Sunday, February 19, 2017

“The Loft,” a modern singlewide shed roof design by Palm Harbor

How many singlewides have you seen which look like this? I’ve photoshopped the color down several shades on the façade, because I thought it would look better with a unified color scheme, given all the windows and design elements they have going on. Gray and dark gray aren’t my favorite house colors, but unifying the palette emphasizes the modern look of this shed design. You can see the actual model colors in the video:

Manufactured home factories usually give a choice of colors for the home’s exterior, and sometimes type of siding, e.g., cedar or hardboard. Unless you’re buying the lot model, the interiors of manufactured homes usually come with white walls. The dealer will sometimes throw in some paint, if you ask, but it would be colors used in the model.  

Speaking of gray, you will notice in the video on the home’s website, the interior of the model is all soft gray, including the ceilings. Having worked with drywall on two my own homes, I hate gray walls. It’s the color of naked drywall. Yeah, I know, it’s a trend, like very dark cabinetry. I don’t like that either.

Gray walls and ceilings are depressing and remind me of unpainted concrete basement walls. If you’re afraid of color, paint your walls beige, and ceilings either white or a lighter shade of beige than is on the walls. That will keep the room warm and friendly, rather than cold and depressing.

The wells of skylights, and sometimes perimeter around windows look best in white, not in a color matching the wall color. No skylights here, I was just throwing it out as a tip.

Dark cabinets and dark wood in general look old, like colonial furniture and wood trim from the 1800s. Sometimes dark wood looks good in high-end kitchen cabinetry, I will give it that much.

In a small, modern home like this, light cabinetry would look better, and be in style forever. I’m pretty sure it’s an option. The rage for dark kitchen cabinets has been going on for over 15 years, and some day it will end and those cheap stained dark brown cabinets will look just fugly.

I remember around the year 2000 when a friend who follows trendy home design crap first told me dark cabinets were “in.” It looks good in some kitchens which cost as much as a singlewide trailer.

Scandinavians and the Shakers, they like light woods and design which look clean and simple. I bet some of these dark stained cabinets look awful after 10 years of wear. Then you can paint them white. That’s a big job, painting cabinets.

My other pet peeve about dark wood is when it is used as molding on any small home, but especially a home with a low ceiling, as in a strip of molding between the walls and ceiling. Thus the dark strip running around a room makes the ceiling look even lower, and it looks silly. On the more upscale doublewide manufactured homes, I have seen dark trim which was better quality and looked okay.

Natural or lightly stained wood cabinetry is beautiful, like knotty alder and other woods Palm Harbor and Karsten used. They will always be in style. Pine is soft and light, and probably not as suitable for cabinetry as harder woods, since it dents easily, but my favorite cabinets were the knotty pine ones I had in my last house.

My blog is opinionated, but I’m not shilling for any particular brand or company, even though I lean toward singlewide homes by Palm Harbor and Karsten. It just so happens I like their singlewides.

No company is paying me, except I’ve earned about $150 in the last 5 years from Google AdSense, which places ads in the right column of this blog. As some of my posts get older, they pick up more views, about 100 a day for the popular posts.

Anyway, the reason so many of my picks for fairly good quality and stylish smaller manufactured homes are either Karsten or Palm Harbor is that they have good home interiors. Besides having nice interiors, they are of better quality than most; simple, solid, and not too fake or cheap looking. For example, Karsten’s one piece tub/shower doesn’t look like the awful, cheap looking units that lower end homes have. Instead, I would prefer theirs to tile, having grout wear away, and having to re-grout around a tub because of the line where the tub meets the tile.  

You can buy a new low-end singlewide for $25,000 and I understand why someone might do that if that is all they can afford. There was a time when I had such a terrible problem with a major roof leak I couldn't locate, a low-end trailer with a good roof would have saved me from misery. 

