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Baird Homes Affected by Fire, Under Investigation

May 3rd, 2017 Comments off
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Baird Homes office in Seymour, Indiana. Credit: Baird Homes.

An early morning fire at the main office and workshop of a Baird Homes location in Seymour, Indiana this weekend caused major damage, but didn’t stop the company from moving forward.

According to the Tribune, the blaze caused an estimated $250,000 damage, and firefighters spent two hours battling the fire.

There was nothing to salvage,” said Fire Chief Brad Lucas. No one was hurt in the incident.

Once the ceiling and roof collapse, you can’t get to the fire. You just have to wait until they burn.”

For manager Chris Beverly, he said the plan is to handle the clean-up this week, so that the office can be replaced at some point this month. But, that doesn’t mean that business simply stopped.

We moved an office in Sunday,” said Beverly.

We’re in business. We have homes unlocked and ready to go.”

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Firefighters battle the blaze. Credit: The Tribune.

While Beverly declined to comment about the cause of the fire, Lucas was able to provide additional details.

Investigators found multiple origins of fire inside the office and shop,” said Lucas.

That’s an indicator that the cause of the fire is suspicious.”

Baird Homes is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and has had an office here for 30 years,” said Beverly.

The Seymour Fire Department is asking anyone who was in the area early Sunday morning and may have seen something suspicious, to contact Seymour police at 812-522-1234 or Seymour Fire Department at 812-522-2598.

Baird Homes, based in Fruitland Park, Florida, has sales centers located throughout Florida and Indiana, and has been family owned and operated since 1947.

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

 

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RC Williams, MHProNews.

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

Modular Classroom Construction Under Way

May 2nd, 2017 Comments off
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Students watch the modular construction. Credit: Peninsula Daily News.

In Washington, state and local officials lauded the start of construction of two new modular buildings for the Greywolf Elementary School last week, which will house new classrooms for kindergarten through third grade students beginning next school year.

According to the Peninsula Daily News, the structures will utilize cross-laminated timber (CLT), and are a part of a pilot project overseen by the state Department of Enterprise Services to address classroom sizes and pioneer the use of CLT in the state.

This is the site of new opportunity,” said U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer.

I believe the use of CLT will create more jobs, reduce the carbon footprint and create a more sustainable industry.

It’s incredibly exciting to sit down in Olympia and put $5½ million into this project to build classrooms,” said state Rep. Steve Tharinger, who serves as chairman of the Capital Budget committee.

We invest in building, so it’s exciting to see an actual project as innovative as this is.”

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A SkilPod prefab home. Credit: Inhabitat.

As Daily Business News readers are aware, CLT is a prefabricated, solid-engineered wood panel manufactured by fusing crisscrossing layers of wood. We recently covered Skilpod, a Belgian construction company, which created the #150 Skilpod solar-powered model, which was constructed using CLT.

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Derek Kilmer speaks at the groundbreaking. Credit: Peninsula Daily News.

In 2016, Washington legislators appropriated $5.5 million for design and construction of 10 buildings in multiple school districts across the state, in an effort to reduce class sizes.

It’s most exciting for us because it gives us some space to house kids,” said Donna Hudson, Greywolf Elementary principal.

For the kids themselves, it’s very common at recess to see kids lined up at the fence watching. They’re fascinated by it.”

Hudson said that she expects the installation process will take 3 months, and expects the buildings to be completed in June.

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Kilmer and Thacther sign their names on the building. Credit: Peninsula Daily News.

I’m excited about the use of timber from local sources and seeing locals work on the project,” said School District Superintendent Gary Neal.

More importantly, this is going to help us fit the needs of our population. We’re overcrowded right now, and so this couldn’t have come at a better time for us.”

Tharinger said that he believes CLT has other uses in the state, including affordable housing.

Affordable housing is a huge issue for the state,” said Tharinger. “To be able to fit that challenge with cross-laminated timber, creating rural jobs and using renewable wood, is a good fit.”

For more on the use of CLT in prefab modular homes, including the opening of the 75,000 square foot factory in the U.K. by the Swan Housing Association, click here. ##

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

 

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RC Williams, 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
TacklingtheHousingCrisisDownUnderWithPrefabcreditDomainAU1-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

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.

California Dreamin’ – Another Manufactured Home Community Under Siege

April 7th, 2017 Comments off
CaliforniaDreaminAnotherManufacturedHomeCommunityUnderSiegecredtiGoogle1-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: Google.

In the Little Saigon area of Westminster, California, the Green Lantern Village & Mobile Home community has served as an affordable beacon, including veterans of the Vietnam War.

Now, its days may be numbered.

According to the LA Times, property owner Walsh Properties LLC informed residents last week about plans to apply for a new land use permit that would allow for development. About 100 residents filled the community’s clubhouse to learn more about the plans.

