Posts Tagged ‘Martha’s Vineyard’

Is Modular Movin’ on Up? Builder Sees Opportunity

April 28th, 2017 Comments off

A Squash Meadow home. Credit: MV Times.

On Martha’s Vineyard, style and price are par for the course. For builder Bill Potter, he saw opportunity to deliver both, with modular, at the right time at the right price.

According to MV Times, when the markets crashed back in 2008, Potter and his wife Terry started asking themselves what they could do with the company then known as Potter Construction.

That brainstorming turned into Squash Meadow, the couple’s firm combining modular construction with onsite building practices, known as hybrid prefab. This would allow higher end customers on Martha’s Vineyard to custom design their homes at an attractive price in what was a skittish economy.

With the concept in mind, the Potters were ready to begin. Then the challenges began.

But we needed a modular building partner who was willing to work with us, to change their business practices to accommodate the need of clients here,” said Bill Potter.

We made a list of seven modular construction companies in the Northeast and pitched them all on their notion. Six said no, but Westchester Modular Homes in Wingdale, N.Y., on the New York/Connecticut border, said yes.”

The two companies married their visions, and started on what would turn into a fruitful journey.

We’d been doing some green building, and we wanted to continue doing that, as well as offering more design choices, and Westchester was willing to adapt,” said Potter.


Bill Potter. Credit: MV Times.

Originally, Potter Construction had four employees and would hire crews when they were awarded a building contract.

Since their move to hybrid construction, the company, now known as Squash Meadow, now has a management team of ten, and Potter says that on any given day you’ll see “50 Island guys working at our work sites.”

Potter says that the hybrid model proof is in the pudding: clients see savings of 20 percent over traditional site built homes and three month completion times versus one year. For client Julie Fay and her family, they are believers.

This was a stellar experience for us. We bought our land last June, and we were fully moved in by September. Their computerized design system let us walk through every room [in the design phase] and see what our choices looked like. We got a realistic view down to appliances and interior details,” said Fay.

We wanted a green design, and we had a contractor friend look over our shoulders every step of the way. Squash Meadow could do anything. Of course some choices involved a price tag, but it was an easy and predictable process.”


A View from the Architectural Angle

Phil Regan, managing partner of Vineyard Haven based Hutker Architects Inc., provided his take on modular.

The modular industry is an affordable option and historically a sort of bucket of parts in dimensions of two, four and eight feet built in units small enough to be shipped. There has not been a lot of design but that is changing,” said Regan.

Modulars are not quite small houses now, but generally are under 2,000 square feet. Above that level, design plays a larger role. There is market demand for modular design but it seems to me that onsite construction and modular methods right now are like a pair of magnets — drawn to each other but when they get close, the direction starts to shift.”

An Expert Take


Modular Home. Photo credit, Hybrid PreFab Homes.

In MHProNews’ popular, in depth interview series, “A Cup of Coffee with...” Hybrid Prefab Homes President Otis Orsburn shares important details about this.

The hybrid prefab home methodology has been readily accepted by traditional construction contractors, investors, lenders and the ultimate homeowner, ” said Orsburn.otisorsburnhybridprefabhomes-dailybusinessnewsprefabricatedmodularhomeindustry-mhpronews

Another success is creating and managing the plan set that addresses the entire vertical construction of the home.” Orsburn stated that, “Historically, this has been the largest dysfunction when building a home that is replete with factory-built nuances that traditional contractors have not dealt with before.”

Orsburn continued.

These nuances are viewed as weaknesses because they haven’t been utilized in mainstream construction. After attending my classes for general contractors, these contractors become our spokes people.”

For more on activities on bringing affordable housing options to Martha’s Vineyard, including “tiny homes,” click here. ##


(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)



RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews

Tiny Homes, Elite Edition?

February 10th, 2017 Comments off

Credit: Wikipedia.

As the U.S. and other countries around the world look for solutions to a growing housing crisis, that fight has come to what some would consider an unexpected place.

According to the Cape Cod Times, the year-round crisis is mounting on Martha’s Vineyard in Chilmark, Massachusetts, and Marina Lent is offering a solution that could be considered, small.

Similar to nearby Nantucket, which recently passed a bylaw allowing for “tiny homes”, the Chilmark Board of Selectmen heard a proposal from Lent that would allow homes smaller than 400 square feet to be clustered on a single lot with a septic system.

Instead of a four-bedroom house on a four-bedroom septic system, build four single-bedroom homes,” said Lent.


Marina Lent. Credit: Facebook.

This would allow people in the market for homes to share the cost of land, the major cost factor, and still be able to live in their own place. The land is so unaffordable.”

Unaffordable to the tune of $250,000 for a quarter-acre.

Anywhere else I could buy a home,” said Lent, who is the administrator for the town’s Board of Health.There’s no way I could ever buy a starter home on my salary.

Chilmark holds the distinction of having the most seasonal housing market on the island. Out of 1,560 units in town, 79 percent are vacant and used as seasonal residences.

