News & Blog

Home Builders Association

The value of your NAHB Membership

This article appeared in the March edition of the Home Building News.

by David DeHarpport, President, Four D Construction & Oregon NAHB State Rep.

When we join the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland we also become members of the Oregon Home Builders Association and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). As your NAHB representative for the state of Oregon, I thought I would take the opportunity this month to provide members with an update on recent NAHB activities. I am excited to report that while in Las Vegas for the Winter Board Meetings/ IBS we learned that housing starts hit the one million mark in 2014 for the first time since 2007. Home building is back!

Add up the dollar value of NAHB’s advocacy victories and you’re talking real money, an average of $6,882 per housing start for a typical home builder in 2014. This includes NAHB services and programs and victories in the legislative, legal and regulatory arenas.

Here are a few of the ways that you saved:

  • Thanks to the comments NAHB filed in protest, EPA dropped its post-construction stormwater rule. The rule would have set measurable, numeric pollution limits on stormwater that involved expensive monitoring and record keeping. This saves builders money, time and hassle, and lowers the cost of a new home for consumers
  • An extension of the tax deduction for mortgage insurance preserves new home sales by helping home buyers afford to buy.
  • Energy tax credits were extended, stimulating new construction and remodeling.

Victories on the legislative and regulatory fronts

  • Thanks to three years of NAHB advocacy, the final definition of a Qualified Residential Mortgage, or QRM, will enable more credit-worthy households to quality for a mortgage than the original 20 percent down payment requirement sought by regulators, among other onerous criteria.
  • The Federal Housing Administration announced a half percent cut in FHA mortgage insurance premiums that will enable 250,000 new home owners to buy a home over the next three years after consistent calls for action by NAHB.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will also make homeownership more affordable by agreeing to purchase mortgages with down payments as low as 3 percent. Combined with safeguards put in place to ensure creditworthiness, this is a positive move that should bring more first-time buyers into the market.
  • NAHB also made progress on making it easier for remodelers to get recertified under the Lead Paint Rule, continued the fight against abusive patent trolls and threaten legal action against home builders, racked up successes on 57 of the 58 proposals ranked as important during the 2014 ICC code development cycle.

Issue on the horizon that could cost you

From the expiration of the Canadian Softwood Lumber Agreement to a host of proposals from EPA, the Labor Department, DOE and OSHA, we need to stay vigilant to keep onerous rules and red tape from hurting our industry. Now more than ever in Congress, it is critical to find champions on Capitol Hill who will continue to promote and protect housing industry priorities as issues like tax reform are debated.

I urge you to join our advocacy efforts by participating in “Bringing Housing Home” in-district legislative meetings, March 9-13. Bringing Housing Home was an overwhelming success in 2014, with more than 2,000 meetings conducted with elected officials in all 50 states. Visit bringinghousinghome.com for details.

In a major shift, NAHB will begin requiring two board meetings rather than three in 2016.

The required meetings will take place at IBS and in July, the latter at dates to be determined, and the Executive Board will meet in person in the fall to review and recommend the annual budget. Other in-person meetings may be requested should special circumstances arise.

I hope that you can see how your membership in NAHB saves you money, helps you stay competitive, helps NAHB challenge regulations that do more harm than good, and levels the playing field against powerful interests that could do lasting damage to the housing industry.

 

 

 

A new year brings new opportunities for effective marketing

This article appeared courtesy of Jon Bell in January’s edition of the Home Building News.

digital-marketing-strategyIt’s a new year. Time to revamp the business, set new goals and, perhaps most importantly, beef up your marketing efforts. What’s the absolute best approach for that?

“That’s the challenge with marketing in today’s multi-platform environment,” said Jim Beriault, owner of Beriault Entertainment Marketing, a Portland firm that specializes in marketing for entertainment and retail businesses. “No one piece of advice fits all any longer.”

In the world of digital and social media, television, radio and print marketing, it can indeed be tricky to find the right combination that works best for a company.

