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So Much Space!

April 22nd, 2015 by Integrity Windows


In terms of commercial real estate news, the growth of the self-storage industry has been relatively quiet. Even so, it’s a booming business! As stated by Curbed, “To put it in perspective, the industry has 48,500 locations across the county, more than triple the number of McDonald’s (14,350) restaurants, and generates $24 billion in revenue every year.” Quoting Maurice Pagoda, an expert investor in the self-storage industry, Curbed goes on to say, “There is about 7 square feet of self-storage space nationally for each person in the United States.”

For homeowners seeking change, such as with the arrival or a newborn, moving to a smaller unit from an empty nest or looking to spread, self-storage is a popular option, reports Realtor Mag. But is this the right move? Realtor Mag suggests, “Savvy practitioners can help their clients take a pragmatic look at the issue.” Is the customer gaining or losing space? Help your client take a close look at cost per square foot if they’re thinking of renting pods or other self-storage solutions. “Remind them that money they put into self-storage has little return beyond hiding a problem and that being able to return that money to a household budget may give them more flexibility as they shop for their new home.” Realtor Mag.

Whether a client contemplating a move decides it is in their best interest to rent storage space or not, one thing is for certain: there is space to be had.


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What Millenials Want in Homeownership

April 16th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

Millennials Jam Workshop: Youth and ICTs beyond 2015

With millenials quickly becoming the largest generation in the United States, they have begun to command more and more of the housing market. Naturally, this has lead to the question, “What do millenials want when it come to homeownership?” KTGY Group, a California based architecture and planning firm, conducted a survey of their millennial employees to find the answer to this question.

As reported by Professional Builder, almost three quarter of the participants in KTGY’s discussion are currently renting, but nearly all of them wanted to own a home in the near future.

Close proximity to gyms, parks, tennis courts and other venues that encourage fitness and exercise plays a important factor in where millenials are choosing to live, says Professional Builder. Communities are also very important. “Millenials want to live in a place where they can meet others with similar interests and desires.”

Not surprisingly, millenials place a great amount of value in technology. Many shopping the housing market are expecting high tech and energy effect homes.

Millennials prefer living pet-friendly places. “For those who live in pedestrian-friendly cities, apartment complexes, or neighborhoods, pets have become like children. More millennials in the KTGY focus group had pets than had children.” Reports Professional Builder.

Although participants in HTGY’s survey stated they were interested in modern design, they lean more toward a “Modern Traditional” style – bright spaces, high ceilings and neutral stylings. Authenticity and creativity is key.

The item holding the most importance in the minds of the millenials surveyed by KTGY was affordability, says Professional Builder. KTGY found that millennials are willing to live in a smaller house with more functional layouts.


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Home Renters May Want to Consider Buying

April 15th, 2015 by Integrity Windows


RealtyTrac, one of the nation’s leading sources for comprehensive housing data, recently released a new study that shows that many renters may want to consider buying a home instead of continuing to pay steep rental costs.

According to RealtyTrac’s Residential Rental Property Analysis, and as reported on by Realtor Mag, “The monthly payment on a median priced home is more affordable than the monthly fair market rent on a three-bedroom property in 76 percent of the U.S. counties. RealtyTrac’s report encompassed 461 counties nationwide with populations of at least 100,000.

“From a pure affordability standpoint, renters who have saved enough to make a 10 percent down payment are better off buying in the majority of markets across the country,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “But factors other than affordability are keeping many renters from becoming buyers, a reality that means real estate investors buying residential properties as rentals still have the opportunity to make strong returns in many markets.”


10 Most Affordable Rental Markets as According to RealtyTrac:

Delaware County, Ohio: 14% of Median Income to Rent (Rent Affordability)

Williamson County, Tennessee: 15%

Hamilton County, Indiana: 15%

Fort Bend County, Texas: 16%

Howard County, Maryland: 17%

Forsyth County, Georgia: 17%

Ascension County, Louisiana: 17%

Columbia County, Georgia: 17%

Warren County, Ohio: 17%

Tazewell County, Illinois: 17%


10 Least Affordable Rental Markets as According to RealtyTrac:

Bronx County, New York: 69% of Median Income to Rent (Rent Affordability)

Baltimore City County, Maryland: 49%

Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania: 48%

Kings County, New York: 48%

Miami-Dade County, Florida: 45%

San Francisco County, California: 44%

Broward County, Florida: 43%

Los Angeles County, California: 42%

Saint Louis City County, Missouri: 42%

Hernando County, Florida: 42%



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Gakidis + Stewart Design Group Inc. is a coast-to-coast company that focuses on providing exceptional architecture and design services. Their dynamic portfolio includes private homes, condominiums, hotels, restoration projects, schools and works in the non-profit sector. In 2013 they were honored with a Red Diamond Achiever Award for their work on the Wychmere Pool Bar Pavilion. We caught up with founding partner, George Gakidis, to talk about his favorite projects, where he finds inspiration and why he choses Integrity.

