Tesla Solar Roof

All photos courtesy of Tesla

If you’ve assumed Tesla Solar roofs would be priced sky high, prepare to be amazed.

The company opened up ordering last week and they priced, on average, at $21.85 per square foot. That’s less than the cost of a regular roof, taking into consideration the energy savings over a 30-year period.

These roofs aren’t 100 percent solar tiles — they’re a mix of non-active tiles and active solar tiles, depending on the energy needs of a house. Non-active tiles cost $11 per square foot; active solar tiles cost $42 per square foot. So for a house needing 35 percent solar panels, the cost works out to $21.85 per square foot. There are lots of variables in determining the percentage of active tiles, of course, like the location of the home and shape and height of the roof.

To put this in perspective, Consumer Reports estimated that a solar roof needs to be $24.50 per square foot to be competitive with other kinds of roofing materials.


New House under Construction

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer
Dallas Builders Association

Labor, Land, and Local regulation add up to the three “L’s” of Dallas’s affordability crisis. On April 25, the Trump administration added a fourth “L” — Lumber — to that equation when they announced plans to impose duties of up to 24 percent on most Canadian lumber. The most recent agreement between the two nations expired on Oct. 12, 2015, and was followed by a one-year cooling off period before a new agreement could be negotiated.

Before the tariff, the other three “L’s” accounted for much of the $100,000 premium on new home prices when compared to the existing market. Now, the escalation of a decades-long trade dispute between the United States and Canada is making matters worse. The industry knew that striking a new agreement would have its challenges when the cooling off period ended in October, but few predicted those challenges would include Donald Trump and his protectionist stance on trade finding their way into the White House the following month.


UNT Team

Michael Garza, Jacob Flores, Esther Valero, Bobbie M. Daniels, Dawson Guerrettaz, and Juan Lopez will represent the University of North Texas at the Race to Zero competition.

Green building and design is one of the fastest growing segments of today’s homebuilding market as more and more homebuyers looking to avoid the high energy bills summer’s blazing temperatures often bring.

To train and encourage the green building professionals of tomorrow, the U.S. Department of Energy is hosting 40 teams from 34 schools across the United states, Canada, Norway, and China for its Race to Zero Student Design Competition. And with the guidance and encouragement of the Dallas Builders Association, the University of North Texas’ Association of Construction Engineering Technology will send its very own team to the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo., this weekend.


A freak hail storm a few years ago completely wrecked the tile roofs of the historic Swiss Avenue neighborhood. (Photo: Amy Curry)

A freak hail storm a few years ago completely wrecked the tile roofs of the historic Swiss Avenue neighborhood. (Photo: Amy Curry)

By Phil Crone
Special Contributor

Make no mistake, storm season in North Texas can be a scary experience, even for lifelong residents. Especially this time of year, we are no strangers to hearing the eerie wail of tornado sirens or posting photos of hail that confirm to the rest of the nation that everything is bigger in Texas.

For storm victims, the scariest thing next to the storm itself is cleaning up and getting their lives back on track. These fears are well founded. Smashed cars, personal belongings scattered about by Mother Nature, and leaky roofs from every subsequent rain create a feeling of vulnerability one can only imagine unless they’ve been through it themselves. Vulnerable people are the prey of the lowest of segments of our society and, in the contracting world, we call those storm chasers.


fire protection

What a difference 38 years makes

Times change. Accidents happen. We learn. Prior to the 1960s, it was not uncommon for automobile dashboards to be metal and seats to lack seat belts and head support. Similarly, we continue to learn and improve construction materials, techniques, and building codes to make us all safer.

The March 3 tragedy at the Preston Place condos offers an exemplar of some of those changes. Recently, I spoke with Perry Wallace, 30-year construction veteran and VP of Construction for Transwestern and Dallas Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Price. I wanted to understand the advancements that have been made over the past 38 years since Preston Place was built. Transwestern is currently building the Laurel apartments at the corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway. Chief Price was the lead firefighter on the Preston Place fire.


home builders Bella Vita

When the homebuilders whose signs you’ve seen around your neighborhood suddenly declare bankruptcy, it can give you pause. But when news of those bankruptcies opens a floodgate of customers with unhappy experiences, prospective homebuyers begin to worry even more.

After Bella Vita Custom Homes and M. Christopher Custom Home Builder filed for bankruptcy last month, we’ve been hearing from worried folks that have been considering building a new home.

The questions were consistent: “How do I know this won’t happen to me?” and “How do I avoid choosing a bad builder?”

With that in mind, I reached out to Phil Crone, executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association, to get some advice.  I’ll also share an extra step I take when choosing a contractor that can also be applied to choosing a home builder.



Wall cracks can be the first scream of a North Texas homeowner’s worst nightmare: foundation problems. The discovery can be terrifying because the cure is often very expensive.

Our area’s clay soils “expand and contract like a sponge,” says Jim Fontaine, who experienced the costly consequences first hand. “(Typical slab) foundations just can’t handle that much movement over time.”

Along the way to remediating his own foundation problems, Fontaine connected with Richardson structural engineer Tony Childress who had invented a commercial slab technology system designed to eliminate foundation problems caused by shifting soil. Fontaine wanted to make the process economically viable for mass market homes and multi-family construction, not just large projects and high end custom homes.

Fast forward to Tella Firma Foundations, the incarnation of Fontaine’s vision.  “Our system takes the soil out of the equation,” says Fontaine. Building on the Childress technology, Tella Firma patented a new type of elevated foundation that is close in price to that of slab foundations.


DBA DHS Panel on Housing

The annual Dallas Builder Show will include a panel on what’s next for the housing market featuring Fred Balda, Jeff Meyers, and Gary Rae.


What’s Next for the Dallas Housing Market?
Where are we in the housing cycle (on the way up, on the way down, right at the top)?
Will we see any relief from skyrocketing land prices?
Is there an end in sight for the ongoing labor shortage in the Dallas area?

All of these questions will be answered during the opening session of the Dallas Builders Show. The panel discussion will feature Jeff Meyers, president of Meyers Research, Gary Rae, area president of M/I Homes, and Fred Balda, president of Hillwood Communities. Moderated by Phil Crone, executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association, Meyers, Balda, and Rae will discuss the state of the local housing marketing and what it has in store for 2017.

The Dallas Builders Association will have several mini education sessions going on in their booth throughout the show: