30 June 2016

'Guacamole-thick' algae causes crisis on Florida coastline

Original Story: sfgate.com

STUART, Fla. (AP) — A smelly, "guacamole-thick" muck is fouling a stretch of beaches promoted as Florida's "Treasure Coast," where lawmakers and residents blame the federal government, saying the algae crisis is fueled by freshwater flows controlled by Army officials to protect an erosion-prone dike.  Some contemplated that there may have been a need for Chemical Holding Tanks.
The blue-green algae is the latest contaminant featured in yearslong arguments over water flowing from Lake Okeechobee, which is critical to South Florida's water supply and flood control systems.
At Central Marine boat docks in Stuart, pea-green and brown algae coated the water Thursday and smelled strongly like cow manure. Blooms that started last week in the St. Lucie River continue to spread, threatening Atlantic beaches expecting crowds of families for the holiday weekend.
Sarah Chaney, a receptionist at Central Marine, said boaters and fisherman are cancelling reservations after seeing reports of the algae, which she called "horrible and disgusting."
"I would describe them as guacamole-thick. And it stinks," said Gabriella Ferrero, spokeswoman for Martin County.

National list ranks Sarasota region’s top home builders

Original Story: businessobserverfl.com

SARASOTA — The top 10 home builders in the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton region made up more than 93% of the area’s total market share in 2015, according to Builder Magazine. Find a custom home builder Tampa to build your dream home.

Builder Magazine released its list of the top 10 local home builders in Sarasota-Manatee. The 10 companies closed 3,570 homes in 2015, according to the list.

Lakewood Ranch-based Neal Communities of Southwest Florida topped the list with 747 closings. Here is the full top 10 list of companies and the number of homes they closed in 2015:

1.    Neal Communities of Southwest Florida: 747 closings
2.    Lennar Corp.: 606 closings
3.    D.R. Horton: 529 closings
4.    PulteGroup: 529 closings
5.    Taylor Morrison: 387 closings
6.    WCI Communities: 317 closings
7.    CalAtlantic Group: 183 closings
8.    Medallion Home: 126 closings
9.    Minto Builders: 74 closings
10.    Ashton Woods Homes: 72 closings

22 June 2016

Prices for Tampa Bay homes climbed again in May, but are there signs of a slow down?

Original Story: tampabay.com

Prices for Tampa Bay homes continued to increase in May, with three of the four bay area counties showing double-digit gains. A Builder Custom Homes Tampa may be a good fit for you.

The year-over-year median price of a single-family home in Hillsborough jumped 10 percent to $224,500, higher than the state average. In Pasco, the median rose 12.8 percent, to $176,000, and in Hernando, it rocketed 19 percent to $138,000.

But for the bay area's two biggest counties, the increases are not nearly as dramatic as they were early in the year.

"I think it's kind of stabilized,'' Tampa Realtor Rebecca Schmid said of the bay area real estate market. "I don't see it going down but I don't see it going up at this point.''

In Pinellas, the median sale price in May rose 8.1 percent, a healthy gain but the smallest year-over-year increase since November. The county's median price of $200,000 has remained constant since March.

Hillsborough had its second lowest price gain since October.

On a more positive note, both counties showed their biggest increases in months in the number of closed sales — Hillsborough's 14.4 percent jump was its highest since July and Pinellas' 9.4 percent was the highest since September.

Both did better than the state overall, which tallied a 4.5 percent year-over- year increase in single family homes sales.

"Florida's housing market is growing at a more moderate pace," Matey H. Veissi, president of Florida Realtors, said Wednesday. But, he added, "while tight housing supply is having an impact in many areas, still-low mortgage rates, increased jobs and economic growth will continue to boost housing demand."

The top price paid for a home in Hillsborough in May was $2.6 million cash for a newly built, 5,300 square foot waterfront home in Tampa's Sunset Park. Custom Homes in Tampa are beautiful and come in variety of  price ranges.

Sales are doing well, "especially on the waterfront in South Tampa,'' said Schmid, who had the listing on the home. "There's just that limited amount of lots and homes available so older homes are being bought up and torn down so there's all this new construction.''

One reason new homes are hot, she added, is that high-end buyers "definitely want all the bells and whistles. The (house that was) there originally had never been updated so I think for somebody it was a good call to tear it down."

In Pinellas, where a penthouse in downtown St. Petersburg's Ovation sold for a record $6.9 million cash in May, agent Rafal Wazio says really expensive properties are doing well while those in the $2.5 million to $3 million range are lagging.

