The Fight Against Cancer Comes Home — New Home Source and the Texas 4000 Ride

Starting in Austin and ending in Anchorage, Alaska, Texas 4000 is the longest annual charity bike ride in the world. Since being founded in 2003, it has raised more than $3.5 million for the fight against cancer.

Starting in Austin and ending in Anchorage, Alaska, Texas 4000 is the longest annual charity bike ride in the world. Since being founded in 2003, it has raised more than $3.5 million for the fight against cancer.

By Drew Knight

Nearly 80 University of Texas at Austin students will slather on more than four gallons of sunscreen, scarf down about 15,000 energy bars and PB&J sandwiches and wash it all down with about 700 gallons of sports drinks.

No, it’s not the biggest spring break party you’ve ever seen — it’s the Texas 4000, the longest annual charity bike ride in the world that has raised more than $3.5 million in the fight against cancer.

Founded in 2004 by two former UT students, Chris and Mandy Condit, Texas 4000 is back yet again with its annual trek from Austin to Alaska to help raise funds for cancer research. And, for the second year in a row, New Home Source’s parent company Builder Homesite Inc. (BHI) will be hosting the team’s kick-off event.

On the eve of the ride on Wed., May 29, 2015, BHI will host all 78 student riders in our facility gym. On this day, known as “Day Zero” to those familiar with Texas 4000, riders will arrive at our facilities after spending the day riding around Austin in an unofficial send-off by Austin city leaders. We will welcome these riders with a party, live music and more before they begin their 70-day odyssey.

However, the Texas 4000 is more than just a 70-day journey for these students — it’s an 18-month commitment that includes a pledge to raise a minimum of $4,500 per rider, a 1,500-mile prep ride and hours and hours of fitness, leadership and speaking training. These riders become well-versed, dedicated and disciplined warriors.

Texas 4000 is a community of cancer fighters comprised of student riders, volunteers and community supporters who strive to spread hope to those fighting cancer through three main pillars: hope, knowledge and charity:

  • Hope in letting those touched by cancer know that there are people who are willing to ride cross-country for them and are determined to eliminate the disease,
  • Knowledge in bringing life-saving information about cancer prevention to communities large and small and
  • Charity by making a commitment to support cancer research and lead the charge in overcoming cancer.

To spread these talking points, riders will divide among three different routes (the Sierra, Rockies and Ozarks) after leaving Austin. Along the way, they will sleep in churches, schools and parks and they’ll visit hospitals to meet with children fighting cancer and speak to countless other groups.

BHI will stay in contact with some of the Texas 4000 riders (in fact, we’ve got a BHI team who will bike the first 25 miles with the riders), so keep checking back in to see how these riders are doing on their trip to raise funds for cancer research and hope for those affected by cancer.

Drew Knight is Digital Content Associate for New Home Source.

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Think Inside the Box: What to Know About Prefab Homes

prefab homes

The Breezehouse, by Allen Construction, is a gorgeous example of modular prefab construction in Santa Barbara, Calif.

By Seve Kale

Think about the myriad of high-quality products you use on a daily basis that were built in factories: your car, your smart phone, your computer — so why not your new home?

At the intersection of home design and efficiency, the term “prefab” encompasses any home that has sections of the structure built in a factory off site and then is assembled on site.  Prefabricated homes generally fall into two categories: Panel Built and Modular.

Nonetheless, “‘Prefab’ is more than a home in a box; it is a much broader concept,” says Nima Mahak, Allen Construction Operations Manager, and Greg Aragon, Allen Construction Design Manager. With the goal of shedding some light on prefabricated homes, we talked to several prefab home professionals to get their insight on the industry and its future.

Shedding Light on Misconceptions

“People often think that only mobile homes or low-quality homes can be prefab — that’s absolutely not the case,” says Steve Glenn, CEO of the California-based Modern Modular Prefab Company LivingHomes. Like site-built homes, there is a huge amount of variation in design quality and sustainability. “With the addition of select features, whether they are modular customizations or even site-built elements, a prefabricated home can be adapted to a specific climate, topography or sun orientation,” says Aragon.

Beyond the confusion surrounding quality, there’s also misconception over the cost of prefab homes. “You have to make sure you are comparing apples to apples,” says Chris Krager, founder and principle architect at Austin-based ma modular. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the cost per square foot of a typical modular home is $76.80, while the average stick-built home costs $94.34. Just like site-built homes, there are a variety of factors that impact the final cost.

