Archive June 2023
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Alabama Building Camp Introduces Middle School Girls to the Trades
The Baldwin County Home Builders Association (BCHBA) recently completed its first Baldwin Girls Build Camp to introduce local girls to opportunities in the home building industry.
The concept for the Baldwin Girls Build Camp stemmed from the chartering of a Professional Women in Building (PWB) chapter at BCHBA in June 2022.
“Those members wanted to get more women involved in the industry and started thinking, ‘What can we do?’” shared Marsha Jordan, BCHBA executive vice president. “But instead of going after women, they said, ‘We need to start with younger girls’ and decided to start a camp.”
Jordan and local PWB Chair Nancy Grace requested space from the local school board — which has two technical facilities in the north and south areas of the county — to host the camp. The school board not only provided the facilities, but was also able to provide funding for the instructors, field trips, additional staff and materials. Local PWB members also sponsored the cost of food and snacks so that the HBA was able to provide the opportunity to the campers for free.
The initial weeklong program hosted 18 middle school girls from rising 7th through 9th grades, with a goal to introduce them to the trades and provide them with a hands-on project that they could take home at the end of the week. The campers were able to construct a lamp from scratch, as well as create a toolbox and laser engravings. Speakers throughout the week introduced the campers to all facets of the home building industry, including skilled trades as well as areas such as home mortgages and insurance, and shared their journeys as women in the industry.
“Our PWB volunteers were ecstatic with how much fun they had with these girls,” said Jordan.
On day four of camp, the campers took a field trip to lumber supplier Swift Supply, two homes sites — one completed, one under construction — and the 2023 Parade of Homes Showcase Home by Lemongrass Construction, and a tour of Coastal Stone and Cabinetry, where they competed in a group-based bathroom design contest that was judged by the employees.
Additional activities included an egg drop, scavenger hunt to identify the tools they had been working with, and a parent showcase on the final day of camp.
Planning has already begun on next year’s camp, which may coincide with the opening of Baldwin Preparatory, a new technical school in the county that will house a variety of trades both within and outside the home building industry.
The instructors are eager to help get the program in place, Jordan said. “They enjoyed it as much as the kids did,” she added.
Army Corps Official Signals Next Steps in WOTUS Rulemaking
During a June 22 congressional hearing on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) FY 2024 budget request, it was revealed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Corps would use an administrative rulemaking process called “direct final rule” to expedite a new "waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) rule following the Supreme Court’s Sackett ruling.
Testifying before the congressional panel, Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary U.S. Army Civil Works, revealed the Corps and EPA plan to issue a new regulatory definition of WOTUS under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that will become effective soon after issuance, provided the agencies do not receive adverse comment. If the agencies receive adverse public comments, then they would proceed with the traditional public notice-and-comment rulemaking process for the revised WOTUS regulatory definition.
While Connor did not specify the contents of this direct final WOTUS rule, it was understood that EPA and the Corps would issue a regulatory definition of WOTUS that the agencies believe is consistent with the Sackett ruling.
Furthermore, as stated by Connor, the Corps has stopped processing requests for approved jurisdictional determinations (AJDs) and CWA 404 permits based on an approved jurisdictional determination. Notably, under the approach announced yesterday, neither the Corps nor EPA would issue any interim regulatory guidance directing the Corps districts to resume processing approved AJDs or issuing new CWA 404 permits until this rulemaking process is completed.
The Corp and EPA are developing a rule to amend the final revised definition of WOTUS and intend to issue a final rule by Sept. 1, 2023.
View NAHB’s WOTUS webpage where additional information will be posted on the timing and content of this upcoming rulemaking.
New Home Sales Jump in May
A lack of existing inventory coupled with solid consumer demand helped to boost new home sales in May to their highest level since February 2022.
Sales of newly built, single-family homes in May increased 12.2% to a 763,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Demand for new homes is strengthening because of a lack of existing home inventory,” said Alicia Huey, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Ala. “And while builders continue to grapple with elevated construction costs, an encouraging sign is a big gain in home sales priced in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range. In May 2022, just 5,000 homes sold in this range and that total increased to 12,000 in May 2023.”
“The lack of resale homes available for sale, at just a three months’ supply, is supporting demand for newly built homes,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “New home inventory was 31% of total inventory in May. Historically it is typically 10% to 15%. Further, the pace of resales is down 20% from a year ago, while the rate of new home sales is up 20% from a year ago.”
A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the May reading of 763,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.
New single-family home inventory in May was 428,000, down 2.9% compared to a year ago. This is down to a more balanced 6.7 months’ supply at the current building pace, despite tight existing home supply conditions. A measure near a 6 months’ supply is considered balanced.
The median new home sale price in May was $416,300, down 7.6% compared to a year ago.
Regionally, on a year-to-date basis, new home sales are up 0.8% in the Northeast and 1.6% in the South. New home sales are down 2.5% in the Midwest and 20.7% in the affordability-challenged West.