Indiana plant that closed 18 months ago to reopen

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Coming up, Are You Tried of the Media Bias Against Manufactured Housing?

But first…these stories.

Indiana plant that closed 18 months ago to


The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a company is preparing to reopen plant it closed about 18 months ago in Mishawaka.

John Willis, director of new business development at Elixir Industries, tells The Truth of Elkhart that in the next few months the aluminum extrusion business plans to begin production with about 30 employees.

In a year, it expects to have 100 workers. The company traditionally supplies the manufactured housing industry but is expanding because of potential long-term growth in the recreational vehicle industry.

Lindal home customized to gain new green certificate

The Seattle Times – On a large lot in South Seattle, one house was deconstructed to make way for another, larger house that hits a triple crown of sustainable certification. It’s all thanks to the vision of a woman committed to going green and Lindal Cedar Homes, the longtime kit-house builder, which collaborated with the homeowner to customize a combination of house plans to create the new house. It’s filled with green features, such as toxic-free cabinets, bamboo floors, EcoBatt insulation and energy-efficient windows.

By Valerie Easton for the Seattle Times – For more than a decade, Wendy Jans lived in a 600-square-foot, foundationless cottage in Rainier Beach. She needed more space, but didn’t want to leave her big, wooded lot in Seattle. And though she was interested in building green, she figured it might be a challenge within her strict budget.

Jans made the unexpected choice to replace her cottage with a house from Lindal Cedar Homes. But hers would be no formula-designed kit house. Instead it’s a prefab myth-buster — about as customized as a house can be.

Jans set her mind to making environmentally conscious choices, from insisting on the vigilant deconstruction of her old house to installing a load of green systems and details in her certifiedsustainable new one. Her home is so eco-friendly, in fact, that it is the first in Washington state to be certified under the new National Green Building Standard of the National Association of Home Builders.

An education consultant and yoga teacher, Jans was drawn to Lindal not only because it’s affordable but also because it offers the potential for open space and extra-large windows through post-and-beam construction. With the help of a friend, she made her home unique by putting together the design from a variety of floor plans that Lindal offers. The result of all this tinkering is an airy, colorful, 2,400-square-foot home well-suited to the family of three.

Lindal homes may be crafted on the post-and-beam model, but the company’s system allows for plenty of green features in a house that takes advantage of the site, from the daylight basement to a rain garden by the front door. Generously scaled windows overlook the back garden and greenbelt that used to be a city Parks and Recreation Department nursery.

“The post-and-beam roof system allowed Wendy to have vaulted ceilings upstairs and as many windows as she wanted,” says senior project consultant Tom Schuch in explaining the benefits of such construction.

The project was lengthy and thoughtful; planning and permitting took one year. Deconstructing the old house was a monthlong effort, rather than the day it would have taken to knock it into landfill-destined rubble. Jans hired Olympia Salvage to painstakingly take the home apart so everything could be recycled or repurposed. A bonus: She got a tax deduction for the deconstruction. “I got to watch the whole process,” she says, and found it fascinating. “One day I showed up, and there was my toilet sitting out on the lawn.”

“If I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right,” says Jans, who knew nothing of green construction at the project’s outset. She used the Washington State Master Builders Association Built-Green Checklist as a road map and counted on the advice of her green-savvy contractors, MC Construction Consulting. Schuch of Lindal Cedar Homes worked with Jans every step of the way; Lindal even paid for the home’s certification process. Schuch explains that Lindal wanted to get up to speed as a green builder and be a resource for its customers. He says he discovered that by being flexible, builders can earn sustainability certification points a lot of different ways. “I learned from this project that there are many shades of green.”

Jans got started by setting clear priorities. She wanted the house to be energy-efficient and built of sustainable or recycled materials whenever possible. Indoor air quality was a priority, both for her family and because she plans to teach yoga classes in a studio on the home’s lower level.

“From the beginning it was Wendy’s desire to have a green-built garden to match her home,” says garden designer Virginia Hand, who used mostly native plants to create a natural-feeling, drought-tolerant Northwest woodland garden.

