PB October 2010

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Features

The sheer size and growth of the 55-plus cohort over the past 10 years is altering the builder market. There simply aren’t enough younger buyers to occupy the number of homes that Boomers want to sell.

The NHQ Awards represent the best of the best in quality-driven home building companies, and the 2011 class is no exception. All three winners — Charter Homes & Neighborhoods, Haseko Construction, and Wathen Castanos Hybrid Homes — employ numerous quality management best practices. Here are a few particularly interesting best practices that caught our attention.

What we can learn from Australian construction practices; Using checklists to ensure quality management; Market update - what the bears see

Instead of price chasing the competition, Wathen-Castanos reinvents itself as a high-performance, green builder to grow during the market’s ‘darkest days.’

Haseko Construction Inc., Honolulu, put its quality management system to the test when it rolled out 22 neo-traditional models as part of its foray into single-family home building. Read about the 2011 National Housing Quality winner.

For Lancaster, Pa.-based Charter Homes & Neighborhoods, customer satisfaction is more than great service and warranty — it’s about making the home-buying experience something truly special. Read about the 2011 National Housing Quality award winner.

Implementing the principles of Lean in home building is no easy task, but the payoffs in waste reduction and cost savings can be substantial. Lean expert Scott Sedam provides a roadmap for getting started.

Now in year five of the worst housing market downturn since the Great Depression, most builders by now have faced monumental challenges to keep their doors open. In an effort to explore the key takeaways and lessons learned from this downturn, we sat down with three builders to discuss the impacts of the economy on their businesses.

Every step in the process of selling a house has its challenges, but perhaps none is more frustrating than having the appraisal on a house come in well below the sale price. Not satisfied with the appraised value of your new homes? Follow these practical steps for avoiding the dreaded low appraisal.

It’s good to be green, but everything starts with affordability. That’s what home builders have learned about creating marketable products for cost-conscious, savvy buyers. Solar panels and tankless water heaters are attractive options, but achieving green at an affordable price requires getting back to basics: using land economically, reducing waste, making the most of smaller square footage, and keeping operating costs to a minimum.

Are conservation communities on a comeback? Some experts believe so. We profile three recent conservation community developments that re-think the decades-old planning model.

There are a number of reasons builders might make the decision to switch building products, materials, or systems. A different product may offer first-cost or labor savings over your current product. Or perhaps it will make your homes more energy efficient or green, and thus more marketable to potential buyers. Regardless of the reason, switching products does pose risks and challenges for builders.

Designed to complement the growing popularity of higher ceilings and grand entryways, Therma-Tru’s Fiber-Classic Mahogany Collection is available in an 8-foot height, along with the traditional 6 foot 8 inches.

Double-hung tilt, fiberglass-clad window from Weather Shield rounds out the EnduraShield line of premium fiberglass and fiberglass-clad windows and patio doors.

Atrium Companies has extended its Silent Guard 7000 Series Acoustical Window line to include two new models of casement and awning windows: the Series 7500 Casement and 7600 Awning windows.

The most energy-efficient product line Andersen has ever built, the A-Series meets the latest Energy Star performance criteria and incorporates reclaimed sawdust in the trim system.

The eco-friendly design of the Noritz NR83-DVC whole-home residential tankless water heater features several green improvements, including reduced amounts of lead and cadmium, and less consumption of standby electricity.

Unlike typical accessible bathtubs, which look institutional, the Ava Bath from Aquatic features a sleek, modern design that adds a touch of class to any bathroom. The tub’s automated door lowers to open and rises to close, making entry and exit equally as simple for people who walk up or are in wheelchairs.

Add a touch of elegance to the kitchen with the Blanco Purus 1 faucet. Available in three different chrome/color finish combinations (black, light brown, and dark brown), as well as in solid chrome and satin nickel.

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