Tile Style

Tile is still an exciting trend in new home construction and in remodeling as well. But as with most trends, the styles and patterns for kitchens and baths are changing for 2017. We’ll let you know how!

Subway Tile

In recent years, subway tile, with its clean lines and pristine white glaze, has become a staple for kitchen and bathroom walls. This tile style is still going strong, but with a twist. Instead of only the white glaze, manufacturers are promoting pops of color for subway tile. From pastel pinks to bold turquoise, subway tile options are booming. In addition, installation styles are changing. Instead of orderly, horizontal rows of these tiles, try installing them in a herringbone or chevron pattern for extra interest.

Atypical Tile Shapes and Hues

2017 is the year of variety in tile choices. Some popular shapes are hexagonal (honeycomb), fish scale, intricate geometrics, textured natural stone, arabesques, penny tile and elaborate florals.

Tile Style

In addition, this isn’t your mom’s tiled kitchen! Colors star in vivid hues and finishes. Trends are definitely moving away from simple lines and neutral shades and are venturing into detail and variety. For example, the fish scale style tile comes in ocean-hued iridescent glass and it conveys a tranquil subaqueous ambiance.

Tile Floors Too!

Another recent trend is installing floor tile that resembles hardwood. The ceramic and porcelain flooring industry has exploded with wood look-alikes. The amazing thing is that some of the tile floors look so authentically like wood that you can’t tell it’s not wood unless you touch it. Digital image quality and high tech production techniques have fostered this advancement. The variety of images and patterns make the tile flooring appear authentic. Now, wood-look tile can have radiant heat underneath it via sub-floor heating which allows you to install tile directly over it.

Should you install tile? It’s definitely a great selling point for new home construction, and recent innovations such as genuine wood-look appearance and easy-install radiant heat help boost its appeal. Go for it! Oh, and don’t forget an American eBuilder Warranty to close the deal on a perfect home!

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Thank You, Veterans!

On this Memorial Day Weekend …

… we wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all those who have sacrificed for America’s freedom. Thank you to active service members, to veterans and to those service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. America, always remember that freedom is not free; it has been bought with a price. We are the land of the free … because of the brave! Why not thank a service member today?

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!

Maximizing Outdoor Living in Your Remodeling Offerings

As we noted last year, a trend began in 2016 which sought to bring the outdoors inside. This trend utilized large windows and expansive patio doors which opened to an outdoor space. The outdoor living trend has only intensified in 2017. Spacious entertaining and cool areas without using a lot of energy are the primary driving forces which are promoting this trend.

Outdoor Entertaining, Outdoor Living

Top Remodeling Project

Adding a fully functional outdoor living space is one of the most requested remodeling projects reported by contractors across the US. Qualified Remodeler Magazine reports, in its April 2017 issue, that 84.4% of remodeling contractors indicate that they are doing outdoor space remodeling project requests. If you’ve not considered adding this offering to your remodeling services, you might be missing out!

Types of Outdoor Living Projects

What sorts of outdoor living projects are homeowners requesting? The most prominent request is that families want comfortable spaces outside where they can enjoy time with friends and family. Such spaces can include an outdoor living room, full-featured cooking and dining spaces and even entertainment centers complete with media systems and fireplaces. Decks, pergolas, and roofed but wall-less structures define these spaces.

Outdoor Kitchen, Outdoor Dining

Materials

This trend emphasizes natural materials as well as easy-care products. For the flooring and structure, composite decking materials receive the highest rating, although pressure-treated wood is also popular because of its affordability. Another popular floor treatment is concrete paving, stamped in an attractive pattern. Many manufacturers offer weatherproof appliances, such as refrigerators, stove-tops, grills and storage units for outfitting the outdoor kitchen. Stone and manufactured stone surfaces provide weatherproof cabinetry and also protect the electrical and gas lines from weather damage. In addition, durable and weather-resistant furnishings for outside use have skyrocketed in variety and availability. Finally, don’t forget lighting needs as part of a remodel in the outdoors. From accent lighting to path lights, LED lights are taking the place of outdoor lights which use more electricity.

With your remodeling, don’t forget that American eBuilder offers 5-year Remodeler’s Warranties on your work. What a great way to give even your remodeling customers peace of mind and assurance that your work is the highest quality!

Are You Happy with American eBuilder’s Warranty Services?

