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December 7, 2011

Making a houseboat a home

Corbin family to move into energy-efficient prototype

By Sharae Myers / Staff Writer

A Corbin family will soon be first-time homeowners but they won’t be living in a typical home.

Dennis Reynolds, 29, his wife, Billie Reynolds, 28, and their 3-year-old son, Grabrille Reynolds, will  soon move into the second prototype of an energy-efficient manufactured house called Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences.

The process to build the home uses the same equipment as what is needed to create houseboats and prototype designers hope to restore jobs lost in the houseboat industry due to the bad economy.

The Reynolds family watched as construction began on the home Tuesday in Whitley County.

Dennis Reynolds said his family wanted to buy a home but it wasn’t possible for them to qualify financially for one under traditional programs.

“We give all the praise and glory to God for this blessing,” an emotional Dennis Reynolds said at the construction site. “After qualifying in the Kentucky Highlands Home buyers program, we looked at several houses, and there were several things we didn’t like, but after coming up here and looking at the land, we felt right at home. When Kentucky Highlands told us about this project, we felt like it was just the right thing to do.”

Partners including Kentucky Highlands Corporation and Kentucky Housing used the resources of the University of Kentucky College of Design and its Center for Applied Energy Research to create a design for an affordable, energy efficient, single family home that will sell for around $100,000 and cost $1.65 per day to power.

The home’s design utilizes processes that will allow it to be manufactured in an existing houseboat factory, Stardust Cruisers, located in Monticello, according to Tom Manning-Beavin, director of housing with Kentucky Highlands Corporation.

Kentucky Highlands Corporation received a Department of Energy grant to purchase the land for the Reynolds’ new home and the grant is administered by Whitley County Fiscal Court.

Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White said, “This is bringing cutting edge technology to citizens of Whitley County. I am proud to see this come to our area.”

White said the court worked with a local real estate agent to find land and the process took about a year.

“We took a long time to make a good decision and I think this is going to make a fine home for the family,” White said.

Manning-Beavin said that 80 percent of the house was made with Kentucky products, which further increases the jobs created or saved through the project. It also saves transportation costs, making it a more environmentally friendly choice.

The project is expected to create jobs and bring back to work some of the 575 skilled workers and 1,000 related jobs that were lost in the houseboat manufacturing and marine industries.

Upon completion of the homes, the same transportation methods used to deliver houseboats will be used to deliver the homes to the construction sites.

The prototype home design includes two bedrooms, one bathroom, laundry, living space and fully equipped kitchen. The home is about 1,000 square feet.

Barring any delays due to weather or construction issues, the Reynolds family should be able to move into their new home in February.

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