Follow the Construction of an Architect’s Innovative Home

On a small plot of land near Long Island Sound, construction of The Next Great American Home has started, featuring energy-efficient construction that will withstand storms at less cost than traditional home-building.

Architect Leigh Overland designed the project, where he and his wife will live, to showcase the newest and most consumer-friendly construction techniques. Progress on the house can be seen online, along with descriptions of methods and materials.

Unlike the usual home-building project, the public is invited to witness the various stages of the build and learn about how to construct houses that save money and will adapt to climate change in an affordable way. The construction timetable will be fast-paced, fun and educational.

“This project will offer a multi layered, sensory experience for everyone who visits the building site,” Overland said. “Every sense will be engaged, and it will enhance the experience of architecture that most buildings don’t have. We will demonstrate that, thanks to its progressive preservation approach, this home will transform the way we build and interact with the environment.”

The most obvious break from traditional construction is Overland’s use of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) instead of wood framing.

ICF consists of hard-foam forms filled with concrete to create the exterior walls of the house. ICF cuts energy bills by up to 70%, and the accompanying air regulation system makes the building healthier by preventing entry to pollen and mold.

The concrete walls make it stronger and much quieter than a wood-frame home and additional features — which can be easily employed on other new buildings — will protect it from severe storms and floods. Overland designed the home with many features to improve sustainability, including triple-paned windows and long-lasting roofing and exterior elements that withstand all types of weather.

More than 50 contractors and consultants have agreed to work with Overland to construct the house and provide customized finishes and features. The goal for the team is to make innovative connections to the home-buying public and the construction industry.

The property is located in an existing neighborhood in Fairfield on Ash Creek. It is scheduled to be completed in early winter.

Leigh Overland holds licenses in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and has practiced for more than 40 years. He has incorporated ICF into his work for the past eight years. has won several awards, and was asked by ABC’s “Extreme Home Makeover – Home Addition” to be the architect for the Connecticut home that aired Oct. 14, 2007. His experience includes hundreds of residential alterations, additions, and new homes, as well as commercial projects including the Waterview, Riverview & Candlewood Banquet Facilities, Waterbury Federal Teachers Credit Union, Wells Fargo and David Lerner’s Investment Regional Headquarters, veterinary hospitals, health spas, St. Elizabeth’s Seton Church, and many well-known restaurants.

Contact him at 203-794-9001, or .

Press contact: Cara Mocarski,


Photo Credit: Secundino Paulino


Architect Leigh Overland is all smiles now that the foundation and walls for The Next Great American Home on Ash Creek in Fairfield are being constructed. Instead of wood framing, he and his wife are using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF).


A close up view of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) at Architect Leigh Overland’s new home that over 50 area contractors are working on. This energy-efficient construction costs less than traditional home-building, can withstand storms, and features healthier indoor air quality.


By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Employee turnover, the loss of good employees, no matter how low that rate is, significantly takes away from your bottom line because it is costly and it reduces productivity. Reducing turnover significantly reduces those replacement expenses.

How much does turnover cost? You have to include lost productivity, lost opportunity cost, (you can’t be spending your time on getting new customers and new jobs while you’re interviewing and training a new employee) and recruitment costs and while there are many variables, research indicates that even for entry level person of say $30,000 in compensation, the replacement cost can be as high as 40% $12,000.e? st can behigh aselyth youh additional things ree

“80% of employee turnover stems from mistakes in the hiring process.” Harvard Business Review

Every contractor has turnover expenses. No employee stays forever. But turnover expenses can be better managed and reduced.

Those who are satisfied with their bottom line, as it is, or believe that these replacement costs cannot be reduced, will maintain their status quo and get by.

Here are six building blocks for improving employee retention by reducing unnecessary turnover.

