Oklahoma State Home Builders Association

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Colorado Mandates Intro to Skilled Labor in Public High Schools

Posted on August 14, 2017 by Jorie Helms


A new law in Colorado aims to address one of the greatest challenges to recruiting skilled labor: dispelling the myth that all successful career paths require a college education.

The Denver Post reported this week on the implementation of House Bill 1041, which requires public schools to inform high school students about opportunities in trade schools and military service, and what they need to do follow these equally rewarding career paths.

“The law will help reintroduce skilled trades to high school students, who can earn early apprenticeships and exposure to good-paying jobs right after graduation,” the article stated.

The Colorado Association of Home Builders (CAHB) agrees that this new law can help the industry overcome a key issue in the labor shortage dilemma.

“We believe that every little bit helps change the myth that everyone should rack up massive college debt instead of entering the world of construction trades and generating positive income and a rewarding career,” said Scott Smith, CEO of CAHB.

Skip Howes, president of Scott Homes Ltd. in Woodland, Colo., and chair of NAHB’s Public Affairs Committee, believes the law is an important step to help students understand the range of exciting opportunities in the housing industry.

“This new law will open doors for students who are not college-bound and who don’t want to become burdened with overwhelming student loan debt for a degree that is not providing them with viable, productive jobs,” Howes said. “When skilled training is tied to community college courses in business management and accounting, students can learn a trade and even become entrepreneurs in their own businesses.”

NAHB’s Skilled Workforce Development Resources provide members and HBAs with valuable tools to reach out to educators, parents and students, and begin the conversation about the in-demand career opportunities in the construction trades. For example, the sample lesson plans, internship guide, and state-specific salary data help building professionals engage with students as early as the middle school level.

Members can also share public resources with educators and industry partners at nahb.org/workforce.

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Can I Bury My Ducts in the Attic Insulation?

Posted on August 11, 2017 by Jorie Helms


Right now, the short answer now is: maybe.

Craig Drumheller wanted to know why the ductwork for his home air conditioning system ran through the highest and hottest portion of his attic, making the system work extra hard to keep the conditioned air cool. Why was the practice of burying the ductwork in the attic insulation  prohibited in his jurisdiction?

As the director of codes and standards at NAHB, Drumheller knew that burying ductwork in the attic insulation was not explicitly prohibited by the building code. He also understood that code officials were concerned about condensation on the ducts, causing moisture problems, displaced attic insulation and possibly reduced energy efficiency.

Drumheller talks about the problem – and what NAHB did to solve the issue for the 2018 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code to be published this fall – in the latest issue of the Journal of Light Construction.

After research, Drumheller found that burying ductwork in attic insulation actually saves energy, and the concern about condensation was only regional when employing higher efficiency levels of the new energy codes: The condensation issue could be addressed with higher levels of duct insulation.

When he heard that some NAHB builder members were also wondering why they were prohibited from burying ducts in the attic insulation, Drumheller worked with the Construction, Codes and Standards committee members and the industry experts at Home Innovation Research Labs to amend  the code and clarify that “burying” attic ducts to insulate them from heat and cold is an appropriate option throughout many parts of the country.

However, there may be different requirements depending on an area’s typical temperature and humidity factors.

Read how they did it, and why and when home builders might consider this option in their next construction project.

Bonus for NAHB members: Home innovation Research Labs  has also written a TecSpec that details the code requirements, techniques and benefits of burying ducts in attic insulation.

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Longtime Industry Advocate: Retirement Isn’t the End

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Jorie Helms

After working in home building for more than 40 years and serving in a variety of prominent advocacy and leadership roles, Bob Hanbury last month entered the next phase of his career: retirement.

Bob Hanbury as he presents awards to the winners of the HBRA of Central Connecticut’s Student Design Competition in 2014 in Hartford, Conn. Photo courtesy of Matthew J. Wagner Photography.

But for Hanbury — who founded House of Hanbury Builders in Newington, Conn. with his brother in 1976 — retirement won’t mean leaving behind the industry about which he is so passionate. He’s a lifer.

“Even after you retire from the business, you don’t give up on the industry,” Hanbury said. “You make your living doing this, which is why I want to stay involved to help make sure the industry keeps improving.”

An NAHB member for nearly four decades and a former NAHB Remodelers chair, Hanbury recently moved to Florida where he intends to join the local HBA and continue serving in whatever capacity he can. “My membership is like family — I can’t give it up,” he said.

Hanbury might best be known as an authority on lead paint and a fervent advocate for practical regulations.

“Bob’s knowledge of the industry has allowed him to bring extensive on-the-ground experience and expertise to bear when testifying on behalf of NAHB before EPA,” said Susan Asmus, NAHB’s senior VP of regulatory affairs. “In recent years, he has testified multiple times on the regulatory burden of implementing federal lead paint regulations that have failed to meet expectations set by the agency.”

His commitment to helping the industry progress stems from a lifetime surrounded by home builders. His grandfather was a home builder and a charter member of the HBRA of Central Connecticut. Hanbury’s dad would later become president of that HBRA, and eventually, Hanbury himself served in that role.

Following decades of dedicated service, Hanbury says he knew “it was time to go to greener pastures and enjoy life.” He had started planning for retirement about six years ago, but looking back, he wished he started much earlier.

“I don’t think a lot of builders spend enough time and energy on [planning for retirement]. You might think you can just do it overnight, but it doesn’t happen like that,” Hanbury said. “Liquidating assets at the right time and at a value you can feel good about is a very hard thing to do.

“Even if you think you’re prepared, often times you aren’t,” he said.

Now into his first full month of retirement, Hanbury took a moment to reflect on his career and the ever-evolving remodeling industry. Here’s a portion of what he had to say:

How has remodeling changed in recent years?

“There has been a dramatic shift in how we do business, largely because there’s so much misleading information out there. It’s created a perception that remodeling is cheap, extremely fast, and easy enough that [a consumer] can figure anything out online overnight, and then tell the contractor how to do the job. It’s reshaped the remodeler-customer dynamic, which now hinges more on education and building trust.”

What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) facing the industry?

“Workforce development is certainly a growing concern. A large number of industry pros who have essential remodeling experience are nearing the end of their careers, and with fewer youth pursuing the trades, it will be increasingly difficult to pass along all of that knowledge and expertise to the next generation. Eventually, I’d like to see groups of retired contractors engaged in recruiting and training more youth to help ensure the industry continues to grow.”

What advice would you give to other remodelers and home builders planning for retirement?

“Timing is everything. My advice would be to create a plan that gives you a window of at least 2-3 years in which you can adjust your retirement date, depending upon economic circumstances. And don’t buy equipment when you’re nearing retirement. Instead, rent or borrow what you need, and only hire employees who are fully equipped. Because when it comes time to sell, you’ll be lucky if you get 10 cents on the dollar.”

To learn more about NAHB Remodelers, visit nahb.org/whynahbr.

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5 Ways to Get Competitive with CAPS

Posted on August 9, 2017 by Jorie Helms

The term universal design has been traced back to the late 1970s, when, according to a timeline from Professional Builder magazine, architect Ron Mace coined the term. This 70’s invention turned into an NAHB educational designation focusing on retrofitting existing homes.

It’s not exactly a “secret” weapon if more than 3,000 builders and remodelers across the country are using it to attract new business. But for the last 18 years, the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation has given these industry pros a competitive edge.

Many Americans have no intention of moving out of their homes as they age. Investing in home modifications seems like a much more appealing option. Even small improvements can make an enormous difference in the safety and comfort of their home, especially if they begin to experience mobility issues.

Tom Ashley and Curt Kiriu are CAPS building professionals and NAHB members who find CAPS-focused work to be both professionally profitable and personally rewarding.

“Hawaii is a small market, but I have been nonstop busy since mid-2009, and the demand for my services continues to grow each year,” said Kiriu. “It is difficult to keep up, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

While CAPS modifications can encompass countless projects, here are five particularly crucial areas to think about when trying to make a home safer and more comfortable while maintaining its orginal beauty and character.

agingin-in-place graphicBathrooms. Here’s where falls happen. But turning the tub into a zero degree entrance shower can reduce the risk.

“People don’t realize that a two- or three-inch step up can basically be like climbing a mountain,” said Ashley. “Most of our clients use zero-degree entrance showers, which is a shower that has no step up. It’s clean. It’s crisp. It’s user friendly. It’s wheelchair accessible. And it even looks better.”

If you want a bench seat, make it either completely removable, or have it be able to fold into the wall in case wheelchair access is needed. Additionally, raising the toilet and adding a grab bar can make it easy and safe to use.

Kitchens. Storage, especially in older homes, can be a maze of cupboards and cabinets that are extremely deep and close to the ground.

Including full extension doors, pull-down shelves and swing-away corner shelves helps avoid constantly bending down and reaching far back to feel around for a can of beans.

You can also make your faucets touchless or replace knobs with levers to make turning water on and off easy for people with arthritis or trouble with fine motor skills.

Lighting. Make sure all hallways and entrances have accessible and adequate lighting so you don’t have to feel your way in the dark. Install a light above the shower for easy bathing. However, keep in mind that not just any kind of lighting will do.

“Vanity light fixtures that illuminate the ceiling and walls are best, rather than ones that shine directly in your eyes,” said Kiriu.

Entryways. Adequate security is especially important for aging people, and adding motion-activated lighting to entrances can make also looking for your keys a much safer process.

Ramps, rather than stairs, allow for easy wheelchair access and avoid tripping when walking up to the door.

However, if you’d like to keep your stairs in place, widening the depth and width of each stair and widening the landing can make it much easier to navigate.

Stable railings and no step up entrances are an obvious must for entrance ways as well.

Grab Bars. This is one a no-brainer. Adding grab bars in the bathroom, hallways, entrances and any other vulnerable places gives home owners peace of mind. And you don’t even have to sacrifice aesthetics for security.

“When we first started out everything was stainless steel,” said Ashley. “Now, they have slim designs with different finishes and they really look nice and ornamental.”

For builders and remodelers, a CAPS designation can expand your market, and offers an extremely rewarding experience with your client. It requires empathy, critical thinking and creative problem solving, but the reward is unlike any other.

“The type of work that many CAPS professionals do has the opportunity to make a direct and immediate positive change in their client’s lives,” said Kiriu. “They are not many businesses, jobs, careers, that can make that statement.”

For more on how to earn a CAPS designation, go to nahb.org.

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See High-Performance Techniques In Action at 2018 Builders’ Show

Posted on August 8, 2017 by Jorie Helms

Sustainable building has never been more popular, and the 2018 International Builders’ Show has many great activities for people who want to learn more about this in-demand type of home construction.

IBS attendees should visit the High Performance Building Zone (HPBZ) to watch hands-on demonstrations, including daily 30-minute presentations on building sustainably in different parts of a home.

Sustainability experts will demonstrate the latest in high performance building techniques at the 2018 International Builders’ Show.

The HPBZ’s new Building Performance Lab will display high-performance techniques “in action” in a finished model home. Through cutaways and see-through sections, attendees can see how high-performance wall systems, floors, HVAC, insulation and other features are constructed and finished.

There also are valuable education sessions for sustainable builders, including the master session How Do I Avoid This? Conquering Home Performance Errors Before and After ConstructionThis session will examine some common design and construction errors, and look at ways to fix them early to mitigate long-term (and expensive) damage control.

To register and learn more about the International Builders’ Show, visit BuildersShow.com. For more information about NAHB’s sustainable building programs, contact Jaclyn Toole.

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NAHB Members Celebrate National Building Systems Week

Posted on August 7, 2017 by Jorie Helms


Members of the NAHB Building Systems Councils are celebrating Building Systems Week Aug. 7-11. This week-long event aims to educate NAHB members and consumers on the advantages of systems-built homes over traditional stick building.

Prefabricated in an efficient, controlled setting, systems-built homes, which include modular, panelized, concrete, log and timber-framed homes, provide home owners a building alternative that often saves time and money.

For home builders, adopting building systems can alleviate many of the concerns facing today’s housing industry, most notably the cost and availability of labor. With the majority of construction taking place at the factory, systems-built homes require fewer man hours to build once they arrive on site.

Systems built homes also score high on the green-building scale as material waste is significantly reduced in the factory and jobsite. Assembly in an enclosed environment allows systems-built homes to fulfill key components of green building certifications, including the ICC/ASHRAE 700 National Green Building Standard.

“One huge advantage is that instead of using multiple subcontractors and trades people, a builder or developer partners with a manufacturer to outsource much of a home’s construction, significantly reducing on-site build time,” said BSC Chairman Norm Hall, territory manager and factory-built structures industry manager for Simpson Strong-Tie. “BSC members have been at the forefront of new construction techniques and building technologies, which ultimately benefits the consumer.”

In conjunction with Building Systems Week, the BSC is hosting a free webcast on Aug. 10 from 2-3 p.m. ET titled “Builders and Manufacturers — The Money is Over Here.”

Led by Valerie Jurik-Henry, a 30-year veteran of the housing and healthcare industry, the event will cover adaptive housing, which has become an increasingly important topic in the home building community. As America’s baby boomers eclipse retirement, the demand for aging-in-place housing will continue to grow.

Consumers will also have an opportunity to learn and ask questions about how building systems products can help meet their adaptive housing needs. To register, contact Devin Perry.

To find out more about the Building Systems Councils and its members, contact John Lingerfeltat 800-368-5424 x8357 or visit nahb.org/whybsc.

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