Home Building Methods have Changed Little

Ten years ago architect Stephen Kieran, noting you can drive the least expensive automobile through a thunderstorm at 70 mph and not get a drop of water inside, challenged the home building industry to do as good a job. Martin Holladay of Green Building Advisor says the technology for producing cars has advanced with new electronics, materials, engineering, and gadgetry, while homes, on-site and in factories, still use wood framing, drywall, vinyl and paint. Attempts to change the manufacture of factory-built homes have not succeeded although the homes, in many instances, have: Lustron Homes of the 1940’s were made of porcelain enameled steel on the outside, metal roofs, metal paneled interiors with metal cabinets and pocket doors. Owners say they have never had to repaint the outside or replace the roof, although the company went bankrupt in 1950, unable to compete with stick-built. While tools used for building homes have improved, as MHProNews has learned from treehugger, the methods have changed little. American houses are designed to be as big as possible, using the fewest materials as possible, and built as cheaply as possible. Until we are willing to trade quantity for quality, it will not get better.

(Photo credit: treehugger–parts to a Lustron home)

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