Weathering the Storm

Because they’re built in a controlled environment, prefabricated homes are built with less construction waste and more precision — there is no unexpected interference from Mother Nature during construction. A specialized inspection takes place at every step of construction, as well as at a final inspection once the home is assembled on site. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), modular homes “performed much better than conventional residential framing” in withstanding extreme conditions.

Efficient Design

Because they are factory-built, prefab homes are, on average, quicker to build than traditional stick-built homes. “About 60 percent to 65 percent of the work is the module in the factory,” said Krager. “You can definitely save time — 3 to 5months, I would say — but it is by no means as simple as ordering a widget on a line.”

“Prefabrication may be at its best when used as part of the overall design — modular homes lend themselves very easily to energy-efficient materials and processes, but building sustainably requires unique specifics that must be integrated into the solution,” said Aragon. As with any new home, good design makes a world of difference.

Seve Kale is a contributor to NewHomeSource.

Posted in Buying a New Home, Green Home Building, New Home Design | Leave a comment

New Home Source TV Coming to Raleigh!

New Home Source TV

Dave Sinclair, right, joins Brett Tutor as a host of New Home Source TV. Each week, Sinclair and Tutor showcase the best in newly built homes and new homes communities in the Triangle.

By Patricia L. Garcia

Another season of New Home Source TV is here and coming to the City of Oaks! That’s right; New Home Source TV is coming to Raleigh, N.C.

And why not? Named one of the Best College Towns to Live in Forever and one of the Best Places to Retire, Raleigh is a place where young folks, retirees and everyone in between want to be and live. New Home Source TV-Raleigh features some of the most inspiring newly built homes and new home communities that The Triangle has to offer.

Check out Dave Sinclair as he joins NHS TV co-host Brett Tutor to bring you the first glimpses of the most desirable new home communities in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. As a fitness expert and longtime broadcaster, Sinclair can speak to the benefits that new homes and new home communities offer buyers, such as the nearby Neuse River Greenway and the extensive outdoor amenities of the Highland Creek Preserve community by Centex Homes. There’s also the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in the 12 Oaks community by David Weekley, as a well as the pools and water park in the Briar Chapel community, also by David Weekley. The 5401 North community by Level Homes encompasses healthy living in a variety of ways, which includes plenty of trails for walking and biking, as well as incorporating sustainable living.

You’ll also learn what multigenerational living means with Lennar’s NextGen home and see what Del Webb and Standard Pacific Homes are offering in the area too. But that’s not all, you’ll also find out about the many benefits of newly built homes (like saving money on energy costs) and you’ll be inspired by the latest home design trends.

So, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss the new season of New Home Source TV! For the hottest new homes and coolest new communities in the Triangle, tune in to NBC TV Raleigh each Sunday at 11 a.m. If you just can’t wait, you can check out segments online at New Home Source.TV.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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By the Book: Five Keys to a Personal Library

personal library

Give your personal library some personality! A bold area rug and stripes flanking the entry add drama to this personal library. Newly built homes in Camberly Place at Stonebrae. Hayward, Calif.

By Seve Kale

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”

Mark Twain

Mark Twain was on to something — despite owning a Kindle, I’m still inexplicably drawn to the tangible ink and paper of a traditional book.

Personal libraries in all shapes and sizes are a fantastic way to celebrate and display your love of the written word. I spoke with several architects and designers who feel the same way and were generous enough to give me some insight into how to incorporate a library into your new home — and why it’s important.

The following five steps will have you on your way to creating your own literary oasis:

1. Don’t be Afraid to Think Big — Or Small

Perhaps the most important rule of home libraries I learned is that there are no rules. “Pick something you like, and make the room cozy and workable,” says designer Joan Fradella. “Make sure you design a room you can feel comfortable in, as well as proud to show to guests,” she went on to say.

2. Meld Comfort and Style

You may have the most gorgeous library in the world, but if it isn’t comfortable, you won’t spend any time relaxing there. “Finding more reasons to spend time in a library is essential to me so that the spaces are enjoyed — a TV, a fireplace, comfortable furniture, possibly a small bar, a good desk with hidden away office support space,” says Eric J. Smith, an architect based in New York City.

