Archive by Author

LIFEhouse™ Wins International Building Award

The LIFEhouse™ at Newport Cove received a Best of 50+ Housing Award from the National Association of Home Builders during the recent International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla. The Gold Award in the Best Universal Designed Home category was presented to Susanne and Beth Tauke for a concept house they built near Antioch in suburban Chicago.Read about the award:

NFL, HBA Help Build Home For Wounded Vet at Newport Cove

Sometime next year a wounded warrior from the Chicago metropolitan area will get the keys to a new home, thanks to a team of local organizations and individuals.The Chicago NFL Players Association, the Chicago area home builders associations, an anonymous donor, the Newport Cove community in Lake County and an architectural school have joined together to create a home for a military veteran wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq.

“We want to give back,” said Reggie Smith, retired linebacker and president of the NFLPA’s Chicago chapter, in making the announcement today, Veterans Day. “It’s our way of thanking the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country.”

The home, a LIFEhouse™ featuring universal design principles, will be located in Newport Cove, a waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch. “It’s a lovely setting,” said Rita Unzner, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago. “The house is being designed to accommodate the special needs of the wounded veteran. It will not only be functional, but also beautiful, a place where the vet and his – or her – family can heal and grow.”

“We hope it will be the first of several homes our groups create,” she said.

She added that many members of the three Chicago area home builders associations (HBAGC, Northern Illinois HBA and Fox Valley HBA) will be providing products and labor for the venture.

“The wounded veteran recipient will be chosen from recommendations by local veterans associations, VA hospitals and communities,” Unzner said.

New American Homes, the developer of Newport Cove, will construct the house. “The home building industry has been suffering in this economy,” said Susanne Tauke, company president. “This is a way of turning lemons into lemonade. Thanks to a very generous donation of seed money and partners like the NFLPA and home builders groups, we are able to work together to create something that will be a wonderful gift for a wounded veteran.”

Newport Cove, an award-winning planned community of 67 homes located on 42 waterfront acres along Bluff Lake on the Chain O’ Lakes, includes a private 100-slip marina and eight-acre waterfront park.

Tauke’s company has some experience in creating universally designed homes. Two years ago New American Homes teamed up with the Department of Architecture, State University of New York at Buffalo, to create the first LIFEhouse™, a home exemplifying universal design standards. The university is internationally renowned for its IDEA Center (Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Research) and its pioneering work in accessibility and universal design.

The LIFEhouse™, located at Newport Cove and open for viewing, is a 1,992-square-foot ranch home with three or four bedrooms and three baths plus a full lower level. It has received several awards and been featured at the American Institute of Architects 2011 National Convention, the National Endowment for the Arts/American Institute of Architects 2010 Diversity Leadership Meeting and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s 2011 Social Change lecture series.

The wounded warrior home will be another LIFEhouse™.

This is the second project in which the local NFLPA and builders associations have worked together. Last spring they joined to help renovate Chicago’s AMI Kids, an alternative school for troubled children.

“Our home builders want to use their skills to do something valuable for the communities we live and work in,” said Unzner. “We hope to encourage people to join with us to build many projects like this wounded veteran house.” Asked what is needed to complete the home, she mentioned cabinets, plumbing fixtures and carpeting, among other products, then pointed at the Newport Cove marina and said, smiling, “We’d also love to find someone to donate fishing poles – or a boat!”

Housing Shows Strength With Summer Activity

Housing starts made a big jump in June, reports the Department of Housing and Urban Development, reflecting increasing consumer interest in residential real estate in a time of record-low interest rates.
The recently-released HUD statistics covered the month of June. Nationwide, starts were up a hefty 14.6% from May. In the Midwest, the numbers were even better, as starts increased by 25.3%.
Brian Wesbury, chief economist for First Trust Bank right here in Illinois, said the month was “the beginning of a recovery in housing” that “will last for many years in the future.”
Even better, national starts beat the consensus expectation of economists by nearly 10%, showing that the momentum behind the activity is building.