In 2005 you joined forces with Andrew Stewart, an old friend from The Rhode Island School of Design, to form Gakidis + Stewart Design Group Inc. How do the two of you compliment each other?

GG: The primary reason we joined forces was to develop a bi-coastal partnership. Andrew was established in the San Francisco Bay area, and at the time was expanding to the South Lake Tahoe area. Andrew has a strong background in commercial architecture but was beginning to take on high-end residential projects, which is where the majority of my experience had been. It made sense to combine our strengths.

In 2013, Gakidis + Stewart Design Group Inc. received a Red Diamond Achiever Award for work on the Wychmere Pool Bar Pavilion. What do you believe helped your company rise above the rest?

GG: We have an enormous amount of coastal experience. Our knowledge and expertise in this area gave us the edge to propose the most sensible solution for the site. Using materials and finishes that withstand an environment in such close proximity to the ocean. The design not only had to be inviting, but also had to accommodate two programmatic elements; dining and congregating. It is also an architectural feature of the entire site, so we needed to make it impressive, without compromising the views of the Nantucket Sound. On the waterfront it’s always about the view and the open horizontal dining area acted as this transition between the pool and the ocean. The clerestory windows and cupola over the bar create a beacon from both land and sea.

Beside the Wychmere Pool Bar Pavilion, what are one or two additional architectural accomplishments that you are particularly proud of? Why?

GG: One is definitely NECAT, (New England Center for Arts & Technology) in the heart of the Newmarket Business District of Boston. NECAT is a non-profit culinary arts training center for under-employed and un-employed individuals, so it was really gratifying to be a part of it from the beginning. The project offered a challenging scenario. The original space served as a function hall and restaurant and we were charged with transforming it into a functional school complete with classrooms, café, offices and a teaching kitchen amphitheater that seats 106. All the while taking into consideration NECAT’s standard: “Environment Shapes Behavior.” It was an exciting project for our interiors department to work on. It is extremely rewarding to be able to see the space being used daily by students who appreciate the surroundings.

Another accomplishment is a major renovation to a house on Cape Cod that was built in the 1700s and had an addition put on in the 1800s; we honed in on the 1800s style as a solution (as it had to be historically correct). The client wanted a two car garage with a large multi-functional space above, and a chapel that needed to be situated to incorporate a collection of stained glass windows. Custom glass windows had to be made to match the stain glass. (Marvin Wood Ultimate Series was used.) LED lighting was incorporated in-between windows and stain glass to illuminate at night. In the end, the addition we created looks as if it has always been there – while the interior had spacious open planning more in tune to how we live now. I was very pleased on how we were able to integrate these two challenging aspects in historic New England.

When working on a new project, what are some initial areas you tend to look to for inspiration?

GG: With any new project we always take into consideration site and context of where the structures are going; that inspires us. That’s pretty high on the list. The client’s needs, function of space and vision also lead us in the direction of our solution, views, vistas and presence. From there we develop preliminary designs and begin the process of fine tuning. I tend to be a little old-school, and my go to inspirational tools are often books and magazines. We have a large library, and anything in print that I can flip through gets the design process going. All our projects are a team effort having a great team on all projects is always inspiring. Whether a commercial or residential program, we come up with a solution that is like a glove that fits that clients hand perfectly.

What is the one building trend right now that most excites you?

GG: Probably the industries shift to sustainable materials. There are so many options to offer clients that are low maintenance, made from renewable materials, and at affordable price points. It’s an interesting direction to be able to advise clients to take. Being conscientious of limited resources is important for future generations.

Why do you choose to use Integrity products?