“It also lends to the strain of marketing confusion that ‘if it worked for them it must work for me,’” Beriault said.  “No, a viral YouTube campaign won’t help you garner more leads at a trade show for next week.”

While marketing will differ for every business — and every HBAMP member — there are still some key channels that work well for just about anyone in some way or another. What follows is some advice from a few of the marketing pros within the HBAMP that can help you figure out how best to market your business in 2015.

Shleifer Marketing
After nearly 30 years in marketing, Denny Shleifer has boiled down one of the keys to success.

“Just be who you are,” he said. “Try to impress on your client base that you’re the best at what you do.”

For Shleifer, whose Shleifer Marketing Communications has worked with everyone from Widmer Brothers Brewing to the city of Portland, that starts simply by building a reputable business.

“It’s about creating an identity of who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “Then it’s making sure you’re a leader in your field.”

But marketing is about more than being a solid business. Despite word-of-mouth referrals, the good news doesn’t always spread itself. Shleifer said social media and blogging can be incredibly helpful channels in this day and age, but they need to tie in seamlessly with web sites and other marketing materials. He’s also a fan of more traditional public relations and marketing, the kind that actually requires some real-time interaction between real people.

“I also still believe that it’s really important to reach out to members of the media,” Shleifer said. “You just can’t do that in the same way with a tweet.”

Another real-world approach that he highly recommends: getting more involved with the HBA. A member for the past four our five years — in addition to past stints as well — Shleifer said he’s made lots of connections by being involved in different HBA committees and events.

“There’s something for everyone,” he said. “Even if you’re not a real social person, you can make a lot of friends and build relationships by serving on the committee that suits you best.”

DelMain Analytics
Though DelMain Analytics may not deal in the flashy, eye-popping side of web sites that draw attention from visitors, it does specialize in one of the areas that makes web sites so effective: search engine optimization.

And while that term may be more technical than some folks need in their daily marketing lives, DelMain has a knack for dispensing some helpful tips that just about anyone can cash in on.

“I would say one of the biggest things is having a responsive web site,” he said. “And by that I mean one that conforms to or works on different browsers and devices, from Firefox and Chrome to iPhones and Galaxies.”

Having a web site that works as well on an iPhone as it does on a desktop computer has become more important than ever as an increasing amount of web traffic comes from mobile device users. While the mobile segment continues to rise, desktop traffic has largely plateaued, DelMain said.

“Sites need to be universal these days,” he said, adding that most reputable web designers will ensure that your site works where it should. An affordable do-it-yourself option that also works across most major platforms are sites from Squarespace.

A second tip from DelMain is also an easy one to address: set up a free Google Places account, which offers location-based search results on Google along with business contact information, and a Yelp account.

“Once you set it up,” he said, “be aggressive on getting happy customers to review you. It’s one of the quickest ways you can get additional web site visibility.”

Just don’t be too aggressive, he added. About two positive reviews a month is sufficient. Too many more than that, or a bunch at one time, makes Google think that something fishy is going on and can actually hurt your web search results.

A big fan of social media, DelMain said the biggest mistake he sees people making with the different options is trying to do too many different ones —Houzz, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest — at the same time. The result is usually that none get posted to regularly, so any benefit is lost. Instead, pick one or two social networks and post regularly. DelMain’s recommendation for members of the HBAMP? Houzz and Facebook, with Pinterest a close third.

A final tip from DelMain is to produce quality content on your web site, especially blog posts. A handful of 300- to 500-word posts each month can do wonders for web results.

“Content is still one of the things that all the algorithms are looking at,” he said. “That’s not going to change.”

Even better than lots of small posts would be a couple long ones. say 1,000 words or so, that offer a lot of quality information.

“We’re seeing more and more long form posts coming to the top of the search engine rankings,” DelMain said. “That’s the kind of content that’s doing really well these days.”

Crosshatch Creative
Think you don’t have the time, resources or perfect plan to get your marketing going this year?

