects design eco-friendly homes

But first…these stories.

Blu Homes, manufacturer of

environmentally efficient modular homes,

officially opens East Longmeadow factory


by Jim Kinney of the Republican

EAST LONGMEADOW – When a Waltham-based manufacturer of environmentally efficient modular homes and room additions started to outgrow its small factory just off Interstate 495 in Littleton, it found exactly what it was looking for in a vacant former Pratt & Whitney airplane factory in East Longmeadow.

“It is a fantastic space for us,” said Blu Homes president William M. Haney, a high-tech entrepreneur who founded Blu Homes with venture capitalist Maura G. McCarthy in 2007.

Next week the first three modular Blu Homes buildings will come off the East Longmeadow assembly line, hoisted by a giant overhead crane onto a waiting carrier. Monday, Haney and McCarthy hosted a ceremonial ribbon cutting for U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, within the cavernous 80,000 square-foot factory at 330 Chestnut Street near Lenox American Saw. Besides hosting Pratt & Whitney, it was once home to a packaging machinery company and to a Hasbro warehouse.

Blu Homes has been in the space for about two months, Haney said.

“But the building was less important than the workers we found here, with the skill sets we needed,” Haney said.

Neal said Western Massachusetts has an opportunity if it can go after Boston-area startups looking for space and the people to expand.

“Western Massachusetts has traditionally had a lower cost of doing business,” Neal said.

McCarthy said the company has 35 employees, up from about four a year ago. Of those 35 employees, 15 are in production at the East Longmeadow facility. They earn from $15 to $55 an hour depending on their skill set.

Skills include carpentry, plumbing, heating and electrical and steel fabrication, said Trevor L. Huffard, vice president of operations.

“We could have 150 here in a year if we continue to expand,” Huffard said.

Blu Homes are “green” because less waste is generated in their construction. They are also well-insulated and have efficient heating plants along with windows that can be placed for optimal passive solar heating. Huffard said their steel frames allow Blu Homes to fold out once they are on site so their interiors are more open and airy.

Haney said his idea was to marry modular homes with interactive Internet technology. Blu Homes allows people to design their homes or room additions online. The homes are based on work done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Rhode Island School of Design.”

“Push a button and we build it for you and ship it anywhere in the country,” he said.

One-level room additions start at $64,000 while the largest of two-floor homes the company sells starts at $260,000.

Huffard said the cost to consumers averages about $160 a square foot.

Haney said they’ve built 13 homes and rooms so far and have 20 sold. Among the projects they built were sets for “Lopez Tonight,” comedian George Lopez’s TBS late-night show.

New home-building concept

From the Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA)

The kitchen looks nearly complete, with cherry cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

But the bedrooms have no walls, just rafters and two-by-four studs that show the outline of a future home in east Santa Rosa.

The kitchen was built in a factory in Sacramento, as were the two bathrooms and the master bedroom. The rooms form a single unit that was trucked to Montgomery Drive and placed on a foundation, becoming the “core” around which the rest of the three-bedroom, Craftsman-style house is taking shape.

“Everything’s perfectly plum and straight,” Charlie Traboulsi, the home builder, said of the factory work. “It’s extremely efficient.”

This new approach to home construction is the brainchild of four local businessman who have launched a new company, HybridCore Homes.

The partners include Young America Homes founder Robert O’Neel, residential developer Clint Wilson, architect Kevin M. Farrell and house designer Shaun Faber. Together they have hired former Exchange Bank chief executive Barrie Graham to be the Santa Rosa company’s president and CEO.

HybridCore Homes seeks to marry modular-built and on-site construction. Under their approach, the company officials insist, builders can put up houses cheaper, faster and with better quality.

“That’s a major shift in home building,” said Graham, who had a core unit is on display last week at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference in San Francisco.

Modular homes have been available in the U.S. for at least seven decades. But most of the modular home factories are in the East, and such homes still comprise only about 5 percent of the nation’s single-family houses, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Much of U.S. home construction has changed little in the past century. Most builders now bring in factory-built roof trusses and cabinets. And some large home builders have switched to using panel wall systems. But a new home usually means that some components are built on site.

HybridCore seeks to persuade builders to let a factory construct the most-expensive rooms of the house, the kitchen and bathrooms. Those core rooms come complete with all desired fixtures and appliances; only the floors need to be added.

Using one of more than 80 complete architectural plans prepared by Farrell and Faber, a builder places the core unit on a foundation. The rest of the house is “stick built” by the onsite construction crew.

The cores, which can weigh 15 tons, come in different sizes and cost roughly $50,000 to $100,000, said Graham.

Wilson said these homes can be built for 20 to 30 percent less than a comparable house built on site, and they can be completed in half the time.

The result, he said, is a builder could put for sale a starter house from $330,000 to $450,000. At such prices, he said, a builder can “compete with the foreclosed homes” in their area and those offered in short sales where the price is less than the amount of the mortgage.

