Thursday, December 10, 2009

i-house off to slow start in sales

In a USA Today article HERE, about Clayton’s latest green home, the “ehome,” a Clayton rep reveals that only 20 i-houses have sold since May. There’s lots of interest in it, but not that many buyers. I was surprised. I thought it would be more like forty or fifty.

Does this mean the i-house is a flop?

Not necessarily. It is going to take a few years, maybe more, to tell how successful the i-house will be.

The i-house is something very new, and especially in this market, people are more cautious about the investment value in a home. In past months, manufactured home companies and home builders have gone under right and left. That won’t happen to Clayton, but it would be unrealistic to expect that in this market, when so many conventional homes are in foreclosure or at very low prices, that the i-house would start selling like hotcakes.

Plus, it needs time to catch on. The sales of the Toyota Prius did not take off until the third year, and a car is something people can see all over on the road. Fortunately, Clayton is a large company and has the time to wait to see if sales pick up, when the market picks up.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like many things about Clayton’s super affordable new ehome, but the R-11, 2 x 4” sidewall construction spoil it for me. The i-house, as you know, has R-21, 2 x 6” sidewall construction.

Frankly, in this market, I don’t think even an affordable wonder, like a zero-energy home for the price of the i-house, would sell well.

This makes me wish Clayton introduced the i-house in 2002, instead of this year.

Friday, October 30, 2009

An i-house gets delivered in Kentucky

Here's a photo of the flex unit being delivered to a new owner's property in Kentucky. Good shot of a perimeter block foundation. They have a blog about it HERE with some more photos. They are just moving in. Give them a few weeks and they'll probably have some more photos.

Here's another mention of the same house, and Preston of the website Jetson Green, is going to interview the owners and I'll post a link when the interview article is posted.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Clayton i-house model, a second visit

The first time I toured the i-house model in Albuquerque in July, they were still working on it. I wanted to see it again, finished and get some more photographs. All the finish work is done, everything gleaming, and I wasn’t disappointed. It is really beautiful!

Sometimes modern interiors can feel sterile, but the i-house doesn’t. It feels warm, clean, spacious yet comfortable. There’s something about the wedge shape of the roof line that makes the rooms in the core feel less boxy than most houses. At each end, the wedge shape opens the house out, to the outdoor deck spaces.

I took some more photos, HERE. (These are mixed in with my older photos, but the first 40 or so are the new ones, click on "slideshow" for full page.) Looks so much better with the furniture in, without dust on everything, and with the railings and roof deck.

Here's another Flickr photoset of the ihouse, of 16 photos taken by Kelly. If something looks a little different from my set, not only is the outside light not as intense, but the floor plan is flipped on this model.

Sitting inside the flex unit, it had a comfortable feel too. On my first visit, if you read my more extensive review, film hadn’t been removed from the doors, there was a thick layer of dust and drywall coating spatter on the edge of the floor, and other things hadn’t been installed. Worse, it was a hot day, over 100 degrees inside because the air conditioning hadn’t been installed and windows had been shut. Today it was cool, the A/C wasn't even on.

This time it felt a lot different. I could think. The rooms all have pleasing proportions, nice light and are visually pleasing. The roof deck makes all the difference in the appearance of the flex unit.

The salesman said they are selling well. I could see three more i-houses in the lot ready to go out,getting the finishing touches before delivery. No one has ordered the one-bedroom core unit yet from the Albuquerque factory. I was hoping to take a peek inside one of those, but they were all 2-bedroom core units like the model.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another green model from Clayton, the ehome

Here's some more photos from a dealer's site.

An article in BusinessTN, announces that Clayton is introducing another green home, the "ehome," which will be priced at between $50 to $60 a square foot. (The i-house is priced at $92 to $120/sq. ft.)

While I like the window placement, and transom windows, the insulation seems poor, even compared with a single-section model I toured, the Karsten SF-50

The Karsten single-wide had R-19 insulation in the 2 x 6 walls and R-50 in the ceiling. The 9 foot flat ceilings in the Karsten give it a stately, spacious look inside, and it has to be the best regular (non-i-house) single-wide interior I've ever seen, although I haven't seen them all.

One thing better the new ehome does better compared to the Karsten single-wide, is the exterior appearance.

It doesn't say on the site, the ehome appears to have 2 x 4 walls which is disappointing to say the least. The Karsten SF-50 has 2 x 6 walls, something which I think is well worth the money. Thicker wall structure means the wall will be less likely to warp, and also it allows for more insulation and more substantial feel to the interior. For example, window sills are thicker.

With this ehome, if you are considering it, get the drywall option. The panel with the seams...well, I hate it.

I think it is good they are offering a house for people on a very low budget, but this design is nothing to write home about. I was hoping for a small double shed-roof, double-wide, with clerestory windows, or at least a shed roof. That is, something different and a little bit exciting.

Now that I've seen more photos, it has a unique roof line. The gable side in the front is very short compared to the slope in the back. That's pretty cool, but will have to see it in person to tell you what I think of that. The other thing that is nice about it, is the deliberate placement of most windows one side of the house for solar gain in the winter.

Although conventional builders are doing it only in a few places, I would like to see a manufacturer do double 2 x 4 walls, with almost a foot of insulation, like about R-40 in the walls. Either that, or SIPS, which are structurally strong and can be insulated to about R-30 or more.

Clayton is still working with their existing factory setup, as are all manufacturers of homes, so it would cost a lot to change something like wall structure.
June 24, 2010 blogger's note:

This month, I saw the ehome, took video and photos, and review it in my blog post HERE. After seeing one with drywall, and touring the interior space, I love it.

Also, the sidewalls are upgradeable to 2 x 6" and better insulation. The website doesn't mention this upgrade but if you ask they can do the 2 x 6" upgrade for under $1000.

One comment below is from a person who says they work at an architectural firm and this ehome isn't green. I thought the same when I first looked at it to see the standard insulation. However, with good insulation, this is a green house, for this price range. Most people can't wait around in the rain or live in a cheap apartment until they have $600,000 for an architect to design them a zero energy home.

It is also green to select a home like this, that is HALF the size of the average new home. Green has to take place in small steps.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Clayton moves into multi-family housing

After the i-house, now Clayton is starting a venture doing resource efficient multi-family attached housing. Good move, but this particular one looks kinda plain, although I like the off-set placement of windows and door and the simplicity of it. Practical interior plan too with two and a half baths. No pricing yet.

In the world of energy efficient housing, such attached multi-family housing is considered a smarter use of land, particularly in urban areas, and the shared walls help some with energy efficiency too.

Here's the first article that has some drawings.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My i-house video is up

See my previous post, the review. It is embedded there.

For a full screen view, after starting the video, click on the symbol with four arrows to the left of the word Vimeo.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My i-house review: i-saw, i-conquered, i-photographed

Clayton i-house from Tim Clark on Vimeo.

After pressing on the start arrow, it takes about 6 seconds to load. For a full screen, click on the little four arrows symbol, to the left of the word "Vimeo."

This is a nearly 30 minute version for die-hard fans, or just people who want to see lots of the core 2 model, as fuzzy/shaky as the video is. My little camera takes very clear video, but this is condensed to one sixth of the full size. I may experiment on making it better. And I still haven't found my tripod.

Link to my photos on Flickr. (Click on "SlideShow" near the upper right for easy full page viewing of the whole set.) The photos are taken at the Karsten model home lot near their factory, in Albuquerque, NM on July 10, 2009.


For a long time, it seems like I’ve been thinking about this house, or something vaguely like it. That is, an affordable green manufactured home.

Driving to Albuquerque yesterday, on a hot Friday mid-morning, it appeared before me, in all its corrugated metal and hardieboardiness, looking like a monolith on a large dirt patch to the left of the regular Karsten model lot.

The front isn't visible at first. It faces I-25, so is visible to cars that pass by. It is the 2-bedroom core model, w/1 bedroom flex unit placed at an angle, my favorite placement.

All the railings, including those for the roof deck, lay at the back of the flex unit, but at least the decks were in. No solar panels yet, and only some furniture, and there was still some finish work to do, like heating vents.

However, AJ, the same friendly saleswoman I worked with when I almost bought a Karsten home years ago, assured me they’d have it all fixed up in the following weeks, including grass, solar, and working water catchment. Grass?

Grass is kind of rare in Albuquerque, because of the lack of water. It should be outlawed here, along with golf, but I can see how something is needed to attract people’s attention from the highway; something that says, “come in and see this special new house.” Xeriscaping would be more appropriate, but grass will help to keep the dust down in this dirt patch lot.

Karsten Homes (owned by Clayton), but with their own line of homes too, is next to I-25 in an industrial area, right near their factory, where they produce the i-house. Farther down the road, if you miss the turn from South Broadway onto San Jose as I did -- they used to have a huge sign, now it says Business Park -- there are oil tanks, junk yards and other industry. Industrial ugliness is relative. It is no where near as ugly as Northern NJ, and Albuquerque has beautiful mountains and forests to the East, and many nice neighborhoods in the foothills, down by the Rio Grande, in the middle of the city.

The house was dusty inside, probably from workmen in and out or the windows were left open when the wind and dust kicked up, but that didn’t matter. No workmen were in the house when I was there. My photos aren’t that great, and I ran out of space, but I may take more in a few weeks, when they get the house fully set up.

On Clayton’s site, their video and 360 degree tour are so pretty, it can be a little letdown to find the house right near a noisy highway, and have the temperature soaring above 100 degrees inside. They’ll probably get the air conditioning going after it is cleaned up in a week or two. It is hard to relax and be comfortable, or even think straight when you are inside an oven. If you are going in the next two weeks to see this model in Albuquerque, try to go before 11 in the morning, or call (505) 242 7555, to see if the A/C is working.

I liked the feel of the kitchen/dining/living area the most. The window placement is good. It gives a nice open feel and you can imagine what it would be like with a view.

The living room would look better without the wall-length black storage unit, but I don’t think that comes with the house anyway. So, I’m probably being like some of the people on HOUSE HUNTERS, who when they are looking at houses to buy, complain about the paint colors.

Here’s a link to free online episodes from HGTV. My favorites are: HOUSE HUNTERS, HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL, and MY FIRST HOUSE. There's different HOUSE HUNTERS episodes on Hulu, if you get hooked on it.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the i-house. I liked the bamboo floor, the kitchen and bathroom sink fixtures (a lot!), the cabinetry, ceiling fans and lots of space in the walk-in closet laundry area. Of course the one bedroom core, which is probably the one I would buy, doesn't have a walk in closet or separate laundry.

The second bedroom is small and the bottom of the “V” roof hits its low point in the middle of that room's ceiling, which looks peculiar, but no problem. Just a bit of getting used to.

One thing that sticks out immediately, is the cheapness of the outside lights that flank the doors, complete with plastic covers. They aren’t the ones that are used in the model in Tennessee. I forgot to ask if they could be upgraded. I may be going back in a month or so when the grass is in, to take more photos and video. I’ll make a list of questions to ask, which I should have done this time. Again, even this light issue, is relatively minor.

There’s several handy exterior electrical outlets, and they have nice thick plastic covers. The drip edge, over windows, between the two materials, seems to be constructed well.

The rivets or rather bolts with washer in the corrugated metal -- the galvalume -- look substantial. However, the nail heads in the Hardieboard, I don’t know what is going on can see them in my close up photos. I read something about that, and I forgot what it was. I believe it was something about them being necessary for the glue on the other side of the Hardie board to set properly, and that there wouldn't be nail pops over time.

I think I’d prefer all Galvalume on the sides of the house, but I'm not sure that everyone would, so they probably made the right choice. Hardie board is a proven rugged, durable material.

In the main i-house, the rooms have nice proportions, although I think the hallway could be two inches wider. What I like about the house in general, there’s not a lot of wasted space. The room sizes are efficient, honest, comfortable and functional.

By honest, I mean modern without trying to be something they are not. Inside and out, the house isn’t trying to be Monticello, Versailles or the Parthenon. I once saw an older manufactured home that had thick fluted columns flanking the entrance to the kitchen. Reminded me of the Parthenon.

I'd prefer smooth walls and ceilings instead of the orange peel finish on the i-house. Most new homes have orange peel finish though, even some homes done by architects working in the modern style. Orange peel tends to hide minor imperfections better, be easier to repair minor scratches or dents.

The black tile work behind the counters, yet another option, is nice. I like the solid surface counters as well.

The ceiling is too low in the flex room. It is a small room, but still, I think it would look better with a ceiling that is six inches higher. This is probably a concession they made for the sake of the roof deck. Then again, I’m thinking in terms of it being the perfect tiny house for someone. (There are some people, stripping away everything in their lives, and even living in houses half the size of the flex unit.) I'd want a higher ceiling, if I were considering buying the flex room alone, for a tiny house or cottage.

For a guest, or an older child, I’ve come to think the detached flex room would be a dream, and as readers have voted in my poll, perhaps the single best feature of the i-house.

The flex unit needs to have an operable window in the back, for cross ventilation. At present, only fixed windows are at the back. I’m sure they can do that.

The interior doors throughout are low-grade, but adequate, hollow-core, wood painted gray, same as many door frames. There’s an advantage to light weight interior doors. If you bump into them, they move easily, and you don’t get hurt. They are also easier to open and close.

From the videos, I thought they might be metal. I think a lighter color door, instead of dark gray, would look better in the hall especially, where they are all lined up. Beige, or a lighter tone of gray perhaps. I forgot to ask if that is an option. That is a minor thing. If I were buying, I’d just repaint them myself if they couldn't.

Ultimately, I think there is only one way for the i-house to catch on huge. That is, if the people who live in them, or have them as vacation homes, love them, and find they function perfectly for living.

I’ll try to get my video up by the end of next week. I was able to take video of the entire house, inside and out. With the photos, I concentrated on the outside of the house, because the official site doesn't feature the unflattering angles.

I finished the afternoon by looking at the newer Karsten models, ones I hadn't seen before on the model lot the last time I was there a year ago. The model that stood out was an inexpensive single-wide, energy-star rated, that had R-50 insulation in the ceiling, and 2 x 6" construction. It was 1185 sq. ft., 3 bedroom, 2 bath and only $52,550 with a few upgrades. Very plain on the outside, but interior is worth checking out. A home like this might be an option for people who want to go full solar on their roof, have good space, a sturdy home, and keep their budget well below $100,000 total. Or, people who have a limited budget, but need a bigger size, and want a super efficient house.

One model had a grand piano in the living room. Never saw that before. I’ll do a separate post on my impressions of some of them, as it relates to my feelings about the i-house. I'm glad manufactured homes have gone modern, modular and green, with the i-house. The next ten years in this move to modern/green in this industry could be very exciting.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Guess how many i-houses have sold so far?

Well, this article in The Denver Post says 36 have been applied for since May.

That sounds pretty good, since they just got a handful of models out a few weeks ago, and I don't think there are many people who would order a house without actually touring one.

The i-house will create more interest when people's orders start arriving on their land, especially in places like California. This should generate another wave of articles. I will link to all that mention any information that is new.

I'm planning my visit to the i-house model in Albuquerque, probably next week.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The ihouse model is stopping traffic in Washington

Not Washington DC, but Everett, Washington, 25 miles north of Seattle. In addition to the one in Knoxville, TN, the three new models should now be in:

Sacramento, CA
Everett, WA
Albuquerque, NM (At the Karsten factory location)

In Washington, according to an article in the county’s online news source, HERE, some drivers just passing by the Clayton i-house model are screeching on their brakes.

Another article about the model in Everett:

Is ihouse a model for modern modular?
by Aubrey Cohen of the

The model in Everett is the 2-bedroom core, with one bedroom flex w/roofdeck. I suspect it is the model they will be using in the other locations as well.

Readers! Please write in to comment on impressions upon seeing the model, in Everett or elsewhere.

I don’t know what dealers will do with the many people who see it from the road, and stop in to see it. I can't see them making people set up appointments, but who knows. Usually, manufactured home dealers are only too glad to let you tour the homes any time during their regular business hours.

When I tour the home in Albuquerque later this week, or early next week, I’ll try to get their policy straightened out on drop-ins vs. appointment only.

The first article mentions that there will be a model home in eight locations. This HAS to be pending initial interest in the home. I can see them having only the one model in New Mexico, for sure, but they’ll have to get one in Phoenix, and more locations in California, Texas, and the South as well.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another short Fox News i-house video

This is an older video, a short tour of the i-house, where a Realtor extols the beauty of moving hard-to-sell pieces of property by putting i-houses on them, or something like that. She loves $green$, and the i-house, and so does Kevin Clayton! (Click on arrow square in lower right for full screen view.)

While I'm posting this video, because I had to delete one of my earlier posts (the one with the poll, which is now in a separate link), I'd like to repeat this reminder about doing the Clayton virtual tour (to be distinguished from the new video) in FULL screen size. The way to do that is, after starting it up, click twice on the screen. Then you have to start it again by RIGHT clicking on the screen, select SHOW TOOLBAR, to get the navigation menu at the bottom. (Move your cursor to the bottom for that to appear.) Then click on the arrow to start the video. Hit the "Esc" key to exit full view. This method does not work on the new video though.

When touring the i-house model...

According to my SURVEY, many of you have never been to a dealer of manufactured homes. When going to see the i-house, I have a few suggestions.

If you are seriously considering a purchase of this home, especially if you have a long distance to travel to see the model, ask many questions of the salespeople at Clayton headquarters by phone, in advance of making your trip. Write down their answers.

It is not that the local dealer will not know enough about the home, but it is a new model, and if you have some more unusual questions, you may as well ask them of the people in Knoxville.

Look at some of the other homes on the lot for comparison, including the least expensive, homes about the same price, and ones that cost more. If the lot where the i-house is displayed has some lower end homes, you will notice the thinner walls, cheaper looking windows and fixtures, seamed paneling instead of drywall, and lower ceiling on single-wide homes.

The tour of the i-house will probably begin with a salesperson. It will allow you to ask questions. Spend some time in the house alone, to get a feel of the space. The salespeople know everyone needs to do this.

If you are nearby, come back on a different day, at a different time, to take a second or third look at the house if you want. It is a big decision and thinking it over and seeing it again can often help you feel more certain.

When viewing a home on a lot, visualize what it would be like on your property, the solar orientation, the views out the windows. This is one thing that makes the experience different from buying a house already on land. The dealer in Albuquerque has several homes set up about 60 feet from the interstate, so people driving by can see them. (The i-house won’t be there until June 15th.) Most dealers locate a lot in a high traffic area where their homes can be seen by passers by.

Having a front porch just feet from a highway would be the ultimate nightmare for me, and it can be distracting having the noise, so take time, relax, and visualize the way the home would be on your property.

Your first instincts are important, when entering a house, but also, this is a modern house and give yourself a few minutes to take in all that is new.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If I were you, would I go for the solar panel option on the i-house?

I dunno. I'm not you! It depends on so many factors. But I'll tell you what I think...

I’m writing this for some of you, who may be ruminating over the value or possible mistake, of buying solar panels for the i-house. This is just my opinion, how I’ve worked things out in my own mind.

Search for other opinions. I didn't pull all my figures out of the blue, but I did fabricate a set of figures for future energy costs in the next thirty years. No one knows what these will be. I tried to take a middle road between two extremes.

Try to find blogs, video and articles from people using the technology. There’s a book, SOLAR POWER YOUR HOME, FOR DUMMIES, that you can find in a library. I had physics course in solar energy in college, but it has been so long, I had to figure what a kWh is, all over again. It is simple when you think of it in terms of solar panels. I'll try to explain it later in this post, if it didn't sink in from watching the videos in my last post.

Purchasing solar panels is not a way to save lots of money. The money spent on solar panels is more likely a break-even situation, unless you use them more than 20 years. Then, some real savings could kick in.

There is another kind of savings though, especially if you are in an area where the power is generated from coal. The burning of coal is polluting. Having solar panels will allow you to burn half as much coal (coal burnt at the local plant), and pollute half as much.

