1st Annual National Green Building Conference

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Perry Bigelow - Spirituality of Sustainability

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 $300.


HomeTown's land plan allows us to sell four product lines in one Neighborhood. For example, in Phase 2, which we just opened, we have:
Entry level Condominium Cottage Living Court homes from $107,000 to $130,000.
Jump up and move up Condominium Living Court homes from $120,000 to $138,000.
Alley Garage Fee Simple homes on Main Street from $125,000 to $153,000.
Living Lane Fee Simple homes from $130,000 to $175,000.

Each of these 4 house types appeals to several target markets. The result is that in a single neighborhood of 124 homes we have at least two homes for almost every target market segment. You can imagine how capital efficient that is. Instead of 4 phases of 100 homes each scattered throughout the development we have 1 phase of 124 homes under construction. Because most of the models can be built in two or three different house type configurations simply by moving the garages around, we only need 6 models which are in one location with one sales staff and one sales office to market these four product lines.

We have considerably less land development infrastructure; however, many of the things we do to foster human scale and neighborliness are not found in conventional subdivisions - things like wider sidewalks, safety platforms, neckdowns, gazebo, gathering places, trellises, pavilion, Neighborhood Parks, native prairie, etc. Because the Living Lanes are private and safe for pedestrians, we do not need sidewalks there; that's a big savings. However; it costs more to install improvements in confined spaces due to the closeness of houses. The net result is that our land development costs are probably about 10% to 20% less than conventional subdivisions which gives us a tremendous competitive advantage when you consider all of the lifestyle amenities we include. The result is that we can honestly run this ad. Single Family Homes at Townhouse Prices. Wouldn't you like to be able to make that claim in your market? Would that give you an advantage?


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 every suburban homeowner wants 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 is the ad we have run for almost a year now. This spring we have started to do some lifestyle advertising. This full-page ad is one of a series of advertorials that are now running. 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.

This wrap around corner porch is one of the most popular elevations in HomeTown.

The house in the center with the double bay windows and large porch is the most popular elevation for this plan.

The house on the right with the two story porch has become the best selling elevation for this plan.


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. 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.

Continued on next page

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