The company has attracted the interest of a manufactured and modular home manufacturer, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

“We saw an opportunity to revolutionize how builders would build homes,” said Dan De Varennes, sales manager of Karsten Homes. His company’s Sacramento factory is building the core units.

Vic DePhillips, chairman of the national home builders association’s Building Systems Councils, said he had never heard of such an approach, but he was impressed with what he saw on the HybridCore Homes website.

“What these guys are doing is a really great idea,” said DePhillips, who also is president and CEO of the Signature Building Systems, a modular home manufacturer near Scranton, Penn.

Traboulsi, with his brother Fred as his project manager, is looking for more building sites on which to use the HybridCore Homes system. For builders today, he said, “everybody knows we have to reinvent ourselves.”

Coming up, Student architects design eco-friendly homes, but first a word from our sponsor.

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Student architects design eco-friendly


By Sienna Jackson/ Roundup

The sun was beginning to set Saturday night as lively guests mingled at the Canoga Youth Arts Center, eager to tour a rather unusual art gallery.

One exhibit, a sleek modernist home weighing roughly 4,000 pounds and built entirely from old shipping containers, hung suspended from the ceiling by thin wires.

However, this house was only a model, not built out of modular steel, but from plywood and cardboard.

The miniature home was only one of the exhibits showcased at TRASHionable, an eco-friendly design showcase sponsored by the architecture department at Pierce College in association with the Associated Students Organization (ASO).

All the pieces exhibited were created by Pierce architecture students, with a green theme in mind.

The students had only two weeks to organize the event and showcase projects made entirely out of recycled garbage.

“People are thinking about sustainability,” said Beth Abels, associate professor of the architecture department. “[The focus is on] solving today’s problems with what we already have.”

Out of the 10 pieces exhibited at the show, four focused on green housing.

The two-ton home mentioned earlier was designed by student Eli Brown, a project titled, ‘the Courtyard House.’ The home was designed and planned by Brown in 2009 and features four large shipping containers as the body of the house.

Using shipping containers to build eco-smart, cheap housing is a growing trend in an industry becoming more sensitive to conservation and efficiency, a trend that Brown embraces.

“[Architects] should think more about the materials they use for construction,” said Brown. “Instead of cutting down a tree, use a shipping container to build a house.”

TRASHionable is Brown’s first exhibit.

Another designer, Tiffany Raynor, presented two works for the show; a privacy screen made out of recycled plastic bottles and her own take on a shipping container house.

Her home, titled ‘Tetris,’ is inspired by the game of the same name, which also happens to be Raynor’s favorite. ‘Tetris’ utilizes four containers of varying shapes, reminiscent of the geometric game.

“This house can be taken apart in pieces, put on a truck, moved, then put back together in a totally different way,” said Raynor. “Just like the game.”

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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Indiana plant that closed 18 months ago to reopen

June 19th, 2010 Comments off

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by more information on will follow this podcast.

Coming up, Are You Tried of the Media Bias Against Manufactured Housing?

But first…these stories.

Indiana plant that closed 18 months ago to


The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a company is preparing to reopen plant it closed about 18 months ago in Mishawaka.

John Willis, director of new business development at Elixir Industries, tells The Truth of Elkhart that in the next few months the aluminum extrusion business plans to begin production with about 30 employees.

In a year, it expects to have 100 workers. The company traditionally supplies the manufactured housing industry but is expanding because of potential long-term growth in the recreational vehicle industry.

Lindal home customized to gain new green certificate

The Seattle Times – On a large lot in South Seattle, one house was deconstructed to make way for another, larger house that hits a triple crown of sustainable certification. It’s all thanks to the vision of a woman committed to going green and Lindal Cedar Homes, the longtime kit-house builder, which collaborated with the homeowner to customize a combination of house plans to create the new house. It’s filled with green features, such as toxic-free cabinets, bamboo floors, EcoBatt insulation and energy-efficient windows.

By Valerie Easton for the Seattle Times – For more than a decade, Wendy Jans lived in a 600-square-foot, foundationless cottage in Rainier Beach. She needed more space, but didn’t want to leave her big, wooded lot in Seattle. And though she was interested in building green, she figured it might be a challenge within her strict budget.

Jans made the unexpected choice to replace her cottage with a house from Lindal Cedar Homes. But hers would be no formula-designed kit house. Instead it’s a prefab myth-buster — about as customized as a house can be.

Jans set her mind to making environmentally conscious choices, from insisting on the vigilant deconstruction of her old house to installing a load of green systems and details in her certifiedsustainable new one. Her home is so eco-friendly, in fact, that it is the first in Washington state to be certified under the new National Green Building Standard of the National Association of Home Builders.

An education consultant and yoga teacher, Jans was drawn to Lindal not only because it’s affordable but also because it offers the potential for open space and extra-large windows through post-and-beam construction. With the help of a friend, she made her home unique by putting together the design from a variety of floor plans that Lindal offers. The result of all this tinkering is an airy, colorful, 2,400-square-foot home well-suited to the family of three.

