Nation's Building News Online: April 18, 2011

Print All Articles Text Version

NAHB Members Push for Support for AD&C Bill During Congressional Recess

While members of Congress are home for a two-week congressional spring recess, NAHB’s more than 160,000 members are being urged to contact their representatives to help drum up support for soon-to-be introduced legislation designed to open up the lines of credit for new housing production.

Association members should ask their representatives to become original cosponsors of NAHB-supported legislation that is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives in the near future by Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Brad Miller (D-N.C) to address an acute shortage of acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) credit.

A special BuilderLink email alert with information about the pending legislation was sent to all NAHB members.

“As we move into the spring home buying season, builders and developers across the country continue to suffer from a severe lack of credit for viable home building projects, which has major implications for the economy as a whole,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen.

“With scores of housing markets nationwide starting to show signs of improvement, this legislation recognizes that there is an urgent need to expand the flow of credit to builders in these communities to meet demand and keep the expansion moving ahead.”

During the past three months, NAHB has been working tirelessly with concerned lawmakers to address the AD&C lending crisis.

In the current economic climate, lenders have basically stopped making AD&C loans and many are calling existing loans, even when the borrower’s payments are current. Financial institutions are also requiring additional equity for existing loans, and are refusing to modify loans to give borrowers an opportunity to regroup.

Overly conservative appraisals are presenting further challenges by limiting home sales and refinancing opportunities and exacerbating pressure on outstanding mortgage and housing production loans. Lenders are often citing regulatory requirements or pressure from bank examiners to reduce AD&C loan exposure as the rationale for their actions.

As part of the two-week effort to rally support for the House AD&C bill, local home builders associations and NAHB leaders from the ranks of the national area chairmen, state representatives, executive officers and HBA presidents are being encouraged to set up meetings with their members and representatives.

Information on NAHB’s In-District Work Week Program is available at www.nahb.org/indistrict.

This page provides information on issues of the day (including AD&C), best practices, ideas for themed events or meetings, and the dates when members of Congress will be working in their home districts.

Participants are asked to complete NAHB’s online Report Back Form after each meeting or event with their member of Congress to ensure that the association can follow up on the issues that have been discussed.

For more information and help in setting up a meeting with a congressional representative, email Nick Gentile at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8542.

Floor Plans: Urban Aesthetics Blend With Rural Simplicity in Napa Valley Wine Country

Art, wine, gorgeous vineyard views and the forms and colors of nearby rural buildings were the inspiration behind the design of this 5,895-square-foot private residence, gallery and studio in Napa Valley, Calif.

Winner of the 2010 BALA Best in Pacific Region and Platinum Award in the One-of-a-Kind Custom Home 4,001-6,500-square-foot category, the home’s collection of shed and gable structures — with finishes selected to complement the owner’s urban aesthetic — were designed and created to blend simplicity and sophistication and to connect to the land.


Masonry walls add drama and texture to the front entrance.

Disappearing Boundaries       

Because the owner wanted to display his extensive art and wine collection without sacrificing vineyard views, the variety of structures were pulled apart to create numerous gallery spaces and framed views, while also allowing the landscape to figuratively enter the home.

The vineyard, too, became part of the owner’s art and wine “collection” as interior and exterior boundaries disappeared through the use of wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling glazing.


The masonry accent extends to the patio and pool area in the rear of the home.

Interior and Exterior Walls, Yin and Yang

Masonry walls reinforce this concept, with walls starting as a backdrop at the car court and traveling through the primary public spaces before exiting along the face of the master bedroom. Clerestory glass sits above the walls — offering views of the sky and eaves as the ceiling extends out past the windows.

These walls serve as the spine of the house plan. Viewed from all the major spaces, they provide a visual contrast to the smooth and crisp, interior display walls.


Climbing three stories to the covered deck on the wine tower is rewarded with a panoramic view of the vineyard and valley.

A Panoramic View

The heart of the home is its wine tower. Similar in style but not function to a water tower, the tower was built with 18-inch thick insulated walls and stores more than 3,000 bottles of wine. A three-story staircase bordered by the wine storage courses up to an observation deck — with a built-in refrigerator, music system and heating and storage — that provides 270-degree views of the vineyard.


Solar panels, which are used to power all the home's electricity, track the sun.

A Home With a Brain

This home has a brain. Pedestal-mounted solar panels track the sun and provide energy for the radiant floor heating system and all electrical needs. Low e-glazing, high-efficiency insulation and sun-control shading systems maintain interior temperatures.


The great room/dining area affords ample opportunity for viewing the owner's art collection and outdoor vistas.


More than 3,000 bottles of wine are stored in the wine tower.


Rural shapes, forms and colors blend with the owner's urban aesthetic in this award-winning custom home. 


First floor
Click for larger view.


Second floor

Features and Specifications

Design Team

Features

  • Three-bedroom, 5,895-square-foot home with gallery and studio
  • Three-story wine tower with 18-inch thick insulated walls that can store more than 3,000 bottles of wine
  • Gallery spaces to display extensive art collection
  • Multi-structure floor plan to provide optimal framed views of vineyard and Napa Valley
  • Clerestory glass above walls for sky views
  • Three-car garage
  • Swimming pool

Energy Efficiency

  • Pedestal-mounted solar panels track the sun and provide electrical power for the house
  • Radiant floor heating system
  • Low e-glazing windows
  • High-efficiency insulation
  • Sun-controlled shading systems to maintain interior temperatures

 

Builders See Repeal of Onerous Form 1099 Reporting Requirements

President Obama on April 14 signed legislation supported by NAHB to repeal a burdensome tax paperwork requirement that could have cost small businesses thousands of dollars each year.

"During the past several months, NAHB led the effort along with other industry groups to strike all new expanded IRS Form 1099 reporting requirements for small businesses and owners of rental real estate," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen.

"In testimony before Congress and in 'key vote' letters to House and Senate leaders, we spelled out how failing to overturn these rules would have killed jobs and placed a major paperwork and cost burden on home builders,” Nielsen said.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approved last year, starting in 2012 businesses would have had to file an IRS Form 1099 for each vendor from whom they purchased more than $600 in goods over the course of the year.

With the annual $600 threshold applicable to all vendors, businesses could have found themselves sending out 1099 forms for such mundane purchases as coffee, fuel and office supplies.

Rather than hiring additional workers to expand and grow, small businesses would have been spending money on accountants and bookkeepers in order to meet these new requirements.

On April 5, the Senate by a vote of 87 to 12 passed the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011 (H.R. 4), legislation previously approved by the House.

In addition to repealing expanded 1099 requirements in the healthcare law, H.R. 4 also repealed an unfair provision in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 requiring independent landlords starting this year to submit 1099s to firms to which they give more than $600 for services.

Going forward, businesses will still have to comply with long-standing reporting requirements for the purchases of services.

To read the bill, click here and enter H.R. 4 in the box at the upper center of the page.

For more information, email J.P. Delmore, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8412.

Sunnier Days May Lie Ahead in Spring Construction Forecast

Major housing markets such as Northern Virginia, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, San Diego and San Francisco are poised to see their home prices begin rising three to four points faster than the rate of inflation, a trend that will last for the next few years, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Analytics.

Among panelists participating in the upcoming NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar, Zandi recently told Fortune magazine that he expects to see single-family housing starts climb to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 700,000 this year — which will almost feel like a gallop compared to the total 470,000 single-family homes started in 2010.

Zandi will expand on those thoughts during the upcoming NAHB webinar as he reviews his forecast of what’s ahead for an industry now emerging from one of the toughest stretches in generations.

(For a surprisingly sunny forecast on the housing recovery from Fortune, click here to read a previous story in Nation’s Building News.)

Accompanying Zandi to provide up-to-the-minute housing numbers and market trends will be David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist; and Robert Denk, the association’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis.

Panelists on the webinar will address such key issues as when builders will start seeing a softening of restrictive lending, where the trend in short sales and foreclosures is heading, what’s in store for some of the nation’s most distressed housing markets and what’s ahead for building materials prices.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.

Senators Say Downpayment Requirement Not Their Intent for Finance Law

Senators involved in writing part of a broad financial overhaul measure say they are dismayed that the Obama Administration proposes carrying out their plan by pushing home buyers to come up with hefty sums of cash at the closing table. Under the plan, mortgages with less than a 20% downpayment would require banks that pool mortgages and sell them as securities to retain at least a 5% stake in those loans. This is a costly requirement that the industry said it would pass on to borrowers in the form of higher interest rates and fees. “This is not at all what we intended,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Isakson, who owned a realty brokerage for three decades, said that lawmakers debated but intentionally rejected imposing a minimum downpayment requirement for fear of locking millions of creditworthy borrowers out of the housing market. Instead, Congress instructed the regulators to consider other factors such as a borrower’s debt, his or her ability to repay the loan, and the features of the loan itself when deciding which loans to exclude from the risk-retention provision, senators said. (www.washingtonpost.com)
Washington Post (4/11/11); Dina ElBoghdady

FHA’s Purchase Role Slipping

The Federal Housing Administration has been the “go to” lending program of choice for home buyers — especially first-timers — for the past few years. But that may be changing because of tighter government credit standards and higher mortgage insurance premiums. Last year, the FHA insured nearly 40% of all purchase mortgages, or roughly $200 billion, according to analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. The latest government report showed the FHA endorsed only $8.3 billion in purchase mortgages in February, which represents 46,900 loans, down 36% from a year earlier. In many of their fourth-quarter securities statements, publicly traded home builders raised concerns about tighter mortgage credit. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told Congress that credit standards are tight. “Although mortgage rates are low and house prices have reached more affordable levels, many potential home buyers are still finding mortgages difficult to obtain,” Bernanke said. (www.americanbanker.com)
American Banker (4/8/11); Brian Collins

Housing Bust Curtails Moves, Great American Migration

The severity of the housing bust is one reason real estate analysts say demographic trends may not play a big role near-term in where people buy homes. They reckon other factors, including reaction to the housing bust, will have a bigger impact. An example is Texas. New residents continue to pour in thanks to its moderate climate, affordable homes and comparatively stable economy. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that in the short term its home sales will greatly outpace sales in other parts of the country. “What’s really driving the housing market is reacting to the boom and bust, and how the economy recovers in the near term,” said Robert Denk, a senior economist at NAHB. “Demographic factors will provide more of a longer-term push.” Near-term, he expects a lot of housing activity in distressed Michigan, Ohio, Nevada and Florida. “Many of these markets overcorrected during the bust, so now the prices are coming closer to normal,” Denk said. “In Michigan, the home prices dipped too low as the auto industry collapsed. Now the auto industry is getting back.” (www.investors.com)
Investor’s Business Daily (4/14/11); Vance Cariaga

Picking Up the Pieces in Florida

“If Florida is going to have a comeback anytime soon, investors are going to have to play a role,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “There are just too many properties for traditional home buyers to absorb.” Data released by the National Association of Realtors® recently shows that investors represented 17% of all home sales in 2010 nationwide, the same as the previous year. But in recent months, investment activity has picked up, according to Walter Molony, an association spokesman, who attributed the increase to relatively cheap prices and the lack of available credit for home buyers. There is no shortage of deals in Florida. The Census Bureau recently reported that 17% of the homes in Florida were vacant. Even though the figure includes vacation homes that were unoccupied at the time of the survey, the underlying rate within the state reflects a sustained downturn. (www.nytimes.com)
New York Times (4/8/11); Andrew Martin

Bossert Builds Hawaii’s First Certified Green Home

In operation for six years, Bossert Builders, which serves all of the island of Oahu, agreed to build a green home for the price of a standard home for a family that lost its previous home to an electrical fire. This resulted in Hawaii’s first NAHB green-certified home. Oddly enough, eco-friendly, high-efficiency and sustainable building practices are not very common in the Aloha State. Energy prices on the islands are some of the highest in the nation, but very few home builders are trying to sell their customers on the long-term savings green choices can produce. “We’re trying to make a name for ourselves in the industry,” said Leanne Bossert, the president of Bossert, “and we’re trying to promote the techniques and technology so more Hawaii home builders will go green.” The new home features thermal collectors on the roof hooked to a Heliodyne Helio-Flo heat-transfer appliance for the building’s hot water needs. The compact appliance is mounted to a 120-gallon storage tank. The home has electric water heating backup, in case of an extended overcast period in the tropical climate. The house also uses rainwater collected from the roof to water the landscaping. The home does not include an AC system, which many would consider a must-have considering the climate. Instead, ceiling fans, UV-reflective solar shingles, ventilation and insulation all combine to keep the home cool and its occupants comfortable. (www.contractormag.com)
ContractorMag.com (4/5/11); Steve Spaulding

KB Home to Offer Solar as Standard Feature at 10 New Communities in California

KB Home announced a new initiative to provide solar power systems for its new homes as a standard feature in 10 Southern California communities. The photovoltaic solar systems will help KB home owners reduce their monthly energy bills and cost of homeownership for years to come, while also benefiting the environment. While KB has provided solar power systems as an option for its home buyers in select communities in California and Colorado for a number of years, this is the first time it will build entire communities featuring solar power systems for every home. SunPower Corp., a leading manufacturer of the highest efficiency, highest reliability solar panels and systems, will provide the solar technology. When combined with the many additional energy-conserving features KB Home includes in all of its new homes across the country, these 10 communities will offer some of the most efficient new homes available on the market today at an affordable price, according to the builder. The solar power systems could also help qualify home owners for a federal tax credit. (www.buildingonline.com)
Buildingonline (3/22/11)

Repealing the Mortgage Interest Deduction? Hold the Applause!

By John C. Weicher

This article is reprinted from www.FreedomPolitics.com.

President Obama’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (commonly referred to as the “Deficit Commission”) has called for terminating the mortgage interest deduction for home owners, and a bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators, four of them members of the Deficit Commission, is now developing a budget plan that is likely to include that recommendation. The deduction is the second largest “tax expenditure” in the entire federal budget; repealing it would bring the federal government more than $100 billion annually. To a commission trying to cut the deficit by almost $4 trillion over the next decade, it must have looked like a sitting duck.

Although this commission proposal has been applauded by commentators across the political spectrum, it is bad economic policy.

Part of the rationale for the commission’s recommendation is its desire to have a tax system that is as economically neutral as possible, a tax system that doesn’t push people to do something just for the tax advantage. This is a laudable objective and one that nearly every economist favors. Terminating the mortgage interest deduction, however, doesn’t help achieve that goal. Instead, it would create a new bias in the tax code, favoring renting rather than owning your own home.

Your house is an asset, an investment, as well as a place to live. A home owner is both an investor and a consumer, both a landlord and a tenant — someone who owns a house and is renting it to himself or herself. Like any other business person, a landlord can deduct business expenses. For rental housing, these include interest on the mortgage, property taxes, maintenance expenditures and depreciation on the property. At the same time, the landlord has to pay tax on the rent he or she receives, after deducting these business expenses. A home owner/investor has the same business expenses, but can’t deduct all of them. The home owner can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes, but not maintenance or depreciation. The home owner also doesn’t have to pay taxes on the rental value of the home.

So home owners have a tax advantage over landlords because owners don’t pay taxes on the rental value of their home; and landlords have tax advantages over home owners because they can deduct maintenance and depreciation, and home owners can’t. But home owners and landlords are treated equally with respect to mortgage interest and property taxes. Both can deduct these expenses. The recommendation of the commission takes away the deduction for home owners, but leaves it in place for landlords.

The President’s budget for 2012 proposes to take a small but significant step in the same direction. The value of the deduction would be reduced for families with incomes above $250,000. These are the same taxpayers for whom Mr. Obama wanted to raise taxes back in December — “the rich.”   

But the deduction isn’t a particular benefit for rich people. Taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 are about 5% of all households who pay income taxes — “the richest 5%.” They pay over half of all income taxes. But they only account for about 20% of all mortgage interest reported on tax returns, according to the IRS. That is much less than their share of other major deductions; they account for more than half of state and local income taxes, and almost half of charitable contributions.

Most of the benefit of the mortgage interest deduction goes to households who are not “rich,” households with incomes between $75,000 and $200,000. These are middle-class families, reasonably well off, but working, and working hard.

Terminating the mortgage interest deduction has other consequences. Homeownership has traditionally been an indicator of middle-class status and a path to financial security. For young families, their first two assets typically are a checking account and a car. Their next two are a home and a 401(k). Those are likely to be their most important assets over the rest of their working lives — particularly their home. For most middle-class families, the equity that they build up in their home is more important than all their financial assets combined. That’s also true for lower-income families. Not all of them are home owners, but about half are, and for them their home is by far their most important asset. Financial assets — such as stocks, bonds or mutual funds — are concentrated among the wealthiest part of the population. Homeownership and home equity are much more important for the middle class than they are for the rich.  

The sooner young families can afford to buy a home, the more likely they are to enjoy an increase in the value of their home, and the greater that increase is likely to be. The mortgage interest deduction makes it easier for them to buy that home, unless they have been lucky enough to enjoy a comfortable inheritance. Most people haven’t; they have to work for a living, and work to pay a mortgage as well as their other expenses.

Repealing the mortgage interest deduction will make it harder for young families to become home owners. Repealing the capital gains exclusion, another commission recommendation, will make it harder for older families, when they want to move to a retirement home or move to be near their children and grandchildren.

Profiting when you sell your home may seem like a distant dream right now, when foreclosures are rampant and the homeownership rate is declining. Most of the time, however, families that have bought homes have gained financially when they decided to sell. That is the normal experience.

Surveys show that families want to be home owners, even in today’s economy, and they are right. Homeownership has traditionally been an indicator of middle-class status and a path to financial security, and it still is.

John C. Weicher is director of the Center for Housing and Financial Markets at the Hudson Institute. From 2001-2005 he was assistant secretary for housing and federal housing commissioner at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Email John C. Weicher

Builders Lack Confidence in April Despite Pockets of Improvement

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes slipped back one notch to 16 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for April, which was released on April 18.

The index has now held at 16 for five of the last six months.

"While builders in some areas are starting to see a pickup in traffic of prospective home buyers, many consumers remain skittish about the health of the housing market and overall economy, particularly in view of recent legislative and regulatory proposals that could make it much harder to get a mortgage," noted NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen.

"At the same time, builders are competing against a large number of foreclosed and distressed properties on the market,” Nielsen said, “which are holding down prices and appraisals and making it tough for potential clients to sell their existing homes."

"The spring home buying season is getting off to a slow start due to persistent concerns about home values as more foreclosures seem to be hitting the market, increasingly restrictive lending requirements for home buyers and builders, and the slow pace of economic recovery," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

"While pockets of improving activity are appearing in some markets,” Crowe said, “the best sales activity appears to be happening in the lower price ranges, where first-time buyers have greater flexibility than repeat buyers who must sell their current home.

