By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Why it worked: The builder's "quality package" concept consists of only the basic finishes, providing affordable homes for first-time buyers moving up from apartments.

* The builder kept prices low by limiting lot sizes to a tiny 34-by-51 square feet with only 3 feet around each home and 8-foot setbacks.

* When designing the five floor plans, the goal was to offer key rooms, with an emphasis on the eating/family area, a sizeable master suite, and comfortable secondary bedrooms.

* Keeping options to a minimum increased production efficiency and decreased mistakes, which equaled savings for the customers.

* In such a dense project, it is very important to create a sense of individuality for the customer. There are 15 colors with as many as five colors per scheme and 34 different elevations, all designed by architectural color consultant Miriam Tate.

* Community amenities include 2 1/4 acres of parks with playgrounds and covered picnic tables, and two large, private community pools.

Project Credits

Project: Independence, Las Vegas; Sales started: November 2002; Sales through January 2003: 71; Units planned: 391; Price: $128,950 to $144,950; Unit size: 1,246 to 1,421 square feet; Builder/Architect/Landscape architect: Astoria Homes, Las Vegas