Lindal homes may be crafted on the post-and-beam model, but the company’s system allows for plenty of green features in a house that takes advantage of the site, from the daylight basement to a rain garden by the front door. Generously scaled windows overlook the back garden and greenbelt that used to be a city Parks and Recreation Department nursery.

“The post-and-beam roof system allowed Wendy to have vaulted ceilings upstairs and as many windows as she wanted,” says senior project consultant Tom Schuch in explaining the benefits of such construction.

The project was lengthy and thoughtful; planning and permitting took one year. Deconstructing the old house was a monthlong effort, rather than the day it would have taken to knock it into landfill-destined rubble. Jans hired Olympia Salvage to painstakingly take the home apart so everything could be recycled or repurposed. A bonus: She got a tax deduction for the deconstruction. “I got to watch the whole process,” she says, and found it fascinating. “One day I showed up, and there was my toilet sitting out on the lawn.”

“If I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right,” says Jans, who knew nothing of green construction at the project’s outset. She used the Washington State Master Builders Association Built-Green Checklist as a road map and counted on the advice of her green-savvy contractors, MC Construction Consulting. Schuch of Lindal Cedar Homes worked with Jans every step of the way; Lindal even paid for the home’s certification process. Schuch explains that Lindal wanted to get up to speed as a green builder and be a resource for its customers. He says he discovered that by being flexible, builders can earn sustainability certification points a lot of different ways. “I learned from this project that there are many shades of green.”

Jans got started by setting clear priorities. She wanted the house to be energy-efficient and built of sustainable or recycled materials whenever possible. Indoor air quality was a priority, both for her family and because she plans to teach yoga classes in a studio on the home’s lower level.

“From the beginning it was Wendy’s desire to have a green-built garden to match her home,” says garden designer Virginia Hand, who used mostly native plants to create a natural-feeling, drought-tolerant Northwest woodland garden.

All the earnest and responsible decisions in no way dim the home’s comforts and practicalities. The handsome bamboo and cork floors avoid the air-quality issues that come with carpeting. The bathroom counters are made of a recycled-glass product called IceStone with the sparkly, chip-like look of classic terrazzo. Downstairs contains a little kitchen and a light-filled space for gathering or teaching yoga on that glossy sweep of bamboo flooring. While there’s plenty of cedar in this Lindal home, the wood on the ceiling is washed rather than stained to keep the interiors as light as possible and to contrast with the darker wood beams. The master bath has a deep, Japanese soaking tub, the tile and wall colors are lively, and tall windows with deep windowsills look out to a bubbling stone fountain in the garden.

The garden, which includes a broad stone terrace, is filled with bird-friendly plantings, berries and winter flowers.

And the price of a clear conscience for someone paying close attention to the cost/benefit of every decision? “It’s hard to figure out, really, what the green cost is,” says Jans. She went over her budget on the stained-alder cabinetry because she chose to have the boxes built green, which means no toxic chemicals were used in their manufacture. The radiant heat in the flooring ended up costing about twice as much as gas heat, but the home is cozy-warm and there’s no dust or allergens blowing about.

Outside, the native plants, once established, will require less water than ornamentals, and the stone patio and steps are the essence of timeless durability. The handsome metal roof has a lifetime guarantee, which is a comfort because Jans and her family are staying put.

Tornado Caused More Destruction to Conventional Construction than to Mobile or Manufactured Homes

On June 5, 2010, a tornado that tore through the Illinois town of Dwight, IL and nearby Streator left a destructive path that destroyed mobile, manufactured and conventional construction alike.

While most media reports showed an overturned mobile home, local officials pointed out that many homes and buildings built on-site were also destroyed.  But anyone who merely read or saw media reports may have had the distinct misimpression that mobile or manufactured homes were the storm’s easiest targets, therefore the least safe housing option.

Dwight Building Inspector Erv Daniels told reporter Eric Miller that in addition to the mobile homes, the storm damaged or destroyed a high school, church and lumber facility and several site built houses. While all of the homes in the Dwight Mobile Home Park were damaged or destroyed, most of the visual evidence suggests these were older, pre-HUD Code mobile homes.  Moreover, two other manufactured housing communities in town were left unscathed. Direction, timing and intensity of the wind may have been a factor to explain this disparity.

The homes in the Dwight Mobile Home Park varied in age, some having been set just a few months prior to the tornado – and most of the homes, according to Daniels, were tied down. Tie downs do provide significant added security, which is most helpful in the case of powerful straight winds.  However, just as conventional houses and structures on concrete foundations don’t completely protect against a tornado, so too, tie downs don’t give complete protection against one of nature’s most devastating forces, namely, a tornado on the ground.

Gwen and John Airgood, who own the Dwight Mobile Home Park, say the park consisted of 34 mobile and manufactured homes, some of which have been there for 20-30 years or more. “This is the first tornado ever to hit the park,” Gwen Airgood says. “It destroyed brick homes and stick homes, too.”

