Featured Story

Featured Stories

Do You Know

A Conversation With

In-Depth

In Remembrance

Observations

Another Hubbell Extreme Build provides exponential results.

If it hadn’t been for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, central Iowa’s nonprofit organizations wouldn’t be where they are today. That’s when Hubbell Homes got really involved.

“That first Extreme Makeover project with Ty Pennington back in 2006 was a great experience, but the property was nearly 90 miles away,” says Hubbell CEO Rick Tollakson. “Everyone involved in that was so proud of what we were able to do, we wanted to find a way to do something like that to benefit our local community.”

Since then, Hubbell has completed its own version of an extreme build about every four years: 9 Homes in 9 Days for 9 Families with Anawim Housing in 2009, Cabins for Campers at Easterseals Iowa in 2013, a brand-new Ronald McDonald House of Central Iowa in 2017, and now a new child development center at Camp Sunnyside.

“Rick asked me what was on my bucket list for the camp,” says Sherri Nielsen of Easterseals, “and I told him our Child Development Center was consistently maxed out. We were hoping for a 5,000-square-foot facility that could serve more than 60 children at a time—our current capacity—and still have space for some of the other services we need to provide.”

Tollakson would not settle for the basic necessities. “I’m famous for making things work with the bare minimum required,” Nielsen says. “But Rick kept asking what we really needed.”

By the time Tollakson and his people were done asking questions and working on plans, Easterseals was the recipient of much more than a basic building. “They designed a 13,000-square-foot building that doubles the number of children we can serve at one time,” Nielsen says. “And that made it possible for us to take the current facility and turn it into a space for our program supporting children and families in crisis.”

This year’s extreme build, which Tollakson expects to be his last as Hubbell CEO, kicked off on Friday, September 10, with ribbon cutting for the new Center on September 21. Between the 10th and the 21st, 72 organizations donated time, funds, and labor to complete the state-of-the-art facility. More than 200 volunteers were on hand to provide cleanup and other assistance as needed.

In addition, crews from McAninch Corporation prepared the site well in advance. “We’ve been working on the extreme builds with Hubbell since the ABC project,” says Doug McAninch. “Hubbell brought us in early on this one to do the behind-the-scenes work ahead of time, things like permits, grading, etc.”

During the weeklong build, McAninch’s team was on hand to deal with any issues that might arise, including providing fuel for all the machinery and completing sidewalk grading and sod grading. “I was out there for the kickoff,” McAninch says, “and by the next day they’d made so much progress the entire exterior was pretty much done.”

Like all the contractors and volunteers who partner with Hubbell on these builds, McAninch and his crew are proud to be involved. “McAninch has a multigenerational relationship with Hubbell that goes back more than 40 years. We continue to be in awe of what they do with these extreme builds,” he says.

“We learned early on that our industry is very generous,” Tollakson says. “When called upon, they’re eager to get on board, almost before we can finish asking. It ends up being a team-building opportunity for them, and they don’t have to commit a ton of time.”

As Tollakson describes it, these projects aren’t the most cost-effective way to build, but they’re very time-efficient once the project is actually under way. Planning for the Easterseals Child Development Center began more than two years ago, which may have alleviated potential supply chain problems.

“Because we complete the design and start working with our suppliers so far in advance, we had plenty of time to get everything here and stored ahead of time,” says Tollakson. “The only item that was delayed slightly was something we added on late. We’re putting in a playground, too, and that’s arriving just as we finish the build.”

Tollakson is planning to retire before long, and the company has already selected his replacement. “Giving back is part of who we are as a company,” he says. “The next CEO may have something else in mind instead of extreme builds, and he’ll make his own mark. But Hubbell will always be involved in community projects.”

Nielsen says, “Rick says I ask too small. He always thinks bigger and better. We couldn’t do half as much as we do without Hubbell and all the people who work on these builds. It just goes to show what you can accomplish when a community pulls together.”


