Over 200 Expected at Home Building Industry Day at the Capitol

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Roseville, MN (February 7, 2015)– The Builders Association of the Twin Cities, along with the Builders Association of Minnesota and 13 local home builders associations from outstate Minnesota are hosting Builder Day at the Capitol on February 18th. Over 200 individuals from the home building and remodeling industry across Minnesota will be visiting their State Senators and Representatives to have their voices heard.

With the sprinkler mandate and new building and energy code taking effect this month, the housing industry is currently facing a number of major challenges. That’s why this year it is so important these issues be brought to the attention of legislators during Builder Day at the Capitol.

“Home builders are feeling the full effects of the new residential building and energy code, as it will unnecessarily raise the price of new homes in Minnesota,” said BATC President Chris Contreras. “We can’t afford the wrong code, we strongly believe we need to send the code back and get it right.”

Home building and remodeling generates substantial state and local economic activity, from well-paying jobs for residents to tax revenue for local governments during and after construction. In fact, according to research by BATC’s national affiliate, the National Association of Home Builders, the residential housing industry has contributed on average 15 percent to the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In Minnesota, the home building and remodeling industry is experiencing a steady recovery after a historic downturn. The industry built more than 10,000 new residential housing units in 2014, and remodelers report a commensurate upsurge in activity. Homebuilders and remodelers employ highly trained and skilled laborers, both union and non-union, with an average wage for subcontractors currently at $32 per hour. Home ownership remains a core value for most Americans, and housing is truly an American-made product.

The Top Issues for BATC Home Builders and Remodelers in 2015:

Regulatory Burden – Minnesota has the highest regulatory burden in the Midwest and one of the highest in the country, with between 25 and 35 percent of the final sales price of a home attributed to regulatory costs. While the industry supports regulations that benefit homebuyers and the community, it is prepared to fight against regulations that are unneeded and unwarranted.

Home Indoor Sprinkler Mandate – One looming regulation that the industry is fighting to halt requires home indoor sprinklers in all new single family homes at 4,500 square feet or greater (including unfinished basements). This is a provision included in the new the Minnesota State Building Code, and one which 41 out of the 43 states have already rejected. Substantial independent data supports the fact that new homes are safer than older homes, and mandated interconnected smoke alarms have proven to be effective in saving lives. The Residential Code Advisory Committee voted twice against the provision, while in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 a bi-partisan, super-majority of state legislators were in support of legislation, which would prohibit including an indoor sprinkler mandate in the building code.

Warranty and Liability – Warranty and Notice and Opportunity to Repair (NOR) provisions are currently out of balance, which is directly affecting the construction of for-sale multi family projects and is raising warranty service costs when NOR processes are not used to solve construction problems. The housing industry needs lawmakers to support legislation that would balance homeowner protection and reasonable processes to address warranty questions. Homebuilders and contractors oppose SF104, which would award attorney fees only to homeowners and not contractors even if they are the prevailing party.

Workforce Housing – For too long the state has prioritized “affordable” housing subsidies to the detriment of housing for Minnesota’s mainstream workforce. Policy makers are finally embracing the idea that to keep the economy going and homes affordable, they need to reduce regulation and encourage meaningful growth mechanisms such as grants or tax credits. The industry supports SF468/HF 684, which establishes workforce housing grants to qualified cities for expenditures related to the construction of, or financing for market rate housing.

Met Council Growth Policy – As the Metropolitan Council looks to the next 25 years of growth for the region, the housing industry is concerned about its push to use speculative demographic expectations in an attempt to shape patterns of growth. Builders and developers support policies that help ensure affordable housing for those who desire to own a home, and that market forces remain the primary arbiter of how that growth will occur.