Blog

  • 24 Jul 2014 11:19 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    From NAHB Labor, Safety & Health Policy Staff:

     

    There are strong signs that OSHA is increasing its enforcement actions on home building sites throughout the countryundefinedin both Federal and state plan jurisdictions.  One of the main reasons is that new data shows the number of fatalities in residential construction increased by 37% compared to just a 3% increase in nonresidential construction in 2012, which is the most recent data available.  OSHA has also instituted a number of local enforcement emphasis programs aimed at reducing numerous construction hazards, including those in residential.

     

    There are a few simple things that builders and trade contractors should do to improve safety on the jobsite and be prepared for OSHA inspections:

     

    ·        Conduct an assessment to identify and correct safety hazards on the jobsite;

    ·        Conduct appropriate safety training for employees;

    ·        Update records and make sure they are readily available;

    ·        Understand the OSHA inspection process (see link below to NAHB’s OSHA Inspection Toolkit).

     

    Builders and trade contractors should pay particular attention to the following hazards, which are the top 10 most frequently cited Federal OSHA construction standards in 2013 (click on the link to access the OSHA standard):

    1. 1926.501 - Duty to have fall protection
    2. 19260.451 - General scaffold requirements
    3. 1926.1053 - Ladders
    4. 1926.503  - Fall protection training requirements
    5. 1910.1200 - Hazard Communication
    6. 1926.102  - Eye and face protection
    7. 1926.100  - Head protection
    8. 1926.453 - Aerial lifts
    9. 1926.651 - Specific Excavation Requirements
    10. 1926.20 - General safety and health provisions

     

    In regards to No. 9 above, there have been some recent questions by builders about OSHA’s requirements for house foundations/basement excavations.  For those parts of the country where basements are common, the area between the house foundation and basement excavations becomes a trench (by OSHA’s definition) when constructing formwork, foundations, or walls.  In 1995, OSHA issued a memo “Suspension of 29 CFR 1926.652 to House Foundation/Basement Excavations”, whereby the agency altered the trenching/exaction requirements of the regulation as they apply to house construction, which is still in effect at the present time.  This memo essentially requires house foundations to be benched 2 feet horizontal for every 5 feet vertical (for a diagram of what this looks like, see page 2 of NAHB’s Trenching Safety Card) and the other conditions outlined in the memo exist.  More information for OSHA’s trenching and excavation requirements can also be found in NAHB’s Trenching and Excavation Safety Handbook.

     

    Finally, there are additional resources to assist builders:

     

     

    Members contact the NAHB Labor, Safety and Health Policy staff: Rob Matuga, at rmatuga@nahb.org or 800-368-5242 Ext. 8507 or Chelsea Vetick at cvetick@nahb.org or Ext. 8590.


  • 24 Jun 2014 11:28 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    from USPS Developers Guide 

    During the development stage of a new subdivision, it is the responsibility of the developer and/or builder to pay the costs necessary to bring streets, sidewalks, water, phone, gas, and electric service into a new development.  Like utility companies, the Postal Service is a service-based organization.  We provide the service of mail delivery; however, we do not provide the mail receptacle.  

    It is the policy of the U. S. Postal Service that mail delivery to all new developments is centralized delivery, most often using cluster box units (CBU).  In the Northland District, as in other parts of the country, it is the responsibility of the customer (developers and builders) to provide the necessary mail receptacle equipment. All developments with 5 homes or more will be required to have mailbox clusters rather than individual boxes. This includes existing developments and new.

    The authority for this is from the Postal Operations Manual (POM).  Section 632, Mail Receptacles, states that,

                Appropriate mail receptacles must be provided for the receipt of mail.  The type of mail receptacle depends on the mode of delivery in place.  Purchase, installation, and maintenance of mail receptacles are the responsibility of the customer.

    The POM also advises that appropriate locations for installation be verified and approved by the Postal Service and local government.

    To facilitate the most cost-effective delivery of mail into the 21st century, I am committed to assisting all customers, both large developers and individual customers, with references for the purchase, installation, and maintenance of authorized mail receptacle equipment.

     

    All developments with 5 homes or more will be required to have mailbox clusters rather than individual boxes.  This includes existing developments and new.

    All developments with 5 homes or more will be required to have mailbox clusters rather than individual boxes.  This includes existing developments and new.

  • 22 May 2014 9:44 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)
    by Paul Kane, Exec. Vice President/CEO Home Builders Association Tulsa

    While everyone else is focusing on the headline-grabbing cases from the U.S. Supreme Court, many have missed the (lesser-reported) ruling which is great news for our members.

    The Supreme Court issued an opinion that affects the conditions which governments try to impose on developers and builders in order to get a permit. The case is Koontz v. St. James River Water Management District. 

    NAHB led a coalition of 16 associations which filed an amicus brief explaining to the Court that governments must not be allowed to extort money from property owners who wish to use their land. The Supreme Court actually used the word “extortion” several times in describing how governmental entities often treat developers!

    In the Koontz case, a developer owned about 15 acres of land in Florida. He sought to develop nearly 4 acres and to grant a conservation easement over the remaining 11 acres to a water management district in order to accommodate wetland concerns. The district did not accept his offer. The district told him that he could only develop ONE acre and that he would have to grant a conservation easement over the remaining 14 acres. OR they would allow him to develop his 4 acres as originally planned if he would hire contractors to make improvements to 50 acres of government owned land several miles away.

    When the developer sued the water district, there were two unanswered questions: First, could the developer even sue since the permit was denied (versus a situation where the permit was granted with onerous conditions? Second, can the developer sue when the government is asking him to spend money somewhere else (versus putting conditions on his own property) in order to get a permit?

    The Supreme Court said “yes” to both of these questions.

    The case deals with “exactions” which are essentially conditions that the government puts on developers, and in exchange, the government will grant a development permit. Since the late 1980s, the Supreme Court has held that exactions must have a “nexus” to a legitimate governmental purpose and must be “roughly proportionate” to the impacts of the project. This is known as the Nollan/Dolan test, named after two Supreme Court cases. But the Nollan/Dolan test had never been applied to the denial of a permit or for the requirement that the developer spend extra money elsewhere to get the permit.

    This case sends a message to governmental entities at all levels that the conditions they place on granting of permits (or other zoning and planning), must be closely tied to the project and tied to a legitimate governmental purpose, and that the protections extended to private property owners would be broadly interpreted. This is a HUGE victory for our members and for all fans of private property rights. Spread the word and make sure you give kudos to the NAHB legal staff and Legal Action Committee. Their hard work on this cannot be overstated.

    Here is a link to the actual court opinion: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/pdf/11-1447.pdf
  • 15 May 2014 2:00 PM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    by Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D., GraphsandLaughs, LLC

    Before the Great Recession, household wealth peaked at $68.8 trillion or $254,600 per person.  If that seems like more money than you have, it’s because wealth isn’t evenly distributed. The rich have much more of it than the poor.  As a result, back in 2007 the median family had wealth of just $126,000 while the average family had $584,000.  Then the recession hit, house prices plunged, stock markets cratered and household wealth hit a low of $56.6 trillion in 2009.  Since then stock markets around the world have staged a remarkable recovery and house prices have been steadily recovering.  As a result, household wealth now stands at $80.7 trillion, almost $12 trillion more than before the recession.  So things have more than recovered, right? Not quite.                                 

    Since 2007 there has been inflation and the US population has grown by 20 million people.  As a result, inflation-adjusted per capita wealth is now $254,000, just a shade less than it was before the Great Recession.  So we are at least back where we were before the recession hit, right?  Not so fast.  The problem is that the asset price recovery has been profoundly unequal and that has caused the distribution of wealth to change dramatically.  And that has huge implications for the economy.

    Homeowner equity hit $10 trillion last quarter, and while way up from a low of $6.3 trillion in 2011, it’s nowhere near the pre-recession high of $13.4 trillion.  By contrast, equities have soared and are now worth almost $23 billion, way more than their pre-recession high of $18.3 trillion.  The economic kicker is that equities are primarily owned by upper-income households, while home equity is the major source of wealth for everybody else.  This means that while the rich are roughly $5 trillion wealthier than they were before the recession, all other households are about $3.5 trillion poorer.  And while the upper classes spend more when their wealth increases, it’s nothing like the increase in spending that occurs when the rest of the population feels better off. 

    A huge chunk of middle class spending is the result of tapping into home equity via cash-out refinancing.  Regrettably, despite rising home prices many households are still under water, credit remains harder to get than ever before, and many households now have mortgages with extremely low interest rates and are simply unwilling to tap into their home equity.  As a result, mortgage equity withdrawal has nearly stopped.  After peaking at $320 billion in 2006, it was just $32 billion last year, a decline of almost 300 billion dollars, and that is the highest it’s been since 2010!     

