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Talk to a resident of Colorado – whether they are new to the state or have been here for generations – and there is good possibility that the word “proud” will makes its way into the conversation in the first few minutes. There is something about the state or perhaps its people (or both) that exudes pride.

This could be due to its amazing natural beauty. It has postcard perfect mountains, pristine ski slopes, silver threads of rivers and streams, most likely brimming with trout which are all bathed in more than 300 days of sunshine every year. Maybe it’s the proud history of the old West which is now juxtaposed with a red-hot technology industry drawing the best and the brightest to the state

As one website notes, “If you ask us if we’re from Colorado you better have a couple of hours. We can talk for a long time about all the amazing things that make our state the best place to call home. Oh, and if we meet someone from Colorado while we’re traveling? Automatic best friend!”

Products Made in Colorado are World Class

Given this penchant for state pride, it’s no surprise that the residents of the state are extremely loyal to products which are made in Colorado by Coloradans. Such is the case with the homegrown brick that are made from Colorado clay at the Acme Brick plant in Castle Rock. As it turns out, this remarkable clay, which is found only in Colorado, really is amazing and the people who turn this raw material into brick of myriad colors are some of the most talented artisans in the world.

Lynn Burchfield, the regional production manager for Acme Brick, explained why Coloradans have ample reasons to be proud of the plant and its products.

“Our plant in Castle Rock has been producing brick for more than one hundred years,” he said. “Acme Brick purchased the plant about 15 years ago, and our team of about 55 people is composed of some of the best in the business. Our finished brick are comparable to the finest brick in the world.

“We currently produce about 25 million brick annually at this plant and, as demand increases, we have the capability of producing 50 million each year.

The Secret is the Unique Soil

The hikers and bikers who spend time exploring the mountains and countryside of this state have witnessed, first hand, the glorious colors found in the Colorado soil. The clay in this native soil is the “secret sauce” for the Acme Brick made in Castle Rock. Lynn explains.

“Because of the unique attributes of this Colorado clay, we are able to produce brick that run the color gamut from buff white to red to pink to gray and many shades in between,” he said. “In our industry, this is truly amazing. Our brick artisans take full advantage of this diverse color palette to produce brick in a stunning array of natural colors.     

“Because color can add a subtle or dramatic impact to any home or commercial building, architects love the many choices we offer,” Lynn noted. “They can use this range of colors to build creative designs, brick borders for the home or building and other treatments that require a more extensive range of colors.

“Plus, unlike wood or synthetic building materials, the color of our brick never fades. This means that the homes and commercial buildings built from the brick which came from native Colorado soil will last hundreds of years with little or no maintenance.  They will also require less energy to heat and cool.”

“We always say that ‘brick is the original green building material’ and this appeals to another trait that Coloradans are justifiably proud of: their respect for the environment,” he concluded.

If you are an architect or builder and you would like to see the range of colors offered by Acme Brick, Contact Jay Cox. You can also take a tour of the plant to see how this native soil is turned in the best brick in the world. This will give you one more reason to be proud of the great state of Colorado! 

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One of the hottest topics in the construction industry today is “green buildings.” This is a catch-all phrase that describes construction materials and building techniques which are environmentally friendly. These buildings require less energy to heat and cool and save their owners thousands of dollars over the life of the building. They can withstand the ravages of elements for generations and they are most likely constructed of materials that come from the earth.

While homebuyers of all age groups appreciate the economic benefits of buildings that require less energy to maintain, younger, first time homebuyers – the Millennials – are driving this trend. Demographers have noted that this group has a preference for goods and services which are authentic and sustainable. These are two of the reasons this group favors green homes which are constructed of brick.

Brick is today what it has always been, an authentic building material, made from the earth, for the earth. Although many have tried to duplicate some of its remarkable qualities in design and construction, no other material has equaled the unique blend of beauty and brawn in authentic fired clay bricks.

~Acme Brick

The Original Green Building Material

As a forty year veteran of Acme BrickJay Cox knows a thing or two about the benefits of brick construction. As the Midwest District Sales Manager for the company, he has helped hundreds of customers who are interested in energy efficient, green building construction realize their dreams. He shared some of these insights in a recent interview.