GG: I use Integrity products for a lot of reasons listed above. Besides being a renewable product, they address coastal challenges we have here New England and along the Eastern coast, as well as any of the wind issues we’ve seen in the rest of the country. Integrity offers lots of options within a very short lead time, and the clients appreciate competitive pricing.

What three words would you use to describe your expectations for the summer building season ahead?

GG: Onwards And Upwards!


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What’s Hot and What’s Not in New Homes

April 8th, 2015 by Integrity Windows


According to a survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and as reported on by Realtor Mag, energy efficiency and bigger closets are gaining in popularity when it comes to desired features within new homes. The outdoor kitchen and two-story foyers are less of a selling point.

Although fewer prospective buyers are looking for a luxurious bathtub experience, they are honing in on exceptional showers, reports MarketWatch. Multiple shower-heads in the master bedroom, an amenity that had completely fallen off list of 10 least likely features in 2012, have shown a distinct increase in popularity.

In terms of energy efficiency, there has been a heightened focus on windows that help keep heat inside during the winter and outside during the summer, states MarketWatch. Those looking to replace windows can reference their energy efficiency ratings from the NRFC. Solar heat gain numbers are more important in warmer climates, while U-factor grabs attention in colder climates.


Features least likely to be included in a house built this year, according to the NAHB:

  1. Outdoor kitchen (cooking, refrigeration, and sink)
  2. Laminate countertops in kitchen
  3. Outdoor fireplace
  4. Sunroom
  5. Two-story family room
  6. Media room
  7. Two-story foyer
  8. Walking/jogging trails in community
  9. Whirlpool in master bathroom
  10. Carpeting as flooring on main level


Features most likely to be included in a house built this year, according to the NAHB:

  1. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
  2. Laundry room
  3. Low-e windows
  4. Guest room (kitchen-family-room-living room)
  5. Energy-star rated appliances
  6. 9-foot ceiling or more on first floor
  7. Energy-star rated windows
  8. Programmable thermostat
  9. Two-car garage
  10. Granite countertop in kitchen

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The United States has been experiencing a slowed growth rate in a majority of its metro areas, but a select few have actually significantly grown. In five metro areas the population grew by 10% or more from April 2010 to July 2014, repots 24/7 Wall St. Compare that to the country’s overall population growth, which experienced only a 3.1%, increase. Looking at only 2014, the overall population rose by just 0.75% – the lowest growth rate in more than 70 years.

Domestic migration has been driving the population growth in America’s fastest growing metro areas, suggests 24/7 Wall St. Special factors in economies, such as oil booms and retirement havens, are drawing the people in. Low unemployment rates and ample opportunity are contributors as well – all but one of the fastest growing cities have an unemployment rate lower than the national average.

America’s Top 5 Fasting Growing Cities (2010-2014 population growth):


  1. The Villages, Fla.: 21.3%
  1. Midland, Texas: 13.7%
  1. Austin-Round Rock, Texas: 12.5%
  1. Odessa, Texas: 12.3%
  1. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, S.C.-N.C.: 10.3%

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Less to Move, More to Renovate

April 1st, 2015 by Integrity Windows


According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, and as reported by Business Wire, “27.8 million Americans, or 12 percent of the population, plan to move this year,” which is a 4 percent decrease from last year’s findings. As a result of more people deciding to stay put, home improvements continue to take place – with spending averaging around $4,000.

“Although there’s little change in the amount of people doing home improvements, there’s a shift in who will complete them,” said Business Wire. It would seem that more homeowners are looking to contractors to take on their home improvement projects. The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker suggests a 6 percent increase in those deciding against a DIY approach. Persons who say they are planning on committing to DIY projects have declined from 72 percent in 2014 to 65 percent.

This year’s top projects include:

  • Redoing a kitchen or bathroom
  • Cosmetic work, like painting
  • Improving landscaping
  • Installing new flooring
  • Building/redoing a deck or patio

Reflecting growing trends in green living, more efficient windows and doors and alternative energy systems are also key home improvements this year.

What projects do you have planned this spring?

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Green Spray Foam Insulation Alternatives

March 27th, 2015 by Integrity Windows


Spray foam insulation has a lot of benefits. It protects buildings from moisture intrusion, provides up to three times more insulation than that of traditional fiberglass, and saves a great deal in energy costs. Although beneficial to the environment, there is also research that implies spray foam can be detrimental to one’s health if not handled correctly.

