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The New iHouse by Clayton Homes – Can it shake the manufactured house stigma?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

iHouse FlexII Layout CIt’s the mobile home gone green. Actually that’s a manufactured home. Made by Clayton Homes in their Maryville, TN plan the iHouse was unveiled earlier this year and “built for the era of sustainable living”.  The base tab for a 2 bed/2 bath 1,291 square foot model with no upgrades is $129,087 or $99.99 a square foot. Compared to all other 1 story models that Clayton Homes currently sells it is the most expensive, exceeding similarly sized Classic models by $80,000. However, the iHouse, since it is built in a controlled environment creates only two garbage cans of waste as opposed to two skid dumpsters for a typical site constructed home.  What is appealing about the iHouse is the earth friendly options such as sustainable hardwood bamboo floors, no VOC paint, Low-E windows, and solar panel roofs, which will set you back an additional $14-$28k. But for even as futuristic as it looks the iHouse is still a manufactured house and these units carry both a stigma and zoning challenges around the country.  The length and width of a manufactured house is extremely different than even a stick built ranch style home.  The lot needed to fit an iHouse versus a similarly sized ranch would be very different.

I believe this may be the newest model for sustainable living and an attempt to make it affordable.  However, at $175,125 fully loaded out the door, with appliances included, the 1,291 square foot model seen above goes for a whopping $135 a square foot.  New homes in most markets can range from $80-$200 per square foot so at $135 the iHouse sits squarely in the middle of the pack and a little high for first time home buyers.  Also, the stigma of the iHouse looking like a mobile home isn’t going to help it’s acceptance in existing neighborhoods.  I like the angled futuristic look and the flex unit with the rooftop deck would be a great place for a garden if it can hold the weight.  I’m excited for Clayton Homes and I hope they see success with this type of construction which should increase awareness and sustainable design.  Hopefully this will create a market and an awareness for this type of product.