“When we think about green buildings, sustainability and the availability of raw materials to manufacture these building materials, we naturally focus on brick,” Jay said. “When I go back to my early days in this company and think about jobs that I sold back then, it’s very rewarding when I see those buildings now. They still have the same finish and are still very attractive.

“As far as ‘green’ is concerned, those buildings never had to be painted and they have not required any further maintenance.  I would say brick is one of the original green building materials and this goes back thousands of years.”

How Does Brick Compare to Wood and Synthetic Building Materials?

Today’s homebuyers and their builders have many choices for building materials – from wood to synthetic materials. What are the factors that make brick superior from an environmental and sustainable standpoint?

“Because of its mass and the air space behind it, brick is one of the best performing walls for both residential and commercial structures,” Jay noted. “Because of the mass of brick, the heat on the outside of the building during a hot Denver day takes a substantial amount of time to work its way into the building. By the time this has happened, it is typically the evening and the air is cooling down. It acts as an insulating barrier due to the nature of the product itself.

“When the weather turns colder, this insulation barrier of brick works the opposite way. When the sunshine hits a brick wall, the mass of the brick stores the heat from the sunlight, which helps keep the building warm.

“There is also an advantage of water resistance in a brick wall,” he said.  “Brick allows water to drain, as opposed to retaining it, like other building materials. This prevents potential problems such as mold and rot.

The Low Maintenance of Brick

Unlike wood, stucco or other synthetic materials, buildings which are constructed of brick have almost no maintenance required.

“With a wood or synthetic wall, there is a constant need to paint and/or caulk to maintain its integrity, “Jay noted. “This is not necessary with brick construction. Plus, unlike brick, where the moisture is returned outside, wood or synthetic materials absorb that moisture, resulting in a weakening of the structure. Brick is a super protective barrier for home exteriors and commercial buildings.

“As for stucco, there are different types of this building material,” Jay said. “Some are composed of natural elements and some are not. A lot of the stucco we see today is synthetic and it is simply a mesh-like material with a type of cement covering it.

“There is a huge difference between what we see today – synthetic stucco – and the original which was much more durable. The newer stucco is not forgiving and it’s not green.”

The Other Green – The Folding Kind

The economics of brick construction account for another green advantage and this is the folding kind – money saved.  Jay explained.

“If you think about the long term aspect of a building, brick offers a much better return on investment. As we have noted, no painting will ever be required, the costs for maintenance are very low and the energy saving aspects of brick construction are far superior to others.

“Investment in a brick home may be slightly higher than say a painted or siding home, but by the time the exterior wall needs painting or the siding needs to be replaced, the value of the brick construction is realized. With the 100-year guarantee on a brick home, its ‘green’ value is self-evident.”

If you are interested in learning more about building a green home or office, check out the “Design Online” and then contact us, and learn about the original green building material – brick.

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When the preliminary tally of the Electoral College was announced at about 3 a.m. November 9, 2016, many were surprised to learn that the U.S. President-elect was businessman and real estate developer Donald J. Trump. Based on news accounts, it is safe to say most business leaders – including bankers, CEO’S and even members of the Federal Reserve – did not see this coming. A Clinton victory had been “baked in” to most of the economic projections, including those related to mortgage rates in the coming months. Clearly, it’s time to “re-bake” that cake.

After the dust settled and the head scratching subsided, financial experts, lenders, banking consultants and business media began doing what they do best – speculating on what a Trump administration will mean to the housing market in general and to Denver and the state of Colorado specifically. To the surprise of no one, there are many differing opinions.

For starters, the state of Colorado remained a “blue” state on Election Day by giving Hillary Clinton 48.1 percent, Trump 43.3 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson 5.1 percent of the vote. Many financial experts believe this result – voting Democratic – will have an effect on the home buying trends in the state and especially metro Denver. (Analysis of this theory is found below.)

