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:


  1. So...I decided after careful examination of this new-fangled i-house that I like it a whole bunch! I could definitely see myself in an echo-friendly home with my family. However, I live in the south...terror of all terrors...what about tornadoes and hurricanes? Will the construction stand up to high winds?

  2. Still looks like a "house trailer" to me! If the construction isn't any better than what i have seen in mobile homes in the past...adding a few solar panels isn't going to change anything...just lower the electric bill. I think they MAY be on to something as the days of McMansions for most people are OVER but don't think they are there yet!!! It's about QUALITY and something that will LAST...not walls that look like they are contructed of toothpicks!


    About trailer parks being a magnet for tornadoes... Reality is, of course, trailer parks just tend to be densely packed, so the devastation is terrible when they are hit.

    But you didn't ask that. And I hear you about the high winds and hurricane issue. Being heavy in general and having a heavy gauge roof is going to help the i-house as far as roof rattling wind noise, or something that you'd get on an older and cheaper built home, but you should ask your question at the Clayton i-house website.

    I found this PDF brochure (link at top) about tie-downs for hurricane and tornado-prone areas. When a modern (anything built after 1994) manufactured home is properly secured, I don't think there is appreciable structural damage difference from manufactured and stick built. And Clayton can probably tell you, the i-house is at or near the top of high structural integrity, of any of their homes.

    One valid concern might be the overhang on the ends, but they have some heavy duty looking bracing. It isn't going to be like a full size patio roof that could just take flight in a high wind.

  4. It's actually pretty cool. It still begs the question: Do we call i-house residents "Greennecks"?

  5. Greennecks! That's perfect. Used it in my post this morning.


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