Dwight’s building inspector says the town has been hit by tornados before, but the last one might have been as long ago as the 1970s.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declared Dwight and several other damaged municipalities a disaster area. A local news report accounted for at least 169 insurance claims in Streator and 47 in Dwight. These claims, as learned, showed the majority of destruction was done to conventionally-built commercial and residential construction. And no lives were lost in the mobile or manufactured homes or elsewhere.

Visual evidence and insurance claims confirm that residential destruction in these two IL towns was greater to on site construction than to factory built construction.  An equally important fact is that the most severe damage in Dwight Mobile Home Park seemed to be to older mobile homes rather than to modern HUD Code manufactured housing.

In the tornado’s aftermath, John Airgood told that clean-up was still underway and at least two displaced residents had expressed their intent to return to the manufactured home community.

This story and the accompanying photos are available at:

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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Legislation gives mobile-home owners protection if land is sold

June 18th, 2010 Comments off

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Coming up, Legislation gives mobile-home owners protection if land is sold.

But first…this story.

Statement from NAHB Chairman on Passage of House Bill to Establish a Small-Business Lending Fund

Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., today issued the following statement on the U.S. House of Representatives passing H.R. 5297, the Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010:

“The nation’s home builders commend the House for passing vital legislation that will provide $30 billion in additional capital to community banks to expand small business lending.

“Recognizing the severe credit crunch that is blocking the lines of credit for new housing production, we applaud the efforts of Reps. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for working to insert a provision in the bill that will help restore the flow of credit to housing by including construction lending in the new fund. The fact that this amendment to the legislation passed by a vote of 418 to 3 shows that lawmakers understand that we cannot have a long-term economic recovery until the housing market moves to firmer ground.

“We urge the Senate to move promptly to take up the House bill to help home building firms and other small businesses across the land to obtain much-needed access to credit that will spur new job creation and economic growth.”

Legislation gives mobile-home owners protection if land is sold

Washington Post

For years, Amy Lamke’s (pronounced Lamb-Key) answer to her affordable housing dilemma was bouncing with her daughter, Katlin, from one place to another, sharing space with strangers whom she met through classified ads.

But when she discovered Deep Run, a community of mobile homes tucked away off a two-lane road near Route 1 in Elkridge, in Howard County, Lamke figured she had found the stability she and her daughter had longed for.

The divorced mother bought a gray single-wide with two bedrooms for $19,000 in 2005. It had a wood-paneled interior and barely enough room to fit her bulky living room furniture. She planted bushes, hung a wind chime and arranged lawn furniture on her porch.

“I finally had the peace of mind of owning my own home,” said Lamke, who works as a price analyst for a store warehouse and was able to pay off her mortgage in three years.

But, like many who live in mobile home parks across the country, Lamke also felt vulnerable because she doesn’t own the land beneath her home. She rents it.

“The fear is there” of the park closing, she said, and being sold to high-end housing and commercial developers looking for land in rural areas.

Fear of losing her community is what drove Lamke and other affordable housing advocates to lobby state lawmakers this year. They pushed for legislation that, they say, discourages owners of mobile-home parks from selling their properties. If the landowner does sell, it provides the homeowner with some protection.

Under the law, which was passed earlier this year, a mobile-home park owner who wants to sell and change land use must give written notification to the residents and provide displaced homeowners with a relocation plan and relocation assistance that equals 10 months’ worth of rent. The legislation applies to mobile parks with more than 38 sites.

According to the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation, the state had 17,987 sites in 493 mobile home parks in January. Howard had the most parks with 69, and Anne Arundel County had the most sites with 3,316. Prince George’s County had six parks with 1,082 sites, and Montgomery County had 10 parks with 97 sites.

“It doesn’t prevent the parks from closing, but it makes them more serious about the decision,” said Cynthia Marshall, a lead organizer with People Acting Together in Howard, an interfaith group that works on social and economic justice issues.

Marshall said that the legislation will make park owners consider the needs of residents, many of whom are have difficulty making ends meet.

Larry Checca, executive director of the Manufactured Housing Institute of Maryland, which lobbied against the bill, said the legislation will probably not do what its proponents had hoped.

Checca said there were park owners with 500 to 600 sites pushing for the bill who will probably sell their properties.

“The cost is fixed, and it’s basically affordable for the big park owner,” Checca said. “I think you are going to see a lot of land involved in change of use in the future.”

Jim Anderson, division president of Hometown America, a company that owns 130 properties in 32 states, including one in Capitol Heights, said the provision that requires park owners to provide 10 months’ of rent seems unfair, given that they also would have to devise a relocation plan that includes the cost of disconnecting utilities and removing the homes.

“It would be very, very expensive,” said Anderson, who added that his company has no plans to sell. “The land would have to be very, very valuable” to decide to sell.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) sent a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) deeming the bill constitutional. Gansler said a number of states, including Minnesota, have found mandatory tenant relocation assistance by park owners to be constitutional. Washington state courts, however, struck it down, Gansler said, basing its decision on the state’s constitution.