"I'm seeing large estates that normally take five or six years to sell go under contract because their day has come,'' said Wazio, who has a Belleair estate listed at $8.5 million under contract.

Who can afford these places?

"I think in a lot of instances you're looking at people cashing out of large companies, kind of golden parachute deals,'' he said. "Now they are seeing a property they couldn't necessarily go after two or three years ago but always wanted it. It's a perfect combination of money meets opportunity."

For all other buyers, including those who might be able to afford a lower-priced luxury home, "there remains a certain amount of uncertainty as to interest rates and the economy,'' Wazio said. "In the $350,000 to $400,000 range, those were rip-roaring along from January to about two months ago and now I see some stagnancy there as well."

Buyers of higher-end properties seem to be holding back in Pasco, which earlier in the year had several sales over $1 million. The most expensive Pasco home sold in May was a 5,600 square foot lakefront house in Odessa that went for $750,000 — a substantial discount from its original asking price of nearly $825,000.

In Hernando, though, a buyer paid $900,000 — $60,000 above asking price — for a custom three bedroom, three bath home on 66 acres in Brooksville.

In the four-county Tampa Bay area, sales of condos and townhomes rose 4.2 percent in May with the year-over-year increase in prices jumping 6.3 percent to $129,900.

15 June 2016

Water Features Flow Through Sun West’s Macdonald Highlands Home

Original Story: ReviewJournal.com

Sun West Custom Homes’ new showcase sits atop a hillside at 647 Cityview Ridge Drive in MacDonald Highlands, a luxury community in Henderson. Owner Daniel Coletti has created a cool, soothing oasis amid the expansive beauty of the Mojave Desert.

The striking see-through pool that visitors see driving to the home is a big jaw-dropper and the star of the show. In fact, water runs throughout this living space that is a tribute to the elements and indoor-outdoor living. Visit Florida today to so Custom Homes in Tampa.

The 8,000-square-foot home updates and expands on an award-winning design concept Coletti built in The Ridges at Summerlin for the 2009 Parade of Homes. One common thread that runs through Sun West custom home designs is an intimate feeling of closeness to nature. His living spaces blend into the surrounding terrain and climate. Sun West architectural designs combine traditional elements of water, air, earth and fire to suggest deep feelings of hearth and home.

Two ponds of flowing water greet visitors at the front entrance. That’s just a hint of the water theme this home carries. After passing through a large glass door into the great room, another pond leads past the right wall, under a fireplace, to an array of glass pocket doors along the back wall of the room. When opened, the wall disappears and the living space seamlessly continues outward to a patio lounge area where the infinity-edge swimming pool and a panoramic view of the Las Vegas Valley are the main attraction.

The open doors also channel air flow to capture breezes coming off the hills of MacDonald Highlands and route the fresh air through the living spaces of the home on the top and bottom floors. When closed, the pocket doors provide a barrier to prevent harsh weather, heat and cold from entering the inner living spaces.

Evaporative cooling from the water features saves energy and adds moisture to the rooms during hot, dry summer days in Southern Nevada.

Wood, metal and stone are the earth elements in the home that also connect occupants to the landscape surrounding them. The choice of colors, textures, furniture, textiles and flooring all complement desert tones.  Tampa Custom Homes can have any feature that you can dream up.

Fireplaces are featured in the bedrooms, as well as in the great room, the downstairs guest lounge and outside patios near the infinity-edge swimming pool.

The master bedroom and bath are to the right of the great room entrance, overlooking the pool. Glass pocket doors disappear inside the walls of each room to connect the flowing water outside to the living space and occupants inside. A wooden deck extends through the center of the pool to allow residents to walk over the water to its edge and out toward the skyline.

The master bath tub is positioned directly behind motorized pocket doors that can open to connect the bath to the outside elements while the shower has a direct passageway to the swimming pool. A dressing room behind the shower and tub includes a cavernous closet that extends behind the master bedroom and bath.

On the other side of the closet space, a long hallway leads north past the master bedroom. A sailing mural decorates the wall on the left side while the right side of the hallway leads to an office space enclosed in glass.

At the northwest end of the hallway is a second bed, that includes a full bath and closet space. Two more outdoor patios and water features are nearby.

Return south down the long hallway, past the front door and great room, to the dining room and kitchen area.

Wolf cooking stoves, Sub-Zero refrigerators and Kohler water faucets all gleam with polished metal finishes. A warm air hand-dryer in the kitchen replaces the need for paper towels. The kitchen extends into the outdoor area when the pocket doors are open.

The indoor and outdoor kitchens are built with stone countertops, tiled floors and custom cabinetry. Island bars and strategic furniture serve as gathering places that invite guests to mingle and converse.