“Consumers who can take advantage of today's low mortgage rates and very attractive pricing are finding bargains and are buying," he said.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, sales expectations for the next six months and the traffic of prospective buyers.

Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

Two out of three of the HMI's component indexes posted declines in April.

The component on current sales conditions fell one point to 16, and sales for the next six months declined three points to 23, this component's lowest mark since October of 2010.

Traffic of prospective buyers rose a single point to 13 in April, — its highest level since last June.

The South — which is the largest regional housing market represented in the HMI — was primarily responsible for the overall decline in the index this month, dropping four points to 16.




Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.




Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.




Data You Can Build On

Get historical data, industry analysis and the latest forecasts, including state and metro, from HousingEconomics.com. Support your business decisions with in-depth analyses, detailed Excel tables, overviews and more. For more information, visit HousingEconomics.com.

The Northeast and Midwest each saw two-point gains, to 20 and 14, respectively, and the West remained unchanged at 17.

Minimum 20% Down a Danger to Home Buyers, Housing Recovery, Paper Says

With the proposed Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) rules recently proposed by federal regulators, “the government is throwing a devastating, unnecessary and very expensive wrench into the American dream,” according to a statement released last week by NAHB and five other groups.

Issued on April 14, the day prior to a hearing on the QRM regulations by the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, the white paper charged that the proposal would force credit-worthy borrowers to delay home purchases or pay higher mortgage rates, would impede a fragile housing recovery and would discourage the restoration of a healthy private lending market for home purchases.

In addition to NAHB, the groups that prepared the paper — “Proposed QRM Harms Creditworthy Borrowers and Housing Recovery” — included the Center for Responsible Lending, the Community Mortgage Banking Project, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America and the National Association of Realtors®.

The paper voiced particular concern over the minimum 20% downpayment required for a QRM.

(The QRM would exempt securitizers from having to retain 5% of the credit risk of each loan backing a security. For a related story in the April 4 issue of NBN, click here.)

Based on 2009 income and home price data, the paper says, it would take 14 years for the typical American family to save for a 20% downpayment and almost nine years to be able to put 10% down.

“Even 10% downpayments create significant barriers for borrowers, especially in higher-cost markets,” the paper says.

“This will significantly delay or deter aspirations for homeownership, or require first-time buyers to seek government-guaranteed loan programs or enter the non-QRM market, with higher interest rates and riskier product features.”

Existing home owners would also be harmed by the rules. Based on data from CoreLogic, nearly 25 million current home owners would be denied access to lower rate-QRMs to refinance their homes because they do not currently have 25% equity.

Further analysis of CoreLogic data, the paper says, demonstrates that sound underwriting and product features like documentation of income and type of mortgage have a larger impact on reducing default rates than high downpayments — a fact ignored by the narrowly drawn QRM that has been proposed.

CoreLogic statistics on loans originated between 2002 and 2008 show that “boosting downpayments in 5% increments has only a negligible impact on default rates, but it significantly reduces the pool of borrowers that would be eligible for the QRM standard,” according to the paper.

The paper finds that moving from a 5% to a 10% downpayment on loans that already meet strong underwriting and product standards reduces defaults by only two- or three-tenths of one percent. However, that increase would eliminate from 7% to 15% of borrowers from qualifying for a lower-rate QRM loan.

The paper notes that “Congress considered and rejected establishing high minimum downpayments because they are not a significant factor in reducing defaults compared to other underwriting and product features.

“In fact, the three sponsors of the QRM provision have sent letters to the regulators saying that they intentionally did not include downpayment requirements in the QRM.”

By impairing the ability of millions of households to qualify for low-cost financing, the report adds, the restrictive QRM that has been proposed could frustrate efforts to stabilize the housing market.

“Some private estimates have concluded that 5% risk retention could result in a three-percentage point rise in interest rates for loans funded through securitization,” the paper says. “In other words, today’s 5% market would become an 8% interest-rate market.”

Even if those estimates are too high, “even a one-percentage point increase in interest rates could be devastating to a fragile housing market,” the white paper says.

NAHB analysis shows that every one percentage point increase in mortgage rates prevents 4 million households from being able to qualify for the median-priced home. By that estimate, a three-percentage point increase would price out more than 12 million households.

The paper also says that the proposed QRM definition would make matters worse for those markets that have been hit the hardest by the housing crisis.

As the result of price declines in Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Florida and Michigan, “at least two out of three home owners there do not have at least 25% equity in their homes that would allow them to refinance with a lower-rate QRM. Six out of 10 would not be able to move and put 20% down on their next home.”

As for the impact of the QRM rule on the mortgage market, the paper quotes mortgage securitization pioneer Lew Ranieri, who said: “The proposed very narrow QRM definition will allow very few potential home owners to qualify.

“As a result, it will complicate the withdrawal of the government’s guarantee of the mortgage market. I fear it will also delay the establishment of broad investor confidence necessary for the reestablishment of the residential mortgage-backed securities market.”

The paper also points out that “risk retention is a viable option only for the largest banking institutions that have balance sheets to handle it.

“In 2000, the top five lenders accounted for less than 29% of total mortgage originations. Today, just three FDIC-insured banks control nearly 55% of all single-family mortgage originations.

“By creating such a narrow QRM market, the proposed rule will reduce competition from community-based lenders and accelerate consolidation of the mortgage finance market. In short, the proposal creates real systemic risk, while doing little to relieve it.”

To read the entire white paper, click here.

For more information, email Steve Linville at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x88597.




Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.




Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.




Data You Can Build On

Get historical data, industry analysis and the latest forecasts, including state and metro, from HousingEconomics.com. Support your business decisions with in-depth analyses, detailed Excel tables, overviews and more. For more information, visit HousingEconomics.com.

Median Property Taxes Range From $6,579 in New Jersey to $243 in Louisiana

Exacerbated by the housing downturn, when it comes to paying property taxes, some home owners may have more to complain about than others, according to a new NAHB study looking at real estate taxes and tax rates for the 50 states and 383 metropolitan areas.

The analysis is based on The American Community Survey (ACS) for 2009.

Conducted yearly by the U.S. Census Bureau, the ACS has replaced the long Census form used to survey the U.S. population every 10 years and asks home owners to report both their home value and the overall annual real estate taxes.

NAHB economists had last taken at look at the ACS statistics for 2005, when the housing boom was at its peak.

“At that time, home prices were rising so fast it was difficult for tax assessments to keep pace with housing appreciation,” said Natalia Siniavskaia, the author of the study.

“The current housing market,” she noted, “is poles apart and real estate tax rates are likely to differ considerably from what they were in 2005.”

Government jurisdictions have also had a hard time keeping up with home values during the downturn, and that has helped drive up the effective property tax rate in some markets where home prices have been dropping, the study finds.

“Comparing 2005 with the most recent 2009 data reveals a wide range of double-digit changes in property tax rates that seem to have been driven by large fluctuations in housing prices during the last decade,” the study says.

Home owners in Nevada and California — two states with the largest price declines according to the ACS — saw a whopping 50% jump in their median effective real estate tax as assessments failed to reflect the downward slide from their boom-time housing prices.

The effective real estate tax rate can be easily calculated by dividing the value of the property by the tax; and it is possible for the effective tax rate to rise even if the nominal tax rate remains the same.

Conversely, in states where 2009 ACS home values were still above their 2005 levels — such as Utah, Montana and Idaho — effective real estate tax rates declined because tax bills were based on lagging lower-value assessments.

The larger the home price decline, the greater the tax rate increase tended to be.

Among other findings of the NAHB study, based on the 2009 ACS:

  • The median annual real estate tax payment in the U.S. was $1,917 per home, with half of all home owners paying less and the other half making annual payments exceeding the median.

  • The property tax payments varied considerably across states.

    Home owners in the Southern states — with the exception of Texas — and the Mountain Census division tended to pay lower taxes per home, while home owners in the Northeast and Pacific states — with the exception of Hawaii — were likely to pay property taxes exceeding the U.S. median.

  • As in 2005, New Jersey won the dubious distinction of having the highest median real estate taxes — with more than 50% of all home owners paying in excess of $6,579 in annual property taxes per home.

    Connecticut came in a distant second — with a median property tax bill of $4,738.

  • At the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana and Alabama had the lowest median real estate taxes in the nation — with half of their home owners paying less than $243 and $398 in taxes per home, respectively.

  • New Jersey, New Hampshire and Texas had the highest property tax rates in the nation, exceeding $18 per $1,000 of home value.

    The next three positions were taken up by the Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois.

  • Louisiana, where home owners enjoy a generous homestead exemption, had the lowest effective real estate rates in the nation by far — $1.79 per $1,000 of property value.

  • Two states with the most expensive homes — Hawaii and the District of Columbia — had median real estate tax bills that rank only 35th and 20th in the nation, respectively, thanks to low effective property tax rates.

    Home owners in New Jersey ended up paying the highest property taxes in the nation as a result of having both expensive homes (ranking fourth in value) and the highest property tax rates.

  • Among metropolitan areas, the 2009 median annual property taxes were highest in the Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. metro division, where half of all home owners paid more than $8,177 per home.

    The lowest taxes were in the Alexandria, La., area, where the median was $151 per home.

    The median effective property tax rates ranged from a high of almost $28 per $1,000 value in Rochester, N.Y., to a low of $1.36 in Alexandria, La.

  • Of the top 20 metro areas with the highest property taxes, seven were located in New York (all making the top 10 list as well), five were in Texas, four were in Illinois and three were in New Jersey.

    Holding the bottom 10 positions were Honolulu and metro areas in Louisiana and Alabama.

To read “Property Tax Rates After the Housing Downturn,” including detailed statistical tables for the states and metro areas, go to www.nahb.org/propertytaxrates.

For more information, e-mail Natalia Siniavskaia at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8441.




Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.




Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.




Data You Can Build On

Get historical data, industry analysis and the latest forecasts, including state and metro, from HousingEconomics.com. Support your business decisions with in-depth analyses, detailed Excel tables, overviews and more. For more information, visit HousingEconomics.com.

Financial Value of Owning a Home Hard to Beat, Public Tells Pew Researchers

Despite a five-year “swoon” in housing prices, the American public’s confidence in the investment of homeownership remains unshaken, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

Of the adults whom Pew surveyed by telephone during the second half of March, fully 81% agreed that buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make.

The researchers pointed out that the intensity of the public’s faith in the financial value of homeownership has softened a bit since the same question was asked in a CBS News/New York Times survey in 1991.

Twenty years ago, 49% of the respondents “strongly” agreed that owning a home was their best investment and 35% agreed “somewhat.”

When the question was posed last month, 37% agreed “strongly” and 44% said they “somewhat” agreed.

“Even so, confidence at any level these days is notable, given that the housing market is mired in the longest and deepest decline in modern American history,” the report says.

Of those polled, about half (47%) reported that their home was worth less than before the recession began; 31% said its value had stayed the same; and 17% indicated their home had seen some appreciation.

“Of those who say their home has lost value, 86% say they expect it to take at least three years to recover to pre-recession levels; 42% say it will take at least six years; and 10% say it will take more than 10 years,” according to the report.

Also among the survey results, 81% of renters said they would like to buy a home one day and 80% of all respondents said that being able to own a home is an important long-term financial goal.

Of those enlisted to participate in the survey for the report — “Five Years After the Bubble Burst — Some Sweet Home. Still.” — 57% owned a home, 30% were renters; and the remainder had other arrangements, such as living with family members.

Pessimism on the Economy, Finances

In separate surveying by the Pew Research Center from March 30 to April 3, the public view of the nation’s economy appeared to be souring.

In February, 42% of those surveyed rated the state of the economy as “poor,” with sentiments moving in a less negative direction since last October, when 54% saw the economy as poor.

However, in the new survey, the number saying economic conditions were poor climbed to 53%, up 11 points from February.

Since February, Pew also found, there has been a decline in the number of people saying the economic recovery is already occurring or will kick in soon.

“Two months ago, a majority (57%) said the economy was recovering (24%) or that the economy would recover soon (33%),” according to the Pew Research Center. “Only about four-in-10 (42%) said it would be a long time before the economy recovered.

“Today, more (54%) say the recovery is a long way off than say either it is already recovering (20%) or will soon recover (24%).”

Asked about their family’s financial situation, most rated their finances as either only fair (36%) or poor (26%); 29% said they were in good shape; and 7% said they were in excellent shape.




Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.




Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.




Data You Can Build On

Get historical data, industry analysis and the latest forecasts, including state and metro, from HousingEconomics.com. Support your business decisions with in-depth analyses, detailed Excel tables, overviews and more. For more information, visit HousingEconomics.com.

Eye on the Economy: Jobs Are Up, But Housing Remains Down

Not much economic data was released early this month, but the housing sector remained depressed even as the economy began to show improvement.

On its face, the employment report for March looked positive — with the unemployment rate inching down and job growth inching up. However, overall labor market conditions have shown relatively little improvement since the official end of the recession.  

With the housing market deeply depressed, private residential construction spending continued to decline in February. Single-family and multifamily construction spending dropped, with housing starts falling substantially in February — hovering only marginally above their record lows. Similarly, home improvement spending — which is closely related to home sales — slumped in February as new-home sales fell to a record low and existing home sales turned down sharply after a three-month rise.

With deficit reduction and tax reform dominating the political debate and policy agenda, now is also an appropriate time to review tax issues related to housing construction and home builders.




Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.




Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.




Data You Can Build On

Get historical data, industry analysis and the latest forecasts, including state and metro, from HousingEconomics.com. Support your business decisions with in-depth analyses, detailed Excel tables, overviews and more. For more information, visit HousingEconomics.com.

 

Useful Links to Monitor Economic and Housing Trends

The following are links to useful information from government agencies and NAHB that will enable you to monitor the housing market.

To access the latest information available, simply click the links.




Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.




Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.




Data You Can Build On

Get historical data, industry analysis and the latest forecasts, including state and metro, from HousingEconomics.com. Support your business decisions with in-depth analyses, detailed Excel tables, overviews and more. For more information, visit HousingEconomics.com.

Builders’ Tip: Get a Grip on Grommet-less Tarp

Trying to tie down plastic tarp or sheeting over equipment or other items that need to be covered or protected from the elements can be a bit of a hassle when the grommets don't line up for a secure tie-down or, as with plastic sheeting, there are no grommets to hook onto.

But I found a way to tie the plastic down, and all I needed were some bungee cords and golf balls.

Here’s how to get a good grip and tie-down:

  • Gather the plastic where you want to attach a bungee cord around a golf ball and twist it around the ball two or three times.

  • Next, hook one end of the bungee cord behind the plastic gathered around the golf ball and secure the other end to your other tie-down point.

The tension on the bungee cord will keep the tarp or sheeting securely in place.

— R.W. Johnson, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Tips & Techniques provided by Fine Homebuilding.
©2010 The Taunton Press

To contact Fine Homebuilding, email Christina Glennon.




Get NAHB BuilderBooks 2010 Virtual Publications Catalog Online

The NAHB 2010 Publications Catalog from NAHB BuilderBooks is available online.

Presented in a virtual format as part of the NAHB BuilderBooks effort to go green and streamline delivery, the catalog includes publications and products to help building industry professionals ramp up for a successful year as the industry and the economy begin to recover.

The materials in the catalog, written by industry leaders in various fields of residential construction, feature publications and products about accounting, estimating, business management, green building, sales and marketing, safety, construction codes, 50+ housing, multifamily housing, construction management remodeling and more.

Some of the newest publications in the catalog include “Social Media for Home Builders,” the “National Green Building Standard Commentary” and “Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company, Second Edition.”

To view the virtual catalog, click here.

 

Save Time, Money, Energy by Managing All Your Variable Costs — Not Just Your Money


By Jeff Prager
Backroom Management

The next in a series on seven keys to managing your business and building profits.

As a builder and business owner, the three business resources you probably should care about most are time, money and energy.

That’s three resources, not just money alone.

This broad view is important because most business owners fixate on conserving money — and doing so can quickly exhaust their time and energy.

Let’s define these resources from a business owner’s perspective.

Time — your time only. Your time does not include your employees’ time because you pay for their time with another of your resources — money.

Energy — your concentration, frustration, mental effort and emotional engagement. The energy you devote to your business cannot be calculated in dollars and cents — but you can measure it on a scale of one to 10.

Money — your labor and non-labor costs. Both categories of costs are variable. Labor costs vary depending upon the employee, and non-labor costs, such as materials and supplies, vary according to the market.

One of the keys to running a successful business is managing your outflow of all three variable resources — key #6 in this series on managing your business and building greater profits.

Know Your Costs — So You Can Cut Them

As you probably know, your business has two kinds of costs — fixed and variable.

Fixed costs, which generally don’t change over a defined time period, include items such as salaries and office rent.

Variable costs are incurred during the production of a product. They include labor, raw materials, equipment rentals and other costs needed to complete a process when building a home. I’ll address fixed costs in more detail in my next article.

To manage your variable costs — not just money, but time and energy as well — you need to take two broad steps to, first, identify all your variable costs, and then reduce them.

To do that:

  • Inventory your entire production process to see where your resources — time, money and energy — are being spent.

  • Develop and execute strategies to balance the production activities that are consuming too many or your resources.

To begin, list each activity in your production process. By this, I mean everything involved in selling and building a new home — which starts well before the foundation is dug.

Your complete production cycle can likely be grouped into six activity hubs:

  • Acquire the lead
  • Transform the lead into a client
  • Complete the sale
  • Build/create your product or service
  • Delivery/distribution/finalization
  • Follow-up  

Once you’ve listed all the activities that comprise each activity hub, note and analyze the time, money and energy each one requires. Determine which activities on your list cost an inordinate amount of your time, money or energy and, just as importantly, why they sap so much of your resources.  

Then, determine how you can balance your resource usage, such as by substituting more money or energy for your time to complete a particular activity.

For example, a contractor I worked with said that writing estimates and proposals was a big drain — actually, one of his biggest drains — of energy. He said the activity sapped him because he wasn’t a good writer and it involved plenty of math; and because his profitability rested on his accuracy, which raised his stress level.  

Once he was able to identify why writing estimates and proposals consumed so much of his energy, he was able to figure out ways to substitute time or money to actually lower his overall expenditures of all three in the long run.

In his case, he had several options that he could also use in combination. To substitute time for energy, he could train a project manager to write the first draft or he could initiate a system that tracked costs so he could write more accurate estimates.

To substitute money for energy, his options were to hire a professional estimate writer as a consultant or to invest in better estimating software.

