Tuesday, September 25, 2007

General Update

As the King of England wrote in his diary on July 4th, 1776, "No news today".  This seems to be the case right now.  No news.  You may have noticed that there was no blog last week.  We forgot to inform you that we are going to an every other week schedule.
A couple of tidbits:
The courtyard housing project is going splendidly.  We have gained a new houseplan with 3 variations from it.  This should be showing up in our portfolio soon, right after the promised Edgewood.  The Creston is a 3 bed, 2 bath, 1 car garage 1320sf +/- townhouse.  Variations are made with different facades and bumpouts.  They are free standing units, but could certainly be attached without losing their personal charm.  We hope to eventually offer a 2 and 3 unit variation.
We are undertaking some small building projects in order to better understand how framing works in a real world setting.  These are by no means houses, but we are planning on an 8x12 shed and an outdoor kitchen.
Craftsman features are sucking us in further and further.  We hope to have a photo gallery soon of some great fixtures and craftsmanship that display this style.
We realize that there is a small problem with the website.  If you hadn't noticed, individual plan pages seem to scroll to the bottom of the page as soon as you click on their link.  The problem has been isolated, but fixing it may take a little time.  Please bear with us in the meantime.
We built a good neighbor style fence with our neighbors this past weekend.  The project went great, but we started brainstorming about other fence styles that would meet both the good neighbor and craftsman ideals.  A good neighbor fence is one that looks pleasant from both sides.  It may not make your grass look greener however.  We are contemplating fence and handrail designs that are beautiful but simple (a must in the craftsman genre).  We will post these on the website in the near future and have an idea page that you can glean from.
Until next time, istockhouseplans.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mind the Gap

Not the clothing outfitter. We are just musing about the current state of economic affairs, especially here in the Northwest. Some might call it a slump, others might say it's an economic depression. It's really just a balancing act as the normal trend is catching up to the abnormal growth from the past couple of years. No matter what you call it, it's still causing a problem. On our side of the country, home sales are experiencing record lengths of time on the market and builders are finding it darn near impossible to secure construction loans. Whose fault? Is it the banks that lent subprime loans? Is it the builders who created a glut of inventory? Maybe. Some of the banks have gotten their comeuppance by going out of business - too many foreclosures. Some of the builders are making do by scaling their profits down to a razor-thin margin, picking up remodels, or renting their unsold homes.
Obviously this affects us at istockhouseplans too. If you don't build, you don't need our plans. We can't guarantee that folks will buy a house designed by us, but we can guarantee several things:
  • Our plans are different and will at least make folks stop to look.
  • Our waste reduction policy means you should end up with less than a pickup truck load of scrap.
  • Our advanced framing details will save you thousands in material costs.
  • Our plans are cheaper.
We can prove our plans are cheaper. When you make your first order, type in the coupon code 'intro'. This will give you 20% off your first order of $300 or more. If you would like to apply the code to several plans, send us your wish list and we'll create a Buy Now button* just for you. You'll save 20% off the entire order, even if you order 100 plans at once. Remember, shipping is always free!
In the meantime, keep your cool and we'll ride out this undertow together.
*Please note that Buy Now buttons only allow one plan purchase at a time and will use up your intro coupon on a small $300 purchase when you really intended to purchase several plans at once.

*With our new Checkout interface this has become unnecessary.  Fill up your cart and use your coupon!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Some Random Thoughts

Happy back to school kiddos! Remember to keep it to 20mph in school zones.

The city of Portland, OR is running a design contest for courtyard homes. Check out this link and wish us luck on our entry.

We almost moved operations to a nice 2-acre parcel in the country, but the deal fell through. In the meantime, we were inspired by the the thought of the existing house burning down so we could rebuild based on the existing foundation. If it turns out any good, we'll present you with our design. It makes perfect sense to us, since excavation and concrete are two huge expenses in building a house.

Until next week, this is istockhouseplans signing off.