    In addition to the rich, another group that has done well is older Americans.  Families headed by someone under 40 have on average recovered only one-third of their lost wealth, but families headed by someone middle-aged or older have recouped all their losses as more of their wealth is in stock and less in housing.  And regrettably the middle-aged and the elderly, like the wealthy, are less likely to spend their capital gains than younger middle class families.                     

    As a result of the profoundly uneven wealth recovery, spending on luxury goods has done very well but firms that rely on middle class spending are not enjoying nearly as much of a renaissance.  For that to change wages will have to start rising.           

    Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is President of GraphsandLaughs, LLC and can be reached at Elliot@graphsandlaughs.net.  His daily 70 word economics and policy blog can be seen at www.econ70.com.

  • 13 May 2014 8:32 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

     by CMBA  President Gary Bechtold, St. Cloud Overhead Door Co.

    Local Reputable Contractors

    Across the state each year, many people become victims of tornadoes, hail and storms.  These natural disasters cost the

    U.S. economy billions of dollars annually.

    One of the untold costs associated with disasters are those losses due to fraud. Often “fly-by-night” contractors appear in communities’ right after a disaster and further victimize the property owners by swindling them out of their precious and often limited resources by offering cheap and quick repair work.  Homeowners should be aware that all builders and roofers must carry a Minnesota Building Contractor or Roofers license.  Here’s a warning from home builders who are located in this area that may save you from unscrupulous contractors.

    Some signs that a contractor could be trying to take advantage of you:

    • You’re told that on this job, a contract “won’t be necessary.”
    • You’re asked to pay for the entire job “up front” undefined or pay cash to a salesperson instead of a check or money order to a company.
    • You are confronted with intimidation, threats or high pressure sales tactics
    • You’re told you have been “chosen” as a demonstration project at a special, low price.
    • You’re told a “special” low price is good only if you sign a contract today.
    • The contractor won’t give you references undefined or the references can’t be located.
    • You can’t verify the contractor’s business address or they arrive in an unmarked truck or van
    • You are asked to sign a “waiver” for them to inspect your roof.  The signature could bind you into a contract. 
    • You are told that whatever the insurance company pays you, that’s what they will charge.  If the insurance company misses some material, you the homeowner may have to pay out of pocket for material missed by the insurance adjuster. 
    • They refuse to provide their Minnesota builders license number. If you hire an uninsured builder, and they are injured while working on your home, the homeowner is liable for the injury costs. 
    • You are asked to get the building or remodeling permit.
    •  You are asked to sign an "estimate" or "authorization" before you have decided to actually hire them
    • They refuse to provide you with a written estimate or contract

    Before you hire a contractor, the Central Minnesota Builders Association suggests that you ASK…

    • for the contractor's license number and contact the Department of Commerce at 800-657-3602 or https://secure.doli.state.mn.us/licensing/licensing.aspx to verify that the builder is currently licensed and to find out if they have a disciplinary history
    • if they are a member of a local builders association
    • how long and where they have been in business
    • for references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the company’s work
    • for a Minnesota business address other than a post office box
    • for a phone number where the contractor can be reached during business hours
    • for a written estimate or contract

    Before you sign a contract, make sure it includes:

    •  A detailed summary of the work to be done
    •  A description of materials
    •  The total contract price or how the price will be calculated
    •  Specific timelines and provisions that address what will happen if the contractor fails to meet the contractual deadlines

    * Roofing and siding contracts must meet MN law changes prohibiting the practice of promising to pay the insurance deductible (if the roof / siding repairs are paid from insurance)

    CMBA is the resource for your building project www.cmbaonline.org or 320.251.4382.

    Local Reputable Contractors

  • 30 Apr 2014 10:16 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    By  Bonnie Moeller, CMBA Executive Director 


    Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester) offered an amendment to prohibit a mandate of sprinklers to a building inspectors bill on the floor of the Senate last Thursday. It passed with bipartisan support with by a
    44-20 margin. This is yet another confirmation of the strong support in the legislature to prohibit the unnecessary sprinkler mandate. The Senate bill’s companion was amended in HF 2198 (Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul), meaning that the bill will have an uphill climb given the Governor and Rep. Mahoney’s opposition to banning the sprinkler mandate.

