Close your eyes for a moment. With your eyes shut, think of a place—the happiest place you can imagine right now. Stop reading and try it.
If you’re like most folks, odds are that the happy place your mind beelined to is outside, not indoors. Funny, the EPA publishes a widely quoted fact that Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors.
Some might call that opportunity.
The May issue of BUILDER speaks to that kind of opportunity, and what this community of home builders does with it.
The guts of these pages focus on the annual tally and ranking of the nation’s 200 largest for-sale home building organizations, teams who generated sales volume of $72 billion all told, on unit sales of 228,413 homes, or more than one of every two new homes sold in America in 2013 (53.12 percent). If last year’s rankings report reflected new-found “signs of life” in the production-builder community, this year’s collective performance, “Primed for Growth,” speaks powerfully to new and different signs of boldness, laser-focus, and even brilliance in response to recovery’s earliest offerings of upside.
There is D.R. Horton, once again at the top of the list. About a year ago, the D.R. Horton team introduced a new line of home brands, the Emerald Homes, aimed at that “vanguard of home buyer demand” I just mentioned, the higher-end buyer. What Horton’s team did—and what on-your-lot and entrepreneurial home building teams everywhere did—was to respond to a challenge phrased beautifully by management expert Gary Hamel, who wrote, “Face it: Out there in some garage, an entrepreneur is forging a bullet with your company’s name on it. Once that bullet leaves the barrel, you won’t be able to dodge it. You’ve got one option: you have to shoot first.”
Horton shot first a year ago with the Emerald line, and this year, it’s right back at the self-disruption game with a new line of homes aimed at first-time, entry level home buyers, Express Homes. Everyone knows that segment needs to kick in for housing’s recovery to keep clawing forward.
From Horton’s 25,161 home deliveries in 2013 and $6.7 billion in revenue to Lafayette, La.–based $21 million builder Manual Builders, there are 27 names who are new to our list of 200 organizations. We salute you all, for we know well that while the tide of opportunity has risen somewhat in the past 24 months, magnitudes of difficulty have gone up as well. Nothing comes easy.
In this issue we also recognize Toll Brothers, whose 898 home jump in for-sales units—while clocking in at an impressive 27.3 percent increase—belies the fundamental ways the organization and the brand has quantum-leaped into a new future as an integrated housing and hospitality line for the well-to-do consumer. Toll is the “Brand on the Run,” shaping itself into one of the industry’s most exciting business stories.
While the guts of this May issue focus on these big builders, the soul of the magazine takes what those 200 home building companies are and do—and what many thousands of other smaller teams in the ecosystem of residential construction are and do—and shines a light on an astonishing balance of design, engineering, and management that makes new-home buyers happier people.
What home builders and residential developers do is make a home for a household and make a place for people in those households. See our “Master Minds” feature showcasing master planned communities.
The boldness and brilliance we salute here recognizes that a new home’s role in people’s dreams now goes beyond shelter and safety and interior elegance. People want more outdoors indoors, and they enjoy having some of their indoor comforts outside. That’s why you’ll find a strong focus on indoor-outdoor living—one of home builders’ brilliant solutions to early recovery opportunity—running throughout the issue.
Now, you can go back to your happy place.