Mockingbird June 4

We’ve reported on this incredible box-like residence on Mockingbird in Highland Park, a home that caused some friction with neighbors thanks to its unique design and use of materials. With a building envelope you’d most often find covering a warehouse and some really innovative use of natural materials, Russell Buchanan’s “Mockingbird House” caught the eyes of AIA Dallas, which gave the home an Honor Award.

IMG_1177

The house is a two-story, 4,140-square-foot home that is basically a rectangular box served by a vestibule that, when lit up at night, glows amber thanks to the onyx slab construction. The owners, whose trade is in wholesale stone, used several different types of granite, quartz, and marble in the home’s construction.

Buchanan, who likened the home to a giant refrigerator box, says the insulated panels provide a construction efficiency that is unmatched, and have the added benefit of providing sound-dampening properties that keep the home quiet despite the busy street just outside.

When I toured this home during a Dallas Architecture Forum event, what really struck me was the versatility that this type of construction could lend. And considering that the home was pretty much finished in a year, well, that’s incredibly fast for a well-insulated home.

Congratulations to Buchanan for his forward-thinking design!

 

Mockingbird June 4

We’ve reported on this incredible box-like residence on Mockingbird in Highland Park, a home that caused some friction with neighbors thanks to its unique design and use of materials. With a building envelope you’d most often find covering a warehouse and some really innovative use of natural materials, Russell Buchanan’s “Mockingbird House” caught the eyes of AIA Dallas, which gave the home an Honor Award.

IMG_1177

The house is a two-story, 4,140-square-foot home that is basically a rectangular box served by a vestibule that, when lit up at night, glows amber thanks to the onyx slab construction. The owners, whose trade is in wholesale stone, used several different types of granite, quartz, and marble in the home’s construction.

Buchanan, who likened the home to a giant refrigerator box, says the insulated panels provide a construction efficiency that is unmatched, and have the added benefit of providing sound-dampening properties that keep the home quiet despite the busy street just outside.

When I toured this home during a Dallas Architecture Forum event, what really struck me was the versatility that this type of construction could lend. And considering that the home was pretty much finished in a year, well, that’s incredibly fast for a well-insulated home.

Congratulations to Buchanan for his forward-thinking design!

 

Gary-Gene-Olpvote-button-3One of my favorite architects –and I have a few — is Gary Gene Olp, FAIA, LEED AP. Gary has been nominated for the Sustainable Leadership Award.  Voting ends today, on Valentines Day, which seems so appropriate, so I am posting this in case you haven’t heard the good word.

If you agree that Gary Gene rocks when it comes to sustainable, green design, go for it right here. Or maybe you have someone else in mind. In any case, I love a lot of architects and wish they could all win. Maybe the good folks at the Memnosyne Institute Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership Award will give CandysDirt a heads up next year. This sounds like a really great program!

Now, go vote, please.

 

Page One Home 2If there is an occupation that defines our era, truly it is the Concierge. We need these peeps to hyper-focus on and manage compartments of our life we just don’t have time for. You’ve heard that doctors are going concierge, of course. Well, to guarantee a perfect home when you build, now you need a Home Building Concierge!

The word “concierge” actually means “keeper of the keys” in French. When nobility traveled during the Middle Ages visiting fellow nobility, it was the concierge who kept the keys to castle rooms and ensured guests had everything they needed from start to finish. Later, European hotels and steamships adopted the concept to provide superior services to guests. Now, virtually every hotel has one.

Forget the keys and restaurant reservation, every consumer who hyperventilates about building needs a Building Concierge. Thankfully, the first one just popped up in Big D. Allen-based Page One Building Concierge Services is the first company in Dallas to manage the stress of home-building for consumers. The company minimizes building errors and acts as a quality assurance coach, even holds your hand as she makes sure all the visual elements of your home are what you ordered –and paid for– at closing.

Wait, you say, isn’t this the builder’s job? The truth is, building a home is a team process and you will hopefully have a Dream Team building your dream home. But in reality, as it is whenever more than one great mind is involved in a project, the process is not perfect and — hate to admit it– errors occur. There are estimates that fewer than 2% of people are satisfied with their production home builder & the home itself during the build, and but feel 100% overwhelmed and stressed in the process. They may be satisfied in the end, but will face frustration at some point because of the mistakes that are made.

This does NOT include, or refer to, custom home builders.

There is a already a dearth of homes in the D/FW area, and new ones are going up with another shortage: qualified construction workers. Which could mean, more mistakes. According to the research firm Residential Strategies, 20,778 new homes were started in 2013.

