Nation's Building News Online: July 28, 2003
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Study Finds New Ways to Provide for Infrastructure
A new publication from NAHB — “Building for Tomorrow: Innovative Infrastructure Solutions” — identifies many of the most promising alternatives for meeting the infrastructure needs of communities.
To download the report, NAHB members can click here.
“It is encouraging to note that more and more state and local governments are using innovative strategies to finance, build and manage much-needed infrastructure,” said NAHB President Kent Conine.
“Through these innovations, they are making the most of their communities’ resources,” he said. “Some forward-thinking jurisdictions are using one or more of these innovative mechanisms to help get infrastructure built more quickly and less expensively.”
At a general assembly of the National Association of Counties in Milwaukee last month, Conine discussed collaborative efforts between NAHB and that group to help meet the need for expanded infrastructure at a time when governments are facing difficult financial challenges.
As an example of what local governments can do, he cited the decision of Alabama to use GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles) bonds to finance the replacement or repair of 1,300 county bridges, many of which were in such bad shape that it was unsafe for school buses to cross them.
The special bonds were authorized by the state legislature and approved by the state’s voters in November 2000.
GARVEE’s are special bonds that are used by states for a compelling, short-term need that requires a large amount of capital. They enable the state to borrow against anticipated future federal funds.
NAHB’s new report provides case studies on innovative approaches to providing infrastructure and explains the conditions under which various approaches are best suited.
Reports from those case studies will appear in future issues of this publication. Examples of where innovations are scoring success include:
“Not all of these ideas will work for every community, and initially there may be challenges associated with these new mechanisms until they gain more widespread application,” Conine cautioned.
“But for enterprising jurisdictions, successful application of the right infrastructure strategies can yield significant benefits for local governments and their citizens,” he said.
Building News Coast To Coast
Building a Model Home in the Land of Electrons
Major builders such as Toll Brothers, Pulte Homes, Shea Homes and Trammell Crow are warming up to virtual tours that helps prospective buyers envision how a particular model as well as an entire planned development will look in its finished state. The software programs, offered by Quebec's 3D Virtual Solutions and a number of other companies, are designed to produce a certain mood that will inspire house-hunters to buy into a specific development. Alpha-Vision of Scottsdale, AZ, even embellishes its virtual reality tours with images of people attending to daily tasks. It also has the ability to add music and voiceovers. "We match the demographics of what the developer seeks," explains Alpha-Vision's Kevin Small, noting that the details are so specific that preferred brands of dishwashers are used and televisions are tuned into specific programs. Despite their technological capabilities, virtual model homes are highly affordable, costing only about 5%-10% of the cost of constructing a bricks-and-mortar representation. The virtual model homes typically are offered at the sales center of new developments, often on a DVD or in CD-ROM format.
Home Builders Laud New Licensing Law
The Home Builders Association of Tennessee supports a new law that requires previously unlicensed builders in 58 counties to abide by state licensing requirements. Those failing to secure a license over the course of the three-year grace period will be forced to complete the full examination process. Though unlicensed builders basically will be given a free license during the grace period, Home Builders Association President Keith Whittington believes the provision is better than allowing them to continue operating with no license at all — especially since they still will be held accountable to regulators even during the grace period. Instead of taking builders straight to court, the law requires home owners to file complaints with the state licensing board, which then can revoke the builder's license if the problems are not resolved.
Boomers Making In-Home Changes
Recognizing that their good health will not last forever, baby boomers increasingly are building new homes or remodeling their existing dwellings in a way that will allow them to stay put even if confined to a wheelchair. Many are opting for wider doorways and hallways, higher countertops and dishwashers, door and faucet levers and lower light switches — all of which are easier and cheaper to incorporate into a floor plan before the home is built. Indeed, remodeling projects that let home owners age in place can run as high as $15,000 or more. Ranch-style housing plans allow boomers to prepare for old age by moving all of their living space to a single floor, and building a ramp or sloped sidewalk makes entrances more accessible. As for the bathroom, many older home owners want showers without thresholds; a larger turning radius to maneuver a wheelchair; grab bars and slip-resistant tiles. Some are even transforming their dens into first-floor bedrooms to accommodate their aging parents. The baby boomer's influence on the housing market is so significant, in fact, that NAHB even sponsors a Certified Aging in Place training program that seeks to help contractors evaluate the shelter needs of older clients.
Taking It All Apart
A growing number of home owners and builders are taking on deconstruction projects — which are cheaper than demolitions, reduce construction waste and allow antique features to be reused in newer dwellings. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that home renovations and demolitions accounted for 51.6 million tons of waste in 1996, but the Deconstruction Institute figures that as much as 23 million Btu's of embodied energy is saved when the average single-family home is systematically taken apart. Cabinets, doors, windows, flooring, fixtures, furnaces, appliances, siding, bricks and lumber are often recycled; but stucco, plaster, drywall and roofing materials usually are thrown away. he cost of a deconstruction project is based on the location and layout of the home site, the building's components, disposal fees, whether or not the construction team is experienced, tax incentives and the value of the recovered materials. Though deconstruction offers cost savings and protects the home's landscaping, some people prefer demolitions because they are quicker. Numerous organizations nationwide are working to promote deconstruction through financial incentives and educational programs.
Members Only: Gated Communities Becoming Popular in Georgia
Residential communities encircled by gates have been embraced by home owners in the U.S. Southeast for decades, but the trend especially is gaining ground in middle Georgia. "The gate concept has been around for a while," confirms University of Georgia sociologist Doug Bachtel. It's just getting to be more popular." According to Bachtel and other sociologists, the main appeal of gated developments is the security: the desire for it and the perception of it that gates lend. While developers readily concede that enclosed communities are not impenetrable, they say the gates generally discourage burglars and other troublemakers. However, critics worry that the proclivity for gated surroundings is leading Americans into an isolated and elitist way of life. And with African Americans accounting for just 15% of households in gated communities, there are some concerns about discrimination creeping into the picture. Meanwhile, even as the popularity of gated communities is going up, many developments are choosing to take them down. Instead of paying an annual fee to their neighborhood association for road maintenance, removing gates usually transfers that responsibility to local government.
