The BuildZoom blog

Top 25 California contractors (2014)

We compiled a list of the most active California contractors, by looking at those contractors that obtained the most permits from California building departments in 2014.   This list considers all contractors regardless of classification type, including home builders, HVAC specialists, plumbers, general contractors, etc. The total number of building permits captures different types of projects. Sometimes, permits are missing project valuation, we controlled for this by calculating average valuation as a function of total project valuation and the permits that did include project valuation. After considering the top 25, a few things stand out: Solar surge – 5 of [...]

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Top 25 California general contractors (2014)

This list considers general contractors that specialize in discretionary home improvement projects, e.g. kitchen, bath, or other room remodels/additions for both single and multifamily housing; firms that mainly focus on a narrow facet of home remodels or repairs (e.g. roofs, doors, windows, etc)  were omitted. The total number of building permits captures different types of projects. Sometimes, permits are missing project valuation, we controlled for this by calculating average valuation as a function of total project valuation and the permits that did include project valuation. The average valuation is omitted in the case that the project valuation was missing completely from the permit data.  [...]

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MLS Wars: Zillow Group… ListHub…

On April 7th, the freshly minted Zillow Group lost its single-most important source of home sale listings when ListHub terminated its agreements with both Zillow and Trulia, raising concerns that their joint coverage would be devastated. The termination of the agreements marks the latest skirmish in the war between Zillow Group and Move.com, which owns both Realtor.com and ListHub. In the highly competitive real estate space, the player with the most complete listings has an enormous advantage. If consumers discover that Zillow and Trulia fall substantially short of Realtor.com in this respect, no amount of brand loyalty will keep them [...]

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Solving the delayed AngularJS UI rendering server-side with Rails

We’ve now been writing some awesome AngularJS code at BuildZoom for nearly a year. It’s helped us release great features faster and provided for a significant ease of maintenance over the previously used “classical” jQuery. One issue that became apparent was the delay in rendering the templates and data client-side. The extra round trips for various JS libraries and the initialization of JavaScript was notably slower than server-side rendering. Yet all the pros were too strong to simply revert the use of a client-side framework. While using AngularJS, our core stack technology has remained Ruby on Rails. I’ve previously mentioned [...]

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What does it cost to build a FedEx distribution center?

Permits for a new FedEx distribution center being planned in Louisville, KY give us some insight into the costs of setting up these crucial delivery hubs. The plans call for a 303,458 square foot facility (the entire campus will be spread out on approximately 46 acres) on land purchased by an industrial development company in December 2014 for $6.9 million. Numerous FedEx distribution centers around the U.S. are this same size – for example, Memphis, TN and Oceanside, CA – so we can think of this Louisville project as “typical.” Here’s a look at the costs, from the ground up: [...]

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Explaining The Economist’s stat about new housing permits in Houston

In a recent article on Houston’s growth, The Economist wrote:  Paradoxically, perhaps the city’s biggest strength is its sprawl. Unlike most other big cities in America, Houston has no zoning code, so it is quick to respond to demand for housing and office space. Last year authorities in the Houston metropolitan area, with a population of 6.2m, issued permits to build 64,000 homes. The entire state of California, with a population of 39m, issued just 83,000.  The source of the numbers is the US Census Building Permits Survey, which estimates the number of new housing starts across the US based [...]

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Top 25 California home builders (2014)

Historically speaking, the housing market is one of the most significant indicators of the economy’s health. Growing demand for home buying is reflective of rising consumer confidence. This week we decided to take a closer look at the home builders driving residential growth in California, by listing those issued the most permits from California building departments in 2014.   This list considers home builders that focus on new residential construction, including both single and multifamily housing; firms that mainly focus on home remodels or repairs were omitted. The total number of building permits includes different types of projects (not just [...]

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LegalZoom goes solar

In March 2013, LegalZoom purchased a 206,000 square-foot building in Northwest Austin. Austin is a great city and there are a million reasons a company would want to set-up an office there; in LegalZoom’s case, there were a million-and-one: the City of Austin actually entered into a partnership agreement of sorts, to provide LegalZoom with an annual development grant of $20,000 in exchange for meeting certain hiring goals as well as investing at least $1,000,000 in tenant improvements and another $750,000 into “Machinery and Equipment,” which seems like an odd requirement for an online company.  A quick glance at the [...]

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The homeowner’s guide to kitchen and bathroom remodeling

Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can be a daunting undertaking for many homeowners, we hope to take the mystery out of the experience and help guide you through the many stages of a typical remodeling project. Planning A good first step before diving into the fun part of designing your dream bathroom or kitchen, is figuring out what you will be allowed to do. Local zoning laws or condo boards may have strict regulations. Check with your town’s building department or online, for more information. Assess your goals for the project; do you plan on living in the house for [...]

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Top California commercial building contractors (2014)

Last month we compiled a list of the Top 25 US Solar Contractors from 2014. This month we decided to take a closer look at the contractors driving commercial growth in California, by studying those with the most building permits from 2014.   This list is compiled of firms that work primarily on new commercial construction. We omitted firms that mainly focus on tenant improvement or commercial remodeling, as determined from their general permit data type. Sometimes, permits are missing project valuation, we controlled for this by calculating average valuation as a function of total project valuation and the permits [...]

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8 surprising bathroom ideas for 2015

Bathrooms are undoubtedly one of the trickiest spaces to get right in the home; limited space and the need for functionality restrict our design options. But when an experienced professional takes charge, even the most improbable ideas can lead to wonderful results! Here are some of our favorite, unexpected bathroom ideas that we’ve seen so far this year. Natural brick Bricks: They’re often dark, busy and can make a space seem crowded, but done right they can turn an ordinary bathroom into the home’s talking point. Tabernacle Homes has used a large, white-washed brick to create a room that’s rustic [...]

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How much does it cost to build a new Whole Foods?

A new Whole Foods opened on January 9, 2015 in Boston, MA. Piecing together building permits since May 2014, we were curious: how much does it cost to build a new Whole Foods? The store is a key feature of the luxury condo development “The Ink Block” being constructed on the former site of the Boston Herald headquarters. (Check out the Ink Block property page at BuildZoom for more details.) The new store occupies 50,000 sf of space at the base of the 131-unit condo building. Permits indicate that the entire building, including the apartments, grocery store, and underground parking, [...]

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