“Today’s numbers are an encouraging sign that builders are responding to improving consumer interest in new homes and apartments by gradually replenishing their extremely thin inventories in places where demand is evident,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen.

Remember, Newport Cove is offering 10-year hybrid ARM loans, with the chance to lock in your first two years at just 2.5%. As consumers return to housing, prices will rise, so now is the time to make sure you get the most bang for your monthly payment buck.

Today’s Luxury Home: Smarter, Smaller, More High-Style

Today’s luxury homes are not necessarily bigger. They’re just better. While the size of American homes is declining, the amenities buyers expect are increasing.

It’s all about life style. Buyers want more than just four walls. They want fun, fitness, security, technology and maybe, as in the case of a development like Newport Cove on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch, a place to park their boat.
According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of new single-family homes completed in 2010 shrunk, measuring an average of 2,377 square feet, down about three percent from 2009. By 2015, the association expects the average home size to be 2,152 square feet. After expanding for nearly three decade, the average size peaked at 2,521 square feet in 2007.

So, if the McMasion is “over,” what’s in?

Let’s start with technology. Home technology systems for internet, entertainment, security, monitoring heating and cooling system, and appliances are part of any new luxury home. Ovens that “think” and refrigerators that keep track of grocery needs can be part of the equation.

Energy efficiency is in. Foam insulation, high-efficiency furnaces and appliances, LED bulbs and low-E glass insure a comfortable home with low energy bills.

Security is important. State-of-the-art home security systems are popular. Many luxury buyers want to know their home will operate “off” the grid, so they are installing whole-house generators.

Universal design is another hot button. Features such as elevators, extra wide passageways and large showers ensure that the buyer can live in his or her home for a longer period of time.

Fitness is part of a luxury lifestyle, so expect today’s upscale home to have a spa bath, exercise facilities, a sauna or steam room.

And don’t forget fun – a media area or game room is de rigueur in the new luxury home.

There also are more places for food. Besides the kitchen, there may be a mini refrigerator and built-in espresso machine in the master bedroom, an outdoor kitchen or a fully equipped bar (with refrigeration and microwave) in the recreational area.

Finally, the new luxury home is more likely to be in a community planned around a golf course, a marina or even a race car track.

Newport Cove, a luxury planned community near Antioch, is centered around a lakefront life style. The 42-acre community will eventually be home to 67 upscale residences. Forty percent of the site is open space, including a private eight-acre waterfront park extending along the community’s 1,800 feet of lakefront.

Newport Cove has a private marina with more than 100 slips on Bluff Lake, part of the Chain O’ Lakes. With some 7,100 acres of water, 15 lakes and 45 miles of river, this “Key West of the Midwest” accommodates activities for every water-lover: boating, swimming, tubing, waterskiing, fishing, even hunting. Chicagoland’s playground for more than a century (it is about an hour’s drive from the big city), the Chain boasts two State Parks as well as many great boat-in (or drive-to) restaurants and “hot spots”. Newport Cove’s marina is a stone’s “skip” from several.

Award-winning builder New American Homes is building luxury semi-custom and custom homes in the community. Newport Cove offers three distinct “neighborhoods”: the Waterfront (21 waterfront sites reserved for custom homes with 2,500 to 4,200 feet above grade and all with walk-out basements), the Estates (15 custom homes sized from 2,200 to 3,500 square feet) and the Cottages (31 smaller homes, 1,600 to 2,300 square feet in a carefree enclave where the grass is mowed, landscape pruned, sidewalks shoveled and driveways plowed).

All Newport Cove homes have the same coastal-style look: siding, shingles and stone exteriors with white trim and cottage style landscaping. Prices start at $290,000 and go to about $1 million.

Models are open noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment.

