3221 Harrison Pike Chattanooga, TN 37406 | Phone: (423) 624-9992 | Fax: (423) 624-9435


Local News and Information Archives for 2016-02

The Mortgage Interest Deduction â€" Why it Matters

The mortgage interest deduction, which is sometimes called the MID, has been a cornerstone of American housing policy since the inception of the tax code more than 100 years ago. It supports the aspirations of families at all income levels to become home owners, and Americans overwhelmingly oppose any action by Congress to tamper with the deduction.


   The Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga (HBAGC) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) supports homeownership and rental housing incentives in the current tax code, specifically the deductions for mortgage interest and state and local property taxes as well as provisions that encourage development of affordable housing. HBAGC and NAHB believes that the mortgage interest deduction and other housing tax incentives have helped the U.S. create the best-housed nation on earth. 


   The mortgage interest deduction helps make the tax code more progressive and primarily benefits middle class taxpayers. Data from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation shows that 82 percent of households who benefit from the mortgage interest deduction have incomes of less than $200,000.


   Repealing the MID would have serious economic consequences. Almost all studies examining the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction find that it would reduce demand for housing by raising taxes on prospective home buyers. This reduction in housing demand would also lower home values for existing home owners who would experience a significant loss in wealth.  A 1 percent decline in home prices would result in a loss of $200 billion to American households. Just a 5 percent decline would eliminate $1 trillion in household net worth.


   Clearly, the MID is a critical part in the decision-making process of buying a new home.  HBAGC, with strong support from NAHB, is committed to working with local, area and state policymakers to ensure the MID remains in place and is available for those wishing to take advantage of this economically beneficial tax deduction.

Taking a Closer Look at Today’s Home Buyers

As the housing market continues its gradual recovery, who are today’s home buyers and what motivates them to make a purchase? Recent analysis from the National Association of Home Builders of the latest American Housing Survey provides insight into recent home buyers and the home buying process.


While the number of households buying a home had been falling since 2005, the number of recent home buyers actually doubled between the 2011 and 2013 surveys. Of these 13.7 million households, 43% were buying their first home, while 11% were purchasing a new home.  


Home buyers said the top two reasons for choosing a home were its size and room layout or design. The house’s price and the neighborhood came in tied for third. However, for first-time buyers, price was the top consideration.


When asked about making their neighborhood selection, home buyers noted their top reasons for choosing a neighborhood as “the house itself” and safety. First-time home buyers, who have a median age of 32, also seem to prioritize a healthy home-work balance, such as proximity to job, friends and family.


The size of a purchased home hasn’t changed much in recent years. In fact, the median size of all homes purchased has been 1,800 square feet since 2005. However, the median size of new homes bumped up from 2,100 square feet in 2011 to 2,200 square feet in 2013.


So how long does it take buyers to find the right home? Home buyers looked at 10 different homes before deciding which one to purchase. And about half of the buyers used their savings for a downpayment while 17 percent used the sale of a previous home or purchased their home without a downpayment.

Taking a Closer Look at Today’s Home Buyers

As the housing market continues its gradual recovery, who are today’s home buyers and what motivates them to make a purchase? Recent analysis from the National Association of Home Builders of the latest American Housing Survey provides insight into recent home buyers and the home buying process.


While the number of households buying a home had been falling since 2005, the number of recent home buyers actually doubled between the 2011 and 2013 surveys. Of these 13.7 million households, 43% were buying their first home, while 11% were purchasing a new home.  


Home buyers said the top two reasons for choosing a home were its size and room layout or design. The house’s price and the neighborhood came in tied for third. However, for first-time buyers, price was the top consideration.


When asked about making their neighborhood selection, home buyers noted their top reasons for choosing a neighborhood as “the house itself” and safety. First-time home buyers, who have a median age of 32, also seem to prioritize a healthy home-work balance, such as proximity to job, friends and family.


The size of a purchased home hasn’t changed much in recent years. In fact, the median size of all homes purchased has been 1,800 square feet since 2005. However, the median size of new homes bumped up from 2,100 square feet in 2011 to 2,200 square feet in 2013.


So how long does it take buyers to find the right home? Home buyers looked at 10 different homes before deciding which one to purchase. And about half of the buyers used their savings for a downpayment while 17 percent used the sale of a previous home or purchased their home without a downpayment.