Participating Vendors

  • A Kings Throne
  • Accoustic
  • Acme
  • AJ Gallagher
  • Al Carey Landscaping
  • All Star Concrete
  • Allender Butzke
  • Alliance
  • Allied
  • Aluminum Distrubtors
  • Aposto
  • Artistic Ironworks
  • ASM
  • Beisser Lumber
  • CapTrust Advisors (sponsor)
  • Catering DSM
  • Centurion Stone
  • Chocolate Storybook
  • Civil Design Advantage
  • CK Fairco
  • CKF
  • Clark
  • Commerce Bank
  • Community Business Lenders Service Company
  • Cook Plumbing
  • Currie Engineering Associates
  • Custom Installations- Ultravue
  • Cyd’s Catering
  • Des Moines AM Rotary Club
  • Diam
  • DSM Steel Fence
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • EggKing
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Elite
  • Famous Dave’s
  • Fareway
  • First Realty Cares
  • Fleck
  • FTP
  • Gateway Market
  • Golden Valley Supply
  • Great Caterers of Iowa
  • Great Southern Bank
  • Great Western Bank
  • Green Tech
  • Guns N Hoses
  • Heartland Door
  • Heartland Window
  • Heideman Drywall
  • Heritage
  • Hessen Haus
  • Howser Concrete
  • Hy-Vee Ankeny/Prairie Trail
  • IHOP
  • Iowa Total Care (sponsor)
  • ITA Group Foundation
  • James Hardie
  • Jimmy John’s
  • Johnny’s Hall of Fame
  • Jordison
  • KCP
  • Kinzler Construction Services
  • Kline Electric
  • Kohler
  • Krause Foundation
  • Krispy Creme
  • La Mie
  • Lakeshore Learning
  • Larry’s Building Services
  • Lohse Family Foundation
  • Lowry
  • Lumbermans Drywall and Roofing Supply/Certainteed
  • LWBJ
  • McAninch Corp.
  • McClure Engineering
  • McDonald’s
  • Moehl Millwork
  • Newton
  • Norwalk Ready Mix
  • Nyemaster
  • O’Halloran Family Foundation
  • Olive Garden
  • On the Border
  • Paragon IT (sponsor)
  • Parking Lot Specialities
  • PDM PreCast
  • PerMar
  • Petticord
  • Polk County
  • Raker Rhodes Engineering
  • Robert Half (sponsor)
  • Rosales Masonry
  • Rowdy
  • SCS
  • Shazam
  • Sherwin Williams
  • Sierra Pacific
  • Signarama
  • Starbucks
  • State of Iowa
  • Summit
  • SVPA Architects, Inc.
  • Taco Johns
  • Tesdell Electric
  • The Building Consultant
  • TKBC
  • Toyota of Des Moines
  • Triplett (sponsor)
  • TruTeam
  • Variety – The Children’s Charity
  • Viking
  • Vision Bank
  • Weinhardt Law Firm
  • Weise/DM Wall
  • Wolf
  • Wyckoff

Featured Story

Featured Stories

Do You Know

A Conversation With

In-Depth

In Remembrance

Observations

Houzz reveals top six emerging home design trends.

Houzz identified the top emerging home design trends based on the latest search insights* from our community of U.S. homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home professionals. The trends reflect a need for dedicated activity spaces within the home, a desire to bring the outdoors in, a requirement to create flexible interior spaces and a passion for luxurious colors and materials. Outside, people are getting creative with swimming pool styles.

Dedicated Activity Spaces

People have been relying on their homes to provide new avenues of activity and entertainment since the beginning of the pandemic and it shows in the emerging search trends we’re seeing for art studios (up nearly 10x), home bars and wine cellars (up nearly 4x) and home theaters, home gyms and home offices (up 3x, 2.5x and 2x, respectively).

Bringing the Outdoors In

The 2021 Houzz Kitchen Trends Report found that one in five homeowners are opening up their kitchens to the outdoors. That openness to nature and the role of greenery in our homes is a trend that seems to be accelerating. Searches for artificial plants and trees, as well as indoor pots and planters, are up 7.5x and 4.5x, respectively, since the same period last year. We are also seeing a significant uptick in searches for green kitchen cabinets, bathroom tile, accent chairs and even for bedrooms.

Living Room Refresh

The living room has always been an important gathering space within the home. As people have spent more time within it over the past year, they may be seeking inspiration to refresh the space, with searches for living rooms up 52 percent compared with the same period in 2020. Accent pillows and home accents in general have seen some of the most dramatic increases (up 51x and 25x, respectively), along with decorative accents, abstract paintings, display shelves and slip or chair covers.

Flexible Design

Many homeowners are turning to design options that offer more flexibility within the existing footprint of their homes. Searches for television armoires with pocket doors (up 23x), queen murphy beds (up 21x), and nesting side tables (up 20x), create dual uses for a room by creatively hiding them away when not in use. Swivel accent chairs (up 20x) create flexible definitions between rooms and daybed sets (up 9x) offer multiple uses.

Luxury Fabrics, Materials, & Colors

Trending fabrics, materials and colors are going glam with searches incorporating velvet, gold and crystal all jumping in Quarter Two, compared to Quarter Two 2020.

Swimming Pool Design

We’ve heard from pool professionals on Houzz that interest has been heating up over the past year. In Quarter Two 2021, searches for swimming pools and pool houses each more than doubled compared to the same period in 2020. More precisely, people are looking for specific pool styles, shapes and designs, with searches for pools with water features up nearly 8x and rectangle, lap, infinity, plunge and geometric pools all seeing a significant uptick.

Featured Story

Featured Stories

Do You Know

A Conversation With

In-Depth

In Remembrance

Observations

Erica Turner named Director of Marketing at HomeServices of Iowa.

Homes may be selling as fast as they appear on the MLS, but that has only put a bigger spotlight on the marketing challenges real estate agents and their customers are facing. Fortunately, Erica Turner loves marketing—and also loves a challenge.

In April Turner left a longtime marketing agency career to become the new Director of Marketing for HomeServices of Iowa, a division of HomeServices America. The full-service brokerage includes Iowa Realty, Iowa Realty Commercial, BHHS First Realty, Midland Title & Escrow, and Iowa Title Company.

Together with executive leadership, Turner and her marketing team are responsible for the development and execution of multichannel marketing and communication programs, including digital marketing and paid media strategies. Areas of focus range from executive communications to company initiatives, as well as digital marketing and content creation that tell great stories, generate listings, sell homes, and support the agent base with other one-off needs.

“I loved my previous job and the talented client and agency team I was part of,” Turner says. “But I was interested in a corporate environment and ready for a change. My client base, largely industrial manufacturing companies, was out of state. We were doing incredible work that I really enjoyed, but I was looking to create deeper connections with local organizations while continuing to challenge myself to grow both personally and professionally.”

Her travel schedule may have lightened, but the projects, messages, and audiences she’s balancing in her new role are just as delicate.

“I’m new to real estate, but I understand strategic marketing. Oddly enough, having previously supported clients in the construction segment has served me well in this role. From understanding the new construction and build time lines to being aware of supply chain and workforce issues and just generally the importance of building authentic relationships with customers and project stakeholders, it all relates,” she says.

“And then you keep learning and dig in deeper. I’m excited to continue to expand my knowledge of this evolving industry while bringing new tools and digital strategies into play for the brokerage and its sales associates.”

The marketing team’s goal, she says, is to empower sales associates with marketing support and resources while providing value to home buyers and sellers through a full-service approach, from listing to closing and beyond. Turner’s team oversees marketing for a large variety of HomeServices of Iowa initiatives.

That means print and digital marketing, the weekly Iowa Realty television program, a luxury virtual tour system, foundation support, online and collateral content, and execution of corporate meetings and branding, signage, and strategic planning.

“For every project, every communication, we’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘Who is our target audience? How do we reach them? What matters to them? What tools do we have at our disposal to do our best work?’ We have to balance all of that—the right message, at the right time, both offline and online,” she explains.

Even in a market where inventory is low and demand is high, Turner emphasizes the importance of supporting agents’ efforts by providing ongoing and visible value while nurturing relationships internally and externally.

She says a differentiator for the brokerage is the level of support it provides for its agents and their listings, from training and tech support to marketing, including signage and professional photography. But her team sees part of its role as coming alongside those agents to help them develop additional marketing skills and utilize resources that work uniquely for them. “Ultimately, we want our agents armed with tools and material to highlight and differentiate our core service offering while communicating their individual strengths as agents in the best way possible,” she says.

Those same goals apply to how Turner envisions relationship building with each agent the marketing team reaches within the company.

“We can’t manage every marketing touch point an agent has with their sphere,” she says. “But we can create scalable content and consult at an individual level. This means thinking outside the box, brainstorming creative marketing ideas, exploring targeting methods for niche listings, and maximizing use of their own social media channels with engaging, video-rich content and helpful tips.” In the end, she says the focus is to improve the level of support and access agents have to new ideas that will drive their individual business forward.

With multiple companies, a large agent base, statewide presence, and direction coming from a real estate powerhouse like HomeServices of America, that can be an overwhelming prospect. Add to that the rapidly changing worlds of real estate and marketing combined, and Turner’s team has a lot to balance, too. “These brands, Iowa Realty in particular, have real history and presence in the market,” she says. “Long-standing marketing efforts and the brand heritage are a large part of who we are and how we came to be.”

As the organization looks to reach a diverse group of home buyers, including an increase in millennials wanting and buying homes in the coming years, she says it must find the right balance of traditional and digital communication tools and tactics. “We’ll continue to highlight our core values and bring those to life through a balance of authentic storytelling, support for local events and nonprofits, and traditional marketing while also increasing our focus on website/user experience, with SEO (search engine optimization), Google campaigns, and lead generation,” she explains.

Ultimately, “balance” sums up the challenge for Turner as Director of Marketing: balancing the needs of the various internal clients, the messages for numerous external audiences, and the rapidly changing market. “To many, change can feel like loss,” she says. “But it’s also an opportunity. And we’re up for that challenge.”

Featured Story

Featured Stories

Do You Know

A Conversation With

In-Depth

In Remembrance

Observations

Homeowners’ intent to renovate is strong for 2021; credit card usage declines.

Home renovation spend has grown 15 percent in the last year to a median $15,000, according to the tenth annual Houzz & Home survey of more than 70,000 U.S. respondents. Higher budget projects (with the top 10 percent of project spend) saw an increase from $85,000 or more in 2020, compared with $80,000 in the two years prior.

Kitchen projects are the most popular among renovating homeowners, and while median spend has been flat on these projects for the past three years, investment on major remodels* of large kitchens jumped 14 percent to $40,000 in 2020 compared with $35,000 in 2019. The study also found that the busy renovation market will continue in 2021, with 56 percent of homeowners planning to renovate this year, the highest share since 2017 (52 percent).

“While the pandemic caused initial concern for the residential renovation industry, many homeowners finally had the time and financial means to move forward with long awaited projects in the past year,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz senior economist. “This pent up demand, along with other long-standing market fundamentals such as accumulated equity, will empower homeowners to continue investing in their current homes rather than face skyrocketing prices in the housing market.”

With homeowners home-bound due to the pandemic, the share who reported that they had wanted to pursue a home renovation all along and finally had the time increased by six percentage points in 2020 (44 percent versus 38 percent in 2019), and remains the top renovation trigger. Wanting to do it all along and finally having the financial means also rose (as reported by 36 percent of homeowners compared with 34 percent in 2019). A quarter of homeowners claimed to have renovated instead of moving to find a home that fit their needs because it was the more affordable option (25 percent). Surprisingly, remodeling to adapt to recent changes in lifestyle only increased by two percentage points in 2020 from 2019 (18 percent versus 16 percent in 2019).

While cash remains the leading form of payment for home renovations (83 percent), the share of homeowners opting to finance their projects with credit cards fell significantly to 29 percent (from 37 percent in 2019). Tax refunds gained popularity among renovating homeowners in 2020 (10 percent), especially when funding small projects up to $5,000.

Gen Xers Step Up Spend

While Baby Boomers (ages 55–74) have historically led in both renovation activity and spend, Gen Xers (ages 40–54) narrowed the gap in 2020. Median spend for Baby Boomers, who represent 52 percent of renovating homeowners (down from 55 percent in 2019), remained flat at $15,000. Gen Xers now account for 32 percent of renovating homeowners (up from 30 percent in 2019) and increased their median spend to $14,000 (from $12,000 in 2019). That said, the top 10 percent of both generations increased their investment in 2020, but Baby Boomers did so at a more significant rate (from $80,000 to $90,000 versus $82,000 to $85,000 among Gen Xers). Median spend among Millennials (ages 25-39), who represent 12 percent of renovating homeowners, remained unchanged in 2020 ($10,000), with the top 10 percent investing $65,000.

Outdoor Projects Heat Up

While interior room remodels remain the most common projects (68 percent), outdoor areas have increased in popularity since 2018, with 2020 showing a jump of six percentage points (57 percent) among renovating homeowners. Improvements to outdoor spaces were directed towards the grounds with beds or borders and lawns seeing significant growth in popularity (35 and 20 percent, respectively). Exterior upgrades, such as decks and porches or balconies also increased in popularity in 2020 (14 and 12 percent, respectively), with homeowners investing 25 percent more in deck and porch upgrades ($2,500 and $1,500, respectively) compared with 2019.

Smaller Spaces See Higher Spend

Homeowners are investing in smaller areas that may once have been considered a luxury and are now a necessity. Demand for home office projects jumped four percentage points (14 percent) and were 10 percent more expensive in 2020 ($1,100). Median spend on closet upgrades also saw a significant jump of 43 percent to $1,000.

Homes Get Smarter

Smart home technology purchases continue to rise in popularity, with streaming-media players and TVs experiencing the greatest increases (14 and 12 percent, respectively) compared with 2019 (10 and seven percent, respectively). A larger share of renovating homeowners purchased smart technology products for their outdoor spaces than the previous year including, security cameras, light fixtures and speakers or sound systems (19, seven and three percent, respectively).

Homeowners Hire More Than One Pro for Help

Nearly seven in eight homeowners hired professional help for their renovations in 2020 (87 percent), typically engaging more than one professional per project. Among professionals hired, specialty service providers were the most common (49 percent), followed by construction and design-related professionals (36 and 18 percent, respectively).

San Jose Increasingly Outspends the Pack

San Jose, California leads the list of top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest median spend on renovations in 2020 ($30,000). While San Jose has maintained this top position since 2017, homeowners there are increasing their renovation spend, widening the gap between the number one and number two positions in 2019 and 2020 (from $5,000 to more than $8,000). Homeowners in California and Florida—San Francisco ($21,250), Los Angeles ($20,500), San Diego ($20,000) and Miami ($20,000)—made up the list of top five by renovation spend in 2020.

Featured Story

Featured Stories

Do You Know

A Conversation With

In-Depth

In Remembrance

Observations