November 2006 Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Tornado Watch

The connection between tornadoes and the destruction of manufactured homes is so commonplace in news stories that one can almost understand why a congressman would be moved to ask HUD to investigate whether tornadoes were somehow attracted to mobile-home parks. Read more

Open Door

NOT SO LONG AGO, THE GARAGE door was a humdrum slab that lacked any style or design options. Today there are seemingly limitless options so home buyers no longer have to settle for the ordinary. Read more

Suck It Up

By Christina B. Farnsworth. Central vacuum systems are among the best indoor air quality (IAQ) investments. Patients claimed various symptoms improved from 44 percent to 61 percent with use of a central vacuum. Read more

Land-use Controversy Project Heats Up

STATE POLITICS INJECTED ITSELF INTO LOCAL planning issues in Loudoun County, Va., earlier this year when Gov. Tim Kaine directed the Virginia Department of Transportation to issue a study on a proposal to build an estimated 33,000 homes on the 9,200-acre Dulles South tract, near Dulles International Airport. Read more

Concrete Idea Aero Dynamic

IRVING, TEXAS–BASED HANSON Pipe & Precast says it has developed a lightweight precast concrete wall system that could revolutionize the home building industry, particularly in coastal regions that are susceptible to strong winds and flooding. Read more

Affordable Housing Some Assembly Required

LOWE'S, THE NATION'S SECOND largest home improvement retailer, has finalized an exclusive licensing agreement with New York designer Marianne Cusato to carry the house plans and related building materials needed to construct Katrina Cottages. Read more

Ordinance Revised Immigration Issue

FACING A FEDERAL LEGAL CHALLENGE, THE CITY of Hazleton, Pa., in September adopted a significantly revised version of its Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which penalizes employers and landlords for hiring or housing illegal immigrants and makes English the city's official language. Read more

House Blend: November 2006

- The Wisconsin state legislature passes a law that requires home buyers, not builders, to pay impact fees. - California awards $210.7 million in housing grants to 42 counties. - Global Green USA and actor Brad Pitt have announced that Workshop APD has won the Sustainable Design Competition for New Orleans. Read more

California Goes Solar

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER PULLED OFF an election-year coup late last summer by signing a new law that puts home builders at the forefront of developing solar power usage in the Golden State. Read more

After Andrew

AS FLORIDA REGULATORS SEARCH FOR middle ground on regional hurricane standards, builders and insurers remain at odds. This year's storm season brought with it a renewed bluster over the so-called “panhandle carve-out,” which holds certain Northwest counties to less stringent wind borne debris protection standards. Read more

The Straight Dope The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth Strange Bedfellows

The marriage of convenience that joins actor Tom Cruise with NVR's chief executive Dwight Schar forms an alliance that's odd even by Hollywood's standards. Read more

Chapter 11 Clipped Wings

THE FIRST CASUALTIES OF THE HOUSING industry's downward slide have started to emerge. The biggest case so far is East Brunswick, N.J.–based Kara Homes, the industry's 127th largest builder in sales last year, which on Oct. 5 filed for bankruptcy protection from 1,000-plus creditors. Read more

Top Shelf: November 2006

This month's top shelf products include an oversized casement window from Peachtree, Turkish-inspired bath designs from noted industrial designer Ross Lovegrove, and the Lancelot Professional line of stainless steel sinks from Moen. Read more

Curbed Costs Curbed Costs

THE SMALL, TEXT-ONLY AD PLACED BY BROKER DJK RESIDENTIAL on, a market-specific real estate weblog (or “blog”), will never win any design awards, but the strategy behind it just might—or at least serve as a lesson to any professional home seller to break out of conventional marketing molds. Read more

Artist at Work Artist at Work

EVEN BEFORE IT PUT A SHOVEL IN THE GROUND AT RAVENNA, a 42-unit “boutique” community of oceanfront homes in San Clemente, Calif., builder John Laing Homes' South Coast division had a pretty good idea of how it would theme the grand opening of the models and first phase of sales. “Our market research during the design phase told us that prospective buyers were very interested in the arts,” says Linda Mamet, vice president of sales and marketing, adding that most of the project's buyers were expected to come from the local area. “We started thinking about how to add that to the experience of visiting the model homes.” Read more

Showroom Spectacular Showroom Spectacular

INSTEAD OF TRYING TO COMBINE ITS SALES EFFORTS AND DESIGN selection process at its multiple communities around Boise, Idaho, Hubble Homes centralized the latter function with a 10,000-square-foot showroom adjacent to its corporate headquarters. Once buyers sign a contract, they have 45 days to secure financing and choose their standard or optional finishes at the showroom. Read more

Vital Signs American Pipe Dream

OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS, home prices will decline in more than one-third of the nation's 379 metro areas. The affected markets account for half of the value of America's single-family housing stock, and some could experience price dips approaching 20 percent. Read more

