Category Archives: Sable in the News

Sable Homes professionals are featured in the news discussing timely industry topics.

Sable Homes Hosts GRCC Construction Camp Students

Grand Rapids Community College.

Grand Rapids Community College.

CALEDONIA, Mich. — Sable Homes is hosting a Grand Rapids Community College Workforce Training class, which introduces sixth to eighth grade students to careers in skilled labor, including residential construction.

According to the Construction Association of Michigan, the state has a shortage of qualified carpenters, electricians, masons, ironworkers and other skilled workers; this “skills gap” presents a drag on Michigan’s economic growth. The GRCC Construction Camp not only prepares students for a career, it will also help meet the future demand for skilled workers in West Michigan, a real estate market where there is a high demand for new housing.

The GRCC Construction Camp students will meet at a work site in Caledonia and receive hands-on experience working in different construction crafts. Partners of the Grand Rapids Community College camp include the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids, the Associated Builders & Contractors of Western Michigan, the Construction Workforce Development Alliance, and Sable Homes.

The GRCC construction camp visit will take place Wedensday, Aug. 17 at a Sable Homes work site in Caledonia.

Sable Homes to Feature Toxin-Free Home in Grand Rapids Spring Parade of Homes

Sable Homes 4631 Wren, Caledonia

Sable Homes
4631 Wren, Caledonia

ROCKFORD, Mich., May 19, 2016 – Sable Homes will feature a new house in the 2016 Grand Rapids Spring Parade of Homes that is built with health-conscious technology. The “Healthier Home” is located in the Paris Ridge development in Caledonia and is built with volatile organic compound (VOC) free paints and toxin free flooring glues. These advanced materials have been proven to reduce airborne toxins as the house and its materials age. In addition, Sable uses WhisperGreen fans for clean air exchange and ventilation and a VOC absorbing gypsum board drywall which reduces VOC levels in the air.

Sable Homes also uses eco-friendly Superior Walls Xi Foundation System insulation in basements, which increases a home’s energy rating. Sable’s entry into the Parade of Homes earned a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) 5+ star rating. This is the highest achievable rating on the HERS system and is only awarded to homes that are 30 percent more energy efficient than code.

The 2016 Grand Rapids Spring Parade of Homes will run from May 20 to June 5. The Sable Homes entry will be open for viewing Wednesdays 5-9 p.m. and Fridays, Saturdays and Memorial Day 1 – 9 p.m. Sable Homes will be showcases a house in following neighborhood:

Paris Ridge
Parade number: 10
Location: 4631 Wren Dr.
Caledonia, MI 49316
Home style: Bayberry ranch
Square footage: 2,424 finished
More details here: http://bit.ly/1TesCUB

Sable recently posted the strongest first quarter in its 20-year history, selling 51 houses, a nearly 60 percent increase over the same period last year. The numbers back up recent reports that the West Michigan housing market is booming. In January, Redfin.com named Grand Rapids the hottest real estate market in the country.

To keep up with the demand for new housing, Sable Homes is building and selling houses in 11 developments throughout Kent, Barry and Allegan counties in the following school districts: Rockford, Sparta, Cedar Springs, Kent City, Caledonia, Thornapple-Kellogg and Wayland. Sable Homes also recently announced it will build an additional 44 new homes in Sparta after completing construction of 20 homes in Sparta’s Central Square Village. That development was the first large-scale new home project in the village in nearly a decade.

About Sable Homes
Combining affordability with craftsmanship, Sable Homes has been building high-quality, energy-efficient homes for West Michigan families since 1996. For more information about our communities, visit our web page, www.sablehomes.com, or follow us on Facebook.

Sable Homes Posts Strongest First Quarter in 20-Year History

Sable Homes sold 51 houses in the first quarter of 2016.

Sable Homes sold 51 houses in the first quarter of 2016.

ROCKFORD, Mich. – April 11, 2016 – Rockford-based Sable Homes has posted the strongest first quarter in its 20-year history. Sables Homes sold 26 new houses in March, nearly four times its total sales in the same month last year and more than March 2015 and 2014 combined. Since Jan. 1, Sable Homes has sold 51 houses, a nearly 60 percent increase over the same period last year.

The numbers back up recent reports that the West Michigan housing market is booming. In January, Redfin.com named Grand Rapids the hottest real estate market in the country, noting it had the shortest home listing times and a 50 percent decrease in the number of homes for sale from a year earlier.

