Amy Albert

Editor

aalbert@hanleywood.com

Twitter: @amyatbuilder
Amy Albert Editor [email protected] Twitter: @amyatbuilder

Amy Albert

Editor

[email protected]

Twitter: @amyatbuilder

Who says there are no second acts in American life? OK, F. Scott Fitzgerald did in his final and unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon. But he was wrong on many counts, and that includes houses.

Renovation was the single biggest category in this year’s Builder’s Choice and Custom Home Design Awards. If that’s any indication—and we think it is—restoring, not razing, continues to account for an uptick in business, from full-on gut jobs to ambitious additions. The numbers tell the tale: Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reports a 20 percent jump in remodeling activity in the second quarter, with strong growth projected for the first part of 2014.

The 2013 Custom Home of the Year by Vinci | Hamp Architects and Goldberg General Contracting is a great example of a building’s second act. The team transformed what once was a working dairy into a family house in one of Chicago’s most beloved neighborhoods.

Large custom homes made up the competition’s next most populous category. The good news, concluded the jury, is that the best examples are more responsive to both their site and region than ever before with sustainability as a given.

This year, Builder’s Choice and the Custom Home Design Awards merged into one contest. Competition was fierce and the results are inspiring. You’ll see the custom categories covered in this issue and online; non-custom winners will be announced in BUILDER’s October print issue and online. We’ve given the Grand winners more space this time. In addition, there’s a montage of the 17 Merit winners, with expanded coverage at customhomeonline.com.

We’ll soon be ditching the editor’s letter for a more interesting topic: you. Starting in the next issue will be highlights from our online Projects Gallery. If you haven’t been yet, come browse and add a project so you can show off your best work. Meanwhile, enjoy this awards issue—we think it’s the best one yet. And then, watch this space.