Time, Money and Energy — Manage All Three

Most business owners are so busy focusing on money that they forget to manage their other two resources.

When this happens, 14-hour days become routine and their business begins to suffer.

When I give my seminars on business management, I usually discuss the difference between a shopkeeper and a CEO and how each views their time, money and energy resources.

I relate how the shopkeeper focuses on saving pennies while the CEO focuses on optimizing all three critical resources.

As a business owner, which would you rather be?

Next: Key #7 — Your fixed costs

To read the previous articles in the series, visit: “Seven Keys to Managing Your Business and Increasing Profits,” “Increase Your Profits by Systematically Improving Your Sales Conversion Rate,” “Optimize Your Rate of Customer Retention, and Profit From Lifelong Customers,”  “Create a Lifetime Relationship With Your Customers,” and “Initiate a New Pricing Strategy and Build to Thrive, Not Merely to Survive.” 

Jeff Prager is the CEO of Backroom Management, based in Centennial, Colo., which provides the proprietary tools, systems and expertise that builders need to increase their profits. His “7 Key Numbers” system helps business owners determine their own seven key goals — and the paths to reach them — to make managing their business toward greater profits far simpler. For more information, visit Backroom Management at www.backroommanagement.com; or email Prager, or call him at 303-221-0823.




How Does Your Business Measure Up?

The Cost of Doing Business Study, 2010 Edition,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides home builders with a rare glimpse at profitability, cost of sales and expenses from hundreds of home builders across the country.

Several categories — including volume, operation type and land vs. no land costs — are analyzed to help builders fine-tune comparisons between study results and their companies.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

55+ Households Getting Back on Their Feet and Ready to Buy New Homes

By virtue of the increasingly large number of baby boomers who are moving into their retirement years, the active adult housing market is poised for a recovery that will be a bit faster than the upturn in the housing market overall, according to economists participating in an April 13 webinar presenting a forecast for this segment of the industry.

However, the recovery in 55+ housing won’t be “a lot faster” than improvements in housing in general because “people are looking to sell their existing home, and to the extent they have trouble, it will slow down the recovery in this part of the market,” said Paul Emrath, NAHB’s vice president of survey and housing policy research.

“Why 55+ buyer households have been holding back is that they think they can’t sell their existing home at a favorable price,” Emrath said.

The market is at a stage now, he said, where housing prices largely “have gotten back to what should be normal, but over the short term we have to worry about the psychology. Until that gets washed out, it will have a depressing effect on new home construction sales and remodeling.”

But Peter Dennehy, vice president, John Burns Real Estate Consulting, said that the nation’s slowly improving economy — with brighter prospects for jobs, stock market gains, growth in personal income, higher household savings and lower consumer debt — is putting these discretionary customers back on their feet.

“Look for improvements in housing generally in the next 12 to 24 months,” said Dennehy. “Active adult housing will be participating in this recovery.”

Many buyers in the 55+ market have “gotten used to the reality” of today’s lower home prices, Dennehy said.

“If they can’t sell for what they thought they would get, they are benefitting from a lower priced marketplace when buying,” he said.

Mortgage rates are expected to remain favorable through 2013, Dennehy added, and with very little being built, the supply of new homes is close to being depleted — more encouraging news for those trying to sell a home.

The 55+ sector has not been immune to the credit crunch that has curtailed lending to builders and made it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage to purchase a home.

However, 55+ buyers are in better shape to withstand the squeeze on mortgages, webinar panelists said.

While buyers of homes in 55+ communities often do need to sell their existing homes to move on to their next purchase, a significantly greater share of these buyers than in the recent past have demonstrated that they don’t need to sell one home first to proceed to the closing table, said Emrath.

Data from the 2009 American Housing Survey from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show that 54.6% of home buyers in age-qualified active adult communities used the sale of a previous home for their downpayment, leaving 45.4% who were able to pay their upfront costs from savings or cash on hand.

As recently as 2007, 92.1% of the buyers in those communities derived their downpayments from the proceeds of selling their home.

Bucking the Down Market Trend

From the builder’s perspective, the 55+ market is well worth pursuing, according to Dennehy, and in many markets adult projects “have actually bucked the market trend. Active adult projects are some of the best-performing in the nation, have held their value and have outsold” conventional homes, he said.

The best-performing master-planned active adult project in the nation last year was located in Orlando and rang up more than 2,200 sales, he said.

Citing research from Hanley Wood, Dennehy said that in Riverside County, Calif., active adult communities outsold homes in conventional developments by 2.4 times last year, at an average price per square foot of more than $160, compared to about $130 for conventional.

Looking for opportunities around the country, he said that:

  • Active adult housing will lead the market recovery in Las Vegas.
  • Phoenix is shaping up as a refuge for Californians.
  • Austin enjoys a prime location, with 2.6 million of the 9.8 million people who are within a three hour drive of the city in the 50+ category.
  • Orlando is a stand-out Sunbelt location in Florida.
  • The Carolinas are the “gold coast” for active adults in the East.
  • Lifestyle is a driver for “big city” Seattle; “hidden gem” Portland, Ore.; and “rural but evolving” Boise, Idaho.
  • Smaller markets showing promise in the Pacific Northwest include Tacoma and Spokane, Wash.; and Salem and Eugene, Ore.

Based on a national consumer survey conducted by his company last fall, Dennehy suggested that new home shoppers aren’t finding what they are looking for in the current market.

Great rooms, more covered outdoor space, attention to design and energy-efficient features are all on the wish list, he said, and so are bigger homes.

“Home sizes are shrinking,” he said, “but most want to buy a larger home, or at least stay the same size, in their next purchase.”

Buyers in the 55+ market will be looking for small communities and more infill where they can enjoy the amenities of the surrounding area, he said, and they will want to be close to their families and friends.

“There are lots of willing home buyers out there,” said Dennehy. “You have to figure out what they want and what they are looking for and what will motivate them to move.”

Buyers in the 55+ age group should constitute a sizable force in the housing market that emerges in the next few years, the panelists said.

According to Dennehy, 55% of baby boomers say they will move when they retire.

And NAHB is forecasting that 55+ households will grow from 40.2% of all U.S. households this year to a 44.8% share in 2019, Emrath said.

Looking at short-term projections, NAHB is forecasting that 36,000 single-family starts this year will be in age-qualified or other 55+ communities, and another 113,000 single-family starts this year will be attributable to 55+ households in the general housing marktplace.

The 55+ market will additionally drive about 35,000 multifamily starts in 2011.

The webinar — "Economic & Market Forecast for the 50+ Housing Industry" — was sponsored by the NAHB 50+ Housing Council and the Whirlpool Corporation.

For more information on 50+ resources available from NAHB, email Erin Grant, or call her at 800-368-5247 x8557.




Find Out What 45+ Housing Buyers Want

Right House, Right Place, Right Time: Community and Lifestyle Preferences of the 45+ Housing Market,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, will help determine the right design, home features and amenities to attract boomer home buyers in your market.

Author Margaret A. Wylde guides readers through the latest survey results on this important consumer group and explains what their responses mean for today’s and tomorrow’s home building industry.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

Remodelers Follow Different Paths to Recapture Business and Emerge From Downturn

The many remodelers who were forced to re-evaluate their business operations during the housing downturn have chosen divergent paths to survive the lean times.

Some have chosen to broaden their portfolios and take on a wider range of projects, including handyman types of jobs. Others have decided to narrow their focus and specialize in a niche area of remodeling — such as green or energy efficiency remodeling, aging-in-place, kitchens or outdoor living areas.

Still others have decided to stick with what worked for them in the past.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for remodelers trying to decide what business model will work best. 

Erik Anderson, vice president and owner of Anderson Moore Builders, Inc. (AMB) and DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen Remodeling in Winston-Salem, N.C., decided to specialize.

“Our original business model was more generalized,” he said. “In 2008, after the downturn, we chose to narrow our focus to kitchens and baths. We definitely made the right decision for us.”

As the company refocused its marketing and advertising efforts on kitchen and bath remodeling, DreamMaker took center stage over the flagship AMB, Anderson said, in appealing to clients seeking a kitchen or bath remodeler.

“I think it’s because people felt more comfortable with a company that focuses on exactly what they are looking to do with their home,” he said.

Another reason Anderson said he decided to specialize in kitchen and bath remodeling was because he “was tired of being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.”

Specialization has provided a safe path through the downturn, according to a recent Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University report, “A New Decade of Growth for Remodeling.”

“Some specialty contracting firms — kitchen and bath remodelers, deck and patio builders, energy-retrofit experts and outdoor living contractors, among others — have survived one of the worst industry downturns in decades by streamlining their operations and becoming more focused and efficient,” the report said.

But Vince Butler, owner of Butler Bros Corp. based in Clifton, Va., found just the opposite to be true for his company.

“Becoming less specialized and expanding our business portfolio to include more project possibilities kept us from seeing even more of a loss during the downturn,” Butler said.

Before the downturn, his company specialized in kitchen and bath remodels. But the jobs dwindled as fewer home owners were willing to contract for higher-end remodels during the recession, so Butler was forced to find other ways to bolster his business.

“We were once doing bath remodels that ranged from $35,000 to $45,000, but now people are more conservative with their money and remodeling projects are dropping down to the $10,000 to $15,000 range,” he said.

He also reported a similar percentage drop in kitchen remodeling projects during the downturn. “By taking on other projects around the home, we were able to still keep selling when some of the kitchen and bath remodeling jobs started drying up,” Butler added.

The bottom line is that companies have to make business decisions based on the unique conditions in their market, and there are always exceptions.

Amazing Siding and Windows, with locations across the country, specializes in siding and windows. That’s what the company specialized in before the downturn and it hasn’t changed its business model.

“We were blessed with several positive things during the downturn that helped our business succeed,” said Bob Birner, vice president of the Houston-based company affiliate. “Houston was fairly insulated during the housing downturn.”

“America became heavily dependent on the energy sector, which was good for our local economy, and rising energy costs made energy-efficient upgrades more appealing to people, especially with the energy-efficient tax credits available the last two years,” he said.

With those factors in place, it made more sense for the company to stay the course as a specialty remodeler, Birner said, adding that business this year has increased almost 300% from the same time last year.

Birner said that specialty trades, at least in the Houston area, are seeing a quicker return to normal than the more general contractors as the industry begins to recover.

But, he has also seen general remodeling firms succeed by reaching out to their existing client base to offer handyman services that were not offered before — which are services more people can afford in a recession.

“Everyone’s situation is different and remodelers should make decisions for their business based on their individual experiences and markets, and be confident and comfortable with their business decisions regardless of what they choose to do,” Birner said.




Learn How to Run a Successful Remodeling Company

The Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, shows how to use proven management systems to run a successful remodeling company.

The publication includes a CD containing 160 essential forms and documents — culled from successful remodelers across the country — that you can customize to suit your business needs.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




'How to Find a Professional Remodeler' Brochures Available at BuilderBooks.com

"How to Find a Professional Remodeler," available at NAHB BuilderBooks, promotes the professionalism of your remodeling business by offering a wealth of valuable advice to customers on the process of selecting a remodeler.

The newly updated brochure highlights the before and after photos of the most frequently remolded rooms in the house.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

 

 

 

Remodelers Tackle National Green Building Standard Revision

Home remodeling will become a new stand-alone section of the National Green Building Standard after revision by the Task Group on Remodeling.

During its first meeting at the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C., on March 29-30, the task group proposed pulling the remodeling notes from the standard in order to create an entirely new section devoted solely to green remodeling.

“The purpose of the new section is to clarify and simplify certification of remodeling projects under the National Green Building Standard,” explained Paul Sullivan, task group chair and a remodeler from Massachusetts. “The essence of the requirements will be the same, but we want one path for remodelers to follow that is easier to understand.”

Originally developed in 2007-2008 by NAHB and the International Code Council, the National Green Building Standard was approved by the American National Standards Institute in January 2009, making it the first ANSI standard for a scoring system for sustainable/green residential construction, remodeling and renovation projects and land development.

While more than 2,200 projects have been certified to the standard since its approval by ANSI, less than 3% have been remodels. Remodelers have expressed the frustration that the remodeling component was too complex to follow and score, especially because it was embedded within requirements for new construction.

In addition to creating the separate section in the standard for whole-house remodeling projects, the task group will be drafting guidelines for basic certification of kitchen, bath and basement remodels. The criteria will be in the form of a checklist and will allow home owners to get a taste of certification without scoring to the silver, gold or emerald level.

“A lot of remodels these days are just small projects like kitchens, baths or basements,” said Ray Tonjes, vice chair of the task group and a remodeler from Austin, Texas. “We want to get consumers excited by offering a certification for small remodels. Hopefully they will consider the benefits of a whole-house remodel in the future.”

NAHB builfder members on the Task Group on Remodeling include: 

NAHB associate members in the task group are:

After receiving support from the Consensus Committee — which is composed of a diverse group of residential construction industry stakeholders —  the task group began pulling remodeling notes from the current standard to draft the new remodeling section.

The task group will submit recommendations to the full Consensus Committee, which will deliberate on them and other proposed changes during public hearings scheduled for June 13-17 at the National Housing Center.

The NAHB Research Center is again acting as the secretariat, or administrator, of the ANSI standards development process for the National Green Building Standard.

As an ANSI-approved standard, the document is subject to regular updates so that advances in building codes, technology and other developments can be incorporated.

In the development of its standards, ANSI holds to principles such as allowing all directly and materially affected persons to participate and not allowing any single interest to dominate the proceedings.

The credibility of the National Green Building Standard is based on this rigorous ANSI process.

After the June meeting, Consensus Committee members will be balloted on the formal committee actions. The results of the balloting will produce a draft standard that will be released for public comment, with a deadline of Sept. 21.

The last meeting of the Consensus Committee and yask groups will be held the week of Nov. 28 in a public hearing to consider, discuss and take formal committee action on the comments submitted on the draft standard.

The newly updated National Green Building Standard will be submitted to ANSI for approval in 2012.

For additional information — such as Consensus Committee and task group rosters, the proposed changes, comment deadlines, meeting dates and future updates on the 2012 standard development process — visit www.nahbrc.com/ngbs.




Learn How to Run a Successful Remodeling Company

The Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, shows how to use proven management systems to run a successful remodeling company.

The publication includes a CD containing 160 essential forms and documents — culled from successful remodelers across the country — that you can customize to suit your business needs.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




'How to Find a Professional Remodeler' Brochures Available at BuilderBooks.com

"How to Find a Professional Remodeler," available at NAHB BuilderBooks, promotes the professionalism of your remodeling business by offering a wealth of valuable advice to customers on the process of selecting a remodeler.

The newly updated brochure highlights the before and after photos of the most frequently remolded rooms in the house.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

 

 

NAHB Free Resources Help Remodelers Promote National Remodeling Month in May

May is National Home Remodeling Month, and with remodeling activity starting to pick back up, the timing is perfect for members and local home builders associations and remodelers councils to promote the benefits of remodeling and highlight professionalism in the industry.

To help in this endeavor, NAHB Remodelers has created a members-only toolkit that includes resources such as:

  • Press releases
  • Column service articles
  • Fact sheets, including ones on aging in place and green remodeling
  • Public service announcements
  • A remodeling month proclamation
  • "May is National Home Remodeling Month" logos

Also included are guidelines for conducting marketing campaigns that promote the benefits of remodeling, emphasize the advantages of hiring a professional remodeler, increase awareness about remodeling and attract prospective customers.

Members will also find tips to get them started, including ideas for public events as well as how to use social media effectively and promote aging-in-place and green remodeling.

“This is a great opportunity for our members to promote the professionalism of remodeler members with NAHB,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bob Peterson, CGR, CAPS, CGP and president of Associates in Building & Design, Ltd. in Ft. Collins, Colo. “Also, we are starting to see a small light at the end of the tunnel for the industry. With everyone’s support in promoting not only the benefits of remodeling in May, but year round, we can help give remodeling the extra kick it needs to get back on a strong footing.”

The materials in the kit can be downloaded and customized with information on remodeling from local areas.

Download "May Is National Home Remodeling Month" materials by visiting www.nahb.org/remodelingmonth.

For more information, email Kelly Mack at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8451.




Learn How to Run a Successful Remodeling Company

The Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, shows how to use proven management systems to run a successful remodeling company.

The publication includes a CD containing 160 essential forms and documents — culled from successful remodelers across the country — that you can customize to suit your business needs.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




'How to Find a Professional Remodeler' Brochures Available at BuilderBooks.com

"How to Find a Professional Remodeler," available at NAHB BuilderBooks, promotes the professionalism of your remodeling business by offering a wealth of valuable advice to customers on the process of selecting a remodeler.

The newly updated brochure highlights the before and after photos of the most frequently remolded rooms in the house.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

 

 

NAHB Remodelers Announces Spring Board Meetings and Events

The following are NAHB Remodelers meetings at the NAHB Spring Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 18-19.

Wednesday, May 18

  • NAHB Remodelers committee meetings scheduled throughout the day
    Marriott Wardman Park, Delaware Suite A & B, Lobby Level
    To download a complete schedule of committee meetings, agendas and meeting materials, visit www.nahb.org/nahbrspringboard.

Thursday, May 19

  • NAHB Remodelers Board of Trustees meeting
    10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    Marriott Wardman Park, Washington 2, Exhibition Level

  • NAHB Remodelers General Session meeting
    1:30-4:00 p.m.
    Marriott Wardman Park, Washington 2, Exhibition Level

For more information, email Kelly Mack at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8451.




Learn How to Run a Successful Remodeling Company

The Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, shows how to use proven management systems to run a successful remodeling company.

The publication includes a CD containing 160 essential forms and documents — culled from successful remodelers across the country — that you can customize to suit your business needs.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




'How to Find a Professional Remodeler' Brochures Available at BuilderBooks.com

"How to Find a Professional Remodeler," available at NAHB BuilderBooks, promotes the professionalism of your remodeling business by offering a wealth of valuable advice to customers on the process of selecting a remodeler.

The newly updated brochure highlights the before and after photos of the most frequently remolded rooms in the house.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

 

 

Merchandise Green to Fortify Appeal to Eco-Conscious Buyers

By Kay Green, MIRM
Kay Green Design, Inc.

These days, housing professionals in almost every segment of the industry — builders, remodelers, designers, architects, merchandisers, salespeople, etc. — are turning all hues of green as they work to become experts in the growing green trend in home design and building.

With today’s new-home buyers caring more about better health and low-impact living, many of us are pretty much on board with the green movement.

To hone their expertise, builders and other professionals are attending annual conferences, such as the upcoming National Green Building Conference & Expo in Salt Lake City on May 1-3, to learn more about sustainable construction and the value of green buildings.

