Builder’s Will Save Average of $6,200 Per Home Due to NAHB Efforts on ELGs
Home builders will save an average of $6,200 per home on stormwater control costs due to a recent settlement agreement between NAHB and the Wisconsin Home Builders Association and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In accordance with the settlement agreement, EPA has taken final action on rules governing how clean the water running off construction sites after a rainfall must be. The new rules will be published in the Federal Register by March 11.
The Effluent Limitation Guidelines rule replaces EPA’s 2009 attempt to control erosion and sediment. That proposed rule prohibited certain kinds of discharges and limited the amount of dust and dirt allowed in any eventual runoff in what is called the turbidity limit. NAHB economists estimate that this last stipulation regarding runoff would have forced builders to apply additional expensive controls or additives to the water. On average, these controls would have cost $6,200 per each new home constructed.
NAHB’s litigation brought EPA to the settlement table where, after forceful negotiations, the agency backed away from this onerous and costly rule. NAHB successfully argued that there was no scientific basis for the limits, which in some cases could require runoff to be cleaner than the natural state of the rivers and other water bodies near the construction site.
The settlement agreement allowed EPA to enact a new rule that maintains the erosion control requirements, but drops the turbidity limit. The new rule also clarifies some requirements for the benefit of states updating their own stormwater permits, which must be at least as strict as EPA’s national model and must be renewed every five years.
59 Markets Above Last Normal Levels of Economic and Housing Activity
Markets in 59 of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide have returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI), which was released on March 6. This represents a net gain of one from the previous month.
The index’s nationwide score held steady at .87. This means that based on current permits, prices and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 87% of normal economic and housing activity.
Meanwhile, 32% of metro areas saw their score rise this month, and 84% have shown an improvement over the past year.
Baton Rouge, La., tops the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.41 – or 41% better than its last normal market level. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, Texas, as well as Harrisburg, Pa. and Pittsburgh – all of whose LMI scores indicate that their market activity now exceeds previous norms.
Looking at smaller metros, both Odessa and Midland, Texas, boast LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning that their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Casper, Wyo.; Bismarck, N.D.; and Grand Forks, N.D., respectively.
Flood Insurance Reform Passes House
Understanding the major implications of skyrocketing flood insurance rates, BASE has been working over the past several months in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of REALTORS, and the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance to push for sustainable reform.
Last week, HR 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 passed the US House with a vote of 306-91. The issue now returns to the Senate, which had previously passed legislation to delay increases for four years. For more information, click here (http://ncbase.org/news/us-house-passes-flood-insurance-reform.html)