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My rant regarding the energy efficient mobile/modular homes :-)

Anneal | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I do not understand why people are trying to reinvent the wheel regarding the actual construction of mobile/modular homes. They must have money to burn and time on their hands and that makes me mad because they are charging ridiculous prices.
There are mfg companies spread out over the U.S. and the planet that have mobile home construction down. Look at all the RV’s and trailers out there. They are mfg somewhere! Why not utilize these facilities? They have transport down. They know what they are doing. It would just need someone to oversee the energy efficient construction in these facilities. Rent the facilities. Work together. What a concept.
If these mfg companies catch on it would change so much in so many ways. Hopefully if/when these mfg companies do clue in they won’t say “how much more can we charge because it’s energy efficient and people will pay more for it. We’re doing something “special” so we can charge twice as much. No one will know any better and we’ll rake in the money” but total the actual costs and add a reasonable profit. Do a true business model.
If these established mfg companies realize a lot of people will be willing to buy energy efficient quality products for a reasonable price and town zoning realizes these are not your old mobile homes it would be a win win all around. I could go on….
My rant 🙂

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  1. Expert Member

    I do think you have a point about modular home prices, and their ridiculous comparisons of the timelines for their products vs site building are risible. But in all fairness RVs and modular homes are completely different beasts - the former having more in common with car making than building.
    Heaven help us if modular home makers start using RV techniques. RVs and trailers are flimsy piles of junk which deteriorate and depreciate so rapidly you might as well just burn your money on a campfire.
    Why not take the ideas you like from the modular home manufacturers and get a good builder to duplicate them on site? Especially in a dry climate the much touted advantages of factory building aren't really that great.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Several modular home builders have been focusing on energy efficiency in recent years. Here in northern New England, I'm most familiar with the efforts of Chet Pasho at Preferred Building Systems. (For more on these efforts, see this GBA news story: Next Generation Mobile Homes.)

    A few modular builders in the Pacific Northwest have been making similar efforts.

    In short, if you want an energy-efficient modular home, you can buy one. Of course, if the specs are better, the cost is higher. I'm guessing that you won't be happy with the price. There is no free lunch.

  3. Anneal | | #3

    I am sorry if I offended anyone. That was not the intent. I truly, truly appreciate all the effort that has gone into energy conservation. Thank you. And this site is fantastic and the work involved shows you are a wonderful generous person. And certainly everyone deserves decent wages. I would never expect a free ride. Never. I’m sorry. My husband warned me not to do a rant…it will be misunderstood. Sorry.
    Perhaps I can explain my point clearer? I just feel that what has been learned so far by the brilliant ones can now be put into production. Faster, better, more affordable. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
    Just give us something!
    What is wrong with using existing facilities to produce a better product? Isn’t that working smart? As I have mentioned, I am really just an average person. The majority in the U.S. are average people just like me who want to do more and live to help the planet but cannot afford to do it. There must be a balance and now that the brilliant ones have figured it out maybe it’s time to involve the production people to implement it.
    I will no longer be using the expression “mobile home”. Too much negativity seems to come with that name. Perhaps someone needs to think of a new title for pre-fab, etc. that would resonate more positively with everyone. Make people want it.
    Thank you.

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Q. "Faster, better, more affordable."

    A. If you want a better product, it's probably unreasonable to expect it to be more affordable.

    Does air sealing work improve home performance? Of course. But the work requires careful attention to details and the use of expensive tape. It's worth it.

    Do triple-glazed windows perform better than double-glazed windows in a cold climate? Of course. They also cost more.

    Does R-50 attic insulation perform better than R-30? Of course. But thick insulation costs more than thin insulation.

    Sometimes, if you take the long view, investing in some of these features will prove to be affordable in the long run, because your energy bills will be lower. But a well-built house costs more than a code-minimum house.

  5. dankolbert | | #5

    And what's the comparison? Here in Maine, Keiser Homes is building pre-fab houses designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects. Their prices are certainly cheaper than a comparable product custom built on site. What is "reasonable" is a tricky question. What do you think the square foot cost should be, and why?

  6. Anneal | | #6

    Dan said, "What is "reasonable" is a tricky question. What do you think the square foot cost should be, and why?"
    That is a very good question and will take a bit of time to decide. There are a variety of factors to consider.

  7. user-1072251 | | #7

    BrightBuild Zero Energy modulars,designed by Kaplan Thompson, are being built by a modular company in Maine so can be shipped anywhere. The modular company they work with has plants in other parts of the country, so at some point, these may be offered nationally.

    Preferred, in NH, can and has built similar homes, but they do not have a design catalog of their homes.
    One caution about superinsulated modulars: they must be completed by builders who understand how to build a tight house. Detailing is critical, and a poor installation can drastically affect performance, despite the factories' best efforts.

    Chet Pasho, who was instrumental in setting up Preferred is now a principal in a new business, Ver-Mod which builds superinsulated "mobile" homes. These offer none of the poor quality framing of typical mobile homes, and are instead, a high quality wood house with "mobile home" dimensions so they leave the factory fully complete and can be simply set on a pad or foundation.

  8. Anneal | | #8

    Thank you for your patience and info.
    I guess I just have sticker shock. I’m not sure, still, what I would pay for an energy efficient mobile home for a number of reasons. Anyway…
    Since this site has so many creative and influential people here I am going to be so bold as to offer my viewpoint on mobile home floor plans on a different thread.

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