Posts Tagged ‘Washington state’

100K on Employee Housing – When Tiny Homes Attack

May 17th, 2017 Comments off

Are $100k “tiny homes” really an affordable solution for employees in one of the most expensive markets in the country? Credit: The Gazette.

In many parts of Colorado, housing is expensive. When it comes to ski resorts like Aspen Snowmass, it can be downright unaffordable.

According to the Gazette, the ski resort is working to solve that problem in one of the most expensive communities in the nation, by utilizing “tiny homes” that employees can rent. Their experiment began last winter, when resort owner Aspen Skiing Co. installed six, 500-square-foot manufactured homes at a company-owned campground last winter.

Company officials say that the plan worked out so well, that they’ve ordered another 34 homes.

Aspen Skiing Co. originally purchased the campground in 2008 to help supply employee housing, and long term tenants currently pay $750 per month to stay there.

That is, until September 1st. The company informed residents earlier this month that they would need to vacate.

Having to leave the campground will likely disrupt your life in a significant way. We sincerely regret this,” the company wrote in a letter to residents.

Unfortunately, Aspen Skiing Co.’s housing needs, combined with the valley-wide employee-housing crisis, demand this course of action.”


Credit: The Gazette.

The company says that it originally gave long-term residents notice in September 2015 that they would need to move by the following May, but a change of plans to convert the campground to an RV Park stopped the effort. Now, it’s in full swing, with incentives.

Residents who leave by June 30th are set to receive a $3,000 incentive, while those who leave by the end of July will receive $2,000. For those who choose to stay until the end of August, they will receive only $1,000.

The sooner a space is vacant, the sooner we can do site-specific work to prepare for the arrival of more trailer coaches,” the company’s letter said.

Aspen Skiing Co. says that it is buying the tiny homes from a manufacturer for $100,000 apiece.


When Reality Rears Its Ugly Head


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.

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, a law passed in 2005 prevents cities from discriminating against manufactured homes, which has helped to break stereotypes.

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.”

For more on the progress in Washington State, click here.

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, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)



RC Williams, MHProNews.

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


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Modular Classroom Construction Under Way

May 2nd, 2017 Comments off

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.”


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.


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.


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.)



RC Williams, MHProNews.

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

Tough Times for Tiny Home Builders

January 23rd, 2017 Comments off

A tiny home in progress. Credit: Daily Record.

While tiny homes may be all the rage in popular culture, local governments and regulations have made things tough in Washington State.

It hasn’t been easy to start a tiny house manufacturing business. There is a stigma against tiny houses from many local governments,” said Darin Tusler.

He helped start Union Gap-based Yakima Canyon Tiny Homes in December 2015.

According to the Daily Record News, the company has faced push back from counties classifying the homes as recreational vehicles and not permitting them for full-time occupancy, since they are built on trailers.

It’s still too new and so you can call two days in a row and get two different answers (from counties),” said Tusler.

Paul Billings, Tusler’s partner in Yakima Canyon Tiny Homes says that the homes are built to standards.

The homes technically are RVs, but are built to housing standards and beyond,” said Billings.


Darin Tusler and Paul Billings discuss progress inside of a home. Credit: Daily Record.

The homes have to travel down the road and so everything is screwed in for the most part and strapped down, it’s even stronger than you normally have in a home.

In Kittitas County, building official Mike Flory provided some clarity on the rules in his county.

It isn’t illegal to build a tiny house in the county, but there is a difference between a recreational vehicle and a home,” said Flory.

If you want a tiny house you can have one. I can show you how to get one under 200 square feet.

County ordinances state that a home has to have a foundation, a roof structure and meet size requirements of at least 70 square feet for bedrooms and bathrooms, which was reduced from 120 square feet in 2015.


Mike Flory. Credit: LinkedIn.

So the code is actually following the trend,” said Flory.

But, according to Flory, Billing’s comments about his tiny homes technically being RV’s create an issue.

