Monday, July 28, 2008

Green Homeowners Insurance

This is the first-ever admitted green insurance available to homeowners in the United States. Setting a new standard, Fireman's Fund ( is offering this innovative product to homeowners who currently own green homes or who want to upgrade their residences with green features after a loss using environmental safety and efficiency standards. To read more. . .

From the Mountains to the Beach

Congratulations Jody on your recent purchase of a Structures home on Daniel Island! Welcome to Charleston and the Structures family!

Friday, July 25, 2008

When Words Just Aren't Enough

Throughout construction, one of our goals as a custom home builder is to help our clients' desires become a reality for a place they will call "home". By simplifying the systems and processes that are often very stressful, we are able to create an enjoyable experience. Just last week, Design Manager, Kristy Gorsuch, was helping I'On clients, Steve and Carol, select light fixtures at a local showroom, when a question came up for a particular placement of one fixture. Stumped for a moment, they tried to visualize how a certain fixture would look in this one location. Our client, Carol, recalled that Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Deborah Way, had just captured the exact place in a weekly photo update that was located in their web-based, Interactive Home Builder account. Logging into their on-line account, they were able to pull up the photo to clearly see the exact location and what should be selected in order to compliment the design of the room. Who would have guessed that a "perk" we've created to keep our out of town clients aware of the intricate details of their ever changing home, would double as an actual resource to selecting their light fixture. In this case, seeing was believing.

In photo above: Todd, Kristy and Cole Gorsuch seen with Deborah Way, at a Structures Family Picnic

Monday, July 21, 2008

Let's Take it from the Top

Whenever I pick up the Charleston Regional Business Journal, I skim the highlights and look for the few articles I like to read in full. Today I read the column written by Career Coach, Barbara Poole, Manage your castle with love, service and authenticity. In a nutshell, she made the point that great management follows a model called the "CASTLE" principle. She mentions the six different qualities this principle embodies and the way it can be seen in management.

1) Courage - "takes us out of our comfort zone but also holds the promise of possibility for both personal and professional breakthroughs."
2) Authenticity - "removing the mask and showing up to work as they really are."
3) Service - "realizing the best way to maximize productivity is to inspire and serve the people on their team."
4) Truthfulness - "Being honest is easy when times are good, but the real test of integrity is how the truth gets told when business is more challenging."
5) Love - "Love is another word for "care," and our ability to care about and for the people with whom we work speaks volumes about the kind of leaders we are."
6) Effectiveness - "Not just being a good guy. . . but having the high levels of performance which are essential to survival."

Not many employees of other custom home builders have the privilege of reading the article and saying, "Yep, that describes my boss." Truth be told, Kristy, RP, Amy, Dave, Aaron and I would say, "Hands down, Steve understands and lives out the CASTLE principle and honestly, a lot more. . . And yet even more companies would never consider having any kind of contact outside of work with co-workers, the fact that we actually like one another is also a rarity. Steve has handpicked his team and we couldn't be happier as a Structures Family. We think he feels the same, at least most of the time. :-)

We can't help but aspire to live them out too, as we see these qualities lived out from the Top. It starts within the walls of our office, and permeates our interactions with the "extended family", made up of clients, trade contractors, vendors, and the community around us.

Thanks Steve!

Your Structures Family

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sitting in the "Green" Chair

After 3 years of being the Chairman of the Custom Building Council with Charleston Trident Home Builders Association, I'm looking forward to directing my attention to chairing Charleston's new Green Building Council. Since 2005, Structures Building Company has been building "green" custom homes in Charleston's coastal communities. We are seeing the rise of awareness and interest among consumers, builders, trade contractors and vendors with a desire to become more educated on "green" living and building. Through the Green Building Council, we look forward to helping connect people and build relationships to further facilitate and educate the benefits of "green" building.

Photo Courtesy of Fung+Blatt Architects

Monday, July 7, 2008

Singing in the Rain, Remix

On a rainy, April evening, customers Tom and Wanda Martin were surprised to see Structures' favorite landscaper, Carolina Tree Brokers installing sod. Not only were they surprised to see them working on a rainy evening, but they were replacing sod in front of their new neighbor's house! No, it wasn't a mistake. Bill and his brother Todd had been asked by R.P. Newton, Project Manager on the Martin's remodel, to perform the work after learning that the sod had possibly been damaged by Structures trades during the Martin's remodel. Appreciative homeowner Tom Martin summed it up perfectly in a late night email to R.P. - "I'll never forget the scene of Gene Kelly in that 1950's musical. . . 'I'm sodding in the rain, just sodding in the rain, what a wonderful greening, I'm seeding again. . .'. To what R.P. replied, "Tom, whatever you're drinking. . . can you make me a double?"

