‘i-House’ takes you from trailer park to the 21st Century

From its bamboo floors to its rooftop deck, Clayton Homes’ new industrial-chic “i-house” is about as far removed from a mobile home as an iPod from a record player…

With a nod to the iPod and iPhone, Clayton said, “We love what it represents. We are fans of Apple and all that they have done. But the ‘I’ stands for innovation, inspiration, intelligence and integration.”

Clayton’s “i-house” was conceived as a moderately priced “plug and play” dwelling for environmentally conscious homebuyers. It went on sale nationwide Saturday with its presentation at the annual shareholders’ meeting of investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway Inc. in Omaha, Neb.

“This innovative ‘green’ home, featuring solar panels and numerous other energy-saving products, is truly a home of the future,” Buffett wrote his shareholders. “Estimated costs for electricity and heating total only about $1 per day when the home is sited in an area like Omaha…”

A 1,000-square-foot prototype unveiled at a Clayton show in Knoxville a few months ago was priced at around $140,000. It came furnished, with a master bedroom, full bath, open kitchen and living room with Ikea cabinetry, two ground-level deck areas and a separate “flex room” with a second full bath and a second-story deck covered by a sail-like canopy…

The “i-house’s” metal v-shaped roof — inspired by a gas-station awning — combines design with function. The roof provides a rain water catchment system for recycling, supports flush-mounted solar panels and vaults interior ceilings at each end to 10 1/2 feet for an added feeling of openness.

The Energy Star-rated design features heavy insulation, six-inch thick exterior walls, cement board and corrugated metal siding, energy efficient appliances, a tankless water heater, dual-flush toilets and lots of “low-e” glazed windows.

This has to be great for folks who live somewhere with affordable land – just starting out as homeowners. If you’re not a mad owner-builder [common to my extended family] you can come up with an energy-star-rated home that makes all kinds of environmental sense.

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