10 Big Ideas for Builders to Consider in 2013

With the future for the housing market looking bright as we begin a new year, builders must continue to think about the next homebuyer. It may be daunting to take time to step back and think of innovative ways to reach buyers, but here are 10 big ideas to consider in 2013 as you begin to think about your business outlook for the next 12 months.

Big Ideas to Consider in 2013


1. A smart start means a lower cost completion.

Subcontractor mistakes and missed deadlines cost you money and homebuyer satisfaction. Find partners with their own platform for delivering high quality, on-time and complete jobs. Ask about worker training, processes, supply chain and quality standards.

2. Seeing is selling.

It’s not easy for homebuyers to visualize an upgrade – you need to display it in your model home. Take the time to install that CushionClose Hinge and add organizational features inside cabinets to showcase what you offer buyers in a new home.

3. Green is now a mainstream selling feature.

Costs for adding sustainable living features to a home have come down, and the payback is attractive. Today’s homebuyers want to do the right thing, and you should too by going green in your building and in the features you offer, like solar panels and Energy Star appliances.

4. Go with the (open) flow.

Open spaces with fewer hallways maximize usable living space. Not only does it feel bigger – it is.

5. Keep appliances out of view.

With the trend for uniting family and kitchen spaces, long clean lines of wood cabinetry extend the living environment.

6. Build for a family affair.

There’s no denying multi-generational living is on the rise with one third of adult Americans living with another adult generation. Create space for each generation living in the home— a second master bedroom and bath, maybe with a mini kitchen, provides private space.

7. Create a drop zone.

The mud room goes upscale as the stop for keys, briefcases, backpacks, and shoes. Favorite features? Built-in storage (cabinets or cubby holes), benches, a charging station for cell phones.

8. Technology lives here.

Big screen TVs, music systems, video games, computer centers, home
office, home control devices – reinvent the media room. Built-in cabinets keep them close at
hand and out of sight.

9. Get back to nature.

Homebuyers want natural elements like fireplaces that put heart in a home. Don’t waste any opportunity to capitalize on a view or a feature to make a home really stand apart from others.

10. Made in the USA means more than ever.

Renewed interest in our own economy is just the start. Consumers appreciate the craftsmanship and sense of security about safe, quality materials. For a builder, American-made means a shorter, surer supply chain.

Are you considering any of these? What are your big ideas for 2013? Share them and/or your successes from 2012 in the comments below.

Custom Design without Custom Costs

Top-selling homebuilders know how to build in value without building in higher costs for homebuyers – it’s all about custom design without custom costs.  Ingenuity and creativity make show-stopping features affordable. Here are a few examples that we are think will knock your socks off:

A two-sided story

Cabinetry forms a rich hardwood rail for the open loft when seen from the stairway.  From the gathering space, it offers storage, display space and also acts as a media center.



A Guest Suite

Create a handsome room divider between the sleeping and sitting areas.  At the same time, provide plenty of room for visitors’ clothing, linens and other gear with a compact and sleek footprint.



Get smart and organized

So many people work from home now that a well-designed office space is a major selling plus.  Smart design creates more work surfaces, useful storage and atmosphere that mixes business and pleasure.



Float away

There’s no denying that keeping the floors clear of clutter in a home opens up space. Floating nightstands built from cabinetry are a clean, contemporary look in any bedroom.



Double bed

You can also build cabinetry into a headboard for bed-and-storage that creates a beautiful view from every angle.



Keep it Hidden

Use cabinetry doors to hide the refrigerator.  See the standard plate rack to the left of the stove?  The corbel details on the bar add sophistication.  And in the drawers?  Organizers make all the difference.



Affordable luxuries can set your homes apart.  See more ideas in our Timberlake Portfolio magazine.

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Turning Your Lifestyle Inside Out

The climate is right for outdoor living. The consumer climate, that is. The trend toward “the outdoor living room” continues across the country, not just in the contemporary desert living styles of the sun-drenched Las Vegas desert. Research by the National Association of Home Builders confirms that today’s homebuyers still put a high priority on outdoor features. A patio, porch or deck is preferred by nearly 80% of respondents. That puts outdoor features on par with kitchen islands and walk-in pantries, whirlpool tubs in the bath, and even dining rooms.

Tyler Jones, principal with Blue Heron, concurs. Among Blue Heron’s homebuyers, the most requested custom features are roof terraces, outdoor living rooms and casitas.

So let’s step outside and take a look at some trend-forward ideas to turn your design thinking inside out.

