Manufacturer hopes to boost area housing market

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 30, 2007

A Brookhaven company is hoping its brand of affordable housingcan make a big impact on the local economy.

Charles Daher, owner of Homeseeker Quality Homes LLC, said hiscompany can deliver modular homes to locations in a radius ofseveral hundred miles of Brookhaven.

“We believe we can give much better service and meet ourcustomers personal needs because the house only gets shipped acouple of hundred miles instead of thousands of miles,” hesaid.

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Homeseeker Quality Homes started operations at its 120 BoyceStreet plant May 15. Since its opening, the company has built andplaced six homes in the local area, said Andy Nauert, plantmanager.

“Right now we’re trying to target two homes a week, but ourintention is to do four a day,” he said. “We’ll reach the pointwhere we will be able to do some custom building in thefuture.”

The company currently employs 30 construction workers, Dahersaid, but as demand for the houses grow and the company gets nearerits production goal, that number will increase to 100 or more.

The average modular home built at Homeseeker is 1,400 to 1,700square feet with a price tag of $120,000, Nauert said. The samehome, built in the traditional manner on site, would costapproximately $150,000 to $160,000, he said.

“Modular homes are typically 20 percent less expensive,” Nauertsaid. “A modular home is much more affordable than a stick built(or conventional) home. Therefore, we can appeal to a much largermarket segment.”

Cliff Brumfield, executive vice president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, said the companycould help more residents making a moderate income find a home oftheir own.

“Modular housing is a fast-growing trend in rural areas and thecompany’s presence in Brookhaven is helping to provide that optionhere,” he said. “The quality that comes from building homes in acontrolled manufacturing environment combined with the ability ofconventional long-term financing makes modular homes an appealingoption for many,” Brumfield said.

The stigma attached to modular homes is that since they’re lessexpensive there is also a loss of quality or that it is amanufactured mobile home, which is simply not true, Daher said.

“It is interesting to note that modular housing is quiteprevalent in Europe and is just now making headway in America,”Brumfield said.

In modular housing, the lumber and other materials used do notsuffer from weathering during the construction process and the homeis consistently monitored by an engineer during its construction,Daher said.

“Every aspect of our houses are inspected once a week by anengineer,” Nauert said. “It’s inspected during every phase ofconstruction, including when it’s finished.”

Conventional houses, he said, are checked only periodically byengineers.

The quality of modular homes became clear after HurricaneKatrina pounded the Gulf Coast, Daher said. Many of the modularhomes withstood the high winds of the storm better than those builtconventionally.

Industry standards, in fact, require a modular home to be ableto withstand 150 mph winds, he said.

“All of our homes will be built to those standards so you’regetting a much stronger house,” Daher said.

Speed is another element in favor of modular homes, the ownersaid. The company’s target is to get a home placed on the site insix weeks from when it’s ordered.