Hurricanes' Impact Spreads Nationally

A survey of the Milwaukee chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry finds that many are already feeling the effects of higher prices and tighter supplies as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Contractors and suppliers are anticipating, and in many cases have already experienced, price increases in any petroleum-manufactured products, especially in vinyl siding, roof coatings, tar paper, asphalt shingles and PVC. Most of the nation's PVC resin and additive material suppliers are located in the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast region.

"Leading indicators that we measure in the home improvement business seem to indicate that home improvement is going to remain solid," says David Pekel, CR, Milwaukee/NARI marketing committee chairman and owner of Wauwatosa-based Pekel Construction & Remodeling, Inc. "However, there will be a demand for materials when rebuilding New Orleans and surrounding areas, and local distribution channels may be challenged to maintain inventory. Contractors may be factoring in some additional lead time. We've already seen the effects on drywall, roofing, siding and windows.

Typically, we see one or two price increases a year," says Pekel. "This year, we've already seen as many as four on certain materials. We've actually put specific language in contracts that we can only guarantee our contract costs for 20 days as a result of fluctuating fuel and material costs."

Providers of building supplies have been receiving notifications from manufacturers since late September, alerting them of price hikes. "We've seen price increases due to the Gulf weather when vinyl plants shut down, resin shipping slows and fuel surcharges," says Ron Hager of Quality Building Products, Inc. in Milwaukee. "Alcoa has notified us of 15 percent increases beginning in October, and continuing through the end of the year. Roofing materials are also up by about six percent."

Lumber may be one of the few products that isn't going to be impacted by the weather. The hurricanes had an effect on sheet goods, Southern Yellow Pine, and some drywall. But manufacturers are back on line and material prices, which initially did increase, have dropped by 25 percent, says Gerry Remshek of General Lumber and Supply in Milwaukee. Remshek adds that pricing has not impacted his business and he sees no slowdown in contractor purchases.

Green Building

Top 10 Green Building Products Announced by Publisher

Environmental Building News announced its 2005 selections of the Top 10 Green Building Products.

They are:

  • BioNet Erosion — Control Mats from North American Green
  • PureBond Hardwood Plywood and Agrifiber – Core Panels from Columbia Forest Products
  • Nybacker — recycled carpet tile-backer from Nycore, Inc.
  • Stonescape from American Biltrite Canada, Ltd.
  • Terratex biobased textiles from Interface Fabrics Group and Carnegie
  • Uppercut Dual-Flush Flushometer Valve from Sloan Valve Company
  • Aquia dual-flush toilet from TOTO USA, Inc.
  • Ice Bear thermal energy storage system from Ice Energy, Inc.
  • UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200-DX ERV from Stirling Technology, Inc.
  • Enbryten LED and pendant downlighting luminaires from Permlight Products, Inc.

Three of BuildingGreen's winning products this year save energy, and all three also offer other environmental benefits. Two products save water. Three products are green in part because they are made from recycled waste or biobased material. Rounding out the list are a biodegradable erosion-control mat and a brand-new flooring alternative for commercial buildings.

New ‘Specialty Remodeling' Section

Four issues to be presented in Qualified Remodeler in ‘06

In this issue of Qualified Remodeler, we present the first of four Specialty Remodeling sections to be published within the magazine this year. Focusing on the particular business information needs of exterior contractors, -the section will also appear in March, July and November.

Each edition of Specialty Remodeling will provide new products, best practices and sales and marketing ideas. Jimmy Waller of Waller Construction in Lakeland, Fla., will write a column for the section that draws on his experience operating a specialty remodeling firm.

Kitchens & Baths

Cabinet and vanity sales rise

Sales of kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities increased 10.7 percent in October 2005 over sales the same month a year earlier, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association said last month. According to the Reston, Va.-based KCMA, manufacturers participating in the association's monthly "Trend of Business" survey reported that sales of stock cabinets rose 8.7 percent for the month, while semi-custom cabinet sales gained 14.4 percent and custom cabinet sales increased 3.0 percent. Year-to-date cabinet sales for the first 10 months of 2005 were up 13.7 percent over the same period a year ago, the KCMA added.

Appliance Shipments

Domestic shipments of major home appliances increased marginally in October 2005, and remained on pace with the record-breaking totals posted in 2004 through the first 10 months of this year, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers reported. According to the Washington, D.C.-based AHAM, October appliance shipments totaled 5.68 million units, up 0.6 percent from the 5.65 million units shipped in October of 2004. Year-to-date totals through October were pegged at 66.5 million units, 0.3 percent above last year's record pace.

Koch to Buy G-P

Deal will bring forest products private giant

Georgia-Pacific Corp. agreed to be purchased by Koch Industries, a privately held conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan. The purchase has an equity value of $13.2 billion and a total value of $21 billion. Koch will operate G-P as a privately held, wholly owned subsidary. G-P will continue to do business worldwide under the Georgia-Pacific name, and continue to operate its businesses from its Atlanta headquarters. Other business interests operated by Koch, through subsidiaries, include oil and natural gas, pulp and paper, asphalt, chemicals, fertilizers, ranching, securities, and trading, according to Reuters news service. A G-P spokesperson said private ownership will allow the company to better withstand the cyclical nature of commodities

Radiant Heating

Wirsbo name-change in works to streamline global branding effort

Uponor Wirsbo recently announced that its parent company, Uponor, had launched a branding initiative that will result in a name change for the Apple Valley, Minn., maker of radiant heating products. Starting this month Wirsbo is officially named Uponor, the name of the parent company based in Helsinki, Finland.

"Unifying the company under one name is the logical extension of Uponor's evolution," says Jim Bjork, executive vice president, Uponor North America.

Throughout the coming year, the Wirsbo name will transition to Uponor in all its marketing materials and product labeling. The company will retain Wirsbo as a trade name with its line of PEX tubing products.

Windows & Doors

New consumer survey finds that efficient windows rank high

A survey of 1,200 consumers last fall found that 93 percent rank energy-efficient windows as either "very important" or "somewhat important" as a feature of their home.

The survey, conducted by Yankelovich Inc. on behalf of Georgia-Pacific, asked consumers, among other things, to rate the importance of a number of household features in their homes. Engery-efficient appliances were viewed as important by 95 percent of respondents.

And "Using the highest-quality materials for home improvement (such as lumber, plywood, siding, tile products, wallboard/drywall, etc.)" was viewed as important by 86 percent of respondents.