“The $300,000 to $500,000 category continues to see what we think is astounding growth,” said Residential Strategies’ Cassie Gibson. “Year-over-year growth was about 40 percent in this price range.”

As we know, busy north Texas homebuilders couldn’t keep up with buyers in the final months of 2013, as new home sales rose to the highest point in more than four years. Builders sold 5,218 new homes in the fourth quarter in D/FW.

Here’s another scary stat: local construction labor shortages have increased the average time it takes to build a house in North Texas by as much as a third. Typically, it takes 120 days to get a house built,” says Residential Strategies’ Ted Wilson said. “That’s up by 40 days.

What you need is one accountable person, a giant, all-knowing building brain, who visits the site daily, checks to make sure installations and products are what the specifications call for, coordinates and reports to you.

That building brain is Page One.

About 2 years ago, Natalie and her husband, Mason, built a 4,000 square foot home in Fall Creek in Allen.

Page One FireplaceThe four bedroom, 3 and a half bath house was their dream home. Natalie, a former school teacher, selected what is known in the industry as a production builder, Standard Pacific. A perfectionist by nature with great drive and design sense, Natalie visited the building site as often as she could. During one visit, she noticed the stone delivered for the front façade of their main fireplace was the wrong stone.

“We chose the stone from a sample and picture at the design gallery – it should have been a grey stacked stone,” says Natalie.  That was one day. She checked building progress another day, and caught another screw up.

“I noticed they delivered the stone for the fireplace,” says Natalie, “and it was the wrong stone and color –yellow.”

She called the project manager immediately.

“Nope that’s the right stone,” he said. Clearly it was not. Ah, but Natalie had taken photos and diligently documented her selections and was able to get the correct stone delivered.

Had she not been there to catch the error, the wrong stone would be on her fireplace to this day. That’s because building a home is very much an assembly-line process, except the entire house is one big assembly line. Once the wrong products are delivered and installed, it is too late, and too expensive, to rip out materials and re-do. It also costs the builder money in materials and labor, or sometimes his bottom line if he just makes adjustments for errors.

Page One KitchenOn another check-in, Natalie noticed that the tile in her kitchen was being laid in a regular rectangular pattern. She had specifically chosen an off-set pattern, to add some pizzazz to her style. Once again, she stopped the work before grout was mixed and floor tiled incorrectly, leaving her an ordinary floor that she had not specified for the next 30 years.

“Mistakes in building robs homeowners of the enjoyment of their house,” says Dallas homebuilder Bob Hoebeke, author of Unhinged: A Homebuilder’s Secrets for Saving Time & Money.

“Interiors and casings are the permanent jewelry of a home,” says Bob. “You don’t, you cannot switch those out like you can surfaces or paint color.”

Once their home was finished, and finished correctly, the Pages petitioned friends, family, anyone who had been through the building process to see if their experience of screw-ups being the norm in home building had been isolated, or unique.

They were not.

“We certainly are not out there to throw our builder under the bus,” Natalie told me one day last summer over lunch at Lark in the Park. “Our builder was a great builder, and we love him. But in our market, there is so much building that project managers can be overwhelmed.”

Project managers often oversee several homes going up in a subdivision, and are sometimes responsible for several subdivisions. For example, Hillwood is building a $600 million residential community northwest of Frisco, almost 800 acre Union Park that will have 2,400 new homes. Project managers depend on the subs to follow and execute plans, but that doesn’t always happen with this volume of homes. Project managers don’t accompany the home owner to the design centers to see what types of stone, tile, carpet or paint they have selected. They get a report — like orders — from the builder — but if the report is wrong, the finish out will be wrong.

Custom homebuilders often accompany clients to design centers and help them select products. If they don’t, they may have a designer on staff who does. Page One Homebuilding Concierge Service turns a production home experience into a custom build. Page One takes the place of the designer, the project manager and the owner all in one package.

“We are actually an asset to the builder, as we save them time, money, and help them turn out homes faster because we reduce errors,” says Natalie. “We remove the negative emotion from the home-building equation!”