 Start with the Big Picture

The New American Home 2009 – Subterranean courtyard

Art Danielian of Danielian Associates, architects for the project, had a clear vision of the possibilities for wide open living. “The plus of this site is that we have a half acre, that’s a lot of land,” Danielian points out. “The footprint of the home occupies about 50% of the site, and half the site is open space. We wanted to take advantage of every square inch of it.”

There are outdoor vistas to enjoy on every level, from the basement courtyard to the pool area on the first floor to a rooftop sky deck facing the glittering Las Vegas Strip. And even when you’re inside, you’re outside. Observes Danielian, “We took a lot off effort… thinking about how each room is going to experience an immediate outdoor room.” For example, the great room features an 18- foot glass door that opens onto the swimming pool. The basement entertainment room has a disappearing wall that opens into a courtyard.

Water, Water Everywhere

Water features are always popular outdoor living focal points for their calming effect as well as entertainment opportunities. In the contemporary desert style of The New American Home, the water becomes an even more important design feature. Says architect Danielian, it’s because “in a desert environment you don’t really get enough of it.”

The New American Home 2009 – Swim up bar at night

The pool is at the center of the ground floor footprint, featuring a swim up bar and barbecue area. Entertainment value is just the beginning. The pool weaves through the floorplan. In fact, the “negative edge” design creates the illusion of water lapping at the edge of the rejuvenation room. This space, with two walls that open to the outdoors, is ideal for relaxing.

Tyler Jones favors the lavish spa just outside the master bedroom. It’s one link in a whole ecosystem of liquid tranquility. A peaceful waterfall drops into the spa, then follows on through a babbling brook of an open water channel to feed a striking weeping wall waterfall and fire feature in the sunken courtyard.

On Deck: Fabulous Views

The New American Home 2009 – Sky deck with climate-controlled louvered ceiling

Certain homes can frame a picture-perfect view with a deck, and The New American Home is proof. Decks facing east and west survey the timeless beauty of the desert floor. To the north, the Las Vegas Strip appears, an entertaining view any time that turns absolutely spectacular at night.

Decks grace every level, and the crowning glory is the sky deck high atop the home. Lee Lundquist, interior designer for the project calls it “Club Marquis.” With its night club styling, swivel chairs, fireplace and TV, it’s quite reminiscent of Las Vegas night club patios. It’s designed as a party spot with all the kitchen necessities for sharing a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres while taking in the entrancing glitter of The Strip.

Climate control technology makes the sky deck virtually a 24/7/365 living space. A louvered roof lets revelers control the amount of sunshine by day and starlight by night, and being moisture sensitive can block out bad weather altogether.

Create a Protected Sanctuary

In today’s busy world, homeowners are looking for an everyday escape. The master bedroom in this home is designed as a luxurious natural hideaway. In addition to the spa mentioned above, the bedroom opens onto a zen garden that features a curtain-enclosed casita that hides a lush bed. It’s the perfect spot to nap in the cool breezes or sleep under starlit skies.

The Green Outdoors

Anyone who loves the outdoors is asking a question right now: are you taking steps in this house design to preserve the environment you’re enjoying? Absolutely.

Blue Heron has long been considered a leader in green building. The New American Home is no exception. The home is oriented to the north, to protect it from the extreme heat that comes from the south and west. The water in the water features is recirculated for conservation and all landscaping plants were selected for their drought-resistance. The pool is heated with on-side (and cleverly hidden) solar panels, and designers traded pool chlorination for a more natural salt purification system.

Outdoor Design is Wide open. Are you?

Homebuyers have spoken. Outdoor living is always in season — for parties or a private retreat, for long lazy afternoons and all-natural nightlife, for endless summers and momentary getaways. There are so many innovative ways to give any home a breath of fresh air with outdoor living design. Isn’t it time for you to come out and play?

This article originally appeared in Volume 9, Issue 1 (January 2009) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.

Thrive on the Other Side

Everyone knows the adage “Buyer beware,” but a new phrase that is more apropos for the current times might be “builder be aware”: While weathering the troubled economic storm, don’t forget to look forward so that you can be prepared when the market takes an upturn.

One way to arm your business for success on the other side of this housing cycle is to look at market trends and understand what buyers will want. There’s controversy over when the market will turn around. Not if, thankfully, but the when has many experts confounded. During the NAHB Construction Forecast Conference in October 2008, NAHB chief economist David Seiders told attendees that sales of new single-family homes could start rising as early as mid 2009, moving to a decent pace in the second half of the year and into 2010. Seiders asserted that there is “some pent-up demand building.” Although an upswing can’t come soon enough, a recent NAHB Housing Forecast report projects a 31% increase in housing starts from 2009 to 2010, giving hope that there is light at the end of this long tunnel.

