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Risk Management Solutions – From Your Home Plan Designer?

Risk Management Solutions – From Your Home Plan Designer?

Yes! Just as you take out an insurance policy on the homes you build to minimize risk, here’s how working with Design Basics, LLC, for your home plan needs can help minimize your risks and uncertainty.

It is expensive and time consuming coming up with new home plans. Recruiting and retaining top-notch design staff is difficult, as is keeping up with seasonal demand for design services. Design Basics helps you minimize these costs and risks by providing great home design services, quickly, at a competitive price.

$1,000 or more is a lot of money for a house plan when I do not know if the home will come in at the cost I need. Design Basics offers Study Sets – the complete set of home plans for estimating purposes (not for construction) at a discounted price, and the price paid for Study Sets is applied to the cost of licensing the plan for construction. And, with our Builder-Centric℠ Preferred Builder Program, you can get up to five (5) different plans per year as Study Sets for just $100* each!

Low Price Guarantee RibbonI can probably get the plans cheaper elsewhere. Our LOW PRICE GUARANTEE means that if you find a better price elsewhere, we will match it. And working directly with Design Basics means the quickest response and most accurate answers to any questions you might have.

What if, for some reason, I cannot use the home plans I purchased from Design Basics? When you purchase home plans directly from Design Basics, you may exchange the home plan* you licensed to build for a different home plan* one time at no charge (other than any incremental increase in plan price of the second plan) at any time within six months of the original home plan purchase.

Any delay in receiving home plans means risking losing a potential client. You can receive most plans ordered the same business day via email, though certain upgrades such as an alternate foundation plan may take up to three (3) business days.

How do I know that I am getting a quality home plan? Design Basics has focused on serving home building professionals and designing homes since 1983. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been built from the plans we offer. And several of America’s “hottest” design trends were introduced by Design Basics! In addition, we are members of the American Institute of Building Designers and the National Association of Home Builders – further assurance of our expertise, professionalism, and commitment to the industry.

I found a home plan that might work…with changes. Your choice – our licensing allows you to modify the plan locally, or Design Basics can customize the plan for you. We have a proven customization process that is designed to please, and we provide no-cost estimates of both the fees and timeframe to complete the customization.

You have a nice design, but I need engineer-stamped (or architect-sealed) home plans in my area. Design Basics’ Dimensional Home Plans are the answer! Sent to you on CAD, these plans are drafted and dimensioned, but without the accompanying notes and structural information – ready for you, your engineer, or architect to finish per your specific needs.

Deciding what new plans to bring into our home portfolio is risky. Design Basics’ Concierge Service is designed to help you minimize such risks. We know what is selling in terms of home design. Based on your goals (e.g., affordability); restrictions (e.g., 40-foot maximum building widths); and target market (multi-generational households); we can specifically recommend designs that improve your odds of success. Upon request, we can even review your existing design portfolio to identify gaps and opportunities we feel could be better addressed through design to help you sell more homes.

The home plans I am using are fine. The cost of relying on the same old home designs may be more than you realize. Today’s new value-engineered plans may be less expensive to build while offering more of the amenities today’s buyers desire. Lost profits from missed sales and fewer resulting referrals can be very expensive.

What if I have questions or do not understand something regarding the home plans I purchased? Design Basics offers free technical support for all of our home plans. Just call with your questions and we will work through issues with you.

Sample Customized Promotional Handout

I want to see if a design gets traction in my market without paying $1,000 or more for the plan up front. Receive the rendered front elevation and black and white floor plan artwork in .jpg format, along with a Promotional License allowing you to use the artwork in your advertising and promotional efforts for just $25 for any of the home plans we offer. Importantly, the rendered presentation artwork is accurate to how the home was originally designed. Photographs can be beautiful and help bring the home to life, but may incorporate a degree of customization, potentially confusing buyers to expect their home will match the photo. Better yet, upgrade to a Customized Promotional Handout (sample shown at left) complete with your logo and contact information!

Reducing risk is Smart Business. Just as there are risks associated with introducing new home plans (time, expense, market reaction), there are parallel risks from doing nothing (higher construction costs, lost sales due to “dated” designs). Tap into our nationwide experience, creative problem solving, and design leadership while minimizing your risk. Contact Design Basics today!

*Applies to these designers only: Design Basics, Carmichael & Dame Designs, Plan Pros, Inc., and Scholz Design.

