Remodeling Spending Gains Falling Back to Average

By the end of 2019, remodeling spending in the U.S. is expected to slow down to a 5.1 percent annual growth rate, down 2.4 percent from 2018’s rate.

The data come from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University's (JCHS) latest release of Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA). Chris Herbert, JCHS managing director, said in a statement, “Slowing house price appreciation, flat home sales activity, and rising mortgage interest rates are deflating owners’ interest in making major investments in home improvements this year,” adding, “Continued slowdowns in home building, sales of building materials, and remodeling permits all point to a more challenging environment for home remodeling in 2019.”

“Despite the growing headwinds, improvement and repair spending is still set to expand this year to over $350 billion,” says Abbe Will, Associate Project Director in the Remodeling Futures Program at JCHS. “But after several years of stronger-than-average increases, the pace of growth in remodeling activity is expected to fall back to the market’s historical average annual gain of 5.2 percent.”

Industry Data + Research

Contemporary Shed Dormers on Colonial Home

Contemporary Shed Dormers on Colonial Home

South America bloc’s woes leave architectural gem forlorn

SAN ANTONIO DE PICHINCHA, Ecuador (AP) — It’s a gravity-defying edifice that befits the lofty ambitions of what was supposed to be a symbol of South American unity.

Set against an arid moonscape on the equatorial line, two cantilevered glass wings soar dramatically above a reflecting pool, symbolizing freedom and transparency and looking like something out of a science-fiction movie.

But for all its architectural grandeur, the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations outside Ecuador’s capital seems as moribund as the group itself. What was once an aspiring diplomatic hub bustling with official translators and cocktail parties for visiting dignitaries looks more like a ghost building, with barely half the staff it had when it was inaugurated to great fanfare in 2014.

Designed by Ecuadorian architect Diego Guayasamin, the $43 million building was built and donated to the group by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, a protege of Chavez.

The prize-winning building, 75 percent of which is underground, is equipped with a state-of-the-art assembly hall, an impressive art collection and salons named for leftist icons like Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Just like in public buildings in socialist-ruled Venezuela, Chavez’s bright-red signature and fiery citations dominate the hallways.

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

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The Surprising Versatility of Stainless Steel

Few building materials can match the aesthetic and structural qualities of stainless steel. Consider the Chrysler Building, for example. The stainless steel roof finial of the Art Deco masterpiece is still going strong after nearly 90 years. 

More recently, the material is enjoying a design renaissance as architects and designers apply its sleek aesthetic to light masks and masts, sunscreens, fencing, bollards, benches, railing infill, façade accents, air grilles, tree grates, entrance mats, and many other building components. 

Why the surge of interest?

A good person to ask is Wade Brown, sales manager and product expert at Construction Specialties, a manufacturer of architectural building products with a 70-year legacy of offering a variety of aluminum and stainless steel product applications. The scale and customized application of stainless steel’s rebirth fascinates him.

“Stainless steel as a design accent for façades, landscaping, and building interiors has exploded in the last five to six years. Architects now specify stainless steel in customized ways we’ve never seen before,” Brown says.

Why the transformation? “Stainless steel has a modern, clean, and monolithic aesthetic,” Brown says. “It’s also durable, requiring little to no maintenance, and it’s recyclable.”

Brought to you by Construction Specialties

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Legitimizing and Embracing Hip-Hop Architecture

Graffiti-lined walls featuring lyrics from hip-hop songs welcome visitors to New York’s Center for Architecture, currently exhibiting “Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture.” On view through Jan. 12, the exhibit showcases installations, completed buildings and proposed developments, façade studies, and academic work, to provide evidence for the existence and significance of hip-hop architecture, as influenced by the musical genre and cultural movement. 

"We’re uncovering examples of people creating art, understanding, and changing the built environment using hip-hop as their primary lens," exhibit curator and designer Sekou Cooke says.

Beginning with a brief history of hip-hop and its key means of expression—deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti—"Close to the Edge" features work by 21 artists, designers, students, and professors including hip-hop architecture theorist and University of Michigan architecture lecturer Craig Wilkins; hip-hop architecture camp founder Michael Ford; and prominent 1980s graffiti artist Boris “Delta” Tellegen. 

"Hip-hop, the dominant cultural movement of our time, was established by the Black and Latino youth of New York’s South Bronx neighborhood in the early 1970s," an introductory panel reads. "Some 25 years in the making, hip-hop architecture is finally receiving widespread attention within the discipline of architecture." 

With graffiti tagging by famed artist Chino as a backdrop, much of the featured work is mounted on repurposed shipping containers. Exhibit highlights include a public housing brick façade designed by Delta in Haarlem, Netherlands, in 2013; Cooke's own "3D Turntables: Remixing Hip-Hop Architectural Technology;" and work by St. Paul,–Minn. based 4RM+ULA founder, James Garrett Jr., AIA.

by Katherine Keane

A new exhibit, “Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture” is on view at the Center for Architecture in New York until Jan. 12.

A new exhibit, “Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture” is on view at the Center for Architecture in New York until Jan. 12.

Home Building, By the Numbers

Planning to build a house? Here is where your money will go.

Finding a house that perfectly fits your needs can be challenging, to say the least. Chances are, you’ll have to compromise. 

A custom-built home, however, eliminates compromise: Not only will you get exactly what you want, the thinking goes, but you’ll have brand-new materials and systems that won’t need repair in the near future. But how much will it cost — and what will you really be paying for?

A recent survey of residential construction companies by the National Association of Home Builders broke down the cost of building every component of a home, including the builders’ markup and other overhead expenses that are ultimately reflected in the final price.

The results are based on the typical home built by those surveyed — a 2,776-square-foot house on a lot of about 0.4 acres — with a total cost to the buyer of $427,892. Of that amount, $190,132 covered the cost of the lot and the contractors’ overhead and profits.

By Michael Kolomatsky, New York Times

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Casita Living

Our second project in Mexico resides in Los Barriles, located in the Baja California Sur. The Garage/Casita, situated on a hill, overlooks the beautiful Sea of Cortez and hillside views.

Mitigating the intense sun, heat, dust, unreliable electricity, and lack of sewer and water required much thought and planning. Deep overhangs, louver screens, Earth-block walls, and tinted glass reduce the home’s cooling load, while ductless mini-split systems enable zoned conditioning. Three buried cisterns supply the home’s potable and gray water needs. And for energy production, rooftop-mounted photovoltaic arrays are concealed behind a Corten steel perforated screen.

Aside from expanding outdoor living, the ample balconies also facilitate glass cleaning and shade the ground floor walls and windows. We incorporated the desert site's colorful flora, and multi-colored rocks in our color palette, grounding the home to its location.

As built, the design affords affluent expats the ability to store water toys and off-road vehicles in a spacious garage while providing an open first-floor plan and ample outdoor living. The compact footprint and modern exterior is a paradigm that is quickly catching on.

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WAGNON CASITA SIDE WEB.jpg

Home Building, By the Numbers

Planning to build a house? Here is where your money will go.

Finding a house that perfectly fits your needs can be challenging, to say the least. Chances are, you’ll have to compromise. 

A custom-built home, however, eliminates compromise: Not only will you get exactly what you want, the thinking goes, but you’ll have brand-new materials and systems that won’t need repair in the near future. But how much will it cost — and what will you really be paying for?

A recent survey of residential construction companies by the National Association of Home Builders broke down the cost of building every component of a home, including the builders’ markup and other overhead expenses that are ultimately reflected in the final price.

The results are based on the typical home built by those surveyed — a 2,776-square-foot house on a lot of about 0.4 acres — with a total cost to the buyer of $427,892. Of that amount, $190,132 covered the cost of the lot and the contractors’ overhead and profits. 

The remaining $237,760 was spent on building the house. So where did it go?

The cost of land, materials and labor will vary depending on your location, but the distribution of other expenses shown here is likely to be similar no matter where you are.

By Michael Kolomatsky

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Home Depot Awards $50 Million and Helps Vocational Education

The Home Builder Institute was recently the recipient of a $50 million grant, given by the Home Depot Foundation (HDF) to train 20,000 new skilled workers over the next 10 years. The Institute’s president, John Courson, says the home improvement giant’s generosity could further galvanize the “rebirth” of vocational training in secondary schools. 

Already, the Home Builder Institute produces about 5,000 skilled workers every year, Courson says. The Institute focuses on training many trades—carpentry, masonry, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, painting—to underserved and adjudicated youth, ex-offenders and veterans re-entering civilian life. But that’s not all the curriculum touches. 

“We also license out our programs to high schools,” Courson says. It’s an approach that allows HBI to expand its training without having to build additional training centers. “About 3,000 students a year currently benefit from it.” 

Home Depot's grant will help HBI grow those numbers.

BY JAMES F. MCCLISTER

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WHY DESIGNERS ARE SO ANGRY WITH HOUZZ

Frustrations with the Houzz platform existed long before the IVYMARK acquisition last month, but seem to have escalated ever since. On March 1, a group of designers introduced a petition outlining a list of demands of the platform, revolving around what they allege is inappropriate use of designers’ images. Some are suggesting the platform could be in danger of copyright infringement. As of this morning, the petition has garnered 1,920 signatures—its original goal was 1,600, and the designers have since upped their goal to 3,200 signatures.

Designers first took issue with Houzz when the platform started tagging their project photos with links to buy merchandise. The products for sale aren’t necessarily those that the designer originally used, but as the petition points out, “lower priced and inferior.” For many of these designers, it feels as though Houzz is using their own content against them.

The petition makes a number of demands from the platform, including that Houzz stop selling products from designer images; that designers be allowed to remove their photography at any time; and that Houzz disallow third-party partners from using the designers’ photos (such as for ads or articles) without their permission. Other asks include allowing designers who opt out of using Houzz to be removed entirely from Houzz search results; permanently removing designers who don’t purchase advertising on Houzz from the platform’s call list; providing designers who do advertise on Houzz with analytics “proving that what they have paid for—namely higher billing in searches in their marketplace—is actually what they are receiving”; and obtaining permission from designers before using their photos in digital editorial content.

KATY B. OLSON & MELISSA STUDACH

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Commercial Influence on Residential Architecture

Co-creation is increasingly becoming more common and residential clients are requesting design elements they’ve discovered in commercial environments be incorporated into their home designs. 

We’re not talking just great rooms with cathedral ceilings. It’s everything from the commercial furnishings, fixtures, materials and even the lighting are all chosen to replicate luxe commercial environments.

The result, now the most modern of home offices resemble corporate style office spaces, the master baths are befitting those of five-star resort spas and the home kitchens are reminiscent of upscale restaurants. The trend can even be seen in the home’s landscaping as outdoor areas are mimicking courtyard plazas traditionally experienced in commercial common areas.

The desire for commercial materials in residential settings is so high in fact that the Wynn hotel chain in Las Vegas has a thriving home furnishings store within the hotel.

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