Above - Bill Watson, owner of Carolina Tree Brokers with Deborah Way, SBC Sales and Marketing Coordinator during Habitat Blitz week.
On right - R.P. Newton, SBC Estimator, "driving in" business at the Habitat for Humanity car wash.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Structures Looking to LEED the Way. . .

Building "green" is not new to us, since 2005 we have been building to the EarthCraft standard in all of our custom homes. Continuing our efforts to be an innovator in "green" building, we are studying the benefits of building to the new LEED for Homes standard. Click on LEED FAQ to learn more about the LEED program and the benefits it has to offer our homeowners.

July Newsletter

Check Us Out!

Some current blog entries include our Habitat for Humanity Builders Blitz, recent awards, "green" building practices and company stories highlighting one of our trade contractors. Be sure to stay tuned. . .

Of course, bricks, lumber and shingles naturally come to mind when building a home. Leave it to us to add something unconventional like a blog to the building process. Check out our blog and don't forget to add it to your list of "favorites". Check in periodically to see informative and interesting entries about building, our company, as well as other noteworthy items going on in Charleston. We hope to also use the blog to give you an inside look into our talented and fun employees, clients, trade contractors and vendors that make up our incredible extended family!

BuildingSuccess 101
Q: How difficult is it to move a wall to enlarge a room?

A: That depends. If the wall is non-structural (meaning it is not vital to the home's stability), moving it slightly can be accomplished. If moving the wall affects the size or location of a door or window opening or other feature in that room or an adjacent space, the alteration is more difficult, time-consuming, and costly. The movement of structural walls, especially once the house has been completely framed, is often prohibitive in cost.

Managing Change
When we're on the job site, we want to make the most progress possible on our clients' new home. Building is a dynamic and exciting process; one that we try to make trouble free and easy to understand. Once we get going, things can happen quickly, so we work with our clients to make decisions well ahead of time to help ensure they get the home of their dreams.
Before the first scoop of dirt is moved, we collaborate with our home owners to make most of the big decisions, but that is rarely the end of the process. Once we're underway, owners often think of a few things they'd like to change. Such changes may range from making the house larger to a change in bathroom cabinets, a different floor pattern or material in the kitchen, or just adding an extra light switch or two.

We document such requests, called "change orders," to make sure that we and the homeowners have a clear understanding of the scope and cost of the change. Although our goal is to make sure our clients are satisfied with their new home (with no unpleasant surprises when it's time to pay the bill), it's also important for the homeowner to understand how change orders affect the building process. When owner and builder communicate well, the impact of change orders on construction schedule and budget can be minimized.

A change order made after construction begins always has a cost attached. The cost may be the time (and labor) it takes to make the change or it may be the price of additional materials or products required -- and usually both.

The timing of a change order has a big impact on such costs. Typically, the later in the building process, the more expensive the change order. Some changes, of course, are simply impossible or truly cost prohibitive, such as altering the foundation or adding a basement once we've started building a home's structural frame.

We respect our clients' desires to get exactly the house they want. We know that some finishes (or even floor plans) may be hard to visualize until they're actually installed or built. Changes will happen! For that reason, we've become more sophisticated and systematic about managing change orders. Our process not only ensures good communication and provides assurances between everyone involved, but also helps us maintain the building schedule and minimize additional costs.

The change order process: The most effective change order processes follow a general pattern that creates a paper trail and provides reliable cost information up front, including:
Centralization. Your change order requests are often managed by one person to help ensure effective communication between everyone involved. This includes specialty trade contractors, suppliers, our job site managers, and, of course, our customer. We discourage owners from making special requests directly to a trade contractor, as this is a quick route to misunderstandings and disrupted schedules.

Customer requests are transferred to an electronic or paper-based change order form that initiates a paper trail and helps ensure greater accuracy and communication.
Terms. We anticipate many of the changes our homebuyers make. We have a good idea of the cost and time most changes require. As a result, we can often communicate the terms quickly so that owners can make an informed decision in plenty of time to make the change or decide against it.

It's important to everyone involved that no change occurs without a client signature. Clients must approve the cost and terms, as well as the style, finish, or other details about the change. In addition, clients must be aware of how the change may affect their move-in date or other aspects of the construction schedule.

We may request a client to visit the new home's job site when the alteration is being made so they can see it happen, ask any questions and insure satisfaction.

Costs for change orders may be billed separately, usually as soon as the change has been made and completed to a client's satisfaction. Sometimes we ask for a percentage of the cost or full payment up front before making the alteration, depending on the type of request.

By using a dedicated, document-based change order system, our clients are assured that any changes they consider -- whether minor or extreme -- are taken care of in a timely fashion without confusion, miscommunication or unnecessary costs.

Warm Regards,
Steve Kendrick
Structures Building Company
PO Box 2267
Mt Pleasant, SC 29465
843.856.6901 - phone

c. 2008 All rights reserved.
Click here to subscribe to this newsletter.
Click here to unsubscribe from this newsletter.