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.

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