Smart Strategies to Sell Your Home this Fall

Conventional wisdom may say that spring is the best time to put your house on the market, but there are advantages to selling in the fall, too. In fact, with fewer homes on the market, your home may get even more attention from potential home buyers this time of year.


While families may prefer to move in the spring and summer, before the start of the school year, Millennials and seniors are more open to moving in the fall before the holiday season and cold weather approach.


What Millennials Want


Research from the National Association of Home Builders indicates that most Millennials want to live in a single-family home in the suburbs. In terms of home features, they are especially interested in a separate laundry room, Energy Star certifications and storage – including a linen closet, walk-in pantry and garage storage.


Millennials are conducting their home searches online, so be sure your listing pictures tell your home’s story in the best possible light. Include separate pictures of the features that appeal to Millennials, such as your laundry room and linen closet.


Encourage Empty-Nesters to Take a Look


On the other hand, empty-nesters who may be looking to downsize will be attracted to homes with flexible spaces to accommodate their changing lifestyles. For example, you can stage a bedroom as an office or multimedia room. 


Increasingly, empty-nesters are returning to the cities, leaving behind the larger house, yard maintenance and the lengthy commute to downtown offices. More of these buyers are looking for a townhouse or condo that is located near shopping, dining and entertainment.


For more information on buying and selling a home, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at info@hbagc.net or visit nahb.org/forconsumers.

Smart Homes Forecast for Continued Positive Growth

Last year an estimated 26.8 million U.S. households – or 21 percent of homes – harnessed smart home technology for advanced security, entertainment, and efficiency. A smart home is one where a number of automated appliances and systems communicate through a centralized platform that can be remotely managed via internet. Once considered a luxury only for techies and the ultra wealthy, smart home technology has matured into an accessible and sustainable industry with record growth in the last few years.


   Despite reports that smart homes are struggling to make the leap from those loyal early adopters to the mass market, projections show 50 percent of North Americans intend to buy at least one smart home device in the next year. Adults aged 25-34 are most likely to purchase smart systems, while younger millennials will probably be the next wave of adopters as they grow into home ownership age. The elderly and those who care for them are also projected adopters, due to the safety benefits of home health monitoring devices.


   Home security ranks highest for most desired technology, with remote door locks, security cameras, and automatic outdoor lighting taking three of the five top spots. Here in the South, the self-adjusting thermostat also ranks high, with newer versions automatically adjusting based on your proximity to the house.


   While clearly on the rise, there are some lingering barriers to smart home adoption that experts believe must be overcome on order to fully develop the field. Earlier networks can be clunky due to a “patchwork” of myriad systems trying to communicate without a centralized language.  Newer and better software versions will overcome this obstacle and satisfactorily marry the various systems. Also needing action is the simplification of systems for the average consumer.  If you’re not quite ready for your trashcan to automatically order new groceries based on what you toss into it, you’re not alone. Consumers report ease of use as vastly more important than latest technology or “cool factor”.


   For more information on Smart Home Technology, contact Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at 423.624.9992 or info@HBAGC.net.

Show Your Home Some Love

Your home puts up with a lot. It withstands inclement weather, endures the occasional stained carpet, clogged drain or broken window, and it even tolerates the smell of your burnt popcorn.  So it deserves a little love once in a while, and there’s no better time to show it than the month of February. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on new appliances or significant renovations to show your home that you care. There are many simple ways to show your home some love.  Here are a few suggestions.


Shed Some of that Extra Weight


   Do you really need to hold on to all of those 1980s leisure suits you’d hoped would come back in style? You don’t have to wait for spring to roll around to get rid of the junk that may be piling up in your coat closets, basement or garage. Lighten the load throughout your home and it will seem bigger and significantly cleaner.


Get Some Sun 


   Winter doesn’t have to be dreary. Sure, the trees may be bare, but that just means less foliage is blocking the sun. Do your home and yourself a favor and let the sunlight in. Pull back (or take down) the drapes, wash the windows, and maybe even swap out dark lampshades for brighter ones to make the inside of your home cheerier.


Scrub it Down


   Your appliances work hard for you every day so it’s time to give them a thorough cleaning, especially if you haven’t done so recently. Refrigerators especially need a little extra attention on a regular basis. Start by taking everything out, then, be selective about what you put back.


Spruce it Up


   One of the most economical updates you can give your home is paint. Whether it’s a bold new color, or just a fresh coat, painting a room or even just an accent wall can breathe new life into any space. Winter months can sometimes limit interior painting opportunities if it’s consistently too cold outside to open windows for ventilation.


