Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Do Home Buyers Want in Their Next Home?

By: Karen T. Nakamura, CEO
Building Industry Association of Hawaii

New Homes Month in April is a great time to think about what you want in your next new home. We’ve all seen a stunning hillside mansion and dreamed what it would be like to raise our families there. Or envied the amazing renovation makeovers depicted on television shows that give the home owners a sense of pride and accomplishment. But how does your dream home compare to what home buyers across the country are looking for in their new home?

A recent study from the National Association of Homes Builders, What Home Buyers Really Want, shared the results of a survey of the preferences of thousands of home buyers. On average, home buyers are looking for a home that is 17 percent larger than their current home, a median of 2,226 square feet. But, likely as a result of the ongoing challenges of the economic downturn, that size is 13 percent smaller than the average size of homes started in 2012.

The layout of the home is more important than the location to most buyers. Living space and number of rooms was ranked the most influential characteristic by 65 percent of buyers, while only 33 percent ranked proximity to locations they need to go as tops. A sense of open space continues to be popular, with about three-quarters of home buyers wanting a kitchen that is open to the family room, and nearly two-thirds looking for ceilings on the first floor that are 9 feet or more tall.

Some of the most wanted features in a home involve saving energy. Energy Star-rated appliances were rated as essential or desirable by 94 percent of respondents, and 91 percent wanted an Energy Star rating for the whole home. In fact, nine out of ten buyers would rather buy a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2 percent to 3 percent less.

Convenient organization and storage is another home buyer favorite. More than 80 percent of the respondents said they wanted walk-in pantries and pull-out shelves in the kitchen, a laundry room and storage in the garage.

Today’s home buyers want the latest technology. While only 15 percent of home owners currently have a wireless home security system, 50 percent want one. Similar gaps in “have” versus “want” occur with security cameras, lighting control and wireless audio systems, and multi-zone HVACs.

The most unwanted home features include elevators, a location in a golf course, high density or gated community, and having only a shower stall and no tub in the master bath.

So whether you’re planning or dreaming about what your next new home will look like, or you’re making renovations to your current home so that it will appeal to its next owner, keep these home buyer preferences in mind!

Contact to learn about the latest features available in new homes in Hawaii.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

List of Improving Housing Markets Rises to 274 in March

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, March 21 - The list of improving U.S. housing markets expanded for a seventh consecutive month in March to include 274 metros on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), released today. This total amounts to a net gain of 15 markets since February and includes entrants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The IMI identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. Thirty-four new markets were added to the list and 19 were dropped from it this month. Notable additions include such diverse locations as Birmingham, Ala.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Bloomington, Ind.

"This is the second consecutive month in which every state is represented by at least one metro on the improving list," observed NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "The expanding housing recovery is energizing communities nationwide by generating jobs and local tax revenues -- and it could be an even more potent force for economic growth if credit for building and buying homes was more readily available."

"With just over 75 percent of the 361 metros covered by the IMI now seen as improving, the housing market is on considerably more solid footing than it was at this time last year," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "While we expect this positive momentum to continue, it's important to understand that many markets are just beginning the recovery process, and that numerous issues - from credit availability to the rising cost of building materials and emerging lot shortages - are slowing the pace of that advancement."

"With the understanding that there are still a lot of uncertainties in the regulatory arena, it looks like we are finally seeing the beginning of what could be a broad and deep recover of the nation's housing market," added Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company.

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A metro area must see improvement in all three measures for at least six consecutive months following those measures' respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.

A complete list of all 274 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in March, is available at

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What It Takes To Be a Home Builder

By: Karen T. Nakamura, CEO 

Building Industry Association of Hawaii 

 Today’s new homes reflect changing market preferences and integrate elaborate designs and consumer desires into the floor plans and construction of the homes. And successful home builders have the knowledge, organizational skills and drive to build them.

But what does it really take to build a house?

Like a CEO, a home builder relies on a number of workers to get the job done right. A home builder guides dozens of skilled artisans and professionals, including carpenters, architects, engineers, plumbers, electricians, painters and landscapers. The builder must understand all of the home’s complex systems and know enough about each contractor’s trade in order to coordinate this skilled team to build and sell a quality product.

Some home builders develop the land on which the homes are built. They look at a piece of land to determine whether it complies with zoning regulations, local planning laws and environmental restrictions, and whether it is suitable for development. The home builder studies the lot’s topography, searching for rock outcroppings, shallow depth bedrock, shallow groundwater, natural drainage sources and dense vegetation. Landscaping options and erosion control also have to be considered. Once a builder determines that a site is suitable for construction, they must navigate the permitting process.

Home builders serve as liaisons with their communities and local government officials. They research and study local building codes to determine what can be built in a given location. In most localities, building codes govern building, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, electrical systems and fire safety. After studying the building codes, the builder collects all the required permits from various authorities before proceeding with construction.

Once the permits are obtained, the builder will prepare the site and select how the home will be situated on it. The home builder then oversees the entire construction process, which includes—but is certainly not limited to—laying the foundation; erecting the framing, roofing and siding; building the walls; and installing the plumbing, heating and electrical work.

A home builder acts as an inspector. The local building department will inspect the construction site for code violations throughout the home’s construction. But a professional home builder will make certain the home meets both code and warranty guidelines long before and after the officials show up. Once the house is finished, the builder informs the appropriate municipal departments that it is ready for final inspection and the approval that the home is safe for its new owners to move in.

Professional home builders strive to deliver a home that will make their customers happy. To meet this objective, they act as public relations professionals. The builder will discuss the construction process and building schedule with the buyer, and plan times when the buyer can tour the building site and ask questions about the status of their new home.

Home builders are also businesspeople who establish a network of reliable and quality materials suppliers and trade contractors with whom they conduct business on a regular basis.

Home builders are schedulers and record keepers. They must think on their feet, keep complex construction timelines and tackle multiple tasks simultaneously in order to keep the construction process moving forward and ensure the home is completed on schedule.

All in all, home builders must wear many, many hats in order to deliver a home where the new owners can hang their own hats, raise a family and build lifelong memories.

To learn more about the home building process or to find a home builder in Hawaii, contact BIA-Hawaii:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2013 NAHB Show Home Focuses on Outdoor Living

By: Karen T. Nakamura, CEO 

Building Industry Association of Hawaii

Each year in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show a home is built that showcases innovative products for the future of home building—and features great ideas for anyone thinking of building or remodeling a home.

The 2013 New American Home® (TNAH) in the suburbs of Las Vegas, Nev., is the 30th edition of TNAH. It incorporates the latest concepts in architecture, construction methods, lifestyle trends and new products that can be replicated—in whole or in part—in housing built any region and in any price range.

This contemporary home features a focus on flexible spaces and outdoor living, trends that continues to gain popularity nationwide.

The home’s architecture takes maximum advantage of Nevada’s year round temperate climate with easy flow from indoor to outdoor spaces. The main room expands into the backyard and pool area through large automated pocket doors that open at the touch of a button and allow for cross ventilation and unobstructed views. An outdoor daybed is located just behind the master bedroom, and the rejuvenation room opens to the outdoors on three sides like a spa.

Flex space planning throughout the home makes it convenient for young professional families and older generations to live together yet still maintain independent lives. Common gathering spaces are included among private living areas, a design feature that encourages unlimited movement within the space by all members of the household.

Even with the extensive indoor-outdoor flow spaces, TNAH is environmentally sensitive and ecologically smart.

Green building features include a gas HVAC system, solar hot water heater with gas fired back-up, photovoltaic panels, hydronic air handlers and closed spray foam insulation that also reduce sound transmission through plumbing walls. The weather-sensitive irrigation system automatically adjusts usage relative to the immediate climate.

The water features in the home are not only functional, they are also fashionable. Reflecting pools and waterfalls help humidify and cool the air in summer months, which reduce the home’s operating costs by using less energy and improving air quality. A visually stunning waterfall located in a central part of the home has a projector shooting onto it, reflecting the image in a still pool below.

The home owner can monitor, manage and control security systems, climate, televisions, music, lighting, shades and more from their smart phones, tablets or laptops with the wireless network that offers wall-to-wall coverage throughout the home, in the outdoor living spaces and in the front and back yards.

Blue Heron, a Las Vegas luxury home builder, led all phases of the project, including architecture, construction and interior design.

To see photos of the 2013 TNAH and find out more information about the features and product manufacturers, go to

Contact BIA-Hawaii: to learn about the latest technologies and designs being used in new homes in the Hawaii.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Summary: The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013

U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Press Release

March 11, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate Appropriations Committee released highlights of legislation to fund the federal government through September 30, 2013. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 includes separate divisions for the Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Defense; Homeland Security; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Acts.

The Mikulski-Shelby substitute amendment provides $1.043 trillion in budget authority, consistent with the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) issued the following statement:
“We must prevent a government shutdown,” said Chairwoman Mikulski. “My Vice Chairman, Senator Shelby, and I worked together on this bipartisan agreement that avoids a shutdown, complies with the Budget Control Act, improves the House CR for many critical priorities, and lets us wrap up fiscal year 2013 so we can get to next year’s budget and find a balanced solution to sequester.”
Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) issued the following statement:
“Chairwoman Mikulski and I began this process with three shared goals: first, to prevent a government shutdown; second, to provide as much flexibility as possible for the remainder of this fiscal year; and third, to produce a bill that both parties in both houses can support,” said Vice Chairman Shelby. “I believe that we have achieved all three goals. At a time when many doubt whether Congress can accomplish anything at all, this agreement is a very clear demonstration of our commitment to work together.”
Text of the Substitute Amendment is here.               

Text of the Explanatory Statement is here.

Click here for summaries of the five bills included in the substitute amendment, as well as a list of anomalies, broken out by subcommittee.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

NAHB, NKBA Sign Agreement Expanding Members' Educational Opportunities

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, March 14 -The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) have forged an agreement that makes it easier for individuals who hold builder and remodeler professional designations to take advantage of continuing education opportunities from both groups.

Industry professionals who successfully complete courses required for either NAHB or NKBA designations can earn continuing education hours from either syllabus. The number of credit hours granted is equal to the length of the class.

Holders of the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), Certified Graduate Builder (CGB), Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), Certified Green Professional [TM] (CGP) and other NAHB designations can take courses for NKBA's Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD), Certified Bath Designer (CBD) and other NKBA designations - and vice versa - to fulfill their respective continuing education requirements.

"Expanding these opportunities will encourage even more home builders, professional remodelers and kitchen designers to take advantage of the excellent training and education offered by both associations," said NAHB Education Committee Chairman Erik Anderson, CAPS, CGR, GMB, of Anderson-Moore Builders Inc. in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"The agreement provides building and design professionals a broader range of education options when trying to find courses to maintain their designations - and may spur NAHB and NKBA designees to earn designations from both associations," said NKBA director of learning Nancy Barnes.

NAHB courses cover diverse topics such as aging-in-place remodeling, business management, green building and project management, while NKBA offers a similarly wide range of classes for kitchen and bath professionals.

This news comes on the heels of January's announcement that the NAHB International Builders' Show (IBS) and the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) will co-locate in February 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

"With this agreement, NAHB and NKBA members attending these shows can take advantage of both associations' extensive education offerings - and now, they can do so at less-expensive member rates, no matter which association they belong to," Anderson said.

"This agreement is a win-win for NAHB and NKBA professional designation holders and, ultimately, for the consumers they serve because members of both associations will have access to even more high-quality education opportunities," he added.

Regulatory Burdens on Small Business Hurt Housing, Economy, Builders Tell Congress

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, March 14 - Federal agencies are circumventing the intent and the letter of a law to make the regulatory process more cost effective and less burdensome for small businesses, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told Congress today. As a result, the regulatory process continues to unnecessarily increase compliance costs and is acting as a drag on the housing and economic recovery.

Testifying on behalf of NAHB before the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations, Kansas home builder Carl Harris said compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires federal agencies to review regulations for their impact on small businesses and consider less burdensome alternatives, continues to fall far short of the act's objective.

"Federal agencies often view compliance as largely a procedural function during the federal rulemaking process and not - as Congress intended - an opportunity to reduce the burden of regulations on small businesses," said Harris, who has participated in the regulatory process. "When federal agencies are unprepared to provide small business review panelists with the information and data necessary to evaluate the costs and compliance obligations, the process breaks down."

Harris then cited several examples where a smarter and more sensible regulatory process would benefit the housing industry, home builders and small businesses:


The 2008 Occupational Safety and Health Administration Cranes and Derricks Construction Rule:

The rule is intended to protect workers from hazards associated with hoisting equipment in construction. The Regulatory Flexibility Act required OSHA to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel to evaluate the rule's potential impact on small businesses. However, OSHA did not establish a panel until after the rulemaking process was completed.

Harris, who participated on the review panel, explained to OSHA officials that the rule does not take into account the differences between crane applications on residential construction sites and large commercial construction sites. "I personally put forward an effective, feasible alternative that would save lives and reduce injuries in a more cost-effective way by developing regulations for crane operator certification which are appropriate to the equipment that is being used and the risks presented by that equipment," he said. However, since small businesses were not brought into the process until after the rule was finalized, Harris said his participation "seemed little more than a procedural hurdle with little interest from OSHA to make changes based on the feedback received."


Stormwater discharges:

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency issued changes to its policies covering stormwater discharges from developed sites that had major ramifications for home builders. Once again, EPA failed to provide sufficient information about the proposed changes to a small business review panel on which Harris also served. "Unfortunately, the pattern is often the same: Agencies either fail to comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act by ignoring the statutory obligation to convene a small entity review panel or convene a panel but fail to provide the panelists sufficient information concerning the proposed rule to allow them to evaluate regulatory options or provide alternatives," he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule:

EPA failed to convene a small business review panel when it first moved to amend the rule in 2008. The final rule, which went into effect in 2010, constrained small businesses in the home building and remodeling industry. It requires renovation work that disturbs more than six square feet in a home built before 1978 to follow new lead-safe work practices supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm.

This has resulted in excessive compliance costs that ultimately get passed on to consumers. An unintended consequence of this rule is that it encourages home owners to hire uncertified contractors to do the work, or worse, do the work themselves and actually increase the likelihood of disturbing lead-based paint. Poor development and implementation by EPA has jeopardized safety, needlessly raised costs for remodelers and consumers, and hindered both job growth and energy efficiency upgrades.

Many of the deficiencies in EPA's RRP rule could have been addressed if the agency had complied with both the letter and the spirit of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, said Harris.

When establishing the Regulatory Flexibility Act in 1980, Congress said the purpose of the law was to "fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to regulations. To achieve this, principal agencies are required to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given serious consideration."

"Unfortunately, all too often federal agencies view compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act as either a technicality of the federal rulemaking process or, worse yet, as unnecessary," Harris said. "I urge Congress to seek out ways to improve agency compliance with this law."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's not too late to enter the 2013 Stew Challenge!

BIA Annual Legislative Night & Stew Challenge

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Time: 5:30 - 8:00 pm
Location: St. Andrew's Priory, Ylang Ylang Courtyard


Stew Team FAQ:

Q: Is there a fee to enter?
A: No, it is FREE for up to 3 team members.  Any additional are $15 per person.

Q: Do we make the stew there?
A: No, you prepare your stew ahead of time.

Q: What do I need to bring?
A: BIA provides a 6-foot table, propane burners, paper plates, stew cups, spoons, napkins, rice, salad, and dessert.  A 5-gallon pot is available for pick-up from BIA office in Waipahu.  You need to bring your stew, a ladle, and any condiments (i.e. nuts, corn bread, crackers, etc.).

Q: Will we be judged?
A: Yes, entries will be judged on taste, originality and theme.  Company signage and theme decorations are encouraged.

Enter a Stew Team here, or Register to Attend here


2012 Stew Challenge Winners:

 1st Place - Honolulu Star-Advertiser's "Paniolo Stew"

 2nd Place & People's Choice - The Gas Company's "Rockin' Lobster Stew"

 3rd Place - Breezway North America's "Roo Stew"

 Best Theme - D.R. Horton, Schuler Division's "Green Peas and Spam"

Monday, March 11, 2013

Home Ownership and Politics: What’s at Stake

By: Karen T. Nakamura, CEO
Building Industry Association of Hawaii

Now that the dust has settled from the elections, Congress will be turning its attention to the debate over housing policy. 

Thanks to national policy that has acknowledged the importance of the home in American family life for almost a century, generations of Americans have counted on their homes for their children’s education, their own retirement and a personal sense of accomplishment.

But despite the fact that most Americans want change that will mend the housing market, create jobs and boost the overall economy, policymakers are proposing radical changes that threaten the dream of home ownership for millions of current and future Americans.

The policies that are being considered could negatively impact Americans’ ability to buy a first home, keep their current home or enter into the move-up market.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

Eliminating or limiting the mortgage interest deduction would impose a huge tax increase on millions of middle-class home owners and discourage prospective buyers. Changing the deduction would cause after-tax housing costs to increase, and housing demand to decrease.

Reduced demand would depress home prices, producing a sizable loss for existing home owners, leave more home owners underwater and fuel even more foreclosures. Such a change in home values could weaken the economic recovery and perhaps drive the nation’s economy back into recession.

Mandating 20 Percent Down Payments

The national Qualified Residential Mortgage standard that is being proposed by federal agencies would require a minimum 20 percent downpayment and other stricter qualifications, which would keep homeownership out of reach for most first-time home buyers and middleclass households. According to National Association of Home Builders estimates, it would take 12 years for the typical family to save enough money for a 20 percent downpayment on a median-priced single-family home. Other research has found it would take even longer.

Creditworthy Borrowers Denied Home Ownership Opportunities

Even though there is pent up demand for homes in many parts of the country, the construction or sale of which would create jobs and support local economies, lenders are not making loans to qualified home buyers. Creditworthy borrowers are being prevented from buying homes by overly restrictive lending standards which is slowing the housing recovery and hurting the economic recovery.

Restoring the flow of credit to qualified home buyers will boost the housing market, help put America back to work, and strengthen the economic health of communities across the country by providing tax revenues that local governments need to fund schools, police and firefighters.

Just as each home is important to the family that owns it, housing is vitally important to local, state and national economies. It is critical that homeownership remains attainable and that access to safe, decent and affordable housing remains a national priority.

For more information on the impact of housing and home ownership, go to or email or

Sunday, March 3, 2013

2013 BIA Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards - March 8 Deadline

HONOLULU- The Building Industry Association of Hawaii (BIA-Hawaii) will present the 28th Annual BIA Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards on May 8, 2013 during the Gala Awards Dinner at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. This premier statewide competition is open to all residential and commercial projects, either new construction or remodeled, that have not been previously entered in a BIA Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards competition. To enter the 2013 BIA Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards competition, visit The Final entry deadline is March 8, 2013.

This Call for Entries is available to all residential, commercial and public works projects and welcomes contractors, developers, architects, designers, kitchen and bath designers. Entry Divisions include Residential Remodeling, Commercial Remodeling, New Residential, New Commercial, Public Works, Details, Landscape & Outdoor Living, Hawaii BuiltGreen™, Historical, Kitchen & Bath and Innovative Construction Division. Official entry details are available online at  The entry deadline for all entrants of the 2013 BIA Renaissance Awards is March 8, 2013.

For more information and to obtain a BIA Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards entry, contact Clarice Watanabe at 629-7503, email or visit the website.