Chad Corcoran, district sales manager for Acme Brick in Castle Rock offered his opinion on this state of affairs. “No matter what happens to mortgage rates and despite the current run-up, we have not seen mortgage rates this low in generations! It’s still a great time to be building a new home.”

With all this uncertainty, a brief primer on mortgage rates might help home buyers – especially Millennials, who are typically first-time buyers – understand what is likely to happen and what strategy might work best.

What About Mortgage Rates?

Mortgage rates have spiked since Trump became President-elect. In a post-election article, Forbes magazine noted, “Mortgage rates have already begun rising post-election. The interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has soared to 4% from as low as 3.34% in the past 12 months. Expect a rocky rate road at least until inauguration day.” 

But let's put that in perspective:  "Even at 4% or even 4½ percent," Chad said, "Mortgage rates are still at historic lows. A generation ago, many homebuyers considered themselves lucky to get an interest rate of 10%.

“Homebuyers who are ready to act can feel confident that mortgage money will remain affordable.”

So what's driving this recent run-up? Experts point to two factors: short-term economic uncertainty and medium- to long-term economic growth.

As Forbes reports, “Investors are responding to new uncertainty by pulling their money out of U.S. Treasury Bonds, which serve as a benchmark for mortgage rates, in favor of Japanese and European bonds.  Investors are also betting that President-elect Trump’s proposed economic policies, such as ramping up infrastructure spending and slashing corporate and personal income taxes will encourage prices and a rise in inflation.

However, for all the talk about the Federal Reserve and its interest rate debates, there really isn't a direct link between Fed policy and mortgage interest. As The Mortgage Report, a knowledgeable media source for the real estate and finance industry notes, “U.S. mortgage rates aren't set or established by the Federal Reserve or any of its members. The Fed doesn't make mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are made on Wall Street.”

The State of Mind of Home Buyers in Denver

Most residential real estate brokers will confirm that psychology plays an important role in home buying. Ralph McLaughlin, who is the chief economist at Trulia, a residential real estate tracking site, made an interesting point in an interview with The Washington Post.

“What effect a Trump victory has on the housing market may vary depending on where you live,” McLaughlin says. “Because home buyers in economically healthy blue states are more likely to be rattled by the election outcome and concerned about the future of the economy, they might put off making a large purchase such as a home, causing a drag on the market.” This does not bode well for home sales in Colorado – still very much a blue state.

“In contrast, home buyers in economically stagnant red states are more apt to be optimistic about a Trump administration’s effect on their economic prospects, creating a surge in their confidence about the future and interest in making a big purchase such as a home.”

First Time Buyers: Is it a Good Time to Buy a Home in Denver?

It’s been said that “the market hates uncertainty.” While this phrase is referring to the stock market, first time home buyers can identify with this sentiment. There is no question that a victory by President-elect Trump is fraught with many unanswered questions, including those related to the general economy and specifically to mortgage rates.

“No one has a crystal ball on this situation, “Chad noted. “This uncertainty about the economy in general and mortgage rates in particular, will have many home buyers waiting to see what might happen next. Unfortunately, if they wait too long, there is a chance the housing market will pass them by.

“Even though the experts have differing opinions on almost every factor affecting the housing market, they all pretty much agree on one thing,” he said. “Mortgage rates are not going any lower anytime soon. The rates may be higher than they were last month, but they are very likely to be higher next month.  In terms of timing, this is absolutely the right time to be building a new home.

“I would prefer it be a brick home,” he smiled. “But I’m biased in that regard because brick homes hold their value longer than other types of construction.”

“Besides the mortgage rates, there are other factors to consider,” Chad said. “Every indication suggests that President-elect Trump will commit substantial resources to rebuilding infrastructure and this will put many people to work. These wages, combined with the Fed’s likelihood of increasing the lending rate among banks, will increase inflation and this will increase the price of homes. Again, this suggests that now is the best time to buy a new home.

“Plus, all those workers in the building trades will likely be busy on infrastructure, putting more demand on the already stained construction workforce. This will drive the price of new homes up even further. For all these reasons, now is definitely the time to build a new brick home.” he concluded.

