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Manufactured Home Options Vs. Site Built Home Options

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: April 27th, 2011 | 3 Comments

Many people think that a site built developer may offer a wider range of option in a new home compared to new home options offered by a manufactured home builder. This is far from the case. In fact, manufactured home builders often offer more options than your typical new home developer for a number of reasons you are about to discover. Developers of site built homes typically work with a local design firm that they subcontract out the process of ordering many options through. Flooring, upgraded fixtures and sometimes even landscaping is part of the function of the local design firm's function in the process of development. However, new home buyers are often restricted to using this particular design firm alone. Buyers in most residential developments can't just go to home depot or lumberliquidators.com to order the flooring they want and have it shipped to site and installed. This is a significant limitation forced on a consumer when buying what is most likely their largest purchase in life. It makes sense that when buying a home, a home owner should be offered the maximum flexibility possible. Contrary to popular opinion, manufactured home builders, in coordination with qualified retailers, offer the flexibility that home buyers ought to have when buying a home. There are two main reasons why buying from a manufacturer through a retailer can offer a greater range of home options. First, manufactured home builders often maintain their own inventory of options just like a site built home developer in terms of flooring, fixtures, lighting and other upgrades. Buyers can select from any of these options or they can incorporate custom options when working with a qualified retailer. Retailers are not limited to use a company designated design firm if you do not particularly like the options offered by the manufacturer. Retailers can assist you locate the exact flooring options you desire and have them installed during the home installation process after the home leaves the factory. You may incorporate green landscaping from local landscape architects through the retailer or purchase other upgrades from wherever you can imagine and have them installed in the process of your home installation. SO when you walk in to your new home after installation is complete, you can literally walk in to a factory built home that is far more custom than a nearby tract home using a design firm. It may sound counter intuitive but it is true that working with a qualified retailer that cooperates well with the manufacturer can result in a very unique design. The second reason why factory built homes offer more unique options is that many manufacturers focus on offering energy efficiency options better than site built home builders. It is true that any site built developer these days offers Energy Star(tm) appliances as an option, but do they offer energy efficient, sustainable building materials as an option? Do they offer solar photovoltaic systems as an option? The fact is, manufactured home builders typically offer energy efficiency options much more frequently than site built home builders do. The days of manufactured homes and their prefabricated and modular counterparts being considered inferior to site built homes is quickly coming to an end. When consumers look online for green homes, energy efficient homes and the like, they are more often seeing factory built homes now.

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Why Manufactured Homes are Typically More Energy Efficient than Site Built Homes

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: April 26th, 2011 | 2 Comments

If you have been searching the internet for keyword phrases like "green living", "sustainable housing" or "green homes" you are most likely well aware that the majority of news and articles related to green homes is all about manufactured homes, modular homes, prefabricated homes and tiny houses. What's interesting about these homes is that they are all made in a factory and transported and installed on a site or transported in pieces to a site and installed. There are a number of different reasons why the trend in energy efficient living is moving towards manufactured homes. This article discusses the various reasons why factory built homes are typically more energy efficient than site built homes. The first clue as to why these types of homes are more energy efficient is based on a common value shared between all of the different kinds of homes aforementioned: they are all factory built. Homes that are built in a factory produce less waste. As such, less materials are required to complete a home than a site built home and the so-called "waste" produced when building a home in a factory can often times be used in another home within the factory. The factory itself is a controlled environment. This means that the entire build process is not exposed to the natural elements which can warp, deteriorate or render useless some of the building materials. This saves not only product, but time and money as well. The standardized building process itself produces time savings and cuts waste. Another reason why factory build homes are often much more energy efficient than site built homes is that many builders focus specifically on energy efficient design. Not only is energy efficient design good for the environment, it's good for homeowners and good for business. Energy efficient design is good for homeowners because it lowers the cost of supplying all of the energy needs of the home. Energy efficient design in heating and cooling systems combined with energy efficient design in insulation can save people hundreds to thousands of dollars each year. Designing energy efficient homes is good for business for two related reasons: (1) offering a product that will reduce the out of pocket expense of a homeowner when compared to a site built home is a significant benefit to the homeowner but an excellent selling point that manufactured home builders can point to in the sales process; (2) Efficient design is not limited to heating, cooling and insulation; it is also applied to a wide range of building materials that are used in the process that may be less expensive than others, more durable and environmentally friendly. You can, therefore, benefit the bottom line of a business while supporting the environment and cut the expenses of a homeowner. The last reason that factory built manufactured homes are often more energy efficient than site built homes is due to the fact that energy efficient options, like solar photovoltaic systems, are more often offered by manufactured home builders than site build developers. Most site build home developers offer a wide range of options like flooring, exterior and interior upgrades. Some site built developers also include landscaping as an option. However, offering solar photovoltaic systems as an option on a new site built home has not taken off with the majority of developers. Manufactured home builders, like Hallmark Southwest, offer a wide range of energy efficiency options like the Net-Zero energy efficiency option that incorporates solar photovoltaic systems making it possible for a new homeowner to buy a home and upon moving in have most or all of their electricity needs taken care of by the energy efficient system itself based on normal occupant usage. In short, factory built homes are typically more energy efficient than site built homes because the factory environment itself is conducive to energy efficient home building, consumer demand for energy efficient living in manufactured homes is increasing and manufactured home builders incorporate energy efficient design and options in to their homes because it's good for the environment, for the consumer and good for business.

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Manufactured Home Energy Efficiency Certification

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: April 26th, 2011 | 3 Comments

Who rates and certifies energy efficiency in manufactured home building these days? There are a wide variety of organizations and websites that help people understand what an energy efficient home is but in this article, we are going to focus on four groups that classify homes as energy efficient or help consumers make decisions about living as efficiently as possible. The first group is the United States Environmental Protection Agency running the well known Energy Star program and they maintain guidelines for what meets the definition of an Energy Star certified product and their own definition of an energy efficient home. The EPA maintains strict standards for what qualifies as an Energy Star Home. These four variables are: Effective Insulation Energy Star qualified homes must have highly efficient insulation in doors, walls and attics to insure even and efficient temperatures throughout the home thereby reducing energy consumption providing for the most comfortable environment possible at the lowest cost. High Performance Windows Energy and expense saving windows installed in Energy Star Home must comply with their standards employing new technology, highly evolved framing technology and protective window coatings. Tight Construction and Ducts A tight seal throughout the home insures that the home's envelope, especially within the heating and cooling systems, provides for the highest levels of energy efficiency. Homes that meet these standards benefit from higher quality construction and lower maintenance costs as well. Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment The heating and cooling systems employed must meet the standards of Energy Star rated heating and cooling systems. Hallmark Southwest manufactured homes currently exceed Energy Star Standards. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, new home construction compliant with today's standard building and energy codes produces homes that are up to 30% more energy efficient than homes built as recently as the 1990s. If the home is fully Energy Star qualified, the savings can be as much as 45%. Another important group that rates and regulates “Green Home Builders” and offers another level of certification is the U.S. Green Building Council, a registered 401(c) 3 non-pro$t organization (http://usgbc.org). The U.S. Green Building Council originated the LEED program, an internationally recognized green building certification system. According to the USGBC the LEED system provides “building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions (source: USGBC.Org, http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx? CMSPageID=1988). Southern California Edison provides a completely free guide to help consumers and builders benefit from best practices in their efforts to design communities and homes that meet their standards of energy efficiency. The free guide provided by Southern California Edison can be downloaded for free at: http://asset.sce.com/Documents/Shared/2010_CAHPHandbook.pdf. The last mention in green building certification programs that can help consumers make informed decisions is BuilditGreen.Org. BuilditGreen.Org is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers and professionals build green living environments focusing on both consumer and commercial applications. This non-profit agency has developed guidelines for both building construction and landscaping. On their website you will find a wealth of information, however, their building guides are not free. While the building guides are for sale they are rather inexpensive. They do offer a free construction guideline spreadsheet that helps consumers with site plans and preparation, foundation guidelines, landscaping planning and infrastructure, structural framing and building envelopes, siding, insulation, plumbing, heating ventilation and air conditioning, renewable energy concerns, building performance, finishing, flooring, and finally a lighting and appliance selection. You can download the spreadsheet free of charge from the following URL: http://www.builditgreen.org/guidelines--checklists/. If you would like a free resource guide that takes you through not only all of these resources but serves as a guide for manufactured homes in general, you can download our free guide providing homeowners with a wealth of information about manufactured homes and energy efficient living free of charge. Follow the following link to download our free guide now: Manufactured Home Guide.

