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RYLAND PUTS COMFORT FIRST

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Walk into a Ryland Home, and the first impression is one of openness, light and comfort.

At first, it's hard to figure out just what it is that makes the homes seem so comfortable. After a while, it becomes obvious - it's all the extra touches that set Ryland Homes apart.Hallways frequently are 4 feet wide - big enough so five adults can stand around talking comfortably. Ceilings often are 9 feet above the floor - high enough to give a sense of spaciousness without creating a claustrophobic tunnel effect. Windows can be sweeping and grand or small and helpful like the bullet windows that brighten the space between a kitchen cupboard and counter top.

To top it off, the homes have big basements that can be finished into extra bedrooms or even another family room.

"Our goal is to have our homes be the best salespeople we have," said Brian Brady, Ryland's Salt Lake division president.

There are 10 floor plans in Ryland's 190 lots under construction at South Mountain at 14000 S. 1300 East in Draper The models include multilevel, two-story and ranch houses.

The three furnished models - the Wasatch (about $217,000), the Moab ($193,000) and the Promontory ($220,000) - show visitors three distinctly different lifestyles that all incorporate the extra details that make the Ryland Homes difference.

One signature touch is a series of niches with recessed lighting around the fireplace and entertainment center. These settings allow family pictures, heirlooms, conversation pieces and plants to be displayed with flair.

Ryland also makes frequent use of open vistas (glassless internal windows) that allow visibility from one room to the next, windows above doors and 45-degree angles in rooms to give a real sense of roominess.

"A lot of builders are really good at building a box. The trick is to get the same square footage, but at the same time, not have it be a box. If you can do that well, you can go from building a box to building a home," Brady said.

It sounds like an exaggeration, but just walking in can be fun.

"We try to have as many lines of sight as possible," Brady said.

The Moab, a one-story rambler, has three lines of sight visible from the front door - the fireplace and entertainment center off to one side, the central part of the house straight ahead and a formal dining room off to the other side.

Natural light also is an important feature. Ryland tries to keep windows as big as possible but also provides many energy-saving amenities.

Another favorite Ryland feature is incorporating a lot of recessed- can lighting in ceilings, which brightens hallways, closets, entryways and also keeps walls from being cluttered with light switches. "It leaves the walls free for artwork and pictures," Brady said.

Good architecture is one reason Ryland Homes are so appealing. Another is the fact that the national company relies heavily on focus groups to find out what people want in their homes.

"For example, we pre-wire for security systems in all our homes," Brady said. "When we interviewed women, security was at the top of the list of things they wanted."

Wiring for security systems is expensive if done later but doesn'tcost that much if it's incorporated into the original construction - and it makes women customers happy.

The Ryland Group Inc., which is the nation's third largest home-builder, opened its Salt Lake division office in 1994. Since then, it has built four "communities" (the company prefers this to "subdivisions"): Mountain Vistas and Shady Lane in West Jordan, Lakeview in West Valley City and Ryland at Cedar Hills in Utah County.