Local/Regional News
1:05 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Architect Helping Bring Sturdier Modular Homes To Rural Kentucky

A local architect says it’s no coincidence that some of the worst storm damage in Eastern Kentucky occurred to people in mobile homes.  Michael Jacobs, a visiting instructor with the UK College of Design, says his team is working with the Center For Applied Energy Research, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Kentucky Housing Corporation and others, on a major project that could eventually bring sturdier, more affordable, and energy-efficient housing to rural areas of the state.

“We have looked at prototype housing and we have built two, two-bedroom homes that have been recently opened; one is in Wayne county, the other is in Whitley county, and the concept is to be in a position, not necessarily to do relief housing or emergency housing like FEMA housing, or like a trailer, but to begin to have or leverage the advantage of modular homes.”

Those prototype modular homes were manufactured at Stardust Cruisers, a formerly shuttered houseboat factory in Monticello, Kentucky.  The project even has a catchy name:  HBEER which stands for Houseboat To Energy Efficient Residences.

Jacobs says a similar project still in the talking stages involves manufacturing temporary housing kits that could be quickly transported to disaster areas.

“What we are looking at is a single family house that would be panelized, and so you could call it a kit apart.  And all of the elements of a house would fit into two containers and they could be deployed throughout Kentucky or even beyond our state borders.  Once we put it into containers we can take advantage of our rail and truck systems and deploy these almost anywhere.  They come basically with a set of instructions and are ready to go.”

Jacobs says all of the materials in the kits would come from Kentucky-based manufacturers; providing a boost to the state and local economy.

The homes are expected to sell for around $100,000 or less.