PB January 2011

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Features

Going green doesn’t have to cost more. Experts at the NAHB Research Center have identified design and construction tactics that builders have used to minimize the cost premium for green.

This month kicks off Professional Builder's House Review collaborative, where a group of leading architects and designers present their best concepts and design solutions to the challenges faced by home builders. In this installment, our design team presents four infill housing solutions that address a number of issues that builders face in infill applications with compact building sites.

In November, we wrote about the new line of sustainable bricks from CalStar Products. The company also recently debuted a new collection of pavers for residential applications. Both products are competitively priced with traditional paver and brick products, and both are made using the company’s proprietary production process, which utilizes fly ash, generates 85 percent less CO2, and uses 85 percent less energy than traditional fired clay.

Delta Group, one of the world’s largest providers of switching power supplies and DC brushless fans for the electronics industries, has adapted its ultra-quiet DC brushless motor design for its new collection of Breez Ventilation Fans.

Architects and builders are getting a jump on the coming wave of household consolidation. Here are the most significant design trends in multi-generational homes being built today, along with some prototype designs for future home buyers.

Lean implementation requires a new mindset when it comes to measurement of the design and building process. What builders measure, and how, can make all the difference in finding and improving efficiencies in the home building process, writes Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development. Sedam offers 10 guidelines for the measurement of Lean operations.

This past September, we wrote extensively about the state of builder and buyer financing, which no doubt is one of the most-difficult challenges home builders face today. For weeks after the issue had hit our readers’ desks, I received nearly a dozen letters from builders stating how our special report was spot-on, and that they feel “stuck” without support from their traditional banking partnerships — stuck with land that cannot feasibly be developed, stuck with homes that are partially completed, and stuck with buyers that cannot quality for a mortgage under the new rules of lending.

When this magazine was launched as Practical Builder in the spring of 1936, the outlook for Americans and the rest of the world was far bleaker than what we face today. Back then we were in the throes of an extended economic downturn that would only subside after World War II ended nine years later. Since that time — 1945 to the present — housing and the American Dream have been inextricably linked. This magazine and the generations of editors and publishers that helped guide it no doubt played a role in disseminating the kind of quality information that the industry came to rely on as it grew and prospered.

Sure, the past five years have been chaotic and the prospects for 2011 don’t exactly look entirely sunny. But there are plenty of builders and developers that are planning for growth this year by doing anything but the status quo. We reached out to Professional Builder’s 112,000 readers, as well as dozens of the industry’s top consultants and experts, and asked them to share their best practical, proven ideas for growing revenue and increasing profits in 2011. We present the top 35.

With the right price and the right location, the numbers on any unfinished house or neighborhood can look like a great deal. But the key to making money on partially completed projects is thorough due diligence and an incredibly clear understanding of the liability issues. Here's what you need to know before taking on unfinished projects.

When it comes to specifying window systems for new-home projects, energy efficiency and price are the top considerations among home builders, according to a December 2010 survey of Professional Builder readers. Nearly eight in 10 survey respondents ranked energy efficiency as a top factor, while about two-thirds said price is a key consideration.

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