Building a foundation
Some turning to more affordable, manufactured housing
By KESHIA CLUKEY
Rosalie and Jim Gau needed to downsize.
"The family had moved away," Rosalie Gau, 69, said about her three children. "We were living, the two of us, in a house that was too big."
Many factors began to weigh on the Gaus' decision, including the size of the four-bedroom home, increasing taxes, higher heating costs and what seemed to be a never-ending maintenance list.
In 2009, the retired Clinton couple sold their home of 43 years and moved into a new single-story manufactured home in the Applewood Community in New Hartford Manufactured houses differ from site- or "stick-built" homes in that they are assembled in a factory, and the number of them being placed is on the rise in the town, which is bucking a national trend.
So far this year, the town has issued 31 permits for manufactured housing, compared to 13 in 2009 and 17 last year. There were only seven permits issued for site-built homes to date compared to 12 in 2009 and nine in 2010.
"We've had a banner year building-permit-wise," New Hartford town Codes Officer Joseph Booth said. "We did well this year despite the slow market."
While placements of manufactured housing are up in New Hartford, they are down around the country. In 2010, according to the Census, there were about 50,000 homes placed across the nation compared to 54,500 in 2009 and 80,500 in 2008.
Down the road from New Hartford in the town of Kirkland, the story is a bit different. The town has not seen a large increase in the number of manufactured homes this year â€” only one â€” but there was an rise in 2010, said Melinda Albertine, town planning coordinator.
The town saw the number of manufactured housing permits issued rise from seven in 2009 to 12 in 2010, while site-built homes have stayed consistent with five permits issued each year since 2009, she said.
"It's definitely a cost factor," Albertine said.
The average price of a manufactured house is about $63,000, while a new site-built house can cost upwards of $280,000, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute.
Many families are finding manufactured housing, once known as mobile homes, to be ideal in difficult financial times. Some are looking to downsize, especially seniors, said Nancy Geer, executive director of the New York Housing Association.
"This offers a quality, affordable lifestyle for seniors," Geer said.
The housing market still is in a slump. As the market comes back, the need for manufactured housing might increase because of affordability, Geer said.
"No one is building huge houses any more."
The Gaus moved into the Applewood Community, off Seneca Turnpike, close in proximity to their former house in Clinton.
The home's newness, price and location in a neighborhood that has a community center were just a few of the reasons Rosalie Gau said they chose it.
"We were paying tremendous taxes at our other house," she said. "Now, we pay rental for the land, but it's set and reasonable."
Comparatively, the couple's taxes were almost double in their former house, she said.
"It's much easier on the pocket book."
G&I Homes Inc., a builder of manufactured and modular homes, also has seen the increase in demand for manufactured housing, said Joe Bushey, vice president and general sales manager.
The market for larger homes has decreased, he said.
"People are looking to get the most value they can for their money today," he said.
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