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Manufactured Homes Knock Tiny Homes Down to Size

April 13th, 2017 Comments off
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Kerstin Gillespie’s manufactured home. Credit: Stanwood Camano News.

While “tiny homes” may be all the rage, more and more people are finding that the real value is in a tried and true model.

According to the Northwest Housing Association (NHA) in Olympia, Washington, more and more people who look at tiny homes as an option have discovered manufactured housing not only offers affordability, but also meets meeting zoning, building and life safety standards that many tiny homes do not.

My home is really cute,” said Kerstin Gillespie of Allyn, Washington. She purchased a 586-square-foot manufactured home, placing it on family land to live in while she attends graduate school in nearby Tacoma.

Inside it has 9-foot ceilings, lots of windows and lots of light. I went with a manufactured home because I’d had a good experience buying one before and knew I could move in quickly and get more home for the money.”

Gillespie was able to customize her home, an option that often gets lost among the stereotypes surrounding “mobile homes” or “trailer parks.” HUD Code homes must be at least 400 square feet. The houses compete favorably with the cost of tiny homes; their lower price reflects the efficiencies of being factory built.

Per Stanwood Camano News, unlike tiny homes, which are still struggling with state and local regulations, buyers of manufactured homes generally avoid building code and zoning issues in Washington State, as it passed a law in 2005 preventing cities from discriminating against these manufactured homes.

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The inside of a Fourleaf Properties manufactured home in Dallas, Texas. Credit: Candy’s Dirt.

Manufactured homes are built to a national code that ensures homes meet basic structural, safety and energy standards,” said Craig Sedlacek, the program manager for the Factory Assembled Structures program at the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. The organization conducts building inspections for manufactured homes.

There’s no real definition for a tiny home. It might be built to a local code, a recreational vehicle (RV) code or no code at all. It’s important for buyers to understand what standards a home is built to before they buy it.”

Sedlacek also points out that the standards cover important questions about where a home can be located and whether it meets health and safety standards.

One big trend we are seeing is an increased demand for smaller, well-designed floor plans,” said Kevin McShane, sales manager for the Fleetwood Homes plant in Oregon.

The tiny home term is used a lot, but we find that homes under 300 square feet are too small for most people. Floor plans with 500 to 1,000 square feet of living space are now about a third of our business and growing.”

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MHProNews and MHLivingNews have covered the “tiny home” movement extensively, including the potential for big legal trouble for owners and a detailed side-by-side comparison with manufactured homes, highlighting function and value versus fashion.

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Tackling the Housing Crisis Down Under With Prefab

April 10th, 2017 Comments off
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A Big World Homes Model. Credit: Domain AU.

In Australia, a handful of smart entrepreneurs believe that they have the answer to the nation’s housing crisis.

And, the answer lies in “flat pack” prefab.

According to Domain AU, and as the Daily Business News originally covered here, Big World Homes founder and architect Alex Symes has come up with what he calls “three tools and a set of instructions,” prefab homes that he estimates cost 80 per cent less than a similar-sized home.

We’ve designed a flexible system that allows people to take control of their shelter,” said Symes.

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Big World Homes Founder Alex Symes. Credit: Big World Homes

Coming in at a cost of $65,000 each, the off-grid buildings come with a water tank and solar power capacity.

We’re negotiating with government entities who may come to the party with land,” said Symes.

But we already had lots of private landowners chomping at the bit to help because they know there is a problem, they have land that can be used (with local council approval), and they want to help.”

Symes believes that his innovative solution will provide younger people with a starter home, that they can add on to or move elsewhere, matching up with the desires of those younger buyers for flexibilityy without sacrificing quality, at a reasonable price.

The innovate style of Big World Homes was pointed out recently by Australian Institute of Architects Professor Ken Maher during his housing affordability briefing at Parliament House.

These homes demonstrate what is possible when creative minds take a fresh look at recurring problems,” said Maher.

Architecture was the logical profession to be called to the forefront of the solution finding and added how, with pre-fabrication building processes coming of age … they can be a game changer in affordable housing.”

This opportunity has also brought others to the table, including architect Bill McCorkell, via his company, ArchiBlox.

Off-site constructed houses are marginally cheaper than comparable-sized, conventionally-built homes by about 10 to 20 per cent,” said McCorkell.

The six month from concept to occupancy process is another aspect making prefabs attractive to a market interested in time-efficiencies.”

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Inside of a Big World Home. Credit: Domain AU.