Vendors are expanding their green product lines by innovating and offering new eco-friendly products, and nearly 5,500 home building professionals have earned NAHB’s Certified Green Professional educational designation.

Frankly, I feel especially qualified to discuss sustainable design because I’ve been green — Kay Green, to be precise — for almost my entire life.

All joking aside, as an interior merchandiser and Master in Residential Marketing, the fact is that appearing green is just as important as being green when you want to appeal to eco-conscious home buyers. Yes, they crave all the energy-efficient features and options, but their initial impression will be drawn from the style and presentation of eco-eye candy.

We all know the basics about the most popular, practical green home features.

No- or low-VOC paints reduce residents’ exposure to chemical off-gassing over the first years they live in their new home. Energy Star appliances can lessen energy consumption and help them save on their electric and water bills. Recycle bins and a compost chute in the kitchen enable them to minimize the waste they send to the landfill.

Using recycled glass countertops can make consumers feel like all their recycling really did help a little, and using locally manufactured materials permits them to give themselves a pat on the back for preventing unnecessary freight pollution.


The kitchen in the Terra Verde Greenovation — the green renovation of a 1971 ranch-style home in Central Florida — features recycled and renewable materials, with minimal accessorization, all natural finishes and organic colors. The kitchen renovation was a team-effort by Kay Green Design, Lucia & Monday Architecture and Central Kitchen & Bath.

While these eco-friendly features are foundational, a model home’s interior merchandising must demonstrate an eco-conscious lifestyle to convey a consistent and memorable message to home buyers.

Showcase Eco-friendly Features

Here are some ideas that can convey your message of eco-consciousness to prospective home buyers:

  • Mix materials in the kitchen. Incorporate renewable resource cabinets with stainless steel appliances and recycled glass countertops. Complement these cornerstones with accessories such as bamboo serving utensils, natural-ingredient dish soaps and unrefined scented candles.

  • Use paint colors that occur naturally — sage green, sunset orange and browns.

  • Furnish your model with clean-line furnishings that demonstrate a clutter-free lifestyle and soft-contemporary style. The green movement is all about eliminating and minimizing waste — including having too much stuff. So rather than accessorize shelves with too many small items, display fewer, but larger pieces.

  • Forget wallpaper. Instead, substitute simple faux paintings that mimic popular applied floral decals. I suggest this technique simply for style, but it is cool and reflects a more minimalist approach to wall coverings. If you do choose to use wallpaper, be sure it’s made from recycled materials applied with toxin-free glue.

  • Stock the pantry and fridge with food containers and fake produce that portray a healthy lifestyle — fruits and vegetables in the produce bowls, soy milk in the fridge, granola boxes in the pantry and green tea on the countertops.

  • Merchandise your home with lifestyles that reflect eco-conscious consumers. Plant a container vegetable garden — carrots, lettuce, mint and other aromatic herbs — for display on the back porch or deck. (Use fake plants if your salesperson doesn’t have a green thumb.)

  • Merchandise a child’s room to reflect participation in a local non-profit, such as a sea turtle conservation organization. Showcase a bonus room as a Zen space with a water feature, perfect for yoga and meditation.

It’s not only ethical, it’s also trendy to right-size our impact on the environment.


Terra Verde’s living room features furnishings by La-Z-Boy that are stuffed with renewable soy cushions and covered in sustainable fabrics. Their soft-contemporary style complements the eco-friendly environment with a suitable and consistent clean- line appearance.

Eco-merchandise to Your Targeted Market

Keep in mind, however, that the ideas and goals of “green living” vary among the different demographics of home buyers.

For instance, eco-conscious 50+ home buyers generally want green features and options in their homes — such as energy-efficient appliances and low-e windows — that can help them save money. Their younger counterparts just entering the housing market generally have a stronger philanthropic urge to preserve the environment through recycling and buying locally.

Certainly, your buyers all have their individual notions about green living, but a general awareness of your targeted prospects’ interests can help guide you in determining what eco-friendly features to showcase in your home.

When positioning a model home to convey eco-friendliness, complement your sustainable construction features and building green practices with interior spaces, furnishings, accessories and merchandising that speak to their earth-conscious prospects emotionally.

Essentially, send them a consistent and powerful message about your commitment to green building — and give them the green light to buy.

Kay Green, MIRM, of Kay Green Design, Inc., based in Orlando, is a nationally recognized leader in the field of model home and sales center merchandising. She is an NAHB Institute of Residential Marketing, a past chair of the National Sales and Marketing Council, was named Associate of the Year by the Florida Home Builders Association and was inducted into NAHB’s prestigious Society of Honored Associates. For more information, visit the Kay Green Design website at http://kaygreendesign.com; or e-mail Green, or call her at 8OO-226-5186.

A version of this article originally appeared in Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine.




Value of Green Building the Focus of Upcoming 2011 Green Building Conference

Taking place on May 1-3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, the 2011 National Green Building Conference & Expo will focus on “making the value connection” and communicating to prospective home buyers and others the value of green upgrades in their homes.

The conference kicks off on May 1 with a Green Building and Technology Tour of the latest applications of green building techniques in local homes and communities.

The conference also features a range of educational sessions to meet the needs of both relative newcomers and experienced green building professionals, including “Connecting Home Owners With Their Homes,” “High Performance Homes at an Affordable Price” and “How to Develop a Green Building Product.”

For information about the conference, visit www.nahb.org/greenbuildingconference; or e-mail Chad Riedy at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8225.




Option Selling Can Boost Sales, Make Lasting Impression

In “Option Selling for Profit: The Builder’s Guide to Generating Design Center Revenue and Profit,” authors Gina Gullo and Angela Rinaldi share their hands-on understanding of high-powered selling in the ever-expanding market of options for new homes.

By offering a range of options and upgrades, the design phase provides the best opportunity to make a lasting impression and ensure that buyers will favorably remember the entire buying experience.

To view or purchase this publication online through NAHB BuilderBooks, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




In Today’s Market, 'Think Sold!' With Help From NAHB BuilderBooks

Think Sold! Creating Home Sales in Any Market,” available at NAHB BuilderBooks, is a practical, how-to guide for developing the self-awareness, knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the competitive field of new home sales.

The book covers everything from the home buying process and new home financing to strategies for making better sales presentations and sizing up the competition. It teaches readers how to overcome customers’ concerns and provides specific examples of how to explain the benefits of new home features in customer-friendly language.

“Think Sold” provides insights on how to approach sales and life from a position of optimism that will create successful outcomes; how to improve upon potential customer prospecting and follow-up skills; and how to communicate effectively with various types of buyers and learn how to adjust communication strategies to increase rapport and alignment with buyers’ motives.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




Subscribe to Sales + Marketing Ideas Magazine for Cutting-Edge Information

For additional cutting-edge sales and marketing information, subscribe to NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine (www.smimagazine.com).

Click here to learn about membership benefits of the National Sales and Marketing Council and the Institute of Residential Marketing.

Promote ‘New Homes Month’ With Free Online NAHB Resources

April is New Homes Month and NAHB has free resources available to members so they can highlight the benefits of homeownership and bring attention to the outstanding opportunities available in the current market — including competitive prices, near-record low interest rates and a good selection of homes to choose from — during this month-long celebration.

New homes today are better than ever before, with numerous features and amenities to accommodate today’s discerning home buyers and their busy lifestyles. New technologies, more efficient square footage and improved layouts make today’s new homes more comfortable and livable than at any time in the past.

New homes are also more energy-efficient. In fact, new homes built today are about twice as energy-efficient as those built just 20 years ago.

To help members take full advantage of New Homes Month, NAHB has developed a free, online promotional toolkit packed with resources and materials for builders and local associations to use throughout the month.  {{MORE}}

The promotional toolkit — available to members only — includes a series of articles, advertisements, consumer flyers, banners and other resources to help maximize the effectiveness of New Homes Month.

Members can access the toolkit at: www.nahb.org/newhomesmonth.

The materials can also be used to promote spring home shows, parades of homes and other special events to promote housing.

For more information, email Gwyn Donohue at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8447.

Rustic Residences Provide a Lucrative Niche Market for Builders of Log and Timber Homes

This is the second in a series introducing different forms of systems-built housing and the possibilities that exist when putting these concepts into practice. This issue: log and timber homes.

Builders seeking to expand the types of homes they build should consider adding artistic and profitable log and timber homes to their catalogs.

The good news is that there are far more interested buyers for these homes than there are contractors to build them — even in the current economy.

The downside is that building log and timber homes is not a get-rich-quick niche by any means. Prospects usually take between two and five years to pull the trigger on a log or timber home purchase, but builders willing to invest the time and energy in this market won’t be disappointed.

The Builder’s Role

When it comes to log homes, a home builder’s role can be quite diverse — providing levels of service that fall under one or a combination of the following scenarios:

  • Dealers/Sales Representatives — Builders work on a commission basis as an independent representative of a log home manufacturer. Leads are generated through local advertising efforts, as well as through the manufacturer’s marketing initiatives.

  • Builder or Contractor — A more traditional scenario for builders, in this role they provide contracting services to construct the home through the log home manufacturer or sales representative selling the home package. The builder may or may not serve as the general contractor, and construction can range from a shell-in/weather-tight-only build to a full turnkey project.

  • General Contractor — Acting as the turnkey builder in charge of every aspect of the construction process — from site prep to final inspection and move-in — the home builder handles all subcontractors and works directly with both the log home sales representative and the home owner throughout the duration of the project.

A Variety of Log Home Manufacturer Styles — Four General Categories 

From the shape and style of the log, to the type of corner system used, to the way the home is fastened and sealed — builders can choose from a variety of log and timber building systems.  


Modern log homes can easily meet or exceed the energy performance levels of traditional construction.

However, log home manufacturers generally fall into four categories:

  • Manufactured: Logs are milled to a specific profile (D-log, round log, etc.) and precut to fit a particular home design. With this process, logs are identified by the uniform diameters on the corner profiles. These manufacturers make up about 90% of the log home market.

  • Handcrafted: Typically working with large logs of varying diameters and a hand-hewn appearance, handcrafters pre-construct the entire shell of a home in their log yard to ensure an accurate fit and then re-erect the home in two or three days on the owner’s site. Handcrafters comprise approximately 10% of the market.

  • Post & Beam: Also known as timber frame, this style consists of large horizontal beams and vertical posts that are exposed in the home’s interior. The timbers can either be handcrafted or milled. Often, post & beam homes employ a point-load-bearing system and are enclosed with structural insulated panels.

  • Hybrids: To address the requests of just about any customer, many of NAHB’s Log Homes Council (LHC) members specialize in more than one of the above systems and can incorporate multiple styles in one project.

Going Green — Less Waste, Less Energy to Build            

Log and timber homes are environmentally sound. Not only is timber a highly renewable resource, the modern manufacturing process utilizes every portion of the log. Plus, because the wood used is close to its natural state, less energy is required to process it.

The pre-cut packages also result in less waste on the job site and a reduced environmental impact.

What Sets LHC Members Apart? 

Although there are hundreds of log home providers throughout the United States and Canada, only a select group belongs to the LHC.

These companies are set apart by council membership requirements that offer peace of mind to builders and buyers alike.  Members must comply with the following requirements:

  • Certified Log Grading Program: The LHC’s independent third-party grading policy ensures that builders and buyers are getting quality logs and timbers.

  • Code of Ethics: The council’s rigid code was adopted to ensure that the industry produces well-constructed, building code-compliant structures and engages in fair business practices.

  • Accurate Information: Council members agree to provide buyers and builders with truthful, accurate information and educational materials about log home building systems.

  • Construction Manuals: All LHC members must provide detailed construction manuals to ensure that the homes are built according to their particular building systems and state and local codes.

  • Scientific Research: Members are committed to raising log home industry standards and regularly sponsor scientific studies that advance log building technologies.


Depending on its size, a log home often can be erected and ready for dry-in in just a few days.

The Log Homes Council (LHC), part of the NAHB’s Building Systems Councils  (BSC), is America’s premier resource for log home construction information. The council connects manufacturers, builders and customers and educates them on the advantages of building with logs. For more information, visit www.nahb.org/LogHomes; or the council’s consumer site, www.LogHomes.org. Search for log home producers by geographic region at www.nahb.org/LogDirectory. To view a short, informative video about the benefits of log construction and the LHC, visit www.nahb.org/LogVideo.

Content used with permission from Home Buyer Publications (www.homebuyerpubs.com).

Young Chicago Family Builds Sustainable Dream Home Using Insulating Concrete Forms

A new home built using insulating concrete forms (ICFs) ended up being the perfect choice for a young family looking for plenty of space in a neighborhood close to downtown Chicago so they could spend less time commuting and more time with their two children.

They turned to Chicago builders Leitim and Mani and architects Wrap Architecture to make their dream home possible. 

Because they planned to live there at least 15 years, the couple wanted their home to be energy-efficient and sustainable.

To achieve the couple's goals, the builder made construction elements such as the exterior envelope the top priority and budget consideration. Interior features — kitchen cabinets, floor finishes and countertops — were designed to be upgraded later as the couple’s budget permitted.

ICFs were chosen for the home because their thick, continuous thermal insulation and solid concrete reduce air infiltration more than conventional construction. High-performance windows were also added to complete the envelope and maintain good energy efficiency. Additionally, the structural strength of concrete would keep their family safer.

Project architects designed the 4,100-square-foot, four-story home — which took 10 months to complete. The exterior walls of each floor were stacked and placed within one-and-a-half weeks by the general contractor, Cian O’Mahoney, who, until this project, had never used ICFs when building a home. The ICF manufacturer provided onsite training to help speed up the construction process.

Other green and sustainable features in the home included:

  • Insulated basement floors with radiant heat, finished by staining and sealing. These decorative concrete floors can provide years of durability and eliminate carpet replacement and landfill.

  • A geothermal heating system using nine wells, each running vertically to a depth of 90 feet.

  • A solar-heated domestic water system to supplement the geothermal system.

  • A green roof made of plants in removable trays. The green roof qualified for a $5,000 grant from the city.

  • An exterior finished with fiber cement wall panels. This prefinished rain screen assembly reduces exterior painting and maintenance requirements.

  • Low-VOC paints

The stairway, open to all floors, is located along one side of the house, leads from the basement to the roof and is capped with a small penthouse structure with an operable window. The multi-story space functions like a chimney — creating a stack effect to draw air up and through the entire home.

The owners anticipate that they won’t need to use their air conditioning too much during the summer because they built the home using a combination of the well-insulated ICF walls and the natural ventilation provided by the stairway.

Although the design made energy sense, the owners wanted something tangible to prove it. So, to quantify performance, they hired a home energy rater who reviewed the plans, conducted field inspections during construction and tested and rated the home.

The house achieved a HERS energy rating of 41, which means it will perform 59% better than new homes built to minimum requirements in the prevailing energy code. That represents exceptional efficiency, particularly in a colder climate like Chicago's.

With the home complete and the family moved in, the couple has decided that the improvements they made were worth the extra money they spent.

For more information on the value and benefits of various concrete home building technologies, visit the web pages of the NAHB Concrete Home Building Coalition

 

New Requirements Allow Limited Use of Antifreeze Solutions in Fire Sprinkler Systems

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has changed its standards to allow the limited use of antifreeze solutions in residential sprinkler systems.

The antifreeze solutions were banned under Tentative Interim Amendments (TIA) issued by the NFPA in response to concerns over two reported fires involving sprinkler systems with highly concentrated antifreeze solutions.

After completing a review of the issue last month, an NFPA committee issued four TIAs that take a more comprehensive approach to the treatment of antifreeze in the association’s sprinkler standards and provide new requirements for antifreeze in new and existing residential and non-residential buildings.

Antifreeze systems were first recognized and approved for residences in the 1989 edition of the NFPA fire sprinkler installation standards.

More information on the NFPA’s Tentative Interim Amendments to its sprinkler system standards — as well as recommendations for addressing the potential combustibility of antifreeze in sprinkler systems — can be found at www.nfpa.org/antifreeze.

Builders who have questions about the new requirements are encouraged to contact their local building or fire official.

For more information, email Steve Orlowski at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8303.




‘2009 Home Builders’ Jobsite Codes’ Available at NAHB BuilderBooks

“2009 Home Builders’ Jobsite Codes,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, provides easy access to the code information needed on the job site.

A quick reference to the 2009 International Residential Code, the user-friendly field guide provides easy-to-read code requirements for every aspect of residential construction and is packed with illustrations, tables, figures and a glossary.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

NAHB Seeking Representatives to Serve on 2012-15 ICC Code Committees

NAHB members have an opportunity to participate in the code development process by representing the nation’s home builders on the code committees and councils of the International Code Council (ICC).

More than 18 committees and councils will oversee the 2012-15 code development cycle — including six code committees considering changes to the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC).

The nomination process for selecting NAHB representatives is now open.

Click here for a complete list of the 2012 ICC code committees.

NAHB representation on all of these ICC committees and councils is an integral part of the association's overall involvement in the code development process.

NAHB representatives on the committees are required to attend Provisions Oversight Group meetings in Washington, D.C., prior to the hearings to help review proposed changes and develop an NAHB position on them.

NAHB covers the travel expense for these meetings.

All code committee members are required to participate in conference calls before the hearings, to review the proposals assigned to them and to attend the code development hearings.

Attending the hearings — including travel — takes two to three days, depending upon the committee.

The IRC-Building/Energy Code Committee hearings may last as long as five days.

Members of the committees and councils travel at the ICC’s expense to participate at these meetings.

The 2012-15 cycle is the first time in which hearings are being divided into Groups A and B, with separate hearings in 2012 and 2013.

The codes being heard in 2012 are:

  • International Building Code
  • International Fuel Gas Code
  • International Mechanical Code
  • International Plumbing Code
  • International Private Sewage Disposal Code

The codes being heard in 2013 are:

  • International Existing Building Code
  • International Energy Conservation Code
  • International Fire Code
  • International Green Construction Code
  • International Property Management Code
  • International Residential Code
  • International Wildland-Urban Interface Code
  • International Zoning Code

The deadline for applying to become an NAHB representative is Thursday, May 12.

Applicants need to complete a background information form, which can be obtained from Steve Orlowski at NAHB.

For more information or to apply, email Orlowski, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8303.




‘2009 Home Builders’ Jobsite Codes’ Available at NAHB BuilderBooks

“2009 Home Builders’ Jobsite Codes,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, provides easy access to the code information needed on the job site.

