• 11 Jun 2018 1:11 PM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    By Chris Froelke, President, Central Minnesota Home Builders

    Inviting, accommodating and a feast for the eyes—wet rooms are showing up in more and more homes and wowing visitors at new-home showcases.

    Wet rooms—essentially open-concept or barrier-free bathrooms—are tiled continuously from floor to ceiling and across the floor surface, giving a sleek, unified appearance.

    The shower is open to the room or enclosed in clear glass, and has no raised threshold to step over. Sinks, countertops and vanities mounted to the walls hover above the unbroken plane of the floor.

    The wet room’s uninterrupted sight lines give a feeling of space to even a relatively small room. The continuous floor surface makes for easy cleanup and allows people in wheelchairs or with restricted mobility to move freely.

    Here are a few things to consider when designing your wet room:

    Express Yourself

    The open spaces and abundance of tile that define a wet room invite you to splash on your own creative look.

    Whether you choose soothing earth tones and textures, cool minimalist grays, whites and blacks, or whimsical colors and patterns, the wet room creates an eye-catching display.

    Curbless Shower

    Because the entire room is waterproof, your curbless shower also can be completely open to the room, with no enclosure at all. Just be sure there’s enough space to place the toilet and sink where they won’t get splashed by spray from the shower.

    Glass enclosures with seamless glass doors are another popular option. They’ll contain water on all sides without impeding the view.

    Or sometimes simply a slab partition between the shower and the toilet will do the trick, leaving the front of the shower open to the rest of the room. The slab may be a foot or two short of the ceiling and face the doorway to minimize its effect on the visual flow.

    Threshold drains—or grates that are flush with the tile floor—may define the edge of the shower area without interrupting the floor’s flow. Some drains even glow from within, using interior colored or white LED lighting for an extra flair and to help orient a person under the shower’s spray.

    Another popular option is adding a place to sit in the shower. A built-in slate ledge, matching or contrasting with the wall tile, a wall-mounted drop-down bench in bamboo or a free-standing teak stool is a handy feature for anyone and contributes to the overall design.


    Floating vanities, attached to the wall without legs, and floating countertops look great with today’s vessel sinks and minimalist faucets.

    In addition to their sleek look, these features also provide sink access for anyone in a wheel chair. Drawers or shelves attached underneath or on each side of the sink provide storage.

    Professional Installation

     To be sure your wet room keeps the water where it’s supposed to be, it’s important that everything be installed just right, and that might require a professional.

    Floor grading is key—constructed to slope gently and almost imperceptibly, but effectively, toward drains. Tile must be properly installed and sealed to prevent leaks.

    Once it’s done right, your wet room will be easy to use, to clean and to enjoy—a lovely oasis in your home.

    For more information or to find local contractor or remodeler search the CMBA Member Directory

  • 11 Jun 2018 9:07 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    By Chris Froelke, President, Central Minnesota Builders Association

    More than 21 million people are injured each year in accidents around the home. The National Association of Home Builders reminds home owners to be safe every day in 2018.

    The five most frequent home accidents include poisoning, falls, choking or suffocation, drowning and fires. It’s sobering stuff – but the good news is that many accidents are preventable. Here’s how:

    Poisoning. Store household and chemical products – including those colorfully tempting but very dangerous laundry detergent “pods” – securely and out of children’s reach. Install a battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide detector and remember to have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced yearly.

    Falls. These are a big problem for seniors: Falls are the No. 1 cause of death for people 65 and older. Remove trip hazards such as throw rugs, electrical cords, clutter and debris. Make sure you have adequate lighting in your home, especially on stairways. Install grab bars in the bathroom near the toilet and in the shower – or find a professional on the CMBA Member Directory to help make your home safer for older adults in your home. 

    Choking. Do you know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver when someone is choking on a piece of food or foreign object? Take a class or go online for a short tutorial. Remember to childproof your home to keep small objects out of reach of children. Always supervise children while eating and playing.

    Drowning. Most of these deaths occur among small children, and most can be prevented just by paying closer attention. It’s easy to be distracted by your cell phone when your child is happily playing in the bathtub or wading pool, but these accidents can happen in seconds. Always be vigilant when your child is in or near water.

