Builder Blog from Integrity Windows and Doors

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Green Spray Foam Insulation Alternatives

March 27th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

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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

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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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Connecting with Today’s Homebuyer

March 13th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

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According to the recent release of National Association of REALTORS®’ Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report 2015, Millennials are quickly moving out of their parent’s basements and into homes of their own. In fact, those 34 and younger made up 32 percent of all buyers in 2014 and 31 percent in 2013 – representing the largest share of recent buyers, as stated by REALTOR® Mag.

The increase in those within the tech-savvy generation buying homes does raise some questions for real estate professionals – a group that, according to Aol Real Estate, is considerably older than the home buying generation that they serve. Fears of younger consumers bypassing traditional home buying routes in favor of the Internet have been debunked by REALTOR® Mag’s survey, which shows although Millennials go online to search for homes, 90 percent purchase through their real estate agent.

What can generationally removed realtors do to better connect with a younger demographic? Aol Real Estate suggests that many Millenials prefer emails and texts to phone calls, apps for checking listings as well active social media engagement are essential, and quick responses to questions are a must.



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Industry News Roundup: March 9, 2015

March 9th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

New, but Far From Perfect
New York Times
A building boon in Brooklyn leads to accusations of shoddy construction. Do you see the same in your area?

7 Ways Biophilic Design Can Enhance Indoor Environments
Custom Home
“First made popular by scholar Edward O. Wilson in the 1980’s, biophilia is the urge for humans to affiliate with other life. More recently, the biophilia hypothesis has been directly incorporated in architecture and interior design, improving the performance and well-being of people occupying indoor spaces. Biophilic design improves both physiological and psychological health, which is especially important as people spend an average of 90% of the day indoors.”

Dept. Of Energy Set To Release New Building Science Translator
Housing Zone
“The U.S. Department of Energy is set to unveil a new Building Science Translator, a glossary of “power words” to replace the industry jargon about green building features that can confuse homeowners and potential buyers.”

More than just a contractor: How to stand out
For Residential Pros
A good overview of how to make yourself stand out in the market.



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Building an award-winning home is an impressive feat no matter its location, but add in the many considerations that come with building along a coast and the challenges really pile up. With Storm Preparedness Week upon us, we turned to Luke Perisich, owner of Blue Sky Building Company. The winner of two Red Diamond Achiever Awards, we caught up with Perisich to talk about the rigors of coastal building, his favorite trends and if Blue Sky Building Company has its sights set on a third Red Diamond Achiever Award.


 

Blue Sky Building Company has won not one, but two Red Diamond Achiever Awards. What has been the key to your company’s award-winning success?

LP: We were very excited when we one our first Red Diamond Achiever Award a few years back. When we were notified of receiving it a second time we were sure there had to be a mistake. Our understanding is that no one has ever received two of them. And this second time we were the only project in both North Carolina and South Carolina to be recognized. We owe all of our success and recognition to our clients. You can have the most talented team in the world but without a client that recognizes what you are capable of, it is of no use. Our clients put an extreme amount of the faith and trust in us. Our only choice is to provide them a first class home with best-in-class products.

 

As a coastal builder, there is always the possibility one of your projects will be in the path of a major storm. What are the most important considerations for building a safe and sturdy coastal home? 

LP: It’s not even a matter of the possibility of being in a storm path, it’s simply when

it will happen. We take an aggressive approach to waterproofing our homes with the most complete flashing details and the best products we can find. Most of our coastal construction, especially waterfront and water view projects, are built and certified according to the Fortified Home standards set out by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Most of our Fortified projects meet the Gold Standard level of certification. We incorporate construction standards into all projects that allow us to sleep better while it’s pouring and blowing hard outside.

 

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

LP: We’ve been very blessed to build some fantastic projects for the best clients in the world. Our typical project had been getting increasingly larger and more complex. That type of first class custom project is exciting to build and provides a great amount of satisfaction upon completion. But frankly, what we are most excited about, intrigued more really, is the tiny house movement. We think there is a tremendous opportunity to incorporate some phenomenal design features into these intimate, yet livable, spaces.

 

Why do you choose Integrity products?

LP: Have you seen the product demonstration videos for Integrity? After you watch those, really anything else in a coastal exposure application is second rate.

 

Fill in the blank: Five years from now, coastal building will be different because _____________.

LP: …The nature of what we have learned through our collective mistakes, the products and techniques we will employ, will ultimately force this industry to a build a better home.

 

What is the one building tool you would most hate to lose?

LP: We have made extensive use of the BuilderTrend project management system. What a great tool that has been for us in keeping our trade partners and clients on the same page with online job schedules, document storage, up-to-date pictures of the project and keeping track of the myriad selections that need to be made when building a custom project. When I look back at how we built homes using landline phones at night and no computers I cringe. Of course life was a lot calmer too.

