Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A challenger to the i-house, Palm Harbor Homes eco-cottages

Model at top is "The Osprey" which will be at the Int. Builder's show in Las Vegas, Jan 19-22.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

It was only a matter of time, before another major manufacturer introduced green manufactured homes, and now Nationwide Custom Homes, a subsidiary of Palm Harbor Homes -- a major builder of manufactured homes -- is introducing their new line of “eco-cottages.”

I'm going to be editing this post, adding interior photos as they become available and including more accurate information as more is known about these eco-cottages. Rather than a challenger to the i-house, now that the specs are in, they are shaping up to be more of a tinier alternative.

Go HERE to see their website. It shows three or four models with variations of roof style and configuration. For example, two can be put together. The Osprey is modern but others are more traditional cottage style. All of them are as cute as they get.

Update: I just read a blog from a person who attended the show, and the 523 sq. ft. Osprey will have a price of $60,000. The show model was tricked out with Gaggenau (Click HERE to see PDF of what that entails) kitchen appliances, and other options that do not come with that price.

Download floorplans, photos, and specs from this page.

Although my blog is dedicated to the i-house, I want to introduce the major reasonably-priced green homes as they come along, since the i-house is not available everywhere and also some people may be looking for something smaller or different.

One of the several models, the one bedroom 523 sq. ft. “Osprey” will be shown to the public for the first time at the International Builder’s show in Las Vegas, NV on January 19-22, 2010.

HERE's a short slide show of some bad photos of the Osprey and other modular homes at the show.

Here's a link to some much nicer photos of the Osprey from the Charles & Hudson Green Building blog. The bathroom! What a jewel.

HERE is a large photo set of the Osprey and other homes Nationwide had at the builders' show in Vegas. (Click on full screen icon to see larger photos.)

Dig those ceiling fans in the living room. They remind me of atomic bombs or the propellers used on the Hindenburg. Oh the humanity!

How to you feel about the bottom of the V running the length of the house as reflected in the ceiling line? I'm not sure, although it is cool, the way the kitchen changes to just a shed slant. That's a nice design element.

All these photos but no good shots of the bedroom or the bathroom. I like the bamboo covered wall behind the TV. This little house has some nice things going for it! It might make the one bedroom i-house seem spacious in comparison though. The wall space in the Osprey is better suited to the philatelist than the collector of fine art.

HERE is an extensive photo set from Nationwide Custom Homes, showing the Osprey being made. Note the SIS (Structural Insulated Sheathing) foam paneling they are using to tighten the building envelope.

The show model features a standing-seam metal roof with integrated thin film solar ($7500 upgrade from roof without solar), and other green features similar to the i-house…bamboo floors…point-of-use hot water, Andersen windows, but also with some cork, no-duct heating, and LED lighting.

One aspect of the Osprey -- and the other models as well -- that goes beyond a regular park model RV cottage and is comparable to the i-house is the insulation. It has R20 walls, R19 floors, and R38 roof. (Some sites list the show model as having higher insulation.) Another nice feature; the decks are included and integrated into the structure. (The extra decking for the show is not part of it, just the front and back decks.)

Nearly all park models -- but not all -- come with only R11 insulation in the walls. There are a few small builders, that use SIPS. With SIPS, you can get more insulation per inch. For example, this prefab from Solargon of Colorado.

The styling on these eco-cottages is very cottage-like, with wide eaves, porches, wrap-around decks and other things that don’t usually come on most manufactured homes.

They are meant for vacation homes, retirement residences, or backyard "granny" or guest cottages. It is disappointing they haven't used either SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panels) for walls or 2 x 6" studs in the exterior walls instead of 2 x 4". However, at least they developed a hybrid (foam/batt) to get more insulation than most homes built this way.

Eco-cottages are built on piers or a foundation [probably] and not be moved around, although if you have a lot that is in an RV park, they can build one to conform to the codes for that.

The company is based in Virginia, with facilities in Georgia and Alabama, but distribution will probably be nationwide. Pricing is not yet available but their website says all the homes will be between $25,000 and $90,000.

The International Builders' Show, where the Osprey is now making its debut, is featuring four smaller, greener modular homes than usual but the theme that is stealing the press of the show, is the downturn of the economy. This year, for the first time in the decades the show has been going, they do not have a multi-million dollar dream home to showcase all the latest innovations and products. The builder for this year's 3.5 million dollar home lost financing, so it wasn't finished in time and they sold what there was of it for $500,000.

Instead, they are replacing it with Marianne Cusato's VIRTUAL $95/sq. ft. home, but they didn't build it. Even though she isn't interested in building modern designs (which is unfortunate, because I would like to see what she would design), Cusato is one of my favorite architects. Here's a question and answer I found interesting. And HERE is a list of articles where Cusato is mentioned.