    Fire. The National Fire Protection Association reports that cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Heating equipment is the second-most common cause. That’s another reason to have your heating systems checked – and most importantly, to ensure that you have the right number of smoke detectors on each floor and that each smoke detector actually works.

    For more information about heating and ventilation safety click the CMBA professionals directory and search "heating".

  • 04 Jun 2018 8:26 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    By Chris Froelke, President, CMBA

    Creating outdoor rooms remains a popular design trend with homeowners. It’s a simple, budget-friendly way to increase your home’s square footage and to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you have a large patio or a small porch, your outdoor room can easily reflect your style and become a treasured gathering spot in your home.

    Yet, many homeowners quickly become frustrated when the beautiful furniture and fabrics they select do not survive Minnesota's outdoor elements. Fortunately, manufacturers are now creating more durable outdoor furnishings to help your decorating dollars go even further.

    Outdoor fabric companies, offer weather-resistant products that are made to withstand harsh weather. These resilient fabrics are low-maintenance and can easily be cleaned by hand. 

    Retailers also are responding to the popularity of outdoor rooms by increasing their inventory of indoor/outdoor rugs, weatherproof cushions and fabrics, and all-weather furniture. Residential architect Amy Stacy, owner of Stacy Studio in Silver Spring, Md., has noticed the difference. “Even last summer, big-box stores may have only had three or four color choices for outdoor cushions. Now, you can choose from a wide variety of durable solids, patterns, florals, and stripes, both online and at all of the major home retailers,” Stacy said.

    Home owners also want to spend more time enjoying their outdoor space and less time maintaining it. “Screened-in porches are hot right now,” according to Stacy. “Home owners are looking for low-maintenance options and decks require a lot of upkeep.”

    Not surprisingly, today’s screened porches reflect the growing trend of creating outdoor spaces with indoor amenities. Stacy says her clients are requesting fireplaces and other features – such as finished wood floors – to help their screened porches feel like luxurious indoor spaces. Other home owners are adding kitchens to their screened porches, allowing them to more easily cook outdoors year-round.

    Easy Maintenance Tips

    After you’ve furnished and decorated your outdoor space, be sure to follow a few simple tips to ensure that you can enjoy it for years to come.

    •        Protect outdoor furniture with weatherproof covers during the times of year when it’s not in use. Or, bring smaller furniture items inside.
    •        Store cushions in weatherproof containers during winter weather.
    •        Spot clean spoils or spills on outdoor fabric right away to prevent the growth of mildew. Use a mild, bleach-free soap-and-water solution and rub gently with a cloth or sponge.
    •        Always air dry outdoor fabrics, which generally are made of synthetic materials. Never dry clean or tumble-dry these fabrics – or the protective finish will begin to erode.
    Central Minnesota Builders Association's designers can provide outdoor designs specific to your needs. Click to search for area designers here.
  • 11 May 2018 9:58 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    Scaffolds can provide a safe and more efficient way to work in construction, but their use is also one of the leading causes of injuries on construction sites. It is important to recognize scaffolding hazards and make sure every scaffold is set up and used properly.

    NAHB has two new scaffold safety videos: one in English and one in Spanish. Now is the perfect time to watch these videos with your employees and subs as NAHB observes the National Safety Stand-Down May 7-11 to prevent falls in construction.

    It’s important to follow jobsite safety practices all year. Think #safety365.

  • 18 Apr 2018 12:00 PM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    Mighty Differences Made Through Monetary Support

    Tools for Schools (TFS) is a Foundation run by the Central MN Builders Association. The vision of the Tools for Schools Foundation is to offer increased support to schools by providing tools, supplies, grants, education, and scholarship to further enhance learning opportunities for students in order to attract more interest in the construction trades as a career choice.

    Former CMBA President, Craig Schoenberg, Owner of Schoenberg Construction of Saint Cloud MN, had the idea to create a TFS President's Fund so that CMBA members, local businesses, and individuals could make donations in support of Tools for Schools. In 2017, the Tools for Schools President's Fund was officially formed.