Find your last month’s electricity bill. Where it gives your meter reading for the month, pretend it says 1000 kWh (kilowatt hours) which at .10/kWh would give a bill of about $100 (ignoring the taxes and fees they add on.) So, that is a hundred dollars per month, so $1200 for a year.

This could be an average bill for a family that uses an electric clothes dryer, or electric hot water, or an air conditioner, or an electric space heater during cooler months, or has an electric well pump. (If you are on city or town water, you are not using a well pump.) $100/month electric bills would probably be low, if you live in Phoenix or Florida and use air conditioning, or if you have an all-electric house.

For the average of 1000 kWh/month use, ($100 monthly bill),that translates into burning 800 pounds of coal. Isn’t that incredible? So, at the coal plant they are burning 800 pounds of coal just to power a house for a month.

So, opting for the 2K solar panel, you’d avoid putting the pollutants from 200 pounds of coal burning into the atmosphere for a single month, and 400 pounds, if you opt for two 2K panels. (4k total)

Let’s say your electric bills are only $50/month. With 4K of panels, you would still save burning of 400 lb. of coal (at the power plant) and also save the same amount of money.

Let’s get back to basics.

A 2K panel is a 2000 watt panel. Under fairly sunny conditions, a 2K panel generates an average of 8kWh/day. That is, it generates 1000 watts for 8 hours. One kWh would be 1000 watts for one hour. kWh stand for "kilowatt hour."

You are thinking, how come it generates only 1000 watts, if it is a 2000 watt panel? That is simple. The 1000 watts for 8 hours, is just an average. When the sun is coming up, it may be generating only 200 watts for one hour, and the next hour 300 watts, and during the few hours of the day when the sun is shining brightly on the panel, it could generate near the full 2000 watts for each hour. Cloudy days and rainy days are factored into this average.

Using power during the day is when it is most expensive. That is when your biggest savings can come from using solar panels. The power company charges more for power during the day. You can see this on your bill. There are usually three different rates per kWh, depending on when you are using the power.

And what power you don’t use during the day, is credited to you, back in the grid at the higher daytime rate. I’m speaking about a grid-tie system only, which will be the thing most people get. People off the power grid, of course, opt for an off-grid system with batteries. They are not hooked to the power company at all.

Thanks for the comment below which answers my question about the inverter. Panels convert the sun's energy to DC and need an inverter to convert it to AC. Ready Solar, the panels used in the i-house, if you order them as an option, uses a special built-in inverter with each panel. So the inverter is included in the price.

The Clayton i-house official site blog -- just that portion of their site -- is down for a while. It got bombarded with hundreds of questions on May 7, the day of the AP article. If you didn't get your question answered, they'll probably get to it, or you can call them.

For the sake of simplicity, I am going to use a .10/kWh rate of electricity across the board. This is probably two cents than most of you pay. In places like California, it could be two cents less.

Picture using a 1000 watt microwave oven for one hour. That would cost 10 cents at the rate of .10/kWh.

Here is the scenario I’ve set up. You buy your i-house in January of 2010. You opt for the full 4K of solar panels for $26,800.

Here is the next 30 years of your energy bills, predicated on you using 1000 kWh/month, AND, electricity going up one cent/kWh each year of the next decade. Some might think this is a modest estimate of increase. Others think that electricity, in twenty years could jump to ten times its present rate, to $1/kWh. I am trying to do a reasonable estimate, somewhere in between.

Savings from Solar Panels on Yearly Electric Bills for Three Decades beginning in 2010.

2010 @.10/kWh $600 Saved $600
(without solar, your bill would have been $1200)
2011 @.11/kWh $660 Saved $660
2012 @.12/kWh $720 Saved $720
2013 @.13/kWh $780 Saved $780
2014 @.14/kWh $840 Saved $840
2015 @.15/kWh $900 Etc.
2016 @.16/kWh $960
2017 @.17/kWh $1020
2018 @.18/kWh $1080
2019 @.19/kWh $1140
First decade savings = $8700 (half your bill)
(Without the panels your bill would have been $17,400)

With coal shortages and inflation, energy prices go up in 2020, with a 02.kWh rise every year, instead of just up .01 every year.

2020 @.21/kWh $1260 Saved $1260
2021 @.23/kWh $1380 Etc.
2022 @.25/kWh $1500
2023 @.27/kWh $1620
2024 @.29/kWh $1740
2025 @.31/kWh $1860
2026 @.33/kWh $1980
2027 @.35/kWh $2100
2028 @.37/kWh $2220
2029 @.39/kWh $2340
$18,000 (this decade)
+ $8700 (decade 2010 to 1019) = $26,700 savings
So after 20 years, the $26,800 you paid for 4K of panels is paid for. (A 2K panel would also be paid for after 20 years.)

For the third decade, you get all the electricity from your panels for free.

2030 @.42/kWh $2520
2031 @.45/kWh $2700
2032 @.48/kWh $2880
2033 @.51/kWh $3060
2034 @.54/kWh $3240
2035 @.57/kWh $3420
2036 @.60/kWh $3600
2037 @.63/kWh $3780
2038 @.66/kWh $3960
2039 @.69/kWh $4140

In the third decade you have saved $33,000, free and clear, your solar panels. Of course, $33,000 won’t be worth all it was back in 2010.

But, in the last three decades, you will have avoided burning over 140,000 pounds of coal through the use of your solar panels. Because of solar use, you will have not sent the emissions from the burning of 70 tons of coal into the atmosphere, or created the equivalent in nuclear waste, if you get your power from a nuclear facility.

Also, consider that in ten years, you could very well be driving an electric car, and adding more solar panels, saving substantially over gas prices, AND polluting less.

Do panels have a downside, other than just the initial investment, or a risk that a source of cheap clean power may be discovered in the future, such as nuclear fission-fusion reactors?

They do have a downside. In order to function optimally, they have to be cleaned every once in a while (hose off the dust), and if you are in an area with some snow, the snow has to be swept off them. Plus, instead of having a nice clean roof surface, solar panels are mounted there. They may get leaves or other debris stuck around them, or trap snow and ice.

Something might happen to a panel. A tree might fall on it, or it might get vandalized.

Solar panels degrade, but lose only one quarter of one percent of efficiency each year. Also something I learned from the video. When they heat up too much, they lose 10% efficiency. So, they work better in cool sunny areas, than they do in hot sunny areas. But that shouldn’t be as much of a consideration, compared to how many sunny days you have per year. In New Mexico, it is as sunny as most of California.

Opting for a smaller or more energy efficient house, in itself, is choosing to reduce your impact on the environment.

Here are the two basic reason to buy the solar panels:

1. You would like to use some clean power.
2. You have the money to pay for the solar panels.

If you are paying a mortgage on the i-house, well, opting for the solar panels probably won’t work out, as far as saving money goes. However, they could be seen as a possible wise investment, if you had to sell the house five or ten years down the road. I wouldn’t buy them just for investment purposes though. In ten years, they may come out with a generation of cheaper and more efficient (convert more of the sun’s energy to power) solar panels.