However, when there are homes like this $51,000 Palm Harbor which in the long run may make you feel happier, save you money on energy costs, and last longer because things on it won’t fall apart as easily, then it is worth it if you can afford it, to buy a better quality home like this. Because of the better style—higher ceilings, drywall, nicer windows—these are the only homes I can really like, and would like to own myself.

With the shed roof singlewide and a home oriented toward the south, the slanted ceiling would pick up a lot of light from the clearstory windows, more than a flat ceiling, and I like this kind of slanted ceiling.

One reservation I have about this shed roof design is that when solar panels become more popular, and your house is oriented with the tall side to the south, which you’d do in climates that have snow in winter, the roof would be slanted the wrong way for solar. If you had room, you could either have a free-standing tracking solar array or in a decade or two, solar shingles or a thin panel which could be put on the front of the house.

This home appears to have 8” or 10" eaves on the sides and eaves of only a few inches on back and front. It’d look better with the same eaves on the front, or even a foot and a half of eave on the front, for best passive solar design.

Inside, unless you need extra storage, the structure with two shelves on each side, between the living room and kitchen, I think it has to go! I’m sure you could tell them to delete it from the build. It ruins the modern look of the house. I don’t know, maybe it would look better with books or something.

This model, "The Loft" is located in Albany, Oregon, which is a Homes Direct dealer which has this Palm Harbor model for $51,000. It's the only one, but you can probably put one on order at another dealer. HERE IS THE LINK to that website, which features a lot of other nice homes, all with prices, which I like. (I don't like when you have to call for a price.)

For example, HERE IS A LINK to a $35,900 singlewide called "The Perris" on the same page. It's also a Palm Harbor home. It's not as exciting as "The Loft," but with only one bathroom and less style, it's less expensive.

Paying $35,900 for "The Perris," rather than getting a bottom-of-the-line singlewide for $25,000, is probably worth it. "The Perris" would look nice inside, if it had one or two walls painted a color other than white. The whole thing is kind of a whiteout inside right now. I wanted to include this because sometimes the pricier brands like Palm Harbor produce some nice, inexpensive homes.

Some dealers offer granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances on their luxury homes, but on the inexpensive homes they're kind of cheap all through. Palm Harbor and Karsten both build quality in their singlewides and small homes. Again though, fail on the dark kitchen cabinet color.

State standards for manufactured homes are high in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. By law, they can't sell any manufactured homes with 2 x 4 walls, except if they are "park model" RVs. In states with lower standards, you can sometimes pay extra and get a home built to higher standards, and that's what you should try to do. For example, locally, for me, the Karsten factory in Albuquerque will build a home with R-21 insulation in the walls, instead of R-19.    

Back to "The Loft"...Perhaps because I’ve spent too much time trying to find roof leaks, like in places where buildings meet, the simplicity of a shed roof, one simple rectangle, it’s beautiful. Tell me what you think of this shed roof design in the comments. 


  1. Looked at The Loft last weekend. A lot of house for the $. I want one!

  2. Who is responsible for repairs to the home within the warranty it the dealership or the manufacturer? The Ventura Silvercrest dealer told me "it depends whether it is due to manufacturing or the set up". Big red flag! I can just imagine what a mess it will be when the pipes are leaking..the dealer and the factory will blame each other and nothing will get fixed.

    Getting back to Palm Harbor which was at the top of my list earlier, I know nothing is perfect but the types of complaints and the factory/dealer response from Palm Harbor is very scary.

    The more complaints I read (of all manufacturers) the more I think I would only buy a new one if I could inspect it before it left the factory.

  3. The person responsible is as the Silvercrest dealer told you, depending on whether it is a manufacturing defect or a set up/delivery issue.

    On the complaint sites, I have run into a few where a particular dealer came off as bad. One I remember was in Texas. THAT is what you have to consider, a particular dealer with multiple complaints. Once you've found a dealer who seems reasonable to deal with and has a home you like, search the web for their name and read any complaints against them. If there are no complaints, then that's good.