A stairway leads from the dining room down to the lower floor, past a wine rack made from hanging chains of cable that are suspended from the ceiling. Large metal rings within the parallel chains display an extensive collection of vintage wine bottles. The rack chains descend from the top floor ceiling to below the staircase where a cocktail serving bar sits.

Comfortable couches and chairs are positioned in front of a fireplace and video entertainment center to the right of the staircase, as well as in a submerged lounge, recessed 4 feet below the floor.

The west wall, beneath the infinity-edge swimming pool, supports a glass window that allows guests to interact with underwater swimmers. During the open house presentation, a live mermaid appeared at the window to showcase the water world inside the infinity-edge pool.

An outdoor pond and patio are just beyond another set of pocket glass doors toward the front of the home. The outer cement wall of the pond and patio space functions as a retaining structure that nestles against the hillside.

On the same level of the home are an extra half-bath behind the cocktail bar and lounge. Near the foot of the stairs are a bedroom and full bath, with its own set of pocket doors that lead outside to a golf-putting green. Beyond the bedroom, a four-car garage opens out to a second street below for easy parking and access to the rear of the home. A Tampa Custom Home Builder can make your dream a reality.

A storage closet near the back door of the garage houses rack-mounted computers and an array of signal-processing modules that enable a Crestron control system for this smart home. The electronic modules are always on and always connected to the Internet where a cloud of servers process the data streaming to and from the building. From the cloud, all this digital information is consolidated and sent to the homeowner’s smartphone. Most of the features in the home can be controlled through a single app. The Crestron system also uses touch screens and switch panels mounted on the walls of every room in the home to activate the same control systems. These include security cameras, electronic locks, motion sensors and proximity sensors for the doors and windows. Smoke and safety alarm sensors are also monitored 24/7.

Residents can select on-demand content via 4K ultra-high-definition video streamed from the Internet to multiple video monitors throughout the home. Extensive cabling for audio speakers and music systems has been routed to every room in the home and to the outdoor patios.

The same Crestron app also controls all the LED lighting throughout the home, as well as motorized glass pocket doors and motorized shades that automatically adjust throughout the day to the position of the sun.

Smart thermostats monitor temperature changes in different rooms and enable zoned climate control through the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

Miles of low-voltage cables are embedded in the walls of the showcase home alongside the high-voltage AC electric power wiring.

“More of the audio, video, data and control signals have now been combined over the Cat-6 Ethernet cables,” said Kevin Peltier, president of HP Media Group. “We included a second, backup Cat-6 cable in the home wiring bundle for redundancy and future expansion.”

The MacDonald Highlands showcase home highlights many of the design-build lessons learned by Sun West through 38 years of custom project development. It also serves as a laboratory to collect data, in order to evaluate the efficiency of photovoltaic solar panels, energy consumption of the HVAC system, the effectiveness of the sun-tracking shade system, convection air flow, and other new features that may someday be implemented on future design-build projects by the company.

Cynthia Coletti originally founded El Rancho West as a family business with her son, Daniel, in 1978. She passed the exam for a contractor’s license in Florida, then partnered with her son to build their first custom home on a 1-acre parcel of land that they purchased for $10,000. The team built 22 custom homes in Florida, then moved to Colorado, before setting up a business in the Las Vegas Valley as Sun West Custom Homes during 1989.

“God gives us all a little talent, but you don’t know it until you start building something and getting reactions from people,” Cynthia Coletti said. “If you are doing something right, keep doing it and stick with your feelings.”

“The prevailing style of architecture in Las Vegas at that time was Mediterranean, like the Ten Oaks development with its arches and clay-tiled rooftops.” Daniel Coletti said.

During 1998, he traveled to Hawaii and saw how the homes were constructed in the islands to be more open to the outside, as well as inside.

He designed and built the custom Tapestry home for the Seven Hills development in Henderson to include pocket doors that could be hidden in the walls of the building structure to extend the indoor living space. Other innovations in design followed as Coletti developed a desert contemporary style that can be found at The Ridges in Summerlin, MacDonald Highlands and Lake Las Vegas.

The company built six custom homes during 2015 and has two design-build projects ongoing this year.

The “build” part of a Sun West Custom Homes project is led by Carl Martinez, president of residential construction. Martinez and Coletti direct an experienced team that includes a project manager, interior designer, project coordinator and an onsite superintendent who execute the design plans with the help of licensed and insured sub-contractors, many who have worked with the company for more than a decade.

