Friday, November 22, 2013

Three HBA member companies receive Pinnacle Awards, Statom honored

HBA of Greenville honorees at the Pinnacle Awards
Three member companies of your Home Builders Association received Pinnacle Awards at the South Carolina annual conference in Hilton Head earlier this month.

Pinnacle Award Honorees:

  • Stoneledge Properties, Best Overall Green Construction
  • Gabriel Builders, Best New Home Construction, more than $5 million
  • John DuBonn Builders, Best Remodeling Project, more than $150,000

Statom honored as Associate Member of the Year
Jon Statom of Palmetto Exterminators was honored as the South Carolina Associate Member of the Year.  Read the full report on Statom by clicking here.

About the Pinnacle Awards
The Pinnacle Awards were created to honor those in the home building industry who have achieved the highest standard of quality craftsmanship, innovative problem solving and customer satisfaction. This competition is a privilege of membership, as well as a means of challenging our members to greater levels of achievement.

Check out the Bridge Awards
HBA members will now have an opportunity to compete at the local level with the Southern Home and Garden Bridge Awards presented by GBS Building Supply.  Click here for more information on entering the Bridge Awards.

HBA Member, GBS Building Supply, Recognized as the 7th Growing Company in SC

HBA of Greenville Member, GBS Building Supply, based in Greenville, SC, was recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies statewide as 2013 Roaring Twenties winners were honored by SC Biz News recently.

Twenty large companies and 20 small companies from across the state were honored at a networking event and reception in Columbia. Company size was determined by gross revenue of $10 million and less for small companies, and more than $10 million for large companies.

While the companies knew they were among the top 20, the rankings were not announced until the event. Chris William, series executive producer and moderator of Carolina Business Review, was master of ceremonies.

GBS Building Supply, ranked number seven among large companies statewide, is an employee-owned company founded in 1972. Builders, remodelers, architects, and homeowners choose GBS because of their product knowledge, wide spectrum of products, prompt service, and attention to detail.

In addition to a full-service lumberyard, GBS supplies products throughout Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina such as windows, doors, decking, cabinets and countertops, roofing, siding, installed stone, insulation and house wrap, as well as locks and hardware. Their specialities include green products, cabinetry design services and commercial applications.

Roaring Twenties companies were qualified and ranked according to growth and revenue. A formula that awarded points based on both dollar and percentage increases in South Carolina revenue from years 2011-2012 was used to level the playing field between smaller and larger companies within the two categories.

For more information on GBS Building Supply, visit

Code Amendment on Window Fall Protection Clarified

Your Home Builders Association successfully clarified an amendment to the building code relating to window fall protection.  The amendment was written improperly when it was adopted originally, which caused confusion in enforcement. 

For clarification, the following code amendment is adopted:

Window Protection – R312.2.1 as written is deleted and R312.2.2 now becomes the R312.2.1. R213.2 Window Fall Protection now reads; “Where window fall protection is provided it shall be installed in accordance with sections R312.2.1.

As a note, the get-out-of-jail-free card is R310.1.4 – Operating Constraints. This section states, “emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge.”

It was the association's position, in advocating for the amendment above, that the Window Protection section conflicted with the Operating Constraints section.  The Building Codes Council agreed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

EPA Releases New Lead Guidance for Plumbing Parts

EPA has issued a final guidance document regarding changes made by the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act for lead-free plumbing fittings and fixtures that take effect on Jan. 4, 2014. The guidance stipulates that all dealers, retailers and installers must not sell non-compliant products after that date even if they are part of existing inventory.

The document includes several implementation guidelines, information on the scope of the act and an FAQ to assist with compliance. The act’s amendments cover two primary areas:
  • First, it lowers the maximum allowable lead content of plumbing products such as pipes and fixtures from 8% to 0.25%.
  • Second, the act adds exemptions to the lead-free requirements for any pipes, pipe or plumbing fittings, or fixtures that are used in manufacturing, industrial processing, for irrigation purposes and any other uses where the water is not intended for human consumption.
The federal legislation mimics existing California regulations with one major difference; California regulates products intended to provide water consumption. The act, on the other hand, includes service products that are anticipated to be used for human consumption. For example, EPA has reasoned that fire hydrants are anticipated for use for human consumption because they "can be, and are, used in emergency situations to provide drinking water," the guidance said.

Your Home Builders Association has learned that fire hydrants may be in short supply and substantially more expensive, the result of this new rule making by EPA.

EPA has reasoned that hydrants are occasionally used as an emergency source of drinking water.

Your Home Builders Association has joined various water utilities groups to call on EPA to reconsider its imposition of the lead-free mandate for fire hydrants.  The new rule takes effect January 4, 2014.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

John T. Watkins

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff of the Home Builders Association of Greenville, we extend our sincere sympathy to the family of John T. Watkins, of Columbia, SC.