The Pages –that’s really their name–  spent about a year researching, conducting extensive interviews with builders, Realtors, and consumers, seeking a legitimate need for Concierge building services. Most of the building experts they spoke to — ranging from the Division Sales Manager at Standard Pacific, representatives at Ryland Homes, Barry Hensley of Hensley Premier builders (a custom home builder awarded the “Best of Houzz 2013” – check out their homes; they’re gorgeous), and Realtors who specialize in new construction agreed their services would be welcome by the builders as well as consumers. They spent hours with attorneys, scouting for any similar companies, only to find that in Texas, a state where home builders do not even have to be licensed, there was nothing like this. Nada. Until Page One was created in the summer of 2013, quality control was up to the client themselves. Clients with busy jobs and careers. I cannot imagine my daughter and son-in-law having the time, for example, to check on a homebuilder daily. Both are busy attorneys. My husband ran by our home when he could at the crack of dawn before making rounds at the hospital — but many times he simply couldn’t get there. Most people simply don’t have the time.

That’s why you really need a Building Concierge.

“Once you are into the last 2 months of building, you really need to visit the property daily,” says Natalie. “Or even twice daily.”

That’s the home stretch, when most interior materials are installed. It’s also home stretch, where homeowners are eager beavers to move into a home, and may feel more stressed. Page One eliminates many a frenzied temper or rising blood pressure: rather than an angry homeowner hollering at the home builder or super, Page One contacts the builder and client, and works out the problem in a professional, non emotional way.

Speaking of cost: Page One charges 1% of the cost of the house for their Home Building Concierge services. Whether this can be rolled into the mortgage depends on the lender.

“As their concierge, I spend between 75 to 100 hours inspecting the home during the entire 9 month build time,” says Natalie. “The peace of mind in knowing that your home will be visually perfect at closing is invaluable.”

Visual perfect, yes, but Natalie says her goal is to take a couple through the process of building their dream home, and maintain the excitement and anticipation that comes with building a home.

“We are here to change the industry,” says Natalie. “Once builders realize the benefits for them, we think Concierge Building Service will become the norm in home building.”

After all, it’s 2014: you can never be too thin, too rich, have too many homes OR too many Concierges!

 

PSW Homes Oak Cliff (10)Breaking news: Gentrification is back, declares the Wall Street Journal, as it singles out Dallas’ Bishop Arts in a December 15 story chronicling the various cities and neighborhoods “coming back”, racking up serious money for brave urban pioneers.

“It’s all part of this cultural shift toward living in urbanity, getting things in an urban area you can’t get in the suburbs,” says Paris Rutherford, a Dallas-based developer who works on urban revitalization projects. “And that’s obviously driving a lot of new investment all over the country.”

Wait, who is Paris Rutherford?

Paris RutherfordHe’s president at Catalyst Development, with offices in Highland Park Village. He’s worked at Woodmont Investment Company/Icon Partners, RTKL Associates and Media Five. And he’s a Harvard grad who lives in the Park Cities.

What he says is spot on, and Bishop Arts certainly is the epi center of development/growth in the Oak Cliff area. Has been for a while. On my to-do list is the story of PSW Real Estate, an Austin-based company building brand new sustainable, solar-paneled homes about a stone’s throw from Bishop Arts: $320,000 for 1700 square feet!

How do you ID a neighborhood on the verge of re-gentrification? In other words, how to buy cheap and sell for a hefty profit, with housing values rising over the long term? For years I have heard that the Oak Cliff area is such a place where this real estate magic happens in Dallas.

Surely you’ve seen our Tuesday $200,000.

So I asked an investor, who asked to remain anonymous, probably because of the money he has made flipping homes here. First home, bought ten years ago, rehabbed, sold and pocketed $60,000. So much of it is a matter of timing; the market sucked from 2007 to 2012. On his second Oak Cliff area home he made $125,000 in about a year, as did his sister down the street. What’s the secret to buying right in Oak Cliff?

“Keeping your ear to the ground,” he told me. “Just like you do in the Park Cities, or anywhere. Whose moving? Who has died? Look in the bathroom cabinet for dentures.”

Teeth in the bathroom, that’s a new one.

Experts say to look at the surrounding neighborhoods for the “halo” effect” -

That’s what Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow (and a really great guy) uses to describe the way property values tends to diffuse or migrate from one thriving neighborhood into surrounding areas. Like a halo! This is kind of real estate 101 – if you cannot afford the best neighborhood, buy in the next best abutting it. Humphries told the WSJ “there is a “much higher probability” that a neighborhood will improve in a lasting way if it’s in the halo of an already prosperous one.”

Well, except for San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.

I was with Cindy Beatty today of Keller Williams Urban, who all but owns Sparkman Club northwest of Preston Hollow. Sparkman is so hot, homes fly off the shelves once they hit MLS and this is having a halo effect on the neighborhoods surrounding Sparkman, she told me, including Chapel Downs.