 

Is there any chance we might see Blue Sky Building Company pick up a third Red Diamond Achiever Award this year?

LP: We would love to have another winner, winner, chicken dinner! But we are going to modestly say no. We hope that another high quality and deserving builder in our industry is able to enjoy the limelight this year.

 

 



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Sales of new homes outpace existing-home sales

February 27th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

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Sales of newly built homes are “going gangbusters” this year, but sales of existing homes aren’t keeping up with that same pace, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal.

Why the discrepancy? One key reason may be that the inventory of existing homes listed for sale is low, according to the WSJ. And when taking a more holistic view of the housing market, economists and analysts say that recent builders’ reports “provide a reasonably sound sign that this spring season has gotten off to a solid start,” the WSJ said. Furthermore, investors are encouraged, as indicated by an increase in the Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index.

The New York Times, meanwhile, reports on one emerging trend in the new-home market: Builders are increasingly catering to more affluent buyers and higher-end homes.

Regardless of whether they’re seeking new or existing homes, other newly released data indicates that Americans are indeed eyeing a move. In fact, one in three U.S. households say they plan to move in the next five years.

That’s according to a survey from the Demand Institute. Citing the survey, RealtorMag.com pointed out what may be surprising statistics to some. For example, the survey found that the location of a home is the impetus for most people’s moving decisions, rather than just the attributes of the physical home itself.

The top motivations for moving: entering a safer neighborhood, being closer to family, a change of climate, being closer to work and moving for a new job. Read more here about the reasons people are pondering a move.



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Here’s some welcome news for potential homebuyers: One new report shows that mortgages may be becoming easier to obtain, while separate research found that housing affordability is edging upward.

First, the L.A. Times reports on The Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest credit availability index, a closely monitored measure that tracks the availability of mortgage credit. The index shows that requirements may be easing up, in the wake of increasingly tighter rules that were implemented after the housing bust.

In fact, in addition to modestly easing requirements, lenders are also expanding the types of mortgages they offer, the L.A. Times said.

And as we recently reported on MLuxe, the Federal Housing Administration announced a decrease in annual mortgage insurance premiums with the intent of making FHA loans more affordable for prospective buyers – another move that could potentially increase homeowner eligibility.

Meanwhile, the easing mortgage requirements come at a time when other research suggests that homes are becoming more affordable.

Slightly lower interest rates and lower home prices across the country led to an uptick in nationwide housing affordability during the fourth quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

NAHB Chairman Tom Woods described the increased affordability as “a positive development” that’s “in line with what we are hearing from builders in the field that more prospective buyers are starting to move forward in the marketplace.”



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Education is the key to selling green upgrades

February 20th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

modern-living-room

Think about how often you read about or discuss green building a high-efficiency homes. Surely, these areas of focus are common knowledge to most homeowners…right?

Not even close. According to a survey by the advertising agency Shelton Group (Knoxville, Tenn.), only 38 percent of 2,009 Americans polled could define “efficient home,” while only 14 percent understood the meaning of “high-performance homes.”

So, how do you convince homeowners who are buying or remodeling to invest in green upgrades when they have little knowledge of the benefits? ConstructionDive.com has a few important talking points to help convey the value:

1. Green products make a home healthier. A well-insulated home with a highly efficient HVAC system, for example, does a better job of keeping allergens out of the house and improving indoor air quality.

2. Green might cost a little more to buy or install, but it will boost a home’s resale value. Homeowners are more apt to believe that aesthetic upgrades like granite countertops and hardwood floors will add more to a home’s resale value than invisible features like thick insulation or double-pane windows. In fact, in a study of 1.6 million home transactions, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that energy-efficient homes sold for an average of 9% more than other houses.

3. Green certifications are on the level. Homes that are certified as energy efficient by someone besides the builder—like Energy Star, LEED, the National Green Building Standard, or even a home-performance “auditor”—can push the price of a home upward, according to the Illinois Association of Energy Raters. Studies have shown that buyers paid 10% to 14% more for homes with green certifications. So be sure to let potential buyers know about all certifications.

4. Green is the right way to go. Appeal to the buyer’s conscience. Another recent report noted that con­sumers aren’t as committed to how much less a green appli­ance, plumbing fixture or even a home will cost to operate as they are to doing the right thing for the environment.



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How does relationship status affect home ownership?

February 11th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Realtors recently looked into how relationship status affects the kind of homes people buy. 

Married couples unsurprisingly top that list of homebuyers at 65 percent, with single females in a far second at 16 percent. While single females consider their neighborhood’s convenience to family and friends a top priority, single males find proximity to entertainment/leisure activities as their most important neighborhood feature. Another fun fact: only 34 percent of single men considered a laundry room “very important” in their home. Better hit the dry cleaner’s before Saturday! 

For more, check out this infographic. Happy Valentine’s Day from Integrity!




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