Under Lent’s plan, the homes would be somewhat of a hybrid – tiny homes are usually built on trailers, but Lent’s proposal would allow for the homes to have a foundation, which is necessary to withstand the storms that hit the island. The homes would also be movable, if the homeowner would like to relocate to another area.

While the island has not been warm to manufactured homes in the past, there is a long history of moving homes. But, that could change to.


Chilmark, in red marker. Credit: Google.

Nearby Tisbury will hold a public hearing February 15 to discuss adjusting regulations for manufactured home communities and tiny houses.

Manufactured home communities currently need to be on a 10-acre lot in certain zoning, but officials are considering reducing the lot requirement to 3 acres.

If people want to solve the problem with housing they have to change zoning,” said Tisbury Planning Board member Daniel Seidman.

Decreasing the 10-acre requirement would give developers looking to build multiple rental units on a single property a better deal, and the homes must still adhere to all other building requirements.”

All of the different ideas currently being discussed are an effort to make it easier for the island’s year-round residents.

Forty percent of year-round households in Chilmark have low to moderate income, according to a commission study. Of those homes, 42 percent spend more than half of their gross income on housing.

Think of a 27-year-old getting out of college,” Lent said.

They’re early career-starters … they’re already struggling with college debt. They can’t buy a house.

Kelly McCarron, a 25-year-old graduate of Suffolk University, is Lent’s niece. McCarron currently lives with her grandmother and for her, the tiny house idea provides more opportunity to build a sense of community.

I can see how it isn’t built for everyone, but for someone in their 20s it would be a wonderful alternative,” said McCarron.



A tiny home being transported on Martha’s Vineyard. Credit: Vineyard Gazette.

The Selectmen have been receptive to the idea and are continuing to look into it.

All of the towns now, including Chilmark, need to address affordable housing,” said Chilmark Selectman Jim Malkin.

I think it has a good chance of becoming a reality. I also hope that if the proposal becomes reality, that it doesn’t come with the connotation that people who live there are on the poor side of town and live on the other side of the tracks.

While some are on board with the idea, there are those who question it.

I’m a little skeptical about whether it’s a viable alternative,” said Selectman William Rossi.

Four-hundred-square feet would be kind of tight.

Chilmark currently allows for secondary dwellings on a single property, but there can only be one kitchen. This represents one of many potential zoning changes that would need to happen for Lent’s proposal to be practical.

While those challenges persist, Lent remains hopeful that her idea can help those year-round residents who need it most.

I think as a general idea it would be excellent for people to be able to do privately, but I sure wouldn’t want to open the door to scores of ‘tiny house parks’ on the Cape and Islands that just cater once again to the seasonal rental market,” said Lent.

We need these for year-round housing.


Click below or on the photo above for comparisons between tiny and manufactured homes.

(EDITOR’S NoteMHLivingNews has 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.)


RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

Modular Homes Designed for Addiction Recovery

September 3rd, 2014 Comments off

addiction recovery  modular homes Ivy Ashe mvgazette  comA new campus comprised of three modular homes on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts will provide a retreat for up to 27 residents recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, as tells MHProNews. The result of a $3 million capital campaign, two homes will be for men and one for women, as they work through the 12-step program in conjunction with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. The open house was held to show the progress of the project which is anticipated to be ready for occupancy by Christmas. The modular homes are energy efficient and LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and are being built by Woody Mitchell of Squash Meadow Construction who is working with Westchester Modular Homes. As MHProNews documented July 24, 2013, modular homes, called med cottages,  are being sited for seniors adjacent to adult childrens’ homes instead of nursing home care, as well as to house disabled people. ##

(Photo credit: Ivy Ashe/mvgazette–modular home for addiction recovery services)

Manufactured Home Community Rent Decontrol Activists Paid to attend Chula Vista meeting

July 27th, 2011 Comments off

City of Chula Vista CA logoSignOnSanDiego alleged that owners of a “mobile home park” packed a meeting of the Chula Vista City Council meeting by paying activists to support rent decontrol.  The City Council voted to allow rent to be raised when a home in the community is sold.  The change in ordinance impacts future residents, not current ones. Reportedly 100 of close to 300 attendees in a July 12 meeting were paid $20 each to support the revised ordinance.  A group of young people were paid to wear green “Yes on Rent Decontrol” stickers.  Perhaps 50 attended a second reading of the ordinance July 19 were paid $40 each.   The president of the Chula Vista Mobile Home Residents Association, Penny Vaughn, expressed outrage.  The executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, Peter Scheer, said paying people to attend is “sleazy in the extreme.” A principal of the manufactured home community, John Wainio, was in Martha’s Vineyard and said he paid no one. Matthew Donnellan, president of the San Diego County Young Republicans reportedly explained that paying people to attend meeting was not an uncommon practice by Democrats or Republicans, adding he was not aware of such payments regarding this meeting.  Resident Ray McMurty, 62 and on social security, said $40 goes a long way in helping with groceries.

(Image is City of Chula Vista’s logo)