“I’ve got news,” said John Durso, project manager for Crosshatch Creative, a Portland web design firm, “you will never have the perfect plan. Start small, learn, adjust, increase your budget and effort and do this consistently. Your efforts will snowball.”

An electrical engineer by training — his bio on Crosshatch’s web site says he has an electrical engineering degree that he has not used a day in his life — Durso and his firm also specialize in conversion rate optimization. That practice basically tests different versions of web pages to see which ones bring in the most business.

“It’s a powerful way to get more revenue out of the same traffic,” he said.

Like DelMain, Durso recommends creating accounts and getting positive customer reviews on industry sites like houzz.com, Google Places, Yelp and guildqualtiy.com, which is geared toward homebuilders and remodelers. He also said that, in this day an age of enormous amounts of online content, it’s important to find ways to stand out from the competition.

“It’s becoming more and more difficult to be found,” he said. “To be effective in 2015 and beyond, you have to look for areas that aren’t so crowded and you have to promote your content. Video and podcast marketing are good examples.

“Whatever it is you’ve been putting off, start now. Even if it’s small, it’s better than nothing.”

Job Opportunities at the 2015 NW Natural Street of Dreams in the heart of Lake Oswego

The NW Natural Street of Dreams® is currently hiring for the 2015 show located at The Highlands, a development located off SE Goodall & Knaus Rd. in Lake Oswego, Oregon. There are a two different types of positions to apply for: Crew and Ticket Office. Information about each position is listed below. Please share these job opportunities with your friends and families.

Crew Position Description:
The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland is seeking enthusiastic and hardworking individuals for the position of Crew at the 2015 NW Natural Street of Dreams® from July 2Crew0 through September 4. The show will be held at The Highlands, a development located off SE Goodall & Knaus Rd. in Lake Oswego, Oregon. 

Responsibilities:
This is a great opportunity for motivated people seeking summer employment. Crew Members will assist with the daily operations of the NW Natural Street of Dreams. Responsibilities include concessions operations, event set up and teardown and parking assistance.  The days and hours will vary. Duties of the position are performed indoors and outdoors and may be performed in inclement weather conditions. Position may require frequent or continuous walking, standing and talking. May also require occasional sitting, kneeling, bending, reaching, stooping, running and heavy lifting/carrying.

Qualifications:
The ideal candidate must be 16 years of age or older and have the ability to work mid-July through early-September. Candidates must work well in a team environment, possess excellent verbal and written language skills and have outstanding customer service skills.  Applicants should be willing to take direction but be capable of working independently and efficiently. Shifts within the concessions area require a food handler’s permit; an OLCC license is not required, but is a plus.

For consideration, please download the NW Natural Street of Dreams Crew Application and submit with cover letter by May 1, 2015 to: Helen Lewis, Event Manager, Helenl@hbapdx.org.

Ticket Office Staff Description:SOD 15 Badge
The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland is seeking enthusiastic and hardworking individuals for the position of Ticket Office at the 2015 NW Natural Street of Dreams® from July 29 through August 30. The show will be held at The Highlands, a development located off SE Goodall & Knaus Rd. in Lake Oswego, Oregon. 

Responsibilities:
This is a great opportunity for those seeking part time summer employment. Ticket Office employees responsibilities include money handling, ticket sales, customer service and accurate record keeping.  The days and hours will vary. Duties of the position are performed indoors and outdoors and may be performed in inclement weather conditions. Position may require frequent or continuous walking, standing and talking. May also require occasional sitting, kneeling, bending, reaching, stooping, running and heavy lifting/carrying.

Qualifications:
The ideal candidate must have the ability to work mid-July through late-August. Candidates must work well in a team environment, possess excellent verbal and written language skills and have outstanding customer service skills.  Applicants should be willing to take direction but be capable of working independently and efficiently.

For consideration, please download the NW Natural Street of Dreams Crew Application and submit with cover letter by May 1, 2015 to: Helen Lewis, Event Manager, Helenl@hbapdx.org.