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Free Manufactured Home Buyers Guide

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: April 25th, 2011 | 2 Comments

Hallmark Southwest is proud to announce our new guide on manufactured homes: A Reference Guide to Your New Manufactured Home from Start to Finish. The goal of the free manufactured home guide is to help consumers make critical decisions throughout the manufactured home buying process. You may download the guide for free here: Manufactured Home Buyers Guide In total, the guide covers the following important information: Important Key Terms and Phrases all Manufactured Home Buyers Should Know Executive Summary of the Manufactured Home Buying Process Retailer Visit Checklist Manufactured Home Tour Checklist Chapter One: What is a Manufactured Home? Chapter Two: Before you Buy: Thinking Through the Basic Requirements Chapter Three: Tests, Permits and Site Preparation on Private Land Chapter Four: New Home Options Chapter Five: Energy Efficiency and Solar Options Supplemental Resources The key terms and phrases section informs consumers not only about standardized phrases, but also new developments in the industry as it pertains to government standards for building and safety, new developments in the world of finance in the post mortgage meltdown world and a wide variety of important keywords and terms in energy efficiency as well. The executive summary section is like no other we have come across as it reflects the lived experience of the manufactured home buying process. Most of the home buying process summaries we have seen online are published in a very static format, e.g. step one, step two etc. Instead our guide presents the steps in a dynamic format showing how many consumers need to make multiple decisions simultaneously to get the job done right. Our retailer and manufactured home tour checklists provide buyers with an extensive list of questions to ask both retailers and manufacturers before they make a final decision about any home builder or retailer to make excellent comparisons and choices. The first chapter that covers the historical definition of manufactured homes goes above and beyond providing the critical differences between many terms that are used interchangeably like mobile home, manufactured home, modular home, prefabricated home, panelized homes and other important terms as well. If you are looking to plan out the entire process of buying and installing a manufactured home, chapters two and three help consumers navigate through the complicated process. These chapters help consumers decide on important factors like whether they should live in a planned community or on a privately owned lot, whether a park model home may suit their needs and also provides a wealth of resources for understanding the basics of many required manufactured home permits, tests and site preparation requirements. Chapters Five and Six take the homeowner through the wide variety of new home options available, helping them understand why some options can be installed during the construction process and why others are done on site for the purpose of both efficiency and cost savings. If you are interested in green living and energy efficiency, the guide also provides a wealth of information on solar photovoltaic systems and a description of our exclusive Net-Zero energy efficiency options. Finally, consumers benefit from a wealth of supplemental resources in the guide giving them access to a database of solar tax incentives by state, government links, energy efficiency links and other consumer oriented material. If you would like to download the guide completely free of charge, just follow this link: Manufactured Home Buyers Guide

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California Manufactured Homes: Resources for Home Buyers

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: April 25th, 2011 | 3 Comments

