The Mobile Home – A Makeover

Petaluma-based company fuses custom architecture with factory production

Petaluma, CA September 18, 2012 — On Saturday September 22, Little House on the Trailer will show it’s first factory built home from 10 am to 4 pm at its display yard at 1840 Petaluma Blvd. North.

Historically mobile homes have been the most affordable housing option. Because price was so important to the buyer, the designs were often ruled more by production efficiency than by the style preferences of the customer. Over the past three decades leaps in technology and production practices have meant a shift in the design, construction and sustainability of factory-built manufactured homes. Now, Petaluma-based Little House on the Trailer is taking advantage of those innovations, applying the custom-design process to factory-built homes on wheels. They can custom build each house to the client’s specifications.

Founded in 2008 by Petaluma resident Stephen Marshall, Little House on the Trailer has designed and constructed 30 homes in the northern California town of Petaluma. Ranging from primary dwellings and backyard offices to art studios, monastery retreats and school portables, each small unit was individually commissioned and hand-built.

This past year Marshall has begun to offer factory-built houses. His partnership with a factory brought down the base price of his 400 sq. ft. model from $65,000 to $36,000, or about 45%.. “We have total control over the floor plan, the placement of the doors and windows and selection of materials and finishes.” However, instead of building the unit on-site, the design is sent to a factory where the house is constructed. Some finishes are unavailable through the factory. This is where Little House on the Trailer offers greater design flexibility, bringing in custom materials such as sustainable bamboo flooring or antique recycled barn siding.

“Our partnership is a fusion between aesthetic design and engineering efficiency. “The two can run in conflict with one another, but they don’t have to,” Marshall says. “My job is to integrate them – I translate the customer’s design into factory specifications.”

While affordability serves as the main attraction to new clients, at Little House on the Trailer economic efficiency and resource efficiency are one and the same. “Primarily it’s a matter of scale; a matter of designing for people to live in smaller homes and consume fewer resources,” Marshall says. Marshall’s sustainable housing motto is “If it’s not affordable, it’s not sustainable.”

Little House on the Trailer’s New Unit Grand Opening is on September 22nd, featuring their first-ever factory-built unit.


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