Reflecting on Three Decades of Builder and Developer

Builder and Developer continues to deliver insightful coverage of the housing industry 30 years after its first publication in 1990

By Brian Alvarado

In 1990, our Publisher and Editor-In-Chief Nick Slevin had been in the magazine business for about five years, immersing himself in the advertising departments of numerous publications in Dublin, and eventually in London. After making the big move to the U.S., Slevin continued his work in the magazine industry before taking a job with The Southern California Builder, the Building Industry Association of Southern California’s (BIA SC) publication.

“I made a mental note in my then 25-year-old brain that there was room for improvement in terms of builder media—in my humble opinion,” Slevin said.

After convincing his friend and fellow media man Stuart Cochrane to back the magazine, Builder and Developer was established, getting its humble beginning on a coffee table of the Newport Beach apartment that Slevin had shared with three friends from the local rugby club. Each morning, his roommates, a CPA, a lawyer and an engineer, would get dressed and get out the door to take on the workday. Slevin would put on his coat and tie and make his way to the coffee table and start making phone calls. One of the first investments that he made was a membership with the Orange County Building Industry Association, where he soon became a fixture at monthly meetings and various committees. Times were much different back then—we were at war in Iraq, the economy was slowing and the industry was in decline. But in Slevin’s eyes, it was the best time to launch a new magazine business, born in the crucible of adversity.

Once 1992 rolled around and after publishing the first 14 issues, the magazine finally found a more appropriate place to call home at an office in the Cannery Village in Newport Beach. Slevin hired two editors and put its sign over the door.

“We were being awarded consistent advertising business and developing a loyal group of contributors from within the building industry. Circulation expanded our coverage of the California home building industry to include Nevada and Arizona, followed a year later by Oregon, Washington and the Pacific Northwest. A year later we added New Mexico and the great state of Texas,” Slevin said.

The magazine joined BIA and HBA chapters in the areas it expanded coverage to, providing subscription to members. Builder and Developer joined the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and eventually, the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Continuing to leave an imprint on the building industry, the magazine frequently exhibited at prominent trade shows such as IBS, PCBC, the Midwest Builders Show and others, gathering subscribers and growing the brand a little bit at a time.

“All the while, we reported on the business of home building, showcasing builders and their successful projects, sharing ideas and innovations from consultants, architects, engineers, sales analysts, interior designers, trade contractors and politicians,” Slevin said.

Once May 1996 rolled around and after the internet was created, www.bdmag.com was among the first industry websites to go live online. Now, each title has its own website, and the e-newsletter www.builderbytes.com goes out three times a week.

“Like most media companies, we found our feet on the internet and continued to channel our original content via our online portals, social media pages and print,” Slevin said.

After nine years in business, the company began to feel comfortable enough to roll out additional titles such as OPTIONS For Today’s Fine Homes, covering the upgrades market. Next came 50+ Builder, Residential Contractor and Green Home Builder to join the roster of U.S. home building industry publications.

The parent company of these titles was given the name Peninsula Publishing to honor the famous Newport Beach Peninsula where the business was created.

Fast-forward to 2007, and Peninsula Publishing produced a successful trade conference called Homex in Long Beach, Calif. The show catered to senior home building management and drew a crowd just shy of 2,000 attendees.

Once 2008 arrived, the company endured the downturn and continued to publish both print and digitally for professionals that were fortunate enough to survive the crisis.

Later, Green Home Builder Magazine linked up with Southern California Edison and The Southern California Gas Company to develop The ABC Green Home Project.

“The ABC Green Home Project is a series of affordable, buildable and certified green Zero Net Energy demonstration homes to benefit U.S. veterans,” Slevin said. “We continue to use our advertiser’s building materials and with the help of our friends at KTGY and Danielian Associates, have designed and created these homes to showcase best practices in modern American home building, featuring attractive, sustainable design, construction and technology.”

The series currently has four completed builds throughout Southern California, with 5.0 on the boards. The current house, 4.0, is located in Crestline, Calif. and achieved an Energy Design Rating of -2.7 (Net Positive), or 37% above the 2019 California Title 24 Building Code.

To date, The ABC Green Home Project has received 44 separate commendations, recognitions, prizes and awards, and has earned advanced energy certifications from 10 separate agencies and organizations, such as the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) and leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED).

I made a mental note in my then 25-year-old brain that there was room for improvement in terms of builder media—in my humble opinion.”

2020 has been a strange year for just about everybody, but a special one as the magazine enters its 30th year. As the global pandemic ensued and the economy began to feel the repercussions, the magazine continued to publish digitally and in print with a number of issues done completely remote. Coincidentally, the housing industry has remained one of the economy’s bright spots and is strong and active. Additionally, the birth of our green-themed newsletter www.greenhomebytes.com was born and goes out twice a week.

With the year now coming to a close and year 31 just around the corner, B&D continues national coverage of the industry, publishing each, while Green Home Builder and our infrastructure-focused American Infrastructure publish every other month.

“The ride continues. I am still madly in love with the magazine and media business
and crazy about Builder and Developer, our flagship magazine that started it all 30 years ago,” Slevin said. “I want to thank all of our loyal advertisers, without whom this magazine would not have come to life. Please support the fine businesses whose messages grace our pages each month.”

Here’s to the next 30 years.

Brian Alvarado is the editor of Builder and Developer Magazine. He can be reached at brian@builder.media.

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