A new method of drilling has made it possible to extract natural gas contained within the Barnett Shale—an approximately 5,000-square-foot geological formation near Dallas that is the country's second-largest oil field. “Neighborhoods are leasing their districts [to gas companies], and each homeowner will get a portion of the proceeds,” says Brent Hull of Hull Watson Homes, Fort Worth, Texas, adding that he's heard the windfall estimated as high as $800 per household per month for the next 10 or 20 years. “We hope it will make us recession-proof [for the foreseeable future],” Hull says.

With the local market booming, Hull says contractors are coming out of the woodwork to take advantage of the opportunity. “All boats rise in a high tide,” he says. “We're seeing a lot of new signs show up in yards.”

Hull Watson Homes' longevity helps make it a fixture in the market, but the company is taking steps to further distinguish itself from the increased competition. A new branding and marketing campaign will feature, among other things, a new logo and a redesigned company Web site.