Who’s the best home builder?
Actually, that’s answered one home buyer at a time. And, in the Omaha, Nebraska, area, Sherwood Homes and Lane Building Corporation are raising the bar regarding what it means to be best. Part of that solution has been embracing Design Basics’ Woman-Centric Matters!® approach, which helps home builders focus on design, products for the home, and customer experiences from women’s viewpoints.
Though separate companies, Sherwood Homes and Lane Building Corporation build the same home designs, with the same tradespeople, using the same products; however, having two entities allows them to build in a wider variety of neighborhoods. Currently, the companies are building in 20 different subdivisions. Jerry Standerford explained, “Having building lots throughout the Omaha metro, buyers can get the neighborhood and school district they want. Or, we’ll help our clients find and secure a home site in one of Omaha’s other quality neighbor-hoods.”
A Better Experience
It is impossible to build a quality home without providing a quality new home experience. At Sherwood/Lane, that begins with a user-friendly website. But the customer experience gets into full swing when one of Sherwood/Lane’s three agents get involved.
“Our agents are really new home specialists and are very knowledgeable about home building,” Standerford said. “But even more important, our agents care. They’re focused on the buyer’s interests and helping each of our clients get the best home for their house-hold.”
Pre-construction, the agents assist with home plan and building lot selections, product decisions and finishes, and pricing. Communication is key, and with that, education. Home buyers don’t know what they don’t know.
Sherwood/Lane offers dozens of different home plans, which, within reason, can be modified according to buyer preferences. The agents work out of furnished model homes that allow prospective buyers the opportunity to see the construction quality firsthand and experience the livability of the homes. Because it’s sometimes hard to visualize a home’s flow or perhaps a certain room size, being able to walk through the model home eliminates guesswork and avoids future remorse. Actually experiencing a dining area helps buyers know if it might need to be enlarged, for example.
Offering multiple move-in ready homes, Sherwood/Lane is also a market leader when it comes to buyers who are relocating to Omaha. Not surprisingly, many of those buyers are families with children who prefer traditional two-story homes. The company is seeing a higher number of multi-generational household clients and offers several popular two-story homes to incorporate a first-floor in-law suite. According to Standerford, “We’re also seeing the influence of websites such as Pinterest and Houzz among our clientele, which is helping them identify and prioritize what they want in a home.”
Sherwood/Lane opened their Personalization Studio in 2006 and it’s been very popular with their personalized clients. Akin to a “university environment,” prospective home buyers meet there with their agent to further appreciate the included features and learn about avail-able options.
Read more about Sherwood/Lane’s Personalization Studio and home building design process.
Forbes reports that women have a 1 in 7 chance of celebrating their 95th birthday (sorry guys, you only have a 1 in 14 chance of blowing out 95 candles). Today’s longer lifespans, scattered families, and the desire for independence coupled with the fear and high cost of nursing homes has made live-in caretakers a viable option. Similarly, accident victims and wounded veterans may need around-the-clock aides, which, not surprisingly, are often parents moving in. Home plans like Scholz Designs® Bauer Creek plan 56564 are more than dual master suite homes, they really “live” independently for the caretakers with separate garages, entrances, and living spaces, plus direct connections from one side to the other.
The median age of widowhood is 59.4 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). After a lifetime together, it’s no surprise that many of these “suddenly single” widows (and widowers) desire homeownership AND companionship. They’ve told us they’re looking for separate owner’s suites with shared living spaces. Take Design Basics’ Tucker Terrace plan 50039. The owner’s suite and suite #3 achieve maximum separation for desired privacy, meaning neither individual needs to be annoyed by the other’s loud TV programming. The common entertaining space + sunroom + rear covered porch provide plenty of opportunities for togetherness. While more modest, suite #2 could accommodate a third companion.
Particularly due to the aging baby boomer generation, there is a growing number of households with siblings or sometimes cousins moving in together. In addition to the desire to be with family, we often hear this is out of economic necessity, such as a suddenly single widow or even older related couples wanting to split housing costs. Not surprisingly, these are two of the driving forces behind the surging popularity of plans with dual owner’s suites on the main floor such as Design Basics Toulouse plan 50037. Each of that design’s first floor bedrooms is generously sized for a couple. An important consideration for older homeowners, the Toulouse features a zero-threshold front entry, ensuring this home can welcome visitors of all abilities. Similarly, interior passage doors are at least 36″ wide, easily accommodating a walker or wheelchair. And the over-sized flex/hobby space off the garage entry has another welcome amenity – a shower stall; originally en-visioned for pet care, but equally adept as a wheelchair wash-off station.
We recently spoke with a woman with a special needs teenage daughter that will likely be living with her mom for many years to come. This homebuyer wanted a home with an owner’s suite, a separate adjacent suite (so she could hear her daughter), a third bedroom for frequent guests, and a room for her home office – all in less than 1800 square feet. Our search narrowed to the Garland plan 24297, where bedroom #4 was a perfect fit for her and her daughter’s needs, and bedroom #2 being re-purposed as the home office she wanted.
Search more plans with multiple owner’s suites to find the one that fits your lifestyle.
Eureka! You’ve just stumbled upon one of the most obvious advantages your homes offer that’s not found in other builders’ homes. Once they know, customers will beat a path to your door! But before you commit to that advertising campaign, let’s see what we can learn from Apple.
In the age of Sony Walkman personal CD players, Apple introduced the iPod, which could hold a lot more music than a single CD-Rom. Apple capitalized on that benefit with their slogan, “1000 songs in your pocket.” The advantage was obvious…and enormous!
