Category Archives: History

Affordability Slips as Home Values Strengthen

Today’s photos are those of Archival Designs‘ Luxury House Plan, Avanleigh Estates.

Nationwide housing affordability slipped several notches as recovering markets witnessed significant firming of home prices in the second quarter, according to theNAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released on Aug. 13. spacer

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In all, 69.3% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of April and end of June were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $64,400. This is down from the 73.7% of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the first quarter, and the first time that the measure has fallen below 70% since late 2008. Rising home prices signal the improving health in housing markets, and the median price of all new and existing U.S. homes sold in this year’s second quarter, at $202,000, was well ahead of the second quarter 2012 median price of $185,000. “Together with rising mortgage rates, this contributed to affordability slipping to the lowest level in more than four years,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

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Most and Least Affordable Metros Ranked

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While Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, was rated the nation’s most affordable major housing market for a fourth consecutive quarter, a newcomer – Utica-Rome, N.Y. – claimed the title of most affordable smaller market in the latest HOI.

Other major U.S. housing markets at the top of the affordability chart in the second quarter included Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y., in descending order.

Meanwhile, smaller markets joining Utica at the top of the affordability chart included Kokomo, Ind.; Cumberland, Md.-W.V.; Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, N.J.; and Bay City, Mich.

For a third consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. held the lowest spot among major markets on the affordability chart. Other major metros at the bottom included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; in descending order. All of the least affordable small housing markets were in California in the latest quarter. At the very bottom was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, followed by San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Salinas, Napa and Santa Rosa-Petaluma.

Builders More Confident for Fourth Consecutive Month

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Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose three points to 59 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for August, released on Thursday. This fourth consecutive monthly gain brings the index to its highest level in nearly eight years. Of the HMI’s three component indexes, the one gauging current sales conditions rose three points to 62, while the one gauging sales expectations in the next six months gained a single point to 68 and the one gauging traffic of prospective buyers held unchanged at 45. Additionally, all but one region saw a gain in its three-month moving average HMI score in August. The Midwest and West each posted six-point increases, to 60 and 57, respectively, while the South posted a four-point gain to 54 and the Northeast held unchanged at 39. Commenting on the latest survey, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe explained, “Builder confidence continues to strengthen along with rising demand for a limited supply of new and existing homes in most local markets.”  However, he added, “This positive momentum is being slowed by the ongoing headwinds of tight credit and inadequate supplies of finished lots and labor.”

Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 to 14,814 sf, and Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!


Design Principals

We have been designing Luxury Homes since 1983. Over these years our theory for designing Luxury Homes has not changed.  Principal Archival Designer, David Marc Loftus, the founder of Archival Designs Inc., was a man of vision.

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David used classical styling principles and features in every home plan he created. He quickly garnered a reputation in the home plan design industry as the designer with the best innate sense for classical architecture’s proportional harmonies.

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The growing luxury home building community agreed that the proportions of a Loftus’ designed home led to a feeling well-being and serenity evident on crossing the threshold. World-renowned, century-old home planner Garlinghouse Company named David Loftus Best New Designer in 1998, and the Archival Designs reputation for outstanding home plans and luxury home plans still stands today.

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The Archival Designs guiding principle is designing classical residences emphasizing symmetry through proportional harmony. Through intensive study of history’s great classic homes, David realized that the principles of proportion were critical to outstanding home designs and luxury home plans that stressed uplifting elegance as well as comfort and relaxation. He strongly believed house design proportions should adhere to the principles in Leonardo da Vinci’s study of human proportions. Thus, a rectangular room’s length should be one and a half times its width, and its ceiling height dimensionally proportional.

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Proportional Harmony Works Is An Essential Element of Every Home Plan We Create . . . No Matter its Size. Elegance, spaciousness, functionality and exquisite proportion in luxury home plans is not exclusive to only the largest and most opulent homes. Archival Designs uses the same classical styling principles in all of its house plans, from 1400 square feet up to its 13,000 luxury home plans and castles.

His timeless designs are still recognized today as top luxury home plans. One of the key factors in creating a quality design that is successful is by generating the most clear and complete program list of the clients wants and needs, which is then used to guide the design process. Using our theories of proportion, space, and scale Archival Designs then creates a design that is timeless, livable and comfortable, adding value and inspiration for years to come.

The more information you give us, at Archival Designs Inc., about your lifestyles, the better floor plans we can design.

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Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 to 14,814 sf, and Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

Supreme Court Backs Land Owners on Conditions Tied to Permit Approvals

Today’s photos are those of Archival Designs Luxury Starter Castle House Plan, Mira Vista.

