It's a tiny home, but promoters contend it is energy self-sufficient and environmentally green.
Powered by solar panels and propane gas, the 400-square-foot home is designed to eliminate the need for an electric utility connection. It also offers the option of using a "gray water" filtering system and toilets that don't need to be linked to a septic tank or sewer.
The portable, "off-the-grid" house has been on display in Modesto, Calif.
"Everything is self-contained," said Steven Lefler of Modular Lifestyles Inc., the company promoting the home as an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional housing.
"The cost of building a home on empty land is astronomical because of what it takes to connect to utilities," Lefler said.
That doesn't mean this home is a bargain. It's priced at $69,500 - which works out to $174 per square foot - not counting the cost of land, site preparation or building permits.
By comparison, the median sales price for an existing Stanislaus County, Calif., homes, including the lots they're built on, is about $80 per square foot, according to DataQuick, a real estate research firm.
"This home works in places that have high costs," Lefler said about his so-called green alternative.
The Olive Lane Estates mobile home park hopes a larger version of the home will attract new tenants to its community.
"We're set to buy five solar homes, and we'll probably rent them," said Michael Ramsey, Olive Lane's regional manager. The park has five empty spaces, so Ramsey said it is going to install two-bedroom, one-bath homes from Modular Lifestyles in those spots. The first of them is expected to arrive this month.
Lefler said those 784-square-foot homes sell for $60,000. He said they do not have as many features as the smaller home now on display.
Because the two-bedroom homes will not have electricity costs, Ramsey said he expects to rent them for $900 per month.
The average rental rate for traditional two-bedroom, one-bath apartments in Modesto is about $790 per month, but they have an average 847 square feet, according to RealFacts, which tracks rental property trends. Typical renters, however, must pay electric bills in addition to rent.
According to the Modesto Irrigation District, homes with 850 square feet or less pay an average electric bill of $115 per month.
The green homes from Modular Lifestyles are built in Arizona and trucked to California. Lefler said they are considered "green" because they have features such as cork flooring, recycled building materials, LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances.
The water heater, stove, furnace and back-up generator are powered by propane. Propane bills would have to be paid separately.
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