May is National Home Remodeling Month, so this seems like a great time to talk about all that HBA does to be the strongest advocate, promoter and overall home for the remodeling industry in the greater Portland market.
Legislative and Regulatory support – second to none
First, it is an absolute fact that the governmental affairs and lobbying staff and efforts done by our local HBA, combined with our state (OHBA) and national (NAHB) legislative support, are the best in Oregon, and are almost single-handedly representing remodelers and fighting off unreasonable regulations, fees and other burdensome requirements. Locally, we are the only association that is active in every jurisdiction in our region, fighting unreasonable SDCs, permit fees and other regulations that add costs to remodelers and their clients. We spearheaded the Portland FIR program (fast-tracking permits) for remodelers, are actively working to stop the City’s proposal to penalize contractors who build to code by charging them a “carbon pollution fee”, and are collaborating with the City of Portland and other jurisdictions to find green building initiatives that make sense.
Our main state lobbyist was ranked as one of the top in the State Legislature in terms of respect, clout and influence. No lobbyist from any other remodeling association even made the top 35. And we’re not simply testifying on issues at a hearing – we’re working behind the scenes to shape policy and stop bad legislation before anyone else even knows it exists.
Another example of our strength is the way NAHB was able to kill the onerous and unnecessary lead based paint abatement requirements proposed by the EPA . No other remodeling organization in the country had the financial resources or legislative clout to go fund the studies, participate in the studies, and lobby Congress and the EPA on this issue. Without your HBA, these burdensome proposals and costs would have become mandated for all of your projects.
Contractor Quality – improving standards for all
The entire building community suffers from contractors who aren’t ethical, aren’t properly trained, and who leave homeowners high and dry. HBA and OHBA were the only organizations representing remodelers on the Construction Claims Task Force, put together last year to make recommendations on how to strengthen contractor quality. While we ultimately couldn’t support some of the bills that came out of the legislature last year because they had parts added to them that would have been too burdensome for good contractors, we didn’t let this stop the original intent of our efforts. We have been working with the CCB for the last six months to develop ongoing education requirements for all contractors – ones that will meet the legislature’s concerns, be fair for good contractors, and help the entire industry become stronger.
In addition, we are the only organization representing remodelers that helped create, fund and continues to support the Northwest College of Construction. NWCC is a phenomenal educational institution right in our own Portland backyard that provides hands-on training for specialty trades skills in addition to supervisory management and other needed skill sets. We invested almost $200,000 to make this dream a reality, and the payoff will be huge. We now have an accredited training insitution for those wanting to work in the building and remodeling industry or those who are already employed and need to enhance their skills. On top of that, HBA members get discounts on the course fees for their employees.
New Home and Remodeling Construction – uniting the industry
While it’s very true that there are differences in how new home contractors and remodeling contractors operate their businesses, there are also many things all contractors have in common. There are also many things that we can all learn from each other – ideas that can help production builders, infill builders, custom builders, high-end project remodelers, and smaller project remodelers do business better. That’s why HBA (over 1,400 members), OHBA (over 5,000 members) and NAHB (over 225,000 members) work hard to unite the industry.
I have sat in committee meetings and been at informal networking functions where remodelers and new home contractors were asking questions about each other’s businesses, learning from each other, and building up our industry. Even a simple question, like “How much is the traditional mark-up?” is viewed as an opportunity to help educate and improve the industry further. That’s one of the reasons we have a single Excellence Awards program each February – where the industry comes together and the best in new home construction, remodeling construction, and sales & marketing are collectively recognized and celebrated. It’s also why our Board and other leadership groups are made up of a diverse mix of new and remodel construction contractors.
While there are smaller building organizations that fill special niches, and do a good job in certain areas, no other organization has the financial capabilities, staff size, and industry resources to truly represent the residential construction industry – new homes and remodels – like HBA does at the local, State and National levels. And in a time like we’re facing now, with the housing market downturn affecting all of us, there’s no better reason to join, renew or become more active in the one association that makes the biggest impact to our industry, bar none.