After years of real-world practice, the Sun West team has amassed a quality control checklist that monitors 87 different areas of home construction from “foundation to finish,” Coletti said.

The MacDonald Highlands project began construction in August 2015 and opened is available for public view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Just tell the guard you want to see the showcase home.

13 June 2016

Sienna Reserve Offering $20,000 Furniture Package With Purchase

Original Story: naplesnews.com

Sienna Reserve has teamed up with Robb & Stucky for a community closeout offer.

According to Andy Zuckerman, president of Zuckerman Homes, anyone purchasing one of the remaining homes at Sienna Reserve will receive a $20,000 furniture package from Robb & Stucky, one of the premier interior design companies in Southwest Florida. A Tampa Custom Home Builder is looking to try a similar package.

"Upon closing, the purchaser will receive a $20,000 gift certificate of which they are free to spend any way at Robb & Stucky," stated Zuckerman. "Some will purchase new furniture for their home, while others will use it on accessories and finishing touches. It's totally up to the purchaser's discretion."

Zuckerman Homes and Robb & Stucky are teaming up for this promotion because Robb & Stucky was the interior designer for two of Sienna Reserve's furnished models.

"We've received many compliments regarding our furnished models and knew Robb & Stucky would be the perfect partner to assist our residents in making their homes even more special," stated Zuckerman.

Sienna Reserve, an enclave of 45 luxury custom single-family homes on Livingston Road between Vanderbilt Beach and Immokalee roads in North Naples, is 90 percent sold. However, a number of lakefront and preserve homesites are still available.

Eight floor plans are available with prices starting in the mid-$600s. Three of those floor plans can be toured as models. The Hibiscus and the Magnolia Flex are furnished, and the Rosewood is unfurnished.

The Hibiscus is a single-story, three-bedroom plus study, three-bath home with 2,566 square feet under air and 3,378 total square feet.

The Magnolia Flex is a two-story, four-bedroom plus game room and media room, three full bath, two half-bath home with 4,004 square feet under air and 4,855 total square feet.

The two-story Rosewood, the largest home offered at Sienna Reserve, is a five-bedroom plus study and club room, five-and-a-half-bath home with 4,971 square feet under air and 5,997 total square feet.

The five remaining one- and two-story floor plans range in size from 2,344 to 4,135 square feet under air and 3,144 to 4,980 total square feet. All homes can be customized to fit an owner's lifestyle and needs. A Builder Custom Homes Tampa build similar homes.

Sienna Reserve is 30 acres in size, but only 14 of those acres are being developed. The remaining 16 acres comprise the freshwater lake and nature preserve.

All purchasers at Sienna Reserve receive complimentary temporary privileges to all Tiburon Golf Club amenities, and Sienna Reserve homeowners are eligible to become members of the Tiburon Golf Club.

The Sienna Reserve sales center and models are open daily.

02 June 2016

Masonite Door Business Rides Housing Boom

Original Story: woodworkingnetwork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -  Masonite chose a great time to go public in 2013, as the housing market began heading straight up. The door manufacturer will likely find a warm reception next week when it presents at the Deutsche Bank Basic Materials Conference June 8, 2016 in Chicago. A Custom home builder in Tampa plans on attending the conference.

Frederick J. Lynch, CEO, and Russell T. Tiejema, CFO, will provide a status report and forecast, coming off a 13 percent rise in its latest quarterly results for the period ended April 3.

Net sales for that period increased $54.8 million, up 13 percent compared to the first quarter or 2015, reaching $489.3 million. Net sales would have increased 16 percent aside from exchange rates in Masonite's export markets.

Net income rose $48.9 million to $17.8 million - in other words, reversing a loss from the year ago period. Tampa custom homes are using these products.

Masonite operates 64 manufacturing and distribution facilities in 9 countries in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, with direct distribution to retail home center customers and direct sales to homebuilders and contractors; and two-step distribution through wholesale distributors. For retail home center customers, Mastonie's Dorfab facilities provide value-added fabrication and logistical services, including pre-finishing and store delivery of pre-hung interior and exterior doors.

North America net sales last year were $1.47 billion, 78.4 percent of the total. Europe, Asia and Latin America amounted to $356.2 million or 19 percent; and Africa 2.6 percent or $48.6 million.

“We were encouraged by the strong market conditions in the first quarter of 2016 during which demand increased across all reportable segments,” said Fred Lynch, President and CEO.  A Tampa custom home builder has My Lynch to thank for his masonite products.

North American residential net sales were $328.7 million, a 20 percent rise first quarter. Architectural net sales were $73.5 million, a 10 percent increase over the first quarter of 2015