There are a wealth of resources for buyers of California manufactured homes online. This article is designed to help consumers think through the entire process of buying a manufactured home in California from start to finish. As such, this article will cover how people search for manufactured homes online and the ups and downs of doing so. In addition, this article will cover important resources online, specifically, government websites and resources for energy efficient living as well. How do most people start their search for manufactured homes? The answer is: online. But when you type in a search query like "california manufactured home" in google, yahoo, or Bing (formerly MSN), you will get a mixed bag of results as it is a very competitive marketplace online these days. In this mixed bag of results you will get manufactured home builders, manufactured home retailers and builders and retailers that may not even provide services in California. So how do you know how to make critical decisions? Here's a simple plan: First Step. Distinguish between builders and retailers online. Builders only sell their products and will most obviously provide only positive information about their products and services (as is expected). Moreover, many builders themselves may not sell directly to the public. Many builders work with independent retailers that sell one or more manufactured home product lines. Retailers may sell one or more lines of homes from manufactured home builders. They may favor one line of product over another merely for financial incentives they derive from the sales of those products so it's important to do a careful comparison of standard featured and benefits of various homes if you intend to visit a retailer you meet online. To make a very well informed comparison, it might be useful to have checklists for both manufactured home builder and manufactured home retailer visits. Hallmark Southwest offers these completely free of charge on our guide to manufactured homes. You can download the free guide here: Manufactured Home Guide. Second Step. Once you've found both builders and retailers online you think are favorable, draft a list of question to ask them all. Determine what company seems to offer the best standard features. Compare products and pricing before you go out in to the real world. Once you meet a builder or retailer yourself, ask them those questions and compare your findings with what you are told. Third Step. Before making any decisions, check out the resources available online. Here's a good list of resources in California to help you make a critical decision: California Department of Housing and Community Development; Information on Manufactured Home Construction and Sales: http://www.hcd.ca.gov/codes/mhp/12-19-07MHconstrction.pdf State of California Manufactured Home Code Matrix: http://www.hcd.ca.gov/codes/fbh/CodeMatrix.pdf Listing of HUD Offices by State: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states Manufactured Housing Institute: http://manufacturedhousinginstitute.org How to Buy a Manufactured Home by The Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea06.shtm California Department of Water Resources: Construction, Alteration and Destruction of Wells: http://www.dpla.water.ca.gov/sd/groundwater/wells.html Features and Benefits of Energy Star Homes: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.nh_features U.S. Green Building Council: http://usgbc.org California Advanced Homes Program: http://www.sce.com/b-rs/bb/cali-new-homes/california-new-homes-program.htm Solar Homes Partnership: http://www.gosolarcalifornia.org/about/nshp.php Database of State Tax Incentives for Solar Energy: http://www.dsireusa.org/ Using this list of links in conjunction with our free manufactured home buyers guide will help you make educated decisions about one of your most important purchases in life.

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Green Prefab Homes: What to Look For

Posted by:admin | Posted on: April 18th, 2011 | 1 Comments

It seems that eco-friendly buyers are finally catching onto the fact that green pre-fab homes are the way to go. But what should one look for in manufactured homes that are environmentally friendly? When designing her own green manufactured home, renowned architect Michelle Kaufmann focused on five criteria: Smart design: Manufactured homes are already of modest size, so multiple use spaces are important. Also, a site that lets you manage the sunlight, winds, and potential water issues matters too. Eco-friendly materials: If you are a green lifestyle proponent, renewable or recycled materials are the best way to go. Choose a green pre-fab that utilizes as many renewable resources and sustainable materials as possible – and, make sure that those materials can be easily replaced if needed. Energy efficiency: This is nothing new – after all, many opt for manufactured homes just for the savings on utilities alone. But now, developments like nontoxic foam insulation and advanced window glazing can create an efficient "envelope" to reduce energy consumption even more. You may also want to look for good natural ventilation, which can help cut down on air conditioning. Water conservation: It can’t be understated that clean, healthy water matters. Your manufactured home's design should encourage wise use and re-use, whether through low-flow plumbing fixtures or a system to catch and use rainwater. Clean air: Just as important as clean water, clean air that is free from toxins or carcinogens is something to look for in manufactured homes (whether you’re looking for a green pre-fab or not). Ask about the paints and solvents to be sure they are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and be sure to avoid install engineered wood products or carpeting made with urea-formaldehyde resins, which can off-gas and contaminate the air for months after your move-in. At Hallmark Southwest, we construct green prefab homes that are as environmentally friendly as possible. We do our best to meet each of the above criteria, so you and your family can enjoy your earth-friendly prefab home to the greatest extent possible.

