NBN Online for the week of May 16, 2005

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In This Issue:

Front Page
Builders Seek Timely OSHA Citations and Other Reforms
Will You Be the Next Winner of a Digital Camera?
New Southern Nevada Homes Embrace Water Conservation
Coast to Coast
Developer Tactics to Avoid Housing Bust
Economics & Finance
Home Buyers Opt for Upscale Smaller Homes
Builder Confidence on Home Sales Holding Strong
Business Management
What Do You Need From Your Estimating Software?
Seniors Housing
A Holistic Approach to Wellness for CCRCs
Little Consolidation Seen in Remodeling Industry
Ohio Remodeler Named Remodelor™ of the Month
Education Calendar
New Roadless Rule Lets States Choose Forest Protection
Career Staffer New EPA Administrator
Building Quality
Pulte, KB Home Divisions Earn Quality Certification
Deadline for Housing Quality Award Application Nears
Workforce housing
2006 Workforce Housing Awards Open
Workers Make Hard Choices to Pay for Housing
Housing Costs Get Tougher Still for Working Families
ICC to Guide Mexican Codes and Standards Update
Student Chapter Opens at Acosta Job Corps Center
Building Products
Custom Sell Sheets Present Door Glass Upgrades
Builder's Engineer
Good Lawyer — Bad Lawyer
NAHB-Produced Shows on HGTV & DIY — This Week
Research Center Seeks Land Development Expert
Association News
Customize Your Computer’s Cursor With the NBN ‘Hammer’
Tsunami Relief at Almost $350,000
GM Discount Available on More Than 80 Vehicles
Calendar of Events
Headlines At a Glance
  • Developer Tactics to Avoid Housing Bust
  • The Home Front: The Backyard Color Wars
  • Building Experts Can ‘Age’ Your Home
  • Thinking Small New Book Looks to Japan for Ways to Make the Most of Downsizing Homes and Spaces
  • Whole Food Market Is a Metropolitan Market
  • OSU Researchers Hope Soy Beans Change Wood Products Industry
  • Homes: Hot Markets Get Hotter
  • Credit-Card Companies Want to Pay the Rent
  • When a Smaller Home Is Smarter
  • It’s True What They Say: There’s No Place Like Dome

    Developer Tactics to Avoid Housing Bust

    Home builders are trying to quell speculation in some housing markets by limiting resales, requiring buyers to live in their homes for at least a year and sharing the profits if a home is “flipped.” In Arizona, California, Florida and Las Vegas, KB Home is now inserting language into buyers’ agreements that the buyer must live in the home for one year and it must be their primary residence. Purchasers of the Aderra condominiums outside Scottsdale, Ariz., are not allowed to sell their $190,000 to $400,000 units until all of the 312 units in the project are sold. “We’re selling communities, not commodities,” says Robert Lyles, founder of Starpointe, the developer. Lyles says his firm can usually weed out investors during the qualification process. “If you look at their assets and they already own eight other condos, you know,” he says. However, even in markets where sales are being limited to primary buyers, bidding wars are erupting because demand is so strong. (www.csmonitor.com)
    Christian Science Monitor (5/12/05); Ron Scherer

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    The Home Front: The Backyard Color Wars

    The garden and patio furnishings industry is responding to several years of sagging sales by introducing products in bright colors and nontraditional shapes. Pottery Barn’s new throw pillows come in lime, cherry, orange and “blue jay.” A set of weatherproof furniture introduced last summer by Heller was designed by architect Frank Gehry with a curvy, silver look that echoes his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. And Chicago’s Ball Horticultural Co. has introduced an oversized Kong Coleus with foliage in rose, maroon and lime green. Consumers spent $36.8 billion on their yards last year, down from a peak of $39.6 billion two years earlier, according to the National Gardening Association. At the same time, the average yard is getting smaller as land prices rise, according to NAHB. New-home lot sizes are about 9,000 square feet, about half the size they were three years ago. (www.wsj.com)
    Wall Street Journal (5/14/05); June Fletcher

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    Building Experts Can ‘Age’ Your Home