A recreational vehicle, though, is not a house. Companies manufacturing tiny houses are building them on car trailers and calling them recreational vehicles, because if it was called a manufactured or modular home, it would need to be inspected and meet certain building code requirements that recreational vehicles don’t need to meet,” said Flory.

They’re building houses on something that was never designed to have a house on it.

Recreational vehicles are not meant for full-time occupancy.

Flory says that while some counties allow people to live in recreational vehicles, Kittitas County does not due to health concerns, with FEMA homes after Hurricane Katrina used as an example.

Flory also cited what ended up being a $170,000 misunderstanding.

After spending $70,000 on a tiny house, a man bought a piece of land, put in a sewage and water line and placed the tiny house on the lot–without getting the proper county permits.

It turned out that the tiny house did not meet county code, and wasn’t allowed. So the homeowner had to take the tiny house off of his lot and put in storage.

It cost him around $100,000.

That’s a hard pill to swallow it really is,” said Flory.


Paul Billings. Credit: Daily Record.


State Requirements

For Yakima Canyon Tiny Homes, the pain isn’t just limited to county ordinances.

In order for the company to manufacture tiny houses, it needs a license from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, has to be listed in the Yellow Pages, operates with regular full-time hours, have signage by the road and have a direct phone line.

In addition to those requirements, the annual cost of renewing the company’s manufacturing license is nearly $20,000 per year.

The company has yet to turn a profit.

It’s been a nightmare. Going through the state has sucked,” said Tusler.

The license from the state does allow the company to manufacture anything permissible by Labor and Industries, including manufactured homes. This means it could design a tiny house as a manufactured home. ##

(EDITOR’S Note: MHLivingNews 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.

Greenfab Opens New Factory

March 18th, 2016 Comments off


Greenfab_new_modular_production_facilityBuilder of eco-friendly, sustainable modular homes, Geenfab announced it has completed its new factory in Washington state in anticipation of reaching a broader market in the West and beyond.

Founder Johnny Hartsfield said the new

facility will help the company expand production and services to clients. We continue to focus on offering a simple process to provide home buyers with green homes that are beautifully designed, high quality,Greenfab-Green-Modular-Home-Staircase-568x319healthy, and innovative, “ he added.

As the first new homes begin rolling off the line in the new factory, and with an eye to the future, the company is focusing on net zero energy homes and making them adaptable to smart home technology options, according to modularhomecoach.

MHProNews has learned from buildzoom, Greenfab has a BuildZoom score of 96, and is ranked in the top 20 percent of the 128,670 contractors in the state of Washington.

Swen Grau, Greenfab’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a recent press release:Many prefab companies won’t build a custom home. But technology, engineering, and architectural understanding of modular construction procedures have progressed to the point that we can design and engineer a custom modular home as easily and inexpensively as we could if the home was stick-built.” ##

(Photo credit: Greenfab–top, new facility; bottom, stairway in a custom modular home.

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Seattle Times announces State Investigation of Warren Buffett’s Clayton Homes, as expected – Analysis

February 5th, 2016 Comments off

TheyreBackSeattleTimesLogo-creditSeattleTimesTheirBack-creditDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-com-As part of the Seattle Times‘ ongoing year-long rant on Warren Buffett’s/Berkshire Hathaway-owned Clayton Homes and their affiliated lenders, Mike Baker and Daniel Wagner have succeeded in drawing Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s attention and his state’s Department of Commerce. This is resulting in a bill to investigate the sales, financing and repossession of manufactured homes.

This latest reprise of their ongoing saga was anticipated by MHProNews, as shown by this link from Jan. 30, 2016.

In a series of previous articles, Baker and Wagner have accused Clayton Homes of discriminatory lending, predatory lending on the poor, and trapping the unsuspected in high-interest loans with an eye on repossessing the manufactured home (MH) once the borrower falls behind on payments.

Steve Lefler, vice president of Modular Lifestyles, Inc. – part of the Newport Pacific family of companies – observed, “Recent defective construction and DOJ investigation on loans I have to say, Clayton may revisit their staff and operations activities. Reputation and public perception are hard to re-claim after these types of accusations.”

