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Next Generation of Manufactured Housing Unveiled

From a design and engineering perspective, one of the project s biggest achievements has been NextGen's remarkable energy performance. Recent computer analyses show that the home not only qualifies for an Energy Star rating, but exceeds the program s performance requirements by nearly 20%. For the homeowner, this amounts to a $180 reduction in annual energy costs, an important consideration in affordable housing, where monthly operating costs can influence an owner s ability to pay the mortgage. Duct blaster and blower door testing is currently underway, and is expected to confirm the energy performance projections derived from computer modeling.

With its steeply pitched roof, stem-wall foundation, and optional full basement, NextGen redefines the conventional wisdom of what a manufactured (also known as HUD-Code) home can be. These unique traits contribute to NextGen's increased durability, storm resistance, and visual appeal. Factor in NextGen's economical and environmentally friendly design and construction, and this house emerges as a solid investment for the next generation of value-conscious homebuyers.

NextGen is a demonstration project for the Partnership for Advanced Technology in Housing (PATH), a voluntary public/private sector initiative that seeks to improve the nation s housing stock. PATH is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The NextGen house was designed with technical and process assistance from Steven Winter Associates, Inc., a Norwalk, CT-based building systems consulting firm. It was built by New Era, a manufactured housing producer in Strattanville, PA. The Manufactured Housing Institute provided SWA with industry support and guidance. Plans are currently in the works for another NextGen home to be built in Upstate New York.

NextGen's innovative energy- and resource-efficient features include:

  • A Cosmo hot water heater with a fan coil unit 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 material and labor costs;

  • Low emmissivity (low-e) argon-filled energy efficient windows;

  • A programmable ventilation system;

  • Energy efficient appliances, including a clothes washer that uses 40% less water;

  • Compact fluorescent light fixtures; and

  • Increased insulation in the flooring.

Reduced energy demand also means less pollution. The NextGen house is expected to produce 872 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide, and 6.5 fewer pounds of sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide each year, compared to a similar HUD-Code home. And despite its site-built appearance, the home s construction time is impressive, even by HUD-Code standards: production, delivery, and installation can be accomplished in as little as four weeks, as opposed to three to five months for a site-built home.

Fast turnaround is a hallmark of manufactured homes, which are built off site in factories where the constraints imposed by adverse weather don t come into play. The homes are produced in separate sections, which are trucked to the site for final assembly. This process takes advantage of the cost savings afforded by volume production, continuous quality control, and the mitigation of vandalism and theft of materials and tools. In areas where construction labor costs are high, manufactured housing can often be the make or break solution to the demand for affordable housing.

The three-bedroom, two-bath NextGen house is comprised of two factory-built sections joined in the field to form a 28 wide by 48 long gable-ended Cape Cod style home. The finished 1,300 s.f. house cost $90,000 (including land), whereas a new house of comparable size and quality would sell for close to $200,000 in Danbury. The upstairs floor plan includes the third bedroom and unfinished attic space, which can be remodeled as another bath and fourth bedroom. Downstairs, a front porch entryway leads into the open, flowing spaces of the kitchen, dining room and living room, which are separated by a balustered stairway. On site, the sections are set by crane on the foundation, the roof is tilted up into position, and the adjacent sections are tied together.

NextGen is being managed as a rental property by the Danbury Housing Authority as a high quality home that s similar in appearance to its more conventional neighbors in every way, with the pleasant exceptions of accelerated build times, energy efficient components, and reduced construction costs.

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Content updated on 1/28/2004

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