If you have had a great experience using American eBuilder’s 10-year new home warranties, we’d love to hear about it! As a builder, what is your favorite aspect of using our warranties? Is it the speedy delivery? The convenience? The ease of purchase? The friendly staff? The customer service? Please take a brief moment to visit our Yelp profile and give us a review! That will assist other builders who need new home warranties as well. Thank you in advance! Simply click here to review us.

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Technology for the Builder

In the past, we’ve discussed the use of technology in construction from a homeowner’s viewpoint. It is true that the Internet of Things has blossomed wide open for homeowners to have “smart” homes. But tech is not only transforming the construction experience for the homeowner – it’s changing the way builders work as well. We will examine several innovations which will make your job, as a builder, easier.

Digital Pen

Headgear

Wearable gear is one way to use technology to both enhance your capabilities or to increase your safety. For example, Augmented Reality glasses or a visor can superimpose 3D models on a live site, can allow the builder to see where electrical cables, pipe or ductwork run behind an existing wall and can merge plans with reality. An example of this sort of technology is the Microsoft Hololens (https://youtu.be/AQOGBPYf2Mg). Another type of tech gear is the enhanced safety helmet. While most construction professionals wear a hard hat on site, this gear takes the hard hat into the 21st century. The DAQRI Smart Helmet (https://daqri.com/products/smart-helmet/), using Google Glass technology, has sensors and cameras, which it uses to gather data about the immediate environment. It includes a clear visor, lenses and 4-D Augmented Reality. This helmet can warn the wearer of possible dangers and also assist in task completion.

Wearable Technology

Another type of wearable technology designed for construction are devices you wear, such as GPS-enhanced safely vests or gesture-activated wristbands. The safety vests use GPS technology to track movement and location on a job site. This in turn can notify a worker who is entering a hazardous area. Wristbands connect to devices which are digitally enabled, such as the Augmented Reality glasses discussed above. Through gestures, the wearer can control those devices without touching.

Airborne Tech

Drones are also offering assistance on job sites. A drone can perform a multitude of functions, such as surveying land, mapping a job site, documenting job progression, and securing the site from theft and vandalism. If a drone records footage of the site, that recording can be used to project job completion and to update job progress to customers. The tech industry is now creating specialized drones designed specifically for construction and industry.

On Your PC and Phone

A recent improvement in computer technology is Building Information Modelling or BIM. This technology merges various data about the project and create high-detail, interactive 3-D models, which are far more informative than a simple blueprint.

As regulations and codes change, your PC and phone are valuable tools for staying abreast of all those changes. Apps also can assist you in streamlining your business. For example, some builder productivity apps are BuildCalc, which includes equations and calculations for hip roof construction, Fast Concrete Pad Calculator, which figures out how much rebar and concrete you need for your project as well as a cost estimate for those, DeWALT, which is a calculator for volume, length, construction materials (such as quantity of nails or number of drywall boards), PlanGrid, which allows contractors to save PDFs of project designs and to share them to workers’ devices, and Estimate ALL PRO, which helps you estimate materials costs after you input the item and the cost per unit. Additionally, apps are usually quite affordable comparative to their functionality.

Another great tech-related tool is … drum roll … the 10-Year New Home Warranty, from American eBuilder! Did you know that we are now mobile-friendly, and you can order your warranties straight from your smart phone or tablet? From its start, American eBuilder was prescient in this area; we were providing the convenience and ease of warranties purchased online before anyone else! But with the mobile-friendly site, we’ve taken our technological convenience a step further. “On-line, on-time, un-equaled!”

There’s No Place Like PH

When you hear the abbreviation, PH, you think … hmmm, didn’t I learn something about that back in the day, in science class? Well, while it’s true that pH IS a scientific term, it also could represent the Passive House, an up-and-coming building type that’s growing in popularity. The reason for this trend is the nature of the Passive House. It may be just about any building design that exists, but the way it’s constructed makes it nearly airtight and greatly reduces the need for heating, cooling and lighting. These homes are incredibly energy-efficient, extremely sound-proof and very stable in temperature. With the costs of heating and cooling always rising, these features are very attractive to your home buyers!

PH

WHERE IT BEGAN:

The original concept, called Passivhaus, began in Europe, mostly Germany and Austria, in the 1980-1990’s. The idea spread to the US in the early 2000’s. There are five principles which are followed in building a PH. First, a PH has continuous insulation through its whole envelope with no thermal bridging. Second, the envelope is highly impervious to air penetration in either direction – outside in or inside out. Third, the windows and doors are the highest industry standard triple pane construction. Fourth, there is a heat and moisture recovery air exchange system which retains the balance but provides fresh air. Fifth, by intentionally situating the house on the lot and by window placement, the sun’s impact is engineered to provide heat in the winter and to reduce heat in the summer.