Then they got a surprise.

Residents say they were told that the property was already in escrow in preparation for its sale, and that they may be forced to move out by early 2018, once the owner complies with local and state regulations, including holding a public hearing and providing services to residents.

I feel frozen. I can’t think,” said resident Mai Luu. She moved into the community in 1989.

We were refugees. We will be adrift again.”

Eighty percent of the community’s residents are Vietnamese-American, and say they would be priced out of the Orange County housing market.

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A home in the community. Credit: Homes.

Ross Bartlett, a member of the family that owns the community, was in attendance at the meeting, along with staff from Overland, Pacific & Cutler Inc., an Irvine-based relocation specialist. The company will interview each family to document their moving needs before submitting a report to the city.

Our family has been considering selling the property for the past decade,” said Bartlett.

My grandfather bought the property at the end of World War II. In order to continue to operate, we would have to rip up roads inside the park and lay new electrical, water and sewer lines on the property at an estimated cost of $3 million, which the family cannot afford.”

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Credit: Google.

For some residents, the idea that this had been a decade-long thought process did not sit well.

I feel betrayed,” said resident David Griffin.

They intended to sell the whole time — so why bother to have us together today? If they don’t give me fair market value for what I have, I don’t know what I will do.”

Resident Nghia Bui says that he does have a plan.

“I plan to stage a protest as the permit process winds it way though City Hall,” said Bui, who created a flyer, advising immigrant residents of what to say in protest: “We are old; we are poor. Changing the land is changing my living. Please don’t.

No one wants to leave here,” said resident Son Do. “New people moved in just months ago, others just a few years ago. What choices do they have? How does anyone find a safe and affordable place in Orange County?

As residents wait for the next steps, some say their stress levels are higher than ever.

We can’t sleep,” said resident Nhi Tran.

In my mind, I’m thinking: What about my job? What about finding a new school? But we are young — we worry for the older people. They have no place to go, no one to turn to.”

MH Industry Perspectives On Like Issues 

As this scenario continues to play out in the U.S. and Canada, the thoughts shared by ROC USA President Paul Bradley are relevant.

 

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Paul Bradley. photo credit: Fosters.

How can we promote homeownership and sell new homes on leased land and at the same time close communities?” Bradley questioned.

It’s like selling tickets to a zoo where ‘only 1 in a 100 are eaten by the lions!’”

One way to address this is to segment true homeownership land lease communities and differentiate it from traditional ‘parks’ where closure remains a risk, not a certainty but a risk.

Georgia Manufactured Housing Association’s Jay Hamilton sees it differently.

One of the biggest reasons that a Manufactured Home Community Owner sells his property is that over time property taxes increase four and five-fold.  But the owner can’t economically escalate the lot rent quick enough to keep up.  Or the resident could not afford to live there if they did,” said Hamilton.

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Jay Hamilton, Executive Director, Georgia Manufactured Housing Association.

As communities become surrounded and engulfed by restaurants, Hilton Hotels, stadiums, big box stores, airports, residential and commercial developments – property taxes begin exceeding the total revenue from renting spaces.” ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

(Publisher’s note: The content following “MH Industry Perspectives On Like Issues” was added on 4.12.2017 for clarity, based upon industry reader feedback, which we hereby thank those who suggested that was useful for this article to enhance the balance of the narrative.)

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

Manufactured Home Commission Under Fire, After Fire

March 30th, 2017 Comments off
OhioManufacturedHomesAssociationCallsforHelpcreditOMHA-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: OMHA.

A recent manufactured home fire in Urbana, Ohio, has officials across the state calling for bold action.

Their target is the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission.

According to the Dayton Daily News, fire officials across Ohio are backing a proposal by Governor John Kasich to abolish what they call an “industry-controlled agency that regulates manufactured homes,” saying the commission does too little to protect manufactured home residents from deadly fires.

The Ohio Fire Chief’s Association sent a letter to lawmakers last week supporting a provision in the state budget to kill the commission and roll its functions into the Ohio Department of Commerce. The Daily Business News covered the response from the commission in a story linked here.

30 people died in 1,208 manufactured home fires between 2012 and 2016,” said the letter from the Association.

Ohioans are 4.2 times more likely to die in a manufactured home that caught fire than one- or two-family home.”

The Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission is responsible for licensing inspectors across the state, who oversee the installation of about 3,000 homes a year. It also regulates the state’s 1,600 manufactured home communities. The commission has oversight from a nine-member board, which is appointed by the Governor and the Ohio General Assembly.

For its detractors in the state, the Commission also has its supporters.

I believe wholeheartedly, whether I sit on the commission or not, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to the manufactured home community in Ohio,” said Evan Atkinson, general manager of Clayton Homes in Frazeyburg and a commissioner on the board.

Since the commission was created, the number of complaints about mobile home installation has plummeted from hundreds to a number you can count on one hand. What’s proposed now is to fragment it and stick it back out into deep bureaucracy.”

Atkinson says that the commission currently requires inspection of every single home installed in Ohio, and points out that it’s a commitment the Department of Commerce has not made.

I believe there’s a probably a good likeliness that homes may not be installed as well as they are currently being installed,” said Atkinson.

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Credit: Stoveguard, MHLivingNews.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, we have pointed out the facts versus myths surrounding manufactured homes and fires, pointing out that homes built under post-1976 federal regulations have the same rates in this area as traditional homes.

Ohio Fire Marshal Larry Flowers insists that moving the inspection and licensing of manufactured homes into the Department of Commerce, where his agency is, will allow them to coordinate better on fire prevention.

What we believe is that there just needs to be more oversight and transparency in the process when these things are inspected initially,” said Flowers.

This will allow us to work more closely together with our partners in the department of commerce.

But Atkinson says that working more closely together isn’t an issue.

If that is a major concern, the folks within the commission would be more than willing to work with the state fire marshal as well,” said Atkinson.

The commission would welcome the opportunity to work with the state fire marshal and be able to get 100 percent of manufactured homes inspected and installed properly.” ##

 

(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.

Hometown America Trying to Buy Resident Owned Community, Rift Results

February 3rd, 2017 Comments off
MHCWeighsAcquisitionOfferUnderStrangeCircumstancescreditZillowBriarcrestEstates-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

A home in Briarcrest Estates. Credit: Zillow.

In Laconia, New Hampshire, the Lakemont Cooperative-owned Briarcrest Estates manufactured home community is in a unique position.

According to the Laconia Daily Sun, the story dates back to July 2013, when community owners Mark and Ruth Mooney tentatively agreed to sell the Briarcrest Estates to Hometown America for $10 million.

In compliance with state law, the terms of the transaction were disclosed to the tenants, who had 60 days to make a counteroffer by presenting a purchase-and-sales agreement. The law requires the community owner to bargain in good faith with the residents or their organization.

Residents of Briarcrest Estates then formed The Lakemont Cooperative Inc. and, with assistance from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, matched the offer from Hometown America Corporation.

After initial resistance, Mark and Ruth Mooney agreed to sell the 183 acre, 241 home site community to the cooperative, which has owned and managed it since April 2014.

According to the cooperative President Don Vachon, the community is on solid financial footing, which has been verified by several other residents familiar with the finances of the organization.

Others residents acknowledged that some capital improvements would need to be undertaken in the near future.

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Credit: Briarcrest Estates.

Fast forward to January 17th of this year, when Doug Minahan of Hometown America Corporation wrote a letter to Vachon.

It was an offer to buy Briarcrest Estates.

Doug Minahan. Credit: LinkedIn.

The Hometown America offer included retiring the outstanding balances on a $8 million loan from TD Bank and $2 million loan from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund as well as covering the prepayment penalty of $873,000 on the bank loan, closing costs and real estate transfer taxes associated with the transaction.

The company also pledged to honor all current leases, which provide that rent increases are limited to the rise in property taxes and inflation rate, along with any special assessment levied to fund improvements in the park, and offered to invest $350,000 in improvement to the park in the first year of its ownership.

It’s an unsolicited offer, period. A fire-from-the hip proposal,” said Vachon.

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Credit: Trademarkia.

But, according to some residents, the offer has strange timing. And has caused a rift.

Although the board has claimed the offer was not solicited, the letter from Hometown America Corporation outlining its terms begins ‘per our discussions,’ indicating that board members have been communicating with Hometown America for some time,” said Katherine Carlson, who also was among the first officers of the cooperative.

Per the Laconia Daily Sun, when the offer was disclosed to residents at a meeting last weekend, they agreed by a show of hands to meet with representatives of Hometown America late in April, after residents spending the colder months in warmer climes have returned for the summer.

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Credit: Briarcrest Estates.

On Monday, the directors of the Lakemont Cooperative then informed its members that what they called an “informational meeting” with the regional director of Hometown America will be held on February 25th, and a special meeting of the membership has been scheduled on April 8, when members will be asked to vote whether to accept or reject the offer.

And this movement concerns another original director of the cooperative.

The board has all of a sudden accelerated the time frame without any explanation,” said Orry Gibbs.

Many residents will not have returned from their winter residences by early April, and there is concern at the prospect that a vote could be taken before a significant number of residents would have an opportunity to become informed about the offer, take part in the discussion and perhaps even cast their vote. We have been no reason for the rush to a decision.

Founded in 1997, Hometown America is a privately held company that owns and operates manufactured housing communities across the country. Today, the company operates more than 45 communities in ten states.

The Daily Business News will continue to monitor this story. ##

(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.