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Photos: Anje Jager/agencyrush.com

Starr Tingle owns Sanctuary Homes in Kentucky, a 15-year-old builder that completes 10 to 12 homes a year.

The largest change we’ve made has been simplifying the box. We’ve eliminated waste such as corners and turns in the foundation and unnecessary square footage. That’s allowed us to put money saved into better, more luxurious finishes and curb appeal. While we only put one vanity sink in the master bath, we now put a granite top on the vanity. We are upgrading the kitchen backsplash to natural stone or glass tile. In the spare bath, rather than installing a one-piece tub/shower unit, we’ve begun using a tub and tiling the walls with a natural stone and saving money by purchasing the materials at a big-box store. Kitchens and baths are where we want to appeal to our female buyers. For our male buyers, we are building only Energy Star–qualified homes and finishing the basement. This formula, plus striving to keep one merchandised show home on display, have resulted in more signed contracts and fewer lookers.


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Photos: Anje Jager/agencyrush.com

Jeffrey Lake is national director of architecture and community design for Irvine, Calif.–based Standard Pacific Homes.

One of the most important design changes we’ve made this past year is creating a greater sense of flexibility and flow throughout the home. This is evident in our new great room–centered floor plans, which seamlessly blend the family room, kitchen, and dining area to create an expansive space. With highly appointed kitchens and oversized islands, the area becomes the command center of the home. Offering more room for bulk-item storage, food preparation, entertaining, or simply relaxing with family members, this feature has truly resonated with prospective homeowners. In addition to a greater flow between living and dining spaces, Standard Pacific Homes has strategically placed windows and glass doors to make the outdoors more visible and accessible. Not only does this increase natural lighting and enhance the home’s beauty, but it also creates better connectivity with our outdoor living areas, maximizing the usable square footage of each home.


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Photos: Anje Jager/agencyrush.com

Stephen Paul is the executive vice president of Mid-Atlantic Builders, based in Rockville, Md.

Over the past year we have introduced several new designs and efficiency innovations. We have seen a trend toward multigenerational housing and now offer an optional in-law or guest suite in all of our floor plans. These optional spaces range from a single bedroom to a bedroom suite with a full bath. Many people are building this feature into their homes for either an elderly parent or an adult child returning to the nest. We have also introduced a new family gourmet kitchen, which features a large central island that can be used as a family gathering place. The kitchens are well-appointed with extra cabinets and upgraded stainless steel appliances. All of our homes are now constructed using our Energy$mart program. This program guarantees energy efficiency that not only meets the national Energy Star standards, but substantially surpasses them. Our Energy$mart homes have an average HERS score in the lower 60s.