News, Trends, Community - July

Regulations

EPA Delays Lead Paint Enforcement

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was delaying for several months enforcing the certification requirements of its Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), but asserted that enforcement would continue on work practice standards whether a firm was certified or not.

In a FAQ posted on the EPA’s Web site, the agency issued a clarification to its initial announcement, which was misinterpreted by many to mean that all enforcement was to be postponed. The EPA reiterated that it was not stopping enforcement of work practice standards and record-keeping requirements. Whether or not a firm is certified, the EPA still expects it to adhere to the lead-safe practices outlined in its RRP ruling.

The delay is intended to allow additional time for renovation firms to workers to be trained and certified as required under the rule. The specific provisions of the suspension are:

  • Until October 1, 2010, EPA will not take enforcement action for violations of the RRP Rule’s firm certification requirement.
  • For violations of the RRP Rule’s renovation worker certification requirement, EPA will not enforce against individual renovation workers if the person has applied to enroll in, or has enrolled in, by not later than September 30, 2010, a certified renovator class to train contractors in practices necessary for compliance with the final rules. Renovators must complete the training by December 31, 2010.

For more information on the rule, visit: http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm.

Existing Homes

Strong Sales Continue
Existing-home sales remained at elevated levels in May on buyer response to the tax credit, characterized by stabilizing home prices and historically low mortgage interest rates, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million units in May, down 2.2 percent from an upwardly revised surge of 5.79 million units in April.

New Homes

Sales Decline
Sales of newly built, single-family homes declined dramatically in May following the expiration of a popular home buyer tax credit program in the previous month, according to newly released figures by the U.S. Commerce Department. The data show that sales fell 32.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 300,000 units, the lowest number on record since the government started keeping track in 1963.

Demographics

More Families Moving Back In
American families that once prided themselves on their independence today find themselves moving back in with their parents. AARP reports that the number of households nationwide with more than two generations expanded from 5 million in 2000 to 6.2 million in 2008. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) notes that home alterations needed to accommodate the shift are an opportunity for remodelers.

Community Action

Penguin Windows Teams with Habitat for Humanity
Penguin Windows, which says it is the seventh largest window replacement company in the nation and a top window replacement company in the Pacific Northwest, has made a major donation by providing over 70 windows for new Habitat for Humanity housing projects in the Seattle area. The donation makes it possible for Habitat for Humanity to provide affordable housing opportunities for seven new households at High Point (West Seattle) and Rainier Vista (Rainier Valley). Habitat’s unique model of home ownership is highly successful in assisting low and very low-income households in purchasing a home.

Housing Report

Harvard Sees Uneven Comeback
Home sales and housing starts staged an uneven comeback starting in early 2009, according to the State of the Nation’s Housing report released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Improved affordability for first-time home buyers and extraordinary government intervention helped spark a turnaround and drove all of the increase in existing-home sales last year, but record foreclosures continue to pressure markets and millions of homeowners.

As in past downturns, remodeling markets fared better than new residential construction. Real homeowner improvement spending in 2009 fell 25 percent from its 2006 peak — about a third as large as the drop in new residential construction.

Tax incentives for residential improvements that reduce energy consumption helped remodeling demand.

The JCHS Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity for the first quarter of 2010 points to a rebound that should extend throughout the year, largely as a result of the pickup in existing-home sales and the decline in interest rates, and that remodeling spending is largest directly following a home purchase.

Online Remodelers Poll

Cash for Caulkers
Is your company interested in getting involved in the government rebate program “Cash for Caulkers,” officially known as Homestar?

Extreme Makeover

New York Remodeler Storms Yankee’s Field
Sal Ferro, president/CEO of Alure Home Improvements of East Meadow N.Y., recently stormed the field from the Yankee Field dugout followed by hundreds of blue-shirted volunteer workers to join Ty Pennington of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition along with the rest of the show’s design team and several New York Yankees baseball players. This marks Alure’s eighth project for the show.

Unlike the show’s traditional early morning door knock, Ty Pennington made the announcement to the Long Island family selected to receive a home makeover at Yankee Stadium on the Jumbotron prior to the NY Yankees vs. NY Mets game on June 20.

Water conservation

DOE Rule May Limit Showerheads
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has asked the federal Department of Energy (DOE) to rethink a new “interpretive rule” that changes the regulatory definition of a showerhead and that could prohibit from sale many hand-held devices that improve the shower’s accessibility for the elderly or disabled. The rule could also limit the installation of spa-style showers with multiple heads. Under DOE’s new interpretation, the Environmental Protection Agency’s allowable gallons-per-minute flow rate would apply to the entire showerhead plumbing device — everything past the mixing valves or user controls.

Economic development

Kitchen Remodeling Company Returns
Kitchen Magic, a kitchen and bath remodeling company that left Pennsylvania nearly 30 years ago, is returning to establish operations in the Lehigh Valley that will bring nearly 200 jobs. The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. worked with the company and the Governor’s Action Team to secure a $1.48 million funding offer for the project from the Department of Community and Economic Development.

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