California Legislator Proposes Statewide Solar Mandate for New Buildings

PhotovoltaicScott Wiener, a California state senator has introduced legislation that would require the installation of solar power on new residential and commercial buildings throughout California.

Under existing California state law, all new residential and commercial buildings up to 10 stories tall must have 15% of their roof area be “solar ready,” meaning unshaded and free of obtrusions. The proposed new legislation would require that solar be installed on the 15% of solar-ready roof area.

“Fighting climate change and building a sustainable future require us to take immediate action to put in place real clean energy solutions,” says Wiener. “Our environment and our future generations need us to act now, especially as a wave of climate change deniers invade Washington as part of the new presidential administration. Climate change is real, and we must reverse course from the polluting energy practices that got us here, not double down on dirty power. California can – and will – remain the national leader in building a clean energy future, and solar power is critical in moving us down that path.”

In a press release, Wiener points out that this legislation would make California the very first state in the U.S. to require solar to be installed on new construction projects.

This legislation could mean huge changes for builders. Let us know if you have any questions on how this will impact your business.

Source: https://www.bdcnetwork.com/calif-legislator-proposes-statewide-solar-mandate-new-buildings

2017 Home Sales Set to Break Records

Home: House is Sold SuccessfullyHome sales are primed to increase in 2017, according to predictions from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers’ Association (MBA), Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and more.

NAR is expecting existing-home sales to eclipse 6 million in 2017, up from its 5.8 million forecast for 2016. But the other establishments are even more optimistic. MBA is expecting home sales to eclipse 6.5 million next year, while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are both forecasting 6.2 million.

Meanwhile, new-home construction starts are anticipated to climb to about 1.5 million per year until 2024, predicts Forisk Research.

Home builders are probable to be more subdued, despite demands for additional inventory. “Home builders’ behavior likely is still cautious because of their experience during the crash,” Pantheon Macro Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson told MarketWatch. “No one wants to be caught with excess inventory during a sudden downshift in demand. In this cycle, the pursuit of market share and volumes is less important than profitability and balance sheet resistance.”

As always, unanticipated events in the coming year could render all of these forecasts moot. But there is one thing we can guarantee about 2017: It will be interesting.

Millennials are Buying. What’s Your Plan?

MILLENNIALS

Whether if you like them or not, you need to fully understand the fact that Millennials are the future. Right now they make up over 1/3 of all US workers and have the ability to change industries from within. Perhaps more importantly, given their demographics they own astonishing purchasing power at over $200 billion dollars annually and influence the buying habits of older and younger generations.

That’s why Millennials are either thanked or blamed for the majority of market shifts. Last year, Millennials were tagged as the group who were not purchasing as many homes as expected; this year they are the sparks that will ignite a dismal building industry. Whichever way, as the elders of this generation round into their early to mid 30s, buying a home is becoming a priority.

According to the 2015 TD Bank Mortgage Service Index, 50% of Millennials are either “extremely” or “very” likely to purchase a home in the next year. Nela Richardson, the chief economist for Redfin acknowledged this stat by predicting, “Millennials will have a huge impact on the housing market for the next decade, just because of demographics alone.” She also added, “So whatever a few of them do, there’s enough of them that they’ll make a big impact.” Builders: Are you ready? Have you taken the time to strategize for the Millennial shift and adjust your products and services to capture our attention and deliver a great experience? I hope so.

What enough of them are doing is making home buying pedestrian. And, at least for the Millennial generation, that’s a smart move.

Labor Concerns Loom Large Despite Industry Growth

under constructionAccording to Gilbane Building’s 2015-2016 Market Conditions in Construction report, the construction industry added one million jobs in the last five years and 800,000 of those jobs were added in the past three years. From an outsider perspective this seems to be a very encouraging sign indicating huge growth patterns for the industry. But upon deeper investigation there is a huge issue relating to the amount of skilled workers available and the continued demand for builders to hire more workers for additional projects in the coming years.

Recently, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index surveyed builders about the problems they expected to face in 2016 and beyond, and 76% of builders said cost and availability of labor topped the list. With over three quarters of builders already facing labor issues now and the expected industry needs for job gains of 500,000-600,000 in 2016-2017, what will you do?

The construction industry delivered impressive employment gains at the end of 2015, with the addition of 120,000 jobs during October thru December last year. During this surge of employment, industry experts said they believed a softening of the energy sector and higher wages were luring more workers into construction. However, the industry only added 18,000 jobs in January, and the construction unemployment rate rose to 8.5%, indicating construction companies need to up their games and find new ways to help maximize their current workforce or be forced to turn away business.

