Innovative i-house catching eyes and interest from home buyers

EVERETT — The future is here, on Evergreen Way south of downtown. And if the future isn’t careful, it might cause a traffic pile-up.

Vic McCown, a home consultant at the Heritage Home Center, said the company’s newest manufactured home display is turning some heads. Heads that should be pointed toward the road, unfortunately.

“People are stopping all the time. There are squealing tires,” McCown said Friday.

In short, the “i-house” displayed along the west side of the highway is getting noticed.

In the drivers’ defense, it does look a little out of place. Really, where else are you going to see another ultra-modern, slightly space-age-inspired manufactured home made from recycled materials?

For now, the display at the Heritage Home Center is the only one north of Sacramento, Calif.

The i-house, developed and sold by Tennesee-based Clayton Homes, is generating buzz in the home construction industry. It’s made from reclaimed materials, right down to its metal deck railings, and designed to be the first green construction manufactured home.

The roof of the house forms a shallow V, allowing rainwater to be easily collected. The floors are bamboo; the decking and doors are made from recycled material. There are solar panels, and even the ceiling fans are energy efficient.

“They’re saying this is the wave of the future,” McCown said Friday as he and a crew of workers put the finishing touches on the display. “And we have a lot of interest. I have a gal coming tomorrow from Texas to see. On Monday, we have a guy coming up from Oregon to buy.”

The house has to be purchased online, and with a host of add-ons, it costs anywhere from $75,000 to $140,000. The house went on sale last month, but sellers soon realized that a virtual tour online wasn’t enough for some buyers. They wanted to walk through the i-house before purchasing one.

Over the summer, Clayton Homes will roll out models at eight locations around the country. Heritage Home Center will serve as i-house central for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

The i-house gets its name from the structure’s unusual layout, which can include an optional “flex” unit that appears to dot the “i” of the longer main house.

But it doesn’t hurt that the house’s name suggests the iPhone, iPod, i-everything craze, McCown said.

Clayton Homes President Kevin Clayton told the Associated Press the name isn’t entirely a coincidence.

“We love what it represents,” he said. “We are fans of Apple and all that they have done. But the ‘I’ stands for innovation, inspiration, intelligence and integration.”

The company is aiming for i-house sales to eventually total more than 10 percent of business.

In south Everett, the i-house looks like the cool kid in school, planted roadside on Heritage’s lot. It makes the other manufactured homes look a little dowdy, like maybe Mom and Dad didn’t splurge for the new back-to-school duds.

As with the rest of the construction industry, manufactured home builders are moving toward “green construction,” McCown said. But the rest of the industry hasn’t moved as far as the i-house.

“This is a whole new concept,” he said.

The i-house will be ready to show today at Heritage Home Center, 10910 Evergreen Way. A virtual tour is available at

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