ICC’s new cdpACCESS feature enables voting members to approve or disapprove floor motions from their home or work computer. Floor motions are approved or disapproved by a simple majority, so every vote is important. For more information, please see NAHB’s blog here, and download the NAHB Floor Voting Guide here.
For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs
Follow us on Twitter @pabuildersGA
It’s fun and inspiring to watch TV shows about home design and remodeling – everything from the latest looks in countertops to whole-house remodels. And YouTube and other online video sites are chockfull of helpful how-tos and demos to assist home owners through countless do-it-yourself projects.
There are relatively simple home projects that can be completed by DIYers, such as hanging pictures, interior painting, caulking, and changing door knobs and cabinet pulls. And, home owners with the correct tools and a higher skill level should be able to tackle some aesthetic work such as installing crown molding.
But it’s also important to know when to stop and hire a professional.
Remodelers can tell you lots of funny stories about siding installed upside down – and sometimes scary stories involving do-it-yourself electrical wiring gone awry. So before you buy the latest or trendiest gizmo for your home, ask yourself a few questions.
How much do you know? Replacing the exhaust fan over your oven with a built-in microwave looks like a reasonably simple swap. But if you notice your kitchen lights are dimming when you zap your popcorn, you’ve probably forgotten that the microwave, unlike the exhaust fan, uses a lot more energy and likely needs a dedicated circuit. A remodeling professional knows that.
What if it doesn’t work? That YouTube do-it-yourself video may make a tilework project look doable, but will YouTube give you your money back if you don’t lay it straight? Professional remodelers may not know everything, but they do take responsibility for everything they do.
Are there any unintended consequences? In today’s increasingly efficient and more air-tight homes, it’s more and more important to look at the house as a system. Your new windows are keeping out drafts, but how are they affecting your home’s air quality once the “natural ventilation” of the leaky old ones are gone? Do you need to look at mechanical ventilation systems? If so, how big? A professional can tell you.
How do you know if it’s right for your home? A professional remodeler can advise you on products, finishes and appliances that match your lifestyle, location, house size and budget and help you avoid spending money without a reasonable payback on either resource expense (energy and water, for example) or the sale of your home when you are ready to upsize or downsize.
And how do you find a professional remodeler? There’s a question with an easy answer. Search our Find a Pro member directory to find a remodeler in your area with the experience, educational qualifications and knowledge to do the job right – the first time.
Our local builders associations are also a great resource for remodeling advice. Find a Local now.
“We love the rebate program. We do a high volume of houses, and even though each house rebate is only a few hundred dollars, the rebate benefits greatly,”
says Steven Wengerd, Vice President of Classic Quality Homes and member of the Carbon Builders Association.
Final numbers for 2015 are in and it was one of the best performing years for the PBA Member Rebate Program! As more members get involved, the value of this program speaks for itself with over $114,000 in total rebates claimed last year, averaging $1,118 per participant. This is a great way to recoup the cost of your dues and easily put money back in your pocket.
View the simple claim process here and the growing list of over 57 participating manufacturers.
To learn more, go to www.hbarebates.com or call Doug Vu at 717-730-4380 with questions. The deadline for Q1’2016 claim submissions is May 20th.
Act 21 of 2016 (House Bill 1340) amends the Pennsylvania Uniform Planned Community Act (UPCA) and the Uniform Condominium Act (UCA) to ensure that planned communities, condominium associations, and cooperative associations are not negatively impacted by both a recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision and new federal mortgage underwriting guidelines.
Amendment of Declaration
As a result of shifts in federal mortgage underwriting guidelines, condominiums may be barred from mortgage financing if 50% or more of the available units are for rental. Many condominium associations have therefore authorized amendments to their governing declarations that limit the number of units available for rent. Under the UPCA and UCA, unanimous consent from all unit owners is required if the amendment changes the “use to which the unit is restricted.”
Regardless of whether a condominium unit is available for rental or purchase, the “use to which the unit is restricted” is still considered residential. Act 21 of 2016 simply makes it clear that the phrase “use to which the unit is restricted” cannot include the leasing or rental of units.
Lien for Assessments
Condominium associations rely on unit assessments to levy fees used for the maintenance, repair and infrastructure of the condominium community. These fees are secured by provisions in the UPCA and UCA that impose upon each unit a “lien for assessments.” Although this statutory lien provides legal recourse to assist condominium associations in obtaining outstanding fees (in the form of the ability to foreclose on the unit), many associations instead seek to recover fees via personal judgment against the unit owner. Obtaining a personal judgement means the resident’s ownership of the unit is not placed at risk.
In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals held that a personal judgment obtained by a community association does not preserve the statutory lien. Simply put, associations now must file lien foreclosure actions within three years of delinquency or the lien is extinguished, resulting in much more expensive and aggressive foreclosure proceedings.
Act 21 of 2016 will rectify the issue to resolve assessment delinquencies without putting ownership of homes at risk through foreclosure proceedings intended to protect the association’s lien position.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently announced the winners of the Best in American Living Awards (BALA) – a prestigious awards program recognizing excellence in designs that will influence the entire residential building industry.
Award recipients are lauded as the nation’s most creative and inventive builders, remodelers, architects, developers, land planners and interior designers.
Below are some of the newest trends in home design that buyers throughout Pennsylvania will see in the coming months and years, based on submissions from this year’s BALA winners. Some of these elements are sure to inspire your next design project.
Intimate Outdoor Spaces. Many single-family custom and production homes include intimate outdoor gathering spaces, complete with outdoor fireplaces or fire pits and cozy seating. These spaces are geared toward smaller gatherings, instead of the extended family-size backyards of the past.
Mid-Century Modern Detailing. Mid-century modern is now 21st century chic in furniture, elevation design and detailing. Particularly in the western United States, this style has become increasingly popular.
Indoor-Outdoor Convergence. What was once a distinct line between two living areas – indoor and outdoor – has been replaced by floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls and screens. Families can both visually and physically move between these areas.
Troughs and Spouts. Outdoor tables with open, trough-like water channels add interest, often culminating in a delicate waterfall off the edge of the table into a pool or water feature below.
Interior Board and Batten. More often used as exterior cladding, board and batten is now being featured inside a large number of homes as well. This technique adds a three-dimensional layer to interior finishes and provides an interesting alternative to paint and wallpaper.
Copper Bathtubs. These are a popular bathroom feature in several award-winning homes. Copper tubs are a striking addition in any home, from rustic to modern to traditional.
White with Exotic or Repurposed Wood Accents. Many winning interiors feature stark, modern white paired with rich wood accents, a striking combination in flooring, ceilings and cabinets.
Modern Industrial Accents. Making its strongest appearance in multifamily projects, this trend combines sleek lighting and furniture with the brick, glass and steel elements of a building’s shell and skeleton. Vibrant pops of color offset the cooler color palette of metals and whites.
Barn Doors. Barn doors are appearing everywhere, from kitchens to mudrooms to closets. These offer an alternative to traditional left- or right-hung doors and become a design feature of the home, unlike pocket doors that tuck away.
Intricate Stairways. Stairways have become more prominent and sophisticated. Designers increasingly feature curving glass railings, detailed iron newel posts, unique stair accent walls, glass treads and intricate tile work.
Low-Impact Design. Many BALA winners and entrants included sustainable and green features in their designs, including permeable pavers, rain gardens and landscaping with native species.
Waterfall Islands. Still trending are waterfall-edged islands, in which the kitchen bar is inset into the cabinetry rather than extended beyond it. These islands – whether made of wood, granite or marble – emphasize clean, modern lines.
To find an industry professional who is ready to bring these exciting new trends to your new home or remodeling project, use our Find a Pro member directory.
One of the many benefits of buying a new home is its increased energy efficiency. Builders are using the latest technologies to reduce household energy consumption, from improved insulation to energy-efficient appliances.
Recent analysis by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that, on a per- square-foot basis, the newer a single-family home is, the less energy it uses. And, even though newer homes are larger, their increased efficiency means that homes built since 1999 tend to use the same or slightly less energy than homes built before 1950.
Yet, the energy-efficiency story doesn’t end with the builder – it simply starts there. To realize the greatest efficiency savings, homeowners also must do their part to use energy wisely.
In fact, even though new homes are built to be more efficient, true energy savings will depend on household behavior. That’s because the size of your household and the number of energy-guzzling appliances and electronic gadgets that you use actually have the greatest impact on your electric bill.
Understanding Your Home’s Electricity Usage
To make smart choices about your home’s electricity usage, it’s important to understand how homes typically use energy. The amount of energy used to heat and cool a home is known as heating, ventilation and air conditioning – or HVAC. Builders generally have a greater influence on the efficiency of a home’s HVAC system as a home is designed and built. In fact, more efficient HVAC equipment installed by builders – and better insulation and sealing – is a key reason for the greater efficiency of new homes.
However, non-HVAC electricity – energy used for things like watching television, charging electronic devices, and using a computer – accounts for more than 70% of a home’s total energy use. That means that most of the energy that a home uses will be based upon the behavior of the household and not the design or construction of the home.
NAHB also analyzed the impact of products usually purchased by a household on overall energy consumption, including an extra freezer, a third television, a home theater connected to a TV and a dehumidifier. The electricity needed to power these products accounted for about twice the amount of electricity required by items usually installed by a builder (e.g., ceiling fans, refrigerator and water heater).
Making Wise Energy Choices
The choices you make everyday about your electricity usage have the most significant impact on your new home’s overall energy consumption. And whether you live in a new or previously-owned home, you have the power to make it even more energy efficient.
Here are a few simple no- or low-cost tips to improve your home’s efficiency:
Lighting: One of the easiest ways to save electricity is to install compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs both inside and outside your house. This is especially important if you have an outdoor light that remains on overnight. And, start turning off lights in rooms that you are not using.
Electronic Products: With homes using an ever-increasing number of electronic products, it’s important to turn them off when they’re not in use. This includes TVs and computers! To help save the standby power often wasted with these devices, use a power strip to turn off equipment not being used. And don’t forget to unplug small appliances and chargers when they’re not in use or if the electronic device is fully charged. These unused appliances and chargers remain in standby mode and use electricity.
Appliances: Use your dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads. And, use large appliances in the early morning and late evening, when demand for energy is not as high.
Programmable Thermostat: Consider installing a programmable thermostat, which can automatically adjust the temperature of your home when you’re away at work or asleep at night. Even small temperature adjustments can add up to big energy savings.
For more energy-efficiency tips for your home, check out our Green Building Resources or visit nahb.org/forconsumers.
To access the NAHB study, How Much Energy Homes Use and Why, visit HousingEconomics.com.
A Message for Other Local Associations Written by HBA Staff
Over the course of my time with the HBA, I’ve learned that there has been a disconnect between the local Home Builders Association of Berks County, the Reading-Berks Association of Realtors and other like organizations. When did this happen? More importantly, why?
I wish that I had the answers, but I don’t. However, I will say this; I met with the Education Committee at our local Realtors Association. I spoke about PBA and all that they do. During my “presentation” (if we can call it that), I asked if they were interested in having a joint meeting with the HBA of Berks County. After hearing what I had to say, they all agreed that there is a disconnect and that members would benefit from having a joint meeting.
The HBA of Berks County recently invited Sarah Miller, PBA's Manager of Public Policy, to come out and speak with our members and members of the Reading Berks Association of Realtors. Without hesitation, Sarah accepted the invitation. All she asked was that we tell her when and where.
The meeting was a success; it was well-received by all who attended. If a report card were to be issued, Sarah would definitely get an A+. She discussed a variety of topics affecting the building industry. Sarah made the attendees aware that PBA is not taking any of these matters lightly. Both PBA staff and its many volunteers are hard at work every day fighting for the survival of our members' bread and butter: the Building Industry.
Members have FREE Access to Industry Professionals! The HBA staff picks the time and place and all members have to do is show up. We don’t need to fill an entire room; we just need a handful of interested members. These members will be quite surprised to hear all that PBA is currently working on, in turn, they will spread the word, and they will come back for more.
This is an industry where KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. The more your members know, the better they can protect their businesses.
Isn’t it good to know that someone out there is fighting the battles so your members don’t have to? Someone who has the members’ best interest in mind? Members should be made aware of all the efforts made by PBA staff and PBA’s many volunteers.
I highly recommend that each and every one of you, who haven’t done so already, contact PBA and schedule some time for your members to meet with someone from PBA. Some say, that they don’t see VALUE. Well, here’s one for you, and it’s a FREEBIE!
And that folks, is my final answer!
Janet Campis, Executive Officer
HBA of Berks County
Please Note: Participation by PBA staff and leadership is dependent upon schedule availability and travel commitments. In order to maximize the probability for PBA staff participation, please try to make any request as far in advance as possible. Contact us for more details (717) 730-4380.
As the housing market continues its gradual recovery, who are today’s home buyers and what motivates them to make a purchase?
Recent analysis from the National Association of Homes Builders of the latest American Housing Survey (AHS) provides insight into recent home buyers and the home buying process. Conducted in odd-numbered years by the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2013 AHS studied 13.7 million households that bought a home in the previous two years.
While the number of households buying a home had been falling since 2005, the number of recent home buyers actually doubled between the 2011 and 2013 surveys. Of these 13.7 million households, 43% were buying their first home, while 11% were purchasing a new home.
In general, new home buyers are older, make more money, and are purchasing bigger, more expensive homes. On the other hand, first-time home buyers are younger, make less money, and are purchasing smaller, less expensive homes.
Home buyers said the top two reasons for choosing a home were its size and room layout or design. The house’s price and the neighborhood came in tied for third. However, for first-time buyers, price was the top consideration.
When asked about making their neighborhood selection, home buyers noted their top reasons for choosing a neighborhood as “the house itself” and safety. First-time home buyers, who have a median age of 32, also seem to prioritize a healthy home-work balance. Proximity to job and friends/family tended to be more important to this group of buyers.
The size of a purchased home hasn’t changed much in recent years. In fact, the median size of all homes purchased has been 1,800 square feet since 2005. However, the median size of new homes bumped up from 2,100 square feet in 2011 to 2,200 square feet in 2013.
So how long does it take buyers to find the right home? Home buyers looked at 10 different homes before deciding which one to purchase.
And when they’re ready to commit to their new home, about half of the buyers used their savings for a downpayment while 17 percent used the sale of a previous home. Only 11 percent purchased their home without a downpayment. This includes cases where a home was purchased in full with cash and when a home was purchased with a zero-downpayment loan.
As economic and job growth continue, and interest rates remain low, more consumers are finding that now is a great time to buy a new home. Contact your local builders association to learn about new homes available in your area.
While some have celebrated Governor Wolf’s inaction resulting in a comprehensive budget late last month, his veto of the corresponding fiscal code bill is a cause for consternation. Wolf’s veto of the fiscal code bill effectively means he may disperse state funding as he sees fit, rather than adhere to the allocations and fiscal planning made by the legislature.
Wolf’s latest volley in the Pennsylvania budget debacle is to distribute school funds for basic education at a much higher rate, for three school districts, than proposed in the fiscal bill. Of the approximately $200 million in new education funding, Philadelphia school district would receive $76.8 million, Pittsburgh school district would receive $7.5 million, and Chester Upland would receive $16.3 million. Wolf’s distribution leaves Pennsylvania’s 497 other school districts to split the remaining half.
Besides the obvious issue of having over 99% of Pennsylvania schools split around 50% of the basic education budget, Wolf’s proposal also ignores bi-partisan fiscal recommendations.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have agreed that Pennsylvania’s school funding formula is in dire need of an overhaul. As a result, Act 51 of 2014 established the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC), a fifteen member bicameral, bi-partisan committee with the sole purpose of determining how to better allocate local, state, and federal funds to public schools. During 2014 and 2015, the BEFC held fifteen hearings, received testimony from 110 individuals and solicited input from 125 schools. On June 18, 2015, the BEFC recommended the new Basic Education Funding Formula to the General Assembly. Over nine months later, Governor Wolf decided to veto the fiscal code bill containing the bi-partisan formula.
Using the Basic Education Formula, Philadelphia School District would receive $42.4 million, Pittsburgh school district would receive $3.1million, and Chester Upland would receive $2 million. Compared to Wolf’s unilateral funding plan, the bi-partisan formula allocates $53.1 million less to the three districts.
If Wolf’s plan succeeds, Pennsylvania homeowners already burdened with excessive property taxes can expect another increase.
Republicans say they will consider filing a lawsuit if Wolf follows through with his funding plan.
When winter gives way to spring, the temperatures won’t be the only things on the rise. The home-buying market tends to heat up as well during the spring, and 2016 will be no exception. Many savvy buyers will be looking to lock in attractive interest rates while they still remain low. If this group includes you, the time to start preparing is now. These tips will help put you in a better position to find a home that’s just right.
Make your Checklist
First-time home buyers should take the time to determine what their needs are, especially regarding size, location and amenities. But even seasoned home owners will find that having a must-have list can save significant time by helping them avoid listings that may look great in the photos, but in reality, won’t meet their needs. Home buyers should always prioritize the items on their checklists, as most will need to compromise on some items to fit within a realistic budget.
Check Your Credit Score
Even if you’ve purchased a home in the past, stricter credit requirements are making it more challenging for some buyers to find home loans. Lenders are more cautious than ever, so having a favorable credit score can make a difference in your ability to be approved for a loan. Even if you think nothing has changed recently on your credit report, it’s good to check periodically to ensure you aren’t being unfairly penalized for old debts, which can sometimes linger on credit reports. Borrowers with scores in the low 600s and even high 500s can still find lenders who will qualify them, but borrowers should strive for scores in the mid- to upper-700s to land the best rate.
Determine What You Can Afford
Don’t let your maximum loan approval amount dictate what your home-buying budget should be. Though the approval process is more extensive now than it was even just a few years ago, lenders still want to make as much profit as possible. You, however, are the best person to judge what you can realistically afford. Experts say that your total monthly home expenses should not exceed more than one-third of your gross monthly income. You’ll also need to determine how much you’ll need in order to cover any loan fees and closing costs.
Sell Your Current Home
If buying a new home is contingent on the sale of your current home, it’s a good idea to start the process by reaching out and consulting with your realtor. Ask him or her about your best strategy to sell your home quickly, but at the right time and for the best price possible. You’ll want to identify any maintenance issues your home has, and determine if, how and when each one will need to be addressed. You can also ask your realtor if making any upgrades to your current home would be worthwhile and result in a favorable return when it comes time to sell.
For more information about the home buying process, contact your local builders association or visit nahb.org.
View TradeSecrets newsletter archives!