LIFEhouse Highlights Advantages of Universal Design

Kitchen offers many lighting levels

In our last post, we described some of the more common ways in which many Americans face daily physical difficulties. Now we’ll show you a few of the aspects of Universal Design that can make home living much easier for millions of people. Newport Cove’s LIFEhouse, located on our waterfront development on the Chain O’ Lakes and currently open for public viewing, contains dozens of features like these:- Multiple layers of light, especially in active areas like the kitchen. This means that, in addition to overhead lighting, there are lights under cabinets, shelves, etc., giving those with low vision better ability to see what they’re doing. The LIFEhouse has seven different kinds of lighting in its kitchen.

LIFEhouse kitchen and hearth room

– Another improvement on the visual aspect of a home, this time with regard to safety, is a combination of simple, common-sense improvements to stairways. Falling down the stairs is the most frequent household accident, and can be extremely dangerous. To help prevent falls, the undersides of stairway railings are equipped with small lights which are activated by motion sensors any time a person approaches. Additionally, the stair treads themselves are colored in two alternating tones, making it easier to distinguish each edge.

– What if going up or down stairs at all becomes difficult? The natural response for most people would be, “Install an elevator.” The LIFEhouse already has one.  But, elevators are expensive, and most houses aren’t built with the potential for such a major renovation in mind. Good planning solves that problem: When designing a home, stack closets on each floor directly above and below one another, so that a natural space for an elevator shaft already exists. Then, should the need arise, a system can be installed with little change to the structure of the building itself.
– Rather than installing traditional round doorknobs, levers are used instead, allowing those with muscle weakness, arthritis or a physically damaged hand to easily open doors.
– Wiring for audio systems that better distribute the sounds made by electronic equipment are built in for those with hearing difficulties.
Those are just a few of the ideas that go into Universal Design, turning a home into something that works with its owner. Visit the LIFEhouse at Newport Cove to see more. It is open noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment. Call 847.726.2727.

Universal Design House Makes Life Easier

Most houses are built for people who are healthy, people with good vision, great hearing and four working limbs. But how many of us in the course of our lives experience some sort of physical problem – a broken leg, bad eyesight or worse? A new trend in home building is addressing these issues, working to create homes that serve a greater number of people for a longer period of time. Architects have labeled this sort of planning Universal Design.

LIFEhouse kitchen and hearth room

 Newport Cove recently opened a home that is an example of Universal Design. The Newport Cove LIFEhouse offers a number of features which make a house more livable, yet do not detract from a pleasant, homelike environment.  The LIFEhouse is a collaboration between custom builder New American Homes and the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), University at Buffalo – State University of New York.

When people think of living in “accessible” housing, images of wheelchairs and false limbs come to mind. But many of us suffer from physical impairments that are not as obvious. According to research that went into the Americans with Disabilities Act, several of the most common impairments are things that affect everyday life, even though they have little to no outward signs. Here are a few examples:- Bad vision, 2.8 percent of all ADA claims: At times this can mean nothing more than slightly blurry vision that’s easily corrected with glasses or contacts. But it can also mean poor peripheral vision, or a limited ability to see anything that’s dimly lit.

– Hearing impairment, 3 percent of all ADA claims: In addition to complete deafness, reduced hearing or imbalanced hearing, when one ear performs better than the other, is a problem for millions.
– Back/spinal injury, 19.1 percent of ADA claims: While paralysis is included in this category, so are many non-paralyzing injuries, including damage to the muscles of the back.
In our next post, we’ll show you some of the ways that Universal Design will revolutionize the way you live in your home.

Warren Buffett Bets on Housing Rebound

Famed investor Warren Buffett is betting on housing… literally.

Perhaps replaying a scene from a classic movie, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO has made a Trading-Places-esque $1 bet with former Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag that unemployment will fall below 8 percent before the next presidential election due to a strong housing rebound that will breathe life—and jobs—into the economy.

