Tailored for You: Exceptionally Detailed Homes of Superior Value

It’s not very common to see affordable homes in the $120’s to the $200’s with stylish exteriors and richly textured interiors.  That is unless you’re touring Villanueva Construction’s homes in the Rio Grande Valley.  This family-owned company founded by Martin Villanueva in 1985 has built its success by constructing beautiful, affordably priced homes that stand above others in even the smallest of details.

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The first impression as you enter a Villanueva home will be “wow.”  The company has perfected the skill of designing uniquely beautiful interiors by using an array of building materials and textures, such as exotic granite countertops, elegant tile work, eye-catching ceiling designs, and designer light fixtures to name a few—all included at no additional cost. Aside from not increasing the price of the home, the best part of these “extras” is that homebuyers are given the opportunity to make choices on colors and materials. “Everyone has different tastes, so the freedom to choose what each homebuyer prefers is key to personalizing the homebuilding process and making it an enjoyable experience from start to finish,” said Interior Design Coordinator, Stephanie Villanueva Benitez.  “And because we offer so many materials and colors to choose from, we are able to accommodate everyone’s individual tastes,” she adScreen Shot 2017-02-09 at 12.34.45 PM.pngded.

Villanueva Construction makes it a priority to keep customers informed and involved in the entire home buying and home building process.  “It’s important, especially with first-time buyers, to invest the time and effort to educate them,” stated Sales Manager, Rosendo Benitez Jr. “Whether it’s having our customers sit down with our in-house architect who is designing their floor plan, helping them with selections of colors and materials, or guiding them through the financing process, we are there for them every step of the way—that’s our promise.”

One area that homebuyers love about Villanueva Construction is their ability to find financing for them, thanks to an array of preferred lenders. Low credit scores are not deal breakers, and homebuyers can get huge savings on closing costs.

A talented and experienced construction team shares the company’s commitment to building high quality, energy efficient homes.  “An on-site construction foreman is responsible for insuring that every phase screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-12-35-08-pmof the construction process follows and meets its building schedule for the efficient and timely delivery of a customer’s dream home,” said Builder, Martin Villanueva. “It is very rewarding for us to do a final walk-through with the new homeowner and see their excitement and joy.  It’s a great feeling for our entire team.” Contact Villanueva Construction for a happy home building experience to remember.

Visit or go to for a complete list of available homes and home sites.

8 Steps To Reach Your New Year/ New Home Resolution.


A Checklist for Choosing a Home That Lasts.

The New Year is a great time to set goals for improving your life.  Whether the goal is to lose weight, to stop smoking, or to start a new career, it’s the season to set positive intentions and turn last year’s “would have, should have, could have” to “Yes! This year, I am going to!”

So, what’s on your New Year’s agenda?  Do you have a New Year’s resolution to buy a place to call your own, that dream home you have always wanted?  Well, the year 2017 is a great time to consider building or buying a custom new home that meets your needs…and dreams.  If your goal for 2017 is to become the proud owner of a new home, we’ve got the checklist to help you invest wisely.

1) Get Pre-Approved for a Loan First
Before you start looking at floor plans or speaking with contractors, you need to know your buying power. This means going through a financial review and getting approval from a lender for a specific amount. This will save you the disappointment of looking at homes outside of your price range. It also shows you’re serious about making a purchase.

2) Research Financial Assistance Programs
There are many programs available that help you become a homeowner faster. Each program has different qualifications you need to meet, so do your homework. You might be surprised to learn you could qualify. As a Texas resident, consider looking at as one potential option.

3) Be Realistic About What You Can Afford
In addition to the amount the bank approves, you need to factor in how much you can spend on a monthly mortgage payment. This means thinking about other expenses, such as how much money you need to live on each week for things like groceries, entertainment, and other necessities.

4) Know When to Splurge and When to Save
One thing to watch is the upgrade costs as you build your home. Be sure to ask about the base price and how much additional features will add to your total price. You want to weigh the value of upgraded fixtures and flooring options to how long they will last. In other words, will the extra money you spend save you down the road from having to replace, say, a carpet or floor that wears faster, but costs less initially.

5) Don’t Just Go for Code – Go for Better Than Code
Just because a house is built to code doesn’t mean it will perform well. Homes built using basic building codes are often less efficient to operate and more costly to maintain. In addition, shoddy quality could invite issues like dust and mold that will make you sick. So work with a BUILT TO SAVE™ (BTS) or ENERGY STAR® builder. These contractors will build above code, ensuring your home will save you significant money in energy costs. For example, a BTS builder will consider cooling options that work in the Rio Grande Valley. This includes having a right-sized air conditioning system, windows, and exteriors that protect against heat gain, and so on.

