Taylor Morrison, a leading national homebuilder and developer, debuted a new project that has the stars and stripes stamped all over it. The homebuilder has chosen to feature the unique designs of American manufacturers and craftspeople with its distinct homebuilding concept, the “Made in America” merchandised model home in Houston.

The home, which opened on July 11, has the same genuine quality and design as the other Taylor Morrison homes throughout the United States, but the interior design of the home – everything from furniture to accessories – is almost entirely American-made.

Although verbal agreements are generally as enforceable as written agreements (with some limited exceptions), parties are better served if their agreements are in writing. Here is a common scenario: a subcontractor receives a call from the project manager of a general contractor asking him to start a new project right away.  

The subcontractor bid the job, but the work was awarded to another subcontractor, who was the lower bidder, but is now unavailable. The project manager agreed to the subcontractor’s pricing and indicated that the work will last three weeks. With such a tight deadline, there is no time to get a written contract signed, and the subcontractor starts work immediately.  

When it comes to residential landscape projects, sustainable and low-maintenance designs are the top trends, according to the 2015 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Landscape architects were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements. Respondents expected the greatest demand for ecologically sensitive projects intended to preserve the environment, conserve water and reduce landscape maintenance.

Managing supply chains in the construction industry can be very challenging. Roadblocks have a tendency to develop throughout the chain, which leads to higher project costs, wasted materials and a lower quality of the completed structure. But these pain points can be avoided by making certain choices in logistical planning.

Responsible sourcing is continually becoming more achievable, thanks to new sustainable materials and technologies. This focus not only improves the building process, but also the overall end product. From choosing building materials sourced in innovative ways to reducing carbon in the transport of those materials, there are many facets of supply chains that can be improved.

The single-biggest issue facing the construction industry is the development of its future workforce. And that workforce will, by necessity, need to look very different from the workforce of the past. The construction industry has provided many people, including myself, with a fulfilling, dynamic and economically satisfying career. It is imperative that those of us from the Baby Boomer generation do everything we can to reach out to young people and introduce them to the great careers in the construction industry. 

Construction provides good, paying jobs for individuals willing to work hard at multiple levels from skilled and unskilled labor to supervision, management and ownership. It is our responsibility to introduce the future labor force to the opportunities in the construction industry through play, education and mentoring. 

Nothing in real estate development creates more confusion or poses the potential for more future problems than the decision of when to terminate a single purpose entity (SPE) used with the development of a residential project.  

Consider the following scenario. A developer creates a residential development SPE, which is nothing more than a limited liability company (LLC) formed solely to purchase, construct and sell a real property project. The SPE then completes its project at a substantial profit and the developer desires to terminate the SPE. The investors want to receive their shares of the profit. Both the developer and the investors want to ensure that following the termination of the SPE: creditors cannot cause the investors to return their distribution of the profits; expensive insurance policies and contractor/subcontractor/design professional warranties remain in place; and any entity that undertakes the post-termination obligations of the SPE will not be held to be the “successor” to the SPE. 

There are numerous television programs and magazine spreads dedicated to unique homes and innovative residential designs, but it’s not as often that a designer demonstrates innovation and affordability. Design architect Christoph Kaiser, however, did just that with his concept and design of Silo House, which displays the potential of urban renewal and upcycling. 

Kaiser discovered a Kansas farmer’s dismantled silo for sale on the Internet and dreamed of creating an ultra-compact yet comfortable living environment with inexpensive and untapped resources. Kaiser saw this as an appealing design challenge from a sustainability and economic point of view. 

After a recession that exacted a large toll on the design and construction industry, a significant increase in multi-family housing is offering a reason to be optimistic. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) anticipates 326,000 multifamily starts in 2014 and predicts even higher starts next year – driven by the trend toward greater urban densification and the growing need for affordable, student and senior housing. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, an estimated 75 million people over the age of 60 will be living in the United States by 2020, which is about 30 million more than there were in 2000.

In the face of this burgeoning market, many multifamily designers are finding that wood-frame construction strikes the right balance of performance, cost effectiveness, occupant well-being and reduced environmental impact. More specifically, wood is gaining the attention of design professionals nationwide, who see it as a way to achieve higher density housing at lower cost, while reducing carbon footprints and delivering high-performance building projects.

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