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.


  1. I also hate how the ehome doesn't use drywall except as a higher-priced option. It's unfortunate, because nothing screams cheap-ass trailer park more than that tape and texture stuff. And a house that looks that good from the outside (there's an ehome at Clayton Homes on Clinton Highway in Knoxville, TN) shouldn't be chintzy.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Good to let Clayton know I'm not the only one who thinks that way about the seamed paneling.

    By the way, it is easy to get these terms mixed up. "Tape and texture" -- I didn't know what this meant for years -- is drywall, not seamed paneling. "Tape" refers to the paper tape or synthetic mesh that is placed on the joint between two pieces of drywall, and "texture" refers to a skim surface coating, usually "orange peel" texture, that goes on the drywall.

    The problem with the seamed paneling, besides the look, is that after a decade or so, it starts warping or gaping at the seams, and it isn't as airtight as drywall. Drywall can crack but it is easy to repair and it adds to the structural integrity of the wall.

    The paneling might have some advantages, in very moist climates, but I'm not sure. Certain kinds of paneling may also be less toxic than drywall. Drywall has a few months off-gassing period.

    But as you know, homes have drywall, and lots of cheaper trailers have the seamed paneling. Although the paneling on the ehome looks like they went out of their way to pick something a little less tacky looking. It is the seams that don't look good.

    I've yet to see an ehome but want to next time I'm in Albuquerque.

  3. If you want to get a huge house with a pleasant yard for a respectable price you can still find Dallas homes to fit your bill with the help of Dallas realtors. They will help you in find such homes in Dallas and also assist you in all the financial and paperwork. Since you probably wouldn't be able to find that in many the city.

  4. Any new idea o invention takes time to pick up and this one is no exception.But the real estate market is still very much about see look and feel and this will take pretty long to catch up.

  5. You had mentioned in your article that the ehome is built with only 2x4 walls. I was told recently by a clayton dealership rep in ohio that the ehome is built with 2x6 exterior walls. It's odd but their website does not show these specs on the ehome. Now, I don't know who's correct, but maybe you better check your facts.

  6. Thank you. Thanks to your post questioning that the sidewall construction on the ehome, I called Clayton and got the story on the insulation and sidewall construction of the ehome. (The ehome is Clayton's new inexpensive single-wide home with some green features, not to be confused with the ihouse.)

    The Clayton rep said that the ehome is constructed to 2x6" sidewall and higher insulation ONLY in places where it is required, such as Northern California and Oregon.

    More importantly, in areas where the base code is the 2x4" sidewalls (and R11, 11, 21 insulation), such as New Mexico, it can be UPGRADED to 2 x 6" which is something I recommend for anyone getting this house. So, if the code isn't 2 x 6" and higher insulation in your area, upgrade to both.

    I will do a new post on this, now that it is cleared up.


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