This is the Transparency that Smaller Builders need to Embrace

And it’s too bad that it takes one of their clients to be bold and recognize this simple, simple fact.

Aren’t Hauser and Churchill and Stonehaus all going broke and filing for bankruptcy? NO. They are simply reorganizing and downsizing. This has been a difficult time for everyone, but sales are still happening in Belvedere. This project has get loads of traffic on open house days, Thursday through Sunday. It gets loads of traffic other days, too. Lots of people come walking through to see the house sites. And we’ll permanently be there soon, sitting on the front porch, sipping our ice tea! Feel free to say hi if you see us there, and ask more questions!

Inspire confidence through transparency and honesty. Acknowledge your financial issues (if you’re a builder in this market and say that everything is A-OK and hunky dory you’re most likely delusional or a liar) and encourage buyers to join you in the experience.

When you’re marketing a community like Belvedere, where much of the draw and value lies outside the four walls of the house,

Where you live should reflect your values. Belvedere is a place built around the idea of embracing community, healthy living and environmental stewardship. In our neighborhood, there’s a place for all families with townhomes, cottages, and single family homes to suit the family of one or four. (ed. note: what about families of 5+?)

… it takes more than building houses to encourage inspiration and confidence. It takes engagement of the consumers as well. Inspiring confidence also takes follow-through on promises: (bolding mine)

Belvedere started out as a dream about building a community the right way. Not a developer’s dream but a dream shared with the community about how they wanted to live. Together we breathed life into that dream and Belvedere was born.

I wrote a post in January of this year titled “I hear rumors all the time;” the rumors that are so prevalent in this volatile market can do far more damage than a CEO candidly stating where his company stands.

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9 Comments

  1. Keith July 31, 2008 at 09:02

    Jim,
    Perhaps I am missing something. This blog appears to be written by a client, not the “CEO candidly stating where his company stands.”
    Rumors are exactly that, rumors. But why does this post by a person building a home provide transparency for any of the three firms you mention?

    Reply
  2. Jim Duncan July 31, 2008 at 09:14

    Keith – Thanks for the comment. The blog is written by a client building a house.

    takes one of their clients to be bold and recognize this simple, simple fact.

    First, the person building the home is addressing the rumors based on conversations with the builders.

    Second, builders need to address rumors, especially when they reach the level that these particular ones have.

    Rumors propagated by those who have only pieces of the respective stories can do great damage to one’s reputation and business. If the principals were to address them head-on, they would at least be able to stand on honesty and transparency rather than allowing third- and fourth- and fifth-hand information to spread and take on lives of their own.

    Reply
  3. Andy K August 1, 2008 at 07:13

    It appears Belvedere is just another tool being used to greenwash people. It is tiring to keep reading how green this community is when the builders are clearing land, regrading, affecting streams, and continually pushing the legal limits of land stewardship.

    I hope poeple realize marketing a community as green is completely different than building a green community.

    Maybe there should be a definition of what is green and what is BS marketing…..

    Reply
  4. Frank Stoner August 1, 2008 at 10:50

    I think I can address at least two concerns, at least as they relate to Stonehaus. First, we are not going bankrupt. While times are challenging for everyone in the real estate industry, we are fortunate to have enough financial resources to stay afloat. We have, however, had to downsize and find ways to cut costs in the short run . It’s easy to have liquidity problems in our business because so much capital is generally tied up in real property that not particularly liquid so it’s not uncommon to have plenty of assets but not plenty of cash. The current market and banking environment add to the challenges. Nonetheless, Belvedere is on sound financial footings and when the market improves I think Belvedere will be an early beneficiary.

    It’s easy to get tired of the barrage of “Green” promotion that’s going on these days. Everyone wants to appear green because it’s the PC thing to do. I wouldn’t argue that there are lots of shades of green. The greenest thing to do is leave land completely undisturbed but that’s not practical in a growing community. The challenge is to keep growth in a small a footprint so we can protect as much rural land as possible and to make sure that the land we do disturb is restored and managed in a way that minimizes the post-development impact on the environment. That’s our mission at Belvedere and we’re achieving it in many different ways. Our LEED Neighborhood certification sets clear performance standards. Earthcraft home certification does the same thing at a home construction level. In both cases, the results are measurable. Our land plan demonstrates a clear commitment to compact, walkable design that will allow the County to accomodate more growth inside the urban area. We have cleaned up and continue to clean up rural dumps located around the property that have been polluting groundwater and littering stream valleys with junk for years. We’ve adopted very progressive stormwater management and filtration systems. These commitments may not meet everyone’s definition of “green” but we’re confident that we’re doing the right things, even when we don’t have to.

    Reply
  5. Jim Duncan August 4, 2008 at 06:19

    Thanks so much for the clarification, Frank. To see the power of your comment, Google builders that are going bankrupt in charlottesville virginia; this post comes up first, with your comment acknowledging the current market yet stating “Belvedere is on sound financial footings and when the market improves I think Belvedere will be an early beneficiary.”

    Reply
  6. Kate White August 4, 2008 at 06:55

    I can attest to Stonehaus’s commitment to doing things “right” although it may not appear that way. The land was really a mess when they started. It had been used as an illegal dump for years. The clean up has been really remarkable. Also, while they had to clearcut and burn, they researched other options and made decisions that were the best economically. It is not that they didn’t care. It was a difficult decision. I listened to them talk after they made the decision.

    We have to start somewhere is creating a community that has the values that Belvedere espouses. It is easy to be critical and see the mistakes or the ways the project is not totally “green” or even discordant with what they say. I see what they have done right and what they want to do, part of that of course is up to the residents. Since I am a homeowner and a business owner, I plan to help keep the community come as close to achieving its goals as possible. That is what I signed up for. And I have talked with other residents who plan to do the same. Stay tuned.

    Reply
  7. Andy K August 11, 2008 at 19:53

    It all comes down to what someone thinks green means. I guess I have a more stringent idea than the normal Belvedere resident. A house doesn’t get close in my opinion without a grey water system, PV system, and passive solar orientation, to name a few big characteristics.

    Have any Belvedere houses been oriented for passive solar efficiencies with proper overhangs and the optimal ratio of glazing on each side of the house? That would be a big start in my very non-professional opinion. Also, are any houses using geothermal heating and cooling systems?

    Building houses that consume MUCH less energy and water than the status quo is my definition of green.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: It All Depends on What you Consider Green | Real Central VA

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