Exactly one year ago, we unveiled a new design for Big Builder, and at the same time, we increased the number of issues we publish each year from 15 to 20. The new look created by Hanley Wood's Builder group design director Eddie Malstrom gives Big Builder its business-magazine feel as well as its visual-caffeinated edge, an edge you can see right here on the cover and in every section's architecture. The almost twice-monthly frequency allows us the opportunity to engage more often in the issues, the events, the trends, and the moments that make up the story of America's leading home builders. Your story.

Twelve months ago, our focus was on the big play. It was about trying to expand capacity to meet demand that seemed boundless. And let's not forget the big deals and grand designs–from billion-dollar-plus mergers and acquisitions to sophisticated new capital structures and from transformative downtown land-use plans to innovative global sourcing channels, all centered on stoking supply.

John McManus Photo: katherine Lambert But, even by then, demand was taking a hit that traced approximately back to the time Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf region and New Orleans in September 2005. Investors, apparently incredibly well camouflaged during the surge for every new home that could be coaxed into the backlog, suddenly became conspicuous, first by their absence from the buyer pool, and then by their mob behavior as part of the sell side.

Meanwhile, we sense in these times that both the velocity and the nature of the collateral consequence of the get-in-to-get-out investor market has affected new housing as ferociously and profoundly as an economic recession might.

How's that?

Well, it sidelined the entry-level home buyer group, who've been priced out of the market, for one. And it turned price appreciation into the evil twin for those who'd like to–but can't–sell their current home in order to buy a new one. So even if we're not flippers, the days of selling at name-your-price levels have done a 180-degree turn to a taking-any-reasonable-offer environment.

It's as if that three-plus years of artificial demand led to almost a year's worth of overbuild, and now the market will need to overcorrect before it finds its new equilibrium. Shock-and-awe derring-do strategies must give way to tactics that will sustain, focus, and inspire your company in a trench war against an obscure, psychologically battering foe: the marketplace.

This is why we're glad to have a year under our belts with this new design, and greater frequency. We're now cut out to better tell your story, even if it's not all about your dramatic efforts at achieving ever-greater capacity.

News editor Sarah Yaussi's cover-story analysis, "Ready or Not" on page 42, seats itself in the formidable challenges KB Home's rookie CEO Jeff Mezger faces as he steps up to his new position amid storm clouds of both an internal and external nature. The focus on options backdating, the public company community's financial scandal du jour, is not merely to single out a person or a company's culpability, but to highlight that any broadsides to a home building company's critical access to capital will seem to proliferate just as market conditions squeeze as tight as they can.

At the same time, senior editor Lisa Marquis Jackson's inside look at Royce Builders, "Royce Rolls" on page 48, outlines a tortoise-and-hare-style allegory of a company whose strategic DNA might have been considered plodding yesterday, but is not today. Associate editor Teresa Burney probes the nature of a recession-resistant market by aiming our lens at North Carolina's Research Triangle in "Silver Lining" on page 61.

Scanning back to 40,000 feet, senior editor Judi Hasson explores buyer reluctance. "The Fear Factor" on page 56 engages social commentators and consumer behavior theorists in the issue of whether there's anything a home builder can do about this paralysis other than wait.

Your story–heroics and hiccups–is our mission.