Home Renovations: “Wood In Buildings: Steps To Durability And Longevity” Article In Architecture Magazine

17 12 2012

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Home Remodeling: “Architect Magazine” Releases Digital Spring 2011 “Product Spec Guide”

7 05 2011


“Whole House Renovations”: Time-Lapsed Video Demonstrates Value Of “Modular/Panelized Construction” For Major Home Remodels (Video)

31 01 2011

The client’s desire to live in a specific Potomac, Maryland neighborhood presented a challenge that was threefold:  inventory, needs and finances.  First, there were no available lots on the market.  Second, the existing homes for sale were dated and not conducive to the family’s modern lifestyle.  Finally, the client had strict budgetary requirements for the project, but wanted all the amenities of a new home.

Having carefully evaluated the client’s needs and goals, the design build team at BOWA proposed working with an existing home in the desired neighborhood and, rather than tearing it down completely, reusing the foundation and expanding it as needed.  This saved significant dollars on demolition, foundation, materials and labor.  The homeowners also received a significant tax credit because they allowed Second Chance, a charitable organization, to do the remaining demolition.  On the contractor’s recommendation, the client also chose to maximize their value by taking advantage of pricing and scheduling benefits associated with modular/panelized construction. 

The savings realized in the initial phases of the project allowed the addition of many structural upgrades and finishing details important to both BOWA and the homeowner.  Beginning with waterproofing, unseen but critically important, through the installation of the flagstone front porch, mahogany entry door, custom hardwood flooring, woodwork and tile, the home was delivered on time, and on budget.   The result incorporated the best of all worlds:   a high-quality home that is customized to the family’s wishes.  The homeowners couldn’t be happier.

For more:  http://www.bowa.com/design-build-home-transformation-in-potomac-md/

FundMyRemodel.com Home Values: Freddie Mac Sees Home Prices Rebounding In 2011 As Low Mortgage Rates And Higher Confidence Improves Market

6 12 2010

Accelerating economic recovery, low mortgage rates, a bottoming of home prices and increased affordability of homes at current low prices will be behind the improvement, said Frank Nothaft, the chief economist at the mortgage finance company.

“These forces will support a gradual recovery in the housing and mortgage markets,” he said.

The housing market has been falling since its peak in summer 2006. The subprime crisis, the rapid decline in borrowers’ credit and poor underwriting of loans during the boom have all contributed to depressing home sales and mortgage rates since then.

Housing was expected to recover this year, but economic and employment uncertainty stunted it.

In a bid to keep the flow of money to consumers, the Federal Reserve is expected to keep its federal funds rate at the current range of 0% to 0.25% for most of next year. This is expected to keep rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans below 5% throughout 2011.

Despite this, some analysts expect home prices to drop another 5% to 10% in the next year, and housing to stay depressed until late 2011 or early 2012.

Lower prices on homes and lower mortgage rates over the past couple of years have pushed home-buyer affordability to the highest levels in decades, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Once the economy stabilizes next year and buyers’ confidence returns, “many first-time buyers will be attracted to the housing market in the new year, likely translating into more home sales in 2011 than in 2010,” Nothaft wrote.

The volume of existing homeowners refinancing their mortgage loans is expected to drop next year, he said. Many borrowers, who can, have already lowered their mortgage rates and government programs to support homeowners are set to expire next June.

For more:  http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20101206-708546.html

Award-Winning Green Homes: “The Sage” Is A Small, Ultra-Sustainable Demonstration Home In Eugene, Oregon (Video)

27 08 2010

Due to popular demand, we have combined all twenty videos into two segments of ten episodes each. This segment highlights the first 10 episodes.

Project Details

The Sage, Eugene, Ore. | Size: 1,447 square feet | Cost: $206 per square foot | Completed: June 2009 | Certification: LEED-Platinum | HERS Rating: 23 | Architect: Arbor South Architecture, Eugene | Builder: Arbor South Construction, Eugene | Verifier: Earth Advantage, Portland, Ore.

Green Highlights
Energy: R-32 and R-45 open-cell Demilec Agribalance spray-foam insulation / 2.1-kW solar system and solar hot water / U-0.27 Weathervane Vantage low-E windows with argon fill / CertainTeed Landmark Solaris solar-reflective asphalt roofing / Trane 16-SEER high-efficiency heat pump / high-efficiency fluorescent and LED lighting / KitchenAid Energy Star appliances / prewiring for electric vehicles | Resources: high fly-ash concrete foundation / locally produced lumber and floor joists / FSC-certified oak cabinets / Pioneer Millworks reclaimed wood flooring / Sustainable Flooring cork flooring | IAQ: zero-VOC paint / low-VOC floor finishes / Trane HRV | Water: drought-resistant xeriscaping / rainwater collection / Danze low-flow faucets and showerheads / Kohler dual-flush toilets

“The Shrinking American Home”: Average New Home Size Is 2,135 Square Feet And Three Bedrooms

26 08 2010

After years of growth, the Census Bureau recently reported that median new home size fell to 2,135 square feet in 2009 after peaking at more than 2,300 earlier in the decade.

