Vermont Pilots Program For High-Performance Mobile Homes, Post Irene (photos)

| by David Serchuk
Vermont Pilots Program For High-Performance Mobile Homes, Post Irene (photos)

While mobile homes represent only 7 percent of Vermont’s total homes they equaled 15 percent of the homes destroyed by 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene. To help prevent future tragedies, and modernize its low-income housing stock, the Green Mountain State has created an innovative pilot program of 10 high-performance mobile-home sized residences in White River Jct., VT.

The homes are being built under the leadership of the Vermont Manufactured Housing Innovation Project, a pilot collaboration between the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Efficiency Vermont, and the High Meadows Fund, among others.

So far four homes have sold.

Vermont governor Peter Shumlin said, in a press release, that these homes put his state on the leading edge of the market’s transformation to resilient and affordable housing. “Buyers need more options, and this is the first step in changing the conversation about what is possible in the manufactured housing market,” he said.

The homes will fit the traditional lot of a typical single wide trailer, but will be built much more substantially, said Pam Boyd, communications director with the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. Whereas a typical mobile home is built of vinyl siding, and the like, these will weigh upwards of 20,000 lbs., and will be solidly anchored onsite, to prevent being swept away in storms.

A high performance mobile home in Vermont

There are also massive subsidies available to the buyers of these pilot project homes, she said. The homes cost $90,000 each to build, but due to various easements and additional loans from non-profits in the state, they can be had for as little as $35,000. The High Meadows Fund, for example, has agreed to give a $30,000 loan per home, reducing the cost by that much, only repaid when the owner sells. The loan then stays with the home, and the savings are passed along to the next owner. “It’s a big enticement for the first ten,” said Boyd.

The homes are being built by Vermod High Performance Manufactured Housing. If they sell well, said Boyd, the hope is that this could be an ongoing business for the builder. 

One problem is that the target audience, folks who live in mobile homes, are not clamoring for these homes just yet, she said. This demographic often buys based on price as the biggest factor, and an old mobile home can be had for as little as $5000.

By comparison these homes, even with the discounts, cost multiples of that. The state hopes to place these homes in trailer parks, where neighbors will see the homes, and hear about their long-term savings. For starters, the homes are extremely well-insulated, and should consume as few as 3 ½ barrels of oil in a winter, versus 55 for a standard mobile home. Traditional mobile homes pay two-thirds more than code-built single family homes for energy because they are so poorly insulated.

By comparison these homes are being specifically designed for cold northern climates, and will use one-third the energy of a regular Energy Star rated manufactured home.

Here are some other advantages of the pilot program homes:

·        Triple-pane windows

·        Built-in heat recovery ventilation systems

·        Durable soundproofing

·        Improved air quality due to the absence of chemicals in the construction materials

Plans for these high-performance mobile homes


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Topics: Building Green, Cost of Ownership, Energy Star, Exteriors, Going Green, Heating & Cooling, Home Design & Plans, Indoor Air Quality, Insulation, Maintenance & Repair, Modular / Prefab, Prefabricated Homes / Systems Built Homes / Modular Homes, Rebates / Tax Credits, Ventilation, Windows

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