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DIY Solar Grid Guide for Your Manufactured Home

Posted by:admin | Posted on: April 11th, 2011 | 1 Comments

Building a solar grid for your manufactured home? If so, you’ll need detailed instructions to do it right. Fortunately, there are programs available that provide instructions on building your own solar grid at an affordable price. One such program is available from MyReviewsNow and Earth4Energy. They partnered to create a downloadable instruction publication for the benefit of those who want to implement a DIY solar grid into their homes, manufactured homes included. These organizations realize that in today’s economy, a home solar system is out of the financial reach of many homeowners – especially manufactured home owners, who may live on tighter budgets. So with the willingness to put in your time and an affordable downloadable kit like this, manufactured homeowners like you can produce solar grids at a fraction of contractor prices. After all, it stands to reason that over time, energy prices will do nothing but increase, and at a faster rate than ever. With that in mind, homeowners of all types need all the help they can get. For those who want to use solar as a cost-efficiency measure and part of a green lifestyle, the Earth4Energy guide can be a great resource. If you’re interested in installing your own manufactured home solar grid, you may find it be helpful.

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Fire Safety Tips for Manufactured Homes

Posted by:admin | Posted on: April 4th, 2011 | 0 Comments

Today’s manufactured homes are built according to HUD regulations, and owners are responsible for confirming whether their local authorities require the installation of fire sprinklers. Generally, there is no need to worry whether your manufactured homes are in danger of fire; however, owners of manufactured homes (especially seniors) should still take measures to ensure the risk of a home fire is as minimal as possible. Manufactured homes or otherwise, there are simple guidelines homeowners can follow to improve their level of fire safety: - Maintain smoke and carbon dioxide detectors – preferably, a detector for each bedroom and main gathering room. To ensure they stay operational, change the batteries every time you change your clocks for daylight savings time. - Keep all of your manufactured homes’ doorways neat and clutter-free. Maintaining a clear path in and out will reduce the risk of fire hazards and help you and first responders in the event of a fire. If you believe your neighbors live in unsafe conditions that can jeopardize a safe exit from a fire, call the fire department to report dangerous hoarding situations in manufactured homes. - Have wiring/heating inspected in manufactured homes, even if your home is well-built. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends this, as electrical fires are the number one cause of fire in manufactured homes. For more information on keeping manufactured homes safe from fire danger, visit www.nfpa.org.

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What is a Smart Grid?

Posted by:admin | Posted on: April 4th, 2011 | 0 Comments

Relying on solar power without connecting your home to a local power company, a phenomenon known as living off the grid, is incredibly popular among our manufactured home owners; but others believe that by waiting for a smart grid, they’re helping to foster greener energy as well. What do we mean by a smart grid? According to Southern California Edison, a smart grid will be a giant leap into the future for our nation’s electricity system. It will be a reliable source of renewable energy, including energy for smart appliances that can easily be implemented into your manufactured home. Additionally, power companies will provide smart grid tools to help consumers conserve more energy and save money. Speaking of cost: The smart grid will provide customers with pricing and usage information necessary to help them manage consumption and production of energy at their residences, including manufactured homes. One example of this is that when days are hot and air conditioning demands are at a premium, the smart grid will route electricity precisely to where it’s needed most. Not only will this help prevent large-scale outages, it can keep electricity costs lower than they would be on traditional grid operations. Of course, solar power can supplement your smart grid lifestyle as well. Manufactured home owners who commit to a green lifestyle can utilize their panels and their power company. After all, manufactured homes are all about choices – choices about your location, your utilities, your budget. Hallmark Southwest can help you learn how to live off the grid, or on a smarter grid that supports your green lifestyle to the degree of your family's specific environmental commitment.

