Hands-On Education

How does San Diego in November sound? What if you also attended a business conference with instant return on investment? Then add face-to-face interaction with hundreds of custom builders, architects and designers looking for solutions to the same challenges you’re facing. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

You’ve just read a description of the 2009 Custom Builder Symposium & Design Institute taking place Nov. 6-8 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in San Diego. Two major developments have enhanced the annual educational event put on by the Custom Builder Committee of the National Association of Home Builders. First, the addition of the Design Institute delivers solid design-based content. Secondly, a two-part structure has been created for education courses: Part one is a lecture-based seminar; part two is a hands-on workshop in which builders and designers will apply knowledge learned during the lecture.

“For example, a builder attending the course on business plans will attend a lecture in the morning, then in the afternoon will actually work on his business plan under the guidance of on-site experts. It’s more advanced course work than in the past,” says Brad Simons, chairman, symposium and design institute subcommittee.

Thus, the theme of this year’s event is Creating Solutions Together. Education courses are tailored to those who design and build custom homes, but anyone involved in the custom home market is invited to attend.

Solid Education

Enhancements to this year’s education courses are built on successes of prior symposiums. For example, the design-based classes were the best-attended classes last year so more design courses are offered this year. “Custom builders are all about design. They build other people’s dreams, so adding that component to the symposium is a huge plus,” Simons says. “The Design Institute event had been around for a few years and developed a good following.

Now we’re putting custom builders in the same room as architects, interior designers, land planners and developers and are creating synergies we haven’t had in the past.”

One of the course topics is green building which will include a lecture followed by a session during which attendees bring their own plan and work through rating it on the new NAHB green scale. “We want this event to be hands-on so people get something done,” Simons says.

Another course is about project financing, and is structured in a way not seen at a symposium in the past. “The financing we’ve been used to won’t be there ever again. So how do you get your projects financed? Where do we find resources to do what we do? We’ll have experts on hand walking you through the options,” he explains.

The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association once again is a partner in education and will be presenting education courses focusing on home technology.

The main prerequisite for taking any of these courses is being ready to work, Simons says. “Everyone who attends typical business conventions or symposiums always talks about takeaways. We’ve made it hands-on with tangible takeaways,” he says.

Home Tour Always a Hit

An annual highlight of the symposium is the home tour sponsored by Lutron, taking place Fri., Nov. 6, the day before education courses begin. The home tour will be slightly different this year, including examples of shore homes, homes that have been rebuilt after burning down years ago, and one home built into the side of a hill to maximize energy efficiency, and most likely an infill home as well.

“The home tour is one of the most popular events each year, and a great way to kick things off. You’re with your peers all day, walking through fantastic homes. It will be a great way to spend a day in San Diego,” Simons says.

Custom Home Builder of the Year Award

Nominations are being accepted for the fourth annual Custom Home Builder of the Year award sponsored by Dryvit Systems. The award will be presented during lunch on Sat., Nov 7. Nominations are due by Fri., Sept. 11. Anyone can nominate a fellow builder for the award by visiting nahb.org/customaward.

Schedule of events
Tue., Nov. 3 Presymposium courses
Wed., Nov. 4 Presymposium courses
Thu., Nov. 5 Presymposium courses
Fri., Nov. 6 Home tour, welcome reception
Sat., Nov. 7 Keynote speaker Custom Home Builder of the Year presentation
Sun., Nov. 8 Excellence Awards presentation Education, Luncheon

Pre-event social networking
For networking opportunities prior to the event, visit the following websites and search for Custom Builder Symposium:

Event details
For event details visit: nahb.org/custom