View from the Porch

View from the Porch

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today's Manufactured Home ... no trailer trash here!

Years ago, Sarah and I, driving back from my nephew's university graduation in Portland stopped by the Palm Harbor Home manufacturing site in Salem, OR and took a tour of the plant.  Up until then I had no idea what modular/manufactured homes were, and how they had improved over the years.  The following May I went to Sunset Magazine's open house and saw prototype for architect Michelle Kaufman's Breeze House on display, and it blew my mind.

So I've been thinking about a modular/manufactured home for a long time.

Even if I had a piece of land somewhere, I still think I want to put a manufactured home on it (unless I win the lottery, but then all bets are off).  Today's manufactured homes are amazingly energy efficient and they use many green building methods.  They're not the tin-can mobile home of, even 10 years ago.  And while I'm pretty sure that there will be many improvements made in the process over the next 20 years, these homes should hold their value a lot more than a mobile home.

When I began this search for my retirement lodging, I knew there were manufacturers out there, and I thought that most of those homes you see on lots in rural areas were the manufacturers.  Not so.

There are basically four manufacturers that sell in our region, or have plants here.  Champion HomesSkyline Homes, Silvercrest Homes and Clayton Homes.  The reason you want to buy from a manufacturer that has a plant close to your site, is that it's cheaper to haul the factory-finished home to your site, the closer it is to that site.

The manufactured home models you see by the side of the road, if not attached to the plant, are retail sellers, usually contractors, represent the home manufacturer, and help you get the home from factory to site.

It took me about a month to figure this out.  The manufacturer's don't help because they each have many models with different names, and retailers are (and probably rightly so) wary of lookie-loos who don't know much but ask a lot of questions.

I visited a retailer's lot in Ukiah (on one of my trips back from Lakeport) and got some brochures, some basic questions answered, and started my internet research.  I was still kind of confused.  I needed to know what basic things were included in the home, what upgrades were important to have, or could be done later.  Also, after talking to a several retailers, I was getting conflicting information about what it would cost to prep the lot, with $30,000 being about average.  Also, it was like pulling teeth to get comparable answers online and with the retailers, as to how to compare products ... I'm pretty sure that's deliberate, but it sure doesn't help with costing out a project.

Just by sheer luck, on our trip to Yosemite, Sarah and I stopped for coffee in Manteca, and lo and behold there was a Modular Home Retailer, across the highway from Starbucks.  I made a quick detour over to Sterling Homes and looked a couple of the homes, spoke with a nice salesman, and said I would be back.  David spent about an hour with me on my return trip home, and was great, and gave me the most information I had received. The picture at the top of the page is the home I decided to buy, and the floor plan the one I decided I liked best.

I'm planning a trip down to Manteca later this this week to finalize the home purchase.

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