NextGen Manufactured Housing
NextGen is built at the New Era Building Systems plant in Strattanville, PA. Work begins in a remote shed, where a steel floor structure is welded into a rigid frame that supports the house floor. Once the wooden floor is nailed to the floor joists, plumbing and electrical lines are placed in the open floor cavity, which is then packed with insulation and sealed from below with a reinforced fabric wrap called a 'bottom board'. Rooms that require resilient flooring are covered with vinyl that is stretched and attached to applicable sections of the floor deck before the walls are set in place. Interior and exterior walls that have been pre-built at remote stations are then brought to the assembly line, and stored in large racks beside the emerging house. Once the deck has been fully prepped, the walls are hoisted into place and assembled onto the floor layout with hallways, doors, and windows in their assigned locations.
Lighting and plumbing fixtures, wall finishes, and woodwork trim are all applied at the factory. In comparison to most site-built housing, the construction of manufactured homes entails a high volume of worker traffic. The crews are accustomed to working in close quarters, though, so team members don't often impede one another's progress. Some of the walls have wallboard already in place on one side, so that pipes and electrical wires can be installed and stubbed out for fixtures. The ceiling and part of the tilt-up roof structure is assembled off line, brought into position, and then lowered onto the walls. Once attached, the roof sheathing, shingles, soffits, and roofing accessories are applied to the roof deck - all in the controlled environment of the manufacturing facility. Because the roof deck is folded flat for shipping, it's easier and safer to shingle than a site-built roof.
A steep roof pitch is another important characteristic that sets NextGen apart from most manufactured housing, which is known for its relatively flat rooflines. After the sections are set by crane on the foundation, the roof is tilted up into position and the adjacent sections are tied together. When joined, the unfolded 'half houses' become a Cape Cod style, gable-end house. One of the most intriguing aspects of the home, however, is NextGen's mechanical system, which does not include a furnace. Instead, a Kosmo hot water heater, coupled with a fan coil unit, handles all of the home's heating needs, with air distribution provided by inside-the-envelope ductwork. This unique design feature lowers heating and cooling energy demand while reducing material and labor costs.
Because of its status as a PATH demonstration project, manufacturers that specialize in products for HUD Code housing were eager to participate in this project. Fabwell provided NextGen's exterior vinyl siding and Tamarack assisted with ventilation equipment and controls. The wholesale distributor LaSalle-Bristol provided carpeting, vinyl flooring, lighting and plumbing fixtures; elements that help make it hard to distinguish NextGen from its site-built neighbors.
As shown in the photos accompanying this description, the NextGen home has been assembled and delivered to the site in Danbury, CT. Shortly after completion, it will be open to the public, and will remain accessible to visitors through March, 2000. At the completion of the open house phase, it will be managed as a rental property by the Danbury Housing Authority as a high quality home that appears similar to its more conventional neighbors in every way, with the pleasant exceptions of accelerated build times and reduced construction costs.
Content updated on 9/13/2005