A quick reference to the 2009 International Residential Code, the user-friendly field guide provides easy-to-read code requirements for every aspect of residential construction and is packed with illustrations, tables, figures and a glossary.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

FDIC Official Envisions Bigger Role for Small Banks in Mortgage Market

Looking after the best interests of consumers, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is planning to take steps to give small community banks a bigger role in the residential mortgage market, Mark Pearce, the agency’s director of depositor and consumer protection, told an overflow audience on April 13 in Washington, D.C.

In a keynote address at a spring symposium by Washington, D.C.'s Women in Housing and Finance on “The Future of Financial Services,” Pearce discussed how the FDIC’s role in consumer protection will change when the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is up and running on July 21.

“The FDIC will remain the primary federal regulator for most of the nation’s community, state and non-member banks with assets less than $10 million,” Pearce said.

That will leave the CFPB with “primary responsibility for consumer protection and supervision of larger banks and for non-bank finance service providers, such as mortgage bankers,” he said.

Builders, developers, banks and other financial entities have all been looking for clues as to what’s coming next, with the arrival of the CFPB and the ongoing reorganization of existing finance-related agencies.

Pearce said that the supervision of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) — which governs consumer protections on closing costs and the settlement process — will migrate to the new bureau.

However, CFPB will be working with the FDIC to simplify and revise mortgage disclosure forms specifically, and the application process as a whole.

Both agencies will also be working to encourage small community banks — those with less than $1 million in assets — to step up their mortgage lending.

“Small banks are not risk-takers,” he said, adding that “the delinquency rates of community banks is one-fourth that of the larger banks” with $10 billion or more in assets.

Pearce also said that the FDIC and the CFPB will be looking at the incentives that have promoted so much consolidation among financial institutions, noting that the nation’s five biggest banks now account for more than 50% of all mortgage originations and control more than 60% of the market as a whole.

Because federal policies encourage the creation of banks that are perceived as too big to fail, small and mid-size lenders have trouble competing, he said.

It is important to “rebalance the mortgage sector to include lenders of various sizes, for a healthier market,” Pearce added, and that rebalancing effort falls under the FDIC’s mandate to ensure “safety and soundness” for financial institutions.

Mentioning other problem areas, Pearce cited a delinquency rate of 70% or higher among low- and moderate-income home buyers.

There is agreement that this needs to be prevented in the future, he said, and the FDIC is continuing to work on policies that will discourage lenders from offering inappropriately risky loans.

But “as we rebuild the mortgage market, we must pay careful attention to the impact of regulatory changes on the ability of our low- to-moderate-income families to obtain mortgages,” Pearce said.




Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.

Though Few in Number, Women-Owned Construction Businesses Show Economic Clout

A new survey from American Express on the state of women-owned businesses finds that women owners continue to be underrepresented in the construction industry — although they are growing faster than in most other industry sectors and contributing relatively more to economic growth.

The industries with the highest concentration of women-owned firms are health care and social assistance (52% of firms in this sector are women-owned, compared to a 29% share for businesses overall); educational services (46%); and personal care services including beauty salons, pet-sitting, administration services such as employment and travel agencies, janitorial and landscaping services and convention organizers (37%).

The industries with the lowest concentration of women-owned firms in industries comprising 2% or more of the business population are construction (8%) and finance and insurance (20%).

However, construction businesses headed by women grew 41% between 2002 and 2011, American Express reported, among the fastest rates of growth in that eight-year period for any industry.

Also, compared to women-owned businesses in most other industries, those in construction demonstrated their economic clout — with their employment and revenue growth over the period exceeding growth for businesses overall.

As a share of women-owned businesses, construction rose from a 3.1% share in 2002 to 3.5% in 2011.

The survey estimates that there are more than 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.7 million people. 

Between 1997 and 2011, when the number of businesses in the U.S. increased by 34%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 50% — a rate 1-1/2 times the national average, the report said.

However, these firms are smaller: Women-owned firms only employ 6% of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4% of business revenues, the report said, while the employment and sales growth of women-owned business lags behind the national average.

"Within the population of women-owned firms, we see steady growth but a lack of progress up the size continuum," the report said.

"Something is putting women-owned firms off their stride as they grow larger; they fall behind toward the end of the entrepreneurial marathon when entering the 100-employee and million-dollar 'anchor leg' of the race," the report said.

"It’s always been the case that the very largest firms — those that are publicly traded on stock exchanges — are few in number but punch above their weight in terms of employment and revenue generation.

“However, their dominance in the U.S. economy has grown over the past 14 years. In 1997, privately held firms accounted for 98% of all firms, 57% of private sector employment and 45% of firm revenue. Conversely, publicly traded firms represented 2% of firms but contributed 43% of the jobs and 55% of business revenue," the report said.




Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.

Iowa Contractor Elected as AGC's First Woman President

Kristine Young, CEO of Miller the Driller, a Des Moines, Iowa, drilling and boring company, has been elected as the Associated General Contractors of America’s first woman president.

“I’m humbled that this association has always treated me as a fellow contractor that happens to be a woman, instead of a woman that happens to be a contractor,” said Young.

“Being the first is never about being alone,” she said. “It took the time, energy and encouragement of many people to get me here today.”

While her company filed in January to seek protection from bankrupcy, Young said in an interview with the Engineering News-Record that the economy is improving in the Des Moines area and Miller the Driller will be back.

AGC named Joseph Jarboe, senior vice president of Clark Construction Group, Bethesda, Md., as senior vice president.

Paul Diederich, president of Industrial Builders, Inc., West Fargo, N.D., became the association’s vice president.

Howard Pebley, president of McAllen Construction, Inc., McAllen, Texas, became the association’s treasurer.

The three men will support Young in leading the trade group during their year-long tenure in office.

April 20: Webinar to Detail How to Achieve National Green Building Standard Certification

NAHB BuilderBooks and NAHB’s Land Development Committee will host the webinar, “Green Models for Site Development, which will provide guidance and walk builders and developers through the process of how to gain green certification for lots and sites through the National Green Building Standard.

The webinar will be held from 2:00-3:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 20.

During the webinar participants will:

  • Gain a clear understanding of the National Green Building Standard certification program and increase their general knowledge of all aspects of land development covered by the standard

  • Learn who the key NAHB and NAHB Research Center experts are who can guide attendees through the certification process

  • Learn from successful developers whose communities have attained the NGBS/ICC-700 Certification 

The program will feature Ron Tyne, of Rocket Properties; and Edward Tombari, NAHB Land Development Services.

Participants will receive a complimentary copy of “Green Models for Site Development: Applying the National Green Building Standard to Land and Lots”  and can earn one-and-a-half hours of continuing education credit for their NAHB professional designations.

To Register

The webinar is $21.95 for NAHB members and $24.95 for non-members.

To register, visit www.nahb.org/builderbookslive. Registrants will receive e-mail confirmations.

For more information, e-mail Patricia Potts at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8224.




'National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.

The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.

Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here.




'National Green Building Standard Commentary' Available at BuilderBooks.com

The "National Green Building Standard Commentary," available through BuilderBooks.com and a companion to the ANSI approved "National Green Building Standard," that provides valuable insight to the intention and implementations of the practices and provisions found in the green building standard.

The "Commentary" is a useful resource for any designer or builder using the ICC 700-2008 as a rating system for developing or renovating residential properties of all types to reduce their relative impact.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




More Than 5,000 People Have Earned Their Certified Green Professional (CGP) Designation

The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.

Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 5,400 people have earned the CGP designation to date.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.




'Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

For answers to questions about National Green Building Certification by the NAHB Research Center, certification to the standard or the guideline sunset, complete and submit the Contact Us form on the NAHBGreen website.

April 27: Get Latest Housing Perspectives at Spring Construction Forecast Webinar

Register for the upcoming Spring Construction Forecast Webinar to get up-to-the-minute analysis from three seasoned economists.

Speakers will look at the latest housing news and numbers and discuss these questions and more:

  • How is constricted builder access to acquisition, development and construction credit being addressed?

  • How can pent-up demand for housing be quantified?
     
  • Are the low appraisal headwinds easing?

  • How big is the housing inventory, and what is its composition?

  • How will each state fare as the housing recovery gains momentum?

The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Apr. 27.

The two-hour webinar will present the latest economic data and opinion in a streamlined, efficient format that will enable attendees to interact directly with some of the nation’s top economists.

Speakers include:

  • David Crowe, NAHB chief economist — Watch the chief economist’s assessment on housing here and here.

  • Mark Zandi, chief economist, Moody's Analytics — Read a transcript of Zandi’s January appearance on Nightly Business Report.

  • Robert Denk, NAHB assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis — Read a report on pent-up housing demand, co-authored by Denk.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.

To register, click here.




Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/follow-us/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.




Data You Can Build On

Get historical data, industry analysis and the latest forecasts, including state and metro, from HousingEconomics.com. Support your business decisions with in-depth analyses, detailed Excel tables, overviews and more. For more information, visit HousingEconomics.com.

May 26: Webinar to Present Latest Remodeling Outlook

The NAHB Remodelers will be presenting a “Remodeling Outlook” webinar from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 16.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, and Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, will present their latest forecasts for the remodeling market and answer questions on how to maximize remodeling opportunities.

Participants will:

  • Examine current remodeling trends and how they can be applied to individual markets

  • Learn how changing home owner demographics affect the remodeling market

  • Gain more knowledge on how energy retrofit activities and aging-in-place remodeling can provide increased business opportunities for remodelers

Participants can earn one hour of continuing education credit toward their designations.

To Register

The fee is $19.95 for NAHB Remodelers members, $24.95 for NAHB Members and $44.95 for non-members.

Click here to register; or call NAHB’s Office of the Registrar at 800-368-5242 x8338, or e-mail registrar@nahb.org.

For more information about this NAHB Remodelers webinar, email Therese Crahan at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8211.




Learn How to Run a Successful Remodeling Company

The Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, shows how to use proven management systems to run a successful remodeling company.

The publication includes a CD containing 160 essential forms and documents — culled from successful remodelers across the country — that you can customize to suit your business needs.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




'How to Find a Professional Remodeler' Brochures Available at BuilderBooks.com

"How to Find a Professional Remodeler," available at NAHB BuilderBooks, promotes the professionalism of your remodeling business by offering a wealth of valuable advice to customers on the process of selecting a remodeler. 

The newly updated brochure highlights the before and after photos of the most frequently remolded rooms in the house.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

 

Popular NAHB Education ‘Customer Service’ Course Now Conveniently Available Online

NAHB Education’s popular "Customer Service" course — which teaches students how to manage every phase of customer interaction, from the initial contact through construction, the warranty period and beyond — is now available online .

Based on the premise that customers who are satisfied with the planning, execution and follow-up of home building and remodeling projects are more likely to recommend the contractors who do the projects to their friends and family, the online version of the six-hour course enables students to save on travel and meet course requirements on their own schedules — stopping and starting coursework at their convenience.

The online version includes content in audio and video formats, on-screen text, transcripts and other downloadable resources. Students can also participate in a discussion forum where they can pose questions, share perspectives and enhance what they’ve learned.

Graduates of this course will be able to:

  • Understand customer expectations and behaviors
  • Set appropriate service criteria
  • Establish quality standards and communicate them
  • Administer the customer service process
  • Know their obligations for warranty service and fulfill them
  • Enhance their repeat and referral sales

To preview the course, watch this video clip.

To Register

The fee is $245 for NAHB members and $345 for non-members.

For more information or to order “Customer Service,” click here.

For more information about NAHB online courses, email Jennifer Johnson, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8162.




'Customer Service for Home Builders' Available at NAHB BuilderBooks

"Customer Service for Home Builders," available through NAHB BuilderBooks,provides the tools needed to give new life to a dormant customer service program.

The book includes forms, checklists, documents and a resource guide to enable builders to start managing their customers’ experiences rather than just reacting to the issues they raise.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

Education Calendar

April 20

"Green Models for Site Development"

Webinar

April 27

"Spring Construction Forecast Webinar"

Webinar

May 1-3

National Green Building Conference

Salt Lake City, Utah

May 5

"Leadership Training Webinar — Good Governance"

Webinar

May 26

"Remodeling Outlook Webinar"

Webinar

June 9

"Leadership Training Webinar — Building a Remarkable Organization"

Webinar

June 22

"LIHTC Webinar — LIHTC Application Due Diligence"

Webinar

July 7

"Leadership Training Webinar — Speak With Confidence"

Webinar

Aug. 4

"Leadership Training Webinar — Fundraising: The Decision to Give"

Webinar

Aug. 17-20

Executive Officers Council Seminar

Naples, Fla.

Sept. 1

"Leadership Training Webinar — Great Events"

Webinar

Sept. 21

"LIHTC Webinar — Correcting Non-Compliance and  Responding to an Audit"

Webinar

Oct. 6

"Leadership Training Webinar — Change Management"

Webinar

Oct. 23-25

Building Systems Councils SHOWCASE

Baltimore, Md.

Nov. 9-11

NAHB Summit on Association Excellence

Dallas, Texas

Dec. 14

"LIHTC Webinar — Combining LIHTCs with Other Programs"

Webinar

2012

 

 

Feb. 8-11

2012 NAHB International Builders' Show

Orlando, Fla.

Learn More About NAHB Professional Development Offerings

View the variety of professional development offerings available through NAHB and its local associations at www.nahb.org/education.

Search for Upcoming Courses in Your Area

Or, search for specific course offerings in your area and check out upcoming conferences.

DOE Expanding High Performance Windows Volume Purchase Program

The Department of Energy will announce the expansion of its voluntary High Performance Windows Volume Purchase Program (WVPP) during the National Green Building Conference & Expo in Salt Lake City.

In Phase II of the program, DOE is seeking to increase the availability of highly insulating windows for high-rise multifamily and commercial buildings.

All commercial products in Phase II will have an aggressive U-factor, which is a measure of the rate of heat loss. The lower the U-factor, the greater a window assembly's resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating properties.

Under the program’s second phase, U-factors are being set at 0.27-0.32 for architectural windows in multifamily high rises and 0.24-0.27 for commercial windows.

DOE will also allow a component modeling approach — or CMA — for site-built products.

DOE will announce Phase II of the program during an education session, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.

The purpose of the program is to bring highly insulating windows and low-E storm windows to consumers at attractive price points and to increase their market penetration — particularly in regions of the country where the windows are cost-effective in both new and retrofit applications. 

DOE received a strong response to Phase I from window manufacturers and builders.

Nearly 40 qualified vendors — offering hundreds of windows in all regions of North America — have been participating. Their window products are listed on the program’s website at www.windowsvolumepurchase.org

Despite one of the most significant housing downturns in 80 years, thousands of windows have been sold through the program and they have gained a higher profile throughout the entire windows industry.

“The value of the DOE High Performance WVPP has been in setting the table for future sales during a down market,” said Rob Worthington, market development manager for JELD-WEN Windows & Doors in Klamath Falls, Ore.

DOE plans to aggressively market the program in Phase II with a special emphasis on working with federal, public and private agencies to include highly insulating windows in new construction and retrofit specifications, and helping utilities and market transformation organizations design incentive/rebate programs for both highly insulating primary windows and low-E storm windows. 

“We are glad to have been part of the R-5 Windows Volume Purchase program since its inception in 2010,” said George Simmons, president and CEO of B.F. Rich Windows & Doors in Newark, Del.

“The program has challenged B.F. Rich and our vendors to look at the development of new technologies to enhance the efficiency of our products,” he said.

DOE plans to expand the WVPP website to include better pricing information, a spreadsheet estimator and information on utility incentive programs for efficient windows.

The High Performance Windows Volume Purchase Program is supported by DOE’s Building Technologies Program and managed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

For more information, email Blake Smith at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8583.




Register for Green Building Conference, Which  Focuses on Value of Green Building, by April 22

Online registration for NAHB's 2011 National Green Building Conference, set for May 1-3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, ends Friday, April 22.

The conference will focus on “making the value connection” and communicating to prospective home buyers and others the value of green upgrades in their homes.

The conference will feature educational sessions that meet the needs of both relative newcomers and experienced green building professionals, including programs on the EPA's latest changes to the Energy Star for New Homes guidelines, teaching homeowners how to maintain and maximize the performance of their green homes, examples of new systems that can deliver high performance at affordable prices and discussions from industry experts on how to develop and leverage a new green building product.

For more information and to register, visit the Green Building Conference website; or email Chad Riedy, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8225.




'National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.

The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.

Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here.




'National Green Building Standard Commentary' Available at BuilderBooks.com

The "National Green Building Standard Commentary," available through BuilderBooks.com and a companion to the ANSI approved "National Green Building Standard," that provides valuable insight to the intention and implementations of the practices and provisions found in the green building standard.

The "Commentary" is a useful resource for any designer or builder using the ICC 700-2008 as a rating system for developing or renovating residential properties of all types to reduce their relative impact.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




More Than 5,400 People Have Earned Their Certified Green Professional (CGP) Designation

The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.

Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 5,400 people have earned the CGP designation to date.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.




'Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

For answers to questions about National Green Building Certification by the NAHB Research Center, certification to the standard or the guideline sunset, complete and submit the Contact Us form on the NAHBGreen website.

North Carolina Builders Learn How to Sell Green to Their Customers

In partnership with six local home builders associations and three green building councils, the NAHB Research Center provided educational and networking events on April 13 at four locations around the state for the first-ever North Carolina Green Home Day.

Events in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington all included presentations on the ICC-700 National Green Building Standard, the NAHB Research Center’s certification to the standard, how to maximize the value of the third-party verification process and how to convey the benefits of green homes to consumers.

“North Carolina has long been recognized as one of the nation’s leaders for building high-performance, green homes,” said Michael Luzier, president of the Research Center.

“Over the last couple years in particular, green certification activity in the state has really exploded — we have close to 90 participating builders and more than 50 accredited verifiers there, and nearly 22% of all projects certified under the NAHB Research Center’s National Green Building Certification Program are in North Carolina,” he said.

Green specialists from the Research Center offered the following advice for home builders looking to convince their buyers that green homes are worth the minimal, initial cost:

  • Market the third-party home certification. When the Federal Trade Commission surveyed consumers on the value of green products, 80% said certification by an independent, third-party organization provides extra credibility and assurance for a consumer.

  • Market the personal benefits of green, not the features or technologies. Talk about what a better insulated and sealed building envelope can mean to a home owner’s comfort rather than focusing solely on R-values and SEER ratings.

  • Green means more than energy efficiency. Talk about the benefits of a better-insulated home — including a comfortable, consistent indoor temperature with fewer hot and cold spots.

  • Differentiate between price and cost by emphasizing the long-term value proposition of a green-certified home, including lower energy and water bills when operated correctly.

  • Highlight the home owner education required for a green-certified home and how that will help the consumer maximize the value and durability of the entire home as a high-performance system.

