Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BB&T Announces New Facility in Mauldin

Home Builders Association of Greenville member Branch Banking and Trust, or BB&T as it is more commonly known, has announced plans to build a new mortgage services center in Mauldin.

According to the S.C. Department of Commerce, the financial services company will invest $30 million to construct a 140,000-square-foot facility on Butler Road, expected to be complete by the fourth quarter of 2017. The facility will house more than 600 employees who will “work primarily in administrative, back office and support functions,” according to a news release.

“With this state-of-the-art facility, we will be better equipped to provide our clients with superior service, as we help them fulfill the dream of homeownership,” said Tol Broome, BB&T mortgage lending president, in the release.

BB&T has more than 2,196 financial centers across 15 states and is a Fortune 500 company. The announcement of their new building is beneficial to both our industry and our community.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Save on Valentine's Day!

You have one week until Valentine's Day--and your Home Builders Association of Greenville membership can save you money on flowers to your special someone. Through your National Purchasing Partners account, you can save 20% on flowers, chocolate, and gift baskets!

Click here to save on your best Valentine's Day yet!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Greenville County Set to Double Inspections Staff, Increase Fees

After several years of discussion with your Home Builders Association, Greenville County has announced plans to double its inspections department staff from nine inspectors to 18.  Tied to this increase in staffing is a key revision to the way the county calculates its building permit fees which will result in a substantial increase in building permit fees.

Staffing History
During the downturn, Greenville County slashed its inspections staff and implemented a combination inspection scheme.  Each inspector, while potentially a master inspector in a particular trade, was a combination inspector qualified to perform any inspection.  When construction was slow, this system was sufficient.

As the pace of construction increased, the county added to staffing, but inspection volume increased faster than staffing increased.  As a result, the instances when an inspector finished the day with inspections yet to be performed increased.  Those remaining inspections wound up on the next day's schedule, two days after they were requested.  Fortunately, these delays have not yet become commonplace, but what has become commonplace are less-than-thorough inspections that are neither in the interest of the county, nor the builder, nor the consumer.

Unconvinced?  Consider this: in December 2016, nine inspectors handled 8,000 inspections in a month when most of them took a week's vacation.  That means those nine inspectors handled an average of nearly 60 inspections per day.

The Plan
Recently, Greenville County presented to your Home Builders Association a plan to correct this problem.  The plan begins with hiring nine new inspectors to complement the nine inspectors already on staff.

In January the county advertised for five new inspectors, two of whom have already been hired.

In addition, the county has already "soft-launched" a new computer system for managing permits and inspection requests.  This system will modernize the process of applying for permits and requesting inspections.  It also will speed up reporting of the results of inspections to the permit holder.

Once the permit fee changes are implemented, the county will hire an additional four inspectors, bringing the total number of building inspectors to 18, a 100-percent increase from the current nine inspectors.

As the staffing is increased, the county also will implement a quadrant system to more efficiently assign inspectors to the largest county, geographically, in South Carolina.  The county will be divided into four regions, and four inspectors will be assigned to each quadrant, one of them a supervisor.  One of the 18 inspectors will be an assistant chief building official who will supervise the program, and one of the 18 will be focused on commercial and industrial "sufficiency" inspections when tenancy changes.

This staffing of course is in addition to the several staff who work at county square, administering the department, issuing permits, and working with the inspectors.

Paying For It
The last time Greenville County changed its building permit fees was 1991; and it lowered them by 40 percent with a discount that remains in place today.  That may seem like a victory for our association, and it was for a while.  But unfortunately we now need to agree to an increase, and a substantial one, to get the service that the industry needs.

This is how it will occur.  Since 1991, Greenville County has continued to use the same Cost Per Square Foot valuation table.  That table says the cost to construct a new, single-family home, is $38 per square foot.

The county has recommended, and your association has agreed, that the county begin using the current Cost Per Square Foot table.  The current table says that the cost to construct a new, single-family home, is $102 per square foot.  For new single-family construction, that is the entire change.

However, the county has also announced an increase to the various trades permit fees.  It also has announced an 25 percent increase in the fee for commercial construction activities (the county is already using the current Cost Per Square Foot table for commercial construction).

