NAHB Spring Board Highlights
You were well represented in DC last week as nine of us attended the NAHB Spring Board meeting. There are constant issues that we must take the lead on in order to advance our cause. Here are a few interesting highlights, but check out the entire document that will fill in the blanks by clicking here. Another report is here.
1. Patent Reform – NAHB members in Oregon and Washington have received demand letters from a company called Savannah IP, which owns a patent for a moisture reduction process used during residential construction. The letters state that the company believes the builder is using, or in the future may use, the patented process; the company offers to license it for a fee.
2. DOL Persuader Regulation – The Department of Labor (DOL) has released a proposed Persuader rule within its Labor-Management Standards that would broaden reporting requirements on employers and consultants who directly or indirectly conduct activities to persuade employees of their rights to organize or bargain collectively.
3. NLRB Quickie Elections – In February, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a proposed rule with changes to the rules governing union representation elections. The proposal is nearly identical to the original “ambush” election rule issued by NLRB in June 2011, which was invalidated by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2012
4. OSHA Electronic Recordkeeping – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a new rule that modifies the current injury and illness reporting requirement of its recordkeeping regulation.
5. Stormwater -Five years after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its plan to develop a National Stormwater Rule to control stormwater runoff from developed sites, the agency has decided to forego the development of this rule.
6. Water Resource Development Act -This measure will provide authorization and funding to enhance long-delayed flood control projects, protecting home owners in flood-prone areas and enabling NAHB members to build homes in areas protected by better quality flood control systems.
7. ESA/Critical Habitat -On May 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively referred to as the Service) issued two proposed rules and a draft policy that will change how critical habitat is interpreted and designated under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
8. Wetlands -On April 21, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule to redefine “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This proposed rule marks the first time since 1986 the meaning of “waters of the U.S.” has been redefined. The rule would establish a broader definition of federally regulated tributaries; areas such as adjacent non- wetlands, and low spots within riparian areas and floodplains would also fall under federal jurisdiction.
9. Lead-based Paint – EPA has announced that it will be removing the hands-on training requirement for the refresher course necessary for certified renovators under EPA’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) regulations for the residential and child-occupied buildings.
10. National Green Building Standard – NAHB, the International Code Council (ICC) and ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) signed a Joint Development Agreement in March 2014 regarding the development of the 2015 Edition of the ICC/ASHRAE 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS).
11. Codes and Standards Development – The ICC held Committee Action Hearings in Memphis, Tennessee from April 27-May 2, to review the proposed code changes to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).
12. ICC Remote Voting (cdp ACCESS) -The ICC has launched cdpACCESS. This online portal allows voting members to participate in code development and change proposals through their desktop computer or tablet rather than in person.
13. FHA Multifamily Mortgage Insurance – In April 2013, HUD announced details of a major restructuring in the FHA’s Office of Multifamily Housing (MFH) that consolidates its program Hubs and field offices and reorganizes the offices within its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
14. AD&C Credit Crunch -The Housing Capital Working Group is exploring several mechanisms to help NAHB members seeking funds for development and construction projects, including working with private investors interested in developing AD&C lending programs.
15. Appraisals – A request for proposal for a National Home Construction Database is being reviewed by members of the Appraisal Working Group (AWG) and Single Family Finance Subcommittee prior to solicitation to potential vendors.
16. Housing Finance Reform-On May 13, the Honorable Mel Watt gave his first major public speech since becoming Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) in January. The speech outlined FHFA’s plans for handling the oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “Enterprises”).
17. Flood Insurance -On March 21, President Obama signed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act into law. The new law provides certainty and financial stability to the National Flood Insurance Program. It also addresses costly and unintended consequences of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act – such as premium spikes and their effect on the sale, construction and remodeling of homes.
Economic Indicators from the NAHB Spring Board Meeting
NAHB’s Dr. Crowe provided an interesting report at the NAHB Spring Board meeting. His presentation is available here. The overall economy slowed at the start of 2014, which took a toll on housing and economic activity. According to the Bureau of Economic of Analysis, real GDP contracted at a 1% seasonally adjusted annual rate during the first quarter. Growth would have been slightly positive absent a decline in business inventory investment. However, this drawdown sets the stage for more stable growth for the rest of 2014.
Realtors, Builders Differ on Need for New Homes
The top U.S. association for Realtors and that for home builders agree more home construction is needed to keep pace with job growth. What they don’t agree on is how much.
The National Association of Realtors released a study Tuesday finding that 32 states and the District of Columbia saw a disproportionate amount of job growth in relation to home construction in the past three years. That, the Realtors group says, will lead to housing shortages and rising home prices in those markets. Read the entire story out of the Wall Street Journal here.
Constantly Growing and Changing Member Benefits
We talk about it often, but you really need to check out all of the discounts and savings opportunities offered by many top companies – because of your membership. Your dues are easily paid for through that participation on products and services that you are already using. All programs, rates and prices are subject to change without notice. NAHB members can access the each program shown on the website, or download a one-page overview of all discounts including phone numbers and program codes. When using these programs please identify yourself as a member of the National Association of Home Builders. Check it out today.
Iowa Electrical Examining Board Meeting June 19
We have been at the table during the discussions for the 2014 NEC Adoption. There is a meeting coming up on June 19 at the Oran Pape Building near our office. Click here for the agenda, which lists the proposed items to amend in the adoption of the 2014 NEC.
Wednesday, June 18, 2-3 p.m. ET
Business Improvement series – This program will cover the basics of building information modeling (BIM), with an emphasis on its applicability to and benefits for residential construction.