3. Not Just for Books

Many of the exceptional libraries our designers created aren’t just for books — that’s a common misconception, according to Smith. Instead, include what inspires you — an antique map, family photographs or your vinyl collection.

4. Be Creative

The literary world is your oyster, as far as inspiration is considered. “Libraries in older homes and clubs in England, France and Austria are great inspiration for the classic libraries — also places like the book room at the University Club in New York City or the collegiate libraries at Columbia and Berkeley,” says Smith.

5. Have a System!

The organization of your books can add just as much character to your library as structural elements and design features. Don’t forget to be practical: “You should count all of your books early in the process — not just individually but also by the linear footages of storage.”

Once you’ve accounted for space, will you take the utilitarian route and organize everything by author or genre? Will you create an elaborate ranking system and file everything that way? No need to stand by the Dewey Decimal System you learned in grade school — it’s your library, you can file how you want to.

Seve Kale is a writer for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.

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Gadget of the Month: Bidgely’s HomeBeat Energy Monitor

Bidgely HomeBeat Energy Monitor

Energy usage data is easy to understand and monitor on a smartphone with the Bidgely HomeBeat Energy Monitor. Photo via Bidgely.

By Patricia L. Garcia

Each month, my husband and I prepare ourselves for the shock that will inevitably come from opening our utility bill: Will it be reasonable? Will we be able to go out to eat this month? Did we unplug the TV each night? Why is our bill so high?

Enter Bidgely’s HomeBeat Energy Monitor, an energy analytics tool that helps homeowners keep track of their energy usage. Why would anyone care to monitor their energy usage? To help prevent shock every month! The cloud-based monitor sends information about your energy usage to a smartphone to help you keep track of things — down to individual appliances — so that you can understand which appliances use the most energy. Knowing this can help homeowners unplug a little more — and knowing which appliances are the biggest power hogs. You can also determine if, say, you left the AC on before leaving for work.

My favorite feature of the energy monitor is that you don’t have to plug in each appliance to any devices — the energy monitor is a plug-and-play device of sorts. And, if you love competition, the monitor can also send you information about how your appliances’ usage compares with that of your neighbor’s.

The one drawback to this monitor is that if your utility company does not support Bidgely’s service, you’ll have to purchase a separate (likely, more pricey) monitor, like the Eagle Zigbee Gateway (with Bidgey) that is compatible with the service. You’ll still get the same great information, but it requires a little more work than simply buying the Bidgely monitor and signing up online.

The energy monitor provides homeowners (and even renters) more access to information that can help save them money in the long run. Because homeowners can quickly and easily understand their energy usage down to the last penny, they’ll be better prepared to make decisions that will save them money. It’s time for us to enjoy getting mail again — Bidgely’s HomeBeat Energy Monitor is a first step to doing that.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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New Home Source Gadget of the Month: WeMo Insight Switch

Belkin WeMo Switch

Belkin’s WeMo Insight Switch makes your home smarter — or maybe just easier to manage. Using this switch, you can turn something on or off, put appliances on a timer and measure energy usage. Photos courtesy of Belkin.

By Ashley Steel

You’ve got your keys, your phone and your wallet; now you’re headed out the door. As you sip your coffee on the way to work, you start to get an uneasy feeling: Did I forget something?

It’s an experience common to many. In our rush-rush society, the anxieties come creeping in: Did I lock the house? Did I turn off the curling iron? Did I turn down the AC?

Enter the WeMo Insight Switch from Belkin, our NewHomeSource App of the Month. While it can’t solve for all of your problems on the way to work, it can certainly address many of them and make life more convenient, to boot.

What Is It?

The WeMo Insight Switch is a device that allows you to connect all of your plug-in devices to your Wi-Fi network. This functionality allows you to control said devices from anywhere.

Let’s say you left your AC unit running. The WeMo App will alert you. From the app’s dashboard, you can adjust the AC — even if you’re at work or on-the-go.

Added Savings

The WeMo Insight Switch can help you regulate your energy usage and reduce your bills. You can set schedules for different devices such as the AC unit, as well as monitor and control energy usage in real time via the WeMo app. Turn off lights, fans and devices when not in use — not to mention, without getting off the couch — and save on energy bills.

