Saturday, June 23, 2012

SC Department of Education Seeks Professionals to Advise on Assessment Tests

The SC Dept of Ed’s Office of Career and Technology Education has developed and piloted tests for high school career and technology education (CATE) program completers in a number of areas. Completers are students who take four courses in a particular CATE program. We are now at the point of setting cut scores for the tests (to determine pass-fail status) and need business-industry input to complete the task. We are requesting the assistance of two subject matter experts (SMEs) in Building Construction and one in Carpentry to participate in 3-hr small group work sessions with two of the teachers who helped develop each test. This activity will be led by our consortium, CTECS, and is taking place during the SC Education and Business Summit, our annual conference, at the TD Center in Greenville. CTECS will provide instruction in the process, and we will cover conference registration which includes all conference activities and meals Sun through Wed.
  • Building Construction group, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Room 100-B, TD Convention Center, Wed, June 27 
  • Carpentry group, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Room 100-A, TD Convention Center, Wed, June 27 
Please contact Amy McCaskill at 803-446-5168 (cell) or if able to participate.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Your HBA's Top 12 Actions in 2012, Number 12: Housing Economics research and tools

The grand finale!  For the past 12 days Builder Review Daily has highlighted the Top 12 national actions taken on behalf of HBA members by NAHB.  Today is the final action.

Number 12, Housing Economics research and tools:

NAHB’s economics team constantly produces fresh, useful analysis of the most recent housing-related data that has applications to our members’ businesses, and makes that data available to our members free of charge. Below are a few highlights of our research released since the builders’ show:

The NAHB Priced Out Model – This newly updated tool estimates how many households can qualify for a new home mortgage both before and after a house price increase. Along with this tool, we have produced a comprehensive analysis of how such price gains impact Americans in 325 metropolitan areas as of 2012. The research paper notes that every time a local or regional government raises construction costs by, for example, increasing building permit or impact fees, the final price of the home to the buyer usually goes up by more than the increase in the government fee. This is because other costs such as commissions and financing charges automatically rise as well. As an example, for every $1 increase in fees incurred when acquiring a building permit, the final price of a new home to its ultimate buyer rises by $1.20. Read the full study on our website or contact Natalia Siniavskaia (800-368-5242 x8441).

Snapshot of Homeownership in Local Housing Markets – Based on a comprehensive study of newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey, this research provides helpful information on individual metropolitan areas across the country and ranks them according to a number of important measures. For example, metros with the highest homeownership rates include Palm Coast, Fla. (81.5%), Holland-Grand Haven, Mich. (80%), Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. (79.8%), Monroe, Mich. (78.8%) and Ocala, Fla. (78.4%). This paper also ranks housing markets according to tightest metros (lowest home owner vacancy rate); highest home owner incomes; fastest-growing markets/growth of owner-occupied housing units; and fastest-growing markets due to new construction. Contact: Heather Taylor (800-368-5242 x8503).

Maintenance Costs for New vs. Older Homes - NAHB's economists have recently conducted an analysis of data from the 2009 American Housing Survey that quantifies the savings that a newly built home can generate for the buyer in terms of monthly energy and maintenance costs. These data highlight how much cheaper it can be to own and operate a newly built home versus an older one, and also further the argument for reforming the current appraisals system to accurately reflect the flow of benefits stemming from the features of a newly built home. Contact: Rob Dietz (800-368-5242 x8285).

Updated Affordable House Price Calculator -- This is a handy tool to have at your fingertips when a prospective buyer is not sure how much home they can comfortably afford based on their available income and downpayment. Based on conventional mortgage underwriting standards and national average assumptions about mortgage, tax and insurance rates, the calculator shows that a family who earns $60,000 a year and has a $10,000 downpayment can afford to purchase a home priced up to about $218,500. Contact: Paul Emrath (800-368-5242 x8449).

Identifying Who Lives in Newly Built Homes -- NAHB's economists recently examined data from the government's American Housing Survey (AHS) to produce a revealing report on the composition of households that are living in today's newly constructed homes. One interesting finding is that larger households are relatively more likely to live in new homes (defined as those built within the last four years). In fact, 47% of all newly built homes have three or more people living in them. The reason behind this statistic is that new construction is more likely to house children than other types of housing on a unit-by-unit basis. Contact Rob Dietz (800-368-5242 x8285).

Identifying Inadequate Housing Units -- Using data from the American Housing Survey and statistical models that estimate house prices and apartment rents based on characteristics of homes, NAHB researchers have developed a more accurate definition of what constitutes "inadequate" housing than is traditionally used by HUD. This new criteria identifies substantially more inadequate housing units in the U.S. than the government has reported, particularly among the single-family and older housing stock. In fact, our findings indicate that there are over 10 million homes across this country that are physically inadequate. This data means that the effective inventory of existing homes on the market may actually be well overstated. Contact: Paul Emrath (800-368-5242 x8449).