    Aging home owners who need to make accommodations in their existing homes for more limited mobility and health problems should look for contractors, designers, architects and health-care consultants who have completed the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program. Professionals with CAPS certification have been educated and trained to know what products to buy and where to buy them for people aging in place or those with special needs. Universal Design modifications can include installing a wheelchair ramp, widening doors and adding extra lighting. Before deciding what they want done, consumers should ask themselves if they want to add a bathroom and bedroom to the main level, how they can make their kitchens more functional, how they can prevent falls, how much money they can budget for the project and how other members of the family will benefit from the modifications. CAPS was developed by the NAHB Remodelors™ Council and AARP. Information on the program is available at www.nahb.org. (www.ocregister.com)
    Orange County Register (5/7/05); Nick Harder

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    Thinking Small New Book Looks to Japan for Ways to Make the Most of Downsizing Homes and Spaces

    American architect Azby Brown features 18 homes with 1,730 square feet or less in his book, “The Very Small Home: Japanese Ideas for Living Well in Limited Space.” Japanese families live in homes as small as 533 square feet, he said, and lessons learned from that country’s down-scaled designs can help Americans faced with rising land costs and changing aesthetics in suburban neighborhoods. They are also suitable for smaller vacation homes. Some of the homes featured in his book are built on former driveways, on the side of a lot and on a 15-foot-wide space between other buildings. Brown’s main concept is that each house should have a key design that defines the house, such as a wall of glass with beautiful views, a central atrium, a garden or a long wall that opens with sliding glass doors. When he built his home in Yokohama, Brown said his required setbacks, which are measured in feet in this country, were 19 inches and 39 inches. Brown recommends making a small home as flexible as possible. “A bed can double as seating, a corridor can become a work area and cabinets can act as lighting fixtures,” he said. “Make good use of ‘disappearing acts’ like foldaway desks, pullout partitions and roll-away beds.” Japanese homes are frequently designed so that the kitchen table is the center of activity and the place where people gather, he said. (www.dailyherald.com)
    Chicago Daily Herald (4/24/05); Deborah Donovan

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    Whole Food Market Is a Metropolitan Market

    The developer of the 74-story Met 3 condo tower in Miami believes that a Whole Foods Market filling the building’s ground floor will set the project apart from the more than 50,000 condos in the city’s pipeline. Ron Bond, president of real-estate developer Bond Cos, says the Whole Foods in a 160-unit apartment complex that he has built in San Francisco has helped push occupancy rates higher than the rest of the market. Whole Foods — a purveyor of organic produce and fancy cheeses based in Austin, Texas — now has 168 stores across the country and expects to increase its square footage by 57% by 2008. Twelve of the 59 stores in the pipeline are part of mixed-use developments, including those in Seattle, New York, Washington, San Francisco and Chicago; others are in urban settings such as office buildings and retail complexes. The company prefers stand-alone big-box stores with their own parking, but becoming part of mixed-use is a compromise it needs to make to get the demographics it needs. “It’s more of a necessity rather than a design,” says Jim Sud, executive vice president of growth and business development at Whole Foods. “When you get into these dense urban markets, the cost of land dictates that you’ve got to go vertical. (www.realestatejournal.com)
    Wall Street Journal Online (5/13/05); Ryan Chittum

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    OSU Researchers Hope Soy Beans Change Wood Products Industry

    Three patents are now pending on new adhesives created from renewable natural materials by researchers at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry. Amazed by the adhesive that allows mussels to attach themselves to rocks and withstand the battering of waves, Kaichang Li, an assistant professor of wood chemistry, started looking for other natural materials that could work as effectively. The potential of soy bean protein and wood lignin was subsequently identified by studies at OSU, and Li hopes the new adhesives will replace some of the formaldehyde-based wood adhesives currently used to make composite products such as plywood, oriented strand board, particle board and laminated veneer lumber. “The plywood we make with this adhesive can be boiled for several hours and the adhesive holds as strong as ever,” Li said. “Regular plywood bonded with urea-formaldehyde resins could never do that.” It is also cost-competitive. (www.djc-or.com)
    Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, Ore.) (5/5/05); Justin Stranzl

