Energy savings bring award Bob Ward's design brought affordability to Woodlawn

Resource conservation

Building innovation prize honors methods of cutting costs

February 02, 1997|By Robert Nusgart | Robert Nusgart,SUN REAL ESTATE EDITOR

Bob Ward saw a need and filled it. He saw an opportunity to build affordable housing and capitalized on it. And last week he was rewarded for his efforts.

ClayBrooke, a townhouse and single-family community being built by Bob Ward Homes in Woodlawn, was honored last week with the "Building Innovation in Homeownership Award" by the National Partners in Homeownership. The award, given at the National Association of Home Builders conference in Houston, recognizes developers whose "construction techniques lower the cost of homebuilding."

The development was one of 40 housing projects across the country -- including three others in Maryland -- that were singled out for the award. Also selected were Dearbought by Ryan Homes in Frederick, New Colony Village developed by Corridor 1 LLP in Jessup, and Knight's Landing by Romack & Assoc. Inc. in Chestertown.

But ClayBrooke was special to Ward. Well known for his projects in Harford County, ClayBrooke represented Ward's first move into Baltimore County.

"We didn't have the name recognition that we have in Harford County," said Linda Veach, the company's sales and marketing director. "Everybody knows the name Bob Ward in Harford County, but in Baltimore County, they just didn't know it. So the idea that we were able to be successful here is more rewarding."

Said Ward: "We felt there was an opportunity there [in Woodlawn] and we had a certain price point that we didn't feel was being served by the existing projects."

Veach added: "It was an area that needed affordable housing because of the job proximity to Social Security. The starting price for these homes was $89,900, and that was considered lower than the average house in that area."

ClayBrooke, which began selling townhouses in November 1995 and single-family homes last October, was cited for its energy-efficient and resource-conservation design.

The homes are part of BGE's EnergyWi$e program, which requires them to meet certain standards. Among the standards are:

High-efficiency heating and cooling units;

Low-E windows, which reflect direct sunlight in the summer, but in winter allow lower-angle sunlight to filter through to add heat;

A blower door and infrared tests that determine how well the house is sealed and evaluates the effectiveness of wall and ceiling insulation.

Annual heating and cooling costs for the average ClayBrooke home are estimated at $580. Veach recognized that being in the EnergyWi$e program also helped potential homebuyers qualify more easily for an FHA mortgage.

"We're building in a neighborhood for moderate income or affordable housing," Veach said. "What the added energy efficiency allows is higher ratios when someone goes to obtain a mortgage."

Normal FHA ratios are 32/36. The first number is the percentage of income devoted to expenses excluding a mortgage. The second includes the mortgage. Veach said lenders usually will go 2 percentage points higher when an EnergyWi$e home is involved, thus making it easier to qualify for a loan.

There are other aspects that the organization cited in honoring Ward, including a sweat-equity program that gives the buyer a $2,000 credit (which can be used toward closing costs), while releasing the builder from doing the interior room painting. Also, there is a rent-to-buy program in which Ward will pay the difference between a buyer's former monthly rent and the mortgage payments for a year.

To date, 43 of 73 townhouses and three of 23 single-family homes in ClayBrooke have been purchased.

Pub Date: 2/02/97

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