  • 29 Apr 2014 9:21 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    By Gary Bechtold,  President, Central Minnesota Builders Association

    According to HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau, home owner do-it-yourself (DIY) projects accounted for 37 percent of all home remodeling projects performed nationwide from 2010-2011. While most professional remodelers understand that home owners will do some of their own home repairs or small renovations, after repairing many a DIY gone awry they overwhelmingly believe that many jobs should be left to the pros.

    The desire among home owners to tackle repair and remodeling projects has risen with the popularity of Pinterest and design blogs and the prevalence of home improvement stores. Before attempting to recreate the gorgeous bathroom from your Pinterest board in your own home, consider the following before sinking your resources into the project.

    Safety

    A good rule of thumb for any home owner is to avoid projects that require a license. Veteran remodelers advise against doing electrical or plumbing work on your own and avoid making structural changes to walls, roofs and floors. You run the risk of compromising the structural integrity of your home and having a large hole in your roof or floor. Leave this work in the hands of professionals with the proper training.

    Time

    DIYers often tackle larger projects than they can handle before the holidays so that visiting family can enjoy the updates. But when something goes wrong, there is no one to hold to the deadline. 

    Even professional remodelers sometimes need extra time on projects when they find surprises behind walls. Troubleshooting these issues often takes more time and expertise than originally planned. If timing is a priority for your weekend warrior, call a professional remodeler to get your project completed.

    Cost

    Purchasing new tools is exciting but consider the price of all the specialty tools used for a one-time project when they are sitting untouched in your garage for a few years.

    Additionally, many of the products purchased for the DIY market, although designated by a name brand, are not always the same quality available to contractors. It is also important to verify the terms of the product warranty. Many warranties become void by improper installation.

    Still think you can tackle a big remodeling project? Just remember, DIY projects should suit your skill level, it you decide to contact a professional remodeler with the necessary skills for your project, search the Member Directory or ask CMBA (320) 251-4382.

  • 23 Apr 2014 11:50 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)
    by Bonnie Moeller, CMBA Executive Director

    CMBA is going to the dogs, but in a good way! When Margret Bushinger from Anna Marie knocked on CMBA’s door, the door flew wide open. Anna Marie, for those who don’t know, is a shelter located in St. Cloud for victims of domestic abuse, their children, and – with the help of CMBA members - their pets. All programs are offered free of charge.

    Approximately 48% of abused victims stay in an abusive relationship because they don’t have a safe place to keep their family pet, according to Jackie French, the Development Director; and 68% of battered women report violence towards their animals, often times in the presence of their children.

    Jackie reported that the shelter is typically 90% full, and many times they have to find temporary off site shelter for abused victims. The shelter houses 15-18 families. For obvious reasons, the pets can’t stay with the residents because of health code, allergies, and safety reasons. So in 2008, Anna Marie’s Alliance started a Pet Foster Care Program that allowed residents to bring their animals with them. Now, Anna Maries has gotten permission from the city to build a dog or pet kennel. The building is a mere 20x24, but the largest the city will allow for the property. It will house around 5 dogs and five cats, and small caged animals. It will include a learning Center/Family room which will allow the family members to spend quality time with their pets, while installing principals of empathy and kindness to help redirect learned negative behavior. In the back, behind the building, will be a raised garden area, for the families to grow plants. Anna Marie had the kennel plans drawn up by the St Cloud Technical & Community College Architectural Department, and has around $30,000 in contributions, of which $10,000 is from Pet Smart. But they need help in overseeing the project, and getting expert advice on building the pet haven with skilled laborers.

    At the April CMBA Board meeting, the board decided to embrace this project. Members have already stepped up to the plate.

    How can you help?

    The biggest need is a contractor to oversee the project. Skilled labor and building materials are also needed. Please call Bonnie at CMBA 320.251.4382 if you are willing to help with this warm and fuzzy community project! info@cmbaonline.org


  • 21 Apr 2014 10:46 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    DIRECT PAY: Use this secure service to pay your tax bill or make an estimated tax payment directly from your checking or savings account at no cost to you.

    http://www.irs.gov/Payments/Direct-Pay

    Read the latest Health Care Tax Tips

         2014-12 Find Out if Your Health Insurance Coverage is Considered Minimum Essential   

                       Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act

         2014-10 What do I need to know about the Health Care Law for my 2013 Tax Return?