Lefler is far from alone among industry professionals in his concerns about the the implications and types of consequences from these articles by Baker and Wagner. Long time industry veteran Marty Lavin voiced his observations and concerns in an OpEd, linked here. Numerous off-the-record comments about this topic have come into MHProNews.

Baker and Wagner

What has been described as their brand of “advocacy journalism” has resulted in calls by some Democratic leadership in Congress to investigate the MH industry, and Clayton Homes in particular, since they are the target of the Seattle Times/BuzzFeed News reports and the dominant producer and lender in the MH industry. Clayton Homes and their affiliated lenders are part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway, which in a heated election cycle, makes for a stronger draw in readership.

Washington state Commerce Director Brian Bonlender says the stories could offer some solutions to the state legislature during its long legislative session in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, passed by the House and awaiting consideration in the Senate, is referred to by Baker and Wagner as “an industry-backed plan to roll back consumer protections.” The duo painted Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway “mobile home” (sic) units as being the main winners if the HR 650/S 682 becomes law.

In a story picked up by Nanotech News, The Boston Globe, The Miami Hearld  and dozens of other media outlets, MHLivingNews publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach takes a critical look at how Baker and Wagner, utilizing a wide swath brush, paints Clayton and Buffett as vampires, sucking the life blood from consumers.

Take one famously folksy billionaire, add a pinch of cherry-picked stats, stir well with a cast of wronged Native American, black and Hispanic homebuyers and you have the latest tag-team assault on the Warren Buffett manufactured home empire.

What could be more clickable holiday fare than the new installment in a yearlong campaign by two reporters who have pretty much made a career of throwing dirt at one of the richest men on Earth?

How about a tale of bilking poor minorities out of billions of dollars amid an atmosphere so steeped in racism it makes kindly Uncle Warren look like an overseer at Tara in Gone with the Wind?

Who cares if it’s not true?” The entire Nanotech News item is linked here.

Kovach did an analysis on that issue for, which the Seattle Times and BuzzFeed have yet to address. See that report, linked here.

The Seattle Times video relates the story of one couple who allegedly were taken advantage of by Clayton and their lender. That video is below.

As a thumbnail analysis of their video, as heart-wrenching as this kind of topic may be, carefully reviewing it actually undermines some points Baker and Wagner are trying to make. Many individuals, couples or households have life events that can lead to a default on a house, manufactured or site-built: divorce, job loss, ill health and death. The interest rate wasn’t the key factor, based upon the information in their own video.

Another point their dark, somber and one-sided video avoids entirely is that no manufactured home lender wants to pick up a multi-sectional home, save as a last resort.  The losses on a repossession like the one described can be so great, lenders would much rather work it out with the borrower if that is possible. Without question, there are lots unsaid in this Seattle Times video report.

Additionally, the couple’s home was in a remote location, as they stated, which could mean there may not have had comps around to support a land/home kind of loan at that time.

The Seattle Times video and related articles are, Kovach and others assert, created to provide an entirely unbalanced view of manufactured home living and lending, as quality affordable lifestyles.  The evidence for this in their own video, because there is no opposing or balancing viewpoint shared.

Yet the Government Accounting Office’s 2014 report on manufactured housing graphic below dramatically demonstrates that even with a higher financing rate than conventional lending – which is caused in part by no access to secondary markets, and no federal backing of the loans – the monthly payments for a manufactured home are lower than other forms of housing, because of the dramatically lower cost of the homes.


Graphic credit, GAO report on manufactured housing.  The entire GAO report, along with examples of why the reforms sought by the MH industry of CFPB regulations are indeed a consumer benefit, can be found at the link here.

The Other Side of MH Living Baker and Wagner Avoid

A very different image of manufactured home living emerges from videos that Inside MH has produced, which spotlight home owners, professionals, and experts discussing the appeal and value of manufactured home living. Two of many examples are below.  The first is from a couple living in a land-lease, the second is with a realtor who has sold hundreds of manufactured homes and who’s husband is a custom builder. 

