PB October 2006

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Features

Here's a run-down of Green Products that are energy efficient or environmentally friendly.

The builders featured in the 2006 edition of Builders' Own Homes were able to to mix business with personal, using industry knowledge to build the homes of their dreams.

Builder John Eilermann 's wife Lisa was the visionary for their new home. She served as full-time project manager and became known on site as "the boss' boss" who was the creative source of nearly everything that went into the house.

The way he sees it, the blueprint for success was simple. "We've gone back in time to the way people used to live," says Greg Whittaker, president of Whittaker Homes. Taking an old idea and bringing it to life for today's home buyer has thrust his firm forward in a way he could never have imagined.

My partners and I are in a fascinating line of work. Every day we get to talk to interesting people from across the country about what's going on in our industry. Here're some things we've run across lately that may help you on the HR side.

In many ways, the current housing market slowdown is similar to what happened between 1990 and 1992, although that one had a national economic recession to deepen it. We've avoided that this time — so far.

Some builders still call it the family room, while others have adopted the contemporary term great room. Labels aside, industry experts agree this multipurpose space is here to stay. In modestly priced production homes or high-end custom residences, today's buyers are expecting more from it in function and style.

When builder Bruce Olson decided to build his own house in Hawaii, his goal wasn't solely to create a private heaven-on-earth retreat; he had ulterior motives to create a showpiece house for his entry into the Hawaiian market.

Before you begin heavy cost-cutting, you should implement a quality improvement program to rebuild your processes and become more proficient. That way, you can make the right cuts without gutting your key resources and jeopardizing your future.

Builders participating in the most recent Harvard Distribution Study significantly downplayed the contribution that improved operating efficiencies have had on their bottom line growth. Yet it's precisely those efficiencies that might end up helping pull them through the current market doldrums.

Hiring the right people takes thought, patience and skill. Are you holding the right auditions?

Steve Kendrick faced a predicament. He and his wife, Anne, were growing out of their home but didn't want to move out of the neighborhood where they had established their roots for seven years. The couple felt they had little privacy from their young children and neighbors in their old home. They also wanted more natural light.

The idea behind the Open Prototype Initiative — what will be a showcase of four high-quality, economically constructed homes — was to improve the way all homes are built in America. And information learned through the first home and subsequent prototype homes will also be useful for improving in-home treatment of the disabled and older Americans with a desire to age in place.

Kitchens have evolved from functioning as just the cooking stage to the actual hang-out hub of the home. TV shows that focus on kitchens or cooking have influenced home buyers who now want personalized, efficient and highly-styled showcases.

Loel Fenwick's home is in perfect sync with nature; it almost mirrors a giant tree house. This captivating home coexists peacefully with the land and animals on the shores of Priest Lake, an undeveloped part of Idaho close to the Canadian border.

ACC can withstand fire and other natural disasters, and since it is lightweight and has its own insulating properties, it can save construction time and energy.

What began as a predicted 5 percent slowdown for 2006 has now passed 10 percent nationwide and may reach 15 percent, or more. Some of the nationals are really hurting, with one of the Top 10 builders reporting sales down 45 percent as of August. With a new article coming out nearly every day on the housing downturn, it seems unlikely that things will turn around soon.

The Gulf Coast housing crisis created by Hurricane Katrina is churning up innovation on a broad scale, and the solutions taking shape in Louisiana and Mississippi may eventually land at your door, wherever you do business.

With rising interest rates and a softening market, many builders face high cancellation rates as customers reconsider and or walk away from their original purchase decision. Although no builder is immune from cancellations, builders and sales agents can use several strategies to minimize cancelled customers.

For John Eilermann, Loel Fenwick, Bruce Olson, Stephen Gillis and Steve Kendrick, building their own homes was a fantasy come to life. Using their projects as learning laboratories, each built his own home with tried and true products as well new and innovative selections.

Thoughts on the housing market, discounts, incentives and speculative buyers.

The sizes of newly constructed homes have grown significantly over the last 30 years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of new homes with 2,400–2,999 square feet has grown 75 percent.

Avi Hornstein shares the products and materials that go into homes built by Omega Homes.

Being incredibly organized, more tolerant of clients, and more concise in the selection process for finishes and options were a few of the lesson builders took home when building their own. 

Taylor Woodrow learned first-hand the impact of implementing off-the-beaten-path marketing strategies.

If you're wondering what kind of product will finally entice buyers back into sales centers, here's our pick.

The 6,000-square-foot house was on the drawing board and in the ground less than 2½ months from the time he bought the land. Gillis had been waiting for the right location and already had the design.

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