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Case Studies
Research for Builders

What: National Association of Home Builders Research Center.

Where: Bowie, Maryland.

What it Does: Explores new techniques and materials that help builders provide affordable, high quality homes.

Every industry needs research and development to grow. Few homebuilders can afford to explore new technologies and products on their own, but for more than 40 years the National Association of Home Builders Research Center has been doing just that.

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Pioneer in Advanced Building

Who: Bill Eich.

Where: Spirit Lake, Iowa.

What he did: An engineer by training, Eich has made a national impact on residential construction by pioneering a variety of techniques to lower costs and improve building performance.

Nestled along the wooded shores of Lake Okoboji, the small town of Spirit Lake, Iowa, has served the homebuilding industry as a laboratory for new construction technologies. Its core of well-educated, progressive builders work without the bureaucratic restraints of a building department, using only modern engineering as a guide.

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Ahead of Its Time

What: Arapahoe Acres, a 124-house subdivision built between 1949 and 1957.

Where: A suburb of Denver, Colorado.

What's Notable: Economical homes designed for a diverse community that took advantage of new technologies and innovative ideas on land planning and architecture.

Strolling along a quiet, curving street in a suburb just south of Denver is wandering back to the future of homebuilding. Back because Arapahoe Acres was built in the early 1950s, and into the future because housing has yet to catch up with the vision of homebuilder and developer Edward B. Hawkins.

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Think Inside the Box

Who: Beazer Homes.

Where: Southern California.

What's notable: Challenged by tough building and fire codes, Beazer exploited team planning, disciplined design and value-engineering to become the nation's fifth largest homebuilder.

Beazer Homes, Southern California, builds in one of the most restrictive regulatory environments in the United States yet manages to value-engineer floor plans that compete in a cutthroat real estate market. Balancing quality and value is not just a noble goal¾it's a matter of survival. A disciplined approach has helped the company become the fifth largest homebuilder in the nation. Here's how they do it:

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No Frills in Texas

What: NuHome division of Lennar Corp.

Where: Texas.

What's notable: A no frills, no options approach keeps construction costs to less than $40 per square foot and helps the company dominate its market.

Noting the tremendous demand for affordable housing, Lennar Corp. introduced its NuHome division in Texas in 1998. In less than six years under the stewardship of Bob Kayfus, NuHome was building 1,000 homes a year. With models starting at $88,950, NuHome has become one of the most competitive builders in Texas.

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