Builder Blog from Integrity Windows and Doors

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Across the country, more homeowners who would have in the past chosen suburban living are instead settling in the city.

One downside to this urban renaissance: tear-downs. Never mind the sights and sounds of construction in otherwise quiet neighborhoods. In many cases, these demolish-and-rebuild projects have drawn the ire of neighbors and city planners alike as historic, character-driven neighborhoods become cluttered with bulky, ostentatious new homes.

As a result, local government officials in many communities are amending zoning regulations to maintain the charm of their neighborhoods. For instance, in southwest Minneapolis, the city council recently passed regulations limited the height of new home construction, set forth yard-space requirements and added incentives for use of high-quality construction materials.

If your company operates in a major city where tear-downs are on the rise, keep an eye on zoning amendments. If they haven’t been implemented already, they may soon!



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What you need to know about the Home Depot data breach

September 10th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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Earlier this week, Home Depot confirmed it was the target of a month-long data breach that may have compromised more than 40 million credit or debit cards. The breach apparently took place during the month of April, and according to sources, may be far more severe than similar breaches that affected Target and Neiman Marcus customers in 2013.

The good news: Home Depot is acting quickly and broadly, and even if your card was compromised during the cyber attack, any fraudulent charges will be waived. According to Fortune.com, “Home Depot has said that customers would not be on the hook for fraudulent charges and would get free credit monitoring if a breach did indeed occur, but urged them to keep an eye out for unusual activity in their accounts.”

Unusual activity may not entail large-scale, grandiose charges, either. Following the Target breach last year, it was widely reported stolen credit card information was being sold in bulk on web-based black markets, allowing hackers to make hundreds of smaller purchases without drawing attention from duped consumers.

If you’re a building professional, chances are you or someone within your company made a purchase at Home Depot during April. If you feel your card information may have been compromised, Home Depot has created this helpful website to report any incidents of fraudulent activity that may be related.



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Lot sizes shrink even as homes grow

September 5th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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As they say in football, every inch counts.

The same is true with home ownership, where the U.S. Census Bureau’s Characteristics of New Single-Family Houses Sold finds lot sizes have shrunk dramatically over the past two decades.

Over on the National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog, Paul Emrath writes that a football field might provide the best measuring stick for modern neighborhoods:

“An acre is 43,560 square feet, so the above median lot size for 2013 is almost exactly one-fifth of an acre.  Not everyone has a good sense of how big an acre is.  To help visualize it, consider that, between the goal lines, a football field covers just about 1.1 acre.  This means that, if you placed a median-sized lot for a single-family detached home sold that filled the width of the field (160 feet) on the goal line, it would reach just past the 18 yard line.  And if you laid 5 of them side by side they would extend just almost all the way to the opposite 9 yard line–leaving space for almost exactly half another median-sized lot before reaching the other end zone.”

In other words, if the kick returner for your favorite team returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown this weekend, they would run the distance of approximately 5.6 median-sized lots.

As a builder, have you seen a noticeable drop in lot sizes? If so, what are the greatest challenges the smaller lots have posed?

 



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Micro Lofts at The Arcade Providence  Exterior  Photo by Ben Jacobsen

American shopping malls are fast becoming an endangered species. In fact, earlier this year, Amy Merrick of The New Yorker posed the question many are afraid to ask: Are Malls Over?

Put away the suburban-based sprawling behemoths and their ludicrous commercial rental costs for a moment and turn your focus to a mall that was, but is no longer.

Built in 1828, Providence Arcade in Rhode Island was the oldest indoor shopping mall in America before it closed in 2008. That which made it an architectural marvel made it a disaster for modern-day vendors. So, its cramped storefronts were converted into micro-apartments, and thus, kept alive one of the coolest commercial spaces this country has ever seen.

Take a look. No doubt these apartments are not for everyone, but the Providence community seems generally pleased a renovation kept this relic intact for generations to come.

Micro Lofts at The Arcade Providence  Main Level Micro Retail  Photo by Ben Jacobsen

The Arcade Providence view from second floor Photo Credit Ben Jacobsen

The Micro Lofts at The Arcade Providence  kitchen Bedroom Photo Credit Ben Jacobsen - Copy

Micro Lofts at The Arcade Providence Living Room  Photo by Ben Jacobsen

[Photos by Ben Jacobsen via Northeast Collaborative Architects]



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For most, the home is a permanent work in progress

August 29th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

 

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Perhaps this should come as no surprise, but according to the Houzz Decorating Trends Survey of more than 1,700 Houzz users, when it comes to home decor, homeowners are nothing if not fickle.

