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What is a Manufactured Home?

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: March 31st, 2011 | 2 Comments

When people think of manufactured homes, a great number of images, concepts and thoughts come to mind. This article is designed to enable a prospective manufactured home buyer to understand the proper definitions of various manufactured home types, understand the regulatory agencies involved in manufactured home construction and also understand the major differences between mobile, manufactured, modular and prefabricated homes. In our experience, many consumers and even homebuilding industry insiders incorrectly use these terms interchangeably. It’s important for consumers to know these differences so they understand the standards that manufactured home builders must live up to. In 1974, an act of Congress designated the Department of Housing and Urban Development as the regulatory agency for manufactured homes. All manufactured home builders are required to build their homes to the minimal standards set forth by HUD. The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides access to local offices in every state and finding these local offices is quite easy to do online. The following URL will link you to a directory of HUD offices by state: ( http://portal.hud.gov:80/hudportal/HUD?src=/states ). Following the link to your state within this directory will lead you to a local HUD office. State and local agencies also play a role in the regulation of the manufactured housing marketplace. For example, in California, The Department of Housing and Community Development administers the Manufactured Housing Program, a state government body responsible for regulating and enforcing both HUD and state specific manufactured housing codes. Counties, cities and local architectural commissions may pass stricter code standards and manufactured home buyers must make sure they understand local permitting issues so their new home will be installed properly within these locations and meet local building codes. The state agencies like the California Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs also serve as a general complaints board. HUD refers to the state bodies as “SAA’s”, that is, State Administrative Agencies. These agencies are required to inform HUD of all complaints filed each and every month within the state to insure consumers complaints are addressed properly. So, what exactly is a manufactured home according to the parent agency, that is, HUD? According to HUD... “A manufactured home (formerly known as a mobile home) is built to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code) and displays a red certification label on the exterior of each transportable section. Manufactured homes are built in the controlled environment of a manufacturing plant and are transported in one or more sections on a permanent chassis.” While the HUD definition describes what their agency refers to as a manufactured home, their definition leaves a lot to be desired. In the course of performing research on manufactured homes, you will most likely encounter the following terms: manufactured home, modular home, panelized home, pre-cut home, and mobile home. Here are some working definitions of the various kinds of manufactured homes on the market: Manufactured Homes: Homes built completely in a factory following the standards of the federal building code codified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The safety standards were made mandatory by HUD on June 15, 1976. Manufactured homes are either single or multi-section construction, built in a factory and shipped to a site and thereafter installed. The best part about homes that are truly "manufactured homes" is that they are built in compliance with the only federally-regulated national building code. 

Modular Homes: Like manufactured homes, modular homes are built in a factory. Unlike the manufactured homes, however, these homes are built to local, or state codes, not the federal code established by HUD. Panelized Homes: Instead of building a home in large, transportable sections that are essentially complete when leaving the factory minus installation, panelized homes come in multiple "pieces" referred to as panels. Like modular homes, panelized homes are built to local or state standards and codes and not the HUD code. Mobile Homes: Generally speaking, "mobile homes" refers to any home built in a factory, either partially built or completely built, prior to the establishment of the HUD code. Other terms and phrases you will find more frequently include: “park model home” and “prefab” or pre-fabricated home. Park model homes are most often designed to be installed in recreational vehicle parks. Park model homes, typically required to be under 400 total square feet, are built to comply with the ANSI 119.5 Standard for Recreational Park Trailers. This type of home is licensed and titled as a Recreational Vehicle. Park model homes are built on a single chassis, are mounted on wheels and are less than 400 square feet. The chassis of a Park Model is typically less than 8 feet and six inches in width and needs no special permits to be towed. These smaller park models can be kept on their wheels and remain mobile for easy transportation. Prefab or Prefabricated homes typically refer to what the Manufactured Housing Institute refers to as a modular home. These homes are designed to be permanently affixed to a foundation. These homes are built completely within a factory environment and the pieces, that is, modules, are shipped to the site. Some prefabricated home manufacturers ship entire modules and piece them together on site and others will ship both modules and panels and piece the home together on site. Whether a park model home, manufactured home, modular or prefab home is what you are looking for, they all share a wide variety of benefits when compared to homes completely built on site. The following is a brief list of the benefits of homes built entirely or mostly built in a factory: Manufactured home prices are typically 10%-30% less per square foot than comparable, custom site built homes. The quality of manufactured homes is often higher. The entire process of the build is controlled by a single team in a factory environment. The factory environment is controlled and construction materials are not subjected to harsh environments during the build process. Less waste is generated in the process as well reducing the amount of materials ending up in our landfills. The time required to install a manufactured home on a permanent site is significantly less that the time required to build a site built home from the ground up (weeks versus months). Nowadays, many manufactured home builders offer energy saving options that site built homes rarely offer like Net Zero Energy packages designed to meet the specific needs of the homeowner. Most contemporary manufactured home builders offer a wide range of options that are equivalent, if not superior to custom site built home options. Floor plans offered by manufactured home builders are highly customizable. Many manufactured home builders offer multiple variations on a single model and may even offer custom design options as well. Manufactured home builders must submit their plans to state regulatory agencies prior to building homes for their clients. This means that manufactured homes sold by retailers in your state meet the minimum federal and state codes before they are sold to the public saving consumers both time and money. Understanding the basic definitions related to various types of manufactured homes is important so that you can choose the right type of home for your needs. Furthermore, knowing that the industry of manufactured home building is the only federally regulated home building industry and is highly regulated is a comfort to many homeowners. Still, some people will find flaws in the finished product. Remember, the home is built by a manufacturer, installed by contracted set-up crews, and the entire process is overseen by either the individual homeowner or a selected retailer. Flaws in the finished product, therefore, may result from any one of these stages of development and installation. The role of the SAA is to assist the homeowner file complaints formally and insure that HUD is made aware of specific problems in order to insure a prompt response to all valid issues raised by the homeowner.

