Builder Blog from Integrity Windows and Doors

Visit IntegrityWindows.com to learn more about our All Ultrex and Wood-Ultrex windows and doors

cdnassets.hw

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?



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

New-home sizes shrinking to attract entry-level buyers

November 19th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

HOMESIZE_G

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.



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

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.


More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

The cost of free estimates

November 12th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

remodeling

“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?



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

How roommates have hampered the housing recovery

November 7th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

20141105_roommates_forbes_2

Blaming roommates is a reflex for anyone who has ever cohabited.  But roommates could truly be to blame for their role in the housing recovery.

The logic goes that more Americans are relying on roommates to help cover mortgage and rent, and recent data suggests the trend may be responsible for up to five million households lost in the past decade.

The number of households comprised of adults living with someone other than a spouse or partner reached 32 percent in 2012, up from 26 percent in 2000, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data.

The trend has been partially fueled by steadily increasing rent, which is up 6.5% on average nationally over the 12 months ended in September according to Trulia.



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

Hands Pointing at Blueprint

Are you really a salesperson if you email a proposal to your client rather than present it in person?

This was the topic of an outstanding and unplanned point/counterpoint on shawnmccadden.com, a blog focusing on building and designing. McCadden broached the topic with an initial post back in August, in which he wrote,

If as a contractor you take the time to go out and meeting with a prospect, then you simply email or snail mail your proposal to the prospect, I don’t think you are really a sales person.  If you do this I think you are an order taker.   Now there may be a few exceptions to this.  But, before you rationalize why your situation is an exception, ask yourself this question first.  Is your justification for emailing your proposals really a “reason” or, is it an “excuse”?

McCadden makes the point salespersons are just that — people — and the personal touch can make all the difference when addressing questions and concerns. Email may be more convenient, but the convenience is more often an excuse than a solid reason.

Then, in September, a fellow contractor by the name of Milt Rye responded to McCadden’s assertion emailing proposals is a poor practice. Rye wrote,

That said, I am afraid I can’t totally agree with your premise that a contractor who emails proposals is just an “order taker”.  I think the approach must be governed by many factors that are geared toward that particular customer’s needs and personality. A true salesperson, in my view, is someone who can relate best to their customer, instill confidence in them, and communicate in the manner and frequency in which their customer is most comfortable.

As with most practices in the industry, the best way will vary from job to job. But we’re curious: What’s your stance on emailing proposals? Is it a common practice for you, or do you insist on meeting with clients in person? Which method has been most successful?



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

10 reasons why renters aren’t buying homes

October 31st, 2014 by Berit Griffin

102814_drew_figure2_sm

Homeownership has long been the cornerstone of “the American dream,” but a considerable swath of Americans have other plans. In a survey published on the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies’ Housing Perspectives blog, 20 percent of renters claim homeownership isn’t in their plans, immediate or future.

Why the hangup? It’s not lifestyle decision — it’s financial. More than half of those surveyed claimed inability to afford a mortgage and basic upkeep were major barriers. The top 10 reasons why renters were not planning to own a home go as follows:

  1. Cannot afford the purchase or upkeep of a home
  2. Not good enough credit for a mortgage
  3. Not a good time economically to buy a home
  4. Cheaper per month to rent than to buy
  5. Don’t want to be concerned with doing the upkeep
  6. Don’t plan to be in a certain area for an extended period of time
  7. Rather use the money for other investments than a home
  8. Process of buying a home seems too complicated
  9. Purchasing a home limits flexibility in future choices
  10. Can live in better neighborhood by renting

 

“These results suggest that about a third of renters, or 10 percent of all households, rent because of lifestyle and personal preferences,” writes Rachel Bogardus Drew, a post-doctoral fellow conducting the research for JCHS. “That their reasons appear to be largely idiosyncratic, rather than systematically related to their personal characteristics, further indicates that those who rent by choice do so in spite of strong social biases towards ownership that encourage the remaining 90 percent of households to view owning favorably. More than half of lifetime renters, however, see their tenure options as constrained, either by their own financial circumstances or by macroeconomic conditions.”