Retirees Altering Life in Suburbs
Active-adult communities for people over the age of 55 are popping up in non-traditional retirement locales like Pennsylvania, whose senior population exceeds that of all other states except Florida. In fact, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission expects seniors aged 65 and older to account for 20% of the regional population by 2025. Most older home owners are drawn to active-adult communities for the lifestyle, not the homes, and many find themselves involved in more activities and groups than in the past. According to All Ways Healthy President Roger Landry, the social networking afforded by these communities safeguards their residents against depression, dementia, heart disease and other ailments that can cause health to deteriorate. However, some are worried that the growing popularity of active-adult communities will dramatically change the suburban landscape, separating seniors from young families with children and sparking battles over school taxes. Local governments prefer senior developments because they raise tax money without burdening the school systems, but some planners are concerned about those built miles from shopping, transportation and other necessary services.
New Building Practices Can Clean Indoor Environments
The U.S. Green Building Council gives its seal of approval to structures with energy-saving components and standards that improve indoor air quality (IAQ). The number of green-certified buildings jumped from 230 in 2001 to 331 last year. Those with favorable indoor air feature paints, furniture, carpets and glues with low volatile organic compound (VOC) content; less hazardous cleaning and pest control products; and better ventilation. In California, furniture and carpet suppliers must comply with stringent gas emission standards; while public schools in Minneapolis must have adequate ventilation and only small traces of chemical odors. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has released the Tools for Schools guidelines, which are helping some 10,000 schools across the country to implement sensible, low-cost changes that improve IAQ. Meanwhile, the home building community also is showing interest in IAQ protections. Residences can be protected from moisture and dangerous gases, for example, with a thick polyethylene sheet on the floor of the crawl space. However, these and other measures can boost home prices by 5%-25%, according to one estimate.
Housing Conversions Spark Worry — And Opportunity
Thousands of low-cost U.S. housing projects built in the past 15 or 20 years are facing the prospect of conversion to market-rent shelter now that their federal subsidies are on the verge of expiring. While most of the buildings constructed under the federal government's Low Income Housing Tax Credit, HUD 236 or Mitchell-Lama programs are being folded into new subsidized-housing initiatives, many others are being sold to investors eager to renovate the properties and charge the going rate for rent. According to statistics provided by Sister Lillian Murphy of the Denver-based religious organization Mercy Housing, about 300,000 of the 1 million subsidized-housing units that have reached expiration have been converted into market-rate rentals. At a time when the country's population is expanding, housing advocates balk at any reduction at all in low-income shelter, especially in coastal markets. On the other hand, many private developers are finding that it is worth their while financially to keep the buildings as subsidized properties after taking advantage of tax breaks, low-cost financing and other attractive incentives dangled by states. Meanwhile, David Robinson — president and CEO of Aimco, a major heavyweight in the market — counts off the many other appealing attributes of subsidized housing, including "very high occupancy, very secure cash flow because of the subsidies and a very stable portfolio."
Convert a Garage Into a Living Space
Research reveals that 45% of the nation's home owners have renovated their garages, transforming them into workout rooms, living spaces, play or party areas and home offices. However, these projects can be difficult — especially if the local building department deems certain structural, electrical, mechanical or plumbing upgrades necessary. Once the building and planning departments have been consulted, home owners need to hire a designer to draw up the building plans, which will be used to obtain the required permits and pass inspection. In addition to building codes, other factors that need to be addressed include whether the garage floor will need to be elevated and if heating and cooling or electrical systems need to be installed. Home owners also must decide if they will replace the garage door with windows and determine whether plumbing and mechanical components will be moved. Finally, the placement of windows and doors to meet light and ventilation requirements, as well as insulation, caulking and other energy-efficient improvements, are also important considerations.
A Touch of Glass
Windows are playing a bigger part in modern residential design, according to NAHB — which reports that today's average home features 16 windows, compared to a dozen in 1988. High-end houses with between 4,000 and 5,000 square feet of space have even more, usually not less than 20. New technology, meanwhile, has paved the way for windows that do more than just let in light and frame outdoor views. With suspended particle device (SPD) technology, or smart windows, home owners can darken their windows with an electric dimmer switch. These windows are energy-efficient and keep rugs, artwork, furniture and other belongings from fading in the sun. Experts believe photocells will be used someday to automatically darken and lighten glass depending on the time of day. There are also self-cleaning windows with a layer of titanium oxide on the outside so that dirt and debris are removed when it rains; although they cost 15% more than traditional models, some substances do not slide off and home owners in drier climates will need to rinse them frequently. Yet another high-tech offering converts a normal, clear window into an opaque movie screen or computer monitor.
When You Move, Take Your Kitchen
Kitchen remodels can be extremely pricey, but Realtors® agree that home owners are likely to recoup most of the cost when they sell. With modular kitchens, however, home owners can take the entire room with them when they relocate to another dwelling. They can choose from modular cooking, sink and storage units that can be moved into other rooms or pushed together to create large islands. These movable units let home owners avoid extensive kitchen renovations in their new residence and give buyers the chance to create their own dream kitchens from scratch.
Subdivisions to Mate With Nature
Developer Peter McGarey plans to build more than 150 homes on 148 acres in Ohio's Anderson and Union Townships in a development that could be considered part-subdivision and part-nature preserve. Says McGarey, "It will cater to the land as it is now with all these trees and creeks." Over a third of the land will be preserved, and residents will enjoy miles of walking trails. Township officials appear pleased with McGarey's plans because of all the open space. The homes in Anderson Township will fetch $450,000 to $1.5 million, while those in Union Township will be geared toward empty-nesters and priced from the high $300,000s to $600,000. McGarey expects the homes to be completed by the end of next year.
NBN Online Goes on Recess
Nation's Building News Online will be taking a midsummer recess next week. There will not be an issue on Aug. 4. Publication will resume on the following Monday, Aug. 11. So check your desktop then for the latest industry news and for news you can use to help make your business more profitable.
Tucson Zero Energy Home Sets the Stage for Further Research
The Tucson Zero Energy Home, which was designed to generate as much energy as it consumes, was sold less than one month after its grand opening earlier this year.
The 1,718 square-foot home, which was built by Tucson builder John Wesley Miller in
Tucson Zero Energy Home Sets the Stage for Further Research
The Tucson Zero Energy Home, which was designed to generate as much energy as it consumes, was sold less than one month after its grand opening earlier this year.
The 1,718 square-foot home, which was built by Tucson builder John Wesley Miller in partnership with the NAHB Research Center and Tucson Electric Power, is part of a national demonstration program that is introducing the concept of the zero-energy home into the single-family home building industry.
Built in Miller’s Armory Park del Sol community — a downtown Tucson subdivision that features energy efficient design and renewable energy systems — the home is connected to the utility grid but it has been built with features that reduce its need for energy and take advantage of electricity generated by the sun.