People get a deep satisfaction from using solar panels. The satisfaction is in not polluting, in using clean energy.

I don’t have solar panels. I wish I had money to buy them. I wish I had bought them when I did have money, instead of investing it in stocks that failed. There is so much sun here. It would be great to use it to power things in my little house.

Panels contain an amount of embodied pollution, in their manufacture. In other words, it is polluting to dig for the raw materials used, and use energy to make them in a factory. However, that is made up for very quickly in their use.

A wood stove can economical for heating, especially if you live on wooded property or in a wooded area. However, wood is very polluting. At least wood stoves have become more efficient in recent years, and are not as polluting as they used to be. Wood stoves with a catalytic unit don’t pollute, but the catalytic part has to be changed every few years. It is expensive. It is a good option, in terms of the environment, if you can afford it, and have plentiful wood to burn without having to cut trees down.

Are there other alternative energy alternatives? Sure. There’s wind, if you live in a windy area. And many power companies offer an option to purchase solar power through them. Your money goes toward building their giant windmills or solar facilities. It is a few pennies more per kWh.

Here’s my favorite from a company right here in Santa Fe. It is a hybrid solar/windmill. Click on the link, and watch the video.

Bluenergy Solarwind Turbine

It is not commercially available yet. So, when the sun isn’t out, it works as a windmill, and during the day when the sun is shining it can work as both, or it spins just from the solar cells. No wind or no sun, it would need battery backup or grid. They expect it to retail at around $20,000 I guess.

It might be one of those things that makes someone want to wait for a few years, to see if it might not be THE NEXT BIG THING.


Passive solar, can be important in cutting heating bills. You can save a lot in heating bills during the winter by siting the i-house, so the side with all the windows is facing south. With the big window/door units on each end, it would also allow some latitude in that.

Some people might feel the I-house doesn’t have enough windows. As good as Andersen windows are, in terms of quality and energy efficiency, they are nothing like having wall, especially on the north side of the house. So, I think the i-house people did the windows just about right. Plus, they have a few optional windows you can add, if you want.

I don’t like houses with too many windows. The light can be blinding inside. It is impossible to get away from light reflection on a computer screen or TV, if there are lots of windows on three or more sides of a room. Then again, the sun is very intense where I live. During a day of temperature in the 20's, I can turn off the heat in the middle of the winter, and my house warms up from the sun coming in three windows on the south side. I have no windows on the north side. Zero. Not even little ones, like the i-house.

Lastly, back to solar panels. A factor you may consider is that presently there aren't any government rebates to help pay for such things. In Australia, they had a program for a while, offering large rebates.

You can always add solar panels to your i-house later, since Obama might institute some kind of rebate or tax incentive on their purchase, within the next few years.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Active solar, how it works in the Clayton i-house, or any house

For those of you unfamiliar with solar energy. There are two primary types associated with houses; passive and active. This post is on solar panels, an active system, since they come as an option on the i-house.

Solar energy is in a special category of "renewable energy," since using it, doesn't take away from the source. Think of solar panels as an investment in energy, as well as a way to assume environmental responsibility.

The first two videos are very short, the second two long. The longer ones might be interesting, even if you have no plans to buy the i-house, and just want to learn all about how different home solar systems are set up.

Watch the second two in full screen, or you won’t be able to see what they are posting on an overhead projector. So, after starting the video, click on the box-in-a-box icon, one of the icons in the lower right hand corner. (Press the Esc key on your computer to exit full screen mode when you are done.)

I chose these among several I watched. Too many videos are aimed at hawking a specific product.

I like the first video especially, because you can watch it once or twice, and really understand the simple principle of how a solar panel converts the sun’s photons into electricity.

How Solar Energy Panels Work (Very Short, simple, understandable explanation of very basic way a solar panel works.)

Solar 101 (Short, more basics, includes more about systems)

My own Solar System (One hour, beginning is terrible, but gets better . A Google executive lectures about his own home system.)

Learn about Solar Energy (One hour, similar to above but makes some things clear)

Just a reminder that my old blog posts, including the one before this one which has a nice video, can be accessed at the right, under BLOG ARCHIVE.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More video of the i-house, and how modulars are made

More video of the i-house CLICK HERE, "Understanding Modular Homes." It features the i-house in the beginning.

Start the video by pressing on the center arrow. After it starts, make it full screen by clicking on the double arrow symbol in the lower right hand corner.

This is a 37 minute video, from the Nachi home inspection website, a link sent to me by a kind reader. Thank you!

After the introduction of credits, the great thing for me was seeing the outside of the i-house in natural lighting for the first time. The two tone on the outside of the core house didn't look right in indoor lighting. Outdoors, it looks perfect.

It starts off with big Dave, Marketing Director of Clayton, in a Core 1 (1 bedroom unit), talking about various aspects of the i-house. I learned a few things from this video and liked it so much I would have liked more of a tour.

I wanted the Nachi guy to say "Dave, show me the bathroom." After they leave the kitchen, they focus on the structural and mechanical aspects, since, after all, the interviewer is an inspection guy.

Still, you can see some nice things. The quality of the kitchen, the counter tops, the faucet, the back splash all look good up close.

Dave, who speaks very well, and looks like a Nick Nolte type from central casting, does a good job, but he's so tall, perhaps he dwarfs the impressive height of the i-house living room a little. The interviewer is more Danny DeVito size.

Stop the video at the opening, if you want to look at the pier foundation of the i-house, by pressing the space bar on your keyboard. The home has no skirting on the core unit so you can see how it is set up. Start the video again pressing the space bar again, or the button in the left lower of the video.

I like the plane landing at the airport across the street while they are on the roof deck.

The interviewer asks a good question about snow load, and the butterfly roof. Dave says they are eventually planning on a different roof style for areas with lots of snow. I'm just guessing, but if you are in an area that gets more than 4 feet of snow on the roof (we got nearly three, once here) then this gradually sloped butterfly roof isn't for your area. Thanks to the Nachi guy for asking that question.

Dave opens up a closet to show the point-of-use hot water unit and the first thing I notice, it is a Rinnai. Hmmm, website says they are using Rheem. Well, no matter, both are top brands.

Dave mentions that bamboo is green because it is sustainable and can be recycled. Of course, the unique thing about bamboo, which makes it "sustainable," is that it grows very fast, unlike oak, cherry, etc.

After about 9 minutes, the rest of the video is a factory tour with the Clayton production guy, who describes all the processes. Let me remind the viewer that the homes shown in production aren't all i-houses. The last one is one of Clayton's modular models that is sold under the Norris name.