Yet, according to marketing/branding guru Alessandra Ghini who was working for Apple on the iPod at that time, “the tagline failed to take the iPod mainstream.” Apparently, storage space wasn’t the point. As reported in Fast Company, Ghini’s team asked owners, “Why do you enjoy the iPod?” Consumer feedback centered around the emotions music can evoke from each listener. Ghini’s team refocused iPod advertising on the now ubiquitous human silhouettes enjoying their music, and another chapter in the annals of Apple’s success was written.
Holding 1000 songs was a factual benefit of the iPod. Yet, in that context, the appeal was limited. Apple’s home run came with tapping into buyers’ emotions surrounding using the product, specifically music’s ability to affect/enhance our mood.
Now, let’s return to that new amenity offered in your homes. We’ll use the Travel Center in the owner’s suite closet as an example. Properly staged, a Travel Center is obvious and easily understood by your model home visitors. But will it actually sell more homes? That depends on how those model home visitors feel.
Stories are a powerful way to tap into buyer’s emotions. “You know, I nearly broke my ankle when I tripped over the suitcase in my closet.” Or, “I love the travel center because everything’s ready, right there, for an unexpected trip.” Asking, “How do you see yourself using the Travel Center?” or to the frequent traveler “How would it make you feel to have everything for your next trip right here at your fingertips?” can help prospects envision living in the home and using the travel center.
Remember, buyers buy on emotion!
Most any plans with a walk-in closet can incorporate a Travel Center into the design, but here is a selection of plans with Travel Centers already designed:
By definition, multi-generational households have at least two adult generations living in the home. Today, about 1 in 5 Americans live in multi-generational households. Traditionally, in-law suites were the design solution — in a pinch, mom and/or dad moved into one of the secondary bedrooms. But better for achieving both independence and togetherness is a bedroom suite with its own entertaining area, a private bathroom, and a generous closet. That way mom can have the ladies over without having to “schedule” the primary entertaining space.
Design Basics’ McAllister (42027) plan illustrates this arrangement beautifully. With the addition of its own exterior door off the front porch, plus its kitchenette, the in-law suite’s living area is sure to please. Increased natural light levels are paramount as we age and this plan delivers with windows on two sides of both the second suite’s bedroom and living space. With an older family member in that suite, you’ll also want to consider zoned heating and cooling, as older individuals typically need warmer temperatures to be comfortable. And, while tile continues to be the preferred flooring choice in bathrooms, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among seniors. Selecting slip-resistant tile flooring just makes sense.
According to PEW Research of U.S. Census data, 45% of college graduates move back in with their parents after graduation. Dubbed by some the “boomerang” generation, 7 in 10 college seniors graduated with student loan debt averaging nearly $30,000 each, as of 2013. At other times, adult children were moving back in with parents following a job loss or divorce.
These scenarios have given rise to the popularity of “casitas” – independent living quarters with private access – often found atop or behind the main home’s attached garage. Design Basics’ Petaluma (42290) and Westerly (42302) both exemplify these options.
Accessed from its own entrance/staircase behind the garage, the Petaluma’s casita over the garage presents a sizable living space, kitchen with eating bar and private bedroom suite with oversized shower and walk-in closet. Alternatively, the Westerly’s casita (at left) is positioned behind the garage and main home’s kitchen. Again, there is private access from behind the garage and this ground-level casita layout offers a pocket office, too.
Recently, the McAllister plan was re-designed as the McAllister Knoll OTB (42319) with the addition of a “roomer” off the rear covered porch. Think small studio apartment with private bedroom and bath plus modest living space equipped with kitchenette for your college student or perhaps your separate home office.
No matter what multi-generational living arrangement presents itself, our plan specialists can assist you in finding the right fit for your situation. Search Plans
There are many design elements that can be added to your home at a later date, but some things should be incorporated during the planning stages. Here we present two such items – one is an almost impossible change after the fact, and one will simply save you time, money, and unnecessary headache.
Slightly less than one-half of the homes built in the U.S. are built on basements. If your new home will sit atop a basement foundation, before you build, do your best to determine future uses for your basement. For example, you’re probably going to want taller basement walls in order to have a ceiling height that is at least 8-feet. You’ll know where to rough in plumbing for a bathroom, where to optimally locate structural poles, and where a small kitchen or bar might be situated. You will also want to make sure you don’t finish off too much of that lower level at the expense of much needed storage!
If your feet are warm, chances are you’ll feel warm all over. But the converse is also true. And few things at home are more dreaded than climbing out of a warm bed or after bathing and stepping onto cold floors! Concrete, stone, tile, and even wood floors can be quite cold to bare feet. Radiant floor heating, in which either warming electrical wires or recirculating hot water lines are installed under the flooring, creates a wonderful, warm floor. Importantly, the decision to spend money for warm floors must be made prior to construction!
Read more home design tips on our Design Resources page.
Physiologically, we are drawn to natural light. That’s not surprising as natural light has been shown to provide numerous health benefits – both physically and mentally. Natural light promotes concentration and relaxation.
Numerous studies also conclude that we’re “wired” to be in community. Most people will recall time spent with family and friends as the best, and most important times in their lives; therefore, it’s no surprise that sunny spaces are golden for entertaining.
A natural conclusion is that areas in your home bathed in daylight would be ideal for making memories. Whether you relish delicious moments alone for personal reflection or growth or life-giving time spent with loved ones, “light, bright, and airy” describes the perfect space.
Hence, the long-standing popularity of sunrooms in our homes. Lined with windows on at least two sides to maximize natural light levels, sunrooms also connect us with nature’s beauty. And when the sunroom flows directly into your dining area, as seen in the Barclay (56392) plan, magic happens! Your dining space becomes so much more attractive, and the windows add a feeling of spaciousness. Practically, such design adds flexibility to your entertaining options as well. For instance, if on holidays you’ll have 12 people for dinner, you can add those leaves to your dining table (or set up another adjoining table) and all generations are together for that special meal!
View the plan: 56392