Now, the typical U.S. owner-occupied home has six rooms, with three of them being bedrooms, according to the Census Bureau’s annual American Housing Survey. The most common number of baths is two or more.

“Home buyers are asking for less, cutting back on options and reducing square footage,” said Steven Pace of the North Carolina-based Pace Development Group, which builds both custom and tract houses ranging in price from below $250,000 to more than $2 million.

“They’re saying, ‘Maybe we don’t need that 5,000 square footage;” he said. “‘Maybe our bath doesn’t need to be big enough for our whole family and all our neighbors to take a shower at the same time.'”

Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects, pointed out that consumers don’t ask for as much for spaces devoted to single purposes, such as media rooms for watching videos and game rooms for shooting pool. Instead, the requests are for rooms with shared uses.

“We continue to move away from the ‘McMansion’ chapter of residential design,” he said.

For those who remember the days of long, hot summers. Those are over, too. Nearly 90% of all new homes now have central air conditioning. And 63% of all homes are now cooled.

For more:   http://finance.yahoo.com/news/The-American-home-is-cnnm-3515289332.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=8&asset=&ccode=

New Home Market: Builders Increasingly Using Incentives To Sell Homes With Price Reductions, No-Cost Upgrades And Payment Of Closing Costs Being Most Often Used

25 08 2010

 Within the top three, the main trend has been toward increased use of reduced home prices as a sales incentive. Ranking a distant third among incentives used by builders at the beginning of 2006, reduced home prices became more prevalent as the housing downturn continued, eventually rising to the top of the list as the sales incentive used more often than any other in 2009 and 2010..

The use of special incentives to help boost sales has been a relatively common marketing strategy among builders for some time. NAHB has sought to track this phenomenon by periodically including questions on incentives in the special question section of the monthly Builders’ Economic Council survey that is used to generate the HMI (hereafter, the HMI survey).[2]

In order to isolate the effect of the HBTC, the standard incentive questions were modified on the June 2010 HMI survey, so that builders were asked to place particular incentives they may be using into one of four categories:[3]

  • Currently using and will continue with no changes
  • Currently using & will continue, but with changes to compensate for not having the HBTC
  • Starting to use to compensate for not having the HBTC
  • Starting to use for reasons unrelated to the HBTC

Nearly three-fourths of all builders indicated that they were currently using and planned to continue their current use of at least one incentive unchanged; 15 percent indicated that they were altering at least one of the incentives they had been using to compensate for the expired tax credit; 12 percent indicated that they were adopting at least one new incentive to compensate for the expired credit; and 15 percent were adopting at least one incentive for reasons unrelated to the HBTC (see attached table).

Comparing the 2010 numbers to responses from previous surveys, which simply asked builders if they were currently using a particular incentive, is not completely straightforward. The best comparison is probably with builders who checked either category 1 or 2 in the 2010 survey, because each of these categories indicates current use of an incentive.

Common Types of Incentives

Some types of sales incentives are quite common among builders; others are comparatively rare. Figure 2 shows the incentives checked most often under category 1 (currently using and will continue to use with no changes) in June of 2010. In other words, Figure 2 shows the specific incentives which are still being used as they were before the HBTC expired. Discounting or reducing home prices, offering options or upgrades at no or reduced costs, and paying closing costs were the most common types of incentives in this category.

These same three have also scored consistently as the most commonly used incentives in past HMI surveys. Within the top three, the main trend has been toward increased use of reduced home prices as a sales incentive. Ranking a distant third among incentives used by builders at the beginning of 2006, reduced home prices became more prevalent as the housing downturn continued, eventually rising to the top of the list as the sales incentive used more often than any other in 2009 and 2010 (see the history provided in the attached table).

A question on green features (offered at no or reduced cost) was added in 2010, to align with the way builders perceive the market. In previous surveys, no matter how a general question on options and upgrades was worded, builders considered “green” a distinct category and listed it frequently in the space provided to describe “other” incentives. When included as an explicit category on the questionnaire, offering green features at no or reduced cost was the fourth most common incentive currently being used.

Another change in the 2010 questionnaire was to combine the infrequently used “free car” and “free trip” into a single incentive called “free give-aways,” citing cars and trips as examples. Although still far down the list of sales incentives in common use, builders checked the general give-aways incentive more often than they had checked cars and trips combined on previous surveys.

For more:  http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?sectionID=734&genericContentID=142380&channelID=311