Utah company making portable houses to send overseas

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DRAPER -- A Utah company hopes to provide housing for refuges in Pakistan with portable, Styrofoam homes that are well-insulated and can be built in under an hour.

Lance Shotwell, building systems executive for U.S. Panel International, is the guy who trains people how to build the portable houses.

"They're very simple," he said.

But don't let the home's simple appearance fool you.

"It will handle hurricane, earthquake and snow load of 10 feet," said Jim Haslem, U.S. Panel International's CEO.

The homes are also very well-insulated for heat or cold, making them ideal for refugees like those in Pakistan's Swat Valley.

"They have displaced over 2 million people, and they have no homes--and those that are there are war-riddled homes," Haslem said.

**Making sense of 361 square feet**
• 33.5 square meters • Approximately 18 feet by 20 feet • Larger than the typical family room (224 sq ft) • Slightly smaller than the average garage (400 sq ft) • Slightly smaller than the average motor home (400 sq ft) • The average size of a starter home in the U.S. is 1200-1500 sq ft
He says the Pakistani government expressed interest in about 50,000 of the homes for fleeing refugees, at a cost of just over $12,000 each. "For them, this is the Taj Mahal," Haslem said.

"Right now they're living in nothing, Shotwell added.

Haslem also says he's been working with The Chinese Government, to send these homes to those devastated by last year's earthquake in the Sichuan Provence.

"They're talking with us, seeing if they could have about 150,000 homes," he said.

If the negotiations go through and these homes prove successful, then Shotwell and his crew could be training people all over the world on how to put these up.

U.S. Panel International is still in negotiations with Pakistan and China; no orders have been confirmed yet. But if all goes as planned, the portable homes could start popping up overseas in about four months.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com


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