Tucson Electric Power has agreed to run the home’s meter backward and credit its owners when the home’s renewable energy systems put power back into the grid.
Reducing the home’s cooling load — a major objective of its desert-climate design — has been achieved through the use of thermal mass walls with increased exterior wall insulation, low solar heat gain windows, porches for window shading, radiant barrier roof decking and reflective roof coating.
To reach the goal of zero net-energy use, the home combines an efficient building design, very high-efficiency air cooling equipment, a solar thermal space and water heating system, high-energy lighting and appliances and a 3.5 kilowatt photovoltaic array.
Special attention was also given to lighting and appliance loads, which are higher than the combined heating and cooling loads in the home’s design.
Using energy simulation software, the design team studied 32 combinations of energy features.
The final package they decided upon includes: two-inch polyisocyanurate wall insulation, R-43 ceiling insulation, an 18-SEER air conditioner, a solar thermal space and water heating system, Energy-Star-rated appliances and a permanent fluorescent lighting package.
Engineers made their choices based on the lowest life-cycle and upfront costs.
Other energy saving features of the home include: radiant barrier roof decking, reflective roof coating, a tankless water heater with a plastic PEX hot water distribution system, water-saving bath and kitchen fixtures, placement of ductwork in conditioned space, clustering of hot-water fixtures where possible, compact house design, efficient ventilation fans and a programmable thermostat.
NAHB Research Center engineers will be monitoring the home’s performance for the next year.
The following companies sponsored the project: BP Solar; Carrier Corporation; Dankoff Solar; Global Solar; Kohler Co.; Microtherm, Inc./SEISCO; Milgard Windows; Nora Lighting; Osram Sylvania; Panasonic; Panasonic Ventilation; Sioux Chief Manufacturing Company, Inc.; SMA America, Inc.; SunEarth, Inc.; Sun Lighting of Tucson; Studor, Inc.; LP Corporation/TechShield; The Solar Store; and Whirlpool Corporation.
For the next phase of its research in this area, the NHB Research Center is now looking for participants who construct more than 100 homes per year to build zero energy demonstration homes across the country and in various climates.
Eventually, entire neighborhoods of these homes will be built.
Builders, manufacturers, utilities, lenders, Realtors®, appraisers and others who are interested in participating in future projects can e-mail Jeannie Leggett Sikora or call her at 301-430-6289.
Housing last week continued to dominate the good news coming out of the economy, but received a run for its money from a 1.9% increase on Wall Street on Friday. Reports on both new and existing home sales provided further evidence that 2003 will be another record-setter for the housing market. Mortgage interest rates rose for the third consecutive week, but that trend is not expected to discourage home buyers too much because the rates had fallen to such low levels. The Census Bureau said that 68% of the nation's households were home owners in this year's second quarter, a 0.6% increase over the same period a year earlier. The increase was twice as large for black families, which, along with other minorities, have been lagging significantly behind the white population.
Mortgage Interest Rates
30 Year Fixed Rate: 5.94\%
Housing Starts: Jun. 2003
Total: 1.80 million\%
New Home Sales: Jun. 2003 *
Existing Home Sales: Jun. 2003 *
* Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate
Editorials Attacking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Are Seriously Misguided
Nothing is more important to our nation’s system of housing finance than ensuring the health of our secondary mortgage market institutions. That’s why it is so disturbing to see irresponsible attacks on the mission of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac appearing in recent newspaper editorials.
While the revelation of Freddie Mac’s accounting problems raises legitimate concerns about determining whether reform measures may be required, that process is only now getting underway in congressional hearings. Editorial writers who are jumping the gun and questioning whether these institutions deserve the implicit backing of the federal government are doing the public an immense disservice. First, they are focusing attention away from the real issues at hand. And second, they are suggesting proposals that risk seriously damaging a financial system that has been enormously beneficial to providing decent, affordable housing to the American people.
Maybe these writers are too young to appreciate the progress that has been made through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because they don’t remember the days, about three decades ago, when the nation’s home buyers had to rely on passbook savings accounts for their mortgage money. That source of financing was unreliable, to say the least, and there were some painful times in the housing cycle when home financing was largely unavailable at any price.
Or maybe these writers don’t grasp a reality that is obvious to most people in this country: Homeownership and rental housing opportunity are the glue that binds healthy neighborhoods and the means for families to get ahead and strive for achieving the good things in life that are so abundant in America. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in addition to their activities on behalf of home buying, also help bring financing to multifamily housing.
A July 5 editorial in the Dallas Morning News recently noted that, “providing available and affordable housing loans is an important public mission…and no one should willingly weaken this effort.” That same article concludes: “Congress must rethink the federal government’s neither-fish-nor-fowl relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and decide whether the federal government should remain the mortgage market’s traffic cop, or whether competition and access are better served if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t operate from a playing field intentionally tilted in their favor.”
What is the point of suggesting that housing is an important public concern and then proposing to rob it of the national commitment that has been indispensable in creating the soundest, most effective and efficient home financing system anywhere in the world today?
The truth is that our housing finance delivery system would not be where it is today without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And as we look to address the housing needs of our growing population, we will not get to where we want to be in the future if their strength is sapped. That is a current danger in Washington.
As hearings in Congress continue, lawmakers need to gather all the facts and take a cautious approach to any reform or change in the regulatory oversight of the GSEs. Otherwise, we risk damaging our national priority for housing and creating a financing system that would give the editorialists at the Dallas Morning News something to really complain about.
SBA Office Understands Builders' Need for Economic Analysis Under ESA
By Marty Mitchell
On behalf of builders in Arizona, NAHB has met with the office several times in recent months to bring to its attention a habitat designation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will regulate more than 1.2 million acres of the state’s Pima and Pinal Counties at a cost of $108 million to businesses over a 10-year period.
The Office of Advocacy, which is responsible for representing the interests of small businesses in the regulatory process, on June 27 urged the Fish and Wildlife Service to take these actions immediately:
The Office of Advocacy is also charged with seeing that other federal agencies comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act. That law requires the agencies to explain the fiscal impact of their proposed rules on small businesses, unless they “certify” that the rule will not have a significant effect on them.
In the case of the pygmy owl, the service went the certification route, and to that the Office of Advocacy took exception.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service is incorrectly measuring the impacts of the rule on small business,” the office said in its comments last month on the habitat designation. Furthermore, “the Fish and Wildlife Service has not explained to the public what benefit the proposed rule would provide for the pygmy owl.”
For years, NAHB has insisted that environmental regulations such as those used to establish habitat under the Endangered Species Act must be clearly justified by good scientific data and formulated with a consideration of their impact on the local economy.