WHY IT’S ATTRACTIVE:

PH homes are comfortable no matter the season, with minimal heating and cooling. There are no drafts, the temperature fluctuates very little and the air filtration system keeps air quality high. While a supplemental geothermal heating/cooling unit may be needed, the house design minimizes the need for this. This economy is possible because in winter, the air ventilation system uses the warm air exiting the house to heat the colder air entering the house, and in summer, the cold air exiting the house cools the warmer air entering. The homeowner experiences substantial savings in heating/cooling costs. Another perk of a PH is the low transference of outside sound into the home. It’s remarkably quiet, no matter the setting.

HOW TO GET STARTED:

If these concepts sound interesting to you, why not follow up by visiting the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) website? They have professional training, certifications and resources for the builder who is interested in this novel and growing technology. In addition, try to network with builders who already have entered the PH building field to get tips and insights.

Staying Atop 2016 Building Trends

If you have a solid grasp of what the market trends are in construction, you can better design your homes to accommodate those trends. This in turn should increase your sales price and your number of home sales. Let’s take a look at what is on the current home-buyer’s wish list.

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SINGLE FAMILY HOMES

While multi-family housing was a hot trend in the 2015 housing industry, in 2016 it is predicted to slow. Instead, the single family home will have a 20% increase, according to Dodge Data’s 2016 Construction Outlook. The main driving force for this increase is the Millennial generation entering the home-buying market. As we noted in our post on marketing to Millennials, the greater amount of technology you integrate into your homes, the better for this demographic. See Maximizing the Millennial Market for other things which resonate with this group.

REMODELING

The current movement in remodeling is rooted in the fact that existing homeowners are serious about investing in their present homes. Home improvements drive this trend. Generally, these remodels are upgrades to add amenities to a less luxurious home. In addition, 5 million people annually relocate and move to a different home. If it’s an older home, they are willing and able to invest in remodeling to suit their own tastes. The typical remodel is to update the kitchen, renovate the bath or build an addition, such as a sun-room. A strong 2016 trend is to bring the outdoors in – via a living space which bridges the gap between the inside of the house and the outside. A final factor in the remodeling push is the desire to add technology to an older home.

WALK-ABLE NEIGHBORHOODS

In December 2015, the American Institute of Architects issued a Home Design Trends Survey which revealed that proximity to public transportation, multi-generational areas, walk-able neighborhoods and neighborhood recreational facilities are very important to the current home buyer. In general, people are more interested in walking or public transportation than in driving. This trend requires neighborhoods which are close to amenities such as shopping, dining, recreation and similar venues. Interestingly, the concept of walk-able neighborhoods appeals to both the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations.

DESIGN

Metallic, metallic, metallic is the watchword. From silver chrome to bronzed gold, metal is in! Not only are all metal tones hot, but there is also freedom to mix and match. Use one metal as the predominant one in a room and then use a different metal as an accent in minor places in that room. In addition to metals, natural materials are trending. Wood, stone, and just about any eco-friendly material are the top elements to use. This is a trend away from the box-store, mass produced look.

In conclusion, use these trends to keep the edge over your competition in the construction marketplace. Have a great year of building … and don’t forget to add an American eBuilder home warranty to your 2016 homes!

Are You Plugged In? Part 5: Go Mobile!

In this 21st Century world, being digital and online is a must for growing your business. Yet many of us, who did not grow up “plugged in,” find it difficult to know where to start in generating a presence online. But from customer service to lead generation, the internet is really one of your best resources for building your reputation, name-recognition and ultimately business. Let’s take a look at how you can get started … with mobile technology.

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MOBILE DEVICES:

Nearly every person in the US owns a cell phone of some sort, and most are smartphones. Another mobile technology device is the tablet.  These are instant communication devices that you cannot pass up using to market your brand. Whether it’s texting, QR codes or apps, all of these mobile venues can increase interest in your homes.

TEXTS:

On your yard signs at construction projects, on ads in local publications, and anywhere you advertise, consider including a number for potential customers to text message. Texting provides an easy and fairly anonymous way for the consumer to get information about your construction. In fact, most of the younger generation will opt to text rather than make a phone call. Neglecting this venue could cost you sales!

