Green Building: Going…Going…Green!
IX. Miscellaneous components
a. No plumbing in exterior walls
b. Fluorescent lighting in halls, kitchens, baths and exterior
c. HomeTown's homes are projected to cost less than $200/year to heat. We guarantee for 3 years that the heating cost will not exceed $400 per year.
More or less across all target markets, there is about 1/3 of the market that wants REAL Neighborly Neighborhoods and TND; there's another 1/3 of the market that wants more neighborly relationships, but they don't want to give up the street accessed garage and big rear yards; the other 1/3 of the market wants their castle with a moat of drainage swales around it, and they don't really care if they know their neighbor at all-or for that matter, anyone else in the whole subdivision. We simply write off that last 1/3 of the market.
However, there is no one else in our market who can appeal to the other 2/3 of the market as well as we can. If we do a good job we essentially have 1/3 of the market to ourselves, since no one else in Chicagoland has a comparable Authentic Neighborhood land plan in our price range. The real key to our competitive success, though, is the middle third of the market that wants to live in a neighborly neighborhood but they don't want to live in a conventional TND with alley loaded garages. This is where our land plan gives us such a competitive advantage. We have a TND type streetscape with alley loaded garages, a Neighborhood Park, and all the other things I've described that go into an Authentic Neighborhood; but off of this TND traffic calmed street we have a relatively conventional, archetypal cul-de-sac that many suburban homeowner and every builder would kill for. The primary differences are that it is private, traffic calmed, safe for kids, and much more neighborly.
As a result, we go to market with two different themes:
1) Single Family Homes at Townhouse Prices
2) The Neighborly Neighborhood Lifestyle
For the first year we advertised exclusively SFHTP because the concept of an authentic neighborhood is so forgotten that the market will not believe that you are really capable of delivering on the promise until the lifestyle environment is built and people can emotionally FEEL it. This spring we have started to do some lifestyle advertising. I expect that by fall we will be running half-and-half – half price and half lifestyle. We are about 30 days away from setting up our website which is 100% lifestyle oriented. It will be very visually oriented with lots of photographs augmented with thorough lifestyle benefit explanations and devastating comparisons to conventional subdivisions.
The most important marketing decision we made was to put our models smack dab in the middle of the first neighborhood, on the Neighborhood Park with the parking across the park and across the street, so that people have to walk in the Neighborhood, cross a traffic calmed street, pass by the Pavilion and Christmas Tree and walk through the Neighborhood Park.
This decision to put the models in the middle of the first neighborhood hurt sales for the first year, but now people are beginning to walk into the models with a pleased but puzzled look on their faces and say something like, "this place is different' – as in a positive difference that they emotionally feel but they can't begin to explain why they feel so good!
This emotional feeling is almost entirely what HomeTown is about. It is almost entirely what will result in a unique and higher perceived value that is already beginning to cause people to take themselves out of the housing market when they get to HomeTown. This is exactly our goal – to create such a unique emotional reaction and attraction to HomeTown that people come into the sales office to determine what house best meets their needs, already having emotionally decided to buy in HomeTown. In other words, we want prospects to have already changed their focus and decision from comparing HomeTown to other subdivisions to deciding which home and homesite in HomeTown best meets their needs.
As a result, our sales consultants use a much more relational approach with the prospect. We do not let a prospect look at the models and then when they come back through try to hard close them on the one they say they like.
Because we have so much house type diversity and land plan diversity, our sales consultants spend a few minutes with each prospect when they first walk in to determine what land plan type and what house plan is most likely to turn them on. They are then invited to concentrate on that specific model. Our sales staff has become so experienced at this that they target the right house and land plan type about 80% of the time. As a result, the prospect rapidly develops a lot of trust and confidence in the sales consultant who has in the prospect's eyes truly become a new home expert in relation to the prospect's needs.
Let me try to tie this all together. HomeTown is a community that is as culturally and environmentally sustainable as the general housing market will accept and the regulating authorities will allow. The primary environmental sustainability features presently include:
• Higher housing density which saves land and leads to cultural sustainability
• Houses with a good solar orientation
• Lower "embodied energy" and long term maintenance of street and utility improvements
• Use of native plants and grasses
• Recycling of construction waste.
• And house heating cost of $200 per year.
Cultural sustainability is achieved by designing according to timeless patterns that nurture the human spirit. The focus is on designing for the nurture and safety of children and permitting their safe, unattended use of ever greater realms; because when you draw children together in play and friendships you automatically draw the parents into neighborly relationships. We have accomplished this by using the concepts of CoHousing and Traditional Neighborhood Design overlaid with proven European traffic calming measures wherever cars go.
The result is a community that 2/3 of the market will be strongly attracted to, but can't find anyplace else in Chicagoland which results in high perceived value and high profitability.
More by Perry Bigelow
- A Developer's Perspective on Healthy Communities
- The Builder-Developer as a Steward of God's Resources
- Builder of the Year Acceptance Speech
- Building and Development Philosophy: Cultural and Environmental Sustainability
- 13th Annual Affordable Comfort Conference
- 1st Annual National Green Building Conference
- Bibliography - Neighborhood Planning, Community & Ecology
- The Spirituality of Sustainability
- Stewardship of Creation
- God and Money
- Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger
- Excerpts from "Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community"
- Devotional - Listening to God Daily
- Bibliography for "God and Money" and "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger"