Weekly Update: July 27, 2017

Waterloo HBA members in Des Moines

   A dozen members and spouses of the Cedar Valley HBA (Waterloo/Cedar Falls area) hopped on a bus to tour the Des Moines HBA Home Show Expo on July 20.  In the inset bus photo left to right:  Lori Larson, LGC Companies; Lindsay Varney, Surface Solutions; Stephanie Wright, LGC Companies; and Cedar Valley HBA President Adam Hunemuller – faithfully guarding the coolers.  The trip was sponsored by Kyle Knapke, James Hardie Building Products.  A great idea!

Great Article in Des Moines Register about our Mike Rowe Event

Preparations for the Iowa Trades event with Mike Rowe September 28 are going very well.  Without even officially offering it up yet, we’ve sold over 40 tables and have 120 school officials planning to attend.  We also have a number of significant sponsorships in the works.  Mark your calendar and more details will be forthcoming, including possibly holding closed circuit simulcast events in localized areas.  There was a good article in the Des Moines Register that was unsolicited by our group – check it out here.  To find out how you can help, contact Jay Iverson.  Here’s the latest flyer – circulate it as far as you can!

Certified Aging in Place Specialist Course

The Greater Des Moines Area HBA is offering a Certified in Place Specialist course August 17-19 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the HBA Office, 6751 Corporate Drive, Johnston.  The cost is $630 for members and $800 for non-members based on a minimum attendance of 10 participants.  For more information on CAPS, click here. Email Jessica Verwers to RSVP for this three-day course.

Webinar – Taking Tile Beyond the Bath

Tile today doesn’t belong just in the bathroom. It can be put to excellent use in living rooms, fireplaces and as decorative accents indoors and out.  The webinar Beyond the Bath, happening Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2-3 p.m. ET, will focus on current bathroom trends and how you can take tile ideas into the rest of the home.

The speaker, Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels Interior Design in Boca Raton, Fla., will also discuss new neutrals, graphic patterns and how the “five elements in nature” inspire him to create designs for every home in his role at a design firm repeatedly named one of the nation’s best by Interior Design magazine.

Space is limited to the first 100 participants. Register before 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) on Tuesday, August 1.  NAHB Continuing Education: 1.0 hours of continuing education credits for the following 12 designations: CAPS, CGA, CGB, CGP, CGR, CMP, CSP, GMB, GMR, Master CGP, Master CSP, MIRM.

Apply to Serve on 2018 NAHB Committee or Council

The online application for the 2018 NAHB committee and council board of trustees appointments are now being accepted. We strongly encourage all those who may be interested to submit an application. Applications must be submitted before Sept. 22, so don’t delay.

Current committee and council members are reminded that you need to re-submit an application this year if you want to continue serving; there are no automatic multi-year appointments. It is important that you read all of the criteria on the application before submitting your request.  Please direct any questions about the committee appointment process to Cyndi McKinley (800-368-5242 x8346).

   This has been out for a little while, but it’s a super cool 10 hour time lapse in 3 minutes of an Amish barn raising in Ohio.  Amazing coordination and craftsmanship.


2018 Best of 55+ Housing Awards is Open

Builders who sell homes to people 55 and older – and that’s most builders – are eligible to enter this awards competition. The entry process is streamlined and fees are reduced for NAHB and 55+ Housing Industry Council members. The awards close on Aug. 15. Learn more and contact Lynn Basso with questions.

New Home Sales Expand Moderately

Sales of new single-family homes rose 0.8 percent in June 2017 to 610,000 as reported jointly by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The June increase reflected a downward revision to the estimate of new home sales in May. If the May sales number remained at its initially reported level of 610,000, then sales would have been unchanged.

However, additional information suggests that nationwide sales are expanding. Sales are 9.1 percent above their level 12 months ago. At the same time, on a year-to-date basis (Jan-Jun 2017), sales are 10.9 percent above their pace over the first half of 2016.

Regionally, the nationwide gain in sales over the month reflected a 12.5 percent increase in the West, and a 10.0 percent increase in the Midwest. Sales in the Northeast were unchanged while they fell by 6.1 percent in the South. Over the past 12 months sales recorded double-digit growth in the Northeast (41.4 percent) and the West (33.3 percent). Meanwhile sales rose 0.9 percent in the South, but fell 12.0 percent in the Midwest during this time period.