QR CODES:

A QR code is an image which can be read by a smart phone app such as Red Laser or a QR reader. You can see a sample QR code in the photo above – it’s a square filled with little boxes that create a pattern. If you scan the QR code, it will take you to a website. The QR Code above links to American eBuilder … if you have a smart phone, try scanning it! You can convert any web address to a code at a site such as the QR Code Generator. The convenience of scanning a QR means not having to type in a website address; it’s simple and easier to just scan. After you create a QR code for your website, add it to your marketing materials, to signage and to ads.

APPS:

Whether the smart phone is iOS or Android, it will have apps. Of course, it would be difficult for you to create your own app, but why not get your work featured on apps that already exist? Four Square, Yelp, Trulia and Zillow are all apps which can feature your new homes and your business. For example, Four Square is an app that allows customers to “check in” to their favorite businesses. But they can’t find your business if you’re not listed on Four Square. Yelp is similar, with customers writing reviews and recommendations on businesses. If you have satisfied customers, why not ask them to create positive reviews of your business on Yelp? Trulia is an online market for real estate. Having the homes you build listed there and on Zillow will put your properties literally at the fingertips of interested buyers.

Hopefully these posts on plugging in to your market via technology have been helpful. When you decide to implement getting involved in these venues, just take it one step at a time. Trying to do everything at once would be overwhelming. But if you start small, with the basics of a website, and gradually expand from there, you will find that your business will benefit immensely from the added exposure technology will give you.

Are You Plugged In? Part 4: A Blog

In this 21st Century world, being digital and online is a must for growing your business. Yet many of us, who did not grow up “plugged in,” find it difficult to know where to start in generating a presence online. But from customer service to lead generation, the internet is really one of your best resources for building your reputation, name-recognition and ultimately business. Let’s take a look at how you can get started … with a blog.

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WHY A BLOG?

If using technology is relatively new to you, you might wonder what a blog even is. The word is a mashup of two other words: web and log. Blogs began as a type of online journal in which people would write about their lives. They have morphed a bit and now typically focus on a specific subject area. When you post a blog entry, it is added to a queue of all of your posts, and the most recent one will show up first in the queue. The main advantage of creating and maintaining a blog is that it will help search engines to “notice” your site and then redirect customers to your website. As you continue to post entries, the updated content will attract searches through the words you use.

WHERE TO START?

You may start a blog on your own website, you could start a blog on a real estate site such as Trulia (You must join as a professional in order to blog here) or Realtor (You must be a member of the NAR to blog on Realtor.com), or you may use a blog-specific site such as WordPress or Blogger.

Since Trulia and Realtor blogs require membership, if you decide to go that route, you will need to investigate their specific directions for creating a blog there. But we will walk you through setting up a blog on WordPress or Blogger.

WORDPRESS:

WordPress is a blog and website hosting site. When you initially go there, you will need to create a free account. While they do offer paid business accounts with more features, a basic account should suit your needs for now. Next, you will see multiple templates from which you may choose your blog design. Scroll through them, and choose one that catches your eye. You will be able to customize it later. Also notice that some templates are free, while others will cost money.

After you’ve chosen your template, decide how many pages you’d like to have. In addition to the main blog page, perhaps you’d like to have an “About Us” page, or a “Contact Us” page? WordPress has a sidebar of tools you can use to set these up. At the very least, you should add your website link to your blog. You may also personalize the template by adding your logo.

To write your first post, click the pencil icon in the upper right corner of your screen. You may add text and photos to your post. Before you hit “Publish,” take time to add “tags” (in the left-hand menu under “Categories and Tags”) to your post. These are words that come from your post that search engines will use to send traffic to your site. Put a comma between each tag word. In the same left-hand menu under “More Options,” type in an excerpt, which is a summary of what your post is about. Again, this will help search engines to find it.

Finally, hit “publish” … that’s all there is to it! If you’d like to visit our WordPress blog, go to https://americanebuilder.wordpress.com/.

BLOGGER:

Like WordPress, Blogger requires you to have an account, but it is through Google. If you’ve already created a Google account, you can log in and then go to set up your blog. After signing in, click on the box that reads, “New Blog.” This will open a window with various templates you may choose for your design. After you have chosen a template, you get to pick the name of your blog. Try to use something that includes your company name in it.