Buy a Bouquet


   If you’re not doing any gardening on the outside of your home during this time of year, bring some flowers inside. A blooming bouquet instantly warms up a room during cold winter months. Check out the flower section of your local grocery store to find festive flowers at reasonable prices. 


   For additional home owner resources, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at 423-624-9992 or www.hbagc.net.

The Roof Over Your Head

A home is the biggest investment most people will ever make, which is why home owners often go to great lengths to protect that investment. But one of the more important components of safeguarding a home is also one of the most often ignored: the roof.


It’s tempting to devote more time and attention to more fashionable maintenance and upgrades like updated kitchen appliances or new bathroom vanities. However, those improvements might lose much of their appeal if water begins dripping through the ceilings or mold starts growing in the walls.


When preparing for winter, the top of your to-do list should include what’s on top of your house. Take the time to ensure your roof is up to the task of protecting everything-- and everyone-- it shelters beneath by following these simple steps:


1. Start by visually scanning the roof for any sagging or uneven areas, which can be signs of damage to the roof deck below the shingles.


2. Clear the gutters of any branches, leaves or other debris that could clog downspouts.  Water or snow that is left standing on the roof will increase the likelihood of leaking or ice damming, which can damage not only to the roof, but the interior walls as well. 


3. Ensure the gutters are fastened properly and securely to the fascia board, to minimize the risk of the gutters loosening or, in extreme conditions, falling off while supporting heavy snow and/or ice.


4. Remove any debris from the valleys, including small branches and accumulating leaves, which can add weight to the roof and also inhibit proper drainage.


5. Check the positioning and the condition of the flashings, which are the thin pieces of material, often made of aluminum or other metals, used to prevent water seepage between joints and seams around vents, pipes, skylights, and chimneys. When loosened or damaged by high winds and heavy rains, flashings can actually cause leaks rather than prevent them.


6. Examine the condition of the shingles and repair or replace any that might be missing or damaged. Look for curling edges or missing granules.  


Inspecting your roof at least twice a year (before and after winter) by following these steps will help you identify potential problems before they result in costly repairs or even premature roof replacement.


For additional home owner resources, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga or nahb.org/consumers.

Remodel or Relocate? Critical Questions to Consider

If you’re among the growing masses of dedicated viewers, you might begin to look around and notice some of your own home’s shortcomings. Inadequate storage, limited cooking space or simply an outdated design might conjure thoughts of one day remodeling your kitchen, bathrooms or living spaces. Or instead, perhaps you’ll begin to consider moving into a bigger or newer home.


Start by asking yourself these questions:


1. What’s in the budget? The first step is the most obvious: you’ll need to crunch some numbers to determine what is financially feasible. Remodeling can be a great investment and save you the hassle of moving. On the other hand, buying a home can be instantly gratifying, but the true costs of buying (and selling) – such as commissions, closing costs and moving fees – need to be part of the equation, as that is money you won’t get back.


2. Is it a simple fix that you can do yourself? Or a bigger project that will require a professional? Some home owners are especially handy and want to tackle the job themselves. But most others like having the assurance of knowing a professional – who has the necessary equipment, expertise and resources – will get the job done right the first time.


3. What is the current value of your home compared to similar homes in your neighborhood? If your home is already the most expensive one in the neighborhood, you might not see a significant return on your investment if you remodel. But if comparable home values are greater than your home’s value, you’re much more likely to see a strong return by making improvements.


4. How might your decision impact your taxes? Remodeling your current home or moving to a new home will have an effect on your property taxes. The change may or may not be significant, so it’s good to keep it in mind.


5. How might your needs change in the next 3, 5 or 10 years? A growing family, kids going off to college, an aging family member moving in – all are examples of factors that can significantly impact your future requirements for a home.


The answers to these questions are different for everyone, which is why it is important for you to carefully consider each one while keeping in mind your unique situation. For additional resources on remodeling your home or buying a new home, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga or visit nahb.org/forconsumers.

Preparing to Buy in 2016

When winter gives way to spring, the temperatures won’t be the only things on the rise. The home-buying market tends to heat up as well during the spring, and 2016 will be no exception.  Many savvy buyers will be looking to lock in attractive interest rates while they still remain low.  If this group includes you, the time to start preparing is now. These tips will help put you in a better position to find a home that’s just right.