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How to Finance an Off the Grid Solar Home

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: March 29th, 2011 | 1 Comments

Consumers from all walks of life come to Hallmark-Southwest for answers on how to build their very own version of a perfect home. More and more frequently, consumers of ours and consumers around the globe are looking for a means of financing sustainable energy solutions when buying a home. This is especially true for people that want to live off the grid. To be clear, by living off the grid, I mean not connecting your home to a local power company at minimum. At maximum, this can include not hooking your home up to a city or county sewer system or any other public utility of any kind. The specific question this article tries to answer is more focused on how to finance solar photovoltaic systems in to manufactured homes specifically, focusing on the unique conditions that many people that want to live off the grid face. The first challenge some people face that want to live off the grid is that they plan to live in areas where utilities are not present in the first place. This may sound redundant, but it's important for one reason: in many of these areas, appraisers have a difficult time estimating the value of a property since they are in remote or rural locales. This is not to say that an appraiser cannot determine value by extending the area of comparable sales beyond the traditional appraisal process. It is to say, however, that when values are determined based on non-traditional, yet perfectly legal and ethical means, home loan underwriters tend to use a more careful eye when signing off on the estimated value of a property. So, let's assume that a solar photovoltaic system costs a consumer $30,000.00 as a line item in construction costs. The estimated value of the home, according to an appraiser is $350,000.000, yet the total amount of the loan requested is $280,000.00 meaning, the buyer is willing to bring a 20% down payment. Now assume the lender disagrees with the estimated value as the property, in their estimation, is not as valuable as other homes that are 10-15 miles away, the nearest comparable sales. In fact, the lender will only give the home an estimated value of $325,000.00 and still wants a 20% down payment. This means the maximum loan amount is now $260,000.00, $20,000.00 less than what the buyer was planning on. To make the deal work, the buyer can either (a) bring more money to the closing table to cover the shortfall or (b) exclude their much desired solar photovoltaic system or (c) find financing for the solar PV system after closing escrow. These are some of the troubles experienced not only by people that live in rural or remote areas, but also by buyers that live in traditional areas as well due largely to increased scrutiny in the loan underwriting process and declining property values. So, it's not necessarily that people who want to live off the grid are getting treated unfairly, it's more like a perfect financial storm has caused many of these problems. So what are some available solutions? First, and most obviously, put more money down during the escrow process. Second, acquire the solar photovoltaic system after escrow has closed through a completely different process and determine if your manufactured home builder maintains financing for solar photovoltaic systems or can direct you to a source. Often times, the companies that work with solar PV systems can point you in the right direction easily.

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Green Manufactured Home Owners: The Green CA Summit is Coming!