All the earnest and responsible decisions in no way dim the home’s comforts and practicalities. The handsome bamboo and cork floors avoid the air-quality issues that come with carpeting. The bathroom counters are made of a recycled-glass product called IceStone with the sparkly, chip-like look of classic terrazzo. Downstairs contains a little kitchen and a light-filled space for gathering or teaching yoga on that glossy sweep of bamboo flooring. While there’s plenty of cedar in this Lindal home, the wood on the ceiling is washed rather than stained to keep the interiors as light as possible and to contrast with the darker wood beams. The master bath has a deep, Japanese soaking tub, the tile and wall colors are lively, and tall windows with deep windowsills look out to a bubbling stone fountain in the garden.

The garden, which includes a broad stone terrace, is filled with bird-friendly plantings, berries and winter flowers.

And the price of a clear conscience for someone paying close attention to the cost/benefit of every decision? “It’s hard to figure out, really, what the green cost is,” says Jans. She went over her budget on the stained-alder cabinetry because she chose to have the boxes built green, which means no toxic chemicals were used in their manufacture. The radiant heat in the flooring ended up costing about twice as much as gas heat, but the home is cozy-warm and there’s no dust or allergens blowing about.

Outside, the native plants, once established, will require less water than ornamentals, and the stone patio and steps are the essence of timeless durability. The handsome metal roof has a lifetime guarantee, which is a comfort because Jans and her family are staying put.

Tornado Caused More Destruction to Conventional Construction than to Mobile or Manufactured Homes

On June 5, 2010, a tornado that tore through the Illinois town of Dwight, IL and nearby Streator left a destructive path that destroyed mobile, manufactured and conventional construction alike.

While most media reports showed an overturned mobile home, local officials pointed out that many homes and buildings built on-site were also destroyed.  But anyone who merely read or saw media reports may have had the distinct misimpression that mobile or manufactured homes were the storm’s easiest targets, therefore the least safe housing option.

Dwight Building Inspector Erv Daniels told reporter Eric Miller that in addition to the mobile homes, the storm damaged or destroyed a high school, church and lumber facility and several site built houses. While all of the homes in the Dwight Mobile Home Park were damaged or destroyed, most of the visual evidence suggests these were older, pre-HUD Code mobile homes.  Moreover, two other manufactured housing communities in town were left unscathed. Direction, timing and intensity of the wind may have been a factor to explain this disparity.

The homes in the Dwight Mobile Home Park varied in age, some having been set just a few months prior to the tornado – and most of the homes, according to Daniels, were tied down. Tie downs do provide significant added security, which is most helpful in the case of powerful straight winds.  However, just as conventional houses and structures on concrete foundations don’t completely protect against a tornado, so too, tie downs don’t give complete protection against one of nature’s most devastating forces, namely, a tornado on the ground.

Gwen and John Airgood, who own the Dwight Mobile Home Park, say the park consisted of 34 mobile and manufactured homes, some of which have been there for 20-30 years or more. “This is the first tornado ever to hit the park,” Gwen Airgood says. “It destroyed brick homes and stick homes, too.”

Dwight’s building inspector says the town has been hit by tornados before, but the last one might have been as long ago as the 1970s.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declared Dwight and several other damaged municipalities a disaster area. A local news report accounted for at least 169 insurance claims in Streator and 47 in Dwight. These claims, as learned, showed the majority of destruction was done to conventionally-built commercial and residential construction. And no lives were lost in the mobile or manufactured homes or elsewhere.

Visual evidence and insurance claims confirm that residential destruction in these two IL towns was greater to on site construction than to factory built construction.  An equally important fact is that the most severe damage in Dwight Mobile Home Park seemed to be to older mobile homes rather than to modern HUD Code manufactured housing.

In the tornado’s aftermath, John Airgood told that clean-up was still underway and at least two displaced residents had expressed their intent to return to the manufactured home community.

This story and the accompanying photos are available at:

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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