?Next Generation? Manufactured Housing Unveiled

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Breakthroughs in manufactured housing technology, designed to make the factory-built product less distinguishable from site-built, are now on display in a 1300-square foot experimental home in Danbury, Conn

June 16, 2000

Breakthroughs in manufactured housing technology, designed to make the factory-built product less distinguishable from site-built, are now on display in a 1300-square foot experimental home in Danbury, Conn. The home is open to the public until June 9, 2000.

The three-bedroom, two-bath "NextGen" house is a demonstration project of the Partnership for Advanced Technology in Housing (PATH), a federally-organized public/private initiative, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Built by New Era, a manufactured housing producer from Strattanville, Pa., the house was designed with benchmark new technology developed by Steven Winter Associates, a Norwalk, Conn., building systems consulting firm. The Manufactured Housing Institute provided support and guidance.

Among the breakthroughs on display:

  • A Kosmo water heater with a fan coil that handles all of the home''s heating and domestic hot water needs, eliminating the need for a separate heat pump or furnace.

  • Air distribution through inside-the-envelope ductwork, which lowers heating and cooling energy demand while reducing materials and labor costs.

  • A programmable ventilation system.

  • Increased insulation in the flooring.

All of these features allow the NextGen house not only to qualify for an Energy Star rating, but exceed that program''s performance standards by nearly 20%.

However, perhaps the most impressive achievement for builders of conventional, site-built housing is the NextGen home''s steeply pitched roof, stem-wall foundation, and optional full basement. These are features, traditionally associated with site-built, that manufactured housing has not been able to match in the past.

The NextGen house is comprised of two factory-built sections, joined in the field to form a 28- by 48-foot, gable-ended, Cape Cod-style home. On-site, the sections were set by crane on the foundation, and the roof tilted up into position, as the adjacent sections were tied together. It is priced at $90,000, including land, in a market where new houses of comparable size sell for close to $200,000.

Fast turnaround is a hallmark of manufactured housing, which takes advantage of cost savings afforded by volume production and continuous quality control in a fixed factory environment. In areas where labor costs are high, the hope is that manufactured housing may provide a solution to demand for affordable housing.

NextGen is being managed by the Danbury Housing Authority as a rental property.

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