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    Homes: Hot Markets Get Hotter

    According to a report of the National Association of Realtors® on existing single-family home prices in 136 metro areas during this year’s first quarter, a record 66 markets registered double-digit price gains over the previous 12 months as inventories remained tight. Only six areas experienced price declines, and those were fairly modest. The median price of a single-family home hit $188,800 at the end of the first quarter, a 9.7% increase. “We simply don’t have enough homes on the market to meet demand,” said the association’s chief economist David Lereah. “We think the supply situation may improve next year when interest rates are expected to be higher — that should result in a lessening of demand and cooler price appreciation.” The top three fastest appreciating markets in the first quarter were located in Florida: Bradenton, up 45.6% to $275,100; Sarasota, up 36% to $326,300; and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, up 35.9% to $362,800. Prices were up 16.9% in the West, 14% in the Northeast, 7.8% in the Midwest and 6.6% in the South. Prices ranged from a low of $82,400 in Youngstown-Warren, Ohio, to a high of $689,200 in the San Francisco Bay area. (www.money.cnn.com)
    CNN/Money (5/12/05); Les Christie

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    Credit-Card Companies Want to Pay the Rent

    Some landlords accept credit cards for rent because they believe it gives their properties a competitive advantage over those that don’t accept them. Also, they believe that automatic rent payments with credit cards are more efficient and reduce their check-processing costs. However, there is generally a low usage rate of credit cards among renters because they are charged a fee. The transaction fee charged apartment landlords and managers by the credit card company is usually around 2% to 3%, and those are sometimes passed on to the renter. “What we are finding with credit cards is that more residents are using them for one-time, rather than monthly occurrence, like the security deposit or the application,” says Lyn Lansdale, vice president of strategic business services of Alexandria, Va.-based AvalonBay Communities, which accepts MasterCard and Discover at its 148 properties. “We’re not seeing them using the card every month for rent.” The most obvious enticement for high-end renters to use the card is reward points or frequent-flyer miles. Consumer advocates are against the practice of using credit cards for rent because they are worried that it enables renters to dig themselves deeply into debt. (www.realestatejournal.com)
    Wall Street Journal Online (5/12/05); Ray A. Smith

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    When a Smaller Home Is Smarter

    Increases in home prices have finally stabilized, according to NAHB, in part because a small but growing number of home owners who prefer living in a smaller space. Several factors are driving the shift. Some people are looking to extract some of the equity they have accumulated over the past five years. “People want to pocket some of the money they’ve made and enjoy it,” says Kermit Baker, a senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Others want to cut property taxes that in some markets have climbed 50%-100% over the past five years. And some are trading down simply because they no longer need the extra space and find a smaller home better suited to their current lifestyle. The average U.S. home was 1,500 square feet in 1970; today, it is more than 50% larger. (www.money.cnn.com)
    Money Magazine (6/1/2005); Jean Chatzky

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    It’s True What They Say: There’s No Place Like Dome

    Harvey and Roberta Stadick of New Ulm, Minn. became interested in building the strongest structure available after tornadoes destroyed the houses of several of their neighbors and tore the roof off their home in 1998. Brick was their first choice, but too expensive, so they decided to build a Monolithic Dome home. Once the foundation was laid, a giant “Airform” balloon was inflated to the correct size and shape over the foundation. It is 19 feet fall at the center, providing enough room for a loft to be built over the main level. After the Airform was inflated, three inches of polyurethane insulation was sprayed onto the interior surface, and steel reinforcement bars were attached to the foam. Then a special mixture of concrete was sprayed over both the foam and steel bars. The original Airform remains the building’s skin but will be sealed with a protective coating. The dome’s rounded shape makes it impervious to strong winds, and the structure is said to withstand earthquakes, fires and bug infestation. The manufacturer, based in Italy, Texas, also says that the home’s residents can expect to save up to 50% in heating and cooling costs over a comparable conventional building. The cost of building the 1,890-square-foot home is comparable to a stick-built house. (www.the-land.com)
    Land Correspondent (5/22/05); Sara Gilbert

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