Article No: 221

2007-09-24 16:32:26
The 2007 New Southern Home
By: Jennifer Krichels

As a member of the Florida Home Builders Association Board of Directors, it was only a matter of time before Jim Krantz was chosen to build one of the state’s many annual showhomes. With friends who have worked on past New American Homes for the International Builders’ Show, Jim had only one thing to say when the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) committee interviewed him for involvement in 2007 The New Southern Home: “I want to do it differently.” Mainly, he wanted vendors to be involved while the showhome was open so that the general public could immediately receive answers to their building-related questions. “I want to truly educate people about the products and also why they use them,” he says.

The SEBC committee found an impressive starting point with Krantz’s comments and selected his business, the Orlando-based James M. Krantz Construction Corporation, as The New Southern Home builder at the 29th annual Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) held at the Orange County Convention Center July 12–14, 2007.

Project goals
Backed by the Florida Home Builders Association since its origination in 1988, the New Southern Home program is one of the leading southeast showhomes. The 2007 home upholds the goal of educating trade members and consumers by bringing industry suppliers together to celebrate innovative architecture and design.

This year, Krantz and program sponsors advanced these goals further by creating a barrier-free universally designed home with unlimited accessibility for those with disabilities. The home also boasts as many user-friendly technologies and environmentally friendly components—including the latest advances in water conservation, solar energy, and low-maintenance landscaping—as possible.

Choosing a building product
“I had to look at the products and processes through a different set of eyes,” says Krantz. “It couldn’t be the same old, same old.” The question foremost on his mind was, “Why are people going to come see this house?”

Originally, the two-story, 12,200-square-foot Southern Cottage-style home had been designed for poured-in-place concrete panel walls. Just two weeks before the home’s scheduled groundbreaking, Krantz found himself still wondering if another product could provide greater benefits. As if on cue, he received a call from a Greenblock Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) representative asking how the company could be involved.

“I guess my initial thought was, ‘OK, I’ve got Styrofoam block. They’re juts like Legos; they interlock together. How am I going to put siding on it, how am I going to put drywall?” says Krantz. “I had to go see it and understand the product. I’ve seen a lot of ICF products and was never really sold on it. I didn’t really know much about it and didn’t want to go down this road.”

Ultimately, after seeing the Greenblock wall system demonstrated, Krantz recognized the system’s benefits, including energy-efficiency, low off-gassing, significant noise reduction, strength and safety, especially in the face of natural disaster. The home was redesigned to accommodate the thickness of the block, and construction began. Any initial concerns about Greenblock’s nailing surface disappeared; 6-inch furring provided more area to which nails or screws could be inserted. “It made it more convenient especially when putting the siding up,” says Krantz, who clad the home’s exterior in a combination of Eldorado synthetic stone and CertainTeed fiber cement shake siding. “You can put anything you want on this surface inside and out.”

Greenblock’s preliminary meetings with Krantz also dispelled a second concern about how to fix out-of-plumb walls. “No matter how hard you try to make it perfect there are going to be things that happen,” he says. With this system, “instead of chipping the concrete, all you’re doing is shaving the foam in. You’re not out there with grinders and jackhammers trying to fix a concrete wall.”

Krantz admits that because Greenblock sends its own installation crew, the only hands-on time he spent with the wall system was while building a playhouse with his 4- and 6-year-old children. “It took me about five minutes to build the thing with them, but it was five minutes too long because they were bringing the blocks to me,” he says jokingly.

Greenblock sent Insulated Concrete Walls (ICW) to the jobsite to perform turnkey installation of the forms and footings. ICW is a national, multi-location residential and commercial project team that supports ICF manufacturers, dealers, distributors, and contractors by delivering installed services. Krantz says that because of the home’s size, ICW sent about 15 crewmembers at one time and the wall erection was completed in approximately three weeks. The crew also installed a LiteDeck safe room within the home.

At the time of this interview, the New Southern Home had been open for tours for five days, and had already hosted 2,000 visitors. “The comments have been fabulous,” says Krantz. “I’ve been to a lot of showhomes, and you ask, ‘Does somebody really live here? You feel like you’re walking into a museum. I don’t live like this and I don’t think the general public lives like that; I wanted people to see themselves sitting in the chair or watching the ballgame. This is such a different look in Florida, with the Shingle-style home. It’s usually a Tuscan, Mediterranean stucco house. I wanted a Hamptons, New England-style coastal theme. Every space has something different, something new.”

Designed by Chris Gooden of Gooden Design, the home’s inspiration came from Krantz’s roots in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Varied window designs, columns, and stonework mark the home’s exterior. In addition providing a handicap-accessible living environment, the open floor plan conjures an airy ocean-side retreat and also appeals to Floridians’ active lifestyles. Rooms include six bedrooms, eight full baths, three half baths, a media room, a recreation room, and a craft room, in addition to several other entertaining areas. Window placement takes advantage of lake- and pool-side views. An outdoor kitchen adjacent to a covered lanai will serve guests dining alfresco. For the do-it-yourself enthusiast the home has three garages and a workshop with acid-stained concrete floors.

For Krantz, the home is a culmination of the many aspects of homebuilding that are important to him and his colleagues. In addition to serving on the board of the Florida Home Builders Association, he is also on the Board of Directors of the Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando. He is a member of the Remodelors Council and a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), a Florida Green Home Certifying Agent and New Homes Energy Star Partner. The New Southern Home is in the process of being certified as a Green Home—but Krantz is quick to point out that he is not the certifying agent. “I wanted to get someone else to go down the road,” he says. “One of our major goals was to select products that worked for the houses—try to get as many green products as we could that were still good-quality products. Just because it’s new and innovative doesn’t mean that it’s good.”

Through the entire process, Krantz’s ultimate goal was to select materials and products that the average consumer could afford. “It didn’t have to be astronomical or ostentatious,” he says. “We wanted to say, ‘Hey, we’re real people and this is the way we live.”
Though the 2007 SEBC has concluded, the New Southern Home will continue to have tours in October, November, and December. It will also be open for viewing through the end of the 2008 International Builders’ Show, February 13–16, 2008—and, as Krantz and other project participants agree, its effect will last into the future of southeast homebuilding.

For more information on the New Southern Home and its participants and sponsors, visit