Here's a great way for house/design/decorating geeks to enjoy these waning days of summer (or are these the budding days of fall?): Check out the 7th Annual AIA Minnesota Homes by Architects tour Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 20 and 21) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour, which will set you back $20 ($10 for a single home visit or $15 if you buy online), features several houses throughout the Twin Cities metro. For more info, a map and descriptions of the houses, click here.
Here's how the folks from CityDesk described their entry, shown above and below:
"Located on the site of a former Independence, MN farmhouse this compact modern home takes formal and material cues from utilitarian agricultural structures. The planning of the home emphasizes connections between interior spaces and the surrounding rural landscape. The compact floor plan is designed to shape a courtyard patio that extends the kitchen space outdoors via a nearly twenty foot wide floor to ceiling patio door opening. The primary first floor living space is rotated toward a tree-lined creek to the southeast. A floating wood stairway (that connects all three levels of the home), along with the second floor master bedroom, feature large window openings that frame views of the natural wetland occupying the property to the east. Like the utilitarian barns and silos visible on surrounding properties, the home utilizes a palette of industrial yet warm materials. Exposed site cast concrete walls and weathering steel corrugated siding express a practical beauty and textural richness. A shed like massing shelters the structure from north-west winter winds and opens living spaces toward sunny views to the south and east."
This isn’t your average remodeling project. During the next couple of weeks, a federally funded team of contractors and building scientists are transforming a modest house in north Minneapolis into a demonstration house that will be used to educate builders, contractors and housing program managers about the latest construction technologies.
The house is owned by Urban Homeworks, which is also providing some of the labor. Building scientists from the University of Minnesota are among 10 teams from across the country that were selected by the Department of Energy’s Building America program to explore new ways of increasing the energy efficiency and durability of houses. The NorthernStar Team will focus on three key elements of the house.
The foundation and roof are being retrofitted with external insulation and moisture management systems that don’t require replacing the roof decking or excavating the foundation. And the house will get an innovative new high-efficiency space and water heating system.
The house, which will eventually be sold, is at 1401 16th Av. N. in Minneapolis. If you have questions about the techniques you can stop by the house, or call Tom Schirber, a fellow at the U’s Cold Climate Housing Center, 651-276-0670 Here's a pic taken this week by Shirber showing crews that are working with Urban Homeworks tearing off the roof in preparation for a new external insulation system.
The U.S. Census Bureau said this morning the number of new housing starts, including all building types, during August fell 14.4 percent from the previous month largely because fewer apartments and other kinds of multifamily housing were built. That report doesn't include metro-level data, but earlier this month we reported that the construction scene in the Twin Cities showed a similar decline in annual and month-to-month permit activity during August due largely to fewer permits for apartment buildings, which accounted for 26 percent of all new units compared with a 50 percent average for the year.
Nationwide last month there was only a slight decline in the number of new single-family houses, which were down 2.4 percent compared with the previous month. Total starts were 8.0 percent higher than August of last year, and single-family starts were 4.2 percent above the year-ago pace.
Brad Hunter of Metrostudy said that new home production has been gyrating month-to-month, but is likely to end "flat." That's despite the strongest builder confidence in nine years, as reported earlier this week by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. Hunter said that increase is a sign that home buyers are adjusting to higher home prices. They're also feeling more confident about their personal finances.
This chart from the Builders Association of the Twin Cities shows construction activity for the Twin Cities metro using data from the Keystone Report.
St. Paul-based NorthstarMLS and American Home Realty Network (AHRN), which operates NeighborCity.com, have come to a confidential settlement over a long-standing copyright dispute.
The NorthstarMLS, which manages property listing data for agents in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, brought suit against San Francisco-based AHRN in April 2012 alleging the group violated its copyright rules by publishing photographs and other data relating to real estate listings on AHRN’s NeighborCity.com, a referral site that included agent profiles and transaction-based "agent scores."
A preliminary injunction that was issued in 2012 by the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota said that AHRN should discontinue “any unauthorized copying, display, use, and/or public distribution” of NorthstarMLS’s photographic works and the agent remarks and public remarks in NorthstarMLS’s database.
The judge has yet rule on Northstar’s motions to exclude expert reports of AHRN and NorthstarMLS 's motion for summary judgment on counterclaims made by AHRN. Here's some background on the topic.
Steven John will replace Mary Lee Blaylock as president and CEO HomeServices Relocation. Blaylock will become senior vice president and general manager of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. HomeServices Relo is a division of Minneapolis-based HomeServices of America, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway and parent company of Twin Cites-based Edina Realty.
John was mostly recently senior vice president of client services for RELO Direct where he was responsible for all relationship management, service and accounting operations, vendor management and technology. Before that he was executive vice president of client services for Prudential Relocation and has worked for several Fortune 500 companies in various management roles including finance, budgeting, operations and strategic planning. In his new role John will be responsible for expanding the size, scope and footprint of HomeServices Relocation, providing operational and financial oversight and serving as chief liaison for new and existing clients.
Blaylock is a veteran of the local market. She started in sales with Edina Realty in 1992 and in 1999 became vice president of Edina Realty Relocation. In 2004 she was named president of HomeServices Relocation, which now includes operations centers in Winston-Salem, NC, Philadelphia, PA, as well as at the Minneapolis headquarters. At California Properties, Blaylock will focus on improving internal processes and infrastructure, and will provide guidance and direction to the company’s 57 sales offices and more than 2,400 agents.
Here's what Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO, had to say about the changes: “Steven brings a wealth of relocation experience and industry relationships to HomeServices Relocation. We are very pleased that he is joining HomeServices and have tremendous confidence in his ability to bring HomeServices Relocation to new levels of success. Mary Lee’s focus on the customer, her ability to work cross-functionally within the organization and her drive to succeed is without parallel. With her exceptional background of leadership and management success Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties is well-poised for continued growth and success.”
Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of the “The Splendid Table,” and her husband, Frank, are ready to downsize, so they're ready to sell.
The eight-bedroom brick house was built in 1911 and is on a double lot in Crocus Hill neighborhood in St. Paul. And yes, it has a big kitchen, including "Babe," a six-burner, 17,500-btu Wolf range she bought with her first royalty check.
Here's how Kasper described the house during a 2008 visit with my colleague, Connie Nelson: "It's a bastardized neo-classical with a 1950s rambler - complete with a picture window - stuck on the front. It's wacky. And big. There are parts of this house I haven't seen in three years."
Here's what attracted her to this house? "We bought it in part for the dining room. When it's gussied up and there are candles everywhere, it's all about romance. And it was the cheapest house in the neighborhood."
Her favorite room: "My kitchen is home to me. It's a working kitchen and most working kitchens aren't very glamorous. When you're in a kitchen every day, you start to understand what's necessary and how some things that look good aren't going to work."