Keep the Noise Out

THE PROMISE OF DISTRIBUTED AUDIO IS that everyone in the family can have a haven where they can listen to their own, personalized music. But what happens when all the music collides and the family is unhappy with the new system? Read more

Digital Home: November 2006

- The Streaming Music Manager lets homeowners access their music from wherever it resides on the home network. - Speaker maker Artison claims to have made a vibration-free, in-wall subwoofer. Read more

Lennar Techs Up Lennar Techs Up

BUILDERS COPING WITH A MUCH slower housing market are beginning to see how home technology can give them a competitive edge. Read more

Software Bookends

HOME BUILDERS LOOKING FOR A WAY TO understand HomeFront, the sales and warranty management software from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada–based Zybertech, should think of it as a pair of bookends that run on either side of BuilderMT's purchasing system and the Sage Timberline Office accounting and estimating software. Read more

Tech Tools: November 2006

- SoftPlan releases a training CD for its 3-D rendering moduleSoftView. - New Web site provides information portal about construction software for builders and contractors. Read more

Golf-Course Draw Golf-Course Draw

WHY IT WORKED: A golf course is often a big draw for a community, but one designed by Tom Fazio is almost irresistible for the links-obsessed. Throw in well-priced homes, good amenities, and proximity to Amelia Island and you've got a winner. Read more

Priced to Sell Priced to Sell

WHY IT WORKED: Buyers flocked to the well-priced homes at North Village, one of four initial neighborhoods at Harmony on the Lakes, a 630-acre master planned community that will eventually feature more than 1,400 homes, 100,000 square feet of retail and office space, and a day-care center. Read more

Southwest Sophistication Southwest Sophistication

WHY IT WORKED: These sophisticated loft homes offered an alternative to the area's more expected choices, high-rise condominiums and same-style single-family developments. Their contemporary lines and innovative floor plans are a welcome break from the usual sea of red tile roofs and faux Mediterranean architecture. Read more

Making Time Making Time

WE ALL KNOW THAT time is money, making it easy to see that time wasted is money lost—and there may be no industry where that point is made more plainly than in home building. Read more

Tight Squeeze

Airplanes and appliances are the last two things the United States does well, says Alex Cheimets, a former senior product manager at Thermador Appliances, in Huntington Beach, Calif., and now editor of, a trade news Web site for appliance dealers and distributors. In recent years, however, things have gotten a little bit tight for domestic appliance companies as foreign competition nips at their heels. Read more

Tumbling Dice Tumbling Dice

The industry does not like the popular phrase “mobile home” —it reserves that term for units built before the federal government began regulating its product. Until 1976, house trailers were not subject to any building code. Since 1976, the industry has been covered by a federal rule known as the HUD Code, and in 1994, in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, the HUD Code was toughened for coastal high-wind zones. Manufacturers call units built after 1976 “manufactured housing” or “HUD-Code homes,” pointing to the national rules as an assurance of quality. Read more

The NAHB Research Center Corner Growing Up Green

WHILE GREEN BUILDING continues to rise in popularity across the nation, many people remain unsure about what it means to build green or where to begin. Read more

Seiders Economy The Downswing Report

ON SEPT. 13, I TESTIFIED IN THE U.S. SENATE on “The Housing Bubble and Its Implications for the U.S. Economy.” My statement outlined the basic causes of the current housing downswing, estimated the depth and duration of the downswing, and discussed the likely economic consequences of the falloff in housing market activity as well as the likely impacts of several secondary effects of the evolving housing cycle. Read more

From The President Tools for Change

THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT THE HOUSING market is winding down from the record sales and production levels of recent years. Sales and starts are down; interest rates are up; inventories of unsold homes are up; and cancellations are on the rise. Read more

NAHB Briefs: November 2006

- The NAHB encourages builders to plan for the future early by making homes user-friendly for all buyers. - The NAHB and UPS join forces to offer NAHB members discounts of up to 30 percent on shipping. - The NAHB actively seeks new foreign lumber markets to begin trade relations with the United States. Read more

Harvard Heights, Los Angeles Harvard Heights, Los Angeles

HARVARD HEIGHTS, A MID-CITY DISTRICT BUILT ON THE hills just southwest of downtown Los Angeles, is a preservationist's dream. Thanks to a land covenant put in place by developers around the turn of the 20th century that required all houses built on the tract to cost upwards of $2,500, the neighborhood boasts a wealth of large and lovely Victorian and Craftsman-style homes. Read more

The Web's Role in the Revolution The Web's Role in the Revolution

The chief advertising officer for one of the Internet's most successful business sites details his company's approach to the Web -- and how the Internet is changing advertising habits. Read more

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