Advocacy Journalism?

Behind-the-scenes of the Seattle Times/BuzzFeed, PBS NewsHour or related stories are efforts by non-profit groups to derail Preserving Access. An in-depth video interview with Marty Lavin, JD – an award winning MH lending expert – about facts relating to the legislation is linked here.

Informed sources tell the Daily Business News/MHProNews  that another installment of the Baker/Wagner duo is expected soon. ##

(Image credit: Seattle Times logo, which is their property, used here under fair use guidelines. Halloween “Their Back…” lettering, by MHProNews.)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Opening Day is Manufactured Housing Day

April 10th, 2015 Comments off

palm_harbor_homes_creditAs MHProNews has reported in years past, the Manufactured Housing Recreational Vehicle (MHRV) Show Association will once again roll out the Grand Puyallup RV Show at Washington State Fair Events Center/Puyallup Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Washington April 30-May 2, 2015.

Back by popular demand, this year’s show will also include three manufactured homes for fair goers to peruse featuring information about the array of homes available, site locations, home decor options as well as financing, according to prweb. Opening day Thurs., April 30 is Manufactured Housing Day, and the day’s sponsors—Skyline Homes, Palm Harbor Homes, DeTray’s Custom Housing and Lakeview Meadows–are offering $3 off online senior and adult tickets for this day only.

Sponsored by the Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) for the fourth consecutive year and produced by MHRV, both WSECU and MHRV will donate $1 for a total of $2 from each ticket purchase towards preserving Washington State parks. ##

(Image credit: Palm Harbor Homes)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com  Article submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Manufactured Home Sales Double in Small Market

March 21st, 2013 Comments off

From the dead center of Washington state, wenatcheeworld informs MHProNews the sale of houses priced at $250,000 or below sparked a 40 percent increase of home sales over the first two months of 2012, typically one of the slower periods of the year. “Put an entry-level home on the market and — wham! — it’s gone in no time,” said Laurie Carlson, a broker for Coldwell Banker in Wenatchee, Wash. “They go almost as fast as we can list them.” The biggest jump in six years accounted for sales in the area to go from $15.8 million to $22 million in Jan. and Feb, 2013. Sales of manufactured homes doubled from seven to 15 year-over-year.

(Photo credit: MHVillage)

Dodd-Frank Act is No Straight Shot

September 13th, 2012 Comments off

originationnews reports banks under the $10 billion threshold for compliance with the ever-shifting Dodd-Frank Act are unsure of which aspects of the measure apply to them, and are outsourcing because their own IT departments cannot keep track of the provisions that are delayed and/or rewritten. Cashmere Valley Bank in Washington state, with assets of $1.2 billion, has hired a managed compliance service, ATTUS Technologies, to review updates on new rules and current compliance plans regarding mortgage regulatory changes, underwriting standards, and vendor management. The Bank of Marion, in Illinois, with $334 million in assets has turned to Continuity Controls for help with compliance. As MHProNews has learned, Sue Ozburn of Cashmere says, “The legislation brings about many provisions that community banks have to evaluate to determine where they apply. I don’t think Dodd-Frank was intended to apply to every bank, it was more aimed at the larger banks. But we believe the examiners will enforce the law on community banks,” Ozburn says.

(Image credit: Dean Hayes)

Housing Authority to finance upgrades for manufactured home community

October 4th, 2011 1 comment

King County Housing Authority WA logoDJC reports that King County Housing Authority in Washington state has announced the financing of infrastructure and commons improvements at the Wonderland Estates manufactured home community.   The 109 space ‘mobile home park’ will receive up to $4 million in financing by leveraging public funds with private equity.  The authority purchased the land-lease community in 2007 in order to prevent it from being redeveloped, thus sparing the displaced resident seniors on fixed incomes there.

(Graphic credit: King County (WA) Housing Authority logo)