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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="">Background photo created by mindandi -</a>
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

An Icy Reception

An Icy Reception

Depending on the design of your home and its roof, water run-off can be a major problem for your driveway. Take for instance this home: no gutters on the front side over the garage. Yet two dormers over the garage form a “V”-shaped area directing rainwater off the roof and onto the driveway. No problem until winter. During the day, snow melt from the roof drips onto the drive. At night it would freeze. For most of the winter there will be icy driveways.

Clarinda - #43020 Fox Builders

The Clarinda (#43020) as built by Fox Builders - downspouts on each side of the garage to divert water flow.

Another configuration that could present a hazard as well as concrete damage: a gutter downspout that empties between the garage doors. This directs water off the roof nicely, but again in the winter, creates ice problems on the driveway. And, the year-‘round diversion of water onto that portion of the driveway causes lots of concrete settling problems resulting in a very uneven driveway.

The solution in both instances is to place gutters and downspouts that direct the water to the side yard instead of the driveway. Thus, keeping your driveway from building up with ice in the winter, and maintaining the integrity of the concrete all year.

For more resources on thoughtful design:

Cover Photo: <a href="">Winter photo created by freepik -</a>

Competing with the Big Dogs

Competing with the Big Dogs

It’s an oft-repeated tune – a national home builder moves into the marketplace, with eyes on becoming the dominant builder, or fast tracks the process by simply acquiring an established local builder. Thoughts of big-box stores moving in and local merchants going out of business ring true. After all, the nationals have the advantages of buying power, huge marketing budgets, lots of working capital, and better access to credit.

But…national builders typically don’t choose to compete on better, only cheaper. They’re playing to their strengths. So, why would you choose to compete using their rules for playing the game? You’re not going to win, consistently, on price.

What if, instead, you could write the rules?

With such a large purchase, price is always important. People use price as a tool for comparison. It helps when trying to make sense of different homes’ different prices. But do you want prospective buyers looking for negatives (reasons why the home is cheaper) or positives (attributes and amenities that help justify the higher price)? And, “cost per square foot?” You probably have your answers for that issue, but a third-party resource will be perceived as less biased. Download the Her Home™ Magazine’s “10 Things You Need to Know Before Comparing Cost Per Square Foot” article here.

Choose Local

Local builders are joining buying co-ops and even joining forces to acquire building lots to be more competitive with national builders. But even nicer is focusing on why your customers get a better value buying their new home from you. Playing to your strengths:

  • You’re local. You know your local market; you may have grown up in your local market; you’ve put down roots there; and, you live there. You have existing relationships with others in your local market. From sponsoring local sports teams to being a co-presenter along with a local lender and Realtor®, you are engaged in the community, and that matters.
  • You’re human. What home buyer would ever meet with the president or owner? Buyers want to work with a builder they can trust, and it’s much easier to trust a person than a corporation.Couple with Blueprint
  • Your reputation. Review sites are full of disgruntled home buyers who bought “lowest price.” Your personal involvement with the buyers, use of quality materials and sub-contractors, and involvement in the community help people want to work with you rather than setting for working with you. Local builders won’t survive without high levels of customer satisfaction, which is the formula for referrals, the most profitable source of new customers.
  • Your focus. You can’t be all things to all buyers. But you can be the best at the niche or target market you choose. High-performance? Eco-friendly? Tech-savvy? Woman-Centric? Differentiation takes the focus off price, and places it on the emotional appeals of the home and how it will feel to enjoy it. Conversely, the less you differentiate, the more price-sensitive you can expect prospective buyers to be.
  • Bragging rights. Don’t limit your focus to mere rational appeals and attributes. Sure, people want lower utility bills, but they’ll love bragging about them – making sure others know they made a great purchase decision. Cutting dependence on maintenance and rescue medicines by building a healthy home speaks to caring, nurturing, making you feel good about your purchase. And, you’ll tell everyone about the difference breathing easier makes! Such attributes help people feel they got a great home and therefore a great deal; and, people are much more likely to brag about a great deal than about getting the cheapest price.
  • New home searches begin online, and digital space levels the playing field. While the big nationals buy billboards, you can win online with quality local content. Each time you post a new blog, you can add a link to it on your social media profiles. Short-staffed? This can be hired out.
  • It’s not just awareness, blogging helps position you as a local expert. Buyers want to make informed decisions, and they’re looking for answers. Developing a few downloadable tip sheets can further help overcome online anonymity, as prospects provide their contact information in exchange for your tips, and you can follow up with knowledge of a specific interest area that prospective buyer has.

Furthermore, national builders’ inherent weaknesses can be advantageous to you. They’re often interested only in larger tracts of land. Local builders may be in a better position to acquire smaller parcels, infill sites, or build on the owner’s land. Due to their structure, national builders can be low to respond, regimented, and bogged down in policies, procedures, and red tape. And, national builders face pressures on profitability, too. The difference is local builders are committed to their market, employing unbridled creativity and flexibility during down cycles. National builders can, and do, exit a market as quickly as they entered it – leaving vendors, sub-contractors, lenders, and yes, even their customers, to fend for themselves.  

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

Contact us today to learn more. 800.947.7526

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