    One thing that was unique that Palm Harbor went through was a bankruptcy and resale to Cavco, but this was quite a white ago. During that period, some Palm Harbor dealers went under, a few of their factories folded, and that can be a bad time to buy a home. The dealer is not going to care as much or be attentive to your problems if they going out of business and just trying to dump there remaining homes.

    That situation is no longer true with Palm Harbor though since Cavco bought them and kept their line and most dealerships. Palm Harbor produces a line of attractive, well-built homes.

    There may be 200 complaints about Palm Harbor homes but that's over the last 5 years, and they've made thousands of homes during that time, sold through hundreds of dealers.

    Most dealers would let you inspect the home when it is finished at the factory, including if you want to pay an inspector.

    It's a standard procedure to go through a checklist at the time of delivery to verify that everything on the home is as you ordered and in good condition. I forget what that's called.

  4. Please go online and see ModularToday for ratings 1/2/3/4/5, of over 180 factory home builders.

    1. I will leave this comment up but want to inform my readers, ModularToday does not review or rate modular home builders or homes. They say they do, but there are simply no reviews/ratings to be found. Instead, it is just a mediocre site to promote the modular industry, with some examples of builders and homes, and some information.

  5. I hate this industry. I like this house a lot. But its only available in a small area. Not in AZ. Which is weird since its home to one would hope any Cavco factory could output the home.

    I like many of these "cottage" size homes that are a bit bigger then park models and better built. But the problem is finding info about them. Cavco has a entire cottage line, but good luck finding pictures, prices or having anyone email you back. And some others Ive seen from Palm Harbor end up getting too expensive for what they are IMO. Just frustrating that in 2017 this industry is still so secretive and behind the times.

    1. I share your frustration, and that's just the few times I've contacted a dealer for information on a home to blog it. I email them asking for something simple like a price and it's crickets. They rarely respond. Frankly, I'm glad I don't have to look for a manufactured home right now.

      If I were in Phoenix and looking for a home, the good thing about the Internet is most dealers keep their websites updated on their inventory..

  6. I REALLY like Palm Harbor's Loft. I am looking for a new manufactured home and would like something that has a modern design. Unfortunately, I see this home is not available in Oklahoma - would really appreciate any suggestions or comments if anyone knows about a house like this available in Oklahoma. Thanks so much :)

  7. I suspect the Palm Harbor dealers in Texas get their models from the Fort Worth factory, or possibly Austin. With Austin being a hotbed of modern home architecture, you would think the manufactured home industry there might try some modern designs. But no, not that I can find.

    So if you keep an eye on what the Palm Harbor dealers in Fort Worth have on hand, you can be sure that the Oklahoma Palm Harbor dealers (OK City, Tulsa, Kingston) should be able to get that model.

    Here is a link to the Manufactured Housing Institute awards page, where the singlewide design winners are sometimes modern and nearly always different:

    1. Thank you for the information and link. I've been looking at the Santa Fe by Palm Harbor. It has a more modern look, just as you mentioned in your blog.

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  9. I toured the Loft at the Albany, OR Homes Direct location. I agree the gray color isn't the best. All of the gray makes the home feel cold (not to mention the fact there was no heat in the actual model.

    Te problem with their floor plan is you can't read any of the dimensions. I just called Homes Direct in Albany to see if they have a better version of the floor plan and was told the only one available is the same as the one on their web site (the woman said it was a pain that it wasn't a legible version).

    I told her I searched the Palm Harbor web site to try to find a copy of that plan and she said Palm Harbor wouldn't have it as the Loft is solely one of Homes Direct's plans, which is probably why it's only available in the Pacific NW.

    1. Always good to hear from people who tour the home. I tried enlarging the floor plan, but as you found, it is still unreadable. If you like it, you could a copy of a crude plan and bring a measuring tape.

      There's one thing worse that touring a cold home, and that's a hot one that has been closed off with no air conditioning during the summer and smells like a toxic soup that makes your eyes water.