Professional installers have the necessary equipment to protect themselves from methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, or MDI, a synthetic chemical found within many spray foam insulations. Even so, your typical homeowner and DIY-ers may not even be aware of the dangers, says Green Building Elements – dangers such as asthma, lung damage, and even death.

Green Building Elements suggests a variety of spray foam insulation alternatives that are both better for the environment as well as the people installing: soybean-based spray foam (does not include added chemicals such as MDI), castor oil spray foam, or cotton denim.

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Return of the Bidding War

March 25th, 2015 by Integrity Windows


Although the housing market is incredibly more balanced than it was during the housing bubble, bidding wars haven’t gone away. In fact, they are back in full force. As mentioned by BloombergView, “33 percent of all sales were at or above the asking price, a strong indication that more than one bidder was involved in a transaction. That rate is the highest since 2006.”

Why have bidding wars made such a substantial comeback? One reason may be that there is a shortage of houses on the market nation wide. “The inventory of homes for sale has been about 1.8 million properties for the past three years. Prior to that, inventories were about double – reaching a peak of about 3.5 million properties for-sale in 2007,” said RealtorMag. Availability isn’t the only roadblock. The way homes are being priced is also contributing to bidding wars. “Since the financial crisis, real estate brokers have pushed sellers to set the asking price closer to the market price. This draws more buyers, who are well aware of the limited supply and what prices the market will bear,” mentioned BloombergView.

Many homeowners are choosing to stay put until they are able to regain more equity, yet buying demand continues to rise. With a growing economy and an increase of Millennials in the market, its likely buyers will need to be prepared to up the ant when bidding on homes.

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Integrity from Marvin Windows and Doors is delighted to announce that it will once again honor the nation’s premier builders, remodelers and architects in the 2015 Integrity Red Diamond Achiever Award Program. The award recognizes outstanding design, innovation, sustainability and quality in projects using Integrity products. Winners are nominated by the Integrity dealers and distributors who supplied Integrity windows and doors for the project. Award candidates also may self nominate.

Project entries must be received before June 30, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. Central Time.

A total of five winners will be determined by a distinguished judging panel including:


Lou Manfredini, a nationally recognized do-it-yourself (DIY) expert and host of Ask Mr. Fix-It and Lou Manfredini’s Home Improvement Minutes radio shows, as well his own nationally syndicated home improvement television show called HouseSmarts.

Christine Marvin, director of marketing for Marvin Windows and Doors.

Shawn McCadden, a nationally-known speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler.

JoAnne (JoJo) Lieber, president of 2×4 Productions Inc., writer, producer and video and television host.

Erika Taylor, Professional Remodeler’s Chief of Content, and brand strategist.


The People’s Choice Award, which recognizes the top overall project, will be voted on by the general public on Integrity’s Facebook or website beginning in September.


2015 Integrity Red Diamond Achiever Award Winners Will Receive…

  • Award – A beautiful glass award that features a picture of your project.
  • Project Profile – Integrity will create a Project Profile of your project and feature it on Integrity’s website, Integrity’s Facebook page and other social media opportunities deemed appropriate by Public Relations. 200 printed copies and the electronic creative files for your own use!
  • Press Release/Media Support – Press Release sent to your local market’s newspapers as well as a copy for you. The project will also be featured on Integrity’s national social media outlets, E-Newsletters, and Public Relations. Winners from last year received over 2.5 million impressions in media outlets and local newspapers!
  • VIP Event October 2015 – Integrity will provide you and a guest round trip flights to Minneapolis, MN and a day trip to Warroad, MN for a facilities tour and awards ceremony!
  • Cash Donation – A $200 cash donation will be donated on behalf of your company to a charity of your choice.
  • iPad – An iPad Air™ will be awarded to the winner of the People’s Choice Award which is voted on by the public to decide their favorite of all of the entered projects.
  • Website – Each winner will be prominently featured on the Integrity website.
  • Calendar – Integrity will create a 2016 monthly calendar featuring winners and other top entries. We will provide a number of calendars for the winners and one calendar for each entrant. We will also host an order period where dealers/distributors can order box quantities.
  • Winners Badge – Winners will receive an electronic badge to be used in any business materials or imagery displaying that they are a Red Diamond Achiever Award Winner.


Click here to learn more about our 2015 Red Diamond Achiever Award Program.

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