It is refreshing, encouraging and about time to hear that same argument come from an agency of our federal government.
For more information on the Office of Advocacy and its work representing the interests of small businesses in the regulatory process, click here.
For more information on NAHB’s work with SBA's Office of Advocacy, e-mail Bruce Lundegren or call him at 800-368-5242 x8305.
For more information on the pygmy owl critical habitat designation, e-mail Christopher Galick or call him at x8663.
Marty Mitchell is chair of the NAHB Environmental Issues Committee.
Affordable Housing a Cornerstone of Healthy Neighborhoods
In southern Ohio and around the nation there are too many neighborhoods — in our inner cities and rural areas — where hopelessness and poverty persist.
Certainly, stronger families, better schools and effective law enforcement are part of the answer. But it turns out another important cornerstone of a healthy, stable and vibrant neighborhood is homeownership.
When people own their homes, other benefits follow. One benefit is economic security and family stability. Over the years, home values have generally increased, making it a good investment and a great way for families to build up assets that can be used for everyday needs, unexpected setbacks, even helping send a child to college.
With all the benefits of homeownership, it is discouraging that there are some pockets in Southern Ohio where the homeownership rate is so low. The worst statistics come from the City of Cincinnati, where the rate is 39%, way below the national average of 68%.
But even in urban areas like Portsmouth or Georgetown, where the percentage of home owners is higher, we are still well below the national average.
Affordable Housing Shortage a Primary Problem
There is more we can do in terms of educating people on the advantages of owning your own home and helping on downpayments and securing mortgages. But one of the primary problems in our area is that there is a shortage of affordable homes in many inner-city and rural areas.
One of the biggest problems with fixing up older homes is that the renovation costs can be greater than what the home would be worth. If a builder or investor knows that they are going to lose money on a home, they will obviously look for somewhere else to build.
To address this problem, I have introduced legislation to make it more attractive for developers to create affordable housing in certain urban and rural areas.
A Tax Credit for Developers and Investors
The Renewing the Dream Homeownership Tax Credit Act would make a tax credit available to developers or investors that build or rehabilitate homes for sale to low- and moderate-income buyers in these areas.
For example, under the legislation the State of Ohio would receive more than $100 million in federal tax credits over the next five years. The state would then review projects proposed by developers for the construction or renovation of homes that qualify under the program, and make decisions on how to allocate the credits to developers.
When people buy a home, they make an investment in that community. This helps lead to increases in business development and decreases in crime. Strong homeownership is key to building strong communities, and I will continue to work on ways to increase homeownership throughout Southern Ohio and the nation.
Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH) is serving his sixth term as the representative of the Second Congressional District in Southern Ohio. He is a member of the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees. As chairman of the Republican leadership, he is liaison with the Bush Administration.
Higher FHA Multifamily Limits Urged for High-Cost Cities
Legislation is urgently needed to allow the multifamily insurance programs of the Federal Housing Administration to be used to increase the supply of affordably priced housing in urban markets across the country, NAHB told the Congress last week.
Testifying on behalf of NAHB before the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services, Gary Ruping, a builder from the Boston area, and Casimir Kolaski, a Providence-based consultant for developers of affordable rental housing, voiced support for a bill that would increase the maximum FHA mortgage amount limits in high-priced housing markets.
Introduced by Reps. Gary Miller (R-CA) and Barney Frank (D-MA), H.R. 1985, the “FHA Multifamily Loan Limit Adjustment Act of 2003,” would enable a number of cities to start using FHA multifamily insurance to increase the housing supply for their residents.
The cities would include New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles — all markets where it can be difficult for workers with average incomes to locate housing they can afford.
In Providence, Kolaski said, the cost of new housing typically exceeds the threshold for qualifying for an FHA-insured loan.
Kolaski cited the case of one of his clients who is facing $133,000-per-unit construction costs to build an addition to an existing elderly apartment building in the city. The project is modestly priced for the area, but it is still too expensive to qualify for an FHA loan.
“With unemployment rising and wages not keeping pace with rising rents, it’s especially important that the FHA program be available to provide much-needed affordable housing to our cities’ working families and individuals,” he said. “There are few, and oftentimes, no alternatives in the market available to them.”
Ruping, who is in the planning stages of developing a 180-unit, garden-style walk-up apartment in the Boston area, has pegged his development costs at $176,000 per unit. That far exceeds current FHA loan limits for high-cost areas.
Twenty percent of Ruping’s units are earmarked for senior citizens with no higher than 80% of the area’s median income.
“I have struggled to find ways to save on construction costs and have already reduced my budget by $2 million,” he said. “If I am unable to finance the project with an FHA-insured loan, I plan to sell the land to a large real estate investment trust (REIT).
“The REIT will build a luxury, high-end apartment or condominium because this market can support such a development. The community will lose the opportunity to provide quality, affordable rental housing for seniors and families.”
Immediately following the hearing, the housing subcommittee approved H.R. 1985 and the bill was subsequently passed by the full committee the next day.
To read H.R. 1985, click here and type the bill number in the box at the upper left.
Photos by Herman Farrer
New Home Sales Continue Record-Breaking Pace in June
Spurred by the lowest long-term mortgage rates since 1956, sales of new single-family homes in June rose to 1.16 million units, the second consecutive monthly record high, the Commerce Department reported on July 25.
This was 4.7% ahead of the revised 1.11 million-unit pace in May.
Mortgage rates averaged a remarkably low 5.23% in June, said NAHB President Kent Conine, and “for many who had been considering a home purchase, the incentive to lock in those rates was just too great to pass up.”
While mortgage interest rates have already started rising, Conine said that prospects for new home sales remain favorable for the next six months.
“With the economy expected to pick up steam, jobless claims on the decline and home values rising steadily, home builders are reporting increased traffic of prospective buyers,” he said.
For the first half of this year, the average pace of new home sales was running 11% ahead of the same period last year.
“At this point, it’s nearly certain that we will set another record for new-home sales in 2003,” Conine said.
Builder inventories of new homes for sale remained at healthy levels in June. While the Commerce Department reported a 1.2% increase to 345,000 units on the market, the majority of that increase was in homes that had not yet been built.
There was only a 3.6 months supply of new homes in June at that month’s sales pace. This represented a slight decline from the prior month.
Sales of new homes rose in every region of the country: 32% in the Northeast, 9.8% in the Midwest, 2.7% in the West and almost 1% in the South.
NAHB recently increased its forecast for new home-sales for 2003 to 985,000. This represents a 1% increase from last year’s record-breaking 977,000 home sales.