“Housing inventories are at the lowest levels in recent memory and many people are looking to build,” said Sable Homes General Manager Karin Kay. “We pay close attention to the market’s direction and have made several strategic acquisitions to meet the interest in new housing in West Michigan.”

To keep up with the demand for new housing, Sable Homes is building and selling houses in 11 developments throughout Kent, Barry and Allegan counties in the following school districts: Rockford, Sparta, Cedar Springs, Kent City, Caledonia, Thornapple-Kellogg and Wayland.

Sable Homes also recently announced it will build an additional 44 new homes in Sparta after completing construction of 20 homes in Sparta’s Central Square Village. That development was the first large-scale new home project in the village in nearly a decade.

Sable Homes’ research has shown there is a demand for houses that are both energy efficient and built healthier. All Sable Homes have a 5+ Energy rating, low emissivity windows, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, 46 percent more wall insulation and 30 percent more attic insulation than an average new home. Sable Homes also use Shaw Carpet made from 25 percent post-consumer material, low volatile organic compound paint and formaldehyde-free countertops and adhesives.

About Sable Homes
Combining affordability with craftsmanship, Sable Homes has been building high-quality, energy-efficient homes for West Michigan families since 1996. For more information about our communities, visit our web page, www.sablehomes.com, or follow us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/sablehomes.

Sable Homes “making a big bet on Sparta”

One of the 20 Sable Homes built in Sparta in the last two years. (MLive file photo)
One of the 20 Sable Homes built in Sparta in the last two years. (MLive file photo)

SPARTA, Mich. (MLive) — Sparta Village Manager Julius Suchy says Sable Homes of Rockford is “making a big bet on Sparta” after the firm received approval to build another 44 homes in the village.

Sable recently completed construction of 20 homes in the village’s “Central Square Village” development, which was the first large-scale new home project built in the village in nearly a decade.

While the Central Square Village project was an “infill” development in the village — meaning the streets and utilities were already there — Sable will have to build the streets and extend utilities to its new development in the Country Meadow development.

Sable will build phases 7 and 8 of the Country Meadow plat, which is located east of Martindale Street and Ten Tree Drive on the village’s southeast side.

“The development was approved years ago and the first six phases of it were built,” Suchy said.

Sable will now finish building out the development.

Suchy said the market for homes in the $150,000 to $180,000 range in the Sparta area appears to be strong and there is little existing inventory.

This is not the first time Sable Homes has stepped in to finish housing developments in the area that have stalled.

A few years ago the company took over development in the Harvest Meadows subdivision, north of Wayland, and the Green Lake development, in Leighton Township, which the developer said both turned out to be good investments.

Sable officials have told the village they hope to begin construction on the Country Meadow development in the next couple of months and have model homes open by the fall.

By Jeffrey Cunningham | jcunning@mlive.com 

Sable Homes Wins Homebuilders Care Award

On Feb. 11, the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids Foundation (HBAGGRF) will recognize local heroes who carry out the Foundation’s mission, “making an impact on the lives of those with special housing needs and supporting the development of the next generation of housing industry professionals.” HBAGGRF will honor Sable Homes (Sable) with the Home Builders Care Award, Home Repair Services with the Community Builder Award, and Habitat for Humanity with the Next Generation Workforce Development Award.

Sable is receiving the Homebuilders care award for their work building a new home for Ryan and Amanda Bockheim and their children. In a thriving housing market Sable didn’t have to help the Bockheim family, but because they did, the family’s twin girls who were never supposed to live are now thriving. Born 12 weeks premature, the girls weighed just over two pounds and faced on-going health challenges. Their new Sable-built home provided a safe, clean, healthy and affordable home for the entire Bockheim family to live, love and grow in.

Pictured (left – right) Ryan and Amanda Bockheim with their children Berkleigh and Oakleigh, Sable Homes General Manager Karin Kay, and Jodie Rykse Salmoran with the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids Foundation.

Pictured (left – right) Ryan and Amanda Bockheim with their children Berkleigh and Oakleigh, Sable Homes General Manager Karin Kay, and Jodie Rykse Salmoran with the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids Foundation.

Home Repair Services will be honored for the work its volunteers have completed helping those with disabilities. A group of retirees spent 10,000 hours volunteering to build access ramps for more than 500 families who can now safely enter and exit their homes.

