Weekly Update: May 22, 2014

Urge Our Senators to Vote for Housing Finance Reform NOW

Since we’re still suffering from the “everybody deserves a house” days, we need to be on top of any efforts to create a more solid lending environment. Bipartisan housing finance reform legislation was recently passed by the Senate Banking Committee and deserves an up or down vote on the Senate floor. If passed, this bill will fix the nation’s flawed housing finance system and breathe new life into the housing sector by providing a consistent and affordable supply of mortgage credit for single-family and multifamily housing. We need to urge all Senators to SUPPORT, S. 1217, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014, AND urge its immediate consideration on the Senate floor.

After six years of government conservatorship our nation’s housing credit system remains in a constant state of uncertainty and confusion. Home builders, lenders and other market participants cannot adequately plan for the future and home buyers are either denied credit or paralyzed by the mixed messaging. Absent reform, all critical policy decisions on the operations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to be left to one unelected regulator, bipartisan compromise that would fund nearly $5 billion in annual affordable housing programs would be put on the back burner, and taxpayers would be exposed to yet another government bailout. S. 1217 works to address these concerns in a rare bipartisan policy achievement and deserves to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

Please click here to for talking points on S. 1217, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014.  Write our Senators at http://capitolconnect.com/builderlink


HBAI Educational Corporation Awards Nine Students

We had a great collection of students apply for the HBAI EC scholarships, all of whom are going into the trades directly or indirectly.  Thanks to the HBAI EC Board of Directors for reviewing, studying and selecting our 2014 winners.  The majority of the students are related to our members, which is always great to see.  The following students have been carefully chosen and awarded:


Cody Willer (Sioux City, Industrial Education/Safety) – Charlie Wasker Scholarship – $1k

Dayne Sturm (Hamburg, Residential Construction) – Kenny Selzer Scholarship – $500

Michael Madden (Construction Management) – Doug Mayo Scholarship – $1k

Christopher Schutt (Urbandale, Construction Management) – Presidential Scholarship – $1k

Avery Chapman (Marion, Landscape & Construction Design – Jeff Tegeler Scholarship – $1k

Travis Dimmer (North Liberty, Construction Management) – David Ealy Scholarship – $1k

Dylan Balmer (Ames, Aerospace Engineering) – Bob Friedrich Sr. Scholarship – $750

Wade Vollink (Orange City, Engineering Science) – John Small Scholarship – $500

Daniel Hingtgen (North Liberty, Computer Engineering) – Ron Smith Scholarship – $750


2014 HousingIowa Conference

Come visit Awesometown Sept. 3-5 at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown. Also known as the 2014 HousingIowa Conference! This year’s conference takes a unique approach to highlighting the far-reaching effects of affordable housing by welcoming attendees to “Awesometown” – a fictional town where everything is just a little better due to affordable housing within the community.

Awesometown will offer a vast array of exceptional national trainings and education sessions in three tracks: affordable rental, affordable homeownership and homelessness. All of this is made available at a …dare we say… awesome value!

Visit Awesometown’s web site often for schedule updates, training opportunities and more for affordable housing advocates, developers, managers, owners, lenders, REALTORS® and homeless service providers.

Reserve your room today by calling 800.228.9290 or by booking online. Please ask for the “HousingIowa Conference block”. The discounted room rate is $114 per night (standard guestroom), plus applicable taxes and fees.

Weekly Update: May 15, 2014

Urgent Action Item: 4″ Topsoil Rule

hbaiowa-soil-1If you have any involvement in home building, you need to be aware of this. Back in 2012, the DNR adopted a rule requiring developers and builders who hold a required stormwater “General Permit No. 2” to put 4 inches of topsoil back on a finished construction site. The DNR wanted runoff reduction since topsoil sponges up water that runs swiftly off hard clay.
The rule makes development costs prohibitive, so several of your fellow members approached Governor Branstad and he signed the Governor’s Executive Order 80. A “stakeholder” group was formed in order for the DNR to revisit it. The stakeholder group includes our own Creighton Cox, executive director of the Greater Des Moines HBA; Hubbell Realty’s Joe Pietruszynski; Chip Classon of Jerry’s Homes; Mark Watkins, vice president of McAnich Corp., a Des Moines earthmoving contractor; Lucy Hershberger of Forever Green Nursery in Coralville; Pat Sauer of the Iowa Stormwater Education Program; and Chad Ingels, a member of the state Environmental Protection Commission appointed to that panel by Branstad.
The goal of the group is to come up with a recommendation to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission regarding the rule terminology. As part of this initiative, DNR is receiving public comments regarding the 4″ requirement until May 29th. To date, there have been dozens of comments saying that the 4″ requirement should stay in place with virtually no comments saying that it needs to be changed to simply match the federal language. We would like to see the 4″ language struck from the rule and replaced with language taken directly from the federal rule.
We are asking that as many of our members email comments IN YOUR OWN WORDS as soon as possible, since the meeting is May 29. Even a one paragraph comment would be incredibly helpful. While you should each decide what to put in your comments, here are a few insights:

  • Developers and builders are already heavily regulated when it comes to storm water runoff requirements. These are expensive and time consuming requirements that have been followed for years with great success, not just in Iowa but around the country.
  • The federal rule requires that a builder or developer “unless infeasible, preserve topsoil.” There appears to be a misconception that builders/developers routinely strip the site of topsoil and then sell it or ship it off to other sites. This simply isn’t true. It is our understanding that, unless the soil cannot physically remain on the site (such as when doing building development in a downtown), topsoil is retained within the plat and used where it will serve the best purpose for the development.
  • The federal rule does not, in any way, address the issue of how many inches of topsoil is required at any particular location. It simply says “unless infeasible, preserve topsoil.” A requirement that compels the builder/developer to maintain a certain number of inches at a particular location goes well beyond the federal requirement.
  • The 4″ requirement is extremely difficult and costly to satisfy. When the 4″ requirement was implemented last year, we estimated that the additional cost of compliance would be about $300 – $400 per lot. After a year of implementation, we have discovered that the actual cost of the requirement is more than 10 times that original estimate – and in some places as high as $5,000 per lot. Since all of the topsoil is left on site, the additional cost of dictating exactly where the topsoil gets placed is an unnecessary impediment to affordable housing. This is especially true at a time that the industry is trying to get back on its feet.

We highly encourage you to write to Adam Schnieders [DNR] Adam.Schnieders@dnr.iowa.gov and tell the DNR, in your own words, why the 4″ requirement should not be maintained and why the insertion of the federal language is a reasonable alternative that satisfies all of the requirements imposed by the law while protecting the environment at a cost that allows affordable housing. If you would like to attend the meeting in person (the best method!), please let Jay Iverson know.

2012 International Energy Conservation Code – Residential Construction

iecc-2012June 1 is rapidly approaching – the date when all new houses in Iowa must meet the minimum requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (2012 IECC).  Click here for a copy of State of Iowa Chapter 303, Rule 661-303.2(103A).  For a nice overview of what it means to you and your customers, click here.


The Cedar Rapids HBA and the Iowa City HBA held a joint membership meeting together last week, the first time in history (or anytime in recent memory). It was an excellent networking event, held in Solon at Lake Macbride Golf Club. Over 100 members gathered for the event.