Added Safety

Many house fires are started from careless handling of appliances such as curling irons, straighteners and space heaters. With the WeMo Insight Switch, you can verify that these appliances are turned off, or, turn them off from a distance, to ensure that your home remains fire free.

Added Convenience

The WeMo isn’t just about safety and savings, though — it’s also designed to introduce a new level of comfort and luxury to owners.

In this capacity, the WeMo is very versatile, allowing you to turn on the heat a half hour before you get home or receive an alert when your laundry is done so that you can put away your clothes before they get wrinkled. You can even connect your WeMo to the coffee maker and schedule it to automatically start brewing when you wake up.

With the addition of other WeMo products, like the WeMo Motion, your Insight Switch can even perform such functions as automatically turning on the lights when you walk into a room.

See the entire WeMo collection from Belkin and start getting connected. WeMo you want to!

Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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How to Get a Head Start on Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning tools

Make sure you have all the supplies you need for spring cleaning by planning ahead. Photo Courtesy of BenchmarkQA.

By Ashley Steel

Springtime means something different to everybody. Commonly thought of as a time of renewal and rebirth, many people apply this frame of mind to their house. Hence, spring cleaning: a time to be rid of the cobwebs of yesteryear; a time to start fresh.

But cleaning house is no small task, and for many people, spring cleaning is an overwhelming and dreaded process. This year, keep it under control by starting before the first blooms begin to show.

Here’s how you can approach spring cleaning in advance:

Where Should I Start?

You can’t clean your whole house at once and attempting to do so is likely to dampen your spirits and curb your enthusiasm for a clean house. “Start small,” says Barbara Reich, a New York City professional organizer and author of Secrets of an Organized Mom. “Organize a drawer or a closet.” Baby steps offer a compelling sense of achievement in small, manageable doses.

But more than just starting small, you should be selective about the area of the house you choose to tackle first. Start with the area that bothers you most — the dirtiest or most cluttered area, says Bonnie Joy Dewkett, professional organizer and founder of The Joyful Organizer, a company that creates organizational systems for homes and offices. “Start there and you’ll feel great and be motivated to continue the process.”

How Can I Make It Manageable?

It all starts with a schedule. “Set up a spring cleaning schedule like you would a meeting at work or practice at school,” says Reich. Physically block off time on your calendar and set an agenda. Not only will this will give you time to prepare by ensuring you have the proper supplies and cleaning equipment, but it will also help mentally prepare you and keep you on task.

When it comes to doing the work itself, first divide your house into zones, says Dewkett. Then divide each zone into individually manageable sections requiring no more than an hour’s worth of work. For example, your kitchen might be a zone with individual sections including the fridge, pantry and oven.  By cleaning these sections one at a time on a pre-determined schedule, you’ll never get overwhelmed.

What Should Spring Cleaning Include?

This is the one question without a clear consensus, as spring cleaning has a different meaning for everybody. Vacuuming, dusting, mopping — there is no right answer — so do what feels right for your house.

However, for most people, springtime ushers in a change of clothes. “Swap out your wardrobe,” says Reich. Get all your spring and summer clothes ready to wear and hanging in the closet and stow away all of your heavy winter clothes. While you’re at it, “go through all of your clothing, throwing out anything that is ripped or doesn’t fit anymore.” And don’t forget donation as a viable option for getting rid of your old goods!

Take extra pains to clean areas with goods bearing expiration dates, says Reich. Refrigerators, medicine cabinets and the like should get a good once-over.

How Can I Stay Organized?

Think storage units and labeling.

“If you know you want to organize an area, buy storage bins and containers,” says Reich. “Buy more than you need; it’s easier to return than to go back to the store in the middle of the organizing process.”

But it’s not enough to just stash your stuff in neat little bins. This is where a label maker comes in; Reich calls it the “magic wand of organizing.” By labeling everything properly, not only will it make specific items easier to find, but it will make everyone in the household more accountable for putting things in their correct place.

Another great way to stay organized is to devote 10 minutes a day to cleaning. All that work can really add up without ever being overwhelming. Include all members of the house in your daily efforts to keep clean. “If you have five family members all pitching in just 10 minutes, that’s almost an hour of cleaning time,” says Dewkett.

This year, get a head start on spring by pulling out the dustpan now and watch your home bloom.

Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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