The i-house has 2" x 6" exterior walls and R-21 insulation. It is a good tour though and describes the extra gluing that manufactured homes go through, which indeed gives them greater structural integrity than stick-built. Instead of just nailing or screwing, I-houses get nailing or screwing AND gluing. Stops things from coming loose in transport.

For a few of you who may be confused when he says OSB. That is oriented strand board. It's an engineered structural board that replaced plywood or fiberboard, in nearly all construction over twenty-five years ago.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Marketing the Clayton i-house

Yesterday, my free blog taught Clayton Homes, the billion dollar industry giant, a lesson.

Promotion-wise, Clayton did the important thing just right though. They introduced their revolutionary i-house, the first affordable green manufactured home by a major manufacturer, at the Berkshire-Hathaway (owned by Warren Buffet) shareholder’s conference last week. A conference that had huge media coverage. There, the i-house caught the attention of Fox News and CNBC, which led to an article by the Associated Press.

The AP article was picked up by dozens -- soon to be hundreds -- of newspapers, including the article topping yesterday’s Yahoo News’ “most emailed” list.

So what did I do, a mere blogger, to teach them a lesson?

Well, when the AP article about the I-house was being viewed by thousands of people, maybe hundreds of thousands, Clayton’s website for the i-house got overwhelmed and many people couldn’t connect to it. They searched in Google or elsewhere for Clayton i-house and my blog site is at the top of the search list. I’m not sure how long it’ll be there, but who knows.

Let me give you their official i-house website site here, as today you shouldn’t have a problem connecting:

Back to my story. Clayton didn’t make any real mistake. People who had their interest piqued by the AP article -- especially those who consider buying such a home -- are going to be more interested than ever.

Of course, Clayton, could have taken some of the sting out of people not being able to reach their website, by hosting their Virtual i-house Tour on a few different servers, so people could have at least seen what the house was about, in this culture of RIGHT NOW.

After all, I predicted months ago, that the i-house could be the Prius of homes. Because of the name, “i-house,” the media is fixated on comparing it to the ipod. I’m sure that’ll work too, for publicity purposes especially. "I-house" sticks in people's minds better than calling it a Claytongreen or a Claytonius.

But, let’s face it, the i-house is more comparable to Toyota's introducing the Prius, than things done by Apple. People’s reaction to it is similar to what was said about the Prius.

People say things like:

“It’s a waste of money.”
“Wake up! It’s a trailer!”
“I saw the house and I absolutely love it!”
“It will never sell.”
"This looks good and seems to be too good to be true for the price."
"You'd have to be crazy to pay $ for son could make the same thing for $15,000." (Okay, I just made that one up but there are comments in a similar vein.)
“I’ve been waiting for something exactly like this!”

I'm feeling the same as the last comment. And I felt the same about the Prius too. The Prius had millions of people who didn't think it would ever sell. Even the GM guys smirked, maybe a little uneasily though. Other people were open to the idea, read about it, and found that the people who bought them, loved them. It lead to a whole new shift toward hybrid technology.

Can Clayton do the same, with the i-house, making an affordable, well-built green manufactured home catch on with the public? A home manufacturer doesn’t have the advantage of people seeing homes all over the place, as people see cars on the road, but there’s another way… It's my big idea, and if you can suffer through some other rambling, I'll get to it. Or, just skip to the end.

Clayton, like Toyota, has come a long way just by introducing the i-house. Already, there’s a whole new wave of interest, by many people who have never considered buying a manufactured home. That is, people wanting to make a big change in their life. Live in something that is energy efficient. Get some power from the sun. It appeals to frugal people. It appeals to environmentally conscious people. And it appeals to people wanting quality and style, for the money.

Wealthy people, who are most able to afford an efficient, green home with solar panels, have not taken the lead in green home buying, at all. About five years ago, when Toll Bros., the largest builder of McMansions, offered an upgrade to higher wall and roof insulation, less than two percent of buyers opted for it. What do they care about heating bills, right? Other people can't be impressed by insulation, like they can with granite counter tops (they do add value), or a dome on an eighteen foot foyer.

Things are changing gradually, whether it is people being proud that their Prius looks different, so people can see they are environmentally responsible, or Jay Leno talking about his wind turbine. The green revolution is going to take place among more average people, just as it started with the counter culture. With Obama, green is going mainstream, and fast.

Clayton did a smart marketing thing in separating the i-house website from their main Clayton Homes website. As the largest manufacturer of homes in the country, Clayton offers a lot of models, which can be confusing, and for me anyway, their main website is awful. The website for the i-house works better, looks better, and needed to be on its own.

Clayton isn’t alone in being a manufactured homes company that has a bad main website. Nearly all manufactured home companies do. For years, two of my favorite brands, Karsten (now owned by Clayton) and Solitaire (plain, kinda boxy outside, well made, inexpensive), didn’t even feature a single photograph of most of their homes. What did they have instead? Architectural drawings, and for some models, no drawing at all, just a floor plan.

To begin with, the manufactured home industry, and their dealers, were late in coming to the web. To this day, most smaller dealers of manufactured homes do not have websites that list inventory or salesperson contact numbers.

Alvin Toffler wrote a prescient book called FUTURE SHOCK (1971). He theorized that computer technology would create a third wave in changes in society. The first wave was agriculture, and the second wave, industrialization.

Toffler conjectured that the third wave caused by computers would throw society into the future at a speed never experienced before. The advancement of technology, the way people do things, such as learn, communicate, do business, would be turned on its head.

Consider the change that have taken place in the last two decades. Children and young adults who grow up in the computer age often have more facility with computers than their parents. Many jobs rely on ability and understanding of computers.

Along with Toffler, I had a similar sense of the importance of computers when I was 17 and went to college back in 1971. As a music major, I hated punch cards, and late nights spent in the keypunch room trying to type up a program. I struggled through a few courses, and many more later on, to learn what it was about. It wasn’t until I got one of the first home computers, that it became exciting. The web was was the best of all, since I've always loved information and learning, just not school so much, not enough to finish graduate school anyway.

Before the computer wave, parents with the same educational level as their children, were more skilled by virtue of life and work experience. That isn’t always true now, and this is the first time in history something like this has happened.

Computers have changed marketing too, with each advancement in computer speed, memory, and software. Things like the EBAY, Amazon, Craig’s List, YOUTUBE. They are changing society, the way we learn, work, buy, not to mention entertain ourselves.

Invariably, the blinding speed at which things change leaves old school marketing in the dust. Instead of being on top of the curve, or ahead of the curve, large companies lag behind these changes like just-tranquilized elephants.

How many self-made multi-millionaires were there fifty years ago, kids fresh out of college, or in the case of Bill Gates, dropping out of college, to be titans of industry? In the old days, unless you were handed family money, it was rare to make a big success until age forty or fifty.