New home inventory has also risen. The inventory of homes rose 1.1 percent to 272,000 over the month of June. This level is also 11.9 percent above the inventory in June 2016. Because the pace of growth in the number of homes for sale exceeded the number that were sold, the months’ supply also rose. Over June, the months’ supply increased by 1.9 percent to 5.4 months, 3.8 percent higher than one year ago. Nevertheless, the months’ supply, which measures the number of months it would take to exhaust the inventory at the current sales pace, remains below the healthy 6.0 benchmark.

The median sales price fell 3.4 percent over the past 12 months on a not seasonally adjusted basis to $310,800. However, because sales have been trending upward, this decline may reflect a compositional shift rather than an erosion in market fundamentals. Over the past 12 months the proportion of new home sales priced below $300,000 rose 3 percent to 47 percent. Conversely, sales at prices $300,000 and above fell 2 percent to 53 percent. The difference in the changes likely reflects rounding.

At the halfway point of 2016 most indicators suggest that sales continue to expand. The year-to-date increase remains consistent with NAHB’s expectations for sales over 2017. At the same time, months’ supply has expanded, due more to an increase in inventory of homes as opposed to a sales decline. Despite the increase, the months’ supply remains low, partly as a result of challenges faced by builders, and could erode some growth in new home sales.

2018 HUD Appropriations

Last Tuesday, the Senate-T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee approved $40.24 billion in appropriations for HUD for fiscal 2018, which starts Oct. 1. This is an increase of $1.4 billion above the current level.  Of note to the housing community, the bill provides $3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant formula program, which is $100 million above the funding level proposed in the House T-HUD Appropriations legislation.

The Senate spending bill also includes $950 million for the HOME program in fiscal 2018, which is also $100 million above the House counterpart.  Of particular interest to the multifamily developers, the Senate appropriations package provides $21.37 billion for Section 8 Tenant Based Rental Assistance, ($1.07 billion above the fiscal 2017 level of $20.29 billion), and $888 million above the $20.49 billion earmarked in the House bill.

The Senate spending measure allocates $11.5 billion for Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance,  an increase from $10.82 billion for the current fiscal year and $42 million above the House proposal of $11.08 billion.

Weekly Update: July 20, 2017

Was WOTUS Going to Stall Your Projects?

HBAI Executive Officer Jay Iverson is meeting with a Washington Post reporter this weekend and early next week in regards to the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) – which was government overreach at the highest level and we worked really hard to squash it.  Supposedly the piece is going to be a pro-Trump article pointing towards his follow through on campaign promises.

So that’s the background and now here’s the ask – we are looking for individuals to talk to about WOTUS, specifically for those who applaud the revoking by Trump of this regulation that they saw as government overreach.  If you had a plan to build on your land and it was going to stall you out, that would be ideal – or if you are a particularly talkative landowner who hated the rule, that would be very helpful.  Obviously the Ag industry was even more of a target, but this reporter would like to concentrate on the land development side.  If you can help out, email Jay Iverson.

EPA, Corps Propose Changes to WOTUS Rule

With WOTUS already mentioned, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers recently proposed to replace the 2015 definition of the term “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) with the text that existed since 1986. The agencies said the action is the first in a two-step process. In Step 2, the government will propose a new definition for WOTUS.

Take Advantage of Great Deals when IBS Registration Opens August 1

Mark Tuesday, August 1, on your calendar – that is the day you can register for the 2018 International Builders’ Show. Get ready, because the best deals on IBS registration only happen in August.  The Iowa hotel block is not what we requested – but if you want to take advantage of it anyway, it’s the Springhill Suites by Marriott at $169.00.

Softwood Lumber Prices Were a Problem, Now Supply

Home builders across the country were getting hammered by skyrocketing lumber prices earlier this year. And now, more of them are reporting issues with lumber supply, too.  A new post on Eye on Housingcites recent NAHB survey results which found that more than 1 in 5 single-family builders are experiencing a shortage of framing lumber.  While access to lots and labor remain much higher priorities for the majority of builders, the availability of lumber is quickly rising on many of their priority lists.

For now, the majority of builders continue to have access to sufficient lumber supplies, albeit at prices much higher than a year ago. However, lumber prices recently began leveling off and dropping in most markets.

New NAHB Study: Home Buying Boosts Overall Economy

A new consumer spending analysis from NAHB highlights another way home building helps drive a healthy economy: In their first year of ownership, new home buyers spend about $10,600 on appliances, furnishings and home improvements – 2.6 times as much as other home owners in a typical year.

Summit to Highlight Offsite Construction

Hundreds of builders, manufacturers and suppliers of modular, panelized, concrete, log and timber-framed homes will gather this fall for the 2017 Building Systems Housing Summit, the only national conference dedicated to the offsite construction industry. Now in its 32nd year, the Building Systems Housing Summit will take place Oct. 8-10 at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pa.