Choice at Every Turn

Chances are this pent-up demand will follow suit with a trend toward customers expecting a plethora of choice. According to president and CEO of American Woodmark Corporation, Kent Guichard, “Today’s customers are too savvy and have access to too many alternatives to tolerate restrictions that inhibit their purchasing choices, especially in relation to something as important as their home.”

Consumers have become accustomed to this level of choice through the proliferation of product offerings (think high-priced designer coffee, for instance), but often this desire for choice is tied to lifestyle aspirations. People are spending more time at home, possibly a direct result of the economy, which places an increased emphasis on homes that meet people’s needs. Whether it be eating in and entertaining at home more often, or simply creating a space that is uniquely “theirs,” home fulfills the American Dream on many levels for people, both functionally and emotionally.

Design Trends: The Big Picture

The New American Home 2009  Zen Room

To meet this demand for choice and personalization, cookie-cutter houses need not apply. The wave of the future is customization.

In today’s climate of hectic schedules, there’s a trend toward simplicity. This yearning for a simpler lifestyle is resulting in an increased demand for contemporary or modern versus traditional home styles and interior décor. The New American Home 2009 Las Vegas home is a prime example. Those involved in the conception of the showhome assessed that “people seek control by simplifying the complex, eliminating the unnecessary, and creating time and space for things we, as individuals, find important.”

Director of design for Timberlake Cabinetry Connie Edwards observes this trend seeping into mainstream territory. “You only have to pick up any shelter magazine and you can see the proliferation of simple design and a more contemporary focus. If you believe consumers try to emulate what they see here… then you can assume this is what people will be asking for.”

Another emerging trend as people try to streamline their lives is the movement toward smaller homes, but without sacrificing customizations and amenities. Less square footage, more upgrades. Another contributing factor toward smaller homes is higher energy costs, which has also caused a movement toward energy-efficient elements. According to the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey (Sept., 2008), there has been an increase in the number of homeowners who utilize energy management systems and sustainable design elements to help alleviate the financial burden of high utility bills.

The AIA’s December 2008 Home Design Trend Survey shows that consumer preferences in community design are shifting away from areas outside of metropolitan hubs, and toward infill sites with greater access to public transportation options, again possibly fueled by high gas prices.

Many homebuyers are looking for a sense of community—they want the option of a neighborhood they can easily tap into, which is being spurred on by some important emerging demographic segments.

Builders, Meet Tomorrow’s Buyers

When the market does turn around, perhaps the best way to be prepared is to become educated on the consumer segments that will have the greatest influence and buying power. Case in point: WINKS (Women with Income and No Kids). In fact, publisher Hanley Wood deemed this demographic segment so important they devoted their November 22, 2008 issue of Big Builder exclusively to this topic. WINKS are part of the Gen-Y generation, a group currently estimated at 80 million. WINKS, as a subset of this group, account for more than 70 percent of females between the ages of 20 and 28. Couple that with the fact that Gen-Yers are becoming first-time homebuyers at an average age of 26 (according to a recent Century 21 survey), and you’ve got a consumer group that shouldn’t be ignored. From a timing standpoint, WINKS and Gen-Yers will gain momentum in the market by 2012, reaching peak buying force in 2015.

WINKS are educated, discerning, motivated and successful, and they’re opting to buy homes before getting married or having children. According to a recent study from Big Builder and real estate advisors Robert Charles Lesser & Co., the majority of this emerging buyer segment (77 percent) prefers urban or urban-lite areas because of accessibility to work and entertainment. They value design over size, and they are looking for architectural variation, amenities and eco-friendly features. Even though WINKS are content with smaller-sized homes, they demand smart design and higher-end finishes. In this case, smaller doesn’t mean less expensive. WINKS are willing to pay for what they want, so price points can be maintained by including personalized features.

While WINKS and Gen-Yers will be the catalysts for major change in the homebuilding industry, they obviously aren’t the only buyers to be aware of in the coming years. Other large, more familiar, buying segments are empty nesters and aging boomers. The number of persons age 65 and older is expected to grow to 70 million by 2030. A recent joint NAHB/AARP survey indicated that one in four baby boom generation households expect to move from their current home in the future.

Empty nesters, in particular, are often looking to downsize and simplify, similar actually to Gen- Yers, but for different reasons. Also similar to WINKS, empty nesters may want smaller spaces, but they won’t compromise on luxury, even if they are choosing smaller spaces to call home.

The builders who study these trends and pay attention to influential buyer segments—and embrace the reality that customization is king with these buyers—will lead the pack when the market does, in fact, turn around.

This article originally appeared in Volume 9, Issue 1 (January 2009) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.