Posted by:admin | Posted on: March 28th, 2011 | 0 Comments

Are you a fan of manufactured homes because of their energy efficiency and conduciveness to the green lifestyle? If so, the Green California Summit may be just the event for you! Taking place April 18-20, the summit will be held in Sacramento, near the legislators who make key policy decisions that affect green building practices. Why should manufactured home owners attend the Green California Summit? Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about developing sustainable communities for modular homes. Maybe you’d like information on the latest in renewable energy, solar products, and EnergyStar® products. If so, the Green California Summit is the place to get it. Many manufactured homes authorities will be on hand as well, to advise you regarding your energy practices and other green procedures. Additionally, some attendees will win valuable cash prizes toward green upgrades for their homes. And if you’re a member of Build It Green, you can receive 20% off the registration fee. Not a member of Build It Green? We’re fond of this organization, and like what it can do for manufactured home owners who live a disciplined green lifestyle. What better way to propel yourself into the realm of green manufactured homes expertise? Hallmark Southwest is proud to support manufactured home owners who live the green lifestyle; we commit ourselves to keeping you informed on developments that can enhance your ownership experience.

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Manufactured Homes and Energy Star Certification

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: March 28th, 2011 | 0 Comments

The phrase Energy Star and the Energy Star brand are both clearly recognizable to consumers. Anything associated with the phrase or wearing the Energy Star label is considered energy efficient to most people. However, few people really know exactly what the Energy Star certification process is like or how the Energy Star program works when it comes to rating manufactured homes. The purpose of this article is to demystify the commonly seen Energy Star label and program and explain how manufactured home builders get to wear the Energy Star label. First and foremost, a bit of history is in order. The Energy Star program was started by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 with the goal of rating products based on energy efficiency with the goal of reducing green house gas emissions. Since then, the Energy Star program has grown from rating products like refrigerators to more complex systems such as manufactured homes. The Environmental Protection Agency chooses products to wear their label based on the following principles. (1) Categories of products to be rated must be able to significantly reduce energy consumption nationwide, e.g. a company that produces an energy efficient widget intended for use in one location will most likely not be rated. Another company that produces a similar widget intended for mass production will meet the guiding principle to be rated. (2) In addition to delivering energy efficiency, the product must meet consumer needs and demands (3) The product must be cost effective, that is, if it costs more than other products that are less efficient, consumers would need to recoup the premium over time through reduced energy costs. (4) Energy conservation should be able to be achieved through non-proprietary technology and through more than one manufacturer. (5) The consumption of energy of a product must be open to empirical testing. (6) The label of rated products must be clearly recognizable to consumers. If a product meets these basic principles and passes scrutiny based on the specific criteria of the Energy Star program, it may wear the recognizable Energy Star Badge. Since 1992, manufactured homes may also wear the badge and be certified through the Energy Star program. At present, Hallmark-Southwest exceeds Energy Star standards through our standard construction process. We use energy efficient products in our construction and also offer a wide variety of energy efficient options, one of which exceeds Energy Star standards and has the potential to meet or exceed the electrical requirements of homeowners depending on their consumption habits. This new option we offer is referred to as a Net-Zero energy efficiency option. Through advanced systems and engineering, coupled with solar photovoltaic systems, we truly offer consumers the ability to potentially produce all of their electrical needs with a Hallmark-Southwest home.

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What Can Net Zero Manufactured Homes Do for You?

Posted by:admin | Posted on: March 22nd, 2011 | 0 Comments

With electricity and natural gas costing the average American homeowner over $2,000 per year, environmentally conscious families are looking for solutions that can reduce energy bills and their carbon footprint. The most talked-about option of the past decade is easily solar energy – specifically, net zero homes. By definition, a net zero home is one that will generate as much renewable energy as it uses over the course of a single year. Energy experts predict that over a 20 year period, a net zero home can save the average homeowner over $100,000 in utility costs. That’s all fine and good...but what if you’re interested in a manufactured home? Not to worry: Manufactured homes can benefit from net zero technology as well, with energy efficient pre fab homes that rely on solar power for electricity, heating and cooling. Manufactured homes constructed according to the net zero philosophy will use less energy than they produce, making utility bills lower and the carbon footprint of the home practically invisible. Hallmark Southwest specializes in creating net zero pre fab and manufactured homes for families like yours. Satisfied clientele throughout the Southwest are enjoying their stylish, comfortable, and energy efficient manufactured homes.

