Builder Blog from Integrity Windows and Doors

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New Year’s resolutions for building professionals

December 17th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions, but that doesn’t mean your list has to be headlined by the usual suspects like “run a marathon” or “ditch French fries for side salads.”

We love the idea of professional resolutions. Whether you’re an entry-level employee, a mid-level manager or the owner and founder, turning the calendar with a list of clear, actionable goals can really be fulfilling. Kate Swoboda, a contributor to Entrepreneur.com, just published a great list of resolutions to consider. Here’s the best part: They seem attainable. Consider how the following changes could completely re-shape the way you do business in 2015:

Stop working for free
Swoboda writes, “It all adds up — those little favors, those “quick” phone calls with a potential client who wants to “pick your brain” without hiring you. Pick and choose when you give of your time, without forgetting that for every item you complete when you say yes to someone else, you’re saying “no” to yourself and your business.”

Quit comparing
Swoboda writes, “The energy that’s taken up by looking at what other businesses are doing and worrying about why your business isn’t further along could be better spent innovating and exploring the issues not being addressed in your industry and how you could provide solutions for them.”

Stop rushing
Swoboda writes, “When you book sessions back to back or overload your day with things to do, you end up multitasking, becoming sloppy and not putting enough time into self-care. It’s impossible to effectively run a business when you’re rushing. What’s most embarrassing is when the harried nature of your business starts to become noticeable to clients and colleagues.”



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10 features luxury home buyers demand

December 15th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

Floor-tiles-clearly-steal-the-show-hereIt’s a good time to be in the luxury home business. According to new housing data from the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes priced at over $1 million increased by 16 percent in October compared to the year before. The luxury market is now the hottest in the housing industry.

It takes a whole lot more than sheer square footage to put a home in the luxury category. Redfin recently featured the most in-demand features by shoppers in the category, and opulence abounds. Among the most popular features:

1. Luxurious showers

2. Fire pits by pools

3. Tasting rooms

4. White kitchen cabinets

5. Quartz countertops

6. Beautiful powder rooms

7. Neutral dining rooms

8. Sticker murals in kids’ rooms

9. Outdoor kitchens with fireplaces

10. Natural-looking pools

If you’re a luxury home builder, what are the most common features your clients have requested?



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Online reviews more influential than ever

December 10th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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We don’t mean to create unnecessary panic, but do you know what former clients are saying about your company online?

It’s important you do, because new research from YouGov.com shows 80 percent of American adults read online reviews before making a purchase. And we’re not just talking millennials, either. That figure is consistent across all age groups.

Among respondents who read online reviews, YouGov.com found 79 percent do so to make sure a product/service is good; 61 percent to make sure a product/service works and another 53 percent do so to make sure they won’t get ripped off.

The survey also found 51 percent of respondents read at least four reviews before they feel they have enough information to make a decision.

In short: Your prospective clients are doing their research online. All it takes is one scathing review to set you back. So, get familiar with what’s being said about your business, and when possible, reach out to former client who were displeased with your experience and attempt to make it right.

 



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How to manage a dream home project

December 5th, 2014 by Berit Griffin
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The absolute pinnacle of residential building is bringing to life a dream house for a client. In this situation, clients have saved typically saved a considerable amount of money, cultivated a vision and created an ideal outcome. And while clients may have built new in the past, every process is completely new.
So, how do you set expectations and help realize a client’s dream home?
Communication, communication, communication. Oh, and some more communication.
Take this bit of advice from one building pro recently published on CustomBuilder.com by editor Mike Beirne:
Getting to the end of a project and staying in the client’s good graces requires lots of communication before ground breaking and throughout the process. [Glenn Carter, president of Advanced Building Consultants (ABC), Renton, Wash, says his company “overwhelms” the client with websites, links, descriptions, and meetings to explain what their house will look like and how it will get there (This fall, he’ll break ground on what will be a certified Passive House in Issaquah, Wash). Carter quips that he spends as much time emailing clients and vendors as he does on the jobsite. He actually prefers email to a phone call and got rid of his fax machine because he doesn’t use it anymore. Email is documentable, savable, searchable and, if the message is unclear, he can just make a phone call for clarification.
“They’re newbies. Even if they built a house before, it’s 2014, and we build homes differently today. It all needs to be explained to them,” he says. “So I spend an enormous amount of time explaining how things are going to be built, what they’re going to look like and, of course, we have to be ready for them to say, ‘I didn’t know it was going to look like that, I don’t like that.’ We have to offer, not at our cost, but at their cost, to make a change. And we will be ready to tell them how the change will affect performance, and how it will affect price and schedule.”
What tactics have you used in the past to ensure a dream-home project ran smoothly?


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Trick space to make small rooms appear larger

December 3rd, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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Ever heard a homeowner complain about a living room that’s too spacious? Neither have we.

Whereas homeowners with sprawling living rooms must labor to adequately furnish them, those stuck with a smaller living room must learn to trick the space. This goes beyond smaller furniture, light colors and creative use of mirrors. Here are some surefire tips from ApartmentTherapy.com, a site that’s well-versed in beautifying tight quarters:

 If you have room, pulling your furniture away from the wall can make conversational groupings seem cozier, and the room seem a lot more spacious.

