Thursday, April 6, 2017

In Canada, house trailers can get big






I wanted to do a post on something many people in the US or other parts of the world probably don't know about, but might be curious about, and that is what manufactured homes are like in Canada.

Because of winters in Canada and the short building season, Canadians take their manufactured home building seriously. They have stricter codes and you won’t find 2 x 4 walls on many of their singlewide manufactured homes, except perhaps the ones used for summer cottages. Even the Canadian park model RVs have a little more insulation.

Not only are their codes higher regarding such things as wall width, insulation, and roof load, but their aesthetic is different also, inside and out. They often use wider boards for window trim on the exterior, and full size moulding as trim on the interior.

The average manufactured home made in Canada is plain, more solid, substantial, and high quality, with prices to match. There are nice eaves on this one from Grandeur Housing, which has dealers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The following two are from Hospitality Homes of New Brunswick, Canada. Instead of singlewides, in Canada they are sometimes called "minis."



The two above have a stately look about them but are slightly off kilter in the balance of window placement and dormer size. Again, I think Canadians are practical, and concerned about performance in a colder environment, rather than trying to strive for exterior perfection appearance-wise. Canada doesn't seem to produce many low-end manufactured homes.

Supreme Homes of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Canada makes higher end modular homes but has some small ones as well. This 864 st. ft. one is called the "Zen" and has a shed roof and triple pane windows: 


Here is a more standard type of singlewide by Supreme Homes, and this one I chose because it has a hip roof, which would be good for areas with high winds and snow. It also uses an R value of 28 in the sidewalls:


This is a drone video of the GreenTerraHomes factory (see website linked at left for some high style singlewide homes) in Canada. Below, the video shows their factory facility, some higher end singlewide homes in their lot, and some shots of the steel framing they use in their homes:

To give you an idea of how different it can be in Canada’s wide open spaces, they also have their own category of manufactured home which is either rare or nonexistent in the US, at least with a home of this size. It is called RTM, which stands for ready-to-move. That means the house, except for the foundation and sometimes flooring, is completed in a factory and then moved in one piece, roof standing at full height.

These homes can be as wide as the widest doublewide, and they are offloaded from a specially designed trailer, a combination of dragged and rolled onto a completed foundation. A crane is not used.

Even though I’ve seen older houses, usually small ones, being moved in one piece, I have never seen anything quite like this, and it is worth watching. Imagine the anticipation for the family, seeing this house rolling in. This ready-to-move home is by J&H Homes, a builder in Saskatchewan, Canada, which builds these in their factory in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan:



This model is called the Rockglen, and it is impressive. You can look over the models on their website (linked above), but I think this one is the best. It has a great fa├žade, so much character, and looks well made. It came in on wheels but no one is going to call it a trailer.

Modular homes in the US come in two or more modules and then are joined together onsite, after being placed on a foundation—the same type of foundation used in a site-built home. The roof is on hinges or is folded down for transport and then lifted up to full height. This is so that the house can be transported under bridges and still can have a more steeply pitched, "residential" looking roof.

Even though modular home builders don’t like it when modular homes are called manufactured homes, which to them is a lower class trailer built on outriggers for poor people like me, that’s mainly sales hype.

Of course, I understand why dealers of modular homes want to separate themselves from the trailer stigma. They want people to consider their homes, tour a model, and to not just automatically dismiss them because they’re manufactured instead of site-built.

There are, however, modular homes which are modestly priced, and have a lower price per square foot than some higher priced manufactured singlewides and doublewides  (non-modular). And although modular homes are usually two or more, a modular home can also be small and have only one module. They are defined as modular by the type of foundation, and not being built on steel outriggers.

This is a video of an example of modestly priced US type of modular home being lifted by crane onto a foundation in the Midwest by Home Nation, a dealer with headquarters in Goshen, Indiana. They specialize in affordable manufactured homes, including a modular like this which starts at under $60,000. I like that you can see the action of the crane in their video. Sometimes I’d like to see some footage of when the home is complete at the end though, and they don’t show that:


Oh, back to Canada…here is a photo followed by a video of a small cottage, a manufactured home I ran across a few weeks ago on the Internet. It's 16' x 50', 800 sq. ft., and with the nice strong looking porch posts and width of the trim wood around the windows and doors, it looks substantial. 