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Manufactured Homes: Sustainable Living Solutions

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: March 18th, 2011 | 1 Comments

There is a growing perception that manufactured homes, modular homes and pre-fabricated homes are built specifically for sustainable living and energy efficiency. Far more often than not, internet searches for "green homes", "energy efficient homes" and "sustainable homes" return search results for manufactured homes of all kinds. For whatever reason, it's a good thing for consumers. The leading builders of manufactured homes are keenly focused on increasing energy efficiency in home design to satisfy a growing consumer and environmental need. The needs that many builders are catering to are consumers that want to build homes in remote areas an in high end areas where general contractor fees are sky-high. If you are considering building a home in a remote area, manufactured homes are the way to go. It makes perfect sense: If you want to build a site built home in a remote area, then you'll need a general contractor and subcontractors. Coordinating electric, plumbing framing, foundation work, finish carpentry and every other detail in a remote area can be very difficult. You may even find it impossible to get certain kinds of subcontracting specialists to perform work and if you do, it may be at a considerable premium. These considerations don't even take in to account that local specialists in remote areas my not be well versed in energy efficient design or building. Australia is known for its vast, expansive and unpopulated areas and many people find it desirable to build homes in these areas to "get away from it all." A recent ABC News Australia report, Modular homes offer cheaper remote housing discusses this problem referring to homes built in a factory and assembled on site as the most preferable method given the remoteness of their West Coast and the cost savings. In fact, Australians are saving 30% on construction costs on average using modular homes constructed from cement, transported to their remote West Coast. A growing number of individuals and families are looking to manufactured housing in America in either remote areas or in very high-end locales where site build home contractors charge excessively high premiums. In both areas, manufactured homes help consumers in two ways: (1) they accomplish the goal of the consumer, that is, building a high-quality home in a short period of time and (2) they reduce overall costs to get the same quality, if not better, than a site built home all the while offering the energy efficiency options high-end buyers are looking for. Manufactured homes are often far more energy efficient than their site built counterparts. Hallmark Southwest's Net-Zero Energy equipped homes are a testament to energy efficiency and more and more buyers of manufactured homes are expecting energy efficiency and solar photovoltaic options when shopping the marketplace. So while many traditional builders of manufactured homes are experiencing downturns in sales due largely to the economy, those buyers that want to live a sustainable, green life understand that high-end manufactured home builders cater to their needs. The growing assumption in the manufactured housing industry is that the companies that adapt and overcome, providing energy efficient or Net-Zero Energy homes will do well in the long term, especially with the market segment that has a deep care and concern for living a sustainable life. While housing in general may be hurting, manufactured home builders, modular home companies and pre-fabricated builders that cater to people that want to buy a sustainable dwelling will do just fine.

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Manufactured Homes in Coastal Communities

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: March 15th, 2011 | 1 Comments

There's a common misconception that seems to be waning over time and for good reason, namely, that manufactured homes in coastal communities are not the best fit. In reality, the opposite is true and is becoming a more popular choice for consumers and also a more frequent occurrence experienced by developers, building communities and local planning departments. (more…)

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Manufactured Homes: Price Versus Quality

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: March 15th, 2011 | 1 Comments

What is a manufactured home really? Is it an affordable alternative? Perhaps it's an eco-friendly housing alternative? Or is it, at base, a place you will call home for a long time coming? No matter how you conceive of a manufactured home, Hallmark-Southwest always considers the homes we build a place you will call home for the rest of your lives. That's how we build our homes and that's the reason behind our motto: Craftsmanship Lives. (more…)

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Manufactured Home Building: DIY Site Prep and Setup Vs. Retailer Assistance?

Posted by:Luca Brammer | Posted on: March 15th, 2011 | 2 Comments

One of the more frequently asked questions we receive at Hallmark Southwest is whether our valued clients that call us directly should do site prep for their manufactured home themselves or work with a retailer. The question is far more than fair. In essence, consumers are, and should be, always concerned about getting the best home possible for the lowest possible price. Reducing the amount of work a retailer does for you and trying to do site prep work on your own makes sense, at least on the surface of the question. (more…)

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High Quality Manufactured Homes: Standard Practice for Hallmark Southwest

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

Manufactured home builders are not all the same. Some builders offer high end features in every home while others offer a very stripped down version of a manufactured home. Hallmark Southwest is a home builder known for adding the best features as standard practice in every home we build for our customers. (more…)

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