Companies like Clayton tend to cling to what they are used to. When given the opportunity to display all kinds of detailed information on the web, at first they tried to make their websites like brochures, but on the web. Glossy and enticing.

I have no background in business, no MBA from the Wharton School or years experience running a business. But, I know what I want as a consumer in the way of information from a company when considering purchase of their products. Whether it is a new laptop, or a manufactured home, I know the kind of information I want before I buy, or in the case of a home, travel fifty miles to go see. And I don’t think what I want is that much different from what other people want.

I like a website that is easy to use, and there can never be enough photos of a home via a link. I also want video tours of homes. If it is a home that is new, an exciting concept like the i-house, I would like to see a complete video tour of the house, and a house that is set up in a real natural setting.

Why is that important?

At a dealer, the homes are jammed together on a lot, or right on a highway. It isn’t the best setting to see a home. But, come on, in a video, wouldn’t it be nice to see an i-house, not inside a building?

To be honest, I was seriously considering buying a manufactured home about five years ago, and then my stocks dropped, and I pulled out. Before that, I’ve had a long interest in them though. I’ve been reading about them for years, long before the internet.

So, what is my cutting edge idea for marketing the i-house?

Have one set up on a nice property, with an articulate greenneck like myself in residence, to blog life in the home every day. Maybe some live cam hours of everyday life in the i-house, or hours where people could be taken on personalized interactive video tours using a remote cam.

Of course, I would like to do this. But, the point is, even if I weren’t selected, I would like to see someone else do this.

How many of you out here would like that? How would you like to be able to ask questions, interactively, to a person who is living in the i-house, or read about their daily or weekly i-house related experiences on a blog?

Any people who want to contact me, aside from leaving comments on the blog which are always welcome:


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another article, and some thoughts about the i-house video by Fox News

Of the handful of i-house stories last week, this one from The Washington Post via Associated Press, is the most noteworthy:

Clayton i-house is giant leap from trailer park
(Click on colored text for link to article.)

(My own photo)

They mention that the i-house weighs 52,000 pounds, the heaviest house Clayton has ever produced. I assume the weight comes from the thicker walls, heavier insulation (R30 in floor and ceiling, R21 in walls), and heftier windows, doors and even heavier gauge roof.

In the article, Kevin Clayton mentions that he thinks the i-house could quickly grow to be ten percent of their sales.

Also mentioned is that the i-house’s V-shaped roof was inspired by a gas station awning! Many great homes were inspired by gas station architecture, or not.

I like the video tour of the i-house from the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’s meeting in Omaha (blog post below). The short tour is packed with details, a few I’d like to mention.

For people who may not know, Warren Buffet bought Clayton Homes in 2003 for 1.7 billion dollars.

Read about Buffet here in wiki if you want.

And Clayton Homes wiki here.

Here’s Kevin Clayton in a long (40 minutes) interview, if you would like to hear more from the CEO of Clayton. He comes off as a chipper, down-to-earth person, especially for a CEO, perhaps because he didn’t have to claw his way to the top of the business world.

The 35,000 shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway showed up at the conference to hear Warren Buffet speak and on display were a sampling of products of the companies he owns.

During the tour of the i-house, Liz-the-Fox-Business-News commentator likes the i-house and is aghast at the low price. She says, “By New York standards, this is amazing.”

I’ll explain what she means by that. New York apartments are small and expensive. It is common to find couples earning over $200,000/year living in an 1000 sq. ft. apartment, and unless they had it renovated recently, chances are it wouldn’t look nearly as good as the i-house.

Manhattanites, given their small spaces, put a lot of effort into making the space look stylish, and the i-house interior definitely has the look. That is, simple and beautiful, and unique with the clerestory windows and sloping ceiling. An upscale New Yorker might spend over $100 sq. foot just renovating their co-op apartment.

Considering the i-house is inside a huge building in this video, and had several people standing around in it, along with the shaky Blair Witch camera work, Kevin and Liz look like they are standing in a nice modern apartment, or house.

Near the end, Liz the commentator is enthusiastic about wanting to see the solar panels on the roof, and she seems relieved they are installed. Perhaps the presence of Warren Buffet in the building might activate them. Too bad they couldn’t take people up on the roof deck of the flex room to see them. They were probably afraid of a contingent from the crowd of 35,000 stampeding the roof, causing it to collapse.

I can see the headline:

“Three die and 42 injured… trailer roof collapses at Berkshire Hathaway conference… Fortunately, no BRK-A holders were involved.”

BRK-A stock holders own stock that is $95,000/ share. They are VIPs and get an extra scoop at the Dairy Queen, also owned by Berkshire Hathaway.

In his informative patter with Liz, Kevin mentions something about butterfly roof rainwater catchment being “greywater.” Actually, it isn’t. Greywater is water that is reused, from sink to toilet, or shower to toilet, or sink and shower to tank for watering plants or grass outdoors.

But, I’m being picky. The water catchment roof is great for arid areas like NV, NM, CA, and AZ.
Traffic to my blog site here has taken a leap. It is the way Google works. Search engines prioritize according to number of links on other pages, not number of "hits" as they did in the old days. So, my blog comes up at the top of the hierarchy of pages when searching for Clayton i-house.

I'll remind readers I'm just a guy, very interested in following the development of the i-house. In a few weeks, I'll be seeing one here in nearby Albuquerque, taking lots of photos, including close-ups, and of course giving you my honest critical opinion. Power to the people, right?

The place to take virtual tours, get i-house pricing and ask questions to the sales people is the official Clayton i-house website:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Video tour of Clayton i-house w/Kevin Clayton

Take a VIDEO TOUR of the i-house below from a Fox News interview with Kevin Clayton, at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's meeting in Omaha.

After clicking on the arrow in the center of the screen to start the video, in the lower right corner of the video click the icon, 2nd from the right, to get a full screen. Then, if you want to see the video in high quality, click on the "HQ" in the lower right.

Also, there's a beautiful 360 degree tour of this larger of the core units on the Clayton i-house website in my post below.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Clayton announces i-house pricing and floor plans

Today, May 2, 2009, is a big day for the i-house. They begin their national roll-out. Clayton has the various floor plans and configurations/pricing for the i-house at their website above.

1. Go to Clayton's website (link above), and sign up for a login, if you don't have one. Then click on the "My i-house" tab to get to the configuration page. If you aren't interested in the details of pricing on various options, there are other ways to explore the house without logging in.

2. After clicking on the "My i-house" tab at the top, you are prompted for a zip code. It checks for availability in your area, and is also used to calculate shipping charges to your area. If you are in the U.S., and it isn't available in your area, you will get a message to call, to see when it will be available. They are doing a gradual roll-out, so it is quite possible that it will be a few months before you can get one, if you live in Maine or upstate NY and elsewhere.