Make your Checklist


   First-time home buyers should take the time to determine what their needs are, especially regarding size, location and amenities. But even seasoned home owners will find that having a must-have list can save significant time by helping them avoid listings that may look great in the photos, but in reality, won’t meet their needs.


Check Your Credit Score


   Even if you’ve purchased a home in the past, stricter credit requirements are making it more challenging for some buyers to find home loans. Lenders are more cautious than ever, so having a favorable credit score can make a difference in your ability to be approved for a loan. Even if you think nothing has changed recently on your credit report, it’s good to check periodically to ensure you aren’t being unfairly penalized for old debts, which can sometimes linger on credit reports.


Determine What You Can Afford


   Don’t let your maximum loan approval amount dictate what your home-buying budget should be. Though the approval process is more extensive now than it was even just a few years ago, lenders still want to make as much profit as possible. You, however, are the best person to judge what you can realistically afford. Experts say that your total monthly home expenses should not exceed more than one-third of your gross monthly income.  


Sell Your Current Home


   If buying a new home is contingent on the sale of your current home, it’s a good idea to start the process by reaching out and consulting with your realtor. Ask him or her about your best strategy to sell your home quickly, but at the right time and for the best price possible. You’ll want to identify any maintenance issues your home has, and determine if, how and when each one will need to be addressed. 


  For more information about the home buying process, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at 423-624-9992 or info@hbagc.net.

New Downpayment Program Expands Homeownership Opportunities

Even as the housing market continues its slow and steady recovery, many potential buyers find that qualifying for a mortgage and saving for a downpayment remain high hurdles to homeownership. The good news is that while lenders are looking more closely at borrowers today than in recent years, there are options for purchasing your home without a 20% down payment.


In fact, creditworthy borrowers with moderate to low incomes will be able to purchase a home with a downpayment as low as 3% through Fannie Mae’s new HomeReady™ mortgage program. HomeReady will expand and replace Fannie Mae’s current affordable lending program, MyCommunityMortgage®, to include both first-time and repeat home buyers. By increasing access to affordable mortgages, more borrowers should be able to purchase homes.


In an effort to increase the types of households that qualify for the mortgage program, more flexible sources of funds can be used for the downpayment and closing costs. For example, income from a non-borrower household member can be considered to determine an appropriate debt-to-income ratio for the loan. This should help multigenerational and extended households qualify for these mortgages.

The new mortgage program also allows income from non-occupant borrowers, such as parents, and rental payments, such as from a basement apartment, to supplement the borrower’s qualifying income. 


Borrowers will be required to complete an online education course about the buying process and the responsibilities of homeownership. In addition, the program will offer homeowners support through the life of the loan to help ensure sustainable homeownership.


More information about the HomeReady program can be found at www.fanniemae.com/singlefamily/homeready.


For more information on home buying resources in Chattanooga and the surrounding area, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at info@hbagc.net  or visit nahb.org/forconsumers.

Home Builders Seeking Skilled Workers to Build American Dream

As our economy and the housing market continue to recover, home builders across the country are seeking skilled workers – such as carpenters, framers and roofers – to help them build the American Dream. After many workers left the home building industry during the Great Recession to pursue employment in other sectors, recent surveys show that not nearly enough of them have returned.


An NAHB survey of home builders illustrates the depth of this problem. Six in 10 of those surveyed experienced delays in completing projects on time, 18 percent had to turn down some projects and 9 percent lost or cancelled sales because they had too few workers to complete their homes.


We’ve also experienced many of these issues here in Chattanooga and the surrounding area.  When builders are unable to schedule trades on time, it means that buyers are unable to move into their home on time. These delays and production logjams increase the cost of building homes and makes housing more expensive for consumers.


A home builder relies on a number of highly trained workers to get the job done right. This includes dozens of skilled artisans and professionals, including carpenters, architects, engineers, plumbers, electricians, painters and landscapers. A recent analysis from NAHB shows that 70% of builders typically use somewhere between 11 and 30 subcontractors to build a single-family home. 


There is ample opportunity for motivated students seeking a rewarding career path. Residential construction workers consistently express high job satisfaction. And average salaries in the Chattanooga region remain very competitive with other industries in our area.


The residential construction industry is one of the few sectors where demand for new workers is rising, and the housing industry is working diligently to meet this challenge by training more workers and leaders in the construction industry.