Next, you will see a left-hand menu with all of your options displayed. You can write a new post, add pages, change your template, tweak the layout, and access settings. When you are ready, write your first post by clicking the pencil icon or clicking on the orange “New post” button.

As with WordPress, you can add tags to your posts, but Blogger calls them “Labels.” Look on the right-hand menu for Post settings. Labels will be directly under that. Again, separate the words with commas. When you are finished, hit the orange “Publish” button in the top right corner of your window. That’s it!

Hopefully, as you get your blog started and updated, you will notice more traffic to your website, and you will also have greater sales volume to match the increased traffic. Happy Blogging!

Are You Plugged In? Part 3: More Social Media

In this 21st Century world, being digital and online is a must for growing your business. Yet many of us, who did not grow up “plugged in,” find it difficult to know where to start in generating a presence online. But from customer service to lead generation, the internet is really one of your best resources for building your reputation, name-recognition and ultimately business. Let’s take a look at how you can get started … with LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr Social Media.

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SOCIAL MEDIA: As with Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr can provide additional exposure to your business. Each platform is uniquely suited to express some facet that should increase interest in your construction. For example, LinkedIn is a professional network. There, you can network with other builders, professional trade organizations and potential business partners. YouTube is a great medium to post video of your work, perhaps in its finished form or perhaps to show a time-lapse of the construction process. Finally, Flickr (along with Facebook and Twitter) will let you post photos of your work to entice clients.

LinkedIn: As we mention above, LinkedIn is a networking platform. It is great for making connections with industry professionals and for building your resume. As with Facebook, to have a business page, you must first create a personal profile page.

Begin by going to LinkedIn and complete the pop-up that requests your name, email and password. It will then allow you to add contact information, a personal photo (think professional-looking), your educational background and your employment history. Your next step should be to search for people you know to be your connections. Consider colleagues, anyone whose business card you have, friends and new people you meet through the LinkedIn feed.

After your personal page is set up, move on to your company profile. Add your logo, a brief background history, description of what you do, specialties, location and contact information. You may optionally add a number of employees, upcoming events, and job openings you have.

When everything is to your liking, add a status update. You should post a status update at least every two weeks. Another option LinkedIn gives is to add a poll to your profile. Think about a topic related to the building industry and craft a poll that might pique the interest of the entire community.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional Social Network community, and never post questionable or spammy things.

American eBuilder is on LinkedIn! Find us at american-ebuilder and connect with us!

YouTube: YouTube has great potential, if you have a way of capturing video. You could use your smart phone, but to present a professional face, you probably should have someone with high quality video equipment help you. Consider a virtual tour of one of your completed homes, with commentary that points out the workmanship and details that a potential buyer might appreciate. Or think about doing a time-lapse construction video with commentary that highlights your foundation work, your framing and other features which make your building distinctive.

Once you have your video in hand, you will need to create a YouTube account. Go to the YouTube site and click on the words, “My Channel,” in the right-hand menu under the Home button. If you already have a Google account and are logged in, it will allow you to immediately create a channel. But if you read the small print, that same box gives you an option to “Use a business or other name.” Click on that. Next, you must name your channel and select a category under which your business falls. Then click “Done.”

Now you can customize your channel. You may click to add artwork across the top of the page. This artwork must be size as 2048 pixels wide and 1152 pixels tall. You may upload your videos as well. Click on “Upload Videos” and then select the video file on your computer. You should also pick your audience. Public will give you the most exposure. Finally, add a title and a description to your uploaded video. Just a note about posting video … while YouTube imposes a 15 minute limit, best practice indicates that your videos should be between 1 ½ to 2 minutes long.

These videos will be a valuable asset not just to potential customers, but can actually serve to market your homes to out-of-state clients looking to move as well.

Flickr: While YouTube is good for video, Flickr is great for still photos. The advantage to posting photos on Flickr is that because Yahoo owns it, your photos will be easily indexed and found by Yahoo search. As with the other Social Media platforms, you must first create an account. Click on the blue “Sign Up” button on the top right. If you already have a Yahoo ID, you can create your account with that. If you do not, you will first create a Yahoo ID. Then you will be able to add a profile photo and customize your Flickr url (as your business name).

Now you are ready to add photos of your work! You may upload individual photos, or you may create sets of images. Be sure to give every image a title and description, since that will help Yahoo search to find it.

In terms of Social Media, you’re all set! Just don’t forget to occasionally update all of your online venues with an updated post from time to time, to keep your site and your brand in top search engine locations.