Current predictions for the industry forecast 2016 spending to increase 9.7% to well over $1.2 trillion. If this prediction is correct, total construction spending growth from 2014 to 2016 would reach 30% setting a new record-high growth period. It is imperative that builders consider all of the tools at their disposal and seek the benefits of outsourcing or improving certain aspects of your projects.

This is where the experience and knowledge of dwellingLIVE helps ease your pain. We have worked with the building industry for over 17 years and have developed a comprehensive suite of products that effectively incorporate into your projects and relieve the burden of labor issues and cost.

dwellingLIVE offers state of the art products like: Online Customer Portal, Maintenance Manuals, Project Archives, Service Request Management, Security, Online HOA Maintenance Manuals and more. These products have been proven over and over again to free up valuable time for the project team while enabling them to deliver a 100% accurate and complete project specific deliverable so they can easily do what they do best. Build and sell homes!

Think we might be a fit for your next project? Lets talk!

Help Your Homeowners (Part II)

smiling couple looking at blueprint at homeThe intent of a homeowners’ manual is to deliver useful and timely information to homeowners. It is an easy way to guide your clients to useful product information, common maintenance solutions, and homeowner education. Information may be delivered in a hard-copy printed version or in some digital/online format. Either way, the information should be organized and categorized for quick and easy access. It should also provide general green living tips, resources, and additional information.

The NGBS includes Homeowner Education/Maintenance elements to ensure that homeowners are able to maintain and enjoy the long-term benefits from their homes’ green features. For a home to be NGBS Green Certified, the homeowners/maintenance manual must include all the mandatory items and obtain enough optional points to meet the Chapter 10 point threshold.

Maintenance checklists provide a baseline for homeowners on when to perform various maintenance tasks, as well as provide a guideline for which tasks are DIY versus those that may require calling a professional. Maintenance task checklists should be organized monthly, seasonally, or annually.

Homeowner education is typically conducted upon the walk-through of the house and can be easily reinforced with use of a homeowners’ manual and/or a custom online platform. Good education and a comprehensive homeowners’ manual may even reduce call-backs, especially concerning the most common homeowner questions and concerns. Remember, homeowner education is an invaluable opportunity for you to showcase the quality of the green or high-performance home you have built, and your level of customer service.

Home buyers often feel overwhelmed with the amount of responsibility that comes with owning a new home. Without a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, they turn to the builder, flooding customer service with requests and questions for areas of the home that they should be maintaining. The dwellingLIVE Homeowner Manual and online platform solves this problem by providing every piece of valuable information a new home buyer needs to maintain their new home, professionally assembled and organized in an intuitive and user-friendly way!

This documentation helps builders establish greater loyalty through improved home buyer satisfaction and communication. Not only does this information recognize the significant investment made by home buyers, but it empowers them to take the lead on properly maintaining their homes. Our wellspring of climate-appropriate, industry-vetted content is a broad resource of best practices for continuous maintenance. Maintenance information management is the cornerstone of several key initiatives undertaken by the builder which will work to reduce risk, increase home buyer satisfaction, and increase internal efficiency.

dwellingLIVE is dedicated to ensuring each and every home is properly maintained. In our efforts to provide our customers with the best home experience possible, we have developed specific maintenance instructions for our clients. These documents provide homeowners with important information that will allow them to better maintain their home and ensure they have the tools available to protect their investment. It inspires them to get the most out of their home and life. Plus your legal department will love the consistency you will be able to deliver. Start reducing risk and increasing customer satisfaction today.

Help Your Homeowners (Part 1)

New HomeJust about everything we buy comes with a manual. Car? Check. Television? Yep. Camera? No doubt. But the one thing we buy that doesn’t come with a manual is precisely the purchase that needs one the most, a new house.

There are maintenance needs for a home that the common homeowner is unaware of, and homebuilders likely won’t realize they were being neglected until things break. Buying a home is the biggest investment that most American families will make. And smart homeowners know that maintaining their home protects their investment.

The unfortunate reality is the day a house is built it starts to decline. Regular maintenance performed by the educated homeowner will minimize that decline. If maintenance is not carried out, or something simply gets worn out, repair will be required, which by its nature, requires some degree of financial investment from either the owner or builder.

Home maintenance can cover a wide range of activities that can be categorized into interior and exterior tasks or by home system, such as plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical, and landscaping/grounds maintenance. Certain maintenance tasks should be performed monthly, seasonally, or annually but how do your homeowners know what to do and when to do it?