John T. Watkins, a World War II veteran, became the first Director of the SC Residential Builders Commission in 1974 after more than 35 years as a residential and commercial builder. He improved the professionalism and image of the home building industry and protected the interest of homeowners in that position by establishing a consensus about the licensing of builders and specialty contractors and by fighting for various legislation.

He was named Columbia's Builder Member of the Year in 1963 and served as President of the HBA of Greater Columbia in 1964. He received the Gordon A. Harrison Award for lifetime contributions from the HBA of Greater Columbia in 1985. John served as President of the HBA of South Carolina in 1970 and in 1991 received the association's Hammer and Trowel Award which recognizes a public official for aiding the state's building industry. In 1997, he was inducted into the SC Housing Hall of Fame.

Visitation will be held at Greenlawn Funeral Home on Saturday from 5 pm until 7pm, 845 Leesburg Rd, Columbia, SC 29209. Funeral services will be held on Sunday at Incarnation Lutheran Church (corner Devine & Sims) 3001 Devine Street, Columbia. Graveside services following funeral.

Your HBA saved members $$$ with court victories this summer

Watch a report about how your Home Builders Association has saved members tens of thousands of dollars with its efforts in court.

You must be logged in as a member to watch this report.  Need help logging in?  Contact your HBA Office at 864-254-0133.  Not a member?  We invite you to become a member by clicking here.

HBA Sues EPA on Clean Air Act

Your Home Builders Association is part of an industry coalition against the EPA in a case before the Supreme Court. This time the battle has to do with the Clean Air Act. The EPA has certain preconstruction permitting requirements which are designed to lower carbon dioxide emissions, but as you might expect, have unintended consequences.  Click on the link below to watch a report on the lawsuit.

In 2009-2010, EPA issued four separate regulations in order to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicles. Even though the Auto Rule ostensibly sets standards for motor vehicles only, EPA has interpreted this regulation to trigger requirements for stationary sources as well. Traditionally, "stationary sources" are limited to large industrial factories and utilities. But, because the Clean Air Act contains a numeric triggering threshold for a pre-construction permit known as the "Prevention of Significant Deterioration" program permit, and because the principal GHG emission, carbon dioxide, is emitted by structures in an amount triggering this threshold, stationary sources in this context would include multifamily structures and even some single family homes. This result would bring most multifamily, mixed use, some single-family home, and potentially even master-planned community development to a halt.

One of the four regulations, known as the Tailoring Rule, raises the statutory thresholds that automatically trigger PSD permitting requirements by relying on judicial doctrines such as "absurd results" and "administrative necessity." While raising the statutory thresholds effectively exempts residential construction from PSD permitting obligations, this purported relief is uncertain and temporary. EPA does not provide a permanent exemption for small sources, only a promise to not regulate until 2016. Finally, EPA's interpretation of its ability to ignore the statutory thresholds represents a dramatic expansion of its authority, which if upheld, would make it extremely difficult for the courts and even Congress to limit EPA's actions.

Your Home Builders Association's partner, the National Association of Home Builders, joined an industry coalition to challenge all four regulations on the grounds that EPA misinterpreted its obligations under the Clean Air Act.

On June 26, 2012, the court issued one opinion deciding all four petitions. The court found that EPA's Endangerment Finding and Auto Rule were valid, and that all parties lacked standing to challenge the Tailoring and Timing rules. The industry coalition to which NAHB belongs filed a petition for rehearing on Aug. 10, 2012, and a divided full court issued its decision on Dec. 20, 2012. While a majority of judges voted to deny the petition, two judges took the unusual step of writing detailed dissents to the petition's denial. One dissent in particular supported the industry coalition's arguments.

On April 18, 2013, NAHB as a member of the industry coalition filed a cert petition with the U.S. Supreme Court. EPA filed its opposition to cert on July 22, 2013, and the coalition filed its reply on Aug. 6, 2013.

On Oct. 15, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case on the following issue: “Whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases.” Briefing will take place through the winter, and oral argument will occur in February 2014. This marks NAHB's second trip to the Supreme Court as a petitioner.

Spending on Home Improvements Continues to Exceed Spending on New Construction

In the third quarter of 2013 investment in home improvements was $178 billion, while construction spending on new single family and town home building was $172 billion.  Each were about one percent of GDP. Similarly, in the first three months of 2013 spending on home improvements was $161 billion, slightly above the $157 billion spent building new home building.

Normally new spending on new home building is double spending on home improvements. Worse, to date in 2013, new home building spending is flat.     
Elliot F. Eisenberg, Ph.D.
GraphsandLaughs, LLC