If you would like more information on building a new, brick home while the rates are still relatively low, have your builder contact us and use our online tool to design your dream home!

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According to the National Association of Realtors, the third “hottest zip code” in the United States is 80233 – known to its residents as Northglenn, Colorado. This northern suburb of Denver was recognized as one of America’s sizzling cities based on the time it takes for residential properties to sell and how frequently homes are viewed in each zip code.

This national recognition poses the question: Why is Northglenn so hot?

“It has a larger than normal millennial population and it's in an area of economic growth with a strong job market, so houses stay on the market only for an average of 11 days,” according to and reported by the Denver Business Journal.

Other real estate experts believe that the Northglenn rating is also driven by other reasons, including the large number of brick-constructed homes in the city. In a recent interview, city planning and brick industry consultant, Jessica Ibanez AICP, explained why sustainable building materials and superior aesthetics of homes in the suburb are appealing to young home buyers.

A City Planning Expert Looks at Northglenn

Jessica Ibanez has studied the city codes, demographics and amenities of the suburbs of Denver extensively and offered several reasons for Northglenn’s popularity among young, upscale home buyers.

“Northglenn is almost totally built out and surrounded by other communities,” she said. “Thus, the only development opportunity in Northglenn is through re-development. It has an excellent location, being located on I-25, which is the north-south thoroughfare of metro Denver, and its desirability will be further enhanced by “FasTracks,” Denver’s light rail system which is coming in the next couple years.

“This suburban community was built out primarily in the 1960’s and 70’s,” Jessica said. “During this time, most subdivisions were composed of smaller homes where quality construction was demanded. There were many ranch style homes built of brick in the city during this time period, whereas today, it seems as if home builders are focused more on the increase in square footage and less on the quality of construction.

“In Northglenn, a buyer realizes they are getting a smaller home, but they are assured that they are investing in quality. This means that on one of the largest investments most young families will make, there will be an appreciation in value.

“Communities like Northglenn have character and a sense-of-place that that is not found in newer construction,” Jessica noted. “The neighborhoods have mature trees and well-designed parks. There’s not the monotony that one sees in the newer subdivisions.  

The City’s Building Codes Drive Value

Part of the reason Northglenn is one of the hottest zip codes in the country lies in the city’s commitment to quality in its buildings. The city planners in Northglenn have made good decisions which have enhanced the city’s desirability. Jessica explains.

“The city has recognized the fact that they have a unique advantage of housing stock which is very desirable and they’ve taken steps to protect this through local ordinances,” she noted. “In the planning ordinances of the city of Northglenn, there are mandates for usages of brick and stone on almost every type of residential property. Even if you were to add on to your existing brick home, you would have to do this in a manner that was compatible with the existing structure.

“This gives all property owners assurances that the character of the neighborhood is going to remain consistent. The city has also mandated that new apartments, townhomes and single-family homes must respect the character of the existing homes by being built with brick and stone.

The Nature of Millennials

Much has been written about the traits of people who reached adulthood around 2000. Ideas about what’s hot and what’s not in the minds of Millennials have diverged (to the surprise of no one!) from those of their parents and grandparents. As for building materials, Jessica has noticed a pattern in what these buyers prefer.

“I’ve noticed a trend toward natural building materials,” she said. “During the building boom of the early 2000’s, many homes were built with synthetic materials and those homes are starting to show their age. Now, we are realizing the value of getting back to the old way of doing things.”

She sees an advantage to locally sourced building materials, such as bricks coming from the Acme Brick plant in Castle Rock. With its unique soil and geology, Colorado offers a wide range colors for bricks. These home grown bricks appeal to the aesthetic sensibilities of younger home buyers.

“Having a product ‘of the earth’ which is sustainable and visually pleasing is a powerful draw to Millennials,” she concluded.

Are you considering building a new home in the Denver area? Take a cue from folks who live in one of the hottest zip codes in America. Investigate the advantages of brick construction. To speak with an Acme Brick expert, click here.

Photo Source: Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Creative Commons, Attribution 3.0 Unported License

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Located on the banks of the South Platte River, the lower downtown area of Denver, known as LoDo to residents, was the original settlement of the city. It was founded in 1858 by General William Larimer after gold was discovered in the river. While the area went through many transformations over the years, including the great fire of 1863, LoDo’s fate has always reflected the spirit of the people of Denver.  

Even today, there’s gold in LoDo, but it’s in the form of extremely valuable real estate.

One of the unique aspects of this historic area is its collection of vintage buildings, many of which were built more than a hundred years ago and constructed of brick. This classic vibe has been discovered by the younger residents of Denver – the Millennials – and LoDo has become one of the hottest spots in the city to live, work and play.

In order to better understand the lure of these brick buildings for Millennials, Chad Corcoran, district sales manager of Acme Brick in Castle Rock, was asked to offer his insights about the area. It’s an interesting tale of how the sustainability and charm of historical buildings, constructed of brick, really are timeless.

The Old World Charm of Brick

The LoDo district in current-day Denver is in the heart of the city, literally and figuratively.

“It’s got lots of old-world charm,” Chad noted. “It brings the entertainment and arts district together to make a very special place.”

This area has the highest concentration of brick buildings in the city and many feel this is integral to the distinctive look and feel of the district.  Chad agreed.

“Denver was a small cow-town a hundred years ago and it has developed into a modern, technology driven city. All of the brick buildings bring back the old school feel of the city and give LoDo that warm, rustic feel.

“Some of these building are more than a century old and they are just as attractive and structurally sound today as they were when they were first built. This says a lot about the sustainability of brick construction.

“One of the great things about brick as a building material is the value it adds to the structures. It’s not just a question of the longevity brick adds to a building, but there are also advantages in maintenance (it never needs painting), security (it’s almost vandal-proof), and value (it has lower insurance costs because it is hail and wind resistant).

The Great Denver Fire

In April 1863, a fire consumed the entire city of Denver, including what is now the LoDo district. Because of this wholesale devastation, the city government passed an unusual law which came to be known as “The Brick Ordinance.” This law, in effect until the 1940’s mandated brick construction for all new buildings in the city. It is because of this ordinance that the LoDo district has the large group of brick buildings today. This safety factor of brick construction was the motivation behind The Brick Ordinance and that consideration is still important to modern day Denver. Chad explains.

“We have had some very large fires in the Denver area over the past few years. One which occurred in Rocky Mountain National Park destroyed all of the buildings in the park. Had these building been constructed with brick, they would most likely still be standing.

“Brick adds that factor of fire protection, which is really important in the state of Colorado”, he noted.

The Oxford Hotel

One of the most iconic buildings in LoDo is the Oxford Hotel.  As is the case with Acme Brick, the hotel is celebrating 125 years of operation this year!  

“Union Station and the brick-constructed Oxford Hotel are the focal points for the lower downtown area,” Chad said. “They are located near Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play their home games. As a result, many residents and visitors pass these structures every day.

The beautifully renovated Oxford Hotel maintains its color, even after a century.

“That’s another added value of brick construction,” he noted. “The color doesn’t fade. A brick’s color is derived from natural earth minerals, not artificial pigments, and firing makes it permanent. So a new brick building will have the same rich color decades from now.”

New Brick Buildings in LoDo

Acme Brick supplies bricks for new homes, office buildings and apartments throughout the Denver metro area. Some of these buildings are in the historical LoDo district.

“There are several new buildings in LoDo which are constructed of brick,” Chad said. “ Amli Riverfront Park, Alta City House, EPA Region 8 headquarters, 16 Market Square, Denargo Market and 1560 Market Street, just to name a few.”

How do these new brick buildings blend in with the historical buildings found in LoDo?

“Because brick brings that old world charm, they blend in perfectly with the existing buildings in area. They look great,” he concluded.

Have you decided to build a new home in the Denver area? Have you considered the advantages of brick construction? Click here to talk to an Acme Brick construction expert about the Denver neighborhoods that are offering brick.

Photo Source: Ken Lund via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0