 
If the above Canadian singlewide, The Fairview, from the Cottager Series, were on a foundation, it would look like a stick-built cottage and that’s partly because it’s made in Canada, where they go for a more solid look, including wide eaves.You can go to the YouTube channel of Prairie Mobile Homes of Canada, and see many examples of Canadian manufactured homes. Here is Prairie's website out of Manitoba. The Fairview probably should look real, since it costs $76,000 US.

I don’t like dark brown cabinets in small homes, or board and batten in this level of home, but it's great that it looks like a real cottage. For some reason, in the US and Canada, but not at all in Scandinavia, homes built for colder climates go for more dark woods in the interior. I think all small homes look nicer with lighter colors and flooring. The interior of the this one is so monochromatic, they need to put a vase of colorful plastic flowers on the dining table or something.

This home, the “Luxe” by Northlander Industries of Canada, is a park model RV and available through dealers throughout Ontario:

The Luxe debuted at a show in early 2015. The insulation specs are too lightweight for me to pronounce it a total success, but the design of the exterior and interior are beautiful, if not spectacular. It doesn't look like a park model, but instead something designed by a very talented architect. Northlander makes singlewides as well, and in both those and some of their other park model RVs, they have some budget priced homes.

Cavco, Kropf, Quailridge  are among several makers of US park models which also either export Canadian park models to Canada, or have factories in Canada which make them. They are larger than the 400 sq. ft. limitation on US park model RVs. Usually they have better insulation as well, but sometimes not.

Here's a slideshow video of Canadian park models by Kropf:

A Canadian park model, made in the US but built for the Canadian market, might be something to consider, if they are allowed to sell them in the US. It might not work for some RV parks, because it would be too big for parks which specialize in park models.

Last but not least, and back to singlewides, Triple M Housing takes the prize for energy efficiency and sophisticated interiors. Their standard insulation across most of their singlewide and other lines is R40 (floor), R22 (walls) and R60 (ceiling). In the US, even some of the better manufactured homes for colder climates are only R22-19-30, with R50 found in the ceilings of Karsten only. And I've never heard of R40 in a floor, even for manufactured homes especially built for Alaska.

By viewing the gallery of singlewide exteriors at their website, they aren't as great as the interiors. I'll try to find an exterior shot of the Black & White model if I can and add it to this post. I'm also curious as to what a home like this costs.

Triple M sells their homes through several dealers across Canada, and I think these interiors are exceptional looking. The first one is a 20 ft. wide singlewide, a width unique to Canada. In the US, 18 ft. wide is the widest and they are rare. And the second photo is a magazine-like Black & White beautiful interior. You can scroll through their gallery to find them on their Triple M Housing website.



And here is a video of the Black & White singlewide by Triple M model MRD2076-272KS:

Here is a video of another Triple M model MRD 2076-258KS:

And a video of another nice singlewide, MW257, from Triple M:


I like looking at photos of manufactured homes which are built in Canada because of the different dimensions and aesthetic, although I admit I haven’t seen one in the middle price range which I like as much as many of my favorite models built in the US. It is interesting how some of the companies, such as Triple M, do not treat the singlewide as inferior to a doublewide or modular.

Canada does not have the variety of styles in their homes, compared with the US, and they don't make as many, because of their smaller population, but what they have is very good. Find other manufacturers of homes in Canada at this link page at the Canadian Manufactured Home Institute's website.

Fairmont Homes is a dealer which, I gather, coordinates distribution of the Canadian manufactured homes to the US, and has good coverage in the Midwest and states near the Canadian border. You can go to their website to see what dealer is closest to you in the US, and what homes they sell.

Several countries in Europe produce manufactured homes also, many with a unique flavor. Taken as a whole, I don’t like them as much as American manufactured homes, with Canada coming in second.

3 comments:

  1. The picture of the home on steel jacks reminded me of an article I read on corrosion of metal jacks. My soil is highly acidic so I wouldn't use them but it may be something for others to consider.

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  2. I've seen those triple wide mobile homes and I'm so impressed. They do look like traditional homes. You won't even know they are mobile homes which I think is cool. There are a lot of designs to choose from but at a fraction of what you will pay for traditional homes. If you need to look at more information regarding this, check out this resource site: http://modularhomeblog.com/prefab-mobile/triple-wide-mobile-homes.html

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