However, if you just want to see the floor plans and prices, just enter a zip code where it is available. Shipping here to Santa Fe is only $500. If you are just curious about the plans and pricing, and don't want to call them yet, and it isn't available in your zipcode, hit the back button, and try using Clayton's zip code, 37803.

3. Select the base unit. It comes in a one bedroom model, or a two bedroom model. The base price for the least expensive one bedroom model (723 sq. ft) -- no flex room -- is $74,900.

The separate flex room costs about $27,000 extra, although more if you buy a porch (deck), depending on the size of the porch.

4. Next, you select the layout options in the upper right corner of your screen. (Press arrow key below the three displayed for more.) There are many to choose from depending on what kind of flex room you want -- if any -- and also how it is oriented, and the size of porch between. For example, there is a two bedroom flex room, so with the one bedroom base unit, you could have a three bedroom house. With the two bedroom base unit, a four bedroom house.

5. Finally, you are prompted to select the optional features.

You can start by looking at the standard features, with the list of options on the right. The standard featured floor is laminate. Bamboo is a $2100 upgrade on the one bedroom base unit. 2kw of solar roof panels is priced at $13,400. The roof deck for the flex room, is $6000 extra.

I suspected that the bamboo flooring was going to be an upgrade, but it surprised me that the tankless water heater is an $890 upgrade. I'm just giving you an idea of some of the pricing, most of which I think is reasonable. For example, I looked at an 800 sq. ft house once where an upgrade to laminate flooring was $1700. And that was a few years ago. The i-house has laminate standard, and the bamboo seems well-priced as an upgrade.

Consider that you could buy the smallest base model, one bedroom, loaded with all the extras including solar panels, for under $100,000, whereas a similar size house from some makers of energy efficient manufactured models, such as Michelle Kaufmann, could cost $230,000.

So, with none of the upgrade extras, you can go from a 723 sq. ft. one bath, one bedroom base model, from about $75,000, to a 1643 sq. ft. 2 bath, 4 bedroom configuration, with every available option, including two sets of solar panels, for about $185,000.

Lastly, there is no specific option in the configuration, if you are considering a flex room only, as an addition to your existing home, or a guest house. However, you can call Clayton, as they have said it is possible. Also, they've said it would cost more than the price of the flex room when bought with a base unit.

Don't quote me on any of these prices and options. Just check them out for yourself and discuss it with the Clayton sales people.

Keep in mind, my blog is the place you can make ANY comment you wish. I'm especially interested in what people like and don't like about the i-house, their REAL feelings and honest opinions. I'm interested in all aspects of the i-house: social, aesthetic, function, green, architectural, and commercial.

Although I expect to tour and photograph it soon, when a model of the i-house comes to Albuquerque later this month, I still invite people to leave detailed comments here, of their impressions on touring it. You can leave comments here in total anonymity, without having to sign up or anything.

Thank you,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Clayton's i-house website

Clayton now has a website for the i-house:

For a while, considering how Clayton’s stock was doing, I wondered if they were going forward with production of the i-house, and it looks like they are. I hope it is a great success and leads to a transformation in the manufactured home industry. Of course, I'll try to follow it here, as usual, every step of the way.

“The i-house models, floor plans, and pricing will be released at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's meeting on May 9th, 2009." (As left in a message to this site.)

If you sign up Clayton's ihouse website (link above), you can choose to have notification of recent answers to questions being asked on their blog comment section come to your e-mail. This is the upshot of the latest, and informative about the sizes and modules that will be offered:

"We will be building the i-house in Sacramento (one of four locations where the i-house will be built) to the modular code. "

The 1 bedroom i-house core is 16'x 48'
The 2 bedroom i-house core is 16' x 66'
The flex rooms will come in 3 models:
1 bedroom suite, 16' x 17'
2 bedroom pod, 16' x 40'
a great room pod, 16' x 40'

"We will be showing the 2 bedroom i-house core and 1 bedroom suite pod at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meeting."

Be sure to click on the BLOG link at the Clayton i-house website, or click here to read AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ARCHITECTS. That's where the comment section. You can read Q&As or ask questions yourself.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 2009 articles about the Clayton i-house

Recyclers see i-house plan by Clint Confehr for the Marshall Country Tribune

This article is about the i-house being introduced to county officials of Lewisburg and Marshall counties (Tennessee), in what I assume will be a county-by-county battle for Clayton to have bans lifted on single-wide mobile homes, or at least the i-house. Clayton probably has to do this, in order to market the i-house to a wider audience and it will be interesting to see how this goes, before its introduction in May.

I don't know a whole lot about the vicissitudes of zoning regulations, in relation to manufactured homes, but Clayton must have some rationale in taking this risk and designing the i-house as a single section home in the first place. (For one thing, for people who buy the main section of the home only, only one truck would be needed for transport, which saves in energy, labor and transportation costs.)

Although no mention of it is made in the article, with the new green direction of the present administration, perhaps counties will start making certain allowances for manufactured homes, like the i-house, that meet a higher standard of sustainability. As much work as it will take for Clayton, news about the debate in county governments will generate local buzz about the i-house.

Friday, January 16, 2009

January 2009 articles about the iHouse:

Clayton Homes modern green i-House from Jetson Green by Preston Koerner

Two articles/discussion threads about the iHouse, from Treehugger:

Trade in 250 iPods, get yourself a 1,000 sq. ft. iHouse? by Brian Merchant of Brooklyn.

Thoughts on Clayton's iHouse by Lloyd Alter of Toronto, a former worker in prefab design.

After reading the latter article, might be a good time to remind people that the Brits and Canadians use the term "Park Model" to mean any manufactured home that will be placed in a park. Here in the U.S. "park model" is a specific term used to refer to a home of 400 sq. ft. or less that has a special classification as an RV, and can can be placed in an RV park, a special park for "park models," or on private land if zoning allows a person to live in an RV. While zoning allows doublewide manufactured homes in many areas, most of the areas zoned for manufactured homes will not allow "park model" RVs.

Clayton's I-House: Prefab Green Homes Get Affordable from Popular Mechanics, by Glenn Reynolds

This Popular Mechanics article presents some new information; that the house will be offered as a basic unit, with an option of rooms that can be added on -- like the "flex" room -- and can even be configured to go on a hillside with the extra rooms on different levels. I also like the photo of the kitchen/living room, with this article, as it looks very natural, with sunlight coming in. Also mentioned is the innovative marketing Clayton will do, through Ikea.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Take a virtual tour of the Clayton iHouse

Click HERE FOR A VIRTUAL TOUR, of the iHouse, from Clayton media.

As far as these 360 degree home tours go, they don't get much better. This is very nice. In its pan, the camera "fisheyes" here and there, making a doorway look twice as wide as it is, but at least it quickly reverts to a view of what is real. Considering there are many manufactured home models, which are in production, for which there are NO photographs, this shows Clayton is taking their new green home seriously and are proud of it.