Existing Home Sales Headed for a Record Year
While sales of existing single-family homes eased a slight 0.3% in June, they remained in record territory, the National Association of Realtors® announced on July 25.
Existing homes were sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.83 million in June, which was just below a downwardly revised level of 5.85 million units in May, according to the Realtors®.
The June sales rate was 8.6% above the pace recorded a year earlier and it was tied for the fourth highest month on record.
"The slight easing of sales in June may reflect some weakness in labor markets, but historically low mortgage interest rates are helping new households to afford homes and allow existing owers to sell their homes and purchase another," said David Lereah, the association's chief economist. "This is the primary reason we expect a new sales record this year."
The national median existing-home price was $176,500 in June, up 7.7% from a median price of $163,900 a year earlier.
Regionally, sales rose 3.2% in the West, remained unchanged in the South and were down by 3% in the Midwest and 4.4% in the Northeast.
Effective Branding Will Separate You From the Herd
Done right, branding yields more repeat business and referrals, a more dependable flow of work and higher profit margins. But there’s more to branding than you might think or see.
“Most people think it’s an ad campaign, but it’s not image-based,” says David Miles, creative director of Denver-based Milesbrand. “Branding is the practice of building trust.”
Specifically, branding is a systemic way of communicating who you are to your customers. It makes an emotional connection between your customers and your product and company so your customers keep coming back. That’s what McDonald’s, Nike and other household names do. (That’s how they became household names.)
But you don’t have to be a huge corporation to brand your business or make it work for you. Branding will pay off for small-volume builders, and it’s especially important for remodelers.
“Lots of contractors coming into the industry work out of their trucks. Branding speaks to being established,” says Chris Elliott, director of marketing for 22-year-old M/A Peterson Design/Build, in Edina, MN.
What You Need Before You Brand
According to Miles, branding requires four critical elements to be effective. These include:
Keep Your Branding Consistent
Communicating a brand consistently and intentionally to your customers imprints your company in their consciousness. Every point of contact with your company must give them the same feeling about you.
For example, use visuals as brand enhancers. Keep them consistent by using a signature logo, color and font on everything — letterhead, business cards, brochures, site and truck signage, Web site, ads, uniforms, customer giveaways, etc.
Train your employees so they’ll present the right message when answering phones, following up on e-mails, selling jobs and interacting with others on your job sites. And don’t forget your trade contractors. Educate them about your brand, too, because they’re an extension of it.
Branding does not end when the job does. “Make sure you have someone who can respond to service calls,” says Carl Hyman, owner of Alure Home Improvement in East Meadow, NY, who has three employees dedicated to that task, and get to their work right away. “I can tell my staff ‘I want service,’ but if I don’t have the mechanisms in place to deliver it, our reputation will suffer,” Hyman points out.
Keep Your Branding Fresh
Adapt branding strategies to your market. What works in one place may not work in another. In Albuquerque, Sivage markets his three home brands almost as separate companies. Yet in Phoenix, he presents them as different product lines within the same brand.
“We were competing with some of the largest builders in the country,” says the builder, who entered Phoenix four years ago. “Bringing three separate brands there would have diluted our ability to establish an identity.”
If you are unsure if your branding efforts are working, hire a market research firm to ask past and present customers what they think of when they hear your company’s name or brand. “We all have opinions of who we think we are, but that isn’t always the way people perceive us,” says Sivage.
Branding takes some effort, but you cannot afford not to do it. “Contractors have a brand whether they know it or not. Most allow the public to shape their brand instead of managing it themselves,” says Miles.
Wouldn’t you rather be known as the area’s favorite builder or remodeler instead of as the folks who drive those beat-up trucks and don’t return phone calls? We thought so.
For more information about branding, "101 Power Strategies: Tools to Promote Yourself as the Contractor of Choice," available from BuilderBooks.com. Order it online by clicking here, or call 800-223-2665.
Want more information about effectively managing your business?
NAHB’s Business Management Department offers a variety of online resources to help you run your business better and more profitably. Click Business Management Tools for articles about human resources, financial management, sales, production, technology, customer service and other business-related topics. In addition, visit the NAHB Software Users Network Discussion Forum (SUN) to ask technology consultants and other builders what they think of various software packages and applications.
BuilderBooks.com also offers a variety of publications about business management and sales and marketing. To view or purchase the business management publications online, click here. To view or purchase the sales and marketing publications online, click here.
Subscribe to NAHB’s Business of Building e/Source
NAHB’s Business of Building e/Source is your monthly electronic guide to the hot issues and emerging trends in home building business management. You’ll find practical advice, tricks of the trade and sound business guidance — all delivered monthly, straight to your desktop, in a quick and easy-to-read format. Business of Building e/Source is available free to NAHB members and their employees. To subscribe, click here on the members only side of www.nahb.org.
University of Housing Offers Courses on Customer Service and Business Management
Conference to Focus on Tree Preservation
Home builders and others who are interested in preserving trees in the planning and management of their communities should mark their calendars for the Building for Greener Communities National Conference, which will be held Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at the Arbor Day Farm’s Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, NE.
On the conference agenda are several detailed presentations providing the nuts and bolts of how to integrate trees and other natural features into new developments.
Included will be case studies detailing the work of development teams that won the 2003 Building With Trees Awards of Excellence.
The agenda also includes information on a variety of related issues such as redevelopment zones and in-fill development, urban re-greening, water- and resource-efficient landscapes, maintenance, wildland/urban interface fire prevention, energy conservation and more.
The National Arbor Day Foundation, Firewise Communities and NAHB are sponsoring the conference in cooperation with the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Public Works Association.
For a complete agenda and registration information, click here, or contact the National Arbor Day Foundation at 888-448-7337 or 402-474-5655.
Manufacturers Training Certification Program Introduced
Simpson Stong-Tie, headquartered in Dublin, CA, is piloting the program with its modular training curricula for contractors and framing crews.
The NHQ program is seeking to improve the installed performance of individual building products and to improve the overall quality, durability and affordability of the U.S. housing stock.
Simpson’s training program consists of self-training booklets, videos and CDs that cover essential information on the correct installation of connectors and other Simpson products.
The company is a leading manufacturer of hangers and construction hardware for wood frame construction.
Information on the progress of the NHQ Manufacturers Training Certification Program will be posted on the NAHB Research Center’s home page, www.nahbrc.org.
For additional information, e-mail Lisa Gibson, public affairs director, or call her at 301-430-6269.
