Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ways to push back on cluster mailbox units

Many residential developers are none too happy about the increased emphasis on cluster mailboxes to replace curbside delivery in new communities.

Last Spring your HBA met with postal officials and local government planners and engineers about the new mandate from the U.S. Postal Service requiring Cluster Mailbox Units in new subdivisions.  To read our previous article about CBUs, click here.

The good news is it is not always a given that traditional service must be replaced. If you want to maintain the practice of curbside service for your new home buyers, the National Association of Home Builders offers developers some tips for success.

It iss helpful to know why the sudden push: When the Internet and other competing, less expensive delivery services started eating into the revenue of the U.S. Postal Service at the beginning of this century, the feds began to look at ways to stem the tide.

Cluster mailboxes were already being used successfully in many town home communities, replacing the door-to-door delivery that had been the norm for more than 100 years. Developers were usually able to stop local postal officials from switching it up for single-family homes – until the rules changed in 2012.

That is when the Postal Service revised the Postal Operations Manual – the bible of post office management – to make cluster mailboxes the default for new residential development. It includes infill development in areas where older homes still get curbside, or even door-to-door, mail delivery.

Anything else requires local postmaster approval, and that is just one more reason to build and maintain good relationships with local officials, like your Home Builders Association has done, including the ones charged with delivering your buyers’ mail.

Ask about security. Just because a development has a common area does not mean that it is well lit or secure. Curbside delivery can reduce risk to residents.

Ensure accessibility. Postal Service rules require that any cluster mailbox installation must not require residents to walk more than one block to get their mail, but even a short walk can be too much for an elderly home owner or one with a disability. Again, curbside service reduces this worry.

What about bad weather? Retrieving mail can be dangerous or downright impossible when snow or ice impedes access to a cluster mailbox.

Who is in charge? While some planned communities include home owners associations charged with collecting dues to maintain common areas, that is not true of many new residential developments. Who will maintain the cluster mailboxes and keep them secure without such a group in place?

According to NAHB, in some cases Postal Service officials may conclude that cluster mailboxes are not worth the savings. Pointing out these issues may help them along.  But keep in mind that local ordinances are being developed to require CBUs, so you will need a waiver in writing to use individual mailboxes at each home.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

REMINDER (Builders): Property Tax Relief Deadline is Near

As the result of legislation supported by your Home Builders Association, Home Builders are eligible for property tax relief on homes they have completed but are not yet sold or occupied. The relief is available for up to five years, but is lost once the home is occupied (for example, if the home is rented) or sold.

January 31, 2015 is a VERY IMPORTANT date. The property tax exemption deadline for recertifying unoccupied homes that got property tax relief in 2014, and for certifying any newly constructed homes, or older homes that have not been enrolled in the program for the 2015 property tax year, is January 31. Those who fail to certify or recertify with their county assessor by January 31 will have no recourse and there will be no exceptions and no tax relief. If you think you might be eligible, contact your county assessor. When in doubt, call your assessor. There are significant savings to be had by participating in this property tax relief program.

Relief also is available for the part of the year in which the home is completed. However, you must apply for relief within 30 days of receiving a certificate of occupancy.


  1. Effective date: July 1, 2009
  2. Homes Covered by Law: Newly constructed unoccupied detached single-family homes built in 2007 or later.
  3. Extent of Tax Relief: Provides property tax relief only for real estate improvement (new home), but builder/developer still pays property tax on the unimproved land.
  4. First Eligible Tax Year: 2009 property tax year. No refunds are available for the 2007 and 2008 tax years. Exemption application must have been made by September 30, 2009, to be eligible for relief in the 2009 tax year.
  5. Duration of Eligibility: Until the house is sold, occupied, or it has reached the property tax year ending the sixth December 31(five years) from the date a Certificate of Occupancy (CO), if required, was issued, whichever comes first.
  6. Recertification: After the initial application, the builder will be required to re-certify homes with Certificate of Occupancy (CO) annually by January 31 every eligible year that the house remains unoccupied.
  7. Homes with No CO: Homes without a certificate of occupancy (if required) are not habitable, therefore they can’t be occupied. This means that they can’t be added to the tax rolls until both the CO is issued (if required) and the house is occupied (Administrative Law Court decision).
  8. Change in Occupancy: Builders are required to notify the assessor if the house is rented or is occupied by the builder. The house permanently loses its tax exemption with the notification. If the house is sold, the assessor will pick up the change in tax status when property deed is recorded.
  9. Legal Reference: Section 12-37-220(B) of state code of law. Bill – H. 3018, Ratification- R88, Act- 76
  10. Obtaining Exemption: Homes Receiving CO in 2009 or later, notify assessor within 30 days of receiving a CO, or by January 31, that the house is unoccupied. 
If house sale is not pending, it would seem prudent to file the exemption form when the CO is issued just to be safe. Each county has a form to claim the exemption. However, the form may vary slightly from county to county. To protect your legal rights, the application must be notarized.