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The Process of Hooking up Utilities to a New Manufactured Home

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: April 1st, 2011 | 1 Comments

In general, most buyers of manufactured homes either set up their homes on private land or in a planned community. If you are planning on building on private land that you own, the process can be a bit overwhelming. The purpose of this article is to help people understand the process of setting up their home with necessary utilities. Here is a simple list of the things you will need to get your project off the ground on private land: A thorough understanding of the requirements to get water, utilities and sewerage connected to your home in your area A soils report Site survey Knowledge of and permits for, if applicable, local planning department guidelines Home building permit Permits for electrical, mechanical, plumbing and structural work. Lots without existing water supply will require a well or a hookup to a local water district. If you are interested in and if the area allows for a well, the process of drilling a well can be complicated and, in most areas throughout the United States, a licensed contractor is required. Prior to the construction of a well, permits are typically required in all areas. Once a permit is submitted and approved the construction process can begin. When finished, a completion certificate must be obtained, filled out and submitted in most areas throughout the U.S. within a certain time frame. Should your land have public water and a meter on site, connecting water to the home is much easier. This is done through the installation process and the required permits will be obtained through the assistance of your retailer. If there is no public water meter at the site and you want public water then you will need to consult with your local water district, city or county planning departments. If water is not available in your immediate area and you wish to install a meter, this can be very expensive. Factoring the cost of a water meter in to your plans is critical. As it pertains to sewage, in most areas the same agency that handles water handles sewage, that is, if you want to hook up to city or county services. If your lot has sewer access nearby then, like water, your installer and/or retailer will help you with the process of hookup and permits if applicable. If your lot does not have access to local sewer hookups then you have two options, generally speaking: (1) paying for a local agency to bring sewer hookups to your site or installing a septic tank. If you research and find that city or county sewer services are available to be brought to your lot, you will need to contact your local department that handles this process and determine (a) cost and (b) permit requirements. If access is far away from your location, the cost of bringing the service to your site can be very expensive. Again, in many areas, the agency that handles water service also handles sewer so contacting the local agency is key. If you want a septic tank instead, there are a number of different requirements you will need to fulfill. First, a septic tank requires a percolation test and a permit to install. A percolation test determines how well the soil on your lot can absorb wastewater. Percolation tests are conducted by contractors and are overseen by a local inspector in most cases. To install a septic tank, your lot will have to pass a percolation test and you will have to get a permit to install the septic system. Your city or county will want to inspect the septic tank prior to completion to determine whether or not your new tank meets local guidelines. Once the tank has been inspected and approved, your contractor can finish the burial of the tank and you will be able to obtain a certificate of completion. In today’s world of modern manufactured housing construction, builders can add solar panels to power the entire home or add enough solar to supply some of the electrical needs. However, many people will buy a new home with the intention of hooking the home up to the local electrical and gas grid supplied by the power company in the area. Find out from your retailer or installer who the local power company is. Call them to determine an approximate cost to bring gas and power to your home. Note, however, if they need to bring gas and power to your home from a distance, they typically will only bring the power and gas lines to your property line. As such, you will need to factor in the cost of bringing the gas and power from your property line to your home (typically accomplished through trenching). Installation requirements and codes vary from city to city and from county to county. Moreover, you will need to follow the precise guidelines of the agency responsible for providing the permits for installing the following: electrical meter, electrical panel, air conditioning unit, gas lines, water heater, furnace and, depending on your area, other additions like built-in appliances and even ceiling fans in some locales. Setting up utilities for a new manufactured home may be an involved process. However, understanding the steps involved will make the process much easier.

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