PB January 2006

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Features

KB Home and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced a joint collaboration on the design of new homes. The first community designed by the two will take place in Cary, N.C. and will feature approximately 650 homes. The community will include single-family homes, ranging from 1,500 to 4,100 square feet and priced from the low $200s to the mid $400s.

For years, builders have used traditional lumber to build homes; however, ever since engineered lumber came into the picture, builders have been left wondering — which one do I use for my projects? With current industry production of more than a billion lineal feet a year (2003 production) and a rate of increase of over 20 percent per year, engineered lumber is gaining popular...

As you enter the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, the smell hits you right away — the sick smell of death. Spend a few seconds inside one of these empty, desolate homes, filled with rotting couches, walls consumed by mold — and the smell will turn your stomach. A breeze carries a shard of aluminum flashing into the street.

No matter the size of the home, the kitchen is indisputably the hardest working room in the place. Gone are the days when having plenty of counter and cabinet space was the primary concern for potential home buyers. Top design experts and builders from across the country agree that these days, people expect, and are getting, more performance from their kitchens than ever before.

 Find out about five home builders that get customer satisfaction right.  If you have not yet spent time on the J. D. Power public Web site and perused the rankings by builder and by city, you should. The data is both fascinating and revealing.

Move over, metropolitan markets, the megapolitans are coming. Estimating housing needs for 83 million more U.S. residents by 2040, researchers at the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech are predicting a $25-trillion housing boom. To account for this growth and development, they have created 10 super-sized market areas they call megapolitan areas, or simply megapolitans.

Eric Brown of Artisan Homes took a sketch on a napkin for developing loft living in downtown Phoenix to William Hezmalhalch Architects. The result was the winner of the Home of the Year in the Best in American Living Awards — Artisan Homes' Lofts on Central. "It was that vision of creating a loft style unit," William Hezmalhalch Architects' Jeff Chelwick, principal in charge f...

In today's market, some customers are being asked to wait a year or even longer before they can even move into their home. This weakens the emotional appeal of the sale and allows additional time for cancellations. Do you change your presentation for extended deliveries? How do you keep a happy customer and minimize cancellations?

Imagine having complete access to your iPod tunes and favorite satellite radio shows at the touch of a button on panels located throughout the home via a distributed audio system. Picture being able to see who is at the front door with a security camera you can view from your television or home PC.

Builder Sourcing touts itself as the "Next New National Home Builder." For a business that is not strictly a home builder and is confined primarily to the Front Range of Colorado, that boast may seem broad. Builder Sourcing is a buyers group of 16 small to mid-sized builders closing approximately 2,000 homes a year.

Welcome to the end of no-haggle pricing. The last couple of years builder model homes have been like Carmax or Saturn lots. Buyers show up. Salespeople quote a price. Everybody agrees. No haggle. No hassle. It's been great, hasn't it? Salespeople as order takers. Those days seem to be ending. Salespeople are actually going to have to sell.

According to Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), in the past two years, construction costs appear to be rising faster than the general rate of inflation. Heavy construction in the U.S. and rapid growth in Asia have created a strong demand for a number of construction materials.

Communes conjure up notions of sharing common spaces, resources and socio-political interests with a similar group of cohabitants. But collaborative housing, or cohousing, strikes a balance between privacy and community. Homeowners share common areas that may include a dining room (where optional communal meals are shared two or three times a week), kitchen, meeting rooms, recreatio...

Imagine yourself judging a chili cooking contest, with long tables lined with big steaming pots of homemade chili. Given that each pot of chili has been stirred well, you are able to taste just one spoonful to determine how the whole pot tastes. That's because the small sample accurately represents the entire pot.

Whoever said a rising tide lifts all boats didn't know boats. All boats, like all building companies, fare very differently in the same conditions. No two voyages are exactly the same. Even with the best captain and an experienced crew, navigating rough seas and storms takes a blend of technical know-how and sheer brass.

The problem with plan According to the builder, Juniper Hill is currently selling at $425,000 in Charles Town, W.V. Although the plan currently has some weak spots, the price needs to increase when built in the next location, Loudoun County, Va., which means the plans need to be adjusted to make this happen.

Everyone's abuzz about the J.D. Power home builder rankings, and rightfully so. Regardless of your personal stance on the data, more potential home buyers are making it part of their research prior to making a buying decision. And if they're not, you can bet the salesperson of any well ranked company is bringing it to their attention.

Builders need to know how buyers think, but there's another set of people — government officials — who hold just as much clout in a project's life. Increasingly, those in the public sector are thinking of ways to fund major projects without raising taxes. And at any given moment, hundreds of them are in some stage of a public/private partnership.

Katrina. Rita. Wilma. The hurricanes of 2005 dramatically illustrate the importance of building durable, disaster-resistant homes. As rebuilding begins in the South, the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) suggests some changes in building materials and practices that will make new homes more flood-resistant.

Builders will have to significantly increase the energy efficiency of their homes to meet new Energy Star requirements scheduled to take effect July 1, 2006. The NAHB has expressed concern that the July date will not give builders sufficient time to transition to the new standards. They prefer a timetable specified in an earlier draft that gave new communities until July 1, 2006 to state their intention to go Energy Star, and until January 1, 2007 to qualify under the old Energy Star standards.

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