    Presently there are three key components to the Foundation.  They are:

    1.            School Scholarships (Offered annually and 100% CMBA Funded)

    2.            President's Fund (Offered throughout the year and funded by CMBA Business, and Individual donations.)

    3.            Initiative (Education)

    Timeline and Highlights of Tools for Schools (TFS):

    In 2004, Tools for Schools Annual Scholarships were created by the CMBA in order to offer financial support to local schools in support of the construction trades

    •          From 2004 – 2017, Tools for Schools donated over $99,000 in Scholarships to Central MN schools.
    •          In 2017, the Tools for Schools President’s Fund & Initiative was created
    •          The CMBA Board of Directors offered to match any donation to the TFS President’s Fund up to $20,000. The total funds matched in 2017 by the CMBA Board equaled $16,450.
    •          The CMBA Board will, once again, match up to $20,000 in donations to the TFS President’s Fund in 2018.
    •          To date for 2018, the Fund has received and matched over $9,700.
    •          The Fund plans to max out the matching funds and needs to raise an additional $10,300 to do so.
    •          A total of $50,389 has been raised (in 2017 and 2018) and $37,823 has been given away to date to regional schools by the CMBA's Tools for Schools President’s Fund!

    Other Points of Interest about Tools for School:

    • In 2018, the CMBA will award a total of $18,000 to schools in central MN who apply for the School Scholarship. (Application deadline is September and Scholarships are awarded in November.) To determine your school's eligibly and for an application, contact the CMBA office at 320-251-4382.
    • The 2018 TFS Scholarships & President's Fund Giving Goal is $58,000 in total.
    • The TFS Foundation was created and is maintained through the support, help and guidance of the Initiative Foundation.

    Future goals of the Foundation are:

    • Initiative development (speaking, education, and school visits by professionals)
    • Legacy building
    • Individual scholarships for students

    Anyone who would like to support local schools can make a tax deductible donation online at:

    Tools For Schools webpage

    Rocori Sawstop donation

  • 26 Mar 2018 11:06 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    by Rachel Gruber, Dale Gruber Construction~March 2018

    My interest in long distance running began in 2007 with the completion of my first half marathon. In that moment, I couldn’t fathom running another mile, much less 13.1 miles! But I nonetheless decided to add “running a marathon” to my bucket list. Fast forward to October 2014 and I was finally able to check that item off the list. I was a marathoner. The feeling of crossing that finish line was more magical than I ever imagined.. One of my favorite running quotes is, “I dare you to train for a marathon and not have it change your life. – Susan Sidoriak. I completely agree with this. In fact I triple dog dare you. When I registered for my first marathon, I assumed I’d run one and be done. Now, I have nine marathons and two ultramarathons (50Ks) under my belt. It truly changed my life. And not just in the sense that my Saturday mornings are usually reserved for a long run or that my toenails will never be ready for sandal season. From running marathons, I’ve learned many lessons that I think can really be applied to any area in your business or life. Here are some:

    1. Set Goals & Create a Plan

    To be honest, I first had the goal to run a marathon before I was 30. After that didn’t happen, I switched it to “in my 30s.” I may have even changed it to “at some point in my life” just to be safe. For all my marathons, I’ve followed some sort of training plan. It’s helpful to have a guide to keep my training on track and get to the start line ready for the race. For my most recent marathon in February, I had the goal to finish in less than four hours. My running paces and workouts were all based on accomplishing that goal. In January I ran a half marathon as sort of a practice race to gauge how my training was going. Happy to report, I finished in 3:46! :)

    It is important to have goals – they help motivate you to do better, be better. It is good to set your sights on something. While having goals are great, a plan is also an important element to actually accomplishing those goals. Whether your goal is a new skillset, sales, certification, etc., set an action plan. Also check in with yourself and evaluate your progress.

    2. There are Going to be Good Days and Bad Days

    During the course of marathon training, I have runs that go awesome – I feel strong and it gives me reassurance I can do this. I also have runs that don’t go so well. It can be quite discouraging when what should be an easy four mile run is anything but. However, that’s life – there are good days and bad days and you have to chalk it up as so. I try to make a mental note of anything I did or didn’t do on those particular days that could help me on future runs. Whether it be sleep, fuel before/during the run, stress – so many factors that can contribute to the outcome.

    This translates to life and the workplace as well. For us at DGC, we are going to both win and lose bids. There are projects that are going to run perfectly smooth and there are going to be some that have hiccups. All of which provide experiences that we can learn from.

    3. Find a Support Circle of Experts

    My running club, Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA), is a great group of runners of all levels, ages and paces. While training for my first marathon, I found myself often seeking advice from those more experienced than I. Even now, I’m continuously learning new things. I also greatly appreciate all their encouragement and support. It’s nice to have a team rooting for you.

    I think it is a great idea to consult experts in your field who have a wealth of knowledge and experiences of which to learn from. They could also serve as a mentor, supporting your professional growth. There are also many associations and groups one can join and use as a resource.

    4. Take Risks

    To be fair, I’m not the biggest risk taker. It’s something I’d like to work on. However I joined my running club not knowing anyone in the group or what I was doing. It was nerve-racking that first group run – who will I run with? Should I bring my iPod to listen to music? Will I get lost? Thankfully they were a welcoming bunch and have become some of my best friends. Running regularly calls on me to be brave, push myself and go for it.

    "You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." – Wayne Gretzky

    "Only those willing to risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Elliot

    "Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great." – Steve Prefontaine

    "Outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens." – Anonymous

    I’m taking the risk of having this sound like a motivational poster, but I’m okay with that. I think these quotes say it better than I can and hit the nail on the head of the point I’m trying to make.

    5. Attitude is Everything

    I once came across an article about tips to make running more enjoyable. One of the tips was to smile while running as it’s a natural mood booster. If anyone saw some of my race photos you’d know I don’t always employ this method. However, I will say it does come to mind when I’ve hit a low point in a run or race. Smiling helps switch my thoughts to more positive ones and I think spectators are more responsive to runners with a smile on their face.

    Your attitude (good or bad) affects not only yourself, but others around you. Not to say you need to speak in unicorns and rainbows, but a positive attitude is infectious – it improves productivity and morale.

    6. Importance of Volunteering

    All of the races I’ve participated in wouldn’t happen without the MANY volunteers who help out at the water stops, packet pick up, finish line, etc. I’m very grateful and like to pay-it-forward and volunteer at races whenever possible.

    Similarly there are so many associations, community programs, events that require the assistance of volunteers. Giving back and helping others (without getting paid) makes you feel good and is incredibly rewarding.

    I understand how running 26.2 miles may sound a little crazy to some people. But when you break it down, it’s clearly not just about running, it’s way more than that. In the event I inspired anyone, Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth is June 16th and Twin Cities Marathon is October 7th. :)

    Rachel Gruber

  • 31 Jan 2018 9:27 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    by NAHB newsletter to members

    NAHB Economist Predicts Continued Growth

    The newly enacted tax law will likely spur job and economic growth and keep single-family housing production on a gradual upward trajectory in 2018, according to NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz, who offered his forecast in a panel discussion during the International Builders’ Show in Orlando in January.

    “We expect that tax reform will boost GDP growth to 2.6% in 2018, and this added economic activity will also bode well for housing, although there will be some transition effects in high-tax jurisdictions,” Dietz said. “Ongoing job creation, wage increases and tight existing home inventory will also boost the housing market in the year ahead.”

    Dietz offered this forecast:

    • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
 will average 4.31% in 2018 and 4.82% in 2019.

    • 1.21 million total housing starts in 2018 and overall production to grow an additional 2.7% to 1.25 million units in 2019.

    • Single-family starts to rise 5% in 2018 to 893,000 units and increase an additional 5% to 940,000 next year.

    • Multifamily starts to edge 1.6% lower this year to 354,000 units. This is a sustainable level due to demographics.

    • Residential remodeling activity is expected to register a 7% gain in 2018 over last year.

    Dollar Value of NAHB Advocacy

    NAHB economists have put a dollar value on selected member benefits and advocacy victories achieved in 2017. Add up the dollar value of NAHB services and advocacy victories and you get an average of $7,500 per housing start for a typical home builder.