Homes today are increasingly complex – they involve systems within systems, integrated technologies, and dozens of “pieces” or components that homeowners rely on every day. Each home component – including systems, appliances, finishes, etc. – has its own make, model, serial number, user manual, warranty information, and more.

A comprehensive homeowners’ manual is the key to maintaining and understanding all of these complex components. It is a compilation of information to help homeowners quickly and easily find the information to operate and maintain their homes properly. With green homes this is particularly important, as the efficiency and effectiveness of all the various elements that make the home “green” are very interrelated and cannot be overlooked. Homeowner education and documentation via a homeowners’ manual or online platform is required by all the major certifying agencies – Leed for Homes, GreenPoint, National Green Building Standard (NGBS), and even state programs like CalGreen in California. But beyond that, it’s just good business!

Responses from NAHB and Guild Quality’s recent survey, “Homeowner’s Perspective: The Value of a Green Home,” illustrated that homeowners would like more education from their builders.2 Owners of Green Certified homes specifically requested education to “understand how to operate and maximize the benefits of the green-related features in their home.” Taking adequate, timely care of a home is extremely beneficial in the long run and a homeowners’ manual helps homeowners – your clients – protect their most significant and important investment.

Importance of Strategic Business Partners

Handshake on a business meeting

In today’s society is there really a secret formula to building a successful company? Nowadays companies have to be transparent and there is no such thing as secrets in the business world. Therefore, a huge amount of the “secret formula” in today’s business is in collaboration! This in many situations means for companies to invite and be invited as a strategic partner.

You might ask what is so beneficial about business partnerships. Strategic business partnerships provide businesses with the opportunity to increase their customer base, and or use partnerships to strengthen weak aspects of their business. In both cases the plan should be to identify consumer’s wants and needs and find partners that can resolve them. Such opportunities are developed by identifying what your customers want from products and services and making strategic partners play a “thought leadership” role within your business, effectively adding the missing piece to the puzzle. Thus, partnerships for businesses create and give access to new products, reach of new markets, surpass competitors, and even increase customer loyalty.

So, what is it that makes an alliance truly strategic to a particular company? Here are five general criteria that differentiate strategic partnerships:

  1. Critical to the success of a core business goal or objective.
  2. Critical to the development or maintenance of a core competency or other source of competitive advantage.
  3. Blocks a competitive threat.
  4. Creates or maintains strategic choices for the firm.
  5. Mitigates a significant risk to the business.

The essential issue when developing a strategic partnership is to understand which of these criteria the other party views as strategic. If either partner misunderstands the other’s expectation of the alliance, it is likely to fall apart.

Regardless of the industry in which your business operates, having an ally on your side in the form of a strategic partner will benefit your company. A strategic partnership or an alliance will give you a competitive advantage and an opportunity to access a broader range of resources and expertise. This means that the partnership can offer clients distinctive skill sets and product lines that are different from the competition. Successful partnerships and alliances rely on the principle that the work involved in maintaining a partnership, and the benefits from the alliance are equally spread, rather than one partner carrying the load whilst the other reaps the benefits.

When entering into a strategic partnership or alliance, there is a lot to consider, however keeping the following tips in mind will help you on your journey:

  • Focus on Outcomes. It is important to know what you can, and are prepared to deliver, and what you would like in return from your potential partner. Approaching a partner without a clear plan can cause them to lose interest.
  • Commitment. The level of commitment required from each party needs to be considered. The nature of your business and that of the partnership or alliance will determine how much each party needs to give in order to keep the partnership or alliance healthy.
  • Collaboration. The extent to which you will be happy to share resources with partners will need to be considered. Generally, the more collaborative the partnership or alliance, the more successful the endeavor is. However, it is also important to keep in mind that you are not merging with the partner organization, rather you are forming an alliance and so total sharing of resources is not necessary.
  • Communication. An emphasis on effective communication between partners is essential. Open and effective channels of communication between members of the partnership or alliance will ensure that there are no misaligned expectations between the parties.

One thing that is imperative in creating successful partnerships is a shared vision and enthusiasm. Remember, that not every detail of operations can be planned for, and the success of the endeavor will depend on the amount of trust and communication between the parties.

dwellingLIVE’s business approach responds successfully to the needs of homebuilders and changing industry regulations by developing and supporting a core group of traditional and technology-focused products that allow our clients to improve customer satisfaction, reduce risk, operate more efficiently, and focus on what they do best: building homes.