New mobile home being built in Vermont post-Irene

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION (AP) -- A new, more durable mobile home is being manufactured in Vermont after about 560 mobile homes were destroyed or damaged in the state by Tropical Storm Irene.

The Aug. 28, 2011 flood prompted housing advocates, energy specialists and others to analyze the quality of mobile homes being sold, said Peter Schneider, an energy consultant with Efficiency Vermont.

"Tropical Storm Irene really showed us how vulnerable our mobile home communities are," he said.

Mobile homes are a critical part of Vermont's low incoming housing options but they depreciate over time, he told Vermont Public Radio.

"They are poorly built structures for the most part. Many of them are very old structures that people are still living in and they are sort of beyond their life span," he said.

Mobile home residents also spend a greater portion of their income on energy than other homeowners do, he said.

Now a pilot project is underway in White River Junction to build a more energy efficient and flood-resistant mobile home.

The newly designed home is expected to have about a third of the energy costs of a typical mobile home.

"We're really well insulated," said Steve Davis, who is building the first of 10 mobile homes.

They also will be tied to either frost protected piers or to a frost-protected foundation and will not be built on flood plains, said Schneider. "So none of our units are going to be sitting on cinder blocks and up in the air where they could literally float away."

But the new high-quality homes are more expensive than typical mobile homes, selling for about $90,000, which is roughly $30,000 more than other new mobile homes. That price is justified by the energy savings, said Craig Peltier of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, which is offering a $20,000 subsidy on each of the first 10 homes.


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