Looking at Changes to NAHB Governance and Membership Models

NAHB is seeking to streamline its governance model to make serving in governance more rewarding, and to reduce liability for NAHB and individual directors. At the same time, the Association Planning Committee has been exploring a revised membership model for the association. Watch for additional updates on both of these initiatives by mid-September.  Discussions within our Area 10 Caucus (Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota) were very much against the proposed changes.  Time will tell on what ultimately moves forward.

Big Temporary Worker Visa Changes

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will allow an additional 15,000 H-2B temporary worker visas to be issued during this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.  The H-2B programallows employers to hire temporary foreign workers for seasonal, non-agricultural positions. In past years, roughly half of the visas have gone to landscaping businesses.

The department announced it will publish a rule in the Federal Register this Wednesday to authorize the expansion and spell out related requirements. Employers are expected to be able to apply for the additional visas once the rule has been published.

Companies seeking to use the program will face increased scrutiny in their petitions for workers. Employer applicants must already hold a temporary labor certification (TLC) from the Department of Labor and will be required to attest that their business will likely suffer “irreparable harm” if they do not have access to additional workers.

Many employers that have relied on H-2B workers for peak or seasonal business needs when local labor isn’t available – including those in the construction sector – were shut out from the program when the cap of 66,000 visas was reached extremely early this year in March.

We are very much in favor of pushing Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to expand the program – including reinstatement of an expired provision that would exempt workers from being counted towards the annual cap if they came into the US on an H-2B visa in any of three prior years- so that more companies in the construction sector will be able to access temporary labor.

Help Needed – Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership Proposed NEW Training for Builders

We have been asked to assist in a Stormwater training program and there is a proposed teleconference meeting August 2.  Check out their goals below and if you’d like to participate, email HBAI Executive Officer Jay Iverson.

Goal: Create and implement a training program for Iowa residential and commercial builders that addresses stormwater pollution prevention, SWPPPs, inspections of construction sites for compliance with Iowa DNR General Permit Number 2 requirements and BMP corrections and maintenance.

This training would be live ¾-day training at first and then maybe offered as online training later.  This could be a certification in that there would be an exam offered at the end of the training.  Recertification would be required every 3 years and would require attendance at first part of ¾ day training to get any regulatory requirement updates.  This training could satisfy the inspector “qualification” requirements in General Permit Number 2.  The training will be adjusted for each event to include some of the local requirements.

Design the training for the following:

* Builders that have signed a transfer of responsibility (Transfer Agreement-Separate) to accept all General Permit Number 2 requirements, SWPPP development, NOI, practice installation, maintenance and inspections and reporting

* Builders that have signed a transfer of responsibility (Transfer Agreement-Same) and use the developers’ authorization and SWPPP; they may be responsible for practice installation, maintenance and inspections

* Builders that build on infill lots in some communities that have local requirements

* Commercial builders

Proposed DRAFT Training Outline

  1. Introduction and regulatory requirements; Cleanwater Act; EPA-IDNR-MS-4 cities requirements
  2. Briefly touch on erosion process, erosion vs sediment control–basic
  3. Developments vs individual building sites vs infill lots
  4. Transfer Agreements same or separate agreement, if same use developers GP#2 authorization, if separate then required to do all General Permit Number 2 requirements for SWPPP etc.
  5. Filing Notice of Intent- take through process, class demo, Letter of Authorization from IDNR, go
  6. Overview of General permit number 2 requirements; any local requirements
  7. BMPs commonly used for erosion and sediment control and good housekeeping at individual sites; correct installation and maintenance
  8. Creating SWPPPs for individual sites, go through ISWEP and EPA templates
  9. Class SWPPP exercise including site map and BMP placement
  10. Documentation and inspection requirements; updates to SWPPPs and reports; timeliness of site corrections and maintenance of practices; sample inspection form provided to attendees
  11. Contractors and subcontractors, co-permittees
  12. Local permits, expectations, any pre-inspections from city and topsoil and soil quality restoration requirements-if there are local requirements

Whither Whites  

For the first time, the US population under 10 is majority minority. Overall, 61.3% of the population is white, 17.8% are Hispanic, 12.4% are Black non-Hispanic, 5.7% are Asian, 2.1% are multiracial and 0.7% are Native American. In 2016, Nevada joined Hawaii, DC, CA, NM and TX as states that are majority minority. By 2020, Maryland will also be majority minority. ME is 93.5% white, more than any other state. – Elliot F. Eisenberg, Ph.D.