Sen. James N. Robey (D-Howard), the bill’s sponsor, said he introduced the measure out of concern over what appeared to be the demise of mobile home parks.

“Owners are getting out of the business, changing their property to commercial zoning, condos and townhouses,” he said. “It’s worth more money, but folks are being forced to relocate.”

About three years ago, developers bought a mobile home park in St. Mary’s County. Now the land is the home of a Kohl’s department store. County officials say another property was bought to build townhouses.

“We had people quite concerned because they didn’t have high incomes,” said John W. Savich, county administrator in St. Mary’s County. “They didn’t know how they would cope.”

Some of the residents moved in with family members. Others, thanks to about $300,000 from the state, received housing assistance, county officials said. The experience resulted in St. Mary’s enacting a relocation plan for mobile-home owners.

A need for cheap housing

For years, there has been increasing interest in development along the Route 1 corridor in Howard, where there is a concentration of mobile home parks.

As a result, Robey and some of his colleagues who represent Howard have tried for a couple of years to gain some protections for mobile-home owners. The most recent attempt would have required park owners to notify residents of their plans to sell and give the residents the first right of refusal on the property.

“There are few forms of moderately priced homes available,” Robey said. “We need these communities. This is where our clerks in the grocery stores live. Many are retired people; they work on our nails. They are people who can’t afford a $400-a-month condo fee.”

Robey knows firsthand the need that mobile home parks fill for those unable to find affordable living for their families.

He owned a mobile home in the late 1960s when he was a rookie police officer, earning $5,000 a year. He said that he had a family and “couldn’t afford anything else.”

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by

Do you have vacant homes or sites?  Does your financing, marketing, sales or management need a boost?  From high Return on Investment online marketing, to public relations, sales, lead and management systems and more, make us your Solutions Resource. When you are ready for the answers to your needs, visit

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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New Feature Articles for June 2010!

June 17th, 2010 Comments off

MHNewsLine: New June Articles! Financing News & Views, Podcasts, updates on 24/7/365 News and more…

Read this newsletter online

What’s inside: New June Articles! Financing News & Views, Podcasts, updates on 24/7/365 News and more…


Once again, we bring you “All the Best:” Top-Talent professionals from A for Adams to Z for Ziglar! Let’s get started with your big June line up…

Joe Adams – Marketing
A Journey in Successful Marketing

Chad Carr – Management
The Second Pillar: Getting the Deals Right

Tim Connor – Management
Training – Investment or Cost?

Tim Connor – Sales
Do You Have a Lost Sales Strategy?

Nadeen Green – Legal, Fair Housing

Edward Hicks – Financing
Title I HUD Code Home Financing Reform?

Chrissy Jackson – Land Lease Community Management
Upgrading Your Community – Part 3

L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach – May 2010 WHA Meeting Photo Report
Overcoming Challenges and Difficult Times

Greg McClanahan – Soft Skills and Personal Development

• Be the Change

Mike Moore – Sales
Buyers and Sellers – A Dysfunctional Relationship

George Porter – Manufacturing
The Future

Ken Rishel – Industry Finance Commentary
Manufactured Housing Finance Summit

Dave Shanklin – Finance, Lending
Mixed Signals: Are the Manufactured Home Lenders Loosening or Tightening Their Guidelines?

Bob Stovall – Online Marketing
Squeezing Out a Lead

John Underwood – Sales
To Train or Not to Train

Donald Westphal, ASLA – Community Corner
Attractive Garage Additions

Zig Ziglar – Motivation
Zig on Success: What It Is and Isn’t

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12:00 NOON (Eastern)

Factory Built Housing INdustry News at Noon audio podcasts

with Erin Patla.

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Don’t be the last to know!

——————— would like to introduce you to our Industry in Focus Reporter-at-Large Eric Miller.

Have a look at Eric’s first article, Manufacturer Says Re-opened Modular Plant Positioned for Housing Rebound.

Welcome aboard, Eric! would like to introduce you to our new Associate Editor, Catherine Frenzel (Link to my blog Bob)


Saxhaug honored for his efforts on affordable housing
International Falls Daily Journal

Posted on 16 Jun 2010 at 11:08am

Maryland mobile park homeowners lobby for law to protect them if land is sold
Washington Post

Posted on 16 Jun 2010 at 9:41am

Ginnie Mae Announces New MBS Program For Manufactured Housing

Posted on 14 Jun 2010 at 10:55am

SC bill requires 2 smoke detectors in mobile homes

Posted on 15 Jun 2010 at 1:02pm

GSEs Could Receive Manufactured Housing Duty – Inside Mortgage Finance
Posted on 11 Jun 2010 at 2:05pm

US Households’ Lower Income Could Hurt Housing Demand
Wall Street Journal

Posted on 15 Jun 2010 at 4:28am

Hoist Lifting Solutions Propel New Profit Possibilities for System

Posted on 15 Jun 2010 at 5:02am

Local manager receives corporate award
Ocala (blog)