UNHS Rules and Regs

Ultimate New Home Showcase Rules & Regs only

From the Top: Houston, we have a problem

Dave NielsenA message from HBAMP CEO, Dave Nielsen

I just returned from a trip to Houston, Texas with roughly 60 civic, political and business leaders from the Portland area. Each year, Greater Portland Inc, an economic development group, puts a trip together to visit a U.S City and see what government and business can learn from what that City is doing well.

In many ways, Houston is the antithesis of Portland. There is no land use planning, very little regulation or zoning, and the city itself encompasses an area over 600 square miles (four times the size of Portland).

However, what our group (which included Metro Councilors, suburban Mayors, a Portland City Commissioner, and several others involved in local or regional government) learned was how much Houston is doing right even without a bunch of government mandates. The business and philanthropic communities are working cooperatively with government to make significant progress on issues like reducing homelessness, providing opportunities for minorities and lower income neighborhoods, creating alternative energy solutions, and making the city more vibrant and healthy.

While Houston’s almost complete “free market” approach may not fit in Portland, what came through loud and clear was the need for business to have certainty and efficiency in what it can do.

Unfortunately, that is not the case in Portland, and that is becoming a huge problem. The City of Portland has told Metro it can take on 120,000 more housing units over the next 20 years, including over 24,000 in existing single-family neighborhoods. This will require tripling the number of housing units built in Portland over the next two decades (without any additional land added to accommodate growth).

Yet, the City is cracking down on infill and redevelopment like never before. Developers and builders are submitting for permits and are being given delays, additional work, or outright rejection even when they are applying for what zoning and current code allows.  Additional restrictions are being proposed on demolitions, even though the very term “redevelopment,” which the City is counting on in huge numbers to meet its own goals, requires demolition in order to achieve.  All of this takes out certainty, increase delays and increases costs – the very things that make it harder for development to happen and that increase the cost of housing.

Since most people don’t really understand the impacts of a tight Urban Growth Boundary, the city has painted itself into a tight corner. City planners want to absorb more than two-thirds of the growth expected in the entire Metro region, but city residents are pushing back as they see more and more of their neighborhoods change and become denser. This leaves some elected officials giving mixed messages at best, and creating more problems at worse.

HBAMP is front and center working to address these issues. We’re also working to develop the right groups within our organization, the right partnerships outside our organization, and the right venues to make sure these problems get publicly aired and resolved.  One of these venues will be a Housing Summit we’re working on for early fall, which will tackle the issues of certainty and efficiency in our development/building processes, housing affordability, and helping ensure our entire region benefits from the opportunities for economic growth. Stay tuned…

 

An energized 2015 BuildRight lands at a new venue with an exciting lineup

 

Buildright 2015

The word “conference” often conjures up images of stuffy hotel meeting rooms, droning presentations and lackluster beverages. But it doesn’t always need to.

Case in point: the 2015 BuildRight High Performance Building & Remodeling Conference and Expo, set to run this year from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 8. For starters, there will be no dreary hotel conference rooms involved. This year, BuildRight will be held at McMenamins Kennedy School, the very Portland former elementary school that the McMenamin brothers turned into a funky hotel complete with a brewery, movie theater, restaurant and several bars.

“We really wanted to hold this year’s conference at a much livelier venue than before,” said Caitlin Horsely, the HBAMP’s sustainability and education manager. “The Kennedy School is a really unique place, and I think it will make for a really fun setting for the conference. The overall feeling is going to be much more exciting and much more cutting-edge than ever.”

Winemaker DinnerIn addition to the new venue, this year’s conference will also feature a new addition in the form of a winemaker’s dinner the night before the event. Showcasing Willamette Valley’s Brooks Winery, the dinner will run from 5:30 to 8:30 in the manufacturing warehouse of MODS PDX Inc., the modular construction company owned by Nathan Young, who also serves as chair of the HBAMP’s Home Performance Council.