Most Homebuilders are Small Businesses

A recent study released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that residential construction nationwide remains the industry of independent entrepreneurs with 81 percent of homebuilders and specialty trade contractors being self-employed independent contractors. Even among establishments with paid employees, the industry is dominated by small businesses, with two-thirds of homebuilders and three out of four specialty trade contractors generating less than 1 million dollars in total business receipts.


   Under the most recent US Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards, the vast majority of residential construction companies qualify as a small business. The most recent small business size limits for all types of builders is $36.5 million, for land subdivision $27.5 million, and $15 million for specialty trade contractors. By these standards, almost all remodelers and at least 96 percent of homebuilders, 94 percent of land developers, and 97 percent of specialty trade contractors easily qualify as a small business.


   In the case of single–family general contractors and speculative builders, subcontractors account for more than a third (36 percent) of the total construction revenue. For multifamily general contractors, 63 percent of the annual construction receipts are generated by subcontractors. Specialty trade contractors who, by definition, specialize in specific activities (e.g., pouring concrete, site preparation, plumbing, painting, and electrical work) subcontract out only 10 percent of the work.


   Because residential construction establishments are highly specialized and subcontract out a significant portion of construction work to others, they maintain relatively few construction workers on their payrolls. Single-family general contractors on average have four employees on their payroll, with only three directly engaged in homebuilding. Non-construction workers include supervisory employees above the working foreman level, in addition to executive, accounting and other professional employees in routine office functions.


   The small, family-owned business is the heartbeat of our economy, in Chattanooga and throughout the United States. The next time you drive by an area where a new home is being constructed, take a second and tip your cap to the men and women who wake up every day with the common goal of providing safe, efficient and affordable housing for our community.

The Many Shades of Green Building

Sustainable living has found an enthusiastic following in Chattanooga, as home builders and owners increasingly embrace ways to conserve natural resources and minimize the impact on environment.


   Green home initiatives are important to builders, consumers, and our community because they promote lower total ownership costs through utility savings and increased durability, and they encourage environmental awareness and stewardship.


   When considering if a green home is an option for you and your family, it’s important to realize there are many shades of green. In it’s simplest form, a green home may have one or more elements of sustainability that enhance energy efficiency or water conservation, such as a tankless water heater, programmable sprinkler system, or smart thermostat. In a step further, builders may use materials that are recycled and sustainable or may include innovative features, like solar panels and stormwater irrigation systems.  Any combination of these and many other building methods are viable options for the environmentally conscious builder and home buyer.


   For those individuals ready to take green living to the next level, certified green homes are independently verified to be resource-efficient, durable, healthy, and cost-effective. Several voluntary certification programs give builders and consumers the power to be environmental stewards without the costly restrictions of mandatory regulation. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR™ Program are two such well-known rating systems.


   The ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™, the only residential green building rating system approved by the American National Standard Institute, is the preferred program of the National Home Builders Association (NHBA). Homes certified under this program are verified to be designed and built to achieve high performance in six areas: Site Design, Resource Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Building Operation and Maintenance. NAHB also offers a Certified Building Professional™ accreditation for industry professionals.


   The Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga (HBAGC) and its members are committed to green building and environmentally friendly construction practices. Several builder members of HBAGC have achieved the highest levels of Green Building certification, exceeding limits to embrace such concepts as net zero energy and living and restorative building standards that improve the natural environment.


   If you would like more information on green home building, please visit www.nahbgreen.org or contact Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at 423.624.9992 or info@HBAGC.net.

Make Your Home Safe for All Ages

To help enhance the safety and comfort of a senior visitor, especially one who may have some of the physical challenges that come with aging, here are a few quick and inexpensive things you can do to make the time less stressful for you and more comfortable for your guest:

Consider pathways in the house. Clear obstacles, and maybe even move furniture that a person usually has to maneuver around. Move any electrical cords that are where a person might walk – perhaps taping them to a wall or using a hook. Clear stairs of any objects—shoes, books, and other personal items that tend to collect on the lower treads. Also check that railings on stairs inside and out are secure, and make repairs where needed.


Lighting is crucial. Put night lights in bathrooms, the guest bedroom, any hallways near the guest bedroom, and perhaps in the kitchen. Make sure there is a lamp or light switch within easy reach of the guest bed so that your visitor can keep a light on until safely tucked in.


Be sure the shower your guest will use has a non-slip floor. To enhance the traction, apply non-slip strips or a suction-attached non-slip mat. Secure or, preferably, remove any throw rugs, including bathroom mats. Edges of rugs can be a tripping hazard, and even a slight scoot can affect a person’s balance.

