Saturday, July 24, 2010

Finding manufactured homes in your state, with Google Images search

Just a few days ago, Google, Images underwent some good improvements. To get there, go to the regular google page and click on "Images" in the upper left corner.

I use the “Images” “News” and “Videos” search tabs of Google to look at manufactured homes, and lots of other things too. For videos, it's better than the YOUTUBE search, since that limits you to YOUTUBE videos only.

Using the Google Image search allows you to see the product up front, and perhaps discover a smaller, high quality company, because the hierarchy in the regular Google web search is dominated by industry giants like Clayton.

So, once in the Google, Images search, I did the following search:

Manufactured Homes Colorado

The very first picture shows a cute home with some wood beams in the ceiling.
By clicking on the image it takes you to a page where you can just click in the upper right on “Website for this Image” and be taken to the page of the company, which in this case is Colorado Factory Modulars.

The specs on their homes look top of-the-line, and reasonably priced too, so this company is one to check out if you are in their distribution area of Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, New Mexico, North & South Dakota, Utah, and Montana.

The biggest improvement in Google Image is the ability to scroll down and see hundreds of images without having to press the “page down” key.

After checking out any company’s site which looks interesting, get back to the wall of images on Google, just use the regular BACK button in your browser.

Using Google image search doesn’t guarantee every link is even what it says it is. There will be some dead ends.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A taste test -- foundation treatments

Which foundation treatment looks best on this 100-year old home in New South Wales:

The Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

(Click on any photo to enlarge, and hit back button to come back to blog text.)

The Marigold

(No need planting flowers with this one.)

The Stay Classy San Diego

Good on you if you picked number three. It took some work with Gimp to get it this classy. The actual photo is the first one, and I lied. This home is not 100 years old nor is it in New South Wales.

It is a modern single-wide home, The gHouse, by Giles Industries in Tennessee. (After clicking on link, for more photos of the gHouse click on SINGLE SECTION INTERACTIVE BROCHURES button in lower left, and wait for it to load. Then use arrow key buttons at top to look at the gHouse.)

Giles is yet another manufactured home company gobbled up by Clayton Homes. The Giles gHouse is available in several states in the mid to southeast, and also in Ohio and a few other places.

Thanks to a reader for emailing me and pointing out the gHouse, knowing my fondness for a shed roof on a single-wide. I came across the gHouse before in my web travels. It won a BEST DESIGN award from the Manufactured Housing Institute.

I ignored it partly because their website mentions limited customization and the standard insulation is R19 in the ceiling which isn’t good. Get R30 in the ceiling, at least, and preferably R40 or R50, if possible. So, if you like the shed roof too, talk with them about upgrades to 2 x 6” walls and better insulation before even bothering to go see it.

Inside, the gHouse is modern, and resembles the 2009 Clayton “Evolution” home and Clayton’s newest, the ehome. They all have vaulted shed ceilings inside, and transom windows. Only the Giles gHouse has a shed roof though.

Back to foundations. On most manufactured homes, depending on local codes or just how much you want to pay, people use either skirting (the cheap option and often included with the home) or block foundation.

First, about skirting. Skirting can be made out of vinyl, galvanized metal or cement board. It can be plain, or with horizontal lines in it, or with a faux rock design. If you like the faux rock, go for a rectangular pattern rather than a round stone pattern. Don't use the patterns with dark or multi-colored rocks, unless it goes with your collection of 57 lawn gnomes. Patterns made to look like smaller bricks look fake.

With cinder block for a foundation, leaving the gray might look best. It says: “This is a real house. It has a foundation!” Or, you can paint it.

There are blocks with a rough stone texture on one side, for which you can pay extra. They look nice.

Better than skirting that looks like rocks, a faux rock pattern can be applied to block, with a half inch of cement. Some masons can do this very well. Again, I’d go for the stacked rock look rather than round stones, and keep the color basically the same, a gray or light brown.

Don’t despair if you opted for the “fruit loops” rock skirting and are embarrassed. You can always just paint out the dark brown stones with a lighter color and it'll look fine.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Extreme Makeover modular McMansion spawns 782 sq. ft. knockoff

Capitalizing on their success of building an elementary school -- I mean modular single family residence -- for the Williams family, on the popular TV show EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION, Palm Harbor/Nationwide Homes is coming out with a model line based on the show home and hurray, they start at 782 sq. ft.!

The “Extreme I” as shown above, has a recessed entry, split floor plan with two bedrooms and two baths. The Extreme II, at 1501 sq. ft., looks much the same in the front but is a double-wide.

The Palm Harbor “Extreme” series ends in the Extreme Home III which is over 2000 sq. ft. I won’t link to a home that big since it's against my religion; smaller is greener.

My first impression of this design is it looks nice! From the front, no one would ever think this “Extreme I” was an 782 sq. ft home. This home is currently available only in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

It’s a great retro modern design reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style. I’ll reserve final judgment until they start building and selling them, or at least until they have some full exterior and interior photos.

Ever watch that show? I used to watch the whole thing, until they started showing them on the internet. Now I just skip to the unveiling. When watching the full length episodes, a few times I got tears in my eyes at the pathos of the stories, like the Dad who is going to die, probably within a year, but wants to leave his family a wonderful new 4500 sq. foot house they’ll have to sell when they can’t afford the taxes or energy bills. At least they’ll always have “move that bus,” and a pile of money to spend on something more easy to maintain.

I picture the director of the show getting the crowd running toward something by saying: “Run like you’re being chased by the blob, but look happy!”

What about the nine year old who has his bedroom decorated as a giant pinball machine. I’m curious as to how long they keep it that way.

The show is getting the message, both from viewers and the experiences of past families who have sold their homes, that people’s dream should be something they can afford to maintain easily, and that smaller means more energy efficient too, so they announced they will be building many smaller homes, in the 2000 to 3000 sq. ft range, instead of the larger ones.

So far, the show does a good job at creating drama, raising awareness of often obscure and under-funded diseases, and showcasing builders and the monster homes they can build.

They are going in the right direction with smaller homes though, and I applaud Palm Harbor for translating that that over-the-top show home into something many people can afford.

I will post more on this home as new information becomes available. My next post will be about another nice small modern Palm Harbor home, this one with a flex room option.