Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
Tradition With a Twist
Gen X buyers seek a sense of neighborhood at Delcor Homes’ newest community.
|The Regency is the largest of the seven single-family plans offered by Delcor Homes at Hometown Village. The 1,750-square-foot, three-bedroom, 21/2-bath plan can be expanded with an enlarged gathering room and finished basement. It is base-priced at $216,900.|
Builder Delcor Homes turned convention on end at its new neotraditional community, Hometown Village at Waterstone, in Oxford, Mich. First, it restored the garage to the front of the one- and two-story single-family plans though most TNDs today feature rear-oriented, alley-loaded garages. Then Delcor rotated the garage 90 degrees to create an appealing courtyard entry that has buyers snapping up the attractive and affordably priced homes at a rate of five sales per month.
“TNDs are very hot these days. Everybody is doing them,” says Phil McCafferty, president of Delcor Homes. “In this case, we have taken a unique approach — creating a courtyard TND.” In terms of appearance and amenities, Hometown Village’s public areas are designed to recapture the elements of traditional town planning including a bell tower, cul-de-sacs, walking paths, outdoor gathering areas and recreational lakes and ponds.
The seven floor plans featured at Hometown Village feature authentically detailed exteriors in three styles — traditional, European and shingle. All have truly functional front porches that encourage conversation and foster a sense of neighborhood among residents.
With base prices ranging from $188,900 to $216,900, Hometown Village is the most affordable product available within the larger planned community of Waterstone, which also features single-family housing in the $250,000 and $350,000 price points. An attached-home community priced from $150,000 is planned for development within Waterstone as well, according to McCafferty.
The expandable two- and three-bedroom plans at Hometown Village attract first-time (40%) and first-time move-up buyers. Residents are drawn to Oxford’s highly rated school system, quaint downtown shopping district (within walking distance), championship golf courses and proximity to automotive industry employers such as General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, VW Audi and their global suppliers. Oxford is about 70 miles north of downtown Detroit.
Square footages for the plans available at Hometown Village range from 1,280 to 1,750 square feet, excluding finished basements that can add 600 to 800 square feet of living space to the home.
“Generation X buyers make up about 90% of our market at Hometown Village,” says McCafferty. “Not only is this group very design-conscious, but they have the money to spend on upgrades that give them added perceived value in their homes.”
While many of the buyers at Hometown Village do not have children, they are looking for a home that makes provisions for a family in the future. “They are really attracted to the family-friendly floor plans and traditional flavor of the neighborhood. We don’t sell homes in dollars per pound but in how they feel,” says McCafferty of the designs created to appeal to buyers on an emotional level.
In a New Direction
Positioning the all-important garage plays a key role in residential planning. Everyone wants one, two or even three. But where do they look best and still make sense functionally?
|One of the most popular options among buyers at Hometown Village is the “super gathering” room. Shown here in the Regency model, this option increases this key living space by 50 square feet or more. The built-in media center, adjacent to the fireplace, is a relatively new option available to buyers in Michigan, according to Delcor Homes president Phil McCafferty.|
“No one likes to look down a street and see a continuous line of open garage doors revealing all the assorted clutter inside,” says McCafferty. The TND solution has been to relocate the garage to the back of the house, accessed from the rear through a narrow alley.
But adding alleys to service rear-oriented garages can add a significant cost to the neighborhood, according to McCafferty. “You are essentially building twice the number of streets,” he says, “and those streets have to be maintained, so there are higher costs associated with this type of design.”
By positioning the garage in front of the house but facing it away from the street, open garage doors will not detract from the streetscape nor dominate the façade. Decked out in the same trimwork and detail as that used on the rest of the home, the garage is disguised as additional living space.
“This garage design really moves everything to the front of the house,” says McCafferty. A bonus, which buyers with young children love, is the paved courtyard that functions as an easily supervised front-yard playscape for children as well as a natural spot to gather with neighbors.
High Ceilings Speak Volumes
Delcor Homes provides buyers at Hometown Village with an impressive list of standard amenities including 10-foot ceiling heights on the first and second floors, full basements with 9-foot ceilings, upgraded wiring, oak cabinetry and steel garage doors.
While the attached two- and 21/2-car garages are all at street level, the living space of the home is actually elevated several feet. This allows the builder to provide additional ceiling height and full egress windows in the basement. And with these slightly higher than normal ceilings, the basements live larger and offer buyers a great way to capitalize on sweat equity when they complete this space themselves, according to McCafferty. “We do offer a finish package for the lower level,” he says, “but most people opt to do it later.” Prices for a fully finished basement range from $20,600 to $26,600 depending on the model.
The multilevel arrangement has another design bonus — a sunken master suite upstairs in the two-story plans, a surprise feature that buyers are really excited about, says McCafferty.
Buyers at Hometown Village pay an average base price of $195,000 for their new home and typically spend an additional $19,000 on structural and interior upgrades. The most popular option, the super gathering room, is available on all plans and typically increases this key living space by 50 square feet or more, depending on the model chosen.
“The super gathering room really sets us apart from our competition,” says McCafferty. More than 70% of the buyers so far have opted for the expanded living space, which adds from $6,000 to $8,000 to the cost of the home.
Another popular option is the built-in media center. “This is something relatively new to the Michigan market, where buyers haven’t really been offered this option before. They love it,” McCafferty says.
Other structural options include transom windows, skylights, fireplaces and built-in computer centers.
Lot premiums at Hometown Village range from $2,400 to $25,000 per home and reflect water or golf course views as well as a walk-out option for the basement.
Pre-sales at Hometown Village at Waterstone began in March 2000, with the model grand opening in July 2000.
Community: Hometown Village at Waterstone
Location: Oxford, Mich.
Pre-Sales Began: March 2000
Total Sales: 85
Builder: Delcor Homes, Milford, Mich.
Architect: Delcor Homes, Milford, Mich.
Interior Design: James Cousens Designs, Clarkston, Mich.
Model: The Wellington (not shown)
Square Footage: 1,625-plus
Model Shown: The Regency
Square Footage: 1,725-2,425
MAJOR PRODUCTS USED
Countertops: Wilsonart; Corian.
Exterior Finish: Vinyl; Sherwin-Williams.
Flooring: Bruce; Mannington; Shaw.
Home controls/automation: Ustec.
Plumbing Fixtures: Moen; Sterling; American Standard.