Builder Blog from Integrity Windows and Doors

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Though the housing market has steadily improved over the past few years, there are still many challenges preventing a truly robust recovery. In light of low inventory, labor shortages and stringent mortgage qualifications, some building professionals are showing savvy with new tactics to lure buyers.

In Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, Mary Ellen Podmolik introduced new ways professionals are capturing the attention of buyers:

  • “…Data scientists at real estate firm Redfin have developed a mathematical algorithm that crunches hundreds of pieces of information on a property, its surroundings and the market, then it labels as ‘hot’ those listings likely to go under contract within 14 days of their original listing … ‘What matters to a particular homebuyer is not the macroeconomic conditions or housing starts,’ said Bridget Frey, Redfin’s vice president of engineering. ‘What they’re trying to do is (decide), ‘Should I watch the World Cup this weekend or should I go on a home tour?'”
  • “Lexington Homes had every intention of building a model at its Lexington Place development in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. But with 11 of the 20 sites sold before it could build a model, the company opted for a different strategy … It talked with four owners at the community and now takes prospective buyers through their homes. In exchange for opening their homes to strangers and for keeping them neat, the homeowners get gift cards from Lexington … The idea saved Lexington the time and expense of building, decorating and furnishing a model, a process that can cost $30,000 to $70,000 and keeps a home off the market, said Jeff Benach, co-principal at Lexington Homes.”
  • “BMO Harris Bank wants its loan officers to think outside the normal operating hours of Monday through Friday, so it has encouraged them to partner with real estate agents and help staff open houses Sundays … So far, more than 1,000 loan officers have given it a try, and the bank said it hopes to have its employees at another 1,000 open houses before the homebuying season slows. Loan officers are answering consumers’ questions about mortgages as well as helping agents at busy open house events.”

We’re curious: Has your company tried any new tactics over the past few years to generate business? If so, were they successful?



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The case for screened outdoor spaces

July 2nd, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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If we’re being picky, there are plenty of downsides to outdoor gathering spaces. Mosquitoes, fallen tree debris, precipitation, scorching sunlight — decks and porches are great, but they’re not impervious to nature’s woes.

There’s a very strong case to be made for the screened porch, especially because many modern designs implement large screen panels in a way that’s seamless if not beautiful. Take this screened porch from architects Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown at their weekend place in Rhinebeck, New York. It offers supreme comfort, utility and beauty — a trifecta that’s difficult to achieve lest one happens to live in an area where the architects, insects and meteorologists conspire.

Hopefully you and your clients will be spending some quality time on a patio or porch this holiday weekend. Make it an opportunity to consider screened-in options!

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How exactly should a building professional feel about all of the popular home remodeling programming on television right now? On the one hand, these shows help homeowners understand the transformational ability of a single remodeling project. On the other, they may be dramatically misinforming homeowners on project budgets and timelines.

Recently, Tim Regan of Remodeling Magazine went long on the topic of reality shows distorting the way homeowners think about renovation. Regan spoke with a number of building professionals about the mixed blessing that is home remodeling on television. Many view it as a necessary evil, but feel obliged to yank clients back into reality as early as the first meeting. And who doesn’t love an uncomfortable conversation to start off a business relationship?

The article also includes how Minneapolis-based Castle Building & Remodeling deals with mislead homeowners: Through some reality programming of its own!

“The team at Castle Building & Remodeling, in Minneapolis, fields so many TV-related misconceptions that it created a YouTube video (above) to address those points. ‘Remodeling on TV isn’t real,’ says the narrator in the video, before walking viewers through an actual remodeling job, step by step. The process provides viewers with a window into the process and shows them that, even if the job goes completely smoothly, it might take a month or more to finish a project. Troy Sinykin, Castle’s sales and design manager, says it’s important to educate clients before you break ground.”

 Have you dealt with clients who were misinformed by home remodeling shows? How did you reset expectations?



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The amenities that attract a prospective home buyer to a neighbor varies by age group, right?

Wrong.

According to John Burns Real Estate Consulting survey of more than 20,000 home shoppers, nearby groceries and restaurants were the No. 1 and No. 2 attractions across three age groups: Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers.

One thing the No. 1 and No. 2 results suggest is a greater interest in walkability. That theory is reinforced by the fact walking trails ranked No. 3 among Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, and No. 4 among Yers.

Priorities begin to change from there, though, as you’ll see in the infographic below. (Click here to enlarge.) Does anything here surprise you? What can you glean from a community development standpoint?

ConsumerInsights

 



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If single-family construction is the greatest signifier of a recovering housing market, new data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau suggests there is good reason to be patient, but quietly positive.

May data indicates housing starts were up 9.4 percent year-over-year, but down 6.5 percent from April. However, single-family permits — the best indicator of future activity — increased 3.7 percent.

“The modest increase [in single-family permits] is evidence that builders expect continued release of pent-up demand and a gradual expansion of the housing market,” David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said in a press release. “We are still forecasting a 12-percent increase in total housing starts for the year.”

The slow down may not be for lack of effort or demand, either.

“The dip in single-family production shows builders continue to move carefully in adding inventory,” says Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “They are also facing supply chain issues, such as access to lots and labor.”

Source: RealtorMag.com



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Three must-see products at PCBC next week

June 18th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

We are counting down the days until the 2014 PCBC in San Francisco! Year after year, PCBC features some of America’s most prominent residential builders, developers, architects, building scientists, lenders, investors, marketers and product manufacturers. It also has become the go-to conference for thought leadership in green building.