As a refresher, the cost of a permit to construct a new single family home is calculated as follows:

     (SF of house) X (cost to construct from the table) X (fee schedule) X (40% discount)

The current fee to construct a new, 2,000 SF home, is approximately $400 including trades permits.  .  The new fee, based on the implementation of the new valuation table and the increased trades fees, will be about $730.  While a substantial increase, this fee is still well below the same fees in the City of Greenville, City of Greer, and Spartanburg County.  Only Anderson County will be lower after the increase.  But the fee change simply brings the fees back in line with where they were in 1991, when they were decreased.

Click here to review the full report of the changes that will be implemented by Greenville County.

Timing and Future Increases
The county will implement the increases to the trades permit fees and the commercial fees the week of February 6.  The county has agreed to delay implementation of the change in the table, and resulting increase in fees, for new residential single-family construction until March.

In the future, the county will update the Cost Per Square Foot Table, which is published by the International Codes Council, every six months.  Therefore, Home Builders will not need to bear the cost of such a large increase in fees again in the future.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Key Building Materials Prices Far Surpassed Inflation in 2016

Softwood lumber, oriented strand board, ready-mix concrete, and gypsum products all posted price changes in 2016 well above the 1.3% average for the Consumer Price Index, according to the latest Producer Price index released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Oriented strand board prices surged 13.8% in 2016, while softwood lumber rose nearly 8.7%. In November, the cost of ready-mix concrete and gypsum products rose 3.5% and 5.0%, respectively, on a year-over-year basis.

In an ominous sign, the price of softwood lumber rose by 2.3% in December, which is the largest monthly increase since April 2016.

A nine-year softwood lumber agreement between the U.S. and Canada that established a system of fees and quotas on Canadian imports to the U.S. triggered in response to changes in the market price of softwood lumber expired in October 2015.

Negotiations on a new agreement have failed. U.S. lumber producers recently filed a petition with the International Trade Commission, reigniting a long-term trade battle between the two countries.

National Association of Home Builders is fighting to ensure American consumers have access to a stable, dependable, and affordable lumber supply.

For more details from this report, click here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

National PWB Elects New Chair

The National Association of Home Builders Professional Women in Building recently selected Juli Bacon, a long-time member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties in Washington state, as the council’s 2017 chair.

Bacon, owner of JB Consulting Systems LLC in Woodinville, Washington, assumes responsibility for managing council business and representing the interests of council members throughout National Association of Home Builders.

Building leadership strategies for women in the construction industry and setting up a mentoring program for women in construction will be her primary focus areas as the council begins the first year of its new strategic plan.

“Ensuring that women understand they have a place at the table and helping them find a way to get to that place at the table in construction is really important to me,” Bacon said. “We have a lot of young women wanting to know how to get there, and my goal as the Professional Women in Building chair is to help them in the most efficient way possible.”

Bacon has served as the National Association of Home Builders Professional Women in Building Region E Trustee for several years. In that role, she helped bridge the gap between national and local councils and served as an ambassador, extending Professional Women in Building’s reach and forming new councils in that region. She has been involved at the national level with the Professional Women in Building Council since 2005. She also serves on the National Association of Home Builders Construction Safety and Health Committee.

In 2013, Bacon received national recognition when she was presented with the Professional Women in Building Woman of the Year Award by her peers. She has received similar recognition over the years from her local association and local Professional Women in Building council, and was the Building Industry Association of Washington‘s Associate of the Year in 2005.

Bacon is dedicated to mentoring other women in business and gives back to her community through her own and her children’s volunteer efforts.

Your Chance to Meet Politicians

The annual Home Builders Association of South Carolina's Bird Supper is being held on Tuesday, March 28th. The Bird Supper will be the catalyst toward promoting a change to the business license fees, a S.C. Building Code, and many more issues for the housing industry, and the process to moving these issues forward has already begun. The annual Bird Supper provides the best chance to sit with our elected officials, as an industry, and drive home the need for these reforms. The more members that attend the deeper the impression is on the elected officials.

You can purchase tickets to this annual event by emailing Michael Dey.

Volunteers Needed for Home Show

Interested in what goes on behind the scenes at the Southern Home and Garden Show? Volunteer for a time slot to help us put on the show, March 3-5 at TD Convention Center!

Sign up here.