Balance heavier pieces with lighter ones to keep a space from feeling too clunky. The lighter pieces in this room — the coffee and side tables — provide a nice counterpoint the sofa and dresser.

Keeping everything low (including the art) is a great trick to make a room look bigger.

Paired chairs don’t have to match — try mixing two pieces from a similar era with different shapes.

As a building professional, what kind of tricks do you recommend for making small rooms appear larger?



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Happy Thanksgiving from Integrity!

November 26th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

turkeys

Thanksgiving holds a special meaning for Integrity Windows and Doors from Marvin, and not only because we’re thankful for our many employees, partners and those who choose our products. It’s this time of year we like to talk about turkeys and sustainability.

You read that correctly — turkeys and sustainability.

The Marvin factory in Warroad, Minn., generates several truckloads of wood shavings each day. No surprise there, but here’s the fun part: Most of those shavings go to turkeys.

Shavings from Marvin’s wood processing operations are sold to turkey farmers because they’re dry, fluffy and perfect for turkey bedding. White and ponderosa pines in particular perform very well in the barns. One truckload of shavings can successfully bed 8,000 turkeys, from little poults to full-grown. Once the shavings are no longer useful as bedding they are incorporated into farm fields, where they provide an excellent source of nutrients for the soil. Putting wood shavings to good use is just one example of Marvin’s sustainable business practices, for the environment and our communities. We also burn waste sawdust and wood scraps to heat our Warroad plant.

Of course, we wish all of you a restful and indulgent Thanksgiving this year. Whether literally or figuratively, thank you for bringing Integrity and Marvin into your home.

Learn more about Marvin’s sustainability.



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The 2015 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas is just two months away. With record cold temperatures and biblical snow in some parts of the country, we thought a look forward to January’s big gathering might be good for morale!

Each year, the New American Home provides building professionals with a glimpse into the future by showcasing the latest products, technologies and design trends. The next edition is no exception, and it’s well on its way to being a showstopper!

According to BuilderOnline.com:

Under construction in the ritzy Sky Terrace development outside of Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev., the four-bedroom, 5,891-square-foot desert contemporary is designed to exude a comfortable, clean aesthetic, says Tyler Jones, owner of Blue Heron, the Las Vegas–based design/build firm overseeing the project. The efficiently designed floor plan—one of the most compact in the show home’s 32-year history—makes use of every square foot, with a large, open kitchen that flows into the dining area, multiple seating and entertainment spaces, and a rooftop deck.

Check out this slideshow for a preview of the 2015 New American Home. Which feature are you most looking forward to seeing?



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New-home sizes shrinking to attract entry-level buyers

November 19th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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According to new data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, the median size of a single-family home built during Q3 2014 shrank 2.3% to 2,414 square feet from 2,472. The shift to relatively smaller homes means entry-level buyers may finally have options within their price range.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“Median new-home sizes had been on a general upward swing since 2012 as builders focused on building increasingly larger, more expensive homes to cater to the better-heeled buyers with the income and credit to buy homes. Entry-level buyers, meanwhile, remained largely sidelined by tepid wage growth, mounting student debt and stringent mortgage-qualification standards.

“Now, early signs are emerging that entry-level buyers are coming back. National home builder D.R. Horton Inc. last week posted a 38% gain in sales orders for its fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, fueled partly by hefty gains from its new Express brand of homes priced at less than $200,000.”

While in the throes of the housing recession, many experts predicted buyers would seek more practical home sizes to avoid financial peril, including foreclosure or a home underwater. It may have taken a while to become reality — and for an entirely different set of reasons — but all signs point to the shrinking American home gaining serious ground in 2015.



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Consumers of all ages demand smart home tech

November 14th, 2014 by Berit Griffin
Smart technology isn’t just for millennials. In fact, according to a survey of 2,437 consumers conducted by ERA Real Estate and HGTV, smart home technology is the most in-demand home feature across all ages.
“While still a growing trend, smart home enhancements have the potential to increase savings, safety and re-sale value,” explained Charlie Young, president and CEO of ERA Real Estate. “As we have seen through this survey and our one-on-one interactions with buyers and sellers, a smart home is one that is well-positioned for the future and aligns with a growing reliance on mobile technology.”
To get a better understanding of what consumers are looking for in smart home tech, check out the infographic above. Seems like this once-thought trend is fast becoming an expectation.


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The cost of free estimates

November 12th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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“Free estimate” sure has a nice ring to it.

From the client’s point of view, it means getting the diagnosis without necessarily committing the dollars. For a building professional, it means time out of your day, gas mileage, close inspection and application of one’s expertise. Free? For the the client, sure, but that’s rarely the case for building pros.

Take Joe Corlett, who explored the topic of free estimates with a personal experience published earlier this year on counteropiq.com. After a particularly bad experience, Corlett wrote:

“When I pay the internet lead service for your call, calculate the cost of the gasoline, truck wear and tear, other overhead, and the hour and a half I’ve spent on this, your “free estimate” cost me about $200. I can live with that; it’s a cost of doing business just like the $4,000 I spent getting my builders license, but what is really hard to swallow is my ruined morning.”

Of course, not all free estimates go awry. The practice can work, but it’s on building professionals to keep their conversion rate at a level they can tolerate.

Do you offer free estimates? What’s your reason for doing so? If you’ve stopped offering free estimates, what was the turning point?



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