  • Make sure green certification information is included on the website, in printed materials, in the talking points that the sales staff uses and in on-site signage.

    The NAHB Research Center has a number of ready-made marketing materials that those participating in National Green Building Certification can customize and use. More are being added to the website frequently.

  • Be clear in marketing green-certified homes. With the FTC’s increased scrutiny of claims related to green certifications, substantiate any claims or warranties made.

    Specific environmental claims are easier to substantiate than general claims and less likely to be deceptive. An unqualified general claim of environmental benefit may convey that the home has far-reaching environmental benefits, when it doesn't.

Builder groups who partnered in hosting the day’s events included Coastal Green Built; Green Home Builders of the Triangle; Greensboro Builders Association; the HBA of Durham, Orange & Chatham Counties; the HBA of Charlotte; the HBA of Raleigh-Wake County; Home Builders Building Professionals; the Triad Green Building Council; and the Wilmington-Cape Fear HBA.

Each location was also visited by staff members from the NAHB Research Center, at least one local NAHB Research Center Accredited Green Verifier and a local marketing specialist.

Builders had an opportunity to discuss new green projects with their local verifiers after the general sessions.

For more information on North Carolina Green Home Day and other National Green Building Certification program activities, visit www.NAHBGreen.org or contact the NAHB Research Center online.

Green Builder in Florida Chalks Up Savings on Sales Centers

Trends in green home building are literally changing the landscape in Central Florida and providing an opportunity for Lakeland-based Highland Homes to educate its clients on the benefits of homes that are built to be more energy, water and resource efficient.

A member of the Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando, Highland Homes incorporates green materials, practices and concepts into its community sales centers so that prospective customers are able to “touch and feel” what sets green apart from the conventional approach to home building, said Kathie McDaniel, the builder’s vice president of sales and marketing and a member of the NAHB Professional Women in Building.

For example, the company no longer uses St. Augustine grass at its sales centers, she said. Although the grass is common in Florida, it requires a lot of water to maintain.

The grass cost Highland Homes a small fortune in 2008 and 2009 between severe drought and ensuing water restrictions and winter nights of heavy frost, she said.

Each model home had to have its sod replaced twice a year to keep the landscaping presentable to visitors.

Since switching over to Bahia grass two years ago, the company has saved money in water usage and sod replacement.

“Bahia grass is more durable in Florida’s climate,” said McDaniel. “The lawn comes back and continues to look green after recovering from these severe weather conditions.”

As a native grass, Bahia is also less likely to attract pests or bugs, reducing the need for pesticide treatments and resulting in a lighter environmental impact and more cost savings.

Responding to a state restriction limiting outdoor watering to once a week, Highland Homes has also had to change the standard landscaping package for its homes, which required plants to be watered at least twice a week.

“We researched plants and trees to design a new package with hardy, Florida-friendly plants that require less water, and it also limited the number of plants offered with each home,” McDaniel said.

“Most home owners enjoy adding their own plants to customize their exteriors and lawns according to their tastes,” she said, “so Highland Homes saw positive responses to this change.”

Highland Homes also offers its buyers green features such as foam-insulated concrete blocks, radiant barriers, R-30 insulation and low-E double-pane windows.

All of the model centers are also being built with these materials. Along with new lighting packages, this should lower the builder’s energy bills, she said.

Builders attending the National Green Building Conference & Expo on May 1-3 in Salt Lake City can attend sessions to learn how to save money and resources with similar green improvements, including:

  • “Affordable Green Construction and Renovation”
  • “Enhancing Your Building Practice Through an Inspired Approach to Green Building”
  • “Water Efficiency and Infrastructure Cost Savings.”

Information about the conference and details about the education sessions are available on the NAHB website at www.nahb.org/greenbuildingconference.




Register for Green Building Conference, Which Focuses on Value of Green Building, by April 22

Online registration for NAHB's 2011 National Green Building Conference, set for May 1-3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, ends Friday, April 22.

The conference will focus on “making the value connection” and communicating to prospective home buyers and others the value of green upgrades in their homes.

The conference will feature educational sessions that meet the needs of both relative newcomers and experienced green building professionals, including programs on the EPA's latest changes to the Energy Star for New Homes guidelines, teaching homeowners how to maintain and maximize the performance of their green homes, examples of new systems that can deliver high performance at affordable prices and discussions from industry experts on how to develop and leverage a new green building product.

For more information and to register, visit the Green Building Conference website; or email Chad Riedy, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8225.




'National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.

The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.

Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here.




'National Green Building Standard Commentary' Available at BuilderBooks.com

The "National Green Building Standard Commentary," available through BuilderBooks.com and a companion to the ANSI approved "National Green Building Standard," that provides valuable insight to the intention and implementations of the practices and provisions found in the green building standard.

The "Commentary" is a useful resource for any designer or builder using the ICC 700-2008 as a rating system for developing or renovating residential properties of all types to reduce their relative impact.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




More Than 5,400 People Have Earned Their Certified Green Professional (CGP) Designation

The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.

Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 5,400 people have earned the CGP designation to date.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.




'Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

For answers to questions about National Green Building Certification by the NAHB Research Center, certification to the standard or the guideline sunset, complete and submit the Contact Us form on the NAHBGreen website.

Entries Now Being Accepted for 2012 EnergyValue Housing Award

Entries are now being accepted by the NAHB Research Center for the 2012 EnergyValue Housing Award competition.

The EVHA honors home builders and remodelers who voluntarily integrate energy efficiency into the design, construction and marketing of either new or existing homes.

Over the past 16 years, the EVHA has become the gold standard in industry recognition for high-performance home builders.

The entry form has been redesigned for the 2012 awards. Applicants can download the entire application in an electronic directory that contains the application itself, a subfolder for each section of the application and checklists to help the applicant keep track. All required materials are clearly identified and suggestions are available for optional materials.

Once all sections are completed and saved in the appropriate subfolder, the entire directory must be submitted on two thumb drives or disks along with a signed copy of the disclosure statement.

Using electronic storage devices eliminates the need for applicants to ship large binders of materials to the NAHB Research Center.

In addition, nearly all sections now call for narrative descriptions of each feature rather than listing details on them. The change is designed to give applicants the opportunity to convey their philosophy on energy efficiency and their approach to high-performance building.

Applications for New Homes and Existing Homes divisions are available at www.nahbrc.com/evha. The submission deadline is July 29.  

Winners will be honored at an awards dinner planned for Wednesday, Feb. 8, in Orlando, coinciding with the first day of the 2012 NAHB International Builders’ Show.




Register for Green Building Conference, Which Focuses on Value of Green Building, by April 22

Online registration for NAHB's 2011 National Green Building Conference, set for May 1-3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, ends Friday, April 22.

The conference will focus on “making the value connection” and communicating to prospective home buyers and others the value of green upgrades in their homes.

The conference will feature educational sessions that meet the needs of both relative newcomers and experienced green building professionals, including programs on the EPA's latest changes to the Energy Star for New Homes guidelines, teaching homeowners how to maintain and maximize the performance of their green homes, examples of new systems that can deliver high performance at affordable prices and discussions from industry experts on how to develop and leverage a new green building product.

For more information and to register, visit the Green Building Conference website; or email Chad Riedy, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8225.




'National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.

The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.

Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here.




'National Green Building Standard Commentary' Available at BuilderBooks.com

The "National Green Building Standard Commentary," available through BuilderBooks.com and a companion to the ANSI approved "National Green Building Standard," that provides valuable insight to the intention and implementations of the practices and provisions found in the green building standard.

The "Commentary" is a useful resource for any designer or builder using the ICC 700-2008 as a rating system for developing or renovating residential properties of all types to reduce their relative impact.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




More Than 5,400 People Have Earned Their Certified Green Professional (CGP) Designation

The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.

Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 5,400 people have earned the CGP designation to date.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.




'Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

For answers to questions about National Green Building Certification by the NAHB Research Center, certification to the standard or the guideline sunset, complete and submit the Contact Us form on the NAHBGreen website.

The Latest in Green and Energy-Saving Products Headed for Salt Lake City

Exhibitors at the National Green Building Conference and Expo in Salt Lake City on May 1-3 will be showcasing the latest and most innovative green and energy-efficient products and services.

Here are just some of the many exciting green innovations for building professionals that will be on display:

Appliances

  • ACT D'MAND Systems (Booth 522) has introduced the only 'DUEL PORT Expansion Tank that is "self-cleaning" and is IAPMO NSF/ANSI 61 approved.

  • Quietside (Booth 429) is the master distributor for Samsung Ductless Mini Splits and Multi Split Air Conditioning units and Quietside Tankless Hot Water Heaters.

Building Accessories

  • activTek Environmental (Booth 507) offers a line of highly effective, reliable, plenum-mount and in-unit air purification products to solve some of the most common and difficult environmental issues related to ductwork and HVAC systems. The INDUCT “air scrubber” units provide on-going, chemical-free, active odor neutralization as well as contaminant reduction in the air and on exposed surfaces within ductwork systems and indoor environments.

  • Bayer MaterialScience's (Booth 314) High Performance Residential Program with Bayseal spray foam insulation will highlight its ability to form a complete energy-efficient home envelope.

  • EFI (Booth 423) is now carrying Delta ultra-quiet bath exhaust fans. With their low sone, low energy use, DC motors, and rating for continuous operation, these are a great new addition to the residential ventilation product category.

  • Venmar Ventilation (Booth 117), North America's leading manufacturer of energy-efficient whole-house mechanical ventilation systems, will display the new EKO, its ECM-motored ERV/HRV and the new compact Kubix systems.

Construction Materials

  • Applegate Insulation (Booth 503) will introduce its newest green insulation product, a hybrid of ancient fibers and modern fire retardant know-how: cotton insulation, Mr. Insulate. A revolutionary advance in energy conservation, Mr. Insulate fuses cotton to green re-use technology.

  • Convenience Products (Booth 304) will showcase The Touch ‘N Seal CPDSTM Series 2, combining the convenience of a disposable foam kit with the efficiency of a bulk spray foam system. The self-contained, portable, constant pressure spray system dispenses Class 1 fire retardant, thermal insulating and sound attenuating 2-component polyurethane spray foam — twice as fast as foam kits.

  • Icynene Inc. (Booth 315) will showcase the latest innovation in closed cell spray foam insulation. Its latest product, ICYNENE MD-C-200, meets strict standards of quality and performance while delivering environmental advantages as a Low Emitting Material (LEM) and a Green Approved product (NAHB RC).

  • Liv-Space by Boman Kemp Companies (Booth 505) uses egress basement windows to transform the basement into a revolutionary new home building concept. Using a combination of Boman Kemps basement window systems, air-handling concepts, 9’ insulated/waterproofed foundation walls and designing open staircases to the basement will all help achieve Liv-Space.

  • NCFI Polyurethanes (Booth 500). When InsulStar high-performance SPF insulation is applied to a home or building envelope, the world's most advanced science is being put to work to achieve the very highest energy efficiency.

  • The Vinyl Siding Institute, Inc. (VSI) (Booth 414) has published "Insulated Siding as Home Insulation: Guide for Users and Energy Raters," a new resource that will help builders and designers deliver what home owners want most — comfort and improved energy efficiency. More information can be found at www.insulatedsiding.info. Insulated siding is vinyl siding with rigid foam insulation that is laminated or permanently attached to the panel.

  • Warmquest (Booth 317) will present its newest series of low-voltage roof de-icing products which are installed beneath roofing materials. These systems safely and efficiently eliminate costly ice dams and dangerous icicles, all the while being conveniently hidden beneath the roofing.

Doors, Cabinetry, Countertops, and Windows

  • Battic Door Energy (Booth 2417) will feature the first insulated attic access door that meets the new International Residential Code and International Energy Conservation Code requirements that all access doors from conditioned spaces to unconditioned spaces (attics) must weather-stripped and insulated to a level equivalent to the insulation on the surrounding surfaces. The E-Z Hatch Attic Access Door provides an R-42+, triple-gasketed, airtight access door that fits into a 22’ x 30’ rough-framed opening.

  • JELD-WEN Windows and Doors (Booth 501) earned the NAHB Research Center Green Approved designation for the following product lines: SFI Certified Energy Star wood windows and patio doors, Energy Star vinyl windows and patio doors and no-added formaldehyde molded interior doors.

  • Sierra Pacific Windows (Booth 116/118) will showcase many of its sustainable products, including its new aluminum clad, wood folding door system. As with all other Sierra Pacific Windows products, the new door system features certified sustainable wood products and a choice of 35 standard colors in environmentally friendly no-VOC powder coat finishes.

Home Automation, Computing, and Electronics

  • Marantec America (Booth 119) will debut its energy-efficient garage door opener system. During stand-by, the M-Line ECO operators are 96% more efficient than comparable garage door openers.  An integrated energy management system reduces the overall carbon footprint of Marantec's ECO openers.

Miscellaneous

  • The Appraisal Institute’s (Booth 214) recent text, "An Introduction to Green Homes," provides an overview of the many programs, organizations and products that are fueling the current surge in environmentally responsible building and remodeling. Order now at www.appraisalinstitute.org/greenhomes and learn about green facts, resources and guidelines.

  • The China Urban Development Committee of CCPIT (Booth 123) will debut its newest green building projects, which take adoption of energy saving, environmental protection and low-carbon technology to make green, low-carbon, and livable excellent real estate projects.

  • J&R Products (Booth 219), known as the weatherization warehouse, will highlight its insulation machines, generators, caulk, weather-stripping, foam, tape, vents and many more product offerings.

  • Mohawk Industries, Inc. (Booth 306) will showcase its SmartStrand with DuPont Sorona carpet, made from a unique fiber (triexta); it is the first truly new carpet fiber in 50 years. Renewable resources, such as corn sugar, replace 37% of the petroleum used to make SmartStrand. The carpet features engineered-in stain resistance that doesn’t wear, walk or wash off, plus SmartStrand offers better softness, resilience and durability than other fibers.

  • NAR's Green Designation(Booth 212) will release a new version of its course curriculum and materials this year to keep its agents up to date on changes in the green building industry, and to better serve the builder and contractor community. Work with a real estate agent who is an NAR Green Designee to best market the green features in your projects.

  • The PV Solar Shutter (Booth 233), a custom, power-producing window shutter, combines the energy-efficient properties of a shutter with the ability to produce power using renewable resources — all using eco-friendly materials and processes and now available for retrofitting on many types of plantation shutters. The PV Solar Shutter is easy to install, portable and easy to use.

  • The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (Booth 319) is an independent, non-profit, organization with an internationally recognized forest management standard for North America. With nearly 200 million acres certified, SFI is the world’s largest single forest certification standard and is recognized by conservationists, governments and green building rating programs around the world. Learn more at sfiprogram.org.

  • Sustaining Spaces (Booth 405) features HomeNav — the online home guide, a patent-pending interactive home owners’ manual offering tools and resources for home inventory, maintenance, and green living. HomeNav is the first NAHB Research Center Green-Approved Product for the Operation, Maintenance, and Building Owner Education section of the National Green Building Standard.

  • Todd Valley Farms (Booth 218) will showcase its new turfgrass for sustainable lawns, LegacyPlus. LegacyPlus is a full season turf that can reduce water use by up to 75%.



  'National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.

The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.

Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here.




'National Green Building Standard Commentary' Available at BuilderBooks.com

The "National Green Building Standard Commentary," available through BuilderBooks.com and a companion to the ANSI approved "National Green Building Standard," that provides valuable insight to the intention and implementations of the practices and provisions found in the green building standard.

The "Commentary" is a useful resource for any designer or builder using the ICC 700-2008 as a rating system for developing or renovating residential properties of all types to reduce their relative impact.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




More Than 5,400 People Have Earned Their Certified Green Professional (CGP) Designation

The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.

Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 5,400 people have earned the CGP designation to date.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.




'Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

For answers to questions about National Green Building Certification by the NAHB Research Center, certification to the standard or the guideline sunset, complete and submit the Contact Us form on the NAHBGreen website.

Green Building Provides a Competitive Edge in Recovering Housing Market

Builders who are including green features in their homes and are able to provide their customers with energy savings are in a prime competitive position in the housing marketplace that is emerging from the sharp downturn of recent years, according to participants in the upcoming 2011 National Green Building Conference & Expo, which will take place on May 1-3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.

Attendees can register online until Friday, April 22.

 

The green building market is expected to double in the next two years and the tide has turned for energy-efficient, sustainable construction, according to financial analysts specializing in the home building industry.

Green will also be an increasingly significant factor in the valuations of new homes, as the appraisal and banking industries begin to realize its market advantage, they say.

More than a fifth of all homes built in 2010 earned Energy Star certification from the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the EPA, while the number of commercial buildings certified increased by 60% over the previous year.

The number of single-family homes certified to the National Green Building Standard has topped 2,000. And production builders are increasingly changing their building practices to focus on sustainability, according to the Calvert Asset Management Company.

“Our survey of the 10 largest publicly traded U.S. home builders finds an evolving landscape,” said Calvert sustainability analyst Rebecca Henson. “Whereas two years ago the industry had not yet begun to embrace sustainability as a core part of building design and construction, companies today have taken many meaningful steps toward developing greener and cleaner homes.”

This year’s Green Building Conference will focus on an issue of primary importance for builders and developers — how to maximize the sales potential of green building upgrades and emphasize their value to consumers in a marketplace expected to be cost-conscious yet especially responsive to products and technologies that will improve the performance, comfort and health and safety of their homes.

“Green building creates value in so many ways,” said Doug Calvert, a builder from Gainesville, Ga., and chair of the National Green Building Conference & Expo Working Group. “This year’s conference will help housing industry professionals explain that value to home buyers, policy makers, appraisers, financiers and others whose decisions will shape the market.”

This year’s conference has been organized to provide beginning and veteran green builders alike with the resources they need to rejuvenate their businesses at a critical juncture for the housing industry. For information on the National Green Building Conference & Expo, click here.

The conference opens on May 1 with the Green Building & Technology Tour sponsored by Lutron, which will show conference attendees the latest applications of green building techniques in homes and community development.

Lowe’s Commercial Services, Wells Fargo and Whirlpool are the corporate sponsors of the conference. GE ecomagination is the sponsor of the opening keynote session, featuring Mike Holmes of HGTV’s “Holmes on Homes,” which takes place at 9:00-10:15 a.m. on May 2. (For a related NBN story, click here.)

In a keynote general session on May 3 at 10:30 a.m.-noon, social media guru Amber MacArthur will discuss how builders, remodelers and others in the housing industry can improve their use of social media to sell their products and services.

Another highlight of the conference is the Green Building Awards program sponsored by Bosch Appliances and Mohawk Industries, which takes place the evening of May 2 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. Winners of the awards set the standard for sustainability in residential construction.  

