There is a veritable geyser of data tracking housing today. From existing-home sales, to house prices, to new-home permits, to starts—housing metrics abound.
Remaking your past bestsellers
Designs that were popular during the housing boom will probably need some fine-tuning to make them appeal to the current market. By updating plans, builders can also trim the fat and save money.
Designs that were popular during the housing boom will probably need some fine-tuning to make them appeal to the current market.
More house for less money
Advantage Homes has won multiple awards in the Washington, D.C., marketplace for the Calvert, one of its most popular plans. But the Germantown, Md.-based builder wasn’t content to rest on its laurels.
“We went through some changes to hit different segments of the marketplace,” says Advantage president Rick Centra. “I’m gearing up to build some bigger houses in Virginia and Anne Arundel County, Md., which are premium-priced markets.”
Advantage teamed up with KTGY Group, Vienna, Va., to reinvent the 4,000-square-foot Calvert. Many of the new features will be incorporated into the builder’s 2013 product line, says Centra. For instance, the old brick elevation is less colonial and more Arts & Crafts. It features multiple textures, colors, shakes, horizontal siding, stone, and upgraded garage doors with lights and board-and-batten shutters.
To trim costs, jogs were eliminated as well as full brick on the gable. For greater functionality, the porch was deepened to 8 feet, and the steps leading up to it were widened — from 3 feet to 6 to 8 feet.
The new Calvert has fewer angles, which makes it easier for buyers to furnish, says Centra. It has the same number of windows, but they’ve been repositioned to maximize energy efficiency. And it now runs on one HVAC unit instead of three. “Just from a replacement-cost standpoint, it’s terrific,” he says.
KTGY enlarged the kitchen and pantry and squared off the family room and morning room for greater functionality and economy in the foundation wall and framing. The laundry was moved to the second floor (a more desirable location, says Centra), and wasted space in the master bath was recouped for larger vanities, a more sumptuous walk-in shower, and added linen storage. The morning bar was eliminated from the master sitting room because it’s no longer popular with buyers.
KTGY redid the old first-floor laundry room as a planning center with cubbies, a homework center, a drop zone, and a recharge zone. Such features, optional in other builders’ homes, are offered as standard by Advantage. The new Calvert “gives buyers another 100 square feet and it costs me less money to build,” Centra says.
Less formal, more functional
Houston-based David Weekley Homes is conscious of the fact that buyers live differently now than they did five or six years ago. They don’t want to pay for extra square footage if it won’t be utilized. Therefore, Weekley’s plan updates typically include eliminating the formal dining room in favor of a larger kitchen and study and a powder room; a study that’s open on two sides to allow for multiple uses; a first-floor bedroom suite; a drop zone; and an optional “super shower” in the master bath (a large shower in place of the soaking tub).
“With the multi-generational family becoming more common, the aging of the baby boomers, and kids often coming home after college, we found that the need for a second first-floor master was growing,” says Bob Rohde, VP of research and design with David Weekley Homes. Rohde says drop zones with coat hooks, backpack racks, and storage are being added to all of Weekley’s plans, but as a centralized area that isn’t part of the utility room.
The Huntsburg plan reflects these lifestyle changes. The 3,709-square-foot home gained about 50 square feet in the transition and features an open study that’s less formal, but still private. For improved workflow, the cooktop was moved off the kitchen island to the counter facing the dining room. The second bedroom was turned into a suite with its own bath.