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Business conditions stayed weak through 2009’s 3rd quarter for housing design architects, yet specific segments at the market’s lower end look ready for a 2010 recovery, according to fresh numbers from the AIA.

Since the billings for architects are usually a good prediction of future activity in construction, this could be good news for homebuilders.

Design work for affordable homes for first-time buyers jumped from -64 percent in the third quarter of 2008 to -2 percent in a year over year comparison, according to architects responding to the latest AIA Quarterly Design Trends survey. (Percentages indicate the number of respondents reporting sector ‚improving‚ minus the number reporting ‚ aweakening.‚)

The feeling towards the move-up market had an improved gain that traveled from -57 percent down to -29 percent within the same time frame.

Each market segment has been boosted through decreasing home costs and good mortgage rates. AIA cheif economist Kermit Baker noted the kick-start the affordable market received from such aid as the federal tax credit for those purchasing a home for the first time.

The third quarter of 2009 showed strong gains in remodeling activity, with 27 percent of architects reporting an increased demand for both renovations and additions, up from 13 percent in the year prior. Kitchen as well as bathroom remodeling jobs increased by a very large percentage, from approximately eight percent during 2008 to approximately twenty six percent during 2009, an increase of more than three times the percent for one year.

Additional market segments have not been as fortunate. The townhouse/condo market remained stagnant, with a score of -43 percent in 2009 vs. -49 percent in 2009. Interest in custom/luxury homes and second vacation homes remained extremely low, at -48 percent and -70 percent, respectively.

Through the third quarter of 2009, the AIA‚Äôs residential billings index rose sharply from a score of 20 in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 38 in the second quarter of 2009, but then remained flat at 38 overall. Individual scores not above 50 are indicative of negative activity, however “less bad” categories are those that show scores that are ten or above.

Moving from a score of 35 in the first quarter of 2009 to 47 in the second quarter, new project inquiries at architecture firms remained similarly meager last year, but inched closer to the halfway mark.

Geographically speaking, reports from architects suggest that recovery will be concentrated most heavily in urbanized areas. Some 69 of respondents in the latest survey indicated a rise in demand for infill development, up from 63 percent in 2008.

The source of this article is Builder Online.

Wheeeew…it’s over – – we had over 200 guests visit our Bethesda Open House yesterday!

I want to thank everyone for attending and I hope you liked what you saw.

First, I want to announce the winner of the Flip Mino Camera Drawing – the winner is…

…Mary H. (we’ll be contacting you today and sending out the
camera) – Congratulations!

Second, I apologize for not being able to meet with everyone individually and answer your
questions.

So I wanted to give you a quick FAQ below to answer some of the
most common questions and least technical (which I’ll answer in future emails – like,
does the $6500 tax credit apply to building a new home, can you really get tens of thousands
of dollars in tax credits with a tear-down and how do you obtain a “Green” LEED rated home?).

Here you go:

Q: Did we create the architectural design and perform the construction of the new home on Berkley Street?
A: Yes. We are architects and builders. Kevin is our on-staff, full-time architect.

Q: Is the home for sale or did we build it for an owner?
A: The home is not for sale, the home was built for the owner.

Q: Was the home design from our Paramount Portfolio Plan Book or was it custom designed?
A: When the owners were checking our references, they visited and met the owners of
our Belmont Model and fell in love with that home. However, given the owners unique needs
and wants and given the unique characteristics of the lot on Berkley, we created a custom design for
the owners.

Q: Do we charge a premium for creating a custom design vs building a home plan from our Paramount Portfolio
of over 80 New Home Plans?
A: Currently, we do not charge anything additional to create a custom home design.

Q: Was there an existing home on the property that was torn down?
A: Yes (we had many questions about the potential tax benefits of tens of thousands of dollars associated with the
tear-down, and a subsequent email will detail the benefits and how that works)

Q: What was the price of the Berkley home and what was included? What was not included?
A: Price was in the $600K +/- range and was all inclusive – demolition of existing home, excavation, permitting,
blueprints, engineering, surveying, utilities, custom selections, etc.

Q: Do you take on home additions and home renovations, as well as new homes?
A: Yes. Currently we have six projects of that type in process.

Q: Do you take on small remodeling projects – $50k to $200K?
A. No, but given the demand, we are considering accepting a few projects on a very limited basis.

Q: I want to build a new home but I don’t have land. Do you have land or lots? Can you help?
A: Yes, we have about 10 lots in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Mclean and N. Arlington.

I hope this helped.

I’ll be sending out another FAQ in the next few days on some of the more technical issues brought up
and we’re working on a video series that will answer many questions at an even deeper level, which will
come out in the next few weeks.

Again, Kevin and I really appreciate your interest in what we do and please feel free to email me at
rob@paramountconstruction.net or Kevin at kdavis@paramountconstruction.net or call me at 301-370-6463
with any questions you have.

Our award winning staff architect has created over 60 new home plans in our Paramount Portfolio of New Homes that fit seamlessly into our Maryland, Northern Virginia & Washington DC area neighborhoods. You can choose from one of these new home plans, modify one of these new home plans or we’ll create a new custom home plan just for you. We’ll present an architectural rendering of the front of your new custom home and concept home floorplan.
Check out just a few new home plans here

Paramount Constructions’ “Madison” Home is winner of Maryland National Capital Building
Industry Association Award. The category is
Best Traditional Home Award

The Madison House Plan by Paramount Construction Kitchen

The Madison House Plan by Paramount Construction Kitchen

Design Considerations

The owners’ intent was to build a new home for sale.

Our design goal was to create a marketable house plan
at a cost the owner could earn a profit.

We discovered that the lot was comprised of two
separate lots. The largest lot was large enough to
build a home on it. However, if we combined the lots
we could build a wider home with an elevation that
had more street presence.

After research and discussions with the county, we
concluded that the time and cost of combining the
lots was greater than the benefit, especially in a slow
market. So we designed a narrower home than we
could have designed had we opted to go through
the subdivision process.

The lot sloped front to back. The grade of the
lot made a walk-out basement plan a natural fit.

The lot is close to downtown Bethesda and the
homes throughout the neighborhood are Traditional
style homes. So we designed a Traditional style home
with cottage and shake accents on the exterior to
blend into the surrounding neighborhood.

We concluded from our market research and
understanding of our target buyer, that an
open floor plan
would be appealing.

Another major design consideration was
creating cost effective finished space to meet
the lenders’ appraisal requirements. Finishing
the basement and the third level achieved this.

Market research also drove us to place the
laundry room on the second floor.
This is a convenience the majority of the
target market prefers.

The best view of yard was the back of the
lot, so we placed the family room and kitchen
as well as the master suite on the back of the
home. All views from these rooms face out
to the rear yard. The results is a very bright
and open feeling.

Our goal was to make the home feel as spacious
and room
y as possible, especially considering
that it was a relatively narrow floor plan due
to the self imposed lot constraint. To achieve
this effect we widened hallways, we created a
open loft area at the second floor landing area
and we designed the dining room and living
room to be open to one another, with minimal
wall area.
Construction Details

We wanted a low maintenance exterior
so we specified Hardiplank siding and pvc
cornice. The siding was horizontal clapboard
siding with shake style Hardiplank accents at
the gables to add interest.

The finished third level was constructed
using room trusses. This saved money
compared to stick framing this area.

We gave the owner lots of free upgrades
because we wanted the home to show well
to our future prospects (and she is a nice lady).
One of the nice construction details we added
was the stone in the front of the exterior of
the home. We placed flagstone on the walkway
and laid a stone water table to accent the front
elevation. The wood floors were upgraded to
three inch oak from 2 ¼” oak.

Montgomery County required installation of
three drywells in the rear yard to contain water
runoff from the home. We used terne standing
seam metal roof on the front elevation to the
Traditional design character.
Specific Ways the house satisfied the client

The new home has a wonderful, bright, open floor plan.
It is a great plan for a family with a wonderful rear yard,
a walk-out basement with a ton of natural light,
generous room sizes and very close to all of the restaurants
and shopping downtown Bethesda has to offer.

The clients primary objective was to have house
that fit into the neighborhood and was a good value.
And a home that is marketable. The house was built
affordably and we incorporated design elements into
the home that didn’t cost a premium to build but
result in value. The is very pleased with the design
and the size of house we delivered.
Unusual problems encountered and overcome

Originally, the owner purchased the home thinking
she would remodel the 70 +/- year old structure
that was originally on the lot. We actually drew
a full set of plans for a major addition and had
obtained a building permit for the addition.

We quickly performed a “new home” zoning
analysis and created a new home plan that
worked within the setbacks on the one parcel
(so we could avoid the cost and time of a lot
combination thru Park and Planning). We then
pushed through permitting and obtained a
permit for a new home. All of this took only
a few months more time.

List of major manufacturers

Pella
WoodMode cabinets
Kohler Plumbing fixtures
Hardiplank
Certainteed shingles
Kitchen Aid appliances
Carrier heating and cooling
Hinkley light fixtures

Here’s Paramounts World-Class architect, on-site, live and off the cuff: