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Evolution at Howe Lumber

The Massachusetts dealer changes with the times as it serves pros and DIYers.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Family owned and operated since 1965, Howe Lumber has continued to transform its business while adapting to changes in the LBM landscape.

Located in East Brookfield, Mass., the 53-year old business consolidated back to a single unit operation after it decided to close its Main Street retail store two years ago. But Howe Lumber’s core location carries more than 40,000 products and has embraced the hardware store side of the business.

Catering to contractors and builders, Howe Lumber pursues the retail side while embracing walk-in and DIY customers. The dealer has also expanded its offerings to include grills and firepits.

An emphasis has also been placed on its kitchen and bath showroom, with Howe’s design team growing in recent years.

Lumber and high-end boards remain a core component to the Howe Lumber philosophy, however. More about the company, including co-owner Scott Norrie’s take on the business, can be read at Telegram.com.

 

 

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For something old, LP adds plenty of new

LP Building Products materials used in extensive remodel of Minneapolis Victorian home.

BY HBSDealer Staff

LP Building Products was recently part of remodeling project that breathed new in a Victorian era home.

Stewart and Linda Herman’s net-zero house in Minneapolis, Minn. received an extensive makeover with Marc Sloot, senior associate at SALA Architects, choosing LP SmartSide Smooth Texture Lap Siding, Trim and Fascia to preserve the home’s historic aesthetic. The move ensured the durability needed to resist Minnesota’s harsh winters.

With the Hermans’ goal of preserving the traditional aesthetic in mind, Sloot sought alternative products to those he’d used in pervious projects.

“I saw LP SmartSide siding and asked the industry professionals’ opinions on it. They were all really positive in the things they had to say about LP SmartSide.” With this, Sloot decided to use LP SmartSide Smooth Texture Lap Siding, Trim and Fascia for the project,” Sloot says.

One of the ways Sloot strove for net-zero energy was through better insulation.

To increase the insulation, the entire outer “skin” of the home was removed. At that point, SALA needed to re-side the entire home. For architects like SALA interested in environmentally friendly builds, LP SmartSide products offered a responsible choice since they are sustainably sourced from Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) materials.

Additionally, LP SmartSide products delivered a sought-after look that would embrace the historical look of the home, according to Sloot. “By using LP SmartSide siding, we could embrace and enhance the beauty that was already there,” he said.

The project was completed in Spring 2017 with the Hermans saying that their remodeled home has gone beyond their expectations, in part through the use of LP SmartSide engineered wood siding products.

“What we achieved is a 100% traditional look. It looks like a brand new 1907 house,” Stewart said.

 

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New home sales drop to 8-month low

Sales soar 36.8% in the Northeast but tumble 13.4% in the West.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Sales of new homes in June fell 5.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 631,000, the lowest level since October 2017, the Commerce Department reported today.

New home sales had risen 6.9% this year. The latest figures are also 2.4% above the June 2017 estimate of 616,000. A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed.

Regionally, the Northeast saw the biggest growth with sales surging 36.8% last month. But new home sales fell 7.7% in South, dropped 5.2% in the West, and saw the biggest decline in the West with a 13.4% drop-off.

The median new house price fell 4.2% to $302,100 in June from a year ago. The average sales price was $363,300.

Last month there were 301,000 new homes in the market, up 1.7% from May. This represents a 5.7-month supply at the current sales rate. The supply is a little more than half of the level of homes reached during the housing market’s boom in 2006.

In response to June sales numbers, NAHB Chairman Randy Noel pointed to tariffs and a possible trade war as a catalyst for the decline.

“Uncertainty caused by tariffs and the talk of trade wars are making home buyers more cautious, and builders are taking note of this situation,” said Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. “Not only are consumers and builders concerned about the current lumber tariffs, but also the next round of proposed tariffs on a number of goods and services.”

NAHB Chief Economist said that while this is the lowest annualized sales pace since October of last year, the silver lining is the 6.9% increase in year-to-date sales compared to last year.

“This indicates solid demand for new home construction,” Dietz said.

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