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.
Variety is the Spice of Life Forms
Someone said that sameness is the mother of disgust, and variety is the cure.
Someone once said that sameness is the mother of disgust, and variety is the cure. Judging by the way Life Forms Homes does business, that saying could pass for their company motto. Before allowing buyers to sign on the dotted line, this Houston-based builder insists that all models be complete, from the last blade of grass to every bit of touched-up paint to the final piece of merchandising.
|The Rivulet model pictured here features a porte-cohere with optional gate. The interior of the 2995 square-foot home consists of open but well-defined living spaces.|
"We pre-market our homes, but we strongly resist pre-selling them," says Mark Alvis, president of Life Forms. "It is much easier for the buyers to comprehend the living situation when everything is complete." This approach allows Life Forms to showcase their product in an innovative way. The company usually offers four basic homes in each neighborhood, and they model everything they sell. Alvis says that while virtually no builder offers fewer plans, none builds more models than Life Forms.
It may sound like there is little variety to Life Forms' neighborhoods, but several distinct exterior designs and siding materials for each home, flexible floor plans, upgrades and options produce diversity. The company also has a "non-repetition" rule for exteriors, which means that while there may be two houses with the same basic elevation on the same street, Life Forms neighborhoods will never have two houses that look the same within sight of each other.
|Open spaces and niches lend class and elegance to the formal dining room (above). The master suite option (below) features a large sitting area and peninsula fireplace.|
Buyer response in the Sundance Springs neighborhood in The Woodlands has been very positive. Since the grand opening on April 22, they have sold 13 out of 90 homes ranging in price from the $220s to the $260s. In-house architects and interior designers are responsible for creating and merchandising the four models, which range from 2781 to 2999 square feet. Due to the large move-up market in the Houston area, many buyers have been in their early 30s to mid-40s with children.
Brian Shweiker, Life Forms project manager and sales counselor, says, "These homes offer five bedrooms and 4-1/2 baths, a guest room downstairs, a study in every plan and other flexible features that allow buyers to have it all." He states that every home they build can be designed to incorporate these features, giving move-up buyers something they've never had before and relocation buyers (the next largest segment) the things they're used to.
Open floor plans allow buyers to personalize their homes.First floor plans on left, second floor on right.
Buyers obviously like some features that are popular and therefore common in the Houston market, such as detached garages and spacious closets. But they are also opting for some upgrades that are unique to the area, such as patio rooms, courtyards and master suites on the second floor. "Master suites upstairs allow for better use of both interior and yard space," says Shweiker. "They have been very popular with families who have young children."
Major Products Used: Appliances: Whirlpool Roofing: GS Firehalt shingles Siding: Hardi-Plank Windows: Alenco Plumbing Fixtures: Moen Cabinets: Lone Star Cabinets Countertops: Corian Door Hardware: Titan
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