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Eliminate the Dust: Complying With the New Silica Standard

Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in News

Filed in Codes and Regulations, Home Building, Labor, Safety and Health by NAHB Now on October 12, 2017 • As NAHBNow has reported, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has decreased the permissible levels of exposure to crystalline silica for construction. NAHB has told policy makers from the start that this wide-reaching rule will be difficult to meet and enforce. But it’s the law of the land, pending any change from NAHB’s legal challenge still outstanding. Dan Johnson, CSP, managing partner of SFI Compliance Inc., a national safety consulting firm and member of the NAHB Safety Committee, told us what home builders need to know to comply with the new rule and avoid fines. It looks like you’re going to be busy. It is a far-reaching standard, and a challenge to comply with in many ways. Home builders definitely need to be aware of this. Even if you use subcontractors, builders may still have oversight responsibilities for the jobsite. OSHA, under its multi-employer citation policy, calls that the “controlling employer.” As the CE, the home builder has general oversight responsibility over the jobsite, including the power to correct safety and health violations itself or require others to correct them.  This creates potential liability for the builder if crystalline silica exposures above the permissible levels are present. What materials or actions create silica dust? Silica naturally exists in things like soil, stone and granite. It becomes an exposure issue for workers when dust is created from the many work processes of home building including drilling, chipping, sawing and sanding materials like tile, concrete, brick, stone, fiber cement siding and others. In short, it’s really about the dust. How can silica dust be mitigated to meet this rule? For your subcontractors, or you if it’s your team doing the work, it’s a matter of keeping silica dust out of the air so that it is out of the breathable zone of the worker. The two main ways to eliminate the dust is to vacuum as the dust is being created or spray water to keep it from going into the air. Both can be accomplished with add-on attachments to power tools or with the use of specific tool models. You can use a jackhammer with a water delivery system, for example. Or you can use a shroud and dust collection system on a handheld drill. What is your advice to home builders? I’d reach out to every single subcontractor I have and alert them in an email or other written communication and ask for written confirmation that they are aware of and complying with the silica requirements. And I’d save that documentation. Remember, if it happens on your job, you have potential liability. If I walk up to my jobsite and see a dust cloud, it’s my responsibility in supervising the worksite and the overall build to stop that contractor...

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Kicking Off Careers in Construction Month

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in News

Filed in Construction Industry, Labor, Safety and Health, Student Chapters by NAHB Now on October 3, 2017 • 0 Comments October is Careers in Construction Month, an important time for all of us in the housing industry to increase public awareness about the great jobs available in residential construction and related trade professions. NAHB recently launched a Careers in the Construction Trades section on its website to highlight the opportunities in six popular trades. We encourage businesses and HBAs to share this information with educators, students and their parents. If you are looking for ideas to highlight construction careers in your community, check out the Careers in Construction Month Toolkit. Some activities include: Open Up Your Site: Work with your local middle or high school to host a field trip for students to visit your construction site. Arrange for students to tour the site and gather first-hand information about what it takes to have a successful career in construction. Host a Job Shadow Day: Invite students to spend the entire day at your business to learn various aspects of the industry and the range of career opportunities. Learn how Toll Brothers hosted a national job shadow day. Honor a Local Educator: Select a day to recognize a local teacher for their contribution to developing the future construction workforce. Honor instructors in high schools, universities, job corps centers and apprenticeship training programs. Throughout the month we’ll be sharing more information about trades and HBA success stories. If you have questions about Careers in Construction Month or new ideas to share, contact NAHB’s Greg Zick at 202-266-8493. Learn more...

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Will Lumber Prices Surge in Hurricanes’ Wake?

Posted by on Sep 13, 2017 in News

Filed in Business Management, Economics, Environmental by NAHB Now on September 13, 2017 •  The short answer is, unfortunately, it’s too early to tell. According to NAHB economist David Logan, more time is needed to assess the storms’ short- and long-term impacts on both lumber supply and demand. “Other factors are also at play right now, which further complicate things,” Logan said. “The wildfire outlook is uncertain at this point, and duty rates on Canadian lumber are being reevaluated and will not be finalized until mid-November.” Historically, lumber prices have risen following natural disasters, but those increases were mainly concentrated within the storm-affected regions, according to NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Across the nation, there typically is no persistent impact [on lumber prices] over the medium-term,” Dietz said. “One of the reasons is that construction activity during the rebuilding process will often times partially offset the decreased demand for lumber in new-home construction.” However, both economists noted that roofing materials nationwide could experience longer lasting price increases — potentially rising 10% or more. Logan says asphalt shingle prices will likely “fly up because asphalt is a byproduct of crude oil, of which roughly 25% of U.S. refining capacity was recently taken offline.” So far, prices for crude oil have increased 6% since Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Even before the rains of Hurricane Harvey had ceased, NAHB was focused on raising awareness of the potential effects on lumber prices and applauding legislative actions to postpone duties on Canadian...

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Donate to Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in News

Donate to Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts Filed in Leadership, NAHB Cares by NAHB Now on August 28, 2017 • 1 Comment Texans are fighting floodwaters rising to historic levels as Hurricane Harvey pounds the Lone Star State. While the reports of damage and devastation in Houston, Victoria, Rockport and other towns and cities continue to pour in, weather forecasts indicate that the disaster area will likely grow as the storm moves inland and swings toward Louisiana. NAHB will be working closely with state and local home builder associations in the region to help them meet the needs of members who have been affected by the storm. We will also provide resources to support our members as they help families rebuild. There are also many ways you can help right now. The Department of Homeland Security encourages donations to be funneled through the National Voluntary Organizations Involved in Disaster. Donations are also being directed to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by the Red Cross and Salvation Army via their websites and by texting UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund. These Texas food banks are seeking donations to help feed families, while the Texas Diaper Bank is accepting donations to purchase diapers, formula and other needs for children, seniors and the disabled. Programs such as Star of Hope Mission, Homeless Houston and Samaritan’s Purse are also funneling contributions to disaster relief, while the SPCA and Austin Pets Alive are helping to house evacuated pets. Other groups targeting the areas impacted by the hurricane include: Austin Disaster Relief American Red Cross, Corpus Christi Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas (Beaumont) The Texas Association of Builders has also advised its members of the following resources for more information: Texas Department of Public Safety:   512-424-2138 Office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott Better Business Bureau Federal Emergency Management Agency: 800-621-FEMA We know our members are anxious to help as much as they can. We’ll be adding information to the NAHB Disaster Resources Page as we learn...

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5 Ways to Get Competitive with CAPS

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in News

5 Ways to Get Competitive with CAPS Filed in Education, Remodelers by NAHB Now on August 8, 2017 • This front walkway by NAHB Remodelers chair Dan Bawden beautifully combines a ramp and porch steps.                   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 original beauty and character. Bathrooms. 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...

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Cantwell-Hatch Bill Would Help Ease Affordable Housing Crisis

Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 in News

Cantwell-Hatch Bill Would Help Ease Affordable Housing Crisis Filed in Capitol Hill, Multifamily by NAHB Now on August 1, 2017 • NAHB today called on Congress to pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvements Act of 2017 (S. 548), legislation that would promote the construction of sorely needed rental apartments and help alleviate the nation’s affordable housing crisis. Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald told lawmakers that it is essential to increase the resources supporting housing production in order to meet the growing need for affordable rental housing. “S. 548, a bipartisan bill championed by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), takes a significant and needed step to boosting supply by increasing Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocations by 50%,” said MacDonald. “Enacting this bill is expected to result in an additional 400,000 LIHTC units over the next 10 years. NAHB estimates that added construction would increase federal tax revenue by $11.6 billion and state and local revenues by $5.6 billion.” The number of renter households considered “severely cost burdened,” meaning they spend more than half of their monthly income on rent, is at an all-time high of 11.4 million, according to the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. In starker terms, that translates to more than one in four of all renters in the U.S. “Fees, regulatory compliance, modern building and energy codes, building materials, land and labor costs determine whether a project is financial viable,” said MacDonald. “If we want to provide affordable rental housing for lower-income households, we cannot do so without a subsidy.” This is why the LIHTC, a unique private-public partnership, is such an indispensable program. Since its inception, the program has produced and financed more than 2.9 million affordable apartments for low-income families, seniors and individuals with special needs. Moreover, the tax credit is an important job creator, generating approximately $7.1 billion in economic income and roughly 95,000 jobs per year across many industries. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvements Act would further promote the construction of affordable housing by making permanent the 4% credit rate for acquisition and bond-financed projects, which would provide more certainty and flexibility in financing these properties. In addition, the legislation would allow energy tax incentives to be used in combination with LIHTCs and help combat local opposition to affordable housing projects by prohibiting local approval and contribution requirements. “The nation lacks enough affordable housing for hard-working families,” said MacDonald. “The only effective long-term solution is to increase supply. Passing this bipartisan legislation would greatly enhance our ability to meet the growing demand for more affordable rental...

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