For more information about the conference, email Chad Riedy, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8225.




  'National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.

The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.

Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here.




'National Green Building Standard Commentary' Available at BuilderBooks.com

The "National Green Building Standard Commentary," available through BuilderBooks.com and a companion to the ANSI approved "National Green Building Standard," that provides valuable insight to the intention and implementations of the practices and provisions found in the green building standard.

The "Commentary" is a useful resource for any designer or builder using the ICC 700-2008 as a rating system for developing or renovating residential properties of all types to reduce their relative impact.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.




More Than 5,400 People Have Earned Their Certified Green Professional (CGP) Designation

The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.

Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 5,400 people have earned the CGP designation to date.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.




'Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

For answers to questions about National Green Building Certification by the NAHB Research Center, certification to the standard or the guideline sunset, complete and submit the Contact Us form on the NAHBGreen website.

NAHB Tells Federal Agencies of Urgent Need for Relief From Overly Burdensome Rules

NAHB has added the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Energy and the Department of Commerce to its list of federal agencies to which it has submitted comments on the urgent need for relief from overly burdensome regulations.

The agencies are responding to an executive order issued in January by President Obama for them to periodically review their regulatory programs to make them more effective and less burdensome.

In addition, NAHB is encouraging leaders of state and local home builders associations to submit comments and to attend a series of Administration-sponsored listening sessions to ensure that regulators are aware of the regulatory burdens carried by home builders, remodelers and developers.

Last month, NAHB submitted comments to the Department of the Interior, focusing mainly on the agency’s enforcement of the Endangered Species Act as a good place to begin the reform process. (For a related story in the April 4 issue of NBN, click here.)

NAHB sent similar comments to the Commerce Department, which also enforces the ESA through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In all of its comments, NAHB has been pointing out that residential construction — one of the most heavily regulated industries in the U.S. — is trying to extricate itself from the most dire economic conditions since World War II.

Regulations are most effective when they take into account important factors, NAHB said in its comments letter:

  • Number of affected entities — including those who must comply with the regulation and those who must administer it. “The most heavily regulated sectors [should be] identified and the regulations affecting that sector reviewed and streamlined.”

  • Businesses of affected entities. “The agencies should consider affected industries’ sizes, locations and the number of people they employ, with an emphasis on improvements placed on those that have been particularly impacted by the economy or other mishap, and that have a proven track record of creating jobs.”

  • The cost/benefit ratio. Costs must include both compliance (for the affected business) and administration (for the government). “Each agency must be very clear in describing how the benefits were calculated and what assumptions or unknowns exist within the data. NAHB also believes that looking at the cost/benefit ratio can be a useful tool to prioritize projects.”

  • Risk. NAHB pointed to the wording in the executive order, which says, “in setting regulatory priorities, each agency shall consider, to the extent reasonable, the degree and nature of the risks posed by various substances or activities within its jurisdiction.”

  • Availability of new data or information. “Because new information can significantly impact the achievability, efficacy, cost or value of a regulation, its existence should be a key factor in determining which rules are to be examined.”

  • Duplication. Lack of coordination among and within agencies leads to regulatory overlap, NAHB said, pointing to two examples — the DOE and EPA versions of Energy Star programs and differences between state and federal endangered species protection regulations. The executive order specifically directs the agencies “to promote coordination, simplification and harmonization.”

  • Changes in technology, cost or best practices. “For example, in 2008, EPA finalized the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule predicated on the development of new technology.” However, “the lead-based paint test kit integral to the cost-effectiveness of the rule was not developed as expected. As a result, regulated parties were left with significantly more expensive methods for lead paint testing than originally estimated,” which is a good reason for revisiting the rule. “In considering changes in technology, cost or best practices, the agencies are strongly urged to rely on the regulated community to help identify potential impacts,” NAHB said.

  • Impact of other/newer rules. “Sometimes new laws or rules are adopted that effectively supersede existing regulations, but the regulations may remain on the books. Likewise, new rules could obviate the need for, or benefit of, the target regulation.”

Agency by Agency

The NAHB comments to the EPA highlighted specific examples of regulations that are “ripe for immediate review.” Among them:

  • Confusing jurisdictional decisions on what constitutes a wetland

  • The continuing confusion over storm water management rules and their associated expenses

  • The lack of a sensible strategy for the regulation of renovation and repair work where lead paint might be present

Many of the attempts of government agencies to work with those required to comply with new regulations have been half-hearted at best, NAHB said:

  • For example, NAHB members on a review panel charged with providing a small business perspective on the impact of compliance with new EPA storm water management regulations were unable to estimate what it would cost them to comply because they were not provided with enough information on the upcoming rule.

  • OSHA implemented what it calls its “Multi-Employer Citation Policy” — “a policy that effectively expands the employers’ responsibilities” — before going through the proper procedures to establish its cost to businesses. Under this policy, OSHA inspectors are instructed to issue hazard citations to employers on the jobsite even if their own employees are not at risk and even if they did not create the alleged hazard.

  • Not only did attempts by the DOE to push ever higher thresholds for energy efficiency in new homes go beyond what Congress had intended, the data used in code hearings to justify the new thresholds had never been made available, despite repeated requests for it by NAHB.

In the coming weeks, NAHB will submit additional comment letters to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies charged with overseeing financial regulations that govern home builders.

For more information, email Susan Asmus at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8583; or contact Michael Mittelholzer, x8660.

Safety Tip of the Month, Crane Signaling Requirements

To ensure that signal persons are qualified for their jobs, it is important for employers to be familiar with  the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Crane and Derricks in Construction Final Rule, which became effective on Nov. 9, 2010, with the effective dates of some provisions delayed by one to four years.

The rule covers a wide range of cranes over 2,000 pounds, but exempts some equipment used in residential construction — including forklifts, backhoes, excavators, equipment with a "Come-A-Long" hoist, aerial lifts, and concrete pumps.

This rule also does not cover boom trucks that deliver building materials — such as drywall or roof shingles — to the job site.

Significant changes in the new cranes and derricks rule concern:

  • Assessment and sharing knowledge of ground conditions

  • Qualification of riggers and signalmen

  • A requirement that crane operators be certified by a third party

  • Employer requirements to pay for all training needed to comply by the rule and for certification of equipment operators

  • New approach distance procedures for working in the vicinity of power lines

Although signal persons do not have to be certified, their employers must ensure that they are qualified using a third party or an employee with the demonstrated ability to assess whether an individual meets the qualification requirements for signal persons specified by the final rule.

Those qualification requirements include:

  • Know and understand the types of signals used.

  • Be competent in the application of the type of signals used.

  • Have a basic understanding of equipment operation and limitations — including the crane dynamics involved in swinging and stopping loads and boom deflection from hoisting loads.

  • Know and understand the relevant requirements of this standard.

  • Demonstrate that they meet the requirements of this section through an oral or written test and through a practical test.

A signal person must be provided in the following situations:

  • Where the point of operation —  the load travel or the area near or at load placement — is not in full view of the operator

  • When the equipment is traveling and the view in the direction of travel is obstructed

  • When — due to site-specific safety concerns —  either the operator or the person handling the load determines that a signal person is needed.

To help employers comply with the regulation, NAHB has created a guidance document and overview of the final rule on construction cranes and derricks.

Also, OSHA recently issued the "Small Entity Compliance Guide for Cranes and Derricks in Construction " to help businesses comply.

For more information, email Marcus Odorizzi, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8590.




Help Make Job Site Safety a Priority With Video From NAHB BuilderBooks

The “Jobsite Safety Video,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, is the first-ever job site safety video for home builders.

The video provides an overview of the key safety issues that residential builders and workers need to focus on to reduce accidents and injuries.

Based on the NAHB-OSHA Jobsite Safety Handbook, this DVD is intended to be used as part of an essential residential construction safety-training program and includes two 20-minute videos on one DVD.

To view or purchase this DVD online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

Floor Plan Tweaks During Plan Review Workshop at IBS Make Homes More Salable

Not quite pleased with his tried-and-true design for a ranch house to be built on eight narrow lots in an infill development, Brad Waldenmyer, of BNDW, LLC in Dover, Ohio, took his plan to the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando earlier this year for some free, expert advice on how to improve it.

The existing design overpowered the streetscape, Waldenmyer said. The two-car garage looked too cumbersome for the development’s 65-foot-wide lots. He also was concerned about the laundry room’s location — in the back of the house off the master bathroom.

Waldenmyer was among 200 builders who brought their plans to IBS to have them reviewed by architects and designers from the NAHB Design Committee during two days of plan review workshop sessions held annually by the committee.

Each builder has about 25 minutes to discuss the plan one-on-one with a designer or architect who suggests how to tweak the plan. The builders can meet with as many different architects as feasible during the 25-minute session — essentially architectural review goes speed dating — to gather as many suggestions as possible.

Waldenmyer met with seven architects during his session, most of them offering similar advice on how to improve his 1,500-square-foot home. “There’s only so much you can put into that little package,” he acknowledged. 


To focus attention on the entry and away from the garage, Walden enlarged the porch and added Craftsman-style columns.

But suggestions by Anne Olson Postle, of Olson Architecture in Niwot, Colo., a longtime NAHB member and 21-year veteran of the IBS plan review workshops, won Waldenmyer over.

Postle discussed tweaks to the front elevation to make the garage look less massive; and improvements in the home’s flow and livability to make the plan more appealing to women, who tend to have the final word on home purchasing decisions.

“Many builders who come to the workshops have never discussed upgrading plans with changes like different locations for a laundry room or opening up walls in the kitchen to encourage more family interaction during dining and food preparation,” Postle said. “You can take a dated plan and open it up so it has the potential to really wow home buyers.”

A New Look for the Front Entrance

To deemphasize the garage, Postle suggested that Waldenmyer run the roof trusses from the entry to the back of the house on a 7-12 pitch, which would expand the dormer over the front door and add extra emphasis to the cathedral ceiling extending to the back of the home.

The changes, she said, would focus attention on the front entrance rather than the garage and also make the interior more appealing.

“In this plan, we were trying to make the home open up from the front entry. Those corridor views from the front entry make the home feel larger,” Postle said.

Her ideas didn’t stop there.

Postle also suggested that Waldenmyer make the front porch larger and install a ceiling fan. “Outdoor living areas are something we talk about with many builders because they are often forgotten when merchandising the home,” she said, adding that furnishing a porch increases usable square footage and “makes the home live larger.”

Not only did Waldenmyer enlarge the porch when building the home, he also added Craftsman columns.

“The changes really make a grand entry out of a small space,” Waldenmyer agreed.


A kitchen island helps improve traffic flow in the kitchen.

Design With Furniture in Mind

A common faux pas among builders at plan reviews is that many of them don’t think about furniture placement.

“We always design with furniture,” she said. “Often, builders come to us with room and floor plans and haven’t given any thought to where the TV goes in the great room, where to put the couch and love seat or if the master bedroom has a good bed wall.”

“When you start to lay the furniture on someone else’s plan, you can see very quickly where things won’t work,” she said.

Postle concurred with Waldenmyer’s use of a “flex room” in his plan.

“We want to look at flexibility in the different spaces. The model home may have a formal dining room, but not everyone needs one, so we look at ways to market that space as a dining room, a home office, a parlor or a music room so that one plan can appeal to many different buyers,” she said.

The Laundry Room — Hugely Important, Often Poorly Designed

Waldenmyer wanted to locate the laundry room off the master bedroom rather than off the garage — its more typical “mud room” location. But he was concerned that the alternate location might be a problem.

 
Ranch house floor plan.
Click for larger image
.

“I tend to beat up the builders who come to the plan review workshops when it comes to things like laundry rooms and command centers,” Postle said, while agreeing that the laundry room location was “on the right track.”

“We try to put the laundry room on the same floor as the master suite, and we try to work it out so there is a pass-through from the master closet into the laundry room,” she said.

“You never want to come home after working all day and have to walk through the laundry room from the garage. The laundry is never done, so when you get home, you’re greeted by dirty laundry. It’s depressing,” she said.

“Home owners want a place to leave their coat, drop their purse, charge their cellphone and not be hit over the head with a to-do list the minute they get home,” Postle said.

Waldenmyer found his 25-minute speed-review session well worth the information overload.

“Every one of the reviewers did a good job and I was really happy with Postle’s designs,” he said.

The Fitzgerald: Giving Lifeblood to a Stagnant Lot

By Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson

Excerpted from the spring 2011 issue of Land Development Magazine.

The Fitzgerald, developed and built by the Bozzuto Group and named with a nod to F. Scott Fitzgerald who once lived nearby, transformed a brownfields lot in Baltimore into a vibrant transit-oriented, sustainable mixed-use community with 275 luxury rental apartments, 25,000 square feet of retail and parking for 1,245 cars.

The 4.6-acre site, originally the Bolton rail yards and later, a tire re-treading facility, is nestled between the city’s cultural center, Mount Vernon, and the historic, upscale Bolton Hill neighborhood.

It’s also near the Mount Royal corridor, home to the local opera and symphony, as well as the University of Baltimore and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

The university owned the site and a new master plan envisioned one of its boundary streets — Oliver Street — as a key corridor at the edge of the school’s official campus. The university’s president, Robert L. Bogomolny, wanted the site to coalesce with the area’s burgeoning contemporary look.

“We saw this as the lynchpin between the University of Baltimore and College of Art campuses and as a project that would encourage people to walk and use mass transit,” said Sam Rajamanickam, senior associate with Design Collective, the architect and project manager for The Fitzgerald.

Maryland’s Bozzuto Group became part of a public/private partnership with the university. The Fitzgerald then became a joint venture between the Bozzuto Group and Gould Property Company, with J.P. Morgan, the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System and former Baltimore Raven Michael McCrary as equity partners.

Bozzuto functioned as general contractor and brought Baltimore-based architecture firm Design Collective, Inc. on board.

The project team converted the site’s impediments into benefits by carefully using the space and taking advantage of what had seemed to be limitations. The parking spaces were placed on the less visible side of the property, in a concrete parking structure facing the JFX roadway. The garage is hidden from the community by the multi-story residential structure, which fronts pedestrian-crowded Oliver and Mount Royal Streets, and looks toward the light rail platform to the west.


Built on a former brownsfields site, residents of this now vibrant hub enjoy the convenience of nearby light rail and comuter rail lines.

The residential side of the mixed-use structure has a metal skin with floating masonry planes and balconies to break up the facade. The resulting structure seems to float above the glass base that houses the 25,000 square feet of retail, including space for a major bookstore.

The main entrance to The Fitzgerald and the sight lines within the building were oriented to face the Mount Royal Station, a former B&O Railway building that is now a part of the MICA campus. The Fitzgerald building appears to split in two at the street to align with both the train station view and the light rail tracks. Its striking entrance of Brazilian ipe wood links the lobby to the exterior, which includes a public plaza serving the retail stores. Above the plaza, a glazed, light-filled bridge connects the residential buildings.

A New Kind of Home

The location appeals to the needs of professors and students as well as those interested in living in a cultural and academic hub. The developers/designers aimed at creating spaces attractive to both those connected with the schools, and others.

A variety of studio, one- and two-bedroom floor plans and amenities support university-aged residents as well as anyone looking to live, work and play in a vibrant setting with a fitness and yoga center, multiple lounges, first-rate amenities and wireless access. The two-bedroom units have a central living space with bedrooms and baths flanking either side — an ideal situation for either a family or roommates.


The Barnes & Noble bookstore that is part of the Fitzgerald is a staple for campus students and convenient for residents of nearby neighborhoods.

     

This mix makes the Fitzgerald an easier residence to market.

“We find the units work well for graduate students and for medical residents. But it’s certainly not just students who live here. We’ve got a lot of young professionals commuting to Washington, D.C. We’ve even got empty nesters,” said Jeff Kayce, Bozzuto’s development manager.

The strategy has proven itself. Six months after its October 2010 opening, 69% of the building’s 275 units were leased, according to Kayce.

The transit-oriented Fitzgerald is a stone’s throw from a light rail stop, and within walking distance to Pennsylvania Station, which is home to Amtrak and a commuter rail service to Washington, as well as a stop for the city’s new, free bus system, the Charm City Circulator.

The project honors its proximity to the light rail with connections for both residents and commuters.

For example, rather than push the building to the edge of the property line at the light rail platform, the architects set it back to include an outdoor plaza that blends with the rail station and doubles as a means for fire access.

Ground-level retail wraps around to that plaza, with outdoor seating that invites passengers to pop in and experience the building. Residents on that side of the building overlook the city and the train tracks below.

In a different setting, train tracks might be considered an undesirable view, but from an apartment window above the site, the rail lines appear abstract — taking on a graceful, almost artistic, geographical look. This potential barrier between the structure and neighboring community has been erased; instead of a closed-off private space, the exterior feels open to the public.

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson is a contributing editor with Architect magazine and a regular contributor to publications about architecture, design and planning. Her writing has appeared in Metropolis, the New York Times Magazine and Next American City, among others. To contact Dickinson, visit her website at www.eedickinson.net. For information on the project, visit www.designcollective.com.

To read the entire article and Dickinson’s observations in residential design trends and the success of The Fitzgerald, subscribe to NAHB’s Land Development Magazine.

 

Students Learning Highly Marketable Green Building Job Skills

Using the NAHB Green Building Standard as a resource, members of NAHB Student Chapters are increasingly stepping up their training in green building, a sector of the housing industry that has seen significant growth even during the downturn and is becoming an increasingly important component of the residential construction industry.
 

The green housing market grew from $2 billion in 2005 to almost $60 billion last year, according to estimates by NAHB and McGraw-Hill Construction

Megan Wayment, who is studying architecture and is a member of the NAHB Student Chapter at Brigham Young University-Idaho, said that the  Student Chapters’ Residential Construction Management Competition (RCMC) at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in January helped bring to life green concepts she had learned in her coursework.

“For the competition, we had to work to achieve the Emerald level of the National Green Building Standard” Wayment said.

“While preparing for the presentation, I was studying LEED, and it was interesting to learn firsthand about all of the different ways you can incorporate green products and procedures into a home,” she said.

Another NAHB Student Chapter member, construction management student Kaitlyn Wright, is also getting hands-on experience as she researches a book for the NAHB Research Center with one of her professors at Middle Tennessee State University.

“I’m researching different green products, showing the benefits and cost comparison versus everyday products,” said Wright. “The book is aimed at builders who are looking for cost-effective ways to build green.”

The National Green Building Standard is playing an important role as the basis for the green building training programs being developed by the Home Builders Institute, according to Don Pratt, chairman of HBI’s board of trustees and the National Green Building Standard Consensus Committee, which is currently in the process of updating the standard for its second edition.

