Susan Bady has been writing about the housing industry for 25 years. She most recently served as senior editor of design for Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines, and is now a contributing editor to those publications as well as the portal Web site HousingZone.com. Bady has also written for such consumer magazines as Cabin Life and Better Homes and Gardens’ Home Plan Ideas. You can reach her at email@example.com.
I recently read an article written by Bill Lurz, a former colleague at Professional Builder. Bill is now editor-in-chief of AvidBuilder.com. If you’re acquainted with Bill or have read his articles, you know how deep his knowledge of this industry runs.
Bill made some astute observations in this particular piece, titled, “What Makes a Design Leader?” The premise is that every market has a home builder who is on the leading edge of design trends. They’re names you should be familiar with (John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods in Atlanta; Drees Homes in Cincinnati), and some you might want to become familiar with, such as Sitterle Homes in San Antonio, Texas. I admit I wasn’t familiar with Sitterle before I read Bill’s article, but I certainly want to get to know them now.
If I had to make a list of builder/designers who I believe are leaders in their respective markets, I’d start with Phil Kean of Phil Kean Designs, Winter Park, Fla. Kean has won a boatload of awards and built and designed the 2012 New American Home. He recently introduced WayCool Homes, a collection of designs inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses. (You knew I’d get Frank in somehow, didn’t you?) The WayCool concept involves making great architecture affordable and accessible to everyone — a lofty goal, but one I believe he can reach.
Another candidate is Houston’s Stephen Hann, also the recipient of many accolades for his design/build acumen. Many custom builders have a signature style that they execute particularly well. Hann’s custom homes effortlessly run the gamut from Mediterranean to French country to modern, which is no easy feat.
That’s just two. Maybe you agree with me and maybe you don’t. Who do you think are the design leaders in your market, and why?