Riverhead manufacturer invents durable temporary homes for Haitian quake victims

08/05/2010 12:00 AM |

A 140-square foot prototype house Jack Hunter hopes will be ordered in bulk by to used by those left homeless in Haiti.

A Riverhead business owner is hoping a prototype of a home he’s built can be used to house earthquake victims in Haiti.
Jack Hunter of Hunter Insulation on Elton Street says he’s been in contact with the Clinton Bush Foundation, which is working to help the victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake, and that the group has expressed interest.
“The Clinton Bush Foundation has been looking for various solutions, and has said there’s an immediate need for 125,000 to 150,000 of what they’re calling transitional homes,” Mr. Hunter said. “Something that will get them out of the rain, protect them from the environment and something they can add onto later.”
The prototype home he’s built is 10×14, sleeps six in bunks that can be turned into chairs, and has a 12-volt car battery that it charged by a solar panel and is then converted to electricity that can be used in the home.
“This is 100 percent better than what they have,” he said.
The homes will sell for $6,000.
Mr. Hunter said he’s only been working on the project for about a year.
“We’ve been in the urethane spray foam business for almost 25 years and the military started using some spray foam over in Iraq, so I started on a project to offer them something,” Mr. Hunter said. “In the meantime, the Haiti earthquake happened. So I switched focus, because I saw what junk, really, was being sent down there.”
He said most of the emergency homes being built in Haiti are too hot to inhabit and don’t last long.
“They’re building these little huts out of a couple of 2×4’s and a corragated tin roof and they wrap it with blue poly tarps. They rot and blow away in six months,” Mr. Hunter said. “The Haitians can’t even go inside because they’re too hot, with a tin roof and a tarp.”
The prototype home he hopes to sell to the Clinton Bush Foundation has insulated panels that are an inch and a half thick and contain foam insulation on the inside, he said.
The home also is “incredibly strong,” he said.
“You can literally knock this over and nothing will happen to it. An earthquake can’t hurt, hurricanes can’t hurt it.”
The home only weighs about 700 pounds, and it can be disassembled and shipped in a box the size of a refrigerator.
Mr. Hunter said the prototype will be presented at the Clinton Global Initiative in September, and there’s a chance that about four of the homes might be sent to Haiti on a trial basis through another smaller foundation, although permission is needed from the Haitian government first.
Mr. Hunter believes that if he can get an order for 1,000 of the homes, it would create about 50 jobs in Riverhead manufacturing the parts and another 50 to 100 jobs in Haiti assembling them.
He said it takes three people about two to three hours to make the homes.
The homes don’t have running water, but that’s an issue that would have to be addressed in Haiti, since the infrastructure to provide running water was damaged in the earthquake, Mr. Hunter said. The homes can be easily retrofitted to provide water if it’s available, he said.

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