When it comes to legislation, regulation and public policy issues that impact the remodeling industry, no association in Oregon is stronger and more productive than the Home Builders Association. We work to promote the professionalism of the building industry – new construction and remodeling – and have been doing it longer than anyone else in the state.
In fact, six years before a smaller Oregon remodeling association was even formed, HBA worked with the state legislature to create the Construction Contractors Board (CCB), a proactive step at that time to establish licensing and push for professionalism in the industry. An HBA member was the first CCB Chair, and now, 38 years later, an HBA member is currently serving in that same position and guiding CCB’s efforts to maintain and increase excellence in the industry through continuing education requirements for all licensed contractors.
The list of issues that HBA, at our local and state level, has engaged in that help remodelers is long and important. Tree codes, design review, green building policy, allowable setbacks, environmental standards, permitting delays, low voltage regulations, and building codes are just a few of the areas that HBA handles – not just in 37 jurisdictions across the metro Portland region, but with the support of OHBA and local HBAs across the state, in every jurisdiction statewide and at the state legislature.
A great example of what the HBA does for remodelers was our influence in creating the Portland Field Issuance Remodel (FIR) program. Spearheaded by members of the HBA’s Professional Remodeler’s Organization (PRO), the FIR program allows inspectors to issue permits for many remodeling projects in the field. This program is a model the OHBA and other organizations are pushing throughout Oregon.
Another benefit to remodelers is our well respected Government Affairs staff. No other remodeling association, or construction association for that matter, can boast two staff members fully committed to local affairs (Portland Metropolitan Area), two more professional lobbyists in Salem and many more throughout the state via our local HBA Associations. No other association has close to the financial ability to fight unfair or illegal jurisdictional actions than the HBA does (a Legal Fund approaching $500,000, and growing).
Here are some recent examples of items the HBA is currently working on that directly affect the remodeling industry:
Creating Remodeling Incentives: OHBA spearheaded a statewide effort to promote energy efficiency and green building. HB2626 would provide additional funding from state, private (investment dollars) and federal sources for weatherization of homes and other energy efficient remodels. If passed, this bill would create a large number of job opportunities for remodelers throughout Oregon.
Pushing for Remodeling Tax Credits: HB3095 would provide a tax credit for residential and commercial remodeling. Along with HB 2626, these are the only two bills currently moving through the legislative process which actually create jobs in the short-term. This is worth noting since both refer to remodeling and were crafted in part by the OHBA.
Fighting Small Business Taxes: The state legislature has its designs on increased fees and taxes for just about anything right now that could help out its $4.4 billion deficit. Chief among these are corporate minimum tax increases, which are likely to increase significantly. The OHBA is fighting on behalf of the entire industry to minimize the impact of new taxes and fees on homebuilding and remodeling.
Securing Permit and Fee Extensions: The HBA is working with several jurisdictions to secure permit extensions, which would help members avoid additional fees for permits that have not been picked up prior to their expiration dates. This effort was born out of a request from remodelers who were running into job cancellations midway through completion due to a lack of continued funding. Several local jurisdictions have agreed to honor expired permits as long as no code changes have occurred during the expiration period.
Pushing for Freezes on Fee Increases: The HBA asked all jurisdictions to take a break from increasing fees for inspections and services during this economic period. The response thus far has been fairly encouraging, with most increases only occurring on SDC’s (typically not a remodeling cost).
While there are obviously differences between new construction and remodeling, both in practice and in business operation, there are also a lot of common areas. Most of the companies in both sectors are small businesses and entrepreneurs, share similar concerns, and have a common passion for building homes.
One of the benefits of the HBA is that it brings new construction builders, remodelers and other industry professionals together onto a common ground where we can learn from each other, help each other, and collectively have a stronger voice than we would separately.