The survey found 66 percent of homeowners have recently decorated the same room they are currently tackling. What’s the fun in complacency, right? It’s more fun to think of one’s home as a work in progress, anyway. Tastes evolve. Trends come and go. Truth is, your home probably isn’t a finished product until it has been sold to someone else.

Here are a few additional findings from the survey that deserve mention:

Three-in-five homeowners are including seating in their master bedroom (60 percent).

Nearly half of homeowners are using their dining room daily (45 percent) and another 26 percent are using it weekly. Rectangular dining tables (62 percent) with dark wood (38 percent) or glass (25 percent) and seating for six are most popular.

In addition to the usual popular living spaces, televisions are showing up in 16 percent of dining rooms. Homeowners are just as likely to include a TV in their kids’ room as a reading nook (both 35 percent).

Accent walls remain popular throughout the house, but are most likely to appear in the home office (57 percent), kid’s room (55 percent) or master bedroom (52 percent). Urban dwellers are more likely to have accent walls (54 percent) than homeowners in suburban (42 percent) and rural (41 percent) neighborhoods.



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Boomerang buyers return to home ownership

August 27th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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They’re baaaaaaack.

So-called “boomerang buyers” — those who lost their home to foreclosure or short sale between 2007 and 2013 — will be responsible for about 10 percent of all U.S. home purchases in 2014, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting (JBREC).  The percentage of boomerang buyers is only expected to increase in 2015 and 2016.

This a very encouraging trend within the housing recovery. More Americans are regaining the ability to borrow from lenders, and they still consider home ownership a worthwhile investment.

The Washington Post has an excellent write-up that features several boomerang buyers who are returning to home ownership wiser than ever. As one lender said,

“One woman I worked with recently told me that when she graduated from college, she took every credit card she was offered and had no concept of managing money. She and her husband had kids and bought a house, and then her husband left and she lost the house. Now she’s rebuilt her credit and has a good job and could qualify for a $350,000 loan, but she’s buying a $150,000 home because she wants to feel more comfortable that she can afford the payments.”

You can read the full Washington Post story here.



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Over the past year, BUILDER Magazine has ramped up video production on its website. (We strongly recommend bookmarking their video section and checking in frequently!) Recently, BUILDER and Custom Home senior editor Shelley Hutchins spoke with Chase Rynd of the National Building Museum about challenges that face the housing industry over the next decade.

Rynd discusses the importance of educating current and future homeowners about the correlation between between better building and improved health, comfort and budgets.



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Now that the winners of the 2014 Integrity Red Diamond Achiever Award program have been announced, from time to time over the next few months, we’ll feature winning projects here on the Builder Blog.

First project up: The Beach House (Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.) from Luke Perisich at Blue Sky Building Company.

According to Perisich’s project entry, The Beach House is located on beachfront, so it needed a good, strong IZ3-rated window that was also able to have the beauty of wood. The solution? Integrity’s Wood-Ultrex IMPACT products. Perisich also mentioned simulated divided lites (SDL) made a nice fit for the home’s coastal design.

This isn’t Blue Sky Building Company’s first run at Red Diamond Achiever Award glory. The company also won our award in 2012 for the The 40th Street Project in Shallotte, N.C.

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Builders report availability of key supplies improving

August 15th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

Over the past few years, many economists within the industry have blamed supply and labor shortages along with strict lending regulations for slowing a more robust housing recovery.

However, it appears one of those factors — supply shortages — is a little closer to being resolved.

According to a survey from the National Association of Home Builders, only 15% of builders reported some or serious shortages of trusses or clay bricks, the highest incidence among the more than 20 materials builders were asked about. Fourteen percent reported shortages of each windows/doors, gypsum wall board, and cabinets.

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We’re curious what your experience has been this summer. Have you seen the availability of supplies improve? If not, which building material has caused the greatest inconvenience?



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New Aspen Art Museum a masterpiece all its own

August 13th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting Aspen, Colo., it’s almost certain you were taken back by its surrounding natural beauty. As one of the most picturesque cities in the country, it’s no easy task to create a modern commercial structure that stands out.

Charged with designing the new Aspen Art Museum, architect Shigeru Ban has defied the odds and created a masterwork that blends natural accents with angles and shapes that are simply marvelous. The museum, itself, may be the grandest piece in the collection. Take a look…

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[Photos from Inhabitat]



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