Developed by NAHB working with the International Code Council, the green building rating and certification system for all residential construction and development was launched in 2008.

HBI instructional materials — such as the Residential Construction Academy (RCA) series and the Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) curriculum — directly correspond with the standards, enabling students to learn general green building principles.

The curriculum takes students through key green building competencies they need to master — including weatherization, solar installation, using salvaged and recycled-content materials, recycling construction waste and more.

After completing their green training, students have skills and expertise that are highly marketable.

For more information on NAHB Student Chapters and the RCMC, email Page Browning at HBI, or call her at 800-798-7955 x8918.

For more on the RCA Series, contact Steve Kramer, x8925; and for PACT curriculum information, contact Dennis Torbett, x8908.

HBI Partnering With ProLiteracy to Launch National Adult Literacy Conference

The Home Builders Institute (HBI), the workforce development arm of NAHB, is partnering with ProLiteracy and 21 other regional and national organizations representing business, safety, volunteers and workforce development to launch the first U.S. Conference on Adult Literacy (USCAL) on Nov. 2-5 in Houston.

“The residential construction industry offers myriad career opportunities to individuals with strong literacy, math and English language skills,” said Steve Kramer, vice president of HBI’s Residential Construction Academy.

“Our commitment to the conference is to discuss and assist in pioneering solutions to improve literacy rates in the U.S.,” Kramer said, “so that many can choose and chart a career path toward greater personal and professional reward.”

David C. Harvey, the president and CEO of ProLiteracy, said that the conference is addressing a “national crisis” in which only a fraction of the 30 million adults in need of basic reading, math and English language skills are being reached because of “drastically underfunded and severely limited” state and federal efforts.

“By working together, we can create more urgency and innovation in the field — something that is needed now more than ever in a down economy,” Harvey said.

In addition to hearing from prominent speakers, USCAL attendees will participate in professional development, advocacy work and literacy training.

Partners from fields such as consumer safety, job development and English as a Second Language will be helping local organizations use available educational and social service resources to meet the growing demand for adult literacy education.

Conference offerings include:

  • Creating successful collaborations to expand and improve services
  • Advocacy for adult literacy in communities, libraries, corrections and workforce development programs
  • Supporting adult learners as leaders and transitioning them to the workplace and post-secondary education
  • Using technology to enhance learning and digital literacy
  • Managing literacy programs in difficult economic times
  • Recognizing literacy as a human right and the connections between literacy, social justice and social change
  • Examining literacy in a global context

For more information on submitting proposals for sessions and on exhibiting and registering, go to www.uscal.org.

For additional information about HBI, email Laura Phillips Garner, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8936.

Incentives to Boost Homeownership in Other Countries Vary for Builders, Consumers

An informal survey of NAHB international members reveals that incentives to boost homeownership varies from country to country, with European and Japanese respondents indicating that the incentives offered by their countries largely went to consumers with few going to builders or building industry partners.

The survey explored what tax and financing incentives, if any, were available to builders, building industry partners and consumers to boost housing production and homeownership in various countries.

International members from eight countries — China, Canada, France, the Cayman Islands, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, and Kenya — responded. Those from Canada, Japan, France, Sweden and the Netherlands indicated that the homeownership rate of their countries was within a few percentage points of the U.S. homeownership rate of 66.5%.

While the Cayman Islands and Kenya do not appear to have official reporting concerning homeownership, an international member from the Caymans estimated a fairly high rate of ownership, 75%-80%, in his country.

Respondents from Kenya, on the other hand, reported that their country had a relatively low homeownership rate, primarily because of extremely low average wages, high housing costs and a mortgage system that required a 20% downpayment plus an additional 10% (on average) in related fees.

A member from China reported that his country, with its unparalleled demand for new housing, does not incentivize home purchases and also restricts citizens to two residences per family. He also reported that China heavily taxes home purchases by non-citizens, charging the equivalent of five years’ worth of income tax.

According to the survey:

  • France — In France, “social landlords” or owners of low-income housing, can get a 15-year property tax exemption on new buildings and pay less tax on the construction work and materials — 5.5% instead of 19.6%. Home owners benefit from that same VAT tax reduction for renovation work on their homes. Households also can qualify for tax credits or tax cuts in return for energy-efficiency or accessibility work on their homes. France does not tax the capital gain on property transfer of a primary home, and owners of rental properties can receive a tax credit — usually for new construction — up to specific ceiling amounts.

  • Sweden — Sweden offers a 30% reduction on loans made to buyers of all apartments and houses. Those purchasing homes pay an annual tax — not more than the equivalent of $800 U.S. Sweden waives the tax for five years for those building a new house and halves the tax rate for them the following five years. For residents remodeling their homes or apartments, Sweden offers a 50% tax reduction up to a maximum of the equivalent of $14,000 U.S. per taxpayer in the household.

  • Netherlands — The Dutch give remodeling consumers a reduction in the sales tax on work done by professional renovators. The Netherlands, like the U.S., allows home owners to deduct the interest they pay on mortgages, but this deduction is partially offset by the requirement that purchasers add a percentage of the value of the property — the “notional rental value” — to their taxable income. The incentive operates under the assumption that the property has the potential to generate income. The country also offers limited subsidies and grants for installing photovoltaics, solar heating and energy-saving triple glazing, the respondent said.

  • Japan —Japan allows a non-taxable gift of up to $187,500 U.S., and such gifts often are used for downpayments. Japan also offers green building incentives, including tax relief of up to 300,000 yen ($3,500 U.S.) for buildings that meet Japan’s Energy-saving Act requirements. The same incentive is available for remodeling that increases the thermal insulation of windows, walls, roofs, ceilings or floors. An additional tax break of up to $62,500 U.S. is also available to home owners who install photovoltaics. Finally, the country offers lower-cost loans and financial incentives for “long-life” houses, as well as a “Flat 35S” loan interest reduction scheme.

  • Canada — Few incentives are offered in Canada. Several provinces and municipalities offer a five-year tax break to builders of infill properties. And while consumers cannot deduct their mortgage interest, they can borrow a portion of their Registered Retirement Savings Plan without penalty to aid in a downpayment on a new or existing home.

  • Cayman Islands — To lower construction and homeownerships costs in the Caymans, the government has cut duties on building-related materials and products from 22% to 25%. And while there is no direct taxation in the Caymans, a stamp duty tax was lowered from 7% to 5% for a short period in order to stimulate home sales. The duty is based on the value of either the land or the existing home. Consumers tend to buy land, pay the duty, then build, in order to avoid paying a much higher amount of tax on the home.

  • Kenya — With an annual demand for 150,000 homes and a supply of 35,000 homes, Kenya has an overwhelming housing shortage. According to a respondent, the government recently proposed nearly 30 incentives, to be introduced over time, to boost housing production. Tax rebates are already available to developers who build projects with 20,000 or more housing units for low-income residents whose monthly income is less than $416.00 U.S. per month. Such low-cost homes must cost less than $19,037.22 and the footprint must be 30 square meters or larger.

    The government also has lowered the import duty on cement from 50% to 25% and waived the import duty on coiled steel to lower construction costs. The country also offers deductions on capital expenditures for business owners who build housing for their employees. To boost homeownership, consumers can assign retirement benefits toward mortgages, and interest income on up to $35,694.79 U.S. that is part of a Home Ownership Plan is tax-exempt. Interest on owner-occupied property is deductable up to $1,784.74 U.S. per year.

    Only about 8% of Kenyans can qualify for home loans — typically 15-year mortgages — because lenders require a 20% downpayment plus an additional 10% to cover fees.

A Comparison

Country

Starts

Homeownership
Rate

Reporting Period

U.S.   

479,000   

66.5%

Q4 2010

Canada   

189,000

70%  (per Scotia Capital) 

2010

China

16 million1

None reported

n/a

France

346,000

56% (member reported)
65.5% (U.S. Department of Commerce)

2007

Netherlands

91,000
(as of 1999)

54.4%

2003

Japan

813,000
(member reported)

   61%

2010

Sweden

22,500

59.9%

2003

Kenya

35,000

not available

n/a

Cayman Islands

not available

75%-80%
(member estimate)

n/a

 

CraftMaster Hollow-Core Interior Door Delivers Authentic Flat-Panel Design

CraftMaster has designed its new hollow-core Conmore Door for home owners who are seeking the familiar comforts of traditional design in more contemporary, fresh styles.

The Conmore interior door features five, smooth and flat panels in a horizontal layout.

Unlike raised-panel doors that attempt to capture the classic, five-panel door style, Conmore is molded with a true flat-panel design that reflects the authenticity and genuine style of the traditional five-panel door.

“Home owners today are looking for interior doors that can complement their range of decorating styles, from traditional to modern,” said Bob Merrill, CMI’s president and CEO.

“The Conmore door has an elegant smooth surface and flat five-panel design that merges classical and contemporary styles,” he said.

Available in 6’8” and 7’0” passage and bifold sizes, Conmore can be specified with finger joint or MDF stiles and rails.

It also can be specified as a CraftMaster Green Door, which is made with sustainable materials, recylcled content and low-VOC primers and adhesives, producing low-formaldehyde emissions.

CraftMaster’s molded door design (facing) — which is used to make the finished door — is third-party certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS)  to contain a minimum of 70% pre-consumer recycled wood content and can contribute to certification under such programs as the National Green Building Standard.

It is certified by SCS to contain no urea formaldehyde.

The hollow core Conmore door will be available in the third quarter of this year. A sold core version was introduced in January at the NAHB International Builders’ Show.

Like all CraftMaster interior doors, the Conmore is manufactured by CMI from molded, high-density fiberboard to resist shrinking, cracking and joint separation, which may occur in wood doors.

Headquartered in Chicago, CraftMaster Manufacturing, Inc. is a member of the NAHB Leading Suppliers Council.

This feature is solely for educational and informational purposes. Nothing on this page should be construed as policy, an endorsement, warranty or guaranty by the National Association of Home Builders of the featured product or the product manufacturer. The National Association of Home Builders expressly disclaims any responsibility for any damages arising from the use, application or reliance on any information contained on this page.

Endowment Supporter, Community Leader and Public Servant Muriel Gilman Dies at 87

Muriel Gilman, a champion of housing, ardent supporter of the National Housing Endowment, the philanthropic arm of NAHB, and a dedicated public servant, died on Feb. 26. She was 87.

Gilman, along with her late husband Marvin Gilman, founded the Marvin S. Gilman/National Housing Endowment Scholarship in 1994 to support graduate students at the University of Delaware whose commitment to housing research best exemplified Marvin Gilman's dedication to strengthening housing and national housing policy. 

Before his death in 1998, Marvin Gilman was an economist; developer and home builder; University of Delaware professor who taught housing finance, housing and land use planning and administrative law; and a tireless advocate for fair and affordable housing. 

After his death, Muriel Gilman became the driving force behind their charitable efforts supporting the endowment and other organizations. Seventeen Gilman scholars have been selected since the program began.

The Gilmans also established the Edelstein Prize for Public and Community Service scholarship program for graduate students at the University of Delaware who shared the Gilmans’ core belief that all people should have access to decent and affordable housing in safe and healthy neighborhoods.

In addition to housing, Gilman served as the executive vice president of the United Way of Delaware from 1984 to 1988 and helped grow the organization from 12 staffers to 40. During her tenure there, fundraising increased from $4 million to $15 million.

Gilman was also a consultant to the University of Delaware's College of Health and Nursing Services from 1988 to 2003, where she led a campaign that raised more than $1 million to establish a scholarship fund for the school’s nursing students.

She is survived by a son, Peter Gilman, and his wife, Susan; a daughter, Martha Smith, and her husband, Greg; and six grandsons.

HBA Proposals for Challenge/Build/Grow Grants Due April 22

The National Housing Endowment, the philanthropic arm of NAHB, is seeking proposals from state and local home builders associations for its Challenge/Build/Grow (CBG) matching funds initiative.

HBAs can complete the proposals online on the endowment's website. Proposals must be received by April 22.

Under the program, HBAs are encouraged to find opportunities to build new partnerships in their communities to assist local programs targeting issues of importance to the industry — including worker training, labor shortages, land use, image building, educational curriculums and scholarship support.

The endowment will award HBAs a total of $15,000 through the grant initiative, with each applicant eligible for a matching challenge grant of up to $5,000.

Since the program was launched in 2001, more than $210,000 has been awarded to state and local HBAs throughout the country.

Apply Online

Online applications and guidelines are available on the endowment website by clicking here.

HBAs requesting grants are encouraged to seek advice on their proposals from the endowment staff well in advance of the deadline.

For more information about grant opportunities, visit www.nationalhousingendowment.org.

Kentucky HBA Uses Endowment CBG Funds to Boost Residential Construction Education

The Home Builders Association of Kentucky, based in Frankfort, has used National Housing Endowment Challenge/Build/Grow (CBG) funds it was awarded last year to support 10 projects in the HBA’s Preparing for the Future — Workforce Development educational program for high school and college students.

The Kentucky HBA used some of the funds to support NAHB Student Chapters activities at Marion County High School, Shelby County High School, Eastern Kentucky University, Dunbar High School and Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

The state HBA also organized and sponsored the 2010 Kentucky Construction Career Days, a two-day event promoting careers in residential construction that featured hands-on demonstrations. Construction Career Days attracted more than 2,000 students.

The HBA also used some of its CBG funds to increase student awareness about the benefits of joining their local HBA.

“We were so fortunate to receive this award,” said Lora Werner, the HBA’s director of member services. “We believe that students who have shown an interest in pursuing careers in residential construction in Kentucky have benefited from this grant.”

Since the CBG program was launched in 2001, the endowment has awarded more than $210,000 to state and local HBAs to find opportunities to build partnerships in their communities to assist local programs targeting such important industry issues as worker training, labor shortages, land use, image building, educational curriculums and scholarship support.

“Building homes for the nation is too important a priority to neglect the education and training that will be needed to support the residential construction industry,” said Gary Garczynski, endowment chairman and 2002 NAHB president. “Even during these difficult times, the endowment is answering the call by meeting the industry's long-term challenges with bold thinking and action, through the Challenge/Build/Grow Matching Grant Initiative as well as other grants.”

For more information about endowment grant or scholarship opportunities, visit www.nationalhousingendowment.org.

Don’t Put Your Foot in Your Mouth on Camera — Sign Up for Spokesperson Training

It happens all of the time. A reporter ambushes someone with questions they are unprepared to answer. Or, an executive blows an on-camera opportunity to promote their organization's key messages. 

Don't let this happen to you.

Register for the NAHB Spokesperson Training sessions held during the NAHB Spring Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 17-20 — the last sessions to be offered until the 2012 NAHB International Builders' Show in February.

The seminars will help association members and leaders be more persuasive and effective communicators, in particular, during on-camera media interviews and when giving speeches and other presentations.

Led by professional communication consultants with more than 30 years of experience, the seminars — which include on-camera role playing — focus on the issues and situations that home builders, HBA staff and affiliate members frequently face.

“Being put on the spot and seeing it on TV was very helpful, and the information was top-notch,” said Rick Parmeter, of Clear Creek Log Homes in Eau Claire, Wis., and a seminar attendee.

Spring Board Spokesperson Training Sessions:

  • Interview Skills — Tuesday, May 17
  • Presentation Skills — Wednesday, May 18

Interview Skills teaches NAHB members how to give clear, concise answers while in a high-pressure, spur-of-the moment interview. The training also helps participants master strategies for broadcast and print interviews — including message development, the “bridging” technique and controlling the interview.

Members attending the Presentation Skills session learn how to confidently prepare and deliver dynamic presentations to any audience. The session focuses on how to organize and deliver a speech and presentation with accompanying question and answer sessions.

Each full-day session is $495 per person. Registration is limited to 12 participants.

To Register

Members can register securely on the spring board registration website with a credit card for one or both of the spokesperson training sessions.

For more information, email Gwyn Donohue at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8447.

NAHB Calendar of Events

April 20

"Green Models for Site Development"

Webinar

April 27

"Spring Construction Forecast Webinar"

Webinar

May 1-3

National Green Building Conference

Salt Lake City, Utah

May 2

National Green Building Awards

Salt Lake City, Utah

May 5

"Leadership Training Webinar — Good Governance"

Webinar

May 11-12

2011 Multifamily Leadership Board Spring Meeting

Austin, Texas

May 17-20

Spring NAHB Board of Directors Meeting

Washington, D.C.

May 18

50+ Housing Council Night Out at the 2011 NAHB Spring Board Meeting

Washington, D.C.

May 26

"Remodeling Outlook Webinar"

Webinar

June 9

"Leadership Training Webinar — Building a Remarkable Organization"

Webinar

June 22

"LIHTC Webinar — LIHTC Application Due Diligence"

Webinar

July 7

"Leadership Training Webinar — Speak With Confidence"

Webinar

July 14

2011 Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Awards

n/a

Aug. 4

"Leadership Training Webinar — Fundraising: The Decision to Give"

Webinar

Aug. 15

Best in American Living Awards

n/a

Aug. 17-20

Executive Officers Council Seminar

Naples, Fla.

Aug. 18

EOC Association Excellence Awards

Naples, Fla.

Sept. 1

"Leadership Training Webinar — Great Events"

Webinar

Sept. 7-10

Fall NAHB Board of Directors Meeting

Milwaukee, Wis.

Sept. 15

Best in American Living Awards

n/a

Sept. 21

"LIHTC Webinar — Correcting Non-Compliance and  Responding to an Audit"

Webinar

Oct. 6

"Leadership Training Webinar — Change Management"

Webinar

Oct. 12-15

Remodeling Show

Chicago, Ill.

Oct. 14

CADRE Awards

Chicago, Ill.

Oct. 14

Homes for Life Award

Chicago, Ill.

Oct. 14

NAHB Remodeler of the Year Award

Chicago, Ill.

Oct. 14

National Remodeling Hall of Fame Award

Chicago, Ill.

Oct. 23-25

Building Systems Councils SHOWCASE

Baltimore, Md.

Nov. 9-11

NAHB Summit on Association Excellence

Dallas, Texas

Dec. 14

"LIHTC Webinar — Combining LIHTCs with Other Programs"

Webinar

2012

 

 

Feb. 7

NAHB/Builders Mutual Safety Award for Excellence (SAFE) Awards

Orlando, Fla.

Feb. 8-11

2012 NAHB International Builder's Show

Orlando, Fla.

Learn More About 2009 NAHB Professional Development Offerings

See the variety of professional development offerings available through NAHB and its local associations in this brochure

Or, search for specific course offerings and check out upcoming conferences.