Identify seating in your gathering rooms that is appropriately firm, high in the seat, and preferably that has arms to help a person easily sit down and get up. A chair that is too soft or too low to the ground can strand a person awkwardly.


If you are considering other more long-term home modifications for aging in place, be sure to consult a remodeler or contractor who has the experience and references for this type of work.

Your 2016 Home Maintenance To-Do List

Homeownership is the American dream, but it’s also a lot of work. Your home is a significant investment and requires a consistent level of upkeep to maintain its efficiency and to protect its value.

   As you make new resolutions for 2016, set aside some time to build a schedule of your ongoing home maintenance duties. Creating a calendar of anticipated maintenance needs will help you remember key milestones and better prepare for any big expenses.

   The following examples of typical home maintenance should be completed at least annually.  Consider your home’s specific needs to determine the relevance and timing of each task, and mark your calendar appropriately. 

In the spring:

  • Inspect the roof for snow damage.
  • Examine the condition of glazing compound, caulking, and interior and exterior paint.
  • Check for broken glass and screens in windows and storm doors. (It’s also a good idea to
  • do this the fall.)
  • Look for evidence of termites such as sagging floors and ceilings or dry, brown tunnels in
  • the ground near the home’s foundation.
  • Seed and feed the lawn, plant annuals and trim perennials that need pre-growth pruning.

In the fall:

  • Add mulch around perennials that need protection from winter weather.
  • Clear the lawn of leaves and reseed patchy areas.
  • Inspect the driveway for any cracks, and repair any damage with driveway filler and coat with a commercial sealer.
  • Look for any cracks or damage to the fireplace, and have the chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep.


Before winter:


  • Inspect the roof, address any damaged shingles or flashings, and remove any debris.
  • Ensure gutters are securely fastened to the fascia board and clear them of any debris or build up that could inhibit proper drainage. 
  • Remove hose connections, then drain and store hoses to keep them from freezing.
  • Empty clay pots and planters of all soil, which can freeze and cause the pots to crack.


Anytime throughout the year:


  • Check all electrical connections for potential hazards. Pay special attention to any overloaded extension cords, and repair or replace any worn or frayed cords of electrical appliances.
  • Test your carbon monoxide, radon and smoke detectors. Clean each unit with a vacuum or cotton swab and replace batteries and light bulbs, if needed.
  • Have your heating and air conditioning system(s) inspected and cleaned. If your system has a filter, replace it once every three months.
  • Inspect all doors and windows for proper operation and ensure the weather stripping is not cracked or torn. 
  • Inspect the attic insulation to ensure the entire ceiling area is covered. Insulation should not touch the underside of the roof sheathing, nor should it block vents in the eaves, which could cause condensation buildup and poor air circulation.
  • Periodically check storage areas, closets and the basement to ensure that any oily rags, gas cans, paint supplies, cleaning materials or other flammable items have been stored properly.
  • Check the functionality of your security system, inspecting each sensor and confirming the primary and backup batteries are in working order.


   The joys of homeownership come with a long list or responsibilities. But staying on top of these duties will help keep your home healthy as the seasons change and the years pass. For more ideas to maintain your home throughout the year, visit HBA of Greater Chattanooga (www.hbagc.net) or nahb.org/consumers.

Home Owners Spared Rate Hike

Home Owners in Chattanooga and the surrounding area just received some good news by way of recent legislative action in Washington, D.C. In an important victory for home owners, the U.S. House recently approved a five-year highway bill that will not use guarantee fees (g-fees) collected by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to pay for transportation programs.


   The Senate is expected to approve the measure and President Obama will sign the legislation into law shortly thereafter.


   The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) led the charge to strip a provision that would have used g-fees to help offset a funding shortfall from the final legislation.


   G-fees are a critical risk management tool used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to protect against credit-related losses on mortgages they have purchased or mortgage-backed securities they have guaranteed. NAHB has always maintained that these fees should only be used for their intended purpose – to protect against mortgage defaults and ensure the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


   Despite strong opposition from NAHB, Congress voted in 2011 to enact a 10-year, 10 basis point increase in g-fees to fund the extension of the payroll tax cut. To help fund the long-term transportation bill, lawmakers subsequently proposed what would amount to a $1.9 billion tax on home owners by providing a four-year extension of the previous 10 basis point increase through 2025.