“It should be really nice,” he said, “and it’ll give people a chance to see where we build some of the high performance building that we do.”

The dinner, which will help support the HPC, will feature local cuisine and fine wines from Brooks. The winery is well-known for its commitment to biodynamic and organic farming. It also gained notoriety for its touching backstory. Founder Jimi Brooks was well on his way to becoming one of the region’s most well-known and enthusiastic winemakers when he suddenly died of an aortic aneurism at age 38 in 2004. In the wake of his passing, Brooks’ sister took over the winemaking business as director and his son, Pascal, who was 18 in 2014,  is now the owner.

The cost for this unique dinner is $100 for HBAMP members and $125 for non-members; it includes dinner, wine, gratuity and shuttle transportation to the MODS warehouse, which is located at 9125 North Time Oil Road in Portland.

While the venue and the winemaker’s dinner are new for BuildRight this year, the conference’s longstanding focus on education remains intact.

“That’s what this conference has always been about,” Horsely said. “It’s really the only conference in the region that offers professionals a place to learn the latest innovations in high-performance homebuilding. It’s a one-stop source for cutting-edge building technology, sustainability and business development innovations.”

She added that BuildRight and its variety of offerings should appeal to a wide range of builders, from  large production operations to smaller custom builders.

“The schedule is really designed for all kinds of builders and remodelers,” Horsley said.

As it always has, BuildRight will offer a full schedule of classes and presentations that will not only help educate builders, but that will also help them fulfill the continuing education credits required by the state’s Construction Contractors Board. Licensed residential contractors in Oregon must log eight or 16 hours of classes every two years based on their experience; commercial contractors must meet continuing education requirements based on their endorsement and how many employees they have.

Courses at BuildRight include both the series A and series B classes. Attendees will be able to earn all their series B credits, which Horsely said are essentially elective credits, throughout the day during BuildRight. Additional series A courses will be offered the next day at the HBAMP office.

“BuildRight is really an nice way to take care of those continuing education requirements,” Horsley said.  “Not only are you learning from the instructors — many of whom are HBAMP members themselves — but because you’re out there among other professionals, you’re learning from everyone else as well.”

Though the schedule of course offerings was still being finalized, Horsley shared a few examples of what attendees can expect to find at BuildRight. They include: “High Performance Remodeling and Retrofits: It’s Not as Hard as You Think,” a panel featuring representatives from Green Canopy, Neil Kelly and Arciform; “Marketing to the Millennial Home Buyer,” from Earth Advantage; and “Beyond the Thermostat: The Latest in Whole Home Energy Management Systems,” by Conrad Eustis of PGE.

In addition to the educational courses, BuildRight this year will also feature multiple keynote speakers. They will include Todd Britsch, the northwest regional director for Metro Study, and  C.R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs for Arizona-based Meritage Homes. BuildRight is also pulling out the big guns with a keynote speech from Michael Crooke, who served as CEO and president of Patagonia Inc. from 1999 to 2005. Crooke is currently a business consultant and a professor who teaches graduate students at the Lundquist College of Business at University of Oregon and the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University.

Horsley said Crooke is slated to talk about his experience at Patagonia, challenging assumptions and how to build successful businesses that are sustainable and ethical.

“He’s really exciting and just full of great energy,” she said.

If all that’s not enough, this year’s BuildRight will also include several networking opportunities and a panel discussion from seasoned HBAMP members sharing their strategies for success.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get out and really help support the HBAMP and our industry,” said Young of this year’s BuildRight. “You can get your continuing education credits, talk to other builders who may have a different spin on construction and drink some good beer.”

BuildRight — At a Glance

What: BuildRight is the region’s only construction industry conference focused on better building practices.

When: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 8

Where: McMenamins Kennedy School

Special event: A special Winemaker’s Dinner to benefit the HBAMP’s Home Performance Council will be held the night before the conference, featuring Brooks Winery.

