Martin of The Freeman Group likes a new siding material
called HRDI Plank. He refers to it as everything-proof.
Jerry McGinnis, Sr. of Embassy
Homes in Mequon is intimately familiar with home building trends
over the last 50 years.
Todays buyers are more
quality conscious and are demanding more quality in their homes,
McGinnis says. Purchasers of higher end homes or homes in areas
with restrictive building requirements and covenants are also
asking for more traditional building materials. As the dollar
value of the home diminishes and restrictions are eased, synthetic
and more economical materials are being sought. McGinnis notes
that many of the homes in the Northshore area must be built with
restrictive covenants or subdivision zoning restrictions in mind.
They can severely limit a new buyers choices on an array of
quality building products that are relatively new to the industry.
McGinnis cites Cedar Pointe
subdivision off of Lincoln Avenue in Cedarburg as an example of
such restrictions. When you build a home using brick,
cedar-type or wood-based materials, it is really an archaic
process, he explains. It is the same processone brick at
a time as was used in Ben Franklins time. It adds to the
cost of the house. There are many alternatives, including
synthetic products and wood composite materials which simulate the
real thing and are just about as durable, but are much less
expensive. According to McGinnis, many of the bugs have
been worked out of some of these products, and the trend toward
such options is now taking hold. Synthetic or wood composite
materials have the added advantage of being able to be applied
with mechanical fasteners and then painted to the desired color.
But the choices dont end there.
Buyers can also decide between
vinyl siding and aluminum siding, McGinnis adds. Only a few
years ago aluminum was the only option if you didnt go with the
real thing. But now manufacturers of vinyl siding have been making
improvements and inroads into areas traditionally dominated by
aluminum. Vinyl siding provides wood grain texturing and is
more cost effective than aluminum. However, aluminum siding
manufacturers are now manufacturing their product with innovations
in texturing and multi-tone colors.
The components and tools used in
home building have also helped to make homes with more quality at
a reduced price, according to McGinnis. McGinnis also points to
new equipment that allows the house to be built better and faster.
A concrete sub-contractor may use a concrete pumper truck
today, which may have cost him $600,000, but allows him to pour a
basement in three hours instead of all day, McGinnis says. He
can pour three basements in a day, as opposed to just one, which
means he can recoup the cost of his truck quicker, and the quality
of the basement is not compromised. Even the components for
building the house are being built with computer technology. Were
not high-tech, McGinnis says, but were getting there. We
dont want to mass-produce a house like you would a car or power
saw. You dont want your house to look like every other house.
You want to know where your house is without looking at the house
Frank Madden is one of the
principals of M.D. Properties, specializing in building high-end
homes which vary in price from $300,000 to over $1 million.
Limiting himself to six or eight homes a year, M.D. Properties
market niche gives Madden unusual insight. It is the cost of
the house versus quality, Madden says. People always want
nice features in their home, but they have to live within their
budget, even with high-end homes. Madden firmly believes
that most builders try to put out a good product. When there are
problems, they usually arise because the buyers expectations
have exceeded his wallet. Madden looks for new trends in building
techniques to help him place his customers in the homes they are
Exterior Insulation Finishing
Systems are one way we have helped keep the cost of homes within
reach of our customers, Madden says. Known as EIFS, these
products are basically a new type of stucco exterior wall
Its not a true stucco plaster
like you might see on the East Side of Milwaukeeits not
cement over mesh, Madden explains. It is a synthetic product
that looks like the real thing and can be impregnated with a color
so it doesnt have to be painted for a longer period of time.
It requires less labor than the old stucco, you can have
terrific exterior detailing, and it is easier to work with. The
result? Less expense. Believe it or not, Madden continues,
Brick leaks. Water gets saturated in the brick and it gets
past, so brick requires a drainage system so that water can get
out of the walls. With a barrier system, such as EIFS, you
should not have any water leakage, assuming proper maintenance.
Because maintenance is sometimes lacking on homes, even expensive
homes, Madden plans ahead.
I install EIFS with a drainage
system anyway, Madden explains. That way if the caulking
falls into disrepair and water gets in, it has somewhere to go.
Because it is designed to hold water out, it also holds water in.
Madden sees the new EIFS being used in over 50 percent of his new
Todays middle-aged home buyer
is yearning for nostalgia, says Tom Martin with the Freeman
Group in Cedarburg. A definite trend has developed for the
buyer who has moved three or four times, and due to a sense of
rootlessness is building a sense of nostalgia into their homes.
Wrap-around porches, homes built
close together in smaller neighborhoods, and screened in porches
are examples of buyers reclaiming the past.
We are also seeing higher roof
pitches, Martin says. Where once a 6/12 or 8/12 roof (8
inches of rise for every 12 inches of run) was standard, we are
now seeing 10/12, 12/12, and even 14/12 roofs being demanded.
Martin explains that the steeper the roof, the more expensive it
is to build. Roofers and framers charge more for these roofs
because they have to pretend theyre mountain goats to build
them. Truss companies charge more also. Youre essentially
creating a third story to the house, which consists entirely of
air. You can have 10 to 25 feet of space in the attic which is
basically wasted, and its all done because it is a trend in
style, Martin says. Such roofs can add $2,000 to $4,000 to the
price of an average 2,400 square foot home.
Victorian homes and larger,
covered porches are coming back big, Martin adds. People are
wanting room to sit and enjoy the outdoors with a roof over them,
but it doesnt come without a price. How are home buyers
getting around the increased cost? They arent, according to
Even with the increase in home
building and computer technology, homes are getting expensive.
There is just no way around it, Martin says. Wide casings,
hardwood floors, cedar trim, higher quality windows and real wood
doors will all add to the cost of the home. Top grade material
comes at a price, and can quickly slip out of reach of the average
One new product on the market for
home exteriors is known as HRDI Plank. A fibrous cement
board, Martin refers to it as concrete siding. It is
everything-proof, Martin says. Fire, water, warpage and
shrinkage. It comes with a 50-year, transferable warranty, and
comes in a variety of widths and textures. It looks like cedar
There is also an increased
emphasis on energy efficient homes, especially in the North and
Midwest, Martin adds. Keeping the cost of your home down is
fine, but dont do it at the expense of energy efficiency. You
can save $15,000 to $20,000 over the life of your home if you plan
ahead for energy efficiency.