  1. Targeted candidate recruitment. To make a good soup you need to start with the right ingredients so it is important to clearly define the perfect candidate for your unique needs. Search efforts then need to be designed and carefully targeted to source a pool of those ideal candidates.
  2. Effective interviewing skills. Some contractors are not skilled in the art of the interview and focus too much time on the company and the interviewer. 80% of the interview should focus on the candidate using prepared questions to determine not only the candidate’s abilities and how they fit the requirements of the position, but their unique needs and goals.
  3. Preparation of a unique and acceptable job offer. When you have the right candidate you need to seal the deal. More than just money, it needs to be communicated how accepting your offer will mesh with the candidate’s unique goals in all of their areas of their life.
  4. A comprehensive on-boarding process. This is much more than providing a company employee manual. It is a comprehensive process that starts with day one, then week one, then month one, then year one and beyond to insure a smooth and permanent assimilation into the team and their job. You want to avoid having the new candidate go home after their first day and wonder, “What was I thinking when I took this job?”
  5. Effective management skills. Being an effective, positive leader who is authentic and candid, and provides the investments of ongoing training, tools, techniques and resources necessary to enhance the employee’s development, productivity, satisfaction and retention.
  6. Effective motivating practices. Making it a planned policy to catch employees “doing things right” and providing regular encouragement, helping them to achieve their personal and professional goals, will not only enhance their productivity but increase employee engagement and retention.

If you short change any one of these six building blocks, you diminish the likelihood of getting to the important goals of increasing employee productivity and reducing unnecessary turnover and retaining your key employees.

I provide unique consulting for clients who desire to increase their employees’ retention rates and reduce turnover rates, helping them develop their Six Building Blocks of Employee Retention practices. For an initial consultation call me at: 203-386-8062 or email your request for “retention” to:

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
Certified Executive Coach, Consultant and Trainer
Author, "Organizing Your Life" and "The Productivity Handbook"
Productivity Institute
Personal Productivity Solutions to Leverage Your Impact
127 Jefferson St.
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 386-8062
(800) 969-3773
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Lower Mortgage Rates Push Housing Affordability to Highest Level in Three Years

With mortgage rates at a three-year low and a healthy job market, housing affordability rose to its highest level in three years in the third quarter of 2019, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released today.

In all, 63.6 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of July and end of September were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $75,500. This is up from the 60.9 percent of homes sold in the second quarter of 2019 that were affordable to median-income earners and slightly higher than a first quarter 2019 reading of 62.6.

The national median home price remained steady at $280,000 in the third quarter, flat from the previous quarter, but a jump from the first quarter when the median price was $260,000. At the same time, average mortgage rates fell from 4.07 percent in the second quarter to 3.73 percent in the third quarter, reaching a three-year low.

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Builder Confidence Hits Yearly High in September

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose one point to 68 in September from an upwardly revised August reading of 67, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Sentiment levels have held in the mid- to upper 60s since May.

Builders’ optimism in recent months is being fueled by low interest rates and solid home buyer demand. However, the trade dispute with China is a growing headwind for the industry, both raising the cost of construction inputs and holding back demand in parts of the country that rely on the manufacturing sector.  NAHB’s latest Home Building Geography Index shows that home construction in manufacturing areas started weakening in the last quarter of 2018.

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The Case Against Exclusionary Zoning

The Case Against Exclusionary Zoning

In a new policy paper, Michael Stegman, a senior housing policy fellow at the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets, argues that the collective impact of decades of layering exclusionary zoning and land use controls is not just higher housing prices. These regulations, he says, are also a powerful contributor to declining rates of economic mobility and productivity growth, and widening disparities in the wealth of white and black Americans.

While having local roots, exclusionary land use practices have clearly become a national problem that Stegman says requires bold national action.

Read his paper, Eliminating Exclusionary Land Use Regulations Should be the Civil Rights Issue of our Time, which can be found at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies website.

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 Grant received from the National Housing Endowment will seek to help

impact the local skilled labor shortage.

Fairfield, CT, July 29, 2019 – The Home Builders & Remodelers Association (HBRA) of Fairfield County received a $2,500 grant from the National Housing Endowment with the purpose to expand student knowledge of career paths in the skilled trades. The association has teamed up with JM Wright Technical High School in Stamford, CT to provide opportunities to help match up employers with prospective employees.

Research conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows a scarcity of labor remains an important headwind for home builders and the entire construction industry. The median age of construction workers in Connecticut is 44, which is among the highest in the nation.

The grant will in part support an event planned for early February 6, 2020 to bring together members of the HBRA of Fairfield County and students to discuss opportunities in the different trades and what each career path holds. Scholarships will also be awarded to students who need tools or supplies for their new position or help with transportation costs to get to the job site. Scholarship funds can also be awarded for continuing education or certifications in the trades.

“The skilled labor shortage and aging workforce in the construction industry is challenging for our members but it is also affecting housing affordability nationwide. The partnership with JM Wright is critical to ensuring we are training the next generation of carpenters, plumbers & electricians. Hopefully this partnership will yield more of our members hiring students and showing the next generation there are great jobs available in our industry that don’t require 4 years of college” said Jackie Bertolone, Executive Officer of the HBRA of Fairfield County.

