Warren Buffett's Green 'i-house' Compared to Apple's iPod

Clayton Homes' new 'i-house' shown in a photo released by the company last fall
Clayton Homes' new 'i-house' shown in a photo released by the company last fall

A new, stylish, environmentally-friendly manufactured home from a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary is getting a lot of attention today, with favorable comparisons to Apple's popular iPod media player.

Clayton Homes' "i-house", "built for a new era of sustainable living," is spotlighted in an AP story that calls it A Giant Leap From Trailer Park.

That item has been both the "Most Viewed" and "Most Popular" item this morning on Yahoo News.

On Google Trends, variations on Clayton and i-house are listed as numbers 1,5,6, and 9 on today's list of Hot Trends for the USA. The term "Clayton Homes" is characterized as "volcanic."

UPDATE at 3:20p ET: A Clayton Homes spokesman tells us the AP story has generated a lot of interest today in the i-house. We're told it will be the single biggest day of traffic to all the Clayton websites since the company went on the web 15 years ago. At one point, the site was so busy it stopped working for a short time.

Clayton has not, however, sold its first i-house. It expects that initial sale within the next 10 days and hopes to "site" the house in 35 to 40 days.

The AP's attention-grabbing lead paragraph:

"From its bamboo floors to its rooftop deck, Clayton Homes' new industrial-chic 'i-house' is about as far removed from a mobile home as an iPod from a record player."

Clayton's CEO Kevin Clayton likes the comparison, but says the 'i-house' is not named specifically after Apple's 'iPod.' "We love what it represents. We are fans of Apple and all that they have done. But the 'i' stands for innovation, inspiration, intelligence, and integration."

Buffett wrote in this year's letter to shareholders, "This innovative 'green' home, featuring solar panels and numerous other energy-saving products, is truly a home of the future. Estimated costs for electricity and heating total only about $1 per day when the home is sited in an area like Omaha."

The i-house went on sale nationally over the weekend, after its formal introduction at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting. (Buffett's 'green' car from China was also shown in Omaha.)

It costs about $100 to $130 per square-foot .. compared to $200 to $300 for a "stick-built house with similar features."

Clayton has showed a 1,000 square-foot prototype, "furnished, with a master bedroom, full bath, open kitchen and living room with Ikea cabinetry, two ground-level deck areas and a separate 'flex room' with a second full bath and a second-story deck covered by a sail-like canopy."

Price tag for that model: $140,000.

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