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07 July . 2010

MI Homes Responds to Customer Needs

By Michael Majewski, MI Homes


Quality, Trust, Choice, Innovative Design. From the minute you walk into the Villas at Briar Chapel  you’ll be impressed with the design and attention to detail. MI Homes , a top 20 US homebuilder with more than 35 years of experience has designed these Villa Homes exclusively for Briar Chapel .

With fabulous outdoor living spaces, flexible rooms to match your lifestyle, extra storage and a low-maintenance lifestyle – you’ll be asking not how, but when you can move in!

Because the Villas are an innovative undertaking for MI Homes at Briar Chapel, we thought it would be great to talk closely with the architect, Michael Majewski, responsible for designing these homes and bringing them to life.


Q: Michael, please tell us a little about the process you undergo when evaluating a new home product type and putting pen to paper to develop it.

The first question that I ask, who will use this house  What is their family make-up  How do they live in the house and how long do they plan to be there   How much stuff do they have  I work closely with our marketing folks to understand these questions and we talk a lot about lifestyle.  We do this long before we ever start talking about rooms and room sizes. Designing a house is like designing any other product made for the market, the first rule is “know your customer”.

Q:  So many comments, so much data, so much information…How do you narrow down the best possible options/floor plans/elevations/styles to include in a home

In the case of our Villa community at Briar Chapel we were very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with focus groups. In all, we worked with about 50 potential buyers. We were able to have interviews and open discussions with these potential buyers. Through this process we learned about specific preferences that were important to most of those people that we talked with in the focus groups—things we may not have thought of before. Some very specific items that were brought up were;

  1. Storage Space—most of our potential buyers were at a point in their life where they were ready to down size but weren’t quite ready to part with grandma’s china buffet cabinet.  This lead to a design element that we incorporated into every house, a walk up attic.  It also lead to a line of homes with a variety of room types and sizes to choose from, so if a formal dining room was something the buyer felt they needed, they could have one.  Storage space was also addressed as part of lifestyle. Briar Chapel is a community with beautiful trails and many recreation activity opportunities. It was therefore important that simple things like space in the garage to store a bicycle were accommodated. All of our garages are larger than standard size for this reason.
  2. Single Level Living—all of our potential buyers expressed the need for plans without steps.  Every one of our houses has been designed as either a ranch or a first floor master that will allow the owner of the house to enjoy single level living. In the case of our first floor masters, only guest rooms or storage spaces that are accessed infrequently are located on a second level. 
  3. Outdoor Living—this community is designed with attractive outdoor living in the rear yard, in many cases overlooking dedicated natural conservation areas. All of our homes are designed to take full advantage of this by living to the rear. In all cases, the kitchen, great room and owner’s bedroom suite are oriented to the rear of the house to allow for extended living onto patios, and covered or screened porches. In some cases, the kitchen is oriented to a separate outdoor area to promote bar-b-quing, vegetable and herb gardening. To sum up our conversations with our buyers, they were essentially saying that they were ready, after a lifetime of accumulating stuff, to “lighten the load” and simplify their life. 

Q:  When you developed these Villa floor plans and elevations, what was your design inspiration

Function and lifestyle were the most important elements that went into developing these plans.  We also placed emphasis on aesthetic quality and a sense of place and neighborhood.  The houses are all designed borrowing from historic styles that are commonly found in central North Carolina.  As a result, we will end up with a community that should be timeless in its appeal—not trying to emulate some remote resort area with pretend facades. We purposely provided a variety of elevations that alternate between front load garages and side load courtyard garages that will allow for a streetscape that is diverse in its appearance and does not give a monotonous view of one garage door after another as one travels down the street. This variety of walks and driveways will also give opportunities for walking, neighbors to visit and perhaps grandchildren to roller skate in the driveway. To sum it all up, it’s really all about “lifestyle”.

Michael, we really appreciate the opportunity to hear from you today. It’s always great to explore the various ways that a concept becomes reality. And to hear you talk about the design and thought behind these homes will sure bring a whole new meaning to the folks that will soon be calling the Villas home.

To learn more about the Villas click here . We would love to hear your thoughts. Did MI Homes design a plan that will work for you

tags: Homes

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