At Design Basics, we have the tools to help you stand out from other builders:

Contact us today to learn more: 800.947.7526

Surviving a Downturn

Surviving a Downturn

How Veteran Home Builders Survived the Great Recession

They've seen it all, 18% mortgage interest rates in the early 80s; a bottoming out of the market in 1993; the record prolonged upturn that lasted until 2007; the Great Recession of 2008-2013; and, the current "strong demand meets sticker shock" until the COVID-19 pandemic threw everything into confusion for the housing market. How did these veteran builders survive? We asked builders what advice they would give newer contractors who want to make home building their lifetime career:

Bill Kimberley
Kimberley Development, Des Moines, IA

Woman-Centric Matters! Certified LogoThe housing recession was really challenging. Kimberley owned a lot of ground that was purchased by putting 30% down with the balance financed through bank loans. When land values sank, those land loans became non-conforming and banks were being pressured for all real estate loans to be conforming. The banks could have foreclosed on those loans, but Kimberley was never leveraged to the max. Over the years he had built and managed some commercial property with a steady income, had stellar credit, and had never been late on a payment. Kimberley was straightforward with his banks and even had to negotiate a little more aggressively, eventually working everything out.

Mark Kiester
Unique Homes, Des Moines, IA

Kiester’s schooling centered around being a commercial artist, and he has the ability to “see” the finished product in his mind – a definite asset in home building. He spent 16 years in car dealerships prior to getting into home building (10 of those years as general manager of a dealership). That experience managing others really helped him in managing his team at Unique Homes, including his sub-contractors and vendors. One of the reasons for his company’s success – and survival – was participating in 13 of their local Parade of Homes events. The public exposure to his homes always led to additional sales.

Kiester's advice to young builders:

  • Do not leverage yourself too deep.
  • Find another builder willing to mentor you.
  • Remember, you are only as good as the people who work for you!

​Tyrone Leslie
Heritage Homes, Fargo, ND

Woman-Centric Matters! Certified Logo"We were steadfast. We didn’t pull back on our marketing or our standards. In fact, we opened three new model homes and staffed them 6 days a week. You can’t let fear lead you. We got everybody on board, focused on our values, and kept all of our staff."

Chris Jones
C.A. Jones, Inc., Columbia, IL

Jones had always worked with local banks; he knew the bankers and they knew him. They shopped the same stores and ate at the same restaurants. His bankers believed the housing recession wouldn’t last forever. The banks held the collateral, and whatever the collateral produced, they got, which was better for the bank than foreclosing on the lots at a loss. Some of the loans Jones would have to re-write every 3-6 months as opposed to 5-year loans. His personal reputation and dedication to the company’s financial obligations carried them through and they are reaping the benefit today. Still, he would lie in bed at night with thoughts of bankruptcy.

Jones sold off heavy equipment including excavators, bulldozers, and tractors. He borrowed from his personal 401K and had to pay a penalty for early withdrawal when he defaulted on that loan to himself. He had to let many very good employees go and went back to being one of his own construction staff. Jones even did his own marketing by personally hanging flyers in storefronts and on bulletin boards throughout his market. And, Jones placed a large sandwich-board sign in the back of his pickup truck advertising his two developments as he drove around.

Robert Foushee
Robert Foushee Homes, Inc., Independence, MO

Builder-Centric LogoFoushee’s bank was taking in homes being abandoned by other builders in the market and hired him to finish them up so the bank could put them up for sale. The bank also had repossessed some completed homes that needed work and hired Foushee to do the needed repairs. That business, along with 2 to 3 custom homes each year, got him through the downturn. At the onset of the downturn, Foushee was already nervous and early on sold his spec homes and the lots he owned, even taking losses, to get them off his books. Four years later, as the market began to recover, he was able to buy back some of those same lots he had sold, at a significant discount. About that same time, he purchased a 31-lot subdivision for about 25 cents on the dollar, on which he built affordable homes that sold quickly at a reasonable profit.

Frank Morin
Accent Homes, Inc., Gary, IN

"Keep debt low, even in the good times. Maintain a healthy balance sheet. Always be alert to changing conditions. And, don’t wait to cut expenses if the market weakens. Similarly, don’t be too cautious, or the recovery will leave you behind."

Morin brought sales in-house and at the same time, worked harder at reaching out to and personally cultivating relationships with real estate agents who were well-versed at selling new construction. Accent Homes also became more flexible with plan customization, which provided better customer service and led to more sales.

Alex de Parry
Ann Arbor Builders, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan was severely hit by the housing recession. De Parry had to make some hard decisions. He sold off some assets, including a SkyTrak crane. His framers formed their own company, and he still uses that company today. De Parry had a subdivision loan that he had to re-negotiate. Fortunately, many of his clients (University of Michigan, doctors, and other professionals) were not as impacted by the economic downturn, and in fact, reasoned that they could (and did!) get a better deal building a custom home at that time. His company also rehabs older commercial buildings; combined with the custom homes, they made it through.

Thank you to these builders for sharing their stories and offering their advice!
Find more Builder Advice by Clicking Here.