Habitat for Humanity Kent plays a key role in developing the next generation of housing industry professionals as they provide hands-on construction experience for students at YouthBuild/Bethany Christian Services, Grand Rapids Public Schools Academy of Design and Construction, Grand Rapids Community College M-Tech and Job Corps. Habitat for Humanity Kent will receive the Next Generation Workforce Development Award.

Award winners will be recognized at the fourth annual Home and Hearth Awards & Benefit event taking place at, New Vintage Place at 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 11. Individuals interested in more information about the HBAGGRF and the awards can call (616) 281-2021, or visit www.mygrhome.com/foundation.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids Foundation (HBAGGRF) is the charitable 501(c) 3 arm of the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids. Since 1988, HBA members and community members have partnered to make an impact on the lives of those with special housing needs and to support the development of the next generation of housing industry professionals.

Sable Homes Announces Promotions and New Hire


 Sable Homes, a home builder specializing in high quality, energy efficient construction in West Michigan, has announced the promotion of Karin Kay to general manager. Ron Austin will assume the role of sales manager and focus on the company’s marketing strategies. Kirsten Platto has joined Sable Home’s as a digital marketing specialist.

While using the latest technologies to create the regions healthiest homes, Kay will play a pivotal role in leading Sable’s efforts to build cost effective homes with the latest features and amenities.  Kay began her career at Sable as a new home sales consultant, and since then has held the positions of marketing assistant, new home consultant, and design and marketing specialist. Kay earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Aquinas College. She is a member of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors and the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids.

Karin Kay

“I am honored to take on this leadership role at Sable Homes,” said Kay. “In an industry where the majority of purchasing decisions are influenced by women, I am thrilled to fill a role that is typically viewed as male dominated.”

In his new role as sales and marketing manager, Austin will now focus on all aspects of marketing Sable to the next generation of home buyers. Austin has been in the residential real estate business for 15 years and a licensed real estate broker for 12 years.  Austin is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Michigan Association of Realtors and the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.

Ron Austin

“We are focused on providing homebuyers with exceptional value, in the most desirable communities for years to come,” said Austin. “With Sable selling 100 homes so far in 2015, and having sold just over 100 homes during 2014, Sable needs a concentrated effort in sales and marketing to sustain a continual growth to fulfill customer demands.”

Kirsten Platto joined the Sable Homes team as their new digital marketing specialist. Platto’s areas of expertise include digital media, marketing and creative writing. She graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in communications. She was involved with the Susan G. Komen walk to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and research. Platto’s previous experiences include social media interning for Spectrum Health, marketing for The Lemon Bowl, event services for Blythefield Country Club and more.

Kirsten Platto

“We are privileged to have the opportunity to provide new homes for more families this year than ever before, said John Bitely, president of Sable Homes. “Because of our recent growth and the boom in West Michigan’s housing starts, it is necessary to look to the future and build a strategic team for the years to come.”

About Sable Homes      

Combining affordability with craftsmanship, Sable Homes has been building high-quality, energy-efficient homes for West Michigan families since 1996. For more information about our communities, visit our web page, www.sablehomes.com, or follow us on Facebook.

Inside Track: Blue-collar housing and strong work ethic are nice fit

John Bitely’s ‘never give up’ farmer’s mindset saw his Sable Homes through the Great Recession.

By Grand Rapids Press, Mike Nichols

John Bitely always wanted to be a farmer.

Although his career started out with tilling the land for a living, eventually his life took him on a different journey.

In some ways he’s still a farmer, but the crop he’s harvesting now isn’t corn — it’s houses.

As the owner of Sable Homes, a Rockford-based residential development firm, he’s seen many a plentiful harvest in the last couple of years.

“My crop is development. The crop I plant now is the last plant of that land.

“We’re blue-collar housing. We’re the workingman’s home. We do some entry-level, we’ve done high-end — and we can do it, but our main focus is blue-collar housing.

Track_JohnBitely_MB

“We also do development, which we haven’t’ done much of for about six years because everything fell on its ear,” he said, referring to the Great Recession and the bursting of the housing bubble.

“We used to be happy with (building) 25 to 30 homes a year. … We’ll do more than 100 homes this year.”

Bitely grew up in Sparta, the son of a part-time farmer. He graduated from Sparta High School in 1983, by which time he was already renting and working part of his family’s farm.

His parent’s work ethic was one of the best gifts he’s ever received, he said.

“The work ethic — either from my parents or my own internal drive — is probably my biggest break,” he said. “Everything has built on everything else for me. It’s not like, ‘Oh, this thing happened and everything else was gold.’”

