TORONTO - Vinyl extrusions major Royal Plastics Group Ltd. has begun marketing its modular plastic house in Canada and next year will launch it in the U.S. market. Brian and Leslie Bender became the first Canadians to live in a Royal house last August when they occupied their 2,450-square-foot raised bungalow in Guelph, Ontario, about 50 miles west of Toronto.
Royal now is marketing its system, based on interlocking extruded vinyl panels and posts, to Canadian builders and developers and plans to set up retail locations to appeal directly to consumers in selected territories, according to Royal spokesman Mark Badger.
``We have obtained building code approvals throughout Canada,'' Badger said in a telephone interview.
Royal is working to meet U.S. building codes and expects to get approvals next year, ``then we'll put in a [U.S.] distribution program,'' he said.
The Toronto firm has shipped more than 1,100 of its homes throughout the world and has spent much of its marketing effort in Third World countries. Argentina, where 200 families live in Royal homes, has one of the largest concentrations of the dwellings. The firm announced on Sept. 5 plans to build an extrusion plant in La Plata, Argentina, to make vinyl components for local demand for the Royal housing system.
Meanwhile, Royal is completing a dedicated plant in Toronto that it expects will begin making housing components early next year, Badger said. Other Royal plants near Toronto have been making the components for Royal's worldwide marketing program over the past few years.
Leslie Bender said she thought a plastic house ``was crazy'' at first but became convinced when developer Mark Enchin and Royal officials took her and her husband through a demonstration unit built near Toronto.
She likes its energy efficiency and low maintenance. She runs a day care in the home for six kids ``and they can write on the walls, it cleans easily.'' The Benders, in their late 20s, moved from an older bungalow because they wanted more space and modern accommodation.
Mark Enchin sold the house on a 60-by-140 foot lot to the Benders for about C$190,000 (US$140,600), at ``cost price'' because of distractions during and after construction. More than 40 building inspectors and visitors walked through the house to learn more about it. A traditional, plainer house of the same size would have cost about C$200,000 (US$148,000), Enchin said.
The house's hollow wall panels are filled with concrete and have an R insulation value of at least 21. The roof panels are stuffed with R-40 glass-fiber insulation. Leslie Bender said the forced-air gas furnace ``hardly comes on'' in cold weather.
Royal introduced a catalog of 15 different single-story and raised-bungalow models up to 2,000 square feet at the Construct Canada trade show recently held in Toronto and plans to add a series of two-story homes next year, said Badger.
Enchin said he likely will build several more Royal houses next spring but has no plan to expand to meet an avalanche of inquiries from as far away as Italy.
``I will work with individual customers but will refer larger orders to Royal,'' Enchin said from Guelph.