NAHB Survey Finds Kitchens, Bathrooms Still Top Remodeling Jobs -- A newly released survey by NAHB shows that kitchen and bathroom projects remain the most popular remodeling jobs, with home owners increasingly upgrading both rooms and making major repairs as they decide to remain in their current residence instead of moving. Both kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects were up 17% from the last time this survey was taken in 2010, with bathroom remodels cited as a common job by 78% of remodelers and kitchen remodels by 69%. Other popular remodeling categories included window/door replacements (at 44%), whole-house remodels (at 35%), room additions (at 33%) and handyman services (at 31%). For complete survey results, visit Contact: Nissa Hiatt (800-368-5242 x8451).

Regular production of important indexes that gauge the health of the housing industry – Included in these offerings are the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index on builder confidence, the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, the Remodeling Market Index, the Multifamily Market Indices and the 50+ Housing Market Index. The surveys and analysis that NAHB’s economists conduct on a monthly and quarterly basis help our members achieve a better understanding of current market trends and where they are headed, while our media outreach in this regard ensures that accurate information on the housing market is transmitted to potential home buyers and the public at large. NAHB uses this data to conduct extensive media outreach in which we educate reporters about the historical context in which numbers should be viewed, discourage sensationalized accounts and ensure that home builders’ views are represented. NAHB also assists our members in dealing with media inquiries regarding recent releases of both NAHB and government data.

Monday, June 18, 2012

EPA is stepping up enforcement of lead-safe practices

Lead exposure in heavy doses can make you sick; so can the heavy fines by the EPA if your documentation is not correct.

The EPA has expanded its enforcement of its lead paint regulations which became effective in 2011. The regulations are intended to protect children from lead poisoning, which can cause major health problems including profound developmental and neurological impairment.

Reports to NAHB indicate that enforcement of the Lead Repair, Renovation, and Painting rule (LRRP) is in the area of paperwork. Specifically, EPA is focusing on proper documentation of compliance with the rule. Enforcement actions have involved failure to distributed the brochure informing consumers of the rule, distributing the brochure but failing to properly document its distribution, and other omissions and errors in documentation. Of course some contractors also have been cited for failing to complete required training and registration with the EPA. Fines of $37,000 per violation are common.

Don't put yourself and your company at risk; fully comply with the LRRP rule.

About Lead Repair, Renovation, and Painting rule
The LRRP rule, which took effect on April 22, 2010, requires that remodelers and contractors working in homes built before 1978 to be trained and certified by the EPA on lead-safe work practices before they can legally work on those homes. Enforcement commenced in 2011.

At the time the rule was initially proposed the owner of the home or building could opt out of the more expensive work practices only if there were no children under the age of 6 or pregnant women present. Before implementation the rule was revised and the opt out provision was removed. There is no opt out for the rule at present, which added more than $336 million annually in compliance cost to the remodeling community.

What your HBA is doing about it
However, House and Senate bills have been introduced to reinstate the opt-out provision, reduced fines for minor paperwork errors found during an inspection, and allow for an exemption to the regulation for emergency renovations. Click here to find out more about how the NAHB and Bipartisan efforts in Washington will help.

You can also visit the EPA's website to find out more about Lead hazards and Lead- Safe Practices. Click here for FAQs about EPA lead documentation standards.

Your HBA's Top 12 in 12, Number 11: National Green Building Conference and Expo

Builder Review Daily is highlighting your HBA's Top 12 actions on behalf of our members so far in 2012.

Number 11, the National Green Building Conference & Expo:

NAHB’s National Green Building Conference & Expo offered a universe of products, services, educational courses and networking opportunities to an increasingly sophisticated audience of our members who are seeing the benefits of building energy-efficient and resource-friendly homes that have the edge over the competition.

Held in Nashville at the end of April, this important event put a spotlight on the exceptional building science and technology that is being put to use in today’s homes, and allowed participants to learn from the most knowledgeable industry experts on earth. An especially popular feature was the Green Building & Technology Tour, which attracted an enthusiastic crowd and generated some much-needed positive headlines. Attendees also had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with suppliers of the most cutting-edge green building products and services, and learned about a recent study that estimates the green residential market will increase five-fold by the year 2016.

Yahoo! Finance: What Home Builders Need: Locations, Locations, Locations

Starts have been ticking up, sales of newly built homes are higher and, in some areas, new-home prices are rising. But in markets such as Atlanta, for example—where home prices fell 18% in the latest Case-Shiller report—there is land as far as the eye can see, but few good places to build.

The recent rise in home building could be thwarted by an unlikely factor, a shortage of land in desirable locations.