Bridget Testa

Bridget Testa's Posts


When you think of pioneers of production home building, the Ryan brothers of Pittsburgh may not come to mind as quickly as William Levitt of Levittown fame or Kaufman and Broad, now KB Home. And they should. Ed, Jim, and Bill Ryan developed profitable, cost-effective building methods that many, if not most, production builders still use today. Each brother followed slightly different trajectories. Ed, the engineer and mathematician, figured out how to estimate every aspect of a house. He used his expertise to make Ryan Homes one of the first successful production builders in the 1950s and 1960s. Jim, the motivator and marketer, shared developer Jim Rouse's vision of planned communities. He founded Ryland Homes to realize that vision. And, Bill put Ed's methods to work on his own terms when he started Crest Communities and later Williamsburg Homes in Cincinnati. Read more

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What Boomers Want

To crack the code on what the generation known as the baby boomers will want next in a home, you'll have to talk to the 77 million people born between 1946 and 1964. Since that's not likely, the next best thing might be to talk with a select few whose tastes, values, preferences, and influence over others will lend real insight into what the rest of the market-making cohort may desire in their retirement homes. So earlier this year, Hanley Wood, BIG BUILDER'S parent company, and research firm DYG surveyed 2,000 homeowning boomers—aged 50 to 60 with household incomes averaging $100,000 or more—to find out what these soon-to-retire consumers want in their homes and communities as they move into the next stage of their lives. Read more

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Border Bravado

McAllen. Mission. Edinburgh. These neighboring cities in Hidalgo County in Texas' Rio Grande Valley have none of the name recognition of major economic centers, such as New York, Los Angeles, or Atlanta. Yet they, as the McAllen Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), are experiencing astonishing economic expansion, not to mention housing growth. Read more

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To-Go Menu

Still fond of the days of clipboards and pencil stubs? Home building's subdivision culture can find mobile communications and its host of buzzwords, acronyms, and mutating “form factors” more than a little geeky scary. Nostalgia can't compete, however, with the strategic imperatives that wireless communication promises. As dramatically slower absorptions and weakening pricing threaten to compress margins, home builders are relying on reduced cycle time and increased efficiency, accuracy, and productivity to make up some of the gross profits they're losing on the volume and pricing side of the equation. Hoping to achieve those imperatives, big builders are embracing wireless technology and tools. The embrace can be hesitant, with good reason. Wireless technology suffers from drawbacks that seem almost intentionally designed to chafe builders. Connectivity, also known as coverage or service, is unreliable or nonexistent in many remote spaces where builders operate. Read more

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Military Invasion Military Invasion

Although home prices are slowing across the country, builders in Cumberland County, N.C., where the city of Fayetteville is located, are certain they'll see price increases over the next five years. Read more

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