Principal of JM Wright Technical, Dr. Phyllis Bartoli released the following statement: “JM Wright Technical High School holds our students to high standards so that they can achieve their personal best in both academics and the trades.  The partnership that has developed between JM Wright Technical High School and the HBRA of Fairfield County recognizes the power of students with the necessary skills to become critical thinkers and productive citizens. This power is strengthened and advanced through the cooperative relationships with businesses and industry in the local community of Fairfield county. In addition to the development of interpersonal skills, the students are well-prepared for post-secondary education, including apprenticeships and immediate productive employment.”

HBRA of Fairfield County is a not-for-profit organization representing and advancing the interests of the home building, remodeling and land development industries in Fairfield County.

For more information or to register, call the office at (203) 335-7008 or e-mail: To learn more about the HBRA organization, visit:

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on President Trump’s Housing Affordability Executive Order

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., attended today’s signing ceremony at the White House and issued the following statement after President Trump signed his executive order on housing affordability:

“NAHB applauds President Trump for making housing a top national priority. With housing affordability near a 10-year low, the president’s executive order on this critical issue underscores that the White House is ready to take a leading role to help resolve the nation’s affordability crisis.

“Given that homeownership historically has been part of the American dream and a primary source of wealth for most American households, the need to tackle ongoing affordability concerns is especially urgent. As we celebrate National Homeownership Month, we must ensure that homeownership remains in reach for younger and future generations. This can be achieved by providing access to affordable rental housing and growing the inventory of for-sale housing, particularly at the entry-level.

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Rent Control Legislation Heats Up Amid Affordability Concerns

Rents for apartments and single-family homes are rising nearly as fast as home prices. As already high rents climb higher, frustrated renters may move further away from employment centers or look for smaller apartments.

But that doesn’t solve the larger problems of low supply for a growing number of renters and would-be renters choosing to remain in their parents’ homes.

Exacerbating the issue is increased legislative interest in rent control — which, rather than addressing affordable housing issues, often creates more challenges, including reduced supply of available units and reduced income to states and municipalities because of slowed or halted development.

Last year in California, a statewide rent control initiative was narrowly defeated, but the issue remains on the legislative agenda. And many additional cities and states are exploring legislation in this arena as an intended affordable housing solution.

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Tough Legislative Session for Small Business

The 2019 Connecticut legislative session was an extremely challenging one for businesses, particularly small business.

And it's one that CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan says the state "cannot afford to repeat if we want a strong economy and robust job growth."

The 2019 Connecticut legislative session was an extremely challenging one for businesses, particularly small business.

And it's one that CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan says the state "cannot afford to repeat if we want a strong economy and robust job growth."

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Builders Call on Congress to Address Housing Affordability Challenges

As the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) celebrates National Homeownership Month in June, builders are urging Congress to address America’s housing affordability challenges.

“Removing regulatory barriers that contribute to the increased costs of housing will pave the way to homeownership,” said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Greg Ugalde, a builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Home builders and the residential construction community are committed to working with Congress to ensure homeownership is within reach of hard working families.”

Rising costs from excessive regulation, a shortage of construction workers, tariffs on $10 billion worth of building materials, and housing finance concerns have detrimental effects on housing affordability. NAHB analysis shows that regulatory requirements alone account for 25 percent of the price of a single-family home, and 30 percent of the cost of a multifamily development.

Even with lower mortgage interest rates, housing affordability is relatively the same as it was a year ago. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index found only 61% of new and existing homes were affordable to a typical household. The current homeownership rate (64.2 percent) remains below the 25-year average rate (66.3 percent), according to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS).

More than half (53 percent) of buyers actively searching for a home in the first quarter of 2019 have been looking for three months or longer, according to NAHB’s Housing Trends Report (HTR). Home buyers say high home prices are the principal barrier to homeownership. A majority (78 percent) of buyers estimated they could afford fewer than half of the homes for-sale in their markets finding a home. In the first quarter of 2019, prospective Millennial buyers are the likeliest cohort to expect house hunting to become easier in the months ahead (23 percent), followed by Gen X’ers (22 percent), Seniors (20 percent) and Boomers (18 percent), according to the HTR. About 20 percent of Millennials have plans to purchase a home in the next year, compared to only 15 percent of Gen X’ers, seven percent of Boomers, and three percent of Seniors.

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