   Working with legislators on both sides of the aisle, NAHB ultimately was able to get the g-fee provision removed from the final transportation bill. On behalf of home owners and the residential construction industry, The HBA of Greater Chattanooga extends a hearty “Thank You” to our local and area Congressional delegation for supporting this meaningful and much-needed legislation.

Home Maintenance Quiz

Your home may be the biggest investment you will ever make. Taking good care of it with regular maintenance is necessary to maintain its value and ensure it will provide a comfortable, safe shelter for you and your family for a long time. Here is a brief home maintenance quiz that will test your maintenance knowledge. While this quiz does not address every home maintenance project, it does provide helpful tips and reminders for chores you may have overlooked.


1. What part of the faucet usually needs to be replaced when you have a water leak?


    The washer.


2. Should you run hot or cold water through your garbage disposal?


    Cold water.


3. How often should the moving parts of garage doors be oiled?


    Every three months.


4. Where should the fire in your fireplace be built?


    On the andirons or grate, never on the fireplace floor.


5. Where should your firewood be stored?


    Outside, away from your house and not directly on the ground.


6. Why should frozen pipes be thawed slowly?


    Frozen pipes should be thawed slowly to prevent the formation of steam, which           could cause the pipe to burst.


7. How often should your roof be inspected?


    A qualified roofer should inspect your roof every three years.


8. What should be regularly checked on your security system?


    The alarms and circuit breakers should be checked to make sure they are in               working order and the sensors should be inspected one by one.


9. To ensure your safety, what household equipment uses batteries that must be checked regularly to make sure they are operable?


     Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.


10. At what temperature should your water heater be set?


    120 degrees Fahrenheit

Demand for Home Health Technology on the Rise

Builders and remodelers should expect a rise in demand for home health technology as more and more baby boomers retire.


According to AARP, the majority of adult children (88%) and older adults (75%) spend time thinking about aging, and what that may mean for the family. However, 75% of adult children and 69% of aging parents are specifically concerned about their ability to live independently as they get older.


Home health technology — digital and electronic systems that allow individuals access to monitor various aspects of their health at home — give older Americans the freedom to live at home on their own longer than they’d be able to otherwise.


Often one of the biggest client concerns are those of older children interested in health technology that will keep their parents safe in the home. The possibility of a life-threatening physical injury occurring when no one is around is a big motivator for the installation of home health technology integration systems.


Many adult children, especially those who live remotely, want to be able to actively monitor their parents to make sure that they are okay. Home design that incorporates health tech features that allow them to do so is likely to become a significant ongoing trend in the housing industry.  Among older adults for whom health ailments aren’t yet a great concern, there is often a desire to stay fit, which also opens up new opportunities in home technology.


State-of-the-art exercise rooms, yoga studios and saunas complete with sophisticated sound systems and large touch-screen monitors that offer ample space and natural light for an afternoon or morning workout are attractive features for older buyers.


Another fast-growing tech area for the 55+ crowd: gaming. Motion-sensitive gaming systems, like the Wii and Playstation Move, allow older individuals to stay active with fun, low-impact exercises year-round, like bowling and golf. And according to the National Association of Home Builders most recent “What Home Buyers Really Want” report, one-third of home buyers age 55+ desire a dedicated game room in their home.


For more information on design ideas that will accommodate special needs and home health technology—whether for now or in the future, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga (www.hbagc.net).

A Closer Look at the Costs of Building a New Home

If you’re in the market for a new home, you may be wondering about the factors that contribute to the total cost of the home. The National Association of Home Builders recently published a Cost of Construction Survey, which details the various costs of building a typical new single-family home. Many of the results show that costs have remained consistent in recent years.


   According to the 2015 survey, the biggest single component of a home’s price is construction costs, which accounts for 62 percent of the cost. The cost of the finished lot is the second largest factor at 18.2 percent. 


   Survey respondents broke down construction costs into eight major construction stages: 


  • Interior finishes: 30 percent
  • Framing: 18 percent
  • Exterior finishes: 15 percent
  • Major system rough-ins: 13 percent
  • Foundations: 11.6 percent
  • Final steps: 6.8 percent
  • Site work: 5.6 percent
  • Other costs: 0.5 percent


   The survey reaffirms the steady progress of our economy since the Great Recession, as home values have gradually risen. And, in each year since 2009, the size of single-family homes has grown as well. The average home in 2015 had 2,802 square feet of finished space, compared to 2,402 in 2009. 