Earlier this week, PCBC announced the winners of its Parade of Products (POP @ PCBC) Awards. The winning products were selected based on innovation and new product development in the homebuilding industry. You can view the full list of winners by visiting PCBC.com, but here are a few of our favorites:

 

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Fortifiber Building Systems Group — L7 Flashing
“L7 Flashing is a high-performance solution to flashing electrical boxes, vents, and other through-wall penetrations. Pre-sized in convenient “L” shaped pieces, and fabricated from advanced butyl adhesive and coated woven facer, L7 Flashing provides a simple, cost-effective way to flash critical intersections.”

 

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StoCorp — StoGuard
StoGuard is a fluid applied weather barrier that is easy for contractors to install. StoGuard can be sprayed on or applied with a roller – a similar process to painting – and requires no special training, reducing the risk of improper installation which can lead to moisture intrusion problems. Unlike some solvent-based building materials, StoGuard has low VOCs and complies with US EPA and South Coast AQMD emission standards for architectural coatings. StoGuard is fully adhered without a mechanical attachment, meaning it does not require the use of staples, nails, or other means of attachment to adhere to the wall. StoGuard is energy efficient and helps prevent air leakage, thus reducing energy costs, and qualifies for the following LEED credits – Materials & Resources (MR) Credit 1.1 and 1.2.

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Carrier Corporation — Carrier® Comfort™ Series ERV
The Comfort Series ERV leverages a streamlined, two-duct connection to offer a more straightforward installation process than traditional four-duct technology. In addition, the Comfort Series ERV does not require a separate wall control, allowing for easy integration into Carrier home systems. The unit’s small cabinet dimensions make the product more compact than others on the market, a benefit for today’s newly constructed homes. Contractors can simply connect the unit to the home’s furnace or the ductwork, eliminating the need to make additional room for a bulky four-duct ERV unit and its extra duct connections.

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Be sure to visit the Integrity Windows and Doors booth at 2014 PCBC, where we’ll be unveiling our largest door ever! And if you’re a reader of the Builder Blog, let us know!



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Why homeowners are moving

June 13th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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According to U.S. Census Bureau data, about 36 million American homeowners moved from 2012 to 2013. The top reason?

Housing.

A whopping 48% of movers said housing was the top motivator, followed by family (30.3%), employment (19.4%) and other (2.3%). The chart above digs into the specific reasons by grouping. Interesting stuff, huh?

The data — in case you don’t have time for a deeper dive — also suggests that males are more inclined to move for job-related reasons than females, and married respondents are least likely to move for family-related reasons. Additionally, several individual reasons, such as “change of climate,” “health reasons” and “natural disaster,” were each cited as the main reason for moving by fewer than 1 percent of householders.

To see more from the U.S Census Bureau, check out the release here.



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Why Integrity Can Offer Beautiful, Dark Exteriors

June 11th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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We love this completely renovated Minneapolis house for its modest size, its simple lines — and its Integrity Wood-Ultrex windows in a Bronze exterior.

Builders and architects know what sun and heat do to vinyl windows. Shrinking and warping are common — vinyl windows have even been known to melt. That’s why you typically don’t find vinyl in dark colors — they absorb too much of the sun’s heat.

Our patented, putruded Ultrex fiberglass is as strong as steel and resists malformation in temperatures up to 350 degrees F. That’s why we can offer it in beautiful, dark colors like the Bronze you see here.

Check out more photos of this whole-house renovation at Houzz.



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Introducing the 4 Panel Sliding French Door

June 9th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

For those who need a strong, tough door, but crave expansive views, Integrity Windows and Doors offers the perfect solution: the new 4 Panel Sliding French Door.

The 4 Panel Sliding French Door brings together the beauty of wood and the strength of Ultrex in the largest Integrity door yet. The biparting four-panel configuration is available in sizes up to sizes up to 16’ wide by 8’ tall.

This door answers the need for whole-house Integrity door projects, as a four-panel configuration is frequently used as a crucial design feature.  Large doors like the 4 Panel Sliding French Door let in maximum daylight and can help bring the outdoors inside. And, with a taller rail on the bottom panels, this door has a beautifully traditional look.

As an Integrity product, the 4 Panel Sliding French Door has a wide variety of options available including bare wood or a pre-finished white interior, six exterior color options (including darker colors like Ebony—something vinyl can’t match), divided lites, and LoE-180, LoE-272 and LoE-366 glass for optimal energy performance in all climates.

For remodel and replace projects, the 4 Panel Sliding French Door is also available in Special Sizes (1/64” increments). Precise sizing changes allow builders and remodelers to use this 4 Panel Sliding French Door in a wide variety of applications. And as part of the Wood-Ultrex line, the 4-Panel Sliding French Door coordinates seamlessly with the full line of Wood-Ultrex products, including the new Insert Double Hung.

Large sizing, top performance: the Wood-Ultrex 4 Panel Sliding French Door may very well be the perfect fiberglass door solution.

Want to see it in action? Check this out:



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How to win first-time buyers

June 6th, 2014 by Berit Griffin

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While we certainly hope you’re able to enjoy a few days of summer weather this weekend, we must implore you to check out BuilderOnline.com if you don’t mind mixing work with pleasure. The publication has outlined seven strategies for reaching the most finicky audience known to building professionals — first-time buyers.

Often times, their money is tight, their debt is considerable and they are scarred by what has transpired in the housing market over the past half-decade. But if you can win over first-time buyers, well, you can win almost anyone. It’s a hard-earned revenue stream, but here are the seven strategies laid out by BuilderOnline:

Are there any additional strategies you use to win over first-time buyers?



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