More information: Visit www.buildrightpdx.com or contact Caitlin Horsley, the HBAMP’s sustainability and education manager, at (503) 684-1880.

This article appears courtesy of Jon Bell in the March edition of the Home Building News.

 

 

HBAMP attends CICP Awards Luncheon

CICP 10The Construction Industry Crime Prevention (CICP) Council held their annual awards luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at the MAC Club in Portland.  Over 100 attended, including dozens of law enforcement officers from around the Portland Metro region.

During the awards ceremony, Tigard Officer TJ Hahn was presented with the Law Enforcement Officer award.  HBAMP nominated Officer Hahn for his work leading to the arrest of the main suspect in a rash of appliance and equipment thefts from model and spec homes last year.  HBAMP was also presented with a Law Enforcement Partner award, along with four other police jurisdictions, for our support in helping Officer Hahn and the Tigard PD in their work.  Several HBAMP members and leaders attended the luncheon, including HBAMP President Nate Bond and VP Treasurer Brian Schmidt.  President Bond accepted the Partner award on behalf of HBAMP.

In addition to President Bond and Board Officer Schmidt, also attending and pictured are HBAMP Past Presidents Steve Brown and Mike Arnett, members Kelly Stelk, Jeff Fish, and Gary Phillips, HBA Staff Dave Nielsen and Mark Bisbing, and Officer TJ Hahn and Lt. Jamey MacDonald.

HBAMP advocacy provides building blocks to industry success

This article appears courtesy of Jon Bell in the November edition of the Home Building News

HBA LOGO PROUD MEMBERHBAMP membership comes with a lot of benefits. There’s the cellphone and insurance discounts, the networking and social opportunities, the building material rebate program and, of course, Steve Frazier’s annual turkey fry.

But one of the biggest benefits of being a member of the HBAMP may also be one of the least-hyped ones, even though it may very well have the most significant impact on members and the entire homebuilding and remodeling industry. That benefit? Advocacy.

“That’s often my biggest sales pitch,” said Justin Wood, associate director of government relations for the HBAMP. “That membership dues are providing the best industry advocacy and support so that members don’t have to.”

What that means is that HBAMP staff and members are stepping up to bat all over the place for the greater good of the industry, whether that’s helping curb construction site theft, communicating with local jurisdictions on permit issues, keeping SDCs in check or fighting for members who’ve been targeted by frivolous patent trolls.

This year has, as always, been a busy one for the HBAMP’s advocacy endeavors. As the year begins to draw to a close, it seemed like a good time to reflect on all the advocacy that’s gone on in 2014 to help set the stage for the future.

Housing affordability, balance and choice

The HBAMP has been busy this year building the case for homebuilding and homeownership in the metro region. One of the biggest victories along these lines was the release of the Residential Preference Study, an important look at the housing preferences of residents in the four-county metro region.

Conducted by Portland marketing research firm DHM Research for a range of partners, including the HBAMP, Metro and the cities of Portland and Hillsboro, the study found that 80 percent of respondents prefer detached, single-family housing. Sixty-five percent of the respondents — more than 7,300 people from two different survey tracks — currently live in such homes. The study also found that 56 percent of respondents live in a suburban neighborhood; just over half prefer that kind of a neighborhood. About a quarter live in urban centers, 11 percent live downtown and 8 percent live in rural settings.

“It will be very useful to help our industry understand market preferences and adapt where needed,” said Dave Nielsen, CEO of the HBAMP. “It should also be an important tool used by Metro and surrounding governments in their planning for growth.”

Alongside that study came Metro’s draft “2014 Urban Growth Report,” which sized up the region’s growth over the next 20 years and whether or not additional land needs to be added to the urban growth boundary. According to the study, the UGB in its current state will likely be able to accommodate future growth.

The HBAMP, however, said not so fast.

Nielsen said that Metro’s projections about population growth assume that much of the growth can be absorbed in high density, multifamily housing units and that a disproportionate number of new residents, particularly in Portland, are going to want to live in that kind of housing. That may be a faulty assumption, especially considering that the Residential Preference study that showed just the opposite.

Metro wont’ be adopting a final report until later this year or making decisions about adding lands until next year, so the HBAMP will continues to monitor the issue. It’s doing the same with comprehensive plans released by metro region municipalities like Portland.

“We want to make sure that what Metro is predicting for growth is what comprehensive plans are geared for,” Wood said.

Development and building certainty

That comp plans are aligned with regional and even neighborhood goals are especially important in Portland, where neighborhoods have rallied against high-density projects and, at the same time, demolition of older homes.

“We are actively monitoring this to ensure that anything done does not adversely affect our members,” Wood said.

Also in this area, the HBAMP has been very active in working with the city of Oregon City on its building moratorium. In August, the city commission enacted a moratorium on land development and building and sewer permit approvals in four areas of the city due to a lack of sanitary sewer capacity.

No surprise, that’s not a good thing for homebuilders.

“In our industry, a moratorium is something we like to avoid at all costs,” said Jon Kloor, government relations coordinator for the HBAMP.

He said the HBAMP has been keeping an eye on the situation and working with the city to find a resolution. Luckily, Kloor said, the four areas that fall under the moratorium are largely built out. so they’re not causing a huge problem for builders. Still, the HBAMP doesn’t want to see any kind of precedent set for other municipalities that may find themselves confronting a moratorium in the future. Kloor said Oregon City is working on a plan that will hopefully replace infrastructure over the next two or three years in the moratorium areas and lift the ban on each area once they’re ready to accommodate new development.

Under the same category, Kloor said many municipal building and planning departments

have found themselves short-staffed after they let people go during the recession. That downturn also led schools like Portland Community College and Chemeketa Community College to cut their building inspector education programs. As a result, departments are undermanned and builders are facing longer delays.

“We as an industry need those inspectors, and municipalities need to hire,” Kloor said, “but there’s nobody to hire.”

The HBAMP has been meeting with a work group comprised of building offices from around the region to figure out how to train more qualified building inspectors. One result: PCC is expected to launch a new training program in January 2015.

Industry challenges

Homebuilding is never short of its challenges, but the HBAMP has been hard at work addressing as many of them as possible to help make life easier on its member and the industry in general. One of the more recent concerns: construction site theft, which has been on the rise in recent years. See the story on page 13 for a look at how the HBAMP is helping thwart this growing problem.

Similarly, the HBAMP has played a very active role in an effort to squash a patent troll case that’s arisen for some members. According to Wood, a number of builders in the area have received letters from a company claiming that the builders, in using fans to dry out their newly-constructed homes to meet building codes, are infringing on a patent that the company secured. The patent, Wood said, is simply on the process of using regular fans to dry out a new home. The HBAMP, along with its state and national organizations, is fighting the patent as frivolous.

“So far, we have gotten them to go silent,” Wood said of the accusing company, “but we don’t know if they are going to come back or not.”

In addition, the HBAMP has been closely monitoring a Washington County case involving member builder Pahlisch Homes and Frontier Communications. According to Wood, the county has asked Pahlisch to do more improvements to a road near a new development than is usually expected of a builder. Pahlisch agreed to do the improvements. Because the builder, not the county, is making the improvements, Frontier has decided that it’s not responsible for moving its utilities, even though it’s the county that is requiring Pahlisch to make the improvements.

“Our monitoring of that is definitely ongoing,” Wood said.

Throw in the HBAMP’s constant monitoring of area tree codes, SDCs, fire marshall requirements and just about anything else that comes up related to homebuilding, and it’s clear that the association provides an incredibly valuable advocacy benefit to all of its members.

To keep up with the HBAMP’s advocacy efforts, visit their blog at www.hbapdx.org/government-relations

Contact Us: Call Us at: 503-684-1880 // Email Us at: info@hbapdx.org