6) Estimate Resale Value
Take a look not only at the value of your home as you purchase it, but at what comparable homes by this contractor are selling for on the resale market. If possible, visit a house built by a company you are interested in that’s up for sale to get an idea of how well the workmanship holds up after the home has been lived in for a while. Remember that homes with energy certifications like BUILT TO SAVE™ generally provide a higher resale value.

7) Choose the Right Community
In addition to building a home to meet your needs, how do you choose a community in which you want build? There are many points to consider:

Lot Size:  Are the yards big enough?
What’s Nearby: How close is this location to your workplace? How good are the schools? Can you get to shopping districts, hospitals, and other places easily?
What Does the Community Offer: Is there a community center or pool? How about parks and recreational activities?
Homeowner Association Costs: How much are the fees for being a member of the community? What do they cover? Will this fit into your budget?

Check out our new comprehensive New Home Communities Guide where we break down all of these factors and more to help you quickly identify the right development for your new home. See pages 33-36.

8) Have Your Home Inspected by a Professional
Hiring an independent, professional home inspector has saved many people from moving into a home that has substandard workmanship. It is much better to have someone who advocates for your best interests to evaluate your home carefully and point out features that need to be fixed before you close the contract. Once you’ve signed, any existing issues will become your problems to fix.

Hopefully, the checklist here will make it easy for you to realize your new home in the New Year.  Use it to ready yourself for finally making the dream of a brand new home a reality.  Because, “Yes, this year, 2017, you are going to buy a home!”

WestWind Home’s Certified Construction Sets The Foundation.


How a home is designed and engineered in the early stages of construction affects not only the quality of the home and its performance, but also has a tremendous impact on all other phases of construction. More importantly, a well designed and engineered home insures the safety and welfare of homeowners by protecting them and their investment.

That is why WestWind Homes, even though not required by building codes, goes above and beyond to make sure the soil, the foundation, and the initial framing of each of their homes is inspected and tested by licensed third-party engineers. The process is called “Certified Construction” and reflects WestWind Homes’ commitment to building quality homes for their customers.

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Soil Tests and Analysis

Before any construction work begins, geotechnical engineers sample and test the homesite’s soil to ensure that the soil offers sufficient support for the foundation. Soil engineers, experts in the field of soil/structure interaction, analyze and test the soil on the construction site, looking for potential hazards such as compressible and expansive soils. These hazards can cause costly damage arising from soil that swells when wet and shrinks when dry, causing homes to rise, settle, or shift unevenly. Laboratory testing of soil samples insures that WestWind’s high quality standards are met before proceeding with pouring the foundation.

Foundation Testing

The concrete foundation is a critical structural element that, if not done correctly, can have a disastrous outcome. At WestWind Homes, engineers study the consistency, texture, and overall strength of the concrete used in their foundations. One of the most common concrete tests performed is a slump test, which involves filling a cone with concrete and then removing the cone to see how far the concrete sinks or slumps without the support of the cone. If the slump measurement is different between batches of concrete being used, this can indicate problems in concrete consistency. Laboratory tests of the concrete are also incorporated to insure that it contains the proper elements, and other characteristics are studied, such as texture, permeability, and durability. Lastly, cylinders of the concrete are tested under extreme pressure in the laboratory to certify that the strength meets the required specifications for strength.

Structural Integrity and Performance

Only a licensed engineer or registered architect can assess and determine the structural capacity of a home. WestWind’s homes are inspected and assessed by a licensed structural engineer to insure that they meet the expected load bearing and strength requirements needed to provide a safe and durable structure.

By incorporating superior structural integrity with proper sealing, insulation, and energy efficient building science, WestWind Homes is able to offer high-quality homes that out perform others that do not have these features. The company offers ENERGY STAR® and BUILT TO SAVE™ homes which are inspected and tested by independent third party inspectors to verify that they comply with the strict energy-saving requirements of those programs.

The features outlined here, offered by WestWind Homes, are only a few examples of the company’s commitment to building quality homes, illustrated by the fact that after over one million square feet of foundations, a WestWind Homes’ foundation has never failed.

If Your Builders Won’t Buy These Products, Tell Them You Will.

Energy Efficient Products
Recommended by BUILT TO SAVE™

With every issue of the New Homes Guide, this blog post will highlight different materials and/or products that are key contributors to energy savings, interior comfort, and lower utility bills. Often, the little extra expense in up-front costs of these materials and products is minimal compared to long-term savings—especially if you, as the homeowner, consider all the resulting benefits for the life of your home.

One way to know if your home was built using energy efficient products is to look for the BUILT TO SAVE™ certification, which is proof that the home was inspected and tested by an independent and licensed home inspector. Without this written proof from your builder, all you have are just uncertified words.


screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-11-39-12-amApproximately 20 percent of your utility bill goes towards lighting your home. Incandescent light bulbs are a thing of the past, and most are no longer being manufactured. A new energy code law that went into effect in Texas on September 1, 2016, requires that 75% of the lights in a new home consist of energy efficient lighting. Two of the best energy efficient options are compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs use 1/3 of the energy of a traditional incandescent and last ten times longer. LEDs use up to ¼ of the energy of an incandescent and last up to 25 times longer.

Consult the lighting professionals at The Light House Lighting Centers.
Harlingen • McAllen • Pharr • Port Isabel


screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-11-39-27-amThe DuPont Building Envelope system offers products designed for proper moisture and air management within walls. Two products featured here, Tyvek® HomeWrap® and DuPont™ FlexWrap™, do a superior job of controlling air flow and water intrusion. Tyvek® HomeWrap® prevents mold and water damage by allowing moisture vapor to pass through, allowing walls to dry. DuPont™ FlexWrap™ is a self-adhering flashing wrapped into the rough opening before the window or door is installed. The flashing adheres to the Tyvek®HomeWrap® for a continuous weather barrier where water damage is most likely to occur.  These products can lower energy bills by controlling air flow and water intrusion, making insulation perform better.

Find out more from the professionals at Zarsky Lumber Company.
700 S. Bicentennial Blvd., McAllen, TX
(956) 686-5403 •

Learn more about the BUILT TO SAVE™ Program and its benefits at

Whole House Comfort: It’s All About The Humidity.

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The key to insuring whole house comfort is as simple as making sure the humidity in your home is controlled.

Controlling the humidity levels in your home not only increases comfort and the quality of indoor air, it also saves energy and lowers your utility bill. Achieving this task, however, involves several components in the construction process that need to work together properly to achieve “whole house” comfort. Here’s what you need to know.

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 10.47.19 AM.pngHumidity is the amount of moisture in the air. During the summer months, humidity rises, and the air can feel uncomfortably sticky, stifling, and damp. Aside from making interiors uncomfortable, high humidity can cause moisture to collect in areas of the home, potentially causing mold and bacteria. In contrast, during the winter, humidity is low and leads to dry air that can cause health issues like dry or cracked skin, nasal congestion, and scratchy throats. In your home, low humidity can also cause your wooden floors and furniture to lose moisture and crack or separate.

So what is the solution and how can you guarantee your home will be comfortable? The best solution is not to take anyone’s word that your home will be comfortable. Look for a BUILT TO SAVE™ certified home. Homes that receive the BUILT TO SAVE™ certification have been inspected and tested by a licensed third-party home energy rater who guarantees—in writing—that the builder has met all of the requirements of the program designed to make a home more energy efficient and MORE COMFORTABLE, compared to a similar home built to minimum code.

Visit to find a BUILT TO SAVE™ builder or see inside cover.

Busting The Myth About Big A/C Units



Buying the wrong size of air conditioning unit may seem like a small mistake, but it will affect you in a BIG way! That’s right. Making this one mistake will cost a homeowner much more in utility costs than necessary and, more importantly, will have a 100% impact on the home’s interior comfort. That one mistake is “oversizing the air conditioning unit (AC).” The size of the AC unit is important because if the unit is too small, it won’t cool the home properly, and if it’s too big, the AC unit will cost more to buy, more to operate, and may result in clammy, uncomfortable interiors with potential long term moisture problems. So how does one know what the right size is? Here’s what you need to know.

Busting The Myth That Bigger Is Always Better

A common myth persists that when it comes to AC units, bigger is better. But—don’t believe people who tell you that a bigger AC unit will be more comfortable and more efficient. Contractors promote the myth, and to consumers, it seems logical and therefore believable. Unfortunately, however, nothing could be further from the truth. That may be true for other things, but when buying an AC unit, “bigger” is not better—“right size” is better.

If your air conditioner is too big for your home:
• The unit won’t run long enough to pull the humidity out of the air, creating an unpleasant, clammy house. No one wants to have moldy, smelly clothes or feel sticky inside their home.
• Increased moisture indoors may accumulate and cause mold issues over time.
• It will cost more than necessary to buy, install, and power.
• It will cycle on and off frequently, causing uneven temperatures inside and potentially more wear and maintenance.

Think about how you buy shoes: a size too small will cause blisters and pain, while a size too big will never stay on your foot. The idea is the same in trying to find the size of the AC unit that will fit your home’s unique design, square footage, location, number of occupants, and other factors specific to that house that will have an impact on the load calculations for the AC unit.

Methods Used For Sizing Your AC Units

1. Using Square Footage

This method, which is unfortunately one of the most common used by contractors, is the worst way to size an AC system. The most common formula is requiring 1 ton of cooling power for every 600-800 square feet. Tighter built and spray foam insulation homes would use a formula of maybe 1 ton per 1,000 square feet of house. Using square footage alone to determine the size of the unit that will meet the proper cooling (or heating) loads required by the home completely ignores the major role of factors such as climate, insulation type, window values, air infiltration, and many others that would affect load calculations. Clearly, using the square footage is one sure way to over-size the AC unit. And there is no square foot rule of thumb for determining heating equipment size because the estimate would be even more inaccurate.

2. Manual J Calculation Is The Best Way

The best method by far for the correct sizing of an HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system is called the Manual J Calculation. It is a procedure developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) that uses specialized software to determine the correct size required based on the information that is input. And this is where it gets tricky. Everyone has heard the expression “garbage in, garbage out.” Well, this idea is especially applicable because if the Manual J information is input incorrectly, either by mistake or deliberately, the resulting size calculations will be incorrect.

The following is an example of the type of information used in the Manual J to determine the correct size of an AC unit for a specific home. The company that installs your AC is supposed to input information like this about your home into a Manual J software program. This information includes:

• The square footage
• Number of rooms
• Average number of people in the home
• Window types and direction
• Construction of the roof
• Direction the home faces
• Average outside temperatures in summer and winter

The software program then does what are called “load calculations” on each room and your house as a whole to determine the proper sized unit for the home. When the contractor takes the time to do this calculation, you get an HVAC size that is right for your home.

The best advice is not to rely solely on your HVAC contractor for your Manual J.  This will eliminate an obvious conflict of interest. What that means is that since the HVAC contractor is the one selling you the HVAC system, and these are sold by the ton, it stands to reason that the more tonnage required, the higher the profit for the HVAC contractor. This is not intended to imply that HVAC contractors are dishonest, but rather simply to point out the obvious conflict of interest. After all, inspecting the information input on the Manual J can easily identify fraud or devious intentions. While some inaccurate inputs may be honest mistakes, other outright attempts to manipulate the Manual J to justify an oversized air conditioning system can easily be spotted by a third-party home inspector. Which brings us to our final point: the third-party inspector.

3. And The Best Way: Ask Your Builder For A BUILT TO SAVE™ Certified Home

Asking for a BUILT TO SAVE™ certified home works with Option 2 (above). One of cornerstones of the BUILT TO SAVE™ High-Performance Homes Program is that in order for a home to be certified as BUILT TO SAVE™, the HVAC system must be properly sized. This is a critical component that insures many of the benefits of a BUILT TO SAVE™ home: improved energy efficiency, even temperatures from room to room, and comfortable interiors. Inspections and testing are performed by third-party, licensed home energy raters who review Manual J and other applicable documents such as Manuals D, S, and T to make sure the home is in compliance with the BUILT TO SAVE™ program requirements and that the information is accurate. In short, you don’t have to know how to do a good Manual J—you just have to know a good professional who does. If your builder offers a BUILT TO SAVE™ home, you can rest assured you will have an excellent home with a properly sized HVAC system for years to come.

For more information or to find a BUILT TO SAVE™ builder affiliate, visit or call 956-971-9700.

BUILT TO SAVE™ Energy Efficient Products – (Dec.&Jan. Spotlight)


Compare Small upfront cost with huge energy savings for life.

The path to building a high-performance home begins with using the right energy-saving products across a whole range of categories—from insulation to windows, roofing, and other materials that have a huge impact on energy consumption. Listed here are two products that are key contributors to energy savings. If your builder is not using these products or similar products, you will be missing an opportunity for long-term energy savings on your home. One way to insure your home is built using energy efficient products is to look for the BUILT TO SAVE™ Certified brand. A home certified in the BUILT TO SAVE™ program is inspected and tested by a licensed third-party home energy rater to verify that the home is built to the high performance “above-code” standards of the program.

“If your builders won’t BUY these products, Tell them you will!”

Using radiant barrier roof sheathing or decking is one of the most inexpensive and cost effective ways to save on utilities. This product can be as little as $2 more per sheet than non-radiant barrier decking, yet some don’t use it in constructing a home because it adds (often as little as $500) to the cost of the home. The Eclipse radiant barrier decking is designed with a foil backing to block up to 97% of the sun’s radiant heat, cutting attic temperatures by as much as 30°. Radiant barrier decking can easily pay for itself in
less than one year with savings on utilities. This product is available at Matt’s Building Materials where you’ll find the lowest prices.

matt's building materials, rgv, new homes guide, built to save

The new codes adopted by the State of Texas, effective September 1, 2016, include higher energy efficiency requirements for all windows and doors. Make sure your builder is aware of the new changes, or you may be required to remove and replace whatever was installed that is not in compliance with the new laws. The best way to safeguard against this happening is to trust knowledgeable suppliers like Zarsky Lumber Co. who only stock windows that are compliant with the new code laws. PLY GEM’s Builder Series Windows offered by Zarsky Lumber deliver the highest performance at the best value. They offer great energy efficiency, low maintenance, and an extensive array of product styles, colors, and textures.


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