Below is contact information for the County Assessors in the Upstate:
For more information or for questions, please contact Michael Dey at 864-254-0133 or

Shirley F. Barbour

Shirley Freeman Barbour, 78, passed away peacefully Saturday afternoon, January 10, 2015 with her family by her side.  Barbour is the mother-in-law of Fritzi Barbour of C. Dan Joyner Realtors.

Born in Easley, she was a daughter of the late Floyd Dorroh and Ethel Fay Sherman Freeman.

She was a graduate of Furman University and also an active member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha Service Sorority.

During her marriage she enjoyed living and traveling throughout the country and abroad as an Air Force wife. Upon her husband's retirement Shirley and her family settled in Mauldin where she was a member of First Baptist Church Mauldin and a member of the Dot Creel Sunday School Class. As the daughter of a florist, she loved flowers of every variety and greatly enjoyed gardening. Family gatherings at the lake house was also a favorite past time. Most importantly was her love and devotion shown to her family and as in Proverbs 31, her husband and children "arise and call her blessed".

She is survived by her husband of 56 years, William H. "Bill" Barbour (Major USAF Ret.); her daughter and son-in-law, Jane and Wes McVay; her son and daughter-in-law, Steven F. and Fritzi Barbour; her sisters and brothers-in-law, Sandra and Dale Turner and Joan and Charles Carswell; and her beloved grandchildren, Austin W. McVay and fiancee Kelly Spaugh, and Meredith J. McVay.

Mrs. Barbour is at The Mackey Mortuary where the family will receive friends Wednesday evening from 5 to 7:00pm. Funeral services will be Thursday morning, January 15 at 10:30am at First Baptist Church Mauldin with the Reverend Wade Leonard officiating. Burial will follow at Woodlawn Memorial Park.

Flowers are accepted or memorials may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital , 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Source: The Mackey Mortuary

Monday, January 12, 2015

More time for full time

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HBA-supported legislation, the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 30), which would repeal the Affordable Care Act's 30-hour definition of "full-time employment" and restore the traditional 40-hour workweek.

Restoring the conventional 40-hour definition of full-time employment would provide greater certainty to small employers, which in turn would provide for greater flexibility for planning and future growth. The ACA's definition stipulating that 30 hours constitutes a full-time work week does not reflect employers' workforce needs or employees' desire for flexible hours.

Builders looking to expand their businesses may be deterred from growing and refrain from hiring additional employees. The new definitions could also set a dangerous precedent for redefining full-time status in the future.

Your HBA Honors and Thanks our 2014 Top PAC Donors

As we enter the new year, your Home Builders Association would like to thank the following members who made substantial contributions to the PAC in 2014:

Gold Hammer: $500 - $999
  • Bob Barreto, GBS Building Supply
Silver Hammer: $250 - $499
  • Terri Coulson-Wilkes, The Window Gal
  • Alan Boone, APB, Advanced Renovations
  • Mike Freeman, APB, GMB, ACA/Freewood Contracting
  • Rick Quinn, APB, Quinn-Satterfield
  • Michael Dey, Home Builders Association
  • Eric Hedrick, Cornerstone Contractors
  • Seabrook Marchant, The Marchant Company
  • Gus Rubio, APB, Gabriel Builders
  • Hal Dillard, APB, H. Dillard Company
  • Jon Statom, Palmetto Exterminators
  • Richard Powers, Piedmont Natural Gas
  • Jason Bergeron, APB, Bergeron Custom Homes
  • Coleman Shouse, LS Homes
Bronze Hammer: $100 - $249
  • Michael Galloway, APB, Galloway Custom Homes
  • Chuck Childress, BB&T
  • Scott Presley, Greer State Bank
  • Gordon Seay, The Marchant Company
Please thank each of these industry leaders for their generous support of the PAC. Also, please click here for a short one-minute video from Rick Quinn on why you should support the PAC.

We have already begun receiving contributions and pledges for 2015.  Won't you consider joining these industry leaders in supporting the program that supports the campaigns of elected leaders that support your industry?  Already in 2015 we have received contributions from the following members:

Silver Hammer: $250 - $499
  • Brittany Bailey, Ryan Homes
  • Coleman Shouse, LS Homes
For information and to contribute, contact Michael Dey at your Home Builders Association at 864-254-0133 or email him at