         2014-07 Changes in Circumstances can Affect your Premium Tax Credit    

          http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Health-Care-Tax-Tips2

    WEB TIPS 

    Publication 5117 bookmark:  Connect faster to IRS with new Quick Response code bookmark

    A new bookmark contains Quick Response codes to connect your smartphone to current, prior year and accessible forms and publications and IRS.gov. Download the bookmark and share it with your friends and family. Use your smartphone to scan a QR code for instantaneous access.

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p5117.pdf

    Taxpayers can learn to use the IRS Tax Calendars by following an easy, step-by-step instructional video on YouTube. Available in English and Spanish, the online calendars are accessible from computers, smartphones or tablets. The user can view all federal tax due dates for each month and filter those dates to meet their needs. The calendar includes dates for taxpayers who are monthly or semiweekly depositors, and for excise tax due dates and other events. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taszbmtVp7w

    ►EMPLOYERS/RETIREMENT PLANS

    EFTPS Inquiry PIN. Beginning this year, when Payroll Service Providers enroll clients in EFTPS, an EFTPS Inquiry PIN will automatically be sent to the taxpayer. Taxpayers who have had activity on their EFTPS account over the prior 12 months will also receive Inquiry PINs. This Inquiry PIN allows the taxpayer access to monitor the EFTPS for transaction made on their behalf.

    MISCELLANEOUS, TAX TIPS, FACT SHEETS

    Read the latest IRS Tax Tips.

    http://www.irs.gov/uac/IRS-Tax-Tips

    2014-49 Tips on Making Estimated Tax Payments
    2014-46 Eight Common Tax Mistakes to Avoid
    2014-40 Top 10 Tax Time Tips from the IRS
    2014-36  2013 Home Office Deduction Features Simpler Option

    2014-34 Tips for Self-employed Taxpayers

    IR NEWS RELEASES

    Read the latest IRS News Releases http://www.irs.gov/uac/Latest-News

    IR 2014-51 IRS Debunks Frivolous Tax Arguments

    IRS Statement on "Heartbleed" and Filing Season 

    IR 2014-36 IRS Virtual Currency Guidance: Virtual Currency Is Treated as Property for U.S. 
          Federal Tax Purposes; General Rules for Property Transactions Apply

    Notice 2014-21FAQs on Virtual Currency    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-14-21.pdf

    IR 2014-27 IRS Encourages Small Employers to Check Out Small Business Health
         Care Tax Credit; Helpful Resources, Tax Tips Available on IRS.gov

  • 15 Apr 2014 10:46 AM | Colleen Corrigan (Administrator)

    BAM report:

    Each year, at the Minnesota legislative session mid-point, legislators go on break, which gives us an opportunity to take stock of what’s happened so far. The 2014 session has been called the “unsession” with a stated goal of streamlining government, but lots has happened.

    BAM has been working hard to protect the industry, and in light of session’s intermission, BAM has put together a Mid-Session Review with an overview and bill-by-bill run down of the issues that have, or could have had, impact on the residential construction industry.

    Session started February 25, later than usual, and already the House of Representatives has introduced 1,481 bills and the Senate has introduced 1,285 bills.

    The Ides of March coincided this year with deadlines at the Capitol. The first policy deadline was March 21; less than 30 days from the start of session. The second policy deadline was March 28, and the third finance committee deadline was April 4. There are an abundance of failed proposals that have been deemed “dead” in 2014 or are looking for ways to be “reincarnated” though artfully placed amendments or suspended rules.

    The residential construction industry has reaped positive outcomes, including repeal of the business-to-business sales and use taxes in addition to batting down several bills that threatened to harm your bottom line.

    Upon completion of session BAM will provide a full legislative report to all members.

    Until then, be sure to check out BAM’s Mid-Session Review with an inventory of bills the residential construction industry has been working on, along with a mid-session statuts for each. The review can found be online at bamn.org/legislation.

    Thank you to all who have been participating this session in making sure the industry’s voice is heard. Thank you to those who joined us at Builder Day at the Capitol March 12. We had a record turnout and met with nearly 75% of the legislature. Thank you to our Government Relations Committee members who have been meeting weekly to guide BAM’s lobbying team on critical legislative issues. The industry is very fortunate to have their time and talents.

    Thank you also to our brilliant, statewide lobbying team. With session half over, it’s good to know we have a rockstar team assembled. Stay tuned!

CMBA:
1124 West Saint Germain Street, St. Cloud MN 56301
320.251.4382 info@cmbaonline.org | www.cmbaonline.org
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software