   The size of the lot has increased significantly, too, jumping to 20,129 square feet (nearly half an acre) in 2015, from 14,359 square feet just two years go. Though building practices and the cost of labor, land and materials can vary widely across the country, these national averages provide an encouraging snapshot of the building industry and our nation’s housing recovery. The upward trend of home buyer confidence and home price appreciation is inspiring more and more consumers to build the home of their dreams.


   To learn more about the home building process in Chattanooga, Hamilton County or the surrounding area, contact the HBA of Greater Chattanooga or visit nahb.org for more information.

Professional and Community Commitment

  It is a great honor to serve as the new President of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga (HBAGC) for 2016. I have had the great privilege of being born and raised in Chattanooga and I am excited for the opportunity to help lead an organization that has been such a vital part of the community. Many know HBAGC as the host of the Annual Tri State Home Show which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of the other contributions of the Association.


   HBAGC’s has nearly 500 members and represents thousands of other professionals involved in all facets of the local home building industry. Our members have access to the industries’ best continuing educational opportunities and adhere to a strict Code of Ethics focusing on professionalism and ethical business practices. The Association is a leading advocate for quality construction practices and maintaining the affordability of housing. HBAGC also acts as a valuable consumer resource for finding quality professional services and products.


   HBAGC has a proud history and continued commitment to giving back to the local community. The Association’s philanthropic and charitable efforts include providing substantial financial support and volunteer services to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and to other community efforts that have included free assistance to storm victims. HBAGC’s commitment to education doesn’t stop at providing opportunities for its membership.  It provides scholarships to local students and has furnished supplies to local schools for years.


   The Chattanooga area is already one of the nation’s best places to live and has unlimited potential for an even brighter future. The Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga is committed to doing its part to help this great community maximize that potential.

Assess Your Home’s Efficiency with an Energy Audit

You may be wondering how to save money on your energy bills this year. Conducting a do-it-yourself home energy audit is a fast, relatively simple way to assess how much energy your home consumes and determine what you can do to make your home more energy efficient.


Air leaks. Some places to inspect where air commonly seeps from homes include gaps around baseboards, wall and ceiling junctures, electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames, weather stripping, fireplace dampers, attic doors, window-mounted air conditioners and foundation seals.  Once you’ve identified the leaks, seal them with caulk, weather stripping or the same material as the original seal.


Insulation. In older homes especially, you may have insufficient insulation in the ceiling and walls. Your attic door should be insulated and close tightly. Openings around pipes, ductwork and chimneys should be sealed. Flexible caulk should be used to seal any electrical boxes in the ceiling.


Heating and Cooling Equipment. See if ducts and pipes located in unheated spaces and your water heater and hot water pipes are insulated. Have your equipment checked and cleaned by a professional annually. If you have a forced-air furnace, replace your filters as soon as they are dirty. Even if they aren’t, replace them every 30 to 60 days.


Lighting. Look at the bulbs in your home and determine if a lower-watt bulb would work just as well for your needs. For lights that will be used more than two hours each day, replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and you can save up to 75% of the energy used for lighting.


A home audit is a great way to find out your home’s energy deficiencies and make simple improvements that will save you time and money in the long run!

Take Another Look at the Log Home Lifestyle

If you associate log home living with rugged mountains in a rural community, think again. Log homes can be found in cities and towns across the country. And, today’s log homes include modern amenities and options to fit your lifestyle, including open floor plans, multimedia rooms, master suites, garages and more. You may be surprised to learn all the benefits that log homes offer.


Log homes are both environmentally and energy-friendly. They are constructed from natural and renewable materials. In fact, using full logs is one of the greenest ways to build. Waste is kept at a minimum during the milling process since manufacturers use all portions of the log. Full log walls have “thermal mass.” Like a stone that’s been left in the sun for a few hours and then brought indoors, logs soak up the heat energy during the day and release heat slowly and evenly, using less energy over the life of the home.


Log homes are systems-built houses, with their main components constructed in an enclosed, climate-controlled environment and then delivered to the building site, where they are assembled and completed to become a home.


Planning and building a log home is a unique opportunity to create your dream home, but it’s important to do some research first. The Log and Timber Homes Council (LTHC) of the National Association of Home Builders is a great place to start. All LTHC members follow specific standards and a uniform code of ethics, and each member stays abreast of new technology with the end goal of ensuring customer satisfaction and a quality product.


The LTHC offers consumers a wealth of resources through its consumer website, loghomes.org.  For more information, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga to find a log home manufacturer near you.