Fargo, N.D., doesn’t often make the list of the most dynamic places in the United States, but that’s only because most people aren’t looking closely enough. Thomsen Homes LLC President Chris Thomsen says his company has found much to keep it busy in and around Fargo thanks to the area’s diverse economy.  

Of course, there’s more to the company’s success than simply being in the right place at the right time. Thomsen says the company has built a reputation for providing homebuyers with high-quality construction and highly desirable features at a reasonable price. That goes hand-in-hand with the company’s willingness to be innovative and put the latest technology to work for it. All of this adds up to make Thomsen Homes one of the leading builders in the Fargo market, Thomsen says. 

Pratt Home Builders aims to make the homebuilding experience as easy as possible for its customers. “Building a home is a scary thing for most people,” President and owner Win Pratt concedes. “Home ownership in our country is at a pretty high percentage, but very few people have actually built new homes. Since it’s such a large purchase – the largest purchase most Americans typically make in their lifetimes – it’s sort of intimidating to most folks, particularly people who haven’t done it before or done it and had a really bad experience.”

Pratt says his company is aware of all that emotional baggage and tries “to be very attentive to detail in our process in order to make it as simple and easy as possible for our customers and painless to get a new home built.”

Tom Menard’s history in the homebuilding industry hasn’t just been about building houses, but restoring and preserving communities. After five years of managing multimillion-dollar commercial projects in Baltimore, Menard switched gears and returned to his hometown of Mountain Lakes, N.J., to start Menard Construction Co. in 1993. The young company began with small projects – kitchen and bathroom renovations – and soon moved into building new homes, but not just any kind of new homes. Mountain Lakes happens to be historically significant, with one of the largest groupings of craftsman-style homes in the United States.   Menard has a passion for these historic gems.

“Because there is a large collection of historic homes in our town, our specialty really became restoring craftsman-style homes,” Menard explains. “And even when we build new homes, many owners wanted us to mimic the old homes in the town. We’ve become the go-to construction company for true-to-form historic home restorations and also homes that mimic the details of the older homes. On our new homes, it’s a compliment to me when people say, ‘I can’t believe it’s not 100 years old.’”

Since the early 1980s, McNaughton Development has established a commanding reputation in its region’s residential construction market. 

The southwest and western suburbs of Chicago are dotted with McNaughton-built luxury, custom-designed homes. Primarily a high-end residential builder, McNaughton specializes in custom-designing dream homes on well-suited home sites. The company was founded on the premise of providing quality construction and floor plans as unique as the families that buy the homes, with function and aesthetics always in harmony. 

Many communities across the country were hit hard during the recession that began in 2008, and some are just now coming back. Examples of this are seen throughout Michigan, but that doesn’t mean the state continues to be down and out. Like much of the rest of the company, Michigan is coming back, and the Lansing community is one example of that, helped in part by the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Lansing. 

There are more than 800 local homebuilder associations throughout the country, and the HBA of Greater Lansing is similar to them in that it strives to enhance the image of the industry, participate in legislative issues, promote the professionalism of its members and remain active in its communities. These are ongoing concerns for the non-profit organization, but one of its core focuses at this time is on developing the area’s workforce.

East Lake Builders, a general contractor on the eastside of Michigan, has been building custom homes along the shores of Lake Huron for more than 20 years. Brothers Rick and Anthony Mills of East Lake Builders in Port Huron, Mich., “build high-quality custom homes that stand the test of time.”

As brothers, they have taken many trips to old neighborhoods filled with historic charms from the turn-of-the-century with Victorian-era vibes. With cameras in hand, they observe the high-level of craftsman that allows those homes to last more than a century and they mirror it in their own work. “This is the foundation of East Lake and what our slogan ‘creativity and craft’ was built on,” says Rick Mills, owner.

In-house design and customization of production homes are competitive advantages of Drees Custom Homes, the Texas division of national homebuilder Drees Homes, says Texas Regional President David Harbin. “We give our customers personal attention, and we have outstanding architectural plans,” Harbin says. “It all begins with strong designs and our ability to execute on the highest quality results for our customers. We allow our homebuyers to customize based on their lifestyle and preferences. Most builders in the production category will not offer this level of customization. We consider ourselves a high-end production/custom builder, and we’re heavily focused on delivering our ‘Custom Homes Made Easy’ brand promise.”

As of 2010, 39 percent of the nation’s population lived in counties directly on a coastline. This number is projected to increase by an additional 10 million people or 8 percent by the year 2020. The low-lying coastal regions of the United States remain a steady magnet, drawing a growing population of residents and vacationers to unsurpassed beauty, lifestyle and recreational opportunities. But life near the coast is not always a day at the beach.

These regions have been consistently pummeled by severe storms generated in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, which few structures are built to withstand. Meanwhile, the frequency of storm events continues to increase. Ten of the top-15 most active Atlantic hurricane seasons, and the most named storms, from 1851 to the present, have occurred since the year 2000. These conditions are made worse by rising sea levels. 

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