Home Building Curiosities: Manta North

September 30th, 2020

Dear Readers,

Based in Riga, Latvia, Manta North is providing prefab, environmentally conscious, affordable, homes. They offer four different home models, the ‘Ray,’ ‘Slope,’ ‘Weekend,’ and ‘Hott.’ Remember how Go Home makes their home buying experience similar to that of purchasing a Porsche? Where you have a base price and then can add additional and unique features to your home? Well…Manta North uses a similar method when selling their homes. Let’s engage in their buying experience of their ‘Slope’ model and how it relates to William and I’s five main principles: Passive House, Net Zero, Prefab, Small Footprint, and Healthy Living. 

When I first select the Slope model, I am offered with three different variants: ‘Base Up,’ ‘Smart,’ and ‘Earth.’ All Slope versions are 40 meters squared in area (approximately 430 square feet) and are primarily constructed out of cross laminated timber (CLT). The Base Up is their standard version, and starts at 66,900 euros (about an equivalent of 79,383 US dollars). The Smart version costs 70,900 euros (about $84,307) and integrates some smart technology into the home, like SMART bulbs and a smart thermostat for floor heating.1 The Earth version costs 89,500 euros (about $106,424) and uses SMART LED lights and comes with a full solar panel system with a battery pack…oh la la! Because William and I want our home to be net zero ready, if we were in the market to purchase a prefab home, we would obviously choose the Earth version of the Slope model. 

Slope Model. Credit: Manta North

In taking a closer look at the Earth version, we can see that it wants to be net zero by being equipped with solar panels and a battery pack. But is the home built to be actively net zero ready in its efficiency and quality? While Manta North does not claim Passive House certification for their homes, they do build them with air sealing and insulation in mind. 

Their walls and roof are composed of continuous CLT panels, allowing for less air gaps than traditional stick built. For their wall insulation they use Kingspan 120 mm (4.7 inches) PIR panels with an R-27.3, and for their roof they use 200 mm (7.8 inches) Kingspan, R-45.45.2 While Kingspan PIR panels are made from plastics (polyurethane), they do claim to have a high thermal performance and a high resistance to flames and smoke.3 Kingspan encourages their panels to be recycled after their long, useful, lifetime. Although, the best option for recycling the insulation core at this time is through incineration with energy recovery (the heat/energy from burning the insulation is captured and put to use elsewhere).4 The Insulation Manufacturers Association and Kingspan are continuing to research other alternatives. 

The rest of their walls are composed of a water/wind barrier, ventilation laths, anddd…thermally treated wood! Thermally treated wood is a great natural solution for home exteriors, which is undesirable to insects, ages gracefully, and protects the home. 

All windows in the Slope are triple pane with aluminum frames. 

The floors are all heated and can be tiled, have ‘parquet’ (fancy woodwork), or be concrete. The floors are insulated with Kingspan and mineral wool, come with a waterproof membrane, and a sort-of ‘covering sheet’ to protect from insects. They do not mention their foundation system. Potentially up to the individual buyer?

So, there is the Earth version! Now, as part of the cool prefabrication aspect of Manta North, I can select the exact floor plan option I want with my Earth version of the Slope. William and I, if shopping for a prefab home, would choose option ‘B.’ Option B comes with two bedrooms, one bathroom equipped with a walk-in shower, and a combined kitchen and living space. If we want additional features, such as a fully tiled walk-in shower, that would of course cost extra~ approximately 1,190 euros more ($1,415). 

With a fully tiled shower on top of the cost of our chosen Earth model, our total would be brought to 90,690 euros ($107,839). A 20% ‘value-added tax’ (VAT) is added to that total, bringing our ultimate cost for our home to about $129,406. Some unknowns with that cost: if you are ordering internationally, we are not sure if the VAT includes shipping…nor do we know if the home’s set-up on-site is included in that cost.

Comparatively speaking to our other home building curiosities, Manta North’s prefab homes are seemingly more affordable. If the VAT does include shipping, and the home’s set-up is included in the original price, then the Slope’s 430 square foot Earth model (already equipped with solar panels and a battery pack, mind you…) is a more affordable prefab home. This, in combination with Manta North’s mindfulness of the materials they use (CLT, and Kingspan’s commitment to continuous research) aids them in achieving a small footprint and healthy living in their homes. 

William and I are curious to watch Manta North continue to grow and develop in their sustainable mindsets. We wonder if Passive House certification is in their future…as well as perhaps maybe even the Living Building Challenge? We certainly wish them well and look forward to the day that we can help contribute to the sustainable home building market/movement!!

That’s all for now! Thank you for reading!

Shelby Aldrich

1I had to look up what SMART bulbs were! They all have a variety of qualities, which depend upon the manufacturer. I am not sure what kind of SMART bulbs Manta North uses, but SMART bulbs can have the capacity to be controlled by your phone, allowing the user to choose the brightness of certain lights or even put them on timers to save energy. 

2. Kingspan. “Therma TP12 Pitched Roof Board, Product Information,” https://www.kingspan.com/roe/el-gr/products/insulation/insulation-boards/therma/therma-tp12-pitched-roof-board. Accessed on 15 Sept. 2020. NOTE: Kingspan PIR insulation has a metric thermal conductivity (or, K-value) of 0.025 W/Km. At a thickness of 120 mm, this is equal to an Imperial Thermal Resistance (or R-value) of about 27.3 F/sq.ft/h/BTU. At a thickness of 200 mm, this is equal to an R-value of 45.5 f/sq.ft/h/BTU.

3. Kingspan. “PUR vs. PIR: Know the Difference,” https://www.kingspan.com/us/en-us/about-kingspan/kingspan-insulated-panels/blog-news/imprint-blog/pur-vs-pir. Accessed on 15 Sept. 2020. 

4. Insulation Manufacturers Association. “Sustainability,” https://insulationmanufacturers.org.uk/insulation/sustainability/. Accessed on 15 Sept. 2020.

2 Comments

  1. Interesting, but a little small

    Reply
    • And they only get smaller!! 😉 While they may not be the ideal size for large families, they are presumably awesome for people living on their own, or who have much smaller families and are just looking to minimize 🙂 <3

      Reply

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