    That figure demonstrates how much value NAHB delivers for members. Just a few of the advocacy victories achieved in 2017 that contribute to that number include:

    • $1,600 Suspension of OSHA Beryllium Rule
    • $1,200 Reductions in Builder Taxes
    • $700 Protection of Builder Interest Deduction
    • $700 Elimination of Flawed Duct Proposal
    • $1,000 Preservation of Options in Building Codes

    These numbers represent the value per housing start a typical builder will see in 2018 as a result of key NAHB advocacy victories achieved in 2017. Some members will experience more of these benefits than others.

    New Campaign Promotes Workplace Safety

    NAHB has created a new public awareness campaign to help building industry pros get the resources needed to help keep residential construction workers safe. The Safety 365 campaign is a joint effort of NAHB's Construction Safety Committee and Builders Mutual Insurance Co.

    Rule Addresses Small Business Health Plans

    The Department of Labor recently issued a proposed rule intended to expand access to health coverage by allowing more employers to form Small Business Health Plans, also known as Association Health Plans. This would give small businesses, including many home building firms, access to better and more afford- able health care plans, allow them to negotiate lower costs for coverage, and level the playing field for smaller firms that want to help their workers and their families address health care costs.

  • 16 Jan 2018 10:34 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    Reprint of this Jan 9th SPECIAL REPORT:
    State of the Construction Industry 2018


    Each year, leading economists look into their “crystal balls” in an attempt to foresee what the New Year holds for the construction industry. For 2018, this proved a tougher task given key uncertainties clouding the outlook at year end, including the incomplete 2018 federal spending package and as yet enacted tax reform legislation (just passed at time of publication). Add in storm and wildfire recovery boosting construction demand, costs and labor woes (further compounded by immigration reform), then throw in the pending mid-term elections, and the future is cloudier still.


    “The labor shortage will continue to be an impediment to company growth and immigration reform will only worsen the trend. Labor-saving technologies will alleviate some of the this, but they can only go so far.” Ed Sullivan, Portland Cement Association

    Overall Economic Outlook

    What level of U.S. economic growth do you see for 2018? What are some key drivers that will impact growth either positively or negatively?

    Robert Dietz, senior vice president and chief economist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB): NAHB sees continued modest yet positive growth prospects for 2018. We should continue to grow, but at below 3% rates. Wage growth is increasing, which is good for consumer spending and housing demand, but is a concern for employers. The wild card for 2018 and 2019 is tax reform. Smart tax reform that rewards small business and promotes housing will contribute to growth. Tax reform that increases taxes on homeowners to reward investors, including foreign owners of U.S. assets, will be counterproductive.

    The tight labor market is a key limiting factor for overall economic growth. Increases for the labor force participation rate will help labor markets to continue to grow. However, absent those improvements, wage pressure could increase inflation and cause the Fed to move somewhat faster than its current gradual pace of interest rate hikes.

    Ed Sullivan, chief economist, Portland Cement Association (PCA): We project GDP growth to be at 2.3% in 2018. We came off the worst recession since the Great Depression and there has been a tremendous pent-up demand. It takes time to fill this demand, and our growth has been slow.

    It will likely continue to be slow driven in part by millennials who are in debt, who are taking their time to start families and who currently don’t participate in the housing market. The recession also changed peoples’ behaviors. But people forget and eventually they will return to old spending habits, just as millennials will one day start families and buy homes.

    Ken Simonson, chief economist, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC): The economy should keep expanding at a moderate 2% to 2.5% rate, after inflation. However, this could be affected by big changes in tax and spending policy or by an international crisis.

    Anirban Basu, chief economist, Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC): As we enter 2018, consumer confidence is at a roughly 17-year high, unemployment is at a 17-year low, financial markets are surging, the global economy is improving and leading indicators suggest plentiful momentum during the year’s early months. It has been many years since the U.S. economy entered the New Year with such momentum.

    Consumer spending will continue to be the leading engine of growth. But that will be supported by faster export growth as the world economy continues to heal, and by faster business spending growth, particularly if pending corporate tax cut legislation is passed. In short, the economic outlook for the U.S. in 2018 is quite good.