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

Will smart home technology go mainstream in 2015?

October 29th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

6.24-version

Will 2015 be the year smart home technology finally goes mainstream? All signs point to yes, according to GigaOM senior writer Stacy Higginbotham:

“The future of the connected home is continuing to evolve, and with more startups pitching products, the ship date of older crowdfunding campaigns hitting customer homes and big name companies warming to the space, I’m starting to see a few trends come together for 2015.”

In other words, now is the perfect time to get sharp on the most promising of smart home technologies, which can offer improved home safety, security and remote control. Higginbotham shares fives predictions in this must-read piece from GigaOM, but here are two that have us particularly interested. You should mention them to any prospective clients planning to build soon.

Bluetooth makes lighting a snap: At long last, products are coming on the market that will let you use Bluetooth to control light bulbs, outlets and more. These products are using mesh networking to make installing a connected light switch as easy as sticking a new plate to the wall using double-sided tape. Products from Avi-on (which is building bluetooth switches for GE’s Jasco brand), Oort, and Seed will change the way we use lighting in the home and at work. Even Peep, a company showing off a camera that snaps a picture when someone knocks on your door is looking at using Bluetooth as a faster way to get an image to people inside the home, since using Wi-Fi means it would go from the connected camera to the cloud and then to people’s phones.”

You won’t need a home hub to automate your house: This year’s hot device, the home hub that combines a bunch of radios with a software platform to let people control multiple connected devices is going away. Even SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson is ready to build software that is independent of the company’s hub, although he admits it may take some time and won’t include all the devices out there. I also saw a startup, showing off an Android-based controller called the Reach app that lets people pause videos, play songs over their Sonos and control a few other devices like Hue lights. The app is in alpha right now, but I’m eager to see it once it hits beta.



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

Housing Starts

A lukewarm end of the summer for new home construction was offset by a much better September, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

For the third month this year, housing starts rose above the million-mark nationwide for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.017 million units — a 6.3 percent increase from the month before.

“These numbers show starts returning to levels we saw earlier this summer, where they hovered around one million units,” NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del., said in a press release. “We are hopeful this pattern of modest growth will continue as we close out the year.”

Single-family housing accounted for 646,000 units in September while multifamily production increased by 16.7 percent to 371,000 units. Regionally, the Northeast, Midwest and West registered overall permit increases of 12.3 percent, 8.2 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively. The South posted a 4.7 percent loss.



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

student-debt

Strict lending practices, cost of materials and labor shortages have caused constant headaches for building professionals, but one of the greatest burdens hampering the housing recovery is a bit more academic.

According to a new study from John Burns Consulting, student debt among 20-to-40-year-olds will cost the housing industry $83 billion this year. We repeat — $83 billion in 2014.

We’ll give you a moment to bring your pulse down.

USA Today laid out the methodology used by the consulting firm to arrive at that mind-boggling number:

“How did the adviser arrive at $83 billion? Well, we start with the 5.9 million households under the age of 40 that are paying at least $250 in student loan debt, nearly triple the 2.2 million leveraged college grads in the same predicament back in 2005. We then get to the assumption that $250 earmarked for student loan debt every month reduces the buying power of a potential home buyer by $44,000. That’s bad, and it’s naturally worse depending on how much more than $250 a month some of these indebted students have taken on to pay back. That’s less money they can commit to a mortgage. John Burns Consulting offers up that most households paying at least $750 a month in student loan have priced themselves out of the housing market entirely.”

Does this making the housing industry a nemesis of higher education? Hardly.

“The housing industry would be better off if colleges were cheaper or if student debt levels were lower, but the same can be said about purchasing power in general,” writes Rick Munarriz of The Motley Fool. “At the end of the day, debt-saddled or not, the housing industry needs its college graduates.”



More from Integrity Windows:
    Download our iPad/iPhone app
    Find an Integrity dealer near you
    Request product literature

Next Page »