OSHA Provides Resources for Small Businesses
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched a new Web site last week designed specifically for smaller employers to encourage them to establish safety and health programs and find and fix hazards to prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace.
The agency provides a range of materials geared to the needs of small businesses — including free on-line consultation, interactive computer software, electric compliance assistance, technical information and easy-to-follow guides for specific OSHA standards.
To access a list of these resources, click here.
The OSHA Web site also reminds small builders that the size of an employer can be taken into consideration, along with other factors, when penalties for violations are found.
OSHA’s Field Inspection Reference Manual provides that proposed penalties can be reduced by the following percentages in consideration of the size of the employer:
The agency also is assuring small businesses that inspections are not triggered by inquiries about safety and health regulations or other safety-related subjects.
For additional compliance assistance, e-mail George Middleton in NAHB's Labor, Safety and Health Department.
HUD Flipping Rule Restricts Legitimate FHA Home Re-sales
A new rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that strictly prohibits FHA insurance on loans for homes that are resold within 90 days of their purchase is creating some unnecessary hardships for builders and their customers, according to NAHB First Vice President Bobby Rayburn.
Published on May 1, the rule, “Prohibition of Property Flipping in HUD’s Single Family Mortgage Insurance Programs,” is intended to curb the practice of property flipping, a goal that NAHB supports.
However, the new rule is preventing home builders from accepting home buyers’ existing homes as trade-ins to facilitate new home purchases if the older home is to be refinanced using an FHA-insured loan within 90 days of the trade-in.
“If the re-sale date is 90 days or less following the date of acquisition by the seller, the property is not eligible for a mortgage to be insured by FHA,” the rule flatly states.
A proposed rule appearing in the Sept. 5, 2001 Federal Register allowed for exceptions to the property flipping restrictions in cases where there are justifiable circumstances for the quick and profitable resale of a recently acquired property.
However, that provision was left out of the final rule.
In a July 7 letter to John C. Weicher, assistant secretary for housing and FHA commissioner, Rayburn expressed concern over the unintended impact of the new rule and suggested changes that would reduce the rule’s impact on legitimate business transactions without diluting its effectiveness.
“A legitimate seller should be able to provide a lender with complete documentation of their cost of acquiring the home, any repairs that have been made and all expenses incurred in conjunction with the home, including sales costs,” Rayburn wrote.
“Additional documentation could be required to verify that the home is sound and that the price of the re-sale is in line with the market for that home,” he said.
NAHB is continuing to work with HUD to resolve this issue.
For further information, e-mail Bill Renner, NAHB’s director of single-family finance, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8597.
Forum to Look at Air Force Housing Privatization Effort
An industry forum for a planned military housing privatization project at Langley Air Force Base will be held at the Omni Hotel in Newport News, VA, on Sept. 17.
The forum will provide interested parties with information on the project.
The Air Force is seeking qualified entities to own, renovate, operate and maintain 1,182 family housing units at the Air Force base for at least 50 years.
The Air Force’s primary goal in this effort is to provide military families with safe, quality, affordable and well-maintained housing.
This represents a unique opportunity for top-quality firms to assist in the development, operation and financing of this family housing privatization effort.
Jones Lang LaSalle, a consultant to the Air Force, is presenting the forum.
For more information and to register, click here.
Renovated Abandoned Homes Sprucing Up NJ Neighborhoods
A non-profit organization based in Orange, NJ — HANDS, Housing and Neighborhood Development Services, Inc. — announced last month that it had received $2.4 million in grants and loans to acquire, rehabilitate and resell 15 vacant properties in the city.
“This funding is critical to our strategy of high-impact development and paves the way to eliminating some of the worst, nagging eyesores in Orange,” said Patrick Morrissy, the organization’s founder and executive director.
HANDS is committed to the revitalization of neighborhoods in Orange and East Orange by redeveloping troubled properties and turning them into affordable housing. It was founded in 1986 by a group of clergy and community leaders.
For its latest endeavor, HANDS was able to receive a $625,000 grant and $900,000 loan under the Urban Homeownership Recovery Program of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
Obtaining those funds to rehabilitate existing homes at scattered locations was a challenge, said Morrissy, because the program is geared to developments of 10-40 homes on one site.
Another $900,000 loan came from the Philadelphia-based Reinvestment Fund, which is also the lead lender for the project.
“Everyone acknowledges the negative effect of these vacant problem properties,” said Morrissy. “They suck the life out of neighborhoods, driving down property values and robbing people of hope that their neighborhoods will be livable.”
Hats Off to CAPS
When AARP reported in May 2000 that the nation faced a shortage of informed and reliable contractors to help growing numbers of aging Americans make their homes easier to get around in, to cook in and to bathe in, a brighter than average guy from Houston — Dan Brawden, CGR, CAPS, GMB — came up with the idea that this was a job for the Remodelors™ Council.
The solution turned out to be the Certified Aging in Place Specialist program, and for the past year CAPS classes have been filling up with certified professional remodelers and a number of small contractors, people who build a few houses a year, and even some handymen.
Many who have been attending CAPS classes are already familiar with mounting grab bars and putting dishwashers at a more convenient eight to 10 inches off the floor; they are coming to class to learn more about marketing to the aging-in-place.
But we are also attracting a number of physical and occupational therapists, architects, interior designers and even social workers.
In short, we have created an extraordinary mix where participants can learn about how the various disciplines are involved in meeting the needs of this fast-emerging market segment.
A recent course I taught in Des Moines shows how CAPS classes are opening up discussions about specific aging-in-place issues among participants who have much to share about their experiences with family members and customers.
Communicating with the aging-in-place client is a special challenge, and one that CAPS is meeting head on.These classes are teaching professionals how to view the world from the perspective of a person whose hearing or sight has deteriorated with age, who suffers from severe arthritis or who has to rely on a wheelchair to get around.
In my class, as we started to get into the psychological dimensions of the aging-in-place market, the discussion grew and we gained some insights into how the cooperative efforts of a healthcare professional and a remodeler can sell a job by satisfying the needs of the client.
The occupational therapist in the class explained how to talk to a prospect who was having some difficulties getting used to a wheelchair. And our kitchen builder and remodeler was able to explain some simple solutions to problems that the wheelchair-bound commonly face.
The needs and wants of the client are the real deal makers, and by putting together wide-ranging expertise we can gain a unique understanding of the territory that makes the deal work.
People didn’t just sit in my two-day CAPS class and listen to what an instructor had to say. They had things worth saying, and things worth listening to.