    There are abundant risks, however. One could argue that asset prices rose too fast and furiously in 2017. That could set the stage for significant asset price volatility in 2018. Stock and other prices can’t rise forever. This is particularly true given rising inflationary pressures, whether in the form of wages, tuition, rent, medical care or fuel. Should interest rates rise with unanticipated rapidity due to these emerging pressures, elevated asset prices could become jeopardized, setting the stage for negative wealth effects. This means that while 2018 should be strong for the U.S. economy, there are few guarantees with respect to 2019 or 2020.

    Building Construction

    How strong was construction in the commercial and housing markets in 2017, and what level of growth do you expect to see in both segments for 2018?

    AGC: Single-family construction spending increased 9% through the first 10 months of 2017, about the same growth rate as in 2016. But multifamily construction really hit the brakes, slipping to a 4% growth. I think that in 2018, there will be a lot of rebuilding and renovations in areas of Texas, Florida and California devastated by hurricanes, flooding and wildfires. Meanwhile, multifamily building may dip after six years of generally torrid growth.

    ABC: There was a considerable volume of building construction in 2017. Leading segments included hotel, casino, office, distribution center and multifamily construction. There are many forces at work, including Millennial demographics, the e-commerce revolution, foreign investment into commercial real estate and growth both in consumer and business travel. One suspects that this momentum will stretch into 2018 since both domestic and foreign capital is on the hunt for investment opportunities that yield income.

    NAHB: On the demand side of the housing market, incoming household formation data show strength for the for-sale market and some softening for rental markets. These trends are consistent with demographic data that show a growing number of millennials entering their 30s. This process will continue to sustain demand for single-family homes in the years ahead.

    Single-family construction should continue along its modest growth trend (7%), while still being constrained by supply-side bottlenecks, including lack of labor and rising building material prices. Nonetheless, builder confidence, as measured by the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, remains solid. Remodeling should also post gains given rising homeowner wealth and reduced homeowner mobility, which will increase the need for aging-in-place and other kinds of structural improvements.

    Multifamily starts peaked in 2015, and NAHB expects a leveling off process to continue over the next few years. The decline in apartment starts in 2017 was steeper than expected, with a 10% 2017 decline expected. We forecast smaller but still negative growth rates over the near-term as rental vacancy rates increase, rent growth softens and housing demand momentum moves to the for-sale market segment.

    PCA: We anticipate modest growth throughout the building construction market in both the nonresidential and residential sectors. That should translate into a growth rate similar to 2017.

    Nonresidential is approaching a peak and there is slowing in sectors like industrial that are impacted by the macroeconomic environment. The single-family residential market should be fairly healthy in 2018. Gains, however, will be slowed by difficult application processes, lack of Millennial participation and modest increases in mortgage rates that will impact affordability. The multifamily market still has strong potential, but it too is reaching its cyclical peak. Like 2017, next year will likely see 350,000 units built.

    The big surprise is the improvement and repair sector thanks unfortunately to two serious hurricanes and California wildfires. This sector saw strong percentage gains toward the end of 2017 and will continue to see these gains throughout 2018.

    Raw Material Costs

    Do you expect to see the costs of raw materials such as asphalt, cement, steel and lumber increase in 2018? If so, to what level and what is driving the increases?

    NAHB: We expect continued gains in building material prices, particularly for lumber given tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. Rising building material prices was the issue that increased the most as a concern in 2017. While still below the lack of labor and lots, prices for drywall, roofing materials and other building components increased in 2017 due to hurricane repair efforts and the broader growth of the housing market. We expect this pressure on prices to continue in 2018.

    ABC: The past year was associated with noteworthy increases in construction materials prices. After slumping for much of 2014 and virtually all of 2015, global commodity prices stabilized and then began to rise in 2016/17.

    A more contentious view on trade, including with respect to Canadian soft lumber, also served to elevate price pressures. During a recent 12-month period, softwood lumber prices surged 15%. Diesel fuel, natural gas, iron and steel and other prices also expanded for much of 2017.

    Given the expectation that the global economy will heat up even further in 2018, one would expect that materials prices will continue to rise. However, the rise in materials prices could be quite gradual. Quantity supplied is already responding to higher prices in many categories, which should translate into more gradual price increases in general.