In a major victory for NAHB’s members and property rights advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25 issued an opinion that gives property owners ammunition to fight certain concessions that are often required as a condition for approving a permit to develop a piece of land. This excellent outcome overturns a Florida Supreme Court ruling that would have given governments expanded power to force unreasonable exactions upon developers, and your national association’s involvement helped make it happen.

  • NAHB Involvement

Leading the fight on behalf of property owners and acting to ensure that the interests of NAHB members were appropriately represented, NAHB headed a coalition of 16 prominent real estate and business organizations in filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in which we explained why it is neither necessary nor fair for governments to extort money from property owners who wish to use their land. This meant that through NAHB efforts, organizations representing more than 70% of the U.S. GDP weighed in on the case. Our influence also went beyond the amicus, because out of 38 cases that the Supreme Court cited in its Koontz decision, 10 of those were cases in which NAHB was involved. This kind of participation is what it takes to establish positive legal precedent, and it’s further proof of the value proposition of your NAHB membership.

  • The Ruling

Since the late 1980s, a permit condition has not been considered constitutional unless it has a “nexus” to a governmental purpose and it is “roughly proportional” to the impacts of the project. This is known as the Nollan/Dolan test, named after two Supreme Court cases. The test protects property owners from over-zealous land use permitting officials, but until now there were two outstanding questions about it — namely, 1) does it apply even if the permit is denied, and 2) does it apply if the government’s condition is a payment of money? In both instances, the Supreme Court answered in the affirmative. So in the first scenario, if a property owner refuses to agree to outrageous conditions in a permit and the government subsequently denies that permit, the government cannot later argue that there was no constitutional violation because the permit was never granted. The Supreme Court also ruled that the Nollan/Dolan test applies equally whether the government demands that the land owner give up real property or money as a condition of obtaining a permit. Tellingly, the court used a form of the word “extortion” five times to describe the manner in which governments demand property from developers before granting approvals.

  • Impact

This landmark Supreme Court decision effectively denies the government the ability to force unreasonable exactions upon developers in exchange for a permit approval, and it means that federal, state, and local regulators will need to exercise more caution to ensure that permitting demands – including monetary demands – are proportionate to the project at hand. The bottom line is that this is an outstanding victory that will help our members for years to come. NAHB’s legal team has put together a quick synopsis of the case and distributed it to HBA executive officers so that they can help spread the good news.

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NAHB Issues Action Alert on Labor Shortages
With immigration reform legislation now moving through Congress, NAHB sent out a Supreme Court Backs Land Owners on Conditions Tied to Permit Approvals to all NAHB members on June 24 urging everyone’s help in contacting federal lawmakers. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), passed by the Senate on June 27, addresses many elements advocated by the home building community, including enhancements to the protection and security of our nation’s borders, a workable employment verification system that honors the direct employer-employee relationship and the current “knowing” liability standard, and a responsible solution to bring the current undocumented population out of the shadows with an opportunity to earn legal status. However, NAHB remains concerned that the new W Visa program in S.744 unfairly discriminates against the housing industry during a critical juncture in its recovery, and we are pushing for much-needed changes to the final legislation (a bill now pending in the House more appropriately addresses this issue). Equipped with NAHB-provided talking points, our members have been reaching out to lawmakers to alert them about labor shortages that have harmed their businesses and slowed the housing recovery by causing delays in new-home completions and even cancelled projects. These delays and production bottlenecks are increasing the cost of building a home, which in turn is raising costs for home buyers. To fix our labor shortages, Congress must create a program that would allow more immigrants to legally enter the construction workforce when we can’t find American workers to fill the jobs that are needed.

Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaus, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 to 14,814 sf, and Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed int eh grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, and one could be just for you!

Equinoxes and Solstices Explained

Yesterday was all about the Vernal Equinox, simply when the center of the Sun is in the same plane as Earth’s Equator.   Here is a brief, more in-depth description of “equinox” and “vernal”.

An equinox occurs twice a year (around 20 March and 22 September), when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are about equal length.

At an equinox the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator (i.e. declination 0) and ecliptic intersect. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: classically, the vernal point (RA = 00h 00m 00s and longitude = 0º) and the autumnal point (RA = 12h 00m 00s and longitude = 180º). By extension, the term equinox may denote an equinoctial point.

The equinoxes are the only times when the subsolar point is on the Equator. The subsolar point (the place on the Earth’s surface where the center of the Sun is exactly overhead) crosses the Equator moving northward at the March equinox and moving southward at the September equinox. (Since the sun’s ecliptic latitude isn’t exactly zero it isn’t exactly above the equator at the moment of the equinox, but the two events usually occur less than 30 seconds apart.)

The equinoxes are the only times when the terminator is inclined 90° to the Earth’s Equator (while at solstices, that inclination reaches its minimum of 66.5°, corresponding to 90° minus Earth’s axial tilt).

Another meaning of equinox is the date when day and night are the same length. Times of sunset and sunrise vary with an observer’s location (longitude and latitude), so these dates likewise depend on location and do not exist for locations close to the Equator. To avoid this ambiguity the term equilux is sometimes used in this sense.

UT Date and Time of
Equinoxes and Solstices on Earth
Event Northward
Equinox
Northern
Solstice
Southward
Equinox
Southern
Solstice
month March June September December
year
day time day time day time day time
2010 20 17:32 21 11:28 23 03:09 21 23:38
2011 20 23:21 21 17:16 23 09:04 22 05:30
2012 20 05:14 20 23:09 22 14:49 21 11:12
2013 20 11:02 21 05:04 22 20:44 21 17:11
2014 20 16:57 21 10:51 23 02:29 21 23:03
2015 20 22:45 21 16:38 23 08:20 22 04:48
2016 20 04:30 20 22:34 22 14:21 21 10:44
2017 20 10:28 21 04:24 22 20:02 21 16:28
2018 20 16:15 21 10:07 23 01:54 21 22:23
2019 20 21:58 21 15:54 23 07:50 22 04:19
2020 20 03:50 20 21:44 22 13:31 21 10:02

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Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 14,814 sf.  Our Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from  Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

Today’s photos are those of Archival Designs’ Large and Beautful Tuscan Castle, Caserta

Builder Confidence Holding Mostly Steady in February

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes slipped a single notch to 46 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for February, released this week. This marks the continuation of a virtual “holding pattern” for the index following solid gains over the past year, and can be attributed in part to ongoing uncertainties about job growth and consumer access to mortgage credit but also to the issues that builders are confronting now that demand for new homes is strengthening, including rising materials prices and limited availability of labor and lots in certain markets. That said, the index remains near its highest level since May of 2006, and home building is expected to continue on a modest upward trajectory this year, according to NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Looking at the individual components of the HMI, even with a one-point dip, the index gauging current sales conditions held above the critical 50 mid-point for a third consecutive month in February. Meanwhile, the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months rose by one point, to 50, and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers slipped four points, to 32.  Three-month moving averages for each region’s HMI score were mixed in February, with the Northeast up three points to 39 and the West up four points to 55 and the Midwest and South each down two points, to 48 and 47, respectively.

Starts Fell, But Residential Permits Hit Four-Year High in January

A double-digit dip on the typically volatile multifamily side brought nationwide housing starts down 8.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 units in January, according to government data released on Feb. 20. Meanwhile, issuance of permits for new-home construction rose 1.8% to 925,000 units – the quickest pace since mid-2008. Drilling down to the specifics, single-family housing starts were virtually unchanged in January from an improved pace in the previous month, registering a 0.8% gain to 613,000 units. This was the strongest pace of single-family housing production since July 2008.

Meanwhile, those volatile multifamily housing starts declined 24.1% to 277,000 units following a big gain in December. Regionally, combined single and multifamily housing production gained 4.1% in the South and 16.7% in the West, but fell 35.3% in the Northeast and 50% in the Midwest in January.

In the same month, nationwide issuance of residential building permits rose 1.9% on the single-family side to a seasonally adjusted, annual pace of 584,000 units and rose 1.5% on the multifamily side to a 341,000-unit pace. Both were the strongest permit numbers seen since mid-2008. Permitting activity rose in three out of four regions in January, with a 10.1% gain registered in the Northeast, a 1.4% gain registered in the Midwest and a 1.1% gain registered in the South. The West posted virtually no change in permitting activity, with a 0.5% decline.

Commenting on the latest numbers, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said, “Today’s report is quite positive in that it shows continued upward movement in single-family housing production and permitting activity for both single and multifamily units.”

Meanwhile, the decline in multifamily starts reflects an adjustment from an unsustainably large gain in December, and is consistent with the up-and-down swings that are often associated with that sector.

Today’s photos are those of Archival Designs‘ Luxury House Plan, Westover.

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Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 14,814 sf.  Our Newport classic house designs range from 1500 sf to 5000 sf. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!