As a result, everybody received a good introduction and orientation to a market that is going to be huge. And they learned the value of networking with their peers and the value of cultivating cooperative relationships even in an industry where the competition can be fierce.
Mike Weiss is chairman of the NAHB Remodelors™ Council.
HBI Provides Technical Know-How for SD Training Effort
When the South Dakota Home Builders Association was looking for technical assistance for a state-wide training effort to educate local high school students about careers in construction, it turned to the Home Builders Institute, the workforce development arm of NAHB, and soon found that it had come to the right place.
HBI's assistance will also enable members of the state association to participate in this effort and work first-hand with young people to let them know what a career in the industry can offer.
Using one of its existing workforce development programs — “Build a Home, Build a Career” — HBI will be providing user-friendly materials targeted to making 14- to 18-year-olds aware of possible careers in the housing industry.
HBI has contracted with the West River Foundation, a non-profit group that secures funding for economic development projects, to help implement the “South Dakota Construction Careers” program on behalf of the state’s department of labor.
“We are confident that HBI’s experience in workforce development will provide valuable technical assistance that will help ensure the program’s advancement as well as its sustainability,” said Cindy Sheehan, executive officer of the HBA.
The program, Sheehan noted, “provides our members with an opportunity to be involved in the community, to work closely with our school system and to raise the awareness of construction careers.”
More than 200 young adults are expected to participate in the program each year.
Builders will be directly involved in implementing the new program’s two components.
First, in week-long programs at two locations in South Dakota, students will explore the full array of career options in construction.
The second component of the program will provide students with extensive hands-on training in specific trades.
For further information, e-mail Carolee Mills at HBI.
Save with Airborne Express Shipping Services
NAHB members get discounts on shipments across the state, the country and around the world through the Home Builder Association Member Advantage program. NAHB members can save up to 30% off the competition's published rates with Airborne Express Overnight Delivery Discounts, with on-demand pick-up from most locations, plus next-morning, next-afternoon and second-day delivery.
Other great shipping deals that are available include:
Get complete details online now. For these special member rates and a FREE Airborne Express Starter Kit, call 800-636-2377 from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. EST to request your free member rate quote. Or visit www.membersales.com/nahb to learn about NAHB member savings on all these shipping services.
For the full line of money-saving discounts available through NAHB's Home Builder Association Member Advantage program, click here.
Homestore Listings Available on Yahoo! Real Estate
The news followed a similar announcement during the previous week that the company’s listings would be available on the MSN network.
“The Internet is now the leading media resource for home buyers and apartment renters,” said Mike Long, Homestore’s chief executive.
“By adding partners like Yahoo! Real Estate to the Homestore network, we are able to offer apartment managers and home builders advertising exposure to virtually every home-seeking consumer online,” he said. “This enables our advertisers to improve their reach and effectiveness of their marketing expenditure.”
HomeBuilder.com, which is NAHB’s official Web site for selling new homes, is also available through AOL's Real Estate channel.
For Women in Business, There's Satisfaction From Aiming High
Although it’s challenging, being a woman in business today is also emotionally satisfying. Women in business usually live longer, thrive better and feel more personal well-being.
But sometimes we don't feel satisfied; sometimes we lose the motivation to keep facing our problems day after day; sometimes we feel like no matter how hard we push, we're just not going anywhere.
So what does it take to overcome personal hang-ups and become a consistently high achiever?
Research at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the University of California has identified 21 distinct behaviors associated with high achievers in five major categories:
High achievers know exactly what they want from life and they can sense it before they achieve it. They pre-live every goal and desire. The clearer they can sense the goal and its outcomes, the more committed they become to doing the work required to achieve it. So they can go the extra mile and a bit more without becoming workaholics. They're flexible in their application of the values that drive them toward success.
High achievers thrive on creatively turning problems into opportunities. They are curious by nature, and they love to learn.
High achievers confront and conquer fear wherever it occurs. They understand that adversity is accompanied by opportunity. They are driven by a will to succeed, and they take responsibility for their actions. But they don't take unnecessary risks.
By looking inward, high achievers are able to receive and consider constructive criticism without getting angry or feeling rejected or threatened.
They take time to listen to others with both mind and heart, and they have the ability to respond to the needs of others. They achieve their own goals and enrich their own lives while enriching the lives of others.
High achievers control physical stress and resist illness and disease. They exercise, relax, get adequate rest and eat nutritious food.
High achievers are dollar-wise. They invest in capital-generating items today so that they will have enough return tomorrow to buy all the luxuries they want. They also budget their financial resources, knowing exactly where each dollar goes and what it will return. And they donate a worthwhile portion of their financial interests to charitable causes.
High achievers constantly review and refine their bodies, their minds and their emotional habits. They believe in a higher being and in a higher self. They possess a perspective and a sense of purpose that transcends time and space.
With a dignified sense of self-worth — along with a balance of purpose, respect and hard work — the high achiever attains success that seems almost impossible for the ordinary person.
But they are ordinary people — ordinary people who are able to achieve extraordinary things.
Kay duPont is the executive vice president of The Communication Connection in Atlanta, which works with organizations and individuals to improve their business relationships and image. She has been highly praised for her presentations at NAHB and local chapters.
©1999 The Communication Connection
Vapor Retardant Addresses Moisture Concerns
A newly introduced vapor retardant that breathes and allows excess moisture to escape from wall cavities will help minimize builders’ concerns over excess moisture trapped in walls and roofs leading to mold and liability problems, according to CertainTeed Corporation.
Headquartered in Valley Forge, PA, CertainTeed is a member of the National Council of the Housing Industry — the Supplier 100 of NAHB.
MemBrain™ is the first product of its kind to be introduced in the U.S., its manufacturer says. The sheeting has been designed for use with un-faced, vapor permeable mass insulation (fiber glass and mineral wool) in wall and ceiling cavities.
The product is ideal for areas with seasonal changes in temperature and humidity, says Glenn Singer, manager of building sciences for CertainTeed’s Insulation Group.
The new vapor retardant is a polyamide film that can become more than 20 times more permeable at high relative humidity than during times when there is low humidity, such as in the winter.
More typical polyethylene vapor retardants allow moisture to condense on cold surfaces and accumulate in the wall cavity when the seasons change.
The concept of a “smart” vapor retardant was introduced seven years ago in Europe and has become widely accepted there, CertainTeed says.
With a high resistance to water vapor diffusion in winter, says the manufacturer, the pores of MemBrain™ react to increases in the relative humidity so that water vapor can pass through. This lowered resistance supports the drying process.