Many seasoned builders advise not cutting your marketing during a downturn - how are customers going to know who you are and where to find you? At Design Basics, we have the tools to help you stand out from other builders:

Contact us today to learn more: 800.947.7526

Cover Image: <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background">Background photo created by mindandi - www.freepik.com</a>

Letter from the President

As we reflect on 2019, we are pleased with the progress Design Basics, LLC, has made towards adding to our 2,800+ collection of home plans as well as building our brand by designing unique, well sought-after home designs, providing exceptional customer service, and fostering growth of our Woman-Centric Matters!® and Builder-Centric℠ preferred builder programs. In addition, we are thankful for our customers and their continued input and support. Not only is their feedback and recommendations important to our design process, but many new ideas arise from customers working with our Plan Specialists. And, we can’t forget our customer referrals!

NAHB International Builders’ Show®. This year is already off to a great start with the Design Basics’ team exhibiting at the NAHB International Builders’ Show on January 21-23, in Las Vegas. Our booth features brand new home designs, including a collection of multi-family home designs. Design Basics is recognized as one of just a handful of companies that has consistently exhibited for the last 25+ years, and the only home design firm with this distinction.

New Website. We launched our new website, www.DesignBasics.com, with a new search function that allows you to search by livability, collection, plan type, designer, and many other features…even place your order online! Additionally, you will find many useful references materials at your fingertips – preferred builder programs, thoughtful design concepts, home design articles, and other resources such as Her Home™, Livability at a Glance™, Finally About Me®, and our Bookstore. We invite you to peruse the site, search home plans, sign up for a newsletter, and complete a quiz to discover your new home personality!

Evolving Home Design Plan Book. We published and distributed a new home plan book, Evolving Home Design, featuring 75 of our new and best-selling home plans. Many of our new floor plans have been designed with versatility in mind and new plan badges identify design styles: Multi-Generational, Value-Engineered, and Woman-Centric. Floor plans are not only designed with her in mind but also as value-engineered plans, mindful of the constant fluctuation of building material costs. A win for everyone!

Neighborhood in a Box® (NIAB). We just revamped and relaunched NIAB, a fabulous residential development solution for home builders! Not just a collection of home plans, NIAB offers a total package for designing a neighborhood with a cohesive look with cost savings and resources for home builders.

From America’s Premier Woman-Centric Home Designer, we wish you much success in 2020 and look forward to working with you as your home design and marketing partner!

Sincerely,
Patrick M. Carmichael
President and Chief Operating Officer

Resource Links

Neighborhood in a Box®: https://www.designbasics.com/home-builders/neighborhood-in-a-box/
Her Home™ Magazine: https://www.designbasics.com/her-home-magazine/
Woman-Centric Matters!® Builder Program: https://www.designbasics.com/woman-centric-matters/
Builder-Centric℠ Program: https://www.designbasics.com/home-builders/builder-centric-program/
Blog: https://www.designbasics.com/blog/
Website: https://www.designbasics.com/

Watch Your Language!

Watch Your Language!

Tap into buyers' emotions with solution-based selling.

The numbers are in, and they look good! The home’s width and square footage fit nicely, the exterior style plus design amenities should attract buyers, and the cost estimates suggest you can make a decent profit. You want to get this new plan to market and give the presentation artwork to your marketing person to showcase on your website. Interestingly, how you describe the home online will have a significant impact on its appeal. Take a look at these three approaches:

Approach 1: The Teglia Place is a brand-new 1642 square foot, three-bedroom ranch with two and one-half bathrooms. This exciting design features an open entertaining area with cathedral ceiling, island kitchen, and walk-in pantry. There are two sinks and a five-foot shower in the owner’s suite, and the walk-in closet has a direct connection to the laundry room. The laundry room can also be accessed from the rear foyer entry from the garage, where you’ll also find a bench topped by lockers and drop zone. There’s even the option of foregoing the powder bath to gain large walk-in closets in both secondary bedrooms!
Approach 2: The Teglia Place is a brand-new 1642 square foot, three-bedroom ranch with today’s most-wanted amenities! The home showcases open entertaining under a cathedral ceiling, lots of natural light, and extra kitchen storage with its double-deep island and walk-in pantry. Positioned for maximum privacy, the owner’s suite also offers interesting ceiling detail in the bedroom, two sinks, toilet privacy, and a spacious five-foot shower in the bathroom. Direct access between the walk-in closet and laundry room make quick work of hanging clothes straight out of the dryer. The secondary bedrooms are served by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom with two sinks. Or, opt for a centralized hall bathroom and you can have walk-in closets for both secondary bedrooms. No detail was overlooked in this home, as evidenced by the rear foyer entry from the garage with bench and lockers plus handy drop zone!