    AGC: Materials costs ended a years-long slide in late 2016 and rose at a moderate rate in most of 2017. Those increases are likely to accelerate a bit further in 2018 as global demand picks up and construction continues to grow, albeit slowly and unevenly. I don’t foresee a return to the severe, widespread escalations and occasional shortages that cropped up before the last recession.

    Employment and Labor Costs

    In recent years, finding skilled and experienced workers has challenged many construction companies. In fact, for many, it has been their No. 1 impediment to growth. Do you foresee companies continuing to struggle with this trend in 2018? What impact, if any, will the administration’s stand on immigration have on the industry and finding workers?

    AGC: Finding capable workers will remain the leading challenge for contractors in 2018. The job market is continuing to tighten after more than seven years of continuous job gains and ever-increasing retirements of baby boomers. Restrictive immigration policies and stepped-up deportations are adding to the competition for workers and threaten to slow the growth in the overall economy as many industries struggle to fill openings or to replace the customers who are kept out of the country.

    NAHB: On the supply side of the construction market, we need additional gains in the labor force participation rate to allow employers to continue filling open jobs. The construction industry is in the middle of a labor shortage and data suggest it will not turn the corner quickly. Without growth in the size of the labor force, it will be difficult for the residential construction industry to continue adding workers at the current pace of a little more than 100,000 per year. Higher wages due to a tight labor market will bring in some additional workers, but will also increase cost pressures on employers.

    We could, of course, build and remodel more homes if we could add workers even faster. The demand is there. The industry must recruit the next generation of construction workers.

    PCA: There is no easy fix to the labor challenge. Training programs for skilled workers are great, but they take time and we see companies struggling with labor for several years to come. The labor shortage will continue to be an impediment to company growth and immigration reform will only worsen the trend. Labor-saving technologies will alleviate some of this, but they can only go so far.

    ABC: The lack of skilled workers is apparent throughout the U.S. economy, whether in construction, trucking, healthcare, hospitality, cybersecurity or a host of other industry segments...

    The year 2018 will be yet another during which America’s low labor force participation rates will continue to hamstring businesses in many segments, including construction. A confluence of factors has led to these circumstances, including cultural shifts, shifts in educational philosophy, the atrophying of apprenticeship programs in much of the nation, and the ongoing large-scale retirement of many of the most talented, skilled and experienced construction workers. The nation’s shifting stand on immigration will not help, with employers finding it increasingly challenging to secure both skilled and semi-skilled personnel.

    With respect to construction, the impact is to raise the cost of delivering construction services and to stretch out timetables. That makes it less likely that construction projects can move forward because this serves to reduce the predicted rate of return.

    The industry can only combat this by aggressively engaging educators and policymakers. Too few students are aware of middle-income opportunities in construction. The mantra has been college preparedness, particularly four-year college preparedness. That has deflected much talent away from construction — talent that often finds itself under-utilized upon graduation. Construction industry leaders must insist on more experiential learning in schools and more field trips. They must also offer more internships, and better support apprenticeship programs.

  • 02 Jan 2018 8:22 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    Source: Eye on Housing

    The residential sector accounts for less than 8% of water used in the U.S., according to a recent NAHB analysis of information published by the U.S. Geological Survey. The analysis also found that the average home in the U.S. uses about 260 gallons of water per day. 

    However that amount can vary considerably. The survey also revealed a distinct geographic pattern with relatively low use per home in some upper Midwest and New England states, and higher use per home in the central South and West, especially in mountain and desert states. At the state level, water use per housing unit is positively correlated with average temperature and household size, and negatively correlated with annual rainfall. In short, homes tend to use more water in states that are hot and dry and have larger households.

    Link to Residential Water Study

    The average of 138 gpd for total indoor use is down from 177 gpd for the homes in the Residential End Uses of Water study released in 1999. The Water Research Foundation's analysis shows that, between the 1999 and 2016 studies, there was a statistically significant reduction in water used per household for toilets, clothes washers, showers, leaks and dishwashers. Among the major indoor categories, the only one not showing a significant reduction over that 17-year span was faucet water use. In most cases, the declines are easy to understand given efficiency standards for water using fixtures and appliances that governments began to implement in the 1990s.

    Figure 3. Average Water Use per Single-Family Home

  • 26 Sep 2017 9:31 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

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