Posted on 15 Jun 2010 at 11:06am

Senior’s housing coming to rapid completion
Keremeos Review

Posted on 15 Jun 2010 at 9:09pm

A Gorgeous Green Modular Home Appears at the World Trade Center
Daily Green

Posted on 16 Jun 2010 at 1:40pm

Williston housing permits may set record
Williston Daily Herald

Posted on 16 Jun 2010 at 10:56am

Housing Starts, Permits Decline in May
Posted on 16 Jun 2010 at 5:29am

A Variety of Multifamily Communities Honored as Finalists in NAHB Pillars of …

Posted on 15 Jun 2010 at 8:39am

Builder Confidence Declines in June

Posted on 15 Jun 2010 at 4:00am

Links to these stories and more at’s New Easier-to-Use Up-to-the Minute News


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Home Size Continues to Decline; Buyers Increasingly Opt for Single-Story Homes

June 16th, 2010 Comments off


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Coming up, Home size continues to decline as buyers increasingly opt for  single-story homes

But first…these stories.

University of Nottingham Unveils Sleek Solar-Powered H.O.U.S.E

by Bridgette Meinhold for

The University of Nottingham recently unveiled their H.O.U.S.E, a stunning sun-powered home that will be heating up the competition at the European Solar Decathlon, which kicks off this Friday in Madrid. The Brits are feverishly working on the construction of their two-story prefabricated modular home, which adheres to several stringent design codes. H.O.U.S.E amazingly meets German Passivhaus Institute standard, UK Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 (Zero-carbon), and the Lifetime Homes standard. On top of that, the team from the University of Nottingham will be serving a meal to competing teams entirely grown from their home’s garden.

H.O.U.S.E, or “House Optimizing the Use of Solar Energy”, was designed as a starter home for small families — its simple L-shaped design could easily be integrated into a larger housing development. The courtyard is surrounded on two sides by the house and on one side by glazing, which helps establish a comfortable micro climate. Net-zero energy is achieved thanks to a PV array that covers 24 sq meters of the roof and a solar hot water system that covers 5 sq meters. Skylights are situated in the extra available roof space.

The prefab modular home also features an innovative low-energy, evaporative cooling system designed by the University and its partners. A small footprint and two stories allows for a courtyard and an organic garden. The home’s garden has been designed in order to prepare a meal for their fellow competitors. Sat Bains, a Nottingham-based Michelin star chef and Ian Dexter a Chelsea Show Award-winning landscape designer were brought in to help conceive the menu, which blends traditional British ingredients with a Spanish twist. H.O.U.S.E already made its debut at EcoBuild 2010 in London earlier this spring and will now compete against teams from around the world — kinda like the World Cup for prefab homes.

More information at

Hoist Lifting Solutions Propel New Profit Possibilities for System Manufactured Housing

DETROIT, MI — 06/15/10 — Harrington Hoists Inc. and Ritz Craft homes have been partners in production since the state of the art Michigan plant for Ritz Craft was established ten years ago. Ritz Craft homes is poised for a new resurgence of home sales with production increases and demand for systems-built housing. Ritz Craft homes is one of the nation’s largest, with availability from contractors in 29 states and offering 300 different floor plans. In a recent interview with Industry Visions during a plant tour, plant manager Stu Fenton discussed the critical nature of movement during their manufacturing process.

“At Ritz Craft we have what’s called a ‘cafeteria-styled manufacturing pattern.’ Harrington Hoists and Cranes are a critical component of our movement of materials and assembly of systems. We have chosen Harrington because of the precision we require at the placement of any component. When the Harrington crane system moves a wall into position, it must be perfect and ready for fastening. Harrington engineers specifically designed a special 3-run-way end truck system for our cranes. It allows for smooth movement of our mammoth wall, floor, and roof systems by giving us better weight distribution of our loads and the headroom we need for flexibility. Without these lifting solutions we could not operate … and when you have a reputation of value and on-time delivery as we do at Ritz Craft, there can’t be any guesswork. It must be right every time.”

When asked about cost of ownership, Fenton continued, “We use these hoists and cranes day after day without incident. Maintenance is regularly scheduled on a yearly basis. They never let us down. They have been as ready to work as we on our schedule. Ritz Craft homes are premier builders of systems manufactured homes as defined by the national association of homebuilders, offering energy star efficiency and tighter tolerances than standard site-built homes. Ritz Craft is a new value in engineering standards, constructed in styles only limited by the imagination of homebuyers.”

The people at Ritz Craft are truly craftsman building the American Dream.

Home Size Continues to Decline; Buyers Increasingly Opt for Single-Story Homes

from NAHB (the National Association of Home Builders)

June 14, 2010 – The size of new single-family homes completed declined last year, dropping to a nationwide average of 2,438 square feet, according to detailed information about the characteristics of new homes completed in 2009 that was released recently by the Census Bureau.

