Champion Enterprises, which manufactures modular homes under its Genesis brand, has unveiled a new line of homes built to NAHB green standards as well as a new direct-to-the-consumer market strategy for the product. “We believe the combination of affordable and green construction is the right mix for the next generation of home construction,” Kevin Flaherty, vice president of marketing for Champion Enterprises, said in a statement announcing the line.
GO Houses will start at around 1,400 square feet with three bedrooms and two bedrooms and go up to roughly 2,500 square feet, according to Roberto Kritzer, Champion’s vice president of corporate design. “The houses will feature 9-foot ceilings standard, vinyl siding, and will offer a variety of roof pitches,” Kritzer explains. “Other features and finishes will be decided between the builder and the consumer.”
Under the new effort, which was unveiled to a national audience at the 2010 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, consumers would first log onto www.thegohouse.com where they will be able to configure their home online by selecting a base floor plan as well as other items such as additions, second-story options, and garage designs.
Once the home is designed, the consumer will receive the price of the modules, as well as guidance for site costs. This will allow consumers to develop a complete project budget. “We all recognize that the market is tough,” Flaherty says. “This is a marketing tool to help builders reach into the Internet to find buyers.”
“The GO House Web site is designed to provide a steady stream of qualified consumer leads to approved GO House builders,” Flaherty continues. “Our modular building system makes certified green construction easy for builders looking to branch out into one of the fastest growing housing sectors.”
In the past, Flaherty explains, most modular home manufacturers had galleries of homes on the Web, but those sites had a focus that was primarily business-to-business. But this site is about drawing in consumers. It contains consumer-friendly features such as interior walk-throughs so potential buyers can get a good idea of what the houses will look like once they are built. Ultimately, the homes will be sold through approved local builders. Once consumers see the homes on the Web site, the next move will be to experience the homes in the person at local builder partners. The company will be building model homes in markets with the best sales potential, which includes the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. It hopes to have 50 models built by the end of the year.
In addition to making it easier for consumers, Champion is hoping to tap into the green zeitgeist with houses that offer a sustainability story. According to the company, the GO House is the company’s first-ever nationally produced modular house that is built to NAHB’s green building standards. Homes will be built with 2x6 walls, high-efficiency mechanical systems that are selected based on region, and low flow faucets, among other features. Homes may also be outfitted with solar-ready features such as wiring and brackets for future installations.
“At the same time we are doing these things, we are also trying to keep costs down,” Flaherty says. Nevertheless, the company expects some additional costs in the green package. “There will be a slightly higher cost, but in the modest 2% to 3% range.”
Nigel Maynard is senior editor, products, at BUILDER magazine.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Las Vegas, NV.