An Outside Job

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Working outdoor space into your entire array of plans makes good business sense

This outdoor space, set at the rear of the home, is an extension of its indoor area (Photo: Christopher Mayer).

Outdoor spaces that can function as living rooms are expected in warm climates, but they’ve quickly gained traction in places where it’s probably snowing right now. Outdoor spaces make a home live bigger and better, of course—and in northern latitudes especially, who doesn’t want to celebrate late sunsets by making each summer day last as long as possible? So why talk about outdoor spaces in the dead of winter? Because as you plan for the year ahead, you may be thinking about them already. 

Nick Lehnert, director of research and development at KTGY Architecture + Planning, tracks design trends and figures out how best to deliver them in the form of sweet-spot amenities. Outdoor spaces are a biggie. Based in Irvine, Calif., Lehnert has more than four decades in home building and knows about how to make outdoor rooms easier to conceive of. He knows the challenge of working fresh-air spaces into a cohesive array of multiple plan options; he gets the demands of density and tricky lot configurations. Lehnert wants to help builders leverage outdoor spaces like any other asset. In our January 2016 issue, he offers some how-tos for working exterior spaces into the side, front, rear, or center of a home.

We start 2016 with a hefty issue of Professional Builder that’s chockablock with interesting and useful content. The cover story is, of course, the 33rd edition of The New American Home. But there’s more. 

While prognosticators have offered promising views on 2016, and we like that, we also offer wisdom from industry veteran Tony Callahan, who takes the long view with excellent business advice in “Lessons From the Downturn.” Callahan reminds us that though we can’t control the next dip in the market, we can learn to weather it better than the last down cycle. 

As you ponder how best to deliver to your target market in 2016 and beyond, take a look at “50 Must-Haves,” our story in which industry experts share what buyers are asking for—the features that can help win the sale. Speaking of winners, take a look at some of the homes that nabbed platinum awards in this year’s Best in American Living Awards from the NAHB. 

It seems like there’s a smartphone app for everything, but our associate editor Michael Chamernik reports on those that are most useful for builders in “App Happy.” Finally, our House Review team offers plans for pocket neighborhoods. 

Here’s to a healthy, satisfying, and productive year ahead. Meanwhile, enjoy our January issue.

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