Approach 3: The Teglia Place is a brand-new 1642 square foot, three-bedroom ranch with great livability! Too often we arrive home and everything we’re carrying ends up on the kitchen island. Imagine entering in from the garage and being greeted by a drop zone cabinet to corral clutter, plus a bench and cubbies or lockers to organize coats, backpacks, and everything needed for school tomorrow. A cathedral ceiling dramatically unifies the open socializing area for memorable entertaining, and in the kitchen, back-to-back base island cabinets provide extra storage right where you need it making it easy to find what you’re looking for. Re-live daily the simple joys of an over-sized shower you experienced at that resort in your new owner’s bathroom. Tired of carrying overflowing laundry baskets around? What could be more convenient than a direct connection with the laundry room so that in just a couple steps you’re hanging clothes up straight out of the dryer? Finally, consider which you would prefer: a private Jack-and-Jill bathroom with two sinks for the secondary bedrooms and separate powder bath for guests; or a centralized hall bathroom and large walk-in closets for the secondary bedrooms providing room for everything!

Approach 1 is Joe Friday’s “Just the facts, ma’am.” Efficient, rational, and informative, yet uninspiring, “the walk-in closet has a direct connection to the laundry room.”

Approach 2 is better because it evolves facts into features and benefits, “direct access between the walk-in closet and laundry room making quick work of hanging clothes straight out of the dryer.”

Approach 3 better engages the reader by using a solutions-based approach, “Tired of carrying overflowing laundry baskets around? What could be more convenient than a direct connection with the laundry room so that in just a couple steps you’re hanging clothes up straight out of the dryer?”

Just like buyer expectations, new home marketing, continues to evolve. Thirty years ago, builders could get away with simply listing the home’s amenities. Then the world caught on to selling features and their benefits. But we can, and must, do better – focusing on people’s needs and solving problems.

At Design Basics, we have the tools to help you stand out from other builders:

Contact us today to learn more: 800.947.7526

Memorable and Engaging Marketing

Memorable and Engaging Marketing

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted.

…the trouble is I don’t know which half,” uttered back in the 1800s by John Wanamaker, the Philadelphia marketing pioneer whose department stores ultimately became part of Macy’s; Wanamaker’s words still ring true today. Ironically, at the exact time prospective new home buyers are actively seeking information to help them make the best new home purchase, too many messages fail to engage.

Left-brain/right-brain theory suggests words and information reside in the left hemisphere of the brain, associated with logic and rational thinking. Sometimes called the “emotional brain,” the right hemisphere is home to pictures, feelings, and her sense of identity. And we know buyers buy on emotion and subsequently justify those purchase decisions rationally. I’m an avid reader of Motor Trend. Many of the car ads are predictable – a beauty shot of the automobile, some text… Would anyone really notice if you were to swap out the photo of the car and the manufacturer ID? However, Volkswagen’s ad for their parking assist was different:Volkswagen ad

This Volkswagen ad doesn’t even show the product! Rather, it addresses a feature (Park Assist), implies the benefit (making parallel parking safe and easy), and is emotional (humorous).

Okay, your turn. Much home builder advertising seems almost “templated,” focused on a beautiful photo of the home (exterior or interior), informative text meant to differentiate, and company identification. The beauty photo might attract attention, but is the ad memorable and engaging?

Alternatively consider:

Main visual: Worried, wide-eyed 8-year old. Headline: “Mom, have you seen my _____?”  Secondary visual: The lockers/cubbies in the rear foyer of your home. Secondary Rear foyer bench, cubbiestext: Cubbies/lockers provide organization, helping get everyone out the door on time in the morning.

Main visual: Woman wrapped in towel, smiling, standing in entry to door-less walk-in shower, holding squeegee. Headline: No door to clean! Secondary visual: Bathroom layout illustrating walk-in shower. Secondary text: Giving you back a little more time.

Main visual: Baby napping. Headline: Another reason to chose the “Serenity Package.” Secondary text: Peace and quiet is a beautiful thing. You’ll never regret opting for the Serenity Package with (highlight a few of the product upgrades included, such as quiet appliances, bath fans, garage door opener, etc.).

Main visual: Adorable, muddy dog staring up at you. Secondary visual: Your home’s optional pet center. Text: Appreciating everyone in your household.

Each of the above examples delivers on one of home buyer’s most-desired benefits – reducing stress. While most builders touting “quality-built,” “industry-leader,” and “customer-focused,” are essentially wasting their advertising dollars (what builder doesn’t say those things?). Ads focused on the concepts and benefits customers seek, without the overused exterior/interior beauty photos are emotional, engaging, and drive decision making!

In addition to innovative home plans, Design Basics can help you develop compelling ads that work. Let’s talk!

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