Although he was accepted to Michigan State University after high school, Bitely decided not to go to college and to focus on farming instead, although he did attend Kent Skills Center to learn more about the mechanics of farming equipment.

“I liked girls and beer better than education, and I knew all I would have done was chase girls and drink beer,” he said. “I was actually mature — or at least practical enough — that I knew I wasn’t going to waste the money attending college for those purposes.”

After high school, Bitely got a job working at his uncle’s seed farm in Sparta called Post Farms. He loved the work, but eventually he began to realize his passion for farming wasn’t paying off for him.

“Farming’s in your blood. You till the land, you grow things, you’re around livestock. It’s a very noble way to make a living. It doesn’t pay a lot of money, but it’s not a bad thing.

“The problem was the timeframe. Farming was becoming very business-orientated. The family farms were dying left and right, and that’s what I was really trying to come into. And as a family, we weren’t wealthy. We had small landholdings.

“As time went on, I had to do something to generate enough money to make my initial stake ever happen. And with that came (the realization): ‘I’m going to work my whole life to have a decent job if I am stuck in farming,’” he said.

“My whole upbringing was I wanted to be a farmer. I loved agriculture, loved working the land — loved all that stuff. And my total focus right out of high school was growing a small farming operation into something I could make a living at. A couple of years into that, it just wasn’t making sense. It’s a tough way to make a living. It was a slow, tough, long haul.”

Bitely took a second job as a truck driver for Burlingame Lumber, which eventually became Wolohan Lumber, in Wyoming.

He left that company and started working for Standard Lumber in 1985. He had to create his job because the outside sales position he wanted didn’t yet exist.

“I (presented) the pro forma to my manager, and it was truly farm-boy written. It was a hand-written pro forma of business available. … My manager looked at it and pretty much dropped his teeth. I think he was shocked at what I had given him,” he said.

The manager sat Bitely down and told him he was too young and inexperienced and, since the job would be paid by straight commissions, he wouldn’t be able to afford to do it.

But since Bitely still had extra income from part-time farming, he pressed upon his boss that he was prepared to take it on.

“It was one of those weird conversations where I don’t really think I knew what it meant at the time, and I don’t think he really had any idea what it meant. … That might have been the big break because my manager believed in me from that day on.”

“Later on, when I left that company, there was me and one other salesman who, every single month, had the number one volume in sales, and I always had the best margins. So they were writing me some big checks,” he said.

“That job afforded me 10 years of education in the building industry, and you can’t go to any college to get that information and experience,” Bitely said.

During his time at Standard Lumber, Bitely got out of the farming business for good. In a way, he said, the time he spent farming was unfair to his then-growing family because it took him away from them and it really wasn’t helping pay the bills.

“Eventually, it came down to: I could make $5 to $7 an hour farming, or I could go out and put siding on a house for $15 an hour,” he said.

“I still have the heart for farming, but it was a commitment to my family. Maybe growing up (meant) giving up the childish hope of wanting to be a farmer for the reality that I could do so much better for my family and myself.”

In 1995, Bitely and his friend, Kelly Powell, now the owner of the farming tourist attraction Deer Tracks Junction in Cedar Springs, started Sable Homes together.

Ever since, Bitely said his No. 1 frustration is when townships, municipalities and states make rules that do not allow him to “grow as nice a crop for (our) parcels.”

The business grew well but then suffered during the Great Recession like most in the construction industry. Bitely believes it was his farmer’s mentality that helped the company survive those slow years.

“When the whole economy was upside down and everybody said you can’t make money building houses … part of the mindset was ‘farmers never give up,’” he said. “It’s that belief that every spring is going to be better.”

Sable Homes was one of the few builders left standing when the bleeding from the Great Recession finally stopped. In its wake, the business found itself facing a pent-up demand from an industry that hadn’t built houses for about six years.

And although Bitely now has plenty of work to keep himself busy, he still has one hobby that hasn’t fully left him and probably never will: gardening.

Farming is in the blood, after all.

“I’ve always got a garden. No one else in the family has interest in it, and most of it I just give away. (I grow) potatoes, sweet corn, strawberries and pumpkins,” he said.

“I probably walk out to the garden three or four times a week just to look at it — just because.”

Demand is High, Supply is Lagging

By: Ron Austin, Sable Homes General Manager

The demand for homes is expanding in Michigan, however the construction of new homes has been lagging behind. Why is this? City officials note, “construction is about to come to an abrupt halt not for lack of demand –but lack of vacant lots” (Mlive). So then, the demand for homes is still there, but the infrastructure development is costly, and the availability of vacant lots is dwindling.

In Michigan, the cost of developing the sites is an obstacle for many home builders as the municipal requirements are expensive and require extensive permitting.  Home builders and developers are hesitant to jump into infrastructure for lots due to the lack of inventory as well as the risk involved with development.

The costs to build the housing infrastructure can vary. “At the local level, jurisdictions may charge permit, hook-up, and impact fees and establish development and construction standards that either directly increase costs to builders and developers, or cause delays that translate to higher costs” (NAHB).These higher costs translate into hesitation for new constructions and new developments that have the potential to provide more risk than reward.

There is a level of uncertainty involved with the home development market. This risk stems from “competition from sales of distressed existing properties, uncertainty about the health of the overall economy and labor markets, and difficulty in qualifying prospective buyers for mortgages” (NAHB).  However, developers are still interested, but they are paying close attention to commercial and job growth as well as trends in the housing market. The development investments must strike a balance between the cost of the investment, the current housing demand, and the existing government regulations.

Sable Homes took a gamble on the Central Park Property in Sparta, and the market was in our favor as 20 new homes were built on the property to serve the needs of the developing economy and bustling community. There is most certainly a risk that was tied in with the purchase and development of the Central Park Property, but with community ties and help from the village in purchasing the property the risk was well worth it.

 

Gamble on swapping park for homes paying dividends for Sparta

By Jeffrey Cunningham | jcunning@mlive.com 
Email the author
on July 21, 2015 at 5:09 PM

SPARTA — When the Sparta Village Council voted in July of 2013 to sell the former 4.46-acre Central Park property to developers for new homes, the thought was that it could take up to five years to fully build out the 20 lots.

Central Town Square .jpg

(This home at the corner of Union and Grove streets was built where home plate was in the baseball field of the former Central Park)

It was a gamble village leaders were willing to take at the time to get the stalled housing market moving in Sparta. It was also an opportunity to shed some of the excess property the village owned.

The gamble for the village has paid off. In less than two years, all of the 20 home sites have been sold and houses have been built on the sites.

Many of the new residents to Central Town Square, like Virginia Huffman, said the new homes on the former park were exactly what they were looking for.

The former Rockford resident said her family had been looking for homes in the Rockford area, but couldn’t find what they wanted. “We moved here because we found a home that we liked,” she said. “We knew the village and this is s good location for us.”

Built by Sable Homes of Rockford, the houses have sold for $135,000 to $180,000.

The village hasn’t quite recovered all of the $277,000 it invested in the property since it took ownership in 2009 from Sparta Public Schools, but village leaders say the investment has clearly paid off.

“This is a case where government could do things to help get a development like this built that private industry most likely couldn’t have gotten done,” said Sparta Village Manager Julius Suchy.

Sable Homes president John Bitely said that without the help from the village in the form of being able to purchase the property at below market value, he would not have been able to build the new homes.

The village bought the property in 2009 from Sparta Public Schools after the school district closed the former Central School.

It cost the village $145,000 to demolish the former school and grade the property. The village paid the school district an additional $100,000 in water credits for the property and with other costs associated with the purchase, Suchy said the village had an estimated $277,000 invested in the property.

The agreement with the school district was that if the land eventually sold for a profit, the village and the school district would share the proceeds.

The village sold the property in 2013 to Sable homes for $120,000, leaving the village with a net loss of $157,000.

As the 20 homes were built and hooked to the village’s water and sewer systems, the hookup fees netted the village $93,000, leaving the village $64,000 in the hole.

Fifteen of the 20 new homes were on the 2015 village property tax rolls, which netted the village another $18,000, leaving the village roughly $44,000 left before it had paid off its costs associated with the development.

With the five additional homes on the 2016 tax rolls, the village will take in at least $21,000 annually on the homes in the development.

“It will take another couple of years before we are in the black with this project from a development standpoint, but I think the village is already ahead as the stores and restaurants are already seeing an increase in traffic from having additional residents in the downtown area,” Suchy said.

Bigger is better for new home buyers in West Michigan

Bigger is better for new home buyers in West Michigan

By Jim Harger | jharger@mlive.com 
Follow on Twitter
on May 24, 2015 at 8:25 AM

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, MI – When Jason and Jackie LaFontaine looked at floor plans for their new home, they concluded bigger was better.

