A House That's Shipped Inside Itself

December 15, 1985|TERENCE M. GREEN

Housing ideas are always flying around and a lot of them land on this desk. Many go straight from there into the wastebasket but here are a couple that didn't.

They came from Canada, British Columbia to be exact. For one, James W. Palibroda took an idea that's been seen before--that of letting a domicile be its own shipping container--and developed it into a detached single-family house that sells for about $25,000, not including the lot and site work.

His company is Afford-a-Homes, 221 "A" 5th St., Prince Rupert, B. C. V8J 3T2, Canada, and it's looking for distributors. The home is packed in a 8x9 1/2x20-foot module that Palibroda said resembles a conventional "sea-land" cargo container.

On the site, the container hinges flat, wall and roof panels are removed and assembled and the interior partitions, stairway and other permanent furnishings are installed. The result is a 900-square-foot, two-story house with two bedrooms, one bath and a loft overlooking the living and dining rooms. Wiring and plumbing are complete. Kitchen cabinets are included and the bathroom, a one-piece fiber glass modular unit, has the toilet installed. Palibroda said four workers can assemble the house in a week, using simple hand tools and a fork lift part of the time, or the company will do the assembly for an additional fee.

More conventional and with a far wider range of sizes and styles are the homes produced by the Canadian company National Homes Ltd., based in Abbotsford, B. C., not far from Vancouver. Their Southland representative is National Homes of California, 14004 Palawan Way, Marina del Rey 90292.

They would fall into the "pre-cut" classification of manufactured houses. Everything needed to construct the home is--or can be--on the truck that drives up to the site 10 days to two weeks after the plans have been approved by the buyer, which can take up to a month after the contract is approved. The smallest home in the company's 120-page catalog is 755 square feet and the largest is 2,900 square feet in two stories. They're built in Canada and those destined for export here are modified to meet U. S. codes. The catalog also shows attached duplexes, townhouses and apartment buildings.

Gloria Grant, the local company's executive vice president, noting that the homes are shipped here from Canada, said, "Because of the favorable exchange rate between the two countries, we are able to serve the needs of developers as well as individual home builders at savings of 10% to 40%."

The company offers three levels of specifications: "Approved," for the budget-conscious; "Emblem," for those willing to pay more (usually 10% to 15%), for higher quality, and "Heritage," with an even higher level of quality on interior finishings and kitchen cabinets. Grant said the base price for the Approved level is about $14 to $18 a square foot.

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