After increasing continually for nearly three decades, the average size of single-family homes completed in the United States peaked at 2,521 square feet in 2007. It was essentially flat in 2008, then dropped in 2009, so that new single-family homes were almost 100 square feet smaller in 2009 than in 2007.

“We also saw a decline in the size of new homes when the economy lapsed into recession in the early 1980s,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The decline of the early 1980s turned out to be temporary, but this time the decline is related to phenomena such as an increased share of first-time home buyers, a desire to keep energy costs down, smaller amounts of equity in existing homes to roll into the next home, tighter credit standards and less focus on the investment component of buying a home. Many of these tendencies are likely to persist and continue affecting the new home market for an extended period.”

Crowe also pointed out that the average square footage of new single-family homes completed is only one measure of new home size. “The Census Bureau also reports average square footage in a quarterly release based on starts rather than completions, which is sometimes useful when market conditions are changing rapidly,” he said.

In keeping with their slightly smaller size, new single-family homes completed in 2009 had fewer bedrooms than previously. After increasing for almost 20 years, the proportion of single-family homes with four bedrooms or more topped out at 39 percent in 2005; it was 34 percent last year. The proportion of single-family homes with three bedrooms increased from 49 percent to 53 percent between 2005 and 2009.

New single-family homes completed last year also had fewer bathrooms than previously. The proportion of homes with three or more bathrooms was 24 percent last year, a decline from the peak of 28 percent in both 2007 and 2008. The percentage of single-family homes with two bathrooms increased from 35 to 37 last year, and the percentage with 2½ bathrooms was at 31 percent for the third consecutive year. The proportion of single-family homes with 1 or 1½ bathrooms has been below 10 percent for more than a decade.

In 1973, the first year for which the Census Bureau reports characteristics of single-family homes completed, most new single-family homes – 67 percent – had only one story. Twenty-three percent had two or more stories, and 10 percent were split levels.

The proportion of one-story homes declined steadily for more than three decades, dropping to a low of 43 percent in 2006 and 2007. At the same time, the proportion of single-family homes with two or more stories increased, rising from 23 percent in 1973 to a high of 57 percent in 2006 (split level homes currently account for less than one percent of all single-family homes ). Since 2006 the trends have been reversed, as the share of single-family homes with one-story increased to 47 percent last year, while the share with two or more stories dropped to 53 percent.

Regional Differences in Completed Single-Family Homes

The Census Bureau’s data on characteristics of completed single-family homes also showed regional differences.

In 1973, less than half of all new single-family homes completed had air conditioning; in 2009, 88 percent were air conditioned nationwide. Regionally, the proportion ranged from a low of 69 percent in the West to a high of 99 percent in the South. The Northeast and Midwest were at 75 percent and 90 percent, respectively.

Nationwide, 62 percent of new single-family homes completed in 2009 had two-car garages, and 17 percent had garages for three or more cars. However, there were clear regional differences. Three-car garages were found in only about 11 percent of homes in the Northeast and the South. In the Midwest, 30 percent of all homes had three-car garages, and in the West, 26 percent.

Regional differences were especially pronounced in the selection of exterior wall material. Nationwide, 34 percent of all single-family homes completed in 2009 homes had vinyl siding, 23 percent were brick, 19 percent were stucco, and 13 percent had fiber cement siding.

Vinyl siding predominates in the Northeast, where it accounted for 74 percent of the market; wood was a distant second with a 12 percent market share. In the Midwest, vinyl siding accounted for 62 percent of the market while wood and brick were at 15 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

Brick was the leader in the South, where it was found in 40 percent of new single-family homes. Twenty-eight percent of new homes in the South had vinyl siding and 13 percent had stucco.

The Census Bureau began reporting statistics on fiber cement siding, which is relatively new to the market, in 2005. It already accounts for 24 percent of the market in the West. Stucco and wood account for 52 percent and 15 percent of the market, respectively, in that region.

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Ginnie Mae Announces New MBS Program For Manufactured Housing

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

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Coming up, Harvard report optimistic about long-term outlook

But first…these stories.

Ginnie Mae Announces New MBS Program For Manufactured Housing


Ginnie Mae President Theodore W. Tozer last week announced the agency’s plans for a new mortgage-backed security (MBS) program targeting manufactured home loans. The program is designed to “provide for prudent risk management” and was created in response to recent changes in the Federal Housing Administration’s Title I Program for manufactured housing, Tozer wrote to Ginnie Mae program participants.

Effective immediately, Ginnie Mae will accept applications for participation as issuers of MBS backed by new Title I manufactured-home loans (MH MBS). Issuers that are currently approved to issue manufactured-housing securities are required to re-apply in order to participate in the new program, Tozer wrote.

The major change to the program, he explained, will be that all approved issuers will be required to maintain a minimum adjusted net worth of $10 million, as calculated in accordance with the HUD Audit Guide, plus 10% of the amount of MH MBS outstanding.