Their new four-bedroom home, on which they will break ground in Eastbrook Homes’ Stoneshire development later this month, will have a larger kitchen and pantry, a home office for Jason, a formal dining room, a hearth room and “kids retreat” on the second floor.

Compared to the house they bought from Eastbrook Homes four years ago, the LaFontaine’s new house will be about 500 square feet larger at 3,400 square feet.

“Being second time builders, we wanted to be sure this was going to be our ‘forever’ home,” Jackie LaFontaine said.

“Being second time builders, we wanted to be sure this was going to be our ‘forever’ home.” New home buyer Jackie LaFontaine

Their new home has all the features they wished they had put in their first house, she said.

With 1-year-old and 4-year-old daughters, the LaFontaines also want to make room for the possibility of a third child in the future, she said. Their new home also is closer to the Forest Hills school buildings where she works as a speech pathologist.

Larger Homes
Bigger Houses The average size of a home in Kent County has grown by about 500 square feet over the past decade. That’s about the size of a king-sized master suite in a new luxury home – or about 2 1/2 “tiny houses.”miltk

The LaFontaines are typical of many new homebuyers in West Michigan. With the economy back on track and interest rates low, the average new house is getting bigger and more expensive.

According to Builder Track Reports, which follows the West Michigan home building industry, the average size of a new home in Kent County last year was 2,538 square feet, about 500 square feet larger than the average size of a new home in Kent County 10 years ago.

That’s about the size of a king-sized master suite with a full bathroom and walk-in closet in a luxury home.

Homes in Ottawa County showed similar growth, with the average size being 2,412 square feet in 2014 compared to 1,944 square feet in 2009, according to Builder Track statistics. In Muskegon County, the average new home was 2,114 square feet in 2014 compared to 1,758 square feet in 2010.

While the average size of a home is getting bigger, so is its cost. According to Builder Track, 61 percent of the houses under construction in the first quarter of 2015 had a construction value of more than $200,000.

In 2014, 53 percent of Kent County’s new homes were valued at more than $200,000 while in 2011, only 36.5 percent topped the $200,000 price tag, according to Builder Tracks.

Despite the rising costs, homebuilding is booming again in West Michigan after stumbling through the Great Recession.

In Kent County, contractors reported 206 housing starts in the first quarter despite a lingering winter. Last year, Kent County home builders reported 1,088 housing starts, a 7.7 percent increase over 2013.

Bob Sorensen, vice president of sales and marketing for Eastbrook Homes, said homes are getting larger because consumer confidence is improving and interest rates have remained low.

New homes also are getting more luxurious, with high end finishes like granite countertops and larger bathrooms, Sorensen said. Finished lower levels with “man caves” also are growing in popularity, he said.

Mike McGivney, vice president of sales and marketing for Allen Edwin Homes, said low interest rates are giving their customers an additional $25,000 to $50,000 in buying power.

“A lot of that translates into the square footage they can add to their homes,” McGivney said. That additional buying power also is an incentive to build a new house rather than remodel an existing home, he said.

Aaron Schoonover, a regional sales director for Allen Edwin Homes, said the larger homes they are building in the 150-site Stonegate development in Byron Township are designed to be flexible to meet the changing needs of their owners.

The two-story homes in Stonegate, which start at $240,000 and can cost up to $416,640, feature an assortment of upgrades that include “smart space” rooms that be converted into informal sitting areas or home offices.

Kitchens have grown to include larger islands and mudroom areas now have lockers, Schoonover said. While the square footage has grown, so has the overall volume with nine-foot ceilings on the main floors and lower levels.

John Bitely, president and CEO of Sable Homes, said the growing footprint of new houses in West Michigan also is a reflection of township zoning ordinances, which require larger lot sizes to keep the quality of new housing high.

Homeowners who can afford larger lots also are able to afford larger houses, said Bitely, whose company has focused on building mid-level homes. “It’s a legal type of exclusionary zoning.”

“I don’t know of any builder that’s building entry-level homes. You can’t make it work if you’ve got a lot that prices out to $30,000 to $40,000,” Bitely said.

West Michigan’s appetite for bigger houses is not being shared on a national level.

RealtyTrac, a national real estate survey firm, reported the average size of a home was 1,799 square feet in 2014, down from its high point of 1,863 square feet in 2012. The average size picked slightly, to 1,803 square feet, in 2015, RealtyTrac said.

Jim Harger covers business for MLive/Grand Rapids Press. Email him at jharger@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google+.