McCorkell also pointed out that a key component in making prefab homes work in this scenario would be volume.

Until we can build 200 houses at a time we’ll struggle to match the efficiency margins of the big volume builders,” said McCorkell.

If the Government did come to us with orders for 200 houses, it would allow us to get the costs down to around $1000 per square meter.”

Symes and McCorkell both point out that despite some of the potential challenges, the opportunity to help people, and to do substantial business, is significant

In contrast to a place like Japan where 80 per cent of new housing is pre-fabricated, the scale of the Australian pre-fab scene is a mere three per cent,” said McCorkell.

But the market is developing, and fast,” said Professor Maher.

As architectural creatives put time and thought into coming up with the housing affordability, it’s a game changer that isn’t going to be predicated on a house price crash scenario.”

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Renewed Calls for CFPB’s Cordray to Step Down

April 6th, 2017 Comments off
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President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Richard Cordray as the first director of the CFPB on July 18, 2011. Credit: Wikipedia.

In the manufactured housing industry, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and it’s director, Richard Cordray, have made growth difficult.

And now, Washington lawmakers have taken notice of the challenges.

According to CNN Money, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has called on President Trump to fire Richard Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, immediately.

I believe the President is clearly justified in dismissing you and I call upon the president — yet again – to do just that, and to do it immediately,” said Hensarling, during a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday.

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Jeb Hensarling. Credit: House.gov

The organization has been in the crosshairs of President Trump and Republicans, who have proposed Death Blows to the organization via legislation.

Speaking on the pair of bills (S. 30 and H.R. 1031) put forward last month to advance Republicans’ broader Dodd-Frank reform efforts by tackling Title X of the law, Texas Senator Ted Cruz was clear on the problem.

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Sen. Ted Cruz. Credit: Washington Examiner.

This legislation would give Congress the opportunity to free consumers and small businesses from the CFPB’s regulatory blockades and financial activism, which stunt economic growth,” said Cruz.

One of the challenges around removing Cordray comes from the Dodd-Frank act, which created the agency. Dodd-Frank says, to a certain degree, that the President cannot fire the director without cause.

And for some Democrats, they see the agency being independent as critical.

Republicans have been clamoring to weaken, impede, and ultimately destroy the Consumer Bureau since its creation,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

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Representative Maxine Waters. Credit: Wikipedia

But the agency was dealt a blow recently, when a federal appeals court denied their motions in a case with PHH Mortgage.

The same three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that determined the CFPB structure was unconstitutional in October 2016, denied appeals in the PHH Corp. vs. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau case.

In the decision, which was covered by the Daily Business News here, the court determined the CFPB is controlled by a “single, unaccountable, unchecked directorRichard Cordray, who can only be removed for just-cause, which poses the risk of arbitrary decision-making and abuse of power compared to a multimember independent agency.“

The case is headed for another hearing on May 24th.

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Credits: Flickr, CFPB, PHH.

During what was, at times, a contentious hearing, Republican lawmakers put pressure on Cordray and the CFPB, for what they see as a less than effective agency.

The CFPB was a latecomer in uncovering Wells Fargo’s fraudulent sales practices,” said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO).

Can you specify about when you prompted your staff to begin its investigation of Wells Fargo?”

Wagner also suggested that the CFPB was “asleep at the wheel” until press reports emerged on the scandal, which the Daily Business News covered here.

Lawmakers also press Cordray for his failure to reply to dozens of subpoena requests, including one tied to Ally Financial (ALLY) for discriminatory pricing in the lender’s auto loans, and for not certifying compliance with lawmakers’ requests.

I believe we have complied with all your subpoena requests,” Cordray told the committee.

Hensarling also pressed Cordray for answers on whether he was aware of the Federal Reserve’s Inspector General review of the agency’s handling of Congressional inquiries.

I don’t always know the inquiries that the IG is conducting,” said Cordray. “I’m not supposed to know all the inquiries that IG is conducting.

 

Impact for the Manufactured Housing Industry

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Credit: Wikipedia, CFPB, HubPages.

While the CFPB had the support of the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration has had the organization in its crosshairs since the election.

Those in the industry have not been shy about their feelings on the matter.

The information on this case also has indirect ramifications for the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), and others in the industry, as the Preserving Access bill is being floated, which would modify portions of Dodd-Frank.

For more on what the Preserving Access bill means for the industry, check out the latest article on The Masthead.

For more on the CFPB’s impact on the manufactured housing industry, click here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.