Picture brightens for Ocala’s Nobility Homes

From the Ocala Star-Banner – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX

Nobility Homes Inc. announced this week a second-quarter operations loss of $236,928. For the same period 2009, the company reported a $884,242 loss. The second quarter 2010 net loss after taxes was $202,029 compared to a loss of $506,440 in 2009.

Second quarter 2010 loss per share was $0.05 compared to $0.12 per share last year.

The $202,029 after-tax net loss reflects a deduction of $194,825 in non-cash losses for the company’s investment in two retirement community limited partnerships and included a tax benefit of $162,267.

Nobility’s second quarter 2010 sales were $3.71 million, up 55 percent from $2.39 million reported a year ago.

Sales and operations for second quarter 2010 were adversely impacted by the country’s economic uncertainty and the low manufactured housing shipments in Florida as well as the overall decline in the Florida and national housing markets, said Nobility President Terry Trexler in the company’s press release.

Because of declining business conditions and the uncertainty about any improvements in the current economic challenges, the company said it will continue to evaluate Prestige’s fourteen retail model centers in Florida along with all expenses within the company.

Nobility, which designs and produces manufactured homes, has headquarters in Ocala. Nobility trades as NOBH on NASDAQ.

Soft housing demand imperils recovery

Harvard report optimistic about long-term outlook

by Inman News

Demographic terms bode well for the long-term health of housing markets, but the near term is fraught with uncertainty, according to a “State of the Nation’s Housing” report released today by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Assuming that household “headship rates” hold constant at 2008 levels, overall demand should support the construction of more than 17 million new homes between 2010-20, the report said. That number includes manufactured homes, and takes into account demand for second homes and the need to replace older housing stock.

Analysts are keeping a close eye on home construction because, with the exception of the dot-com crash and 2001 recession, housing tends to lead the economy into and out of recessions.

With the economy finally adding jobs this spring and house prices down dramatically, “two essential conditions for a sustained recovery in single-family starts and sales had fallen into place,” the report said.

But it remains to be seen whether home sales will weather the expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credit, the report said. Initial signs of a recovery are also threatened by a “severe overhang” of vacant units, high unemployment, and record numbers of homes that are worth less than what’s owed on their mortgage.

The report concludes that deep cuts in homebuilding have already brought housing supply and demand back into better balance. It’s soft demand for housing, rather than a large oversupply, that’s holding back residential construction at the moment.

The recession wiped out 8.4 million jobs, which has forced some families to double up and delayed plans of many young adults to move out of their parents’ homes. Demand for housing is also down because the downturn has slowed the pace of immigration, and an estimated 1 million illegal immigrants have left the country, the report said.

Soaring unemployment and reduced immigration have slowed the pace of household formation from between 1.2 million and 1.4 million a year during the first half of the decade to less than 1 million a year, the report said.

In the long run, demographic forces are expected to lift household formation to about 1.25 million a year during the decade ahead, even if immigration remains subdued.

But whether those new households will be homeowners or renters remains to be seen.

Homeownership markets “are being tugged in different directions,” the report noted. Lower prices have made homes more affordable, but tighter underwriting standards make qualifying for a mortgage more difficult.

According to the National Association of Realtors, median home prices fell 26 percent from October 2005 to March 2010. With mortgage rates near record lows, mortgage payments on the median-priced home are closer to median gross rents than at anytime since 1980, the report noted.

For borrowers making a 10 percent down payment on a median-priced home, mortgage payments will amount to less than 20 percent of median household income, the lowest level in records dating back to 1971.

Residential fixed investment dropped 53.7 percent from 2005 to 2009, and represented just 2.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 — the lowest level since 1945. Builders started construction on only 445,000 single-family homes in 2009, compared with more than 1 million a year during the 1990s.

Declines in residential construction have been a drag on the economy for 3 1/2 years, before turning positive again during the second half of 2009. (According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, investment in residential construction contracted again during the first quarter of 2010.)

The first 10 years of the new century were a “lost decade” for household income, with median income falling 5 percent from 2000 to 2008, to $49,800, the report noted. After three decades of gains, “real median household incomes will almost certainly end (the decade) lower than they started,” the report lamented.

The sheer size of the echo-boom generation — those born between 1986 and 2005 — will produce record numbers of households headed by young adults, who typically have lower incomes.

At 80.8 million strong, the echo boomer generation is already larger than the Baby Boom generation, and 42 percent are members of a minority group, the report noted. Minorities make up more than 50 percent of echo boomers in Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and Washington, D.C.

But Sunbelt retirement communities still face an uphill battle, the report said, because much of the boom in those areas was driven by construction and job growth.

More details on this report are available online at in our news department.

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by

Do you have vacant homes or sites?  Does your financing, marketing, sales or management need a boost?  From high Return on Investment online marketing, to public relations, sales, lead and management systems and more, make us your Solutions Resource. When you are ready for the answers to your needs, visit

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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