Manufactured homes: the
haven of the future
SUN PHOTO/LOUISE BOLGER
A manufactured home can cost 35 percent less to build
than a conventional home.
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
Leave it to American ingenuity to turn a
housing negative into a futuristic positive. With the cost
of homeownership spiraling out of the reach of many working
Americans, experts say manufactured homes may be the haven
of the future, rolling off a factory assembly line with up
to 35 percent less per square foot to build, a direct result
of quantity purchasing by the manufacturers.
This new generation of manufactured home is not your grandmothers
winter Florida trailer. They come fully equipped with state-of-the-art
technology and come in a variety of styles, including two-story
designs, Cape Cods and traditional one- level ranch models.
In addition, manufactured homes come with the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development blessing, unlike site-built
homes, which are only subject to local codes. In fact, the
newer manufactured homes have stood up well to last years
Florida hurricanes and even faired better than some conventional
construction during flooding.
However, the one issue that still haunts manufactured homes
is financing. It can be tricky to get financing. You need
good credit, and your rate may be higher. Lenders still consider
marginal buyers for this type of housing too risky.
This is an industry on the cutting edge of trendy. A Minneapolis
designer of furniture, Charlie Lazor, has designed what he
calls the FlatPak house. Basically it is ready-to-assemble,
eight-foot-wide panels of glass, wood, cement board and metal
cubes that fit together like a puzzle. It can be configured
to varying sizes and layouts with a range of interior finishes.
The price is about $150 to $200 per square foot and it is
equipped with appliances and bathroom fixtures. The recommended
size is 1,800 square feet, and you can order it equipped with
the designers furniture.
Tin cans on wheels the manufactured home industry is
trying to change this image. Right here on Anna Maria, some
of the older trailers at the Sandpiper Mobile Resort Co-Op
are being replaced with manufactured homes. Rebuilding after
the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina could ironically
cure the image of manufactured homes. It is expected that
the industry will be a major player in the reconstruction
effort providing affordable and swiftly built homes for thousands.
Henry Ford would be proud.