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MIKE Debler shows a model of a manufactured home.


Manufactured homes

By Marcos de Guzman Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 09:55:00 02/10/2009

Filed Under: Real Estate, World Financial Crisis, Housing & Urban Planning

MANILA, Philippines -- In property development lingo, we encounter words such as ?affordable homes,? ?low-cost projects,? and ?mass housing.? By their names we create a general idea of what they claim to provide. But do we really? Affordable houses: but affordable for whom? If you quote a low-cost unit of P750,000, how many of the masses could afford it?

While it is true that P750,000 falls within the range of some loans offered by the National Housing & Mortgage Fund, undoubtedly, it would be better if developers could offer even much lower-priced products. Unfortunately, though, when we say low cost, it often connotes low quality. From that point, therefore, is where we must boost our effort toward improvement and innovation.

One way of creating quality low-cost homes is by mass producing homes in factories, then delivering them, and assembling on site. These are called manufactured homes.

Prefabricated shells

Manufactured homes, as culled from online sources, are the prefabricated shells or external walls with standard measurements and fixtures, transported to the place where they will be occupied, significantly shortening the completion time of home building. Because the shells are transportable, they are necessarily lightweight.

However, they can be set with masonry or steel bars at base to make them structurally sturdy. They can also be permanently anchored to a prepared foundation, including sewage and plumbing systems. Then, it is a simple matter to lay out the desired flooring, connect electrical cabling, and put in the optional details identified by the homeowner, such as moldings, light fixtures, cabinetry, and additional painting.

However, these have not yet been used extensively here in our country, but it could turn out to be a good idea. According to mobile homes specialist and marketer, Mike Debler, one out of five houses in the United States is, basically, a manufactured home. He claims that there are several kinds and models from which to choose, available in a variety of sizes, from 900 sq ft to over 2,000 sq ft. There are even two-story models to consider. What makes it so popular, of course, is that there is always a particular type that can fit anyone?s budget.

Some of the most common constraints to building your own home, aside from the prohibitive cost of materials and labor, are the protracted project period and the time-consuming details to attend to all throughout construction. Do you not wonder how builders abroad can put up a regular house with just a small construction crew and merely a few weeks of work? That is one other advantage about which manufactured homes can boast.

Can be relocated

Debler attests that it just takes a few days between choosing from among the model homes and delivering the product ready for assembly. Another plus is that manufactured homes can be relocated. In the United States, they merely have to attach wheels to the axles on the frame and tow to the site. This scenario brings to mind the Filipino image of ?bayanihan,? wherein the village folk would carry a house on their shoulders to move it elsewhere.

By necessity, then, manufactured homes are initially made of lightweight materials, wood, and dry wall, but based on US standards, these still have to be able to withstand winds up to 130 mph. But this likewise means that these are not as structurally strong as our regularly built houses. In addition, this type of houses does not appreciate in value; only the lot on which it stands does.

On the other hand, since the main components of the house are factory made and done in a controlled environment, quality can be assured. The manufacturer will hire specialty subcontractors or workers who can master their phase of the job, ensuring efficiency and quality. The purchase of building materials is centralized, done in bulk, and therefore, cheaper.

The downside is that it promotes a cookie cutter concept. One house could look exactly like the next. However, nowadays, this is not an issue anymore. Many of the regular developments have row upon row of houses with identical shapes, color, roofs, and finishes. It only takes some imagination and personal styling to turn these manufactured homes into lovely and unique ones.

Trailer homes and mobile homes are classified under manufactured homes. Sadly, a lot of movies show trailer parks in a bad light, somewhat like our slum areas. But in spite of the negative publicity, a well-designed manufactured home can be the better answer to the huge demand for low-cost homes. With creativity, these may change our mass housing areas favorably. With careful study, these can be fortified to withstand our local conditions. With proper administration, manufactured homes can be many of our countrymen?s dream homes come true.

For your comments and questions, please send e-mail to marcosdeguzman@yahoo.com.

Copyright 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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