|BUILDER's Special 25th Anniversary Issue|
New single-family homes built today are roughly 25 percent larger than homes built back then. Yet they are built on lots that average 9 percent smaller. Yesterday's kitchens, with mainly beige laminate counters and vinyl flooring, have given way to granite counters and commercial-grade appliances. Many of the products builders used in the disco days have been legislated out of existence. They have been replaced by a new generation of environmentally benign products. This period in the housing industry will be known as the era in which white-collar businesspeople took over. Most home builders 25 years ago came from the trades. Today's leaders often sport business school backgrounds. For an industry that supposedly resists change, home building has come a long way in its use of technology. Without the computerization of the '90s, it would be hard to imagine companies producing 30,000 homes a year, as several now do, or customizing everything down to a cabinet pull for customers. Finally, the last quarter century has witnessed the birth of an entirely new mortgage finance system, the envy of countries throughout the world. Even so, the housing industry faces significant challenges. Now that we are at war, the economic outlook is uncertain. Land and product inventories are almost non-existent. Anti-growth sentiment in this country remains strong. Amidst all the changes of the last two and a half decades, though, one thing has remained constant; housing remains a linchpin of the national economy. The industry showed its metal during the last two years, saving the national economy from what might have otherwise been a deep recession. Through it all, BUILDER has been there. To, for, and of this industry, we pledge to honor our tradition of timely, useful, and (we hope) engaging coverage.