Hdr Annualissue
Houses 2008
from the editors of Fine Homebuilding magazine

Welcome to the slowdown. Take advantage of it.

One of my architecture professors made it clear that he liked slowdowns in the housing market. He reasoned that when money gets tight, people scale back a bit and become more thoughtful about what they really need their homes to be. With the frantic pace of boom-times on hold, the lousy builders drop out, the good ones aren’t spread so thin, and the joist and rafter stock down at the lumber yard has a chance to dry out and find its true dimensions.

We’re there again, and if you’ve got home improvement in mind, now is an excellent time to take a close look at the spaces under your roof and learn how you can make them better. In his article 11 Essential Remodeling Strategies, architect Keyan Mizani walks us through his checklist for discovering unused space that can be converted into the rooms you need. For example, moving the stair can sometimes unleash the potential of a house that is shackled by wasteful hallways and rooms that act as corridors. Another place to look: the sloped spaces under roofs. These quirky, neglected hunks of space can be the perfect place to put a lavatory, a toilet or a built-in bunk bed. With before-and-after photos and drawings, the author illustrates each design tool.

Have you ever wanted to hire an architect, but stopped short because you’ve heard budget-busting horror stories? Before you dismiss the idea, study architect Duo Dickinson’s article, How to Afford an Architect. Dickinson explains the three levels of architect involvement, and how a client can save money by taking on some of the responsibilities typically assumed by the design team. For example, buy a digital camera and email construction-progress photos to the architect. It’s a lot cheaper than site visits. Using the cost-reducing ideas in this article, the clients were able to keep the design fees to about 5% of the construction costs.

As energy prices continue their upward spiral, homeowners are paying more attention than ever to their heating and cooling bills. Builders and designers are stepping up their efforts to lower those bills by using existing materials and technology in smarter ways. Making the Green-Building Dean's List profiles three houses from around the country that have done just that. Each house has earned LEED certification. This program, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a flexible blueprint for building energy-smart houses from sustainable materials, no matter what climate or part of the country you’re in. Study the approaches on display in each of these homes to learn how to apply the ideas to your next house.

In addition to these highlights, the issue presents seven other houses from around the country that are packed with information nuggets that you can use to make your own place better. And if you’ve got a project that you think we should know about for a future issue of Houses, we’d be happy to take a look. Find out how to submit a project on our Call for Entries page.

Charles Miller
Special issues editor

Softcover Magazine, 8-7/8 x 10-7/8 in., 128 pgs.
Published 2008, ISSN 1096-360X, # 020195

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