Brian's TeethYou can also check out the local retailers. Check what type of wine are they selling, jugs of Chianti or fine wines? Obviously an influx of pricier shops means homeowners with the means to spend bucks in those shops are nearby. There’s a reason why there are so many high end grocery stores from Northwest Highway to Forest Lane on Preston in Preston Hollow: three Tom Thumbs, Central Market, Whole Foods, and Natural Grocer.

Retail is one of the more visible reflections of other, less apparent signs of gentrification, such as an increase in median household income, says Jed Kolko, chief economist at online real-estate marketplace Trulia Inc.

Conversely, when the high-end retailers start closing shop, as they did at Victory, that could mean a decrease in household income because local homeowners are not buying. A cute chocolate shop may be nice, but how long has it been around?

By the way, Zillow now has an “index” to identify a neighborhood’s economic health. As does Trulia. 

The article found a Dallas guy named Jon Daniel, a manufacturing rep, who says he moved to Oak Cliff right before his youngest child’s high school graduation, moving to a 1925 Oak Cliff duplex, escaping a “soul crushing” Dallas suburb. This despite Oak Cliff’s rap for poverty and crime. We have friends who moved back to the peripheries of Lakewood as soon as their kids sprung the nest. Another story on my to-do list: Mike and Becky Casey’s move to Oak Cliff from Highland Park. All of these people shunned new McMansions for homes with character, like this Wynnewood master bath. Attractive housing stock, they say, is crucial.Wynnewood master

 ”You need a neighborhood that has good bones,” says Jonathan Butler, who founded Brownstoner, a website dedicated to the real-estate market in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Here’s another tip: in an area that’s truly gentrifying, home prices will be appreciating at rates above the city’s average. And look for a stable relationship between the sale price for homes and rental rates. Inflated home values relative to rentals could be a sign of wild speculation. Unfortunately, there is not a large MLS for rentals, so this is where your handy Realtor comes in. They should know rental rates as well as sales prices.

And the really good ones know which bathrooms have dentures sitting in the medicine cabinet.

Bishop Arts is old news — what other parts of Dallas are experiencing the gentrification that started in Oak Cliff years ago? East Dallas along Haskell? Ravinia? The Dallas Design District? Trinity Groves?

 

 

PSW Homes Oak Cliff (10)Breaking news: Gentrification is back, declares the Wall Street Journal, as it singles out Dallas’ Bishop Arts in a December 15 story chronicling the various cities and neighborhoods “coming back”, racking up serious money for brave urban pioneers.

“It’s all part of this cultural shift toward living in urbanity, getting things in an urban area you can’t get in the suburbs,” says Paris Rutherford, a Dallas-based developer who works on urban revitalization projects. “And that’s obviously driving a lot of new investment all over the country.”

Wait, who is Paris Rutherford?

Paris RutherfordHe’s president at Catalyst Development, with offices in Highland Park Village. He’s worked at Woodmont Investment Company/Icon Partners, RTKL Associates and Media Five. And he’s a Harvard grad who lives in the Park Cities.

What he says is spot on, and Bishop Arts certainly is the epi center of development/growth in the Oak Cliff area. Has been for a while. On my to-do list is the story of PSW Real Estate, an Austin-based company building brand new sustainable, solar-paneled homes about a stone’s throw from Bishop Arts: $320,000 for 1700 square feet!

How do you ID a neighborhood on the verge of re-gentrification? In other words, how to buy cheap and sell for a hefty profit, with housing values rising over the long term? For years I have heard that the Oak Cliff area is such a place where this real estate magic happens in Dallas.

Surely you’ve seen our Tuesday $200,000.

So I asked an investor, who asked to remain anonymous, probably because of the money he has made flipping homes here. First home, bought ten years ago, rehabbed, sold and pocketed $60,000. So much of it is a matter of timing; the market sucked from 2007 to 2012. On his second Oak Cliff area home he made $125,000 in about a year, as did his sister down the street. What’s the secret to buying right in Oak Cliff?

“Keeping your ear to the ground,” he told me. “Just like you do in the Park Cities, or anywhere. Whose moving? Who has died? Look in the bathroom cabinet for dentures.”

Teeth in the bathroom, that’s a new one.

Experts say to look at the surrounding neighborhoods for the “halo” effect” -

That’s what Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow (and a really great guy) uses to describe the way property values tends to diffuse or migrate from one thriving neighborhood into surrounding areas. Like a halo! This is kind of real estate 101 – if you cannot afford the best neighborhood, buy in the next best abutting it. Humphries told the WSJ “there is a “much higher probability” that a neighborhood will improve in a lasting way if it’s in the halo of an already prosperous one.”

Well, except for San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.

I was with Cindy Beatty today of Keller Williams Urban, who all but owns Sparkman Club northwest of Preston Hollow. Sparkman is so hot, homes fly off the shelves once they hit MLS and this is having a halo effect on the neighborhoods surrounding Sparkman, she told me, including Chapel Downs.

Brian's TeethYou can also check out the local retailers. Check what type of wine are they selling, jugs of Chianti or fine wines? Obviously an influx of pricier shops means homeowners with the means to spend bucks in those shops are nearby. There’s a reason why there are so many high end grocery stores from Northwest Highway to Forest Lane on Preston in Preston Hollow: three Tom Thumbs, Central Market, Whole Foods, and Natural Grocer.

Retail is one of the more visible reflections of other, less apparent signs of gentrification, such as an increase in median household income, says Jed Kolko, chief economist at online real-estate marketplace Trulia Inc.

Conversely, when the high-end retailers start closing shop, as they did at Victory, that could mean a decrease in household income because local homeowners are not buying. A cute chocolate shop may be nice, but how long has it been around?

By the way, Zillow now has an “index” to identify a neighborhood’s economic health. As does Trulia. 

The article found a Dallas guy named Jon Daniel, a manufacturing rep, who says he moved to Oak Cliff right before his youngest child’s high school graduation, moving to a 1925 Oak Cliff duplex, escaping a “soul crushing” Dallas suburb. This despite Oak Cliff’s rap for poverty and crime. We have friends who moved back to the peripheries of Lakewood as soon as their kids sprung the nest. Another story on my to-do list: Mike and Becky Casey’s move to Oak Cliff from Highland Park. All of these people shunned new McMansions for homes with character, like this Wynnewood master bath. Attractive housing stock, they say, is crucial.Wynnewood master

 ”You need a neighborhood that has good bones,” says Jonathan Butler, who founded Brownstoner, a website dedicated to the real-estate market in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Here’s another tip: in an area that’s truly gentrifying, home prices will be appreciating at rates above the city’s average. And look for a stable relationship between the sale price for homes and rental rates. Inflated home values relative to rentals could be a sign of wild speculation. Unfortunately, there is not a large MLS for rentals, so this is where your handy Realtor comes in. They should know rental rates as well as sales prices.

And the really good ones know which bathrooms have dentures sitting in the medicine cabinet.

Bishop Arts is old news — what other parts of Dallas are experiencing the gentrification that started in Oak Cliff years ago? East Dallas along Haskell? Ravinia? The Dallas Design District? Trinity Groves?

 

 

Gio Ponti Continuum chair Scott&Cooner

This is the Continuum chair — a work of Italian art by Mr. Gio Ponti  50 years ago. The chair is made of rattan bent entirely by hand, then fastened with leather bindings. The chairs were made by Bonacini Pierantonio in the Como province, and vintage Continuums rarely pop up at auction. Scott+Cooner had them a few years back, maybe they do today?,  

 

caruth boulevard Reisenbichler

The Dallas Center For Architecture hosts some amazing open houses, allowing patrons to tour homes with unique design elements and stunning construction and giving architecture lovers access to some truly one-of-a-kind properties.

This time patrons can tour a Park Cities home that is as sustainable as it is chic. Enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres while touring this incredible 8,300-square-foot home designed by Perkins+Will principal Tom Reisenbichler, designed for himself and his family.

Reisenbichler’s objective was to prove that environmentally sensitive architecture can be both appealing to the eyes and senses. We think he achieved that, with an LEED-H Platinum structure that is absolutely enchanting but doesn’t distract from the natural beauty surrounding it.

“The use of entertaining spaces which flow from inside the home to under the canopy of trees, engages the site and creates wonderful linkages between spaces. The design is a balanced composition of solids and glass with strong horizontal lines tying the building to the site,” the press materials state. “The home uses high-quality reclaimed and recycled materials, such as teak, local stone for interior walls and tile rich in recycled content. The house far surpasses Energy Star efficiencies and uses the highest efficiency materials available in the market for insulation.”

You can see it for yourself on Nov. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person and specific details will be shared after confirmation. Find out more about registering for this event on the Dallas Center For Architecture’s website.