Buffett emphasized that while his bet rests on the job market, the true key is real estate. “I’ve got a bet with [Orszag about unemployment],” he said. “But… that’s because I think housing will come back before that. If I’m wrong about housing, I lose the bet.”

Buffett elaborated on Friday, telling Bloomberg Television that “he sees nothing that indicates any kind of double dip,” adding that he believes the real estate recovery “could begin relatively soon.”

Don’t miss out on your chance to bet with Buffett. Mortgage rates are at all-time lows at Newport Cove, and the only way to avoid losing a lot more than Peter Orszag’s dollar is to lock in those rates now.

HUD Secretary Says Bubble Is Over

Not only does the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development believe that it’s “very unlikely” that there will be any more significant drops in housing prices, he also told CNN on Sunday that the recovery in housing prices could begin as early as the end of the summer.

With Newport Cove's special financing, this Stillwater model initially costs less than $1,400 per month for principal and interest on an 80 percent loan.

Additionally, Secretary Shaun Donovan noted that home sales have increased over six of the past nine months, and that the number of homeowners in default is declining, suggesting that the popping of the bubble has bottomed out.

 “In the long run, it’s a good time to become a homeowner because it’s so affordable today, compared to where it’s been for generations,” said Donovan.
 He’s right, and nothing’s more affordable than Newport Cove’s 10-yer hybrid ARM loan, with the first two years locked in at a ridiculous 2.5 percent interest, and the next eight locked in at under 4.5 percent interest. There’s no better time to take advantage of ultra-low mortgage rates. Make sure you’ve put yours into writing before it’s too late.

Blarney Island, An Entertainment Destination On The Chain O’ Lakes

Feel like a party?  There always seems to be one at Blarney’s. . .

Located in the middle of Grass Lake in Illinois’ famous Chain O’ Lakes, Blarney Island is one of the few bars in the country that’s only accessible by boat. (A sister bar, Port of Blarney, is on the “mainland” for those who prefer to stay on solid ground. A shuttle runs from the “port” to the “island”.) Once a small operation known best for the women’s underwear hanging from its rafters, Blarney Island has grown into a prime party destination, earning its nickname, “Key West of the Midwest.”

Legend has it that the island itself was wagered in a poker game a century ago, when Jack O’Connor won it from “Shorty” Shobin. At the time the land wasn’t even an island, but the construction of the Stratton Dam flooded the surrounding area in 1939. Since then, ownership has changed a number of times, and the bar that sits atop the island has grown with the popularity of the Chain.
Today, the bar runs a regular shuttle service between the island and Port of Blarney, ferrying revelers to frequent live concerts, bikini contests and themed events. The bar also hosts weekly boat races in the summer, with a “regular season” that culminates in the top four boats racing at the end of August.Blarney Island, is just a 10-minute boat ride away from Newport Cove’s planned community and its 67 homes, 100-slip marina and eight-acre waterfront park.  If boating, water skiing, gardening, barbecuing and fishing doesn’t complete your summer fun at Newport Cove, Blarney Island provides plenty of convenient entertainment.

A few photos of recent events:

Time To Own, Not Rent

Does the state of the housing market make it smarter to rent than to buy?

 In a word, no. In three words, not at all. In fact, as the financial crisis has played out, the costs of buying have dropped dramatically, while the costs of renting have surged as demand for rental units has exploded. According to the New York Times, if you plan to live in the same place for at least six years, your average savings if you buy instead of rent will be over $10,000. That’s nearly $2,000 per year. In fact, even if you own a home for just four years, you save money:
Don’t want to use a national average? No problem. Trulia, an online hub for real estate information, has gathered plenty of data on the total costs of renting versus owning. And the results for the Chicago metropolitan area put it in the green for choosing to buy a home over renting a residence:
The numbers are clear—if you want the most bang for your buck, it’s time to buy low. And few properties offer the chance to get in on premier waterfront housing like Newport Cove, where owning land on Illinois’ “Chain’o’Lakes” provides some of the best upside potential in the country.