NAHB Conference Sets Stage for Business in Mexico
NAHB members can learn more about business opportunities in Mexico at the First International Housing Conference of the Americas, which will be held in Mexico City on Oct. 16-18.
Housing is a special focus of the U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Prosperity initiative that was launched by Presidents George Bush and Vicente Fox to promote economic development in Mexico.
That initiative received renewed emphasis at the Partnership for Prosperity conference in San Francisco last month, where investors and business owners from both countries met to share information and discuss trade and investment opportunities.
The conference was hosted by U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Mexico's Secretary of the Economy Fernando Cantales, and housing finance and construction were at the top of the agenda.
Building on the momentum and opportunities created by the partnership initiative, the upcoming housing conference — which is being launched by NAHB — will occur during EXPO CIHAC, the largest and most prestigious event for Mexico’s building and housing industry. Now in its 15th year, the show features more than 500 exhibitors, including more than 70 U.S. companies.
Builders, manufacturers, suppliers, financial representatives, architects, designers and others attending the NAHB conference will be able to meet key housing experts from industry, finance and government to network and gain insights into Mexico's housing market and its growing housing needs.
The conference's education program will address such topics as building concepts and design trends; building efficiencies using systems-built housing; creating successful joint ventures; supply chain issues; Mexico's developing and expanding mortgage finance system; and much more.
For further information and to register for the conference, click here.
Storehouse Provides Low-Cost Building Materials for Non-Profits
Based in Chicago, Storehouse — which offers building materials to low-income housing agencies and organizations for a nominal handling fee — has opened a site in West Virginia and will soon be expanding to Los Angeles.
Started by World Vision in 1995 to fill a need for affordable building materials in Chicago, Storehouse works with manufacturers and retailers around the country to enable non-profit organizations and churches to improve housing conditions for families in low-income neighborhoods.
To date, more than $14 million in surplus building material has been donated by companies such as Kohler Company, Masco Corporation, The Great Indoors, 3M, United Building Centers, Busy Beaver, Moen, Sears, Home Depot, Pella Windows, Benjamin Moore, Simonton Windows, Grohe Faucets, Armstrong, Boise Cascade, Danze Faucets and Crown Bolt.
Donated products and materials include paint, drywall fixtures, lumber, cabinetry, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, flooring, tools, windows, doors and hardware.
Many of the contributors to Storehouse are members of the National Council of the Housing Industry — the Supplier 100 of NAHB.
Manufacturers or distributors of building supply materials interested in making donations can e-mail Sharon Jackson-Pincham, corporate relations director, or call her at 773-921-3900 x315.
Individuals and companies that would like to provide financial support can e-mail Ivan Gonzalez, general manager, or call him at 773-921-3900 x319.
New American Home 2004 to Feature Distinctive Loft Design
With the International Builders' Show still almost six months away, planning for one of its highlights — the New American Home 2004® — is moving into high gear, according to John Ted Mahoney III, chair of the task force overseeing its construction and president of Windjammer Construction Corporation in Bridgewater, MA.
Located in the luxury community of the Lakes at Sahara, this year’s home will sell for approximately $1.3 million and will showcase a distinctive loft design.
The loft design, a growing trend in residential construction, incorporates simple and quick construction techniques and allows higher density development.
The home will feature “an atypical layout for American homes that will appeal to many different phases of life,” said architect Lex van Straten of Food for Buildings®. “We think a well-designed house reflects European roots, but should never be an imitation of something else.”
Unique characteristics of the home, which is being built by Stephen and Bart Jones of Merlin Contracting and Developing, include:
The home will be located about 10 minutes from the Las Vegas Convention Center and will be open to International Builders' Show registrants from Monday, Jan. 19, through Thursday, Jan. 22.
Home Builder’s Boom Times Good for Tampa Charities
Local charities in Tampa that help children are reaping some of the benefits of the area’s booming housing market thanks to the efforts of David Pelletz, vice president of sales and marketing at Westfield Homes.
Pelletz began his donations three years ago after Westfield Homes had experienced a “tremendous period of growth and wanted to give back to the community that was so good to us,” said Debbie Porter, a spokesperson for the company.
Westfield Homes is donating five dollars from each of its closings to: Guardian Ad Litem, which helps abused children find safe and loving homes; Museum of Science and Industry children’s programs; The Center for Women, for its programs serving Tampa Bay’s teenage girls; and the Tampa Marine Institute, for its rehabilitation efforts with teenagers.
The charities receive checks from Pelletz quarterly.
The company’s ongoing charitable efforts usually don’t generate much publicity and “no one really cares if it helps business,” said Porter. “It just makes us feel good.”
The goal this year is to close 850 homes, which would enable Westfield Homes to donate at least $4,000 to each of its favorite charities.
In conjunction with Tampa’s channel 10, and some help from viewers who chose paint colors, floor plans and other interior design features, Westfield Homes is also sponsoring “From the Ground Up.”
All of the proceeds from the sale of the home built though this campaign will be donated to local charities. The home should be finished by the end of this summer.
NAHB members or home builders associations that have been involved in community service projects are encouraged to enter the National Housing Endowment/Home Builders Care Project of the Year award.
This is the final year the award will be presented.
The winner will be recognized at the 2004 International Builders’ Show and will receive $5,000 to be donated to the charity of his choice.
Entries must be submitted by Oct. 15.
For entry guidelines and an official entry form, click here.
John Laing Homes Joins Efforts to Help the Homeless
Partners provide national support for HomeAid and also help support regional shelter development programs for the temporarily homeless.
In 2001, the company led the construction of a $2.4 million project and donated $1.8 million in-kind, for HomeAid Orange County's Emmanuel House, which serves individuals living with HIV/AIDS who would otherwise be homeless.
This represents the largest HomeAid project by a building company and the largest in-kind donation made by one builder.
This year, John Laing Homes is partnering with HomeAid Los Angeles/Ventura on a housing shelter for the Commission on Human Concern.
With a long-time personal commitment to HomeAid, Larry Webb, CEO of John Laing Homes, has led the construction of five HomeAid shelter projects; two of them were through John Laing Homes and the others through past professional affiliations.
“We believe homes and neighborhoods are incredibly important to our families, to our society and to our future,” Webb said.
“The HomeAid vision is right in line with our guiding principles at John Laing Homes,” he said. “It is very fulfilling to be able to contribute to providing safe, dignified housing for temporarily homeless men, women and children.”
For further information, e-mail Katherine Ransom or call her at 714-662-6822.
Boost Your Marketing Through These Awards Programs
Proud of your work? Show it off and give your marketing efforts a boost by entering one of these award programs: