The Sevier County Home Builders Association (SCHBA) is a professional trade association committed to promoting a standard of quality housing. We are the leaders in providing education for the construction industry. We benefit the public by representing our industry before legislative and regulatory bodies to ensure our continued ability to provide safe, affordable housing.
Our primary goal as the leading authority in the housing industry is to continue to influence the decision making processes which control our industry and thereby our community.
Check complaints against contractors, Contractor’s License and monetary limit along with their original license date at http://www.state.tn.us/commerce/boards/contractors/
To make a complaint against a contractor or check their reputation; write: State of Tennessee, Board for Licensing Contractors
500 James Robertson Parkway Davy Crockett Tower, Suite 110
Nashville, TN 37243-1150
Since our nation’s first days as a newly-fledged republic, homeownership has been a cherished ideal. Reasons as diverse as our population have impelled generations of Americans to work hard and make the sacrifices necessary to own a home.
That’s because the benefits of homeownership are many. Perhaps most important is that owning a home provides an unparalleled sense of well-being, security and achievement.
Moreover, homeownership has always been – and continues to be – the single best long-term investment for most Americans. It is a primary source of wealth and financial security for many households, helping to provide for education, retirement and more.
Even in the wake of the Great Recession with its severe housing market crisis, Americans continue to value homeownership. Almost all (96 percent) of the people polled in a survey* conducted last year for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) by two nationally-known polling firms said they are happy with their decision to own a home. That sentiment held true even among people whose homes are “under water.” Eighty-four percent of those who owe more on their mortgage than their home’s current value said they are happy with their decision to own a home.
The nationwide survey also found that a significant majority – 76 percent – think owning a home is the best long-term investment they can make and is worth the ups and downs of the housing market. Among people who don’t currently own a home, 68 percent hope to own a home in the future, the poll found.
Homeownership Generates Jobs and Strengthens the Economy
Just as homeownership provides many benefits to individual families, it also benefits the nation. Whenever new homes are built, new jobs are created and a permanent source of ongoing revenue for local, state and federal government springs to life that supports local schools and communities across the land.
Just consider: building 100 average single-family homes creates 305 jobs and generates more than $23 million in wage and business income as well as $8.9 million in taxes and revenue for state, local and federal governments.
The employment impacts are broad based, extending far beyond the construction workers employed directly to build the homes. Jobs are generated in the industries that manufacture and supply the many products that go into building the home. They are also created when real estate agents, lawyers and brokers provide services to home builders and home buyers.
And the benefits don’t stop there. When 100 families move into new homes, they spend $740,000 more than usual on appliances, furnishings, and property alterations, creating a further economic stimulus.
In normal economic times, more than 17 percent of the nation’s economy relies on housing. Equally important, new homes are “Made in America.” Most of the products used in construction are manufactured right here at home in the U.S. by our countrymen.
Attacks on a Principle that Americans Hold Dear
Despite the many benefits that homeownership provides for families, its potential to create millions of jobs and its value to the nation’s economy, it is under attack.
Policymakers are pushing for sweeping tax code changes that could prevent millions of families from ever setting foot on the homeownership ladder.
Some of the proposals under consideration include eliminating or reducing the mortgage interest deduction and the deductions for property taxes and the interest on home equity loans. This would hurt those who have played by the rules and sacrificed to get to where they are today, and it would send shockwaves through the economy. Although detractors claim that the mortgage interest deduction primarily benefits the wealthy, younger households and middle income home owners are actually the biggest beneficiaries.
Abolishing or limiting the mortgage interest deduction would also inflict serious damage on millions of middle-class home owners and the struggling housing market by further depressing home values. It only takes a 6 percent drop in home values to wipe out $1 trillion in household wealth. Any policy change that makes it harder to buy a home, or forces young families to defer home purchases, will have a significant impact on wealth accumulation and the makeup of the middle class.
Indirect But Equally Damaging
Some of the other threats to homeownership may be less visible, but certainly are no less damaging. Some members of Congress support abolishing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac without offering a new framework for housing finance system reform that would avoid further disruptions to an already fragile housing finance system.
Even more disturbing is a push by some policymakers to end the federal backstop for housing. This would immediately drive up the cost of long-term financing and destabilize the housing market. A reliable supply of affordable 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage financing is essential to a vibrant housing market, and Congress should ensure that the federal government plays an appropriate role in keeping conventional fixed-rate home loans and adjustable rate mortgages readily available and affordable for America’s working families.
Another little known threat comes at the hands of federal regulatory agencies charged with defining a “qualified residential mortgage” for secondary market purposes. The proposed minimum 20 percent downpayment would quickly become the nationwide standard and would put homeownership far beyond the reach of most first-time home buyers and middle-class households. NAHB estimates that it would take 12 years for the typical family to save enough money for a 20 percent downpayment on a median-priced single-family home; other research indicates that it could take even longer.
Low-downpayment mortgages have been originated safely for decades and are not what drove the housing market crisis. Irresponsible lending and subprime, no documentation and other alternative mortgage products were largely to blame.
Prudent underwriting standards that ensure that buyers can afford their mortgage – not draconian downpayment requirements – are what the market needs.
The Administration and regulators must acknowledge this fact and offer a plan that ensures a safe and healthy mortgage market and keeps low-downpayment options readily available.
The Bottom Line
Americans continue to value homeownership. That’s a lesson that elected officials would do well to remember.
The NAHB poll also showed that 75 percent of all respondents – both owners and renters – believe the federal government should provide tax incentives to promote homeownership.
As the debate over housing policy unfolds, it is crucial to ensure that homeownership remains attainable and that access to safe, decent and affordable housing remains a national priority.
* Note: This national survey of 1,500 likely 2012 voters was conducted Jan. 2-5, 2012 by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C. It has a margin of error of ±2.5 percent.
By Kenny Guffey
President, Sevier County Home Builders Association
As summer approaches and people shed their layers of clothing from the cooler months, many want to also lighten the load their homes are carrying—or at least make it look neater. Before you toss the tools in a garage corner or stuff the down jackets into a box and toss it in the attic, why not evaluate your needs and make your storage both effective and attractive?
The first thing you should do is make a list of everything you want to store. This list will both help you determine how much storage space you need and ensure that nothing gets lost once you start putting things away.
Shelving is one of the easiest ways to create more storage. It can be portable in the form of free-standing units, or permanent that is attached to your walls. Easy-to-install, heavy-duty shelving can be purchased at just about any major home supply store. Many of these units are designed so that you can leave as much room between the shelves as you like, making it easy to get larger and smaller items onto the same unit and saving you space.
Heavy winter clothing can take up lots of closet space, leaving you with little room for your entire four-season wardrobe. One solution for storing out-of-season clothing is under the bed. Under-the-bed storage containers come in a variety of sizes and styles, including ones with wheels for easy access and to protect hardwood floors from scratches when you pull them out. You can also buy simple risers that elevate your bed off the floor additional inches to create even more space.
Garage storage has also gotten much more efficient. You can get built-in storage cabinets with doors so the space looks clean and orderly. There are also modular systems that enable you to choose what features are best for your needs; including hanging racks for sports equipment, hooks for tools, and more.
Most garages have pitched roofs to keep rainwater or snow from collecting on top, and this space is ideal for items you don’t use on a daily or weekly basis. Store these things on platforms or racks that lower and raise either electronically at the touch of a button, or with an easy-to-use pulley system.
In newer or renovated homes, a mudroom or drop zone is a popular feature. This area often has built-in benches, hooks and bins to neatly tuck away boots, jackets, gardening equipment and other items your family uses frequently.
Finally, if your family is as tied to their portable internet and communications devices as many modern families, get rid of the tangle of charger cords on your counters by buying or building a home charging station with multiple outlets and pockets for storing and charging cell phones, tablets, laptops and more.
For more information about home maintenance or design trends, visit nahb.org/forconsumers
If You Want the Job Done Right,
Hire a Professional Remodeler
By: Kenny Guffey
President, Sevier County Home Builders Association
Any homeowner planning to remodel wants nothing less than a professional job. Who wouldn’t want the best quality in terms of workmanship and materials when it comes to improving their most prized and most valuable asset? However, when it comes to selecting a remodeler, too many buyers conveniently forget the time-proven adage that “you get what you pay for.”
The dilemma that confronts many homeowners is their desire for a top-notch job at the lowest possible price. With price as their primary focus, they ignore other criteria that may carry more weight in producing a successfully completed project and a smooth working relationship with the remodeler.
It’s understandable that price is a major consideration when it comes to remodeling. The cost of remodeling has increased as the demand for remodeling grows. Higher costs of materials (such as copper pipes) and scarcity of skilled labor are just two factors contributing to price hikes. A national trade magazine, Remodeling, reported in the Cost vs. Value survey that a mid-priced major kitchen remodel, a popular remodeling project, costs $53,931. For a minor remodel of the same 200-square-foot kitchen, the cost is $18,527.
Homeowners need to understand that remodeling is a service and not merely a product. This service encompasses the intangibles that make up the process of remodeling – how everything comes together and results in a satisfying experience and an acceptable finished product. The materials and products that go into it can’t define a professional job alone.
The nature of remodeling as a service becomes even more pronounced when you consider that inevitably you’ll be sharing your home with the remodelers’ crews for weeks or even months, depending on the scale of the project. All remodeling involves some degree of inconvenience, but inconvenience can easily turn into a nightmare if your remodeler doesn’t put your family’s comfort and concerns first.
Rather than selecting a remodeler based on where one bid falls compared to others, shift your focus to finding a professional remodeler; then go about getting a bid on your job. If the bid is higher than what you budgeted, work with the remodeler to decide where you can cut back or what you can postpone to keep the project on budget. For example, you can always have the remodeler frame in a fireplace to be installed later, but he can’t upgrade the company’s customer service if there wasn’t any to begin with.
Some important characteristics you should be looking for to ensure that you hire a professional remodeler are:
- Experience – Ask how long the remodeler has been in business. Longevity suggests financial stability, which is necessary for the remodeler to finish the job and still be available if problems crop up after the job is completed. Also, the more jobs the company has completed, the more expertise the remodeler will bring to your project and the hidden surprises that remodeling typically entails.
- Reputation – Look to the remodelers’ former and current customers to gauge the company’s reputation. Obtain the names and phone numbers of customers you can call to get their impressions of the company’s work and customer service. Call them and make personal visits to see the work they had done. Even better, get references from customers whose projects were similar to the one your family is planning. Also, go visit one of the company’s jobs in progress to evaluate how they manage the construction process and how tidy they keep the job site. Ask whether these homeowners would hire the company again.
- Business Credentials – A good place to start your search for a remodeler is with your local builders association and it’s affiliated local Remodelers Council. Groups like these help to keep their members informed about new products, construction techniques, business practices and industry issues. Participation demonstrates a remodeler’s commitment to professionalism and to the remodeling industry. Many trade groups also confer professional credentials, such as Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), to those who meet their requirements, which is a positive indicator of the remodeler’s reputation.
- License and Insurance – Ask to see a copy of the remodeler’s license, if your state has such requirements, and call the licensing agency to find out if there are any unresolved complaints against the company you might hire. It is also important to verify that the remodeler carries workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Have the remodeler show you copies of both insurance certificates to protect yourself from liability in situations involving job site injuries or property damage resulting from the work being done on your home.
If your goal is a professional remodeling project, then your best bet is to hire a professional remodeler. The extra cost will pay for itself in the satisfaction you receive while the project is in progress and during the many years you will enjoy the completed project.
To find a professional remodeler in your area, review our Builder Directory or visit www.nahb.org/remodel.
What Do Home Buyers Want in Their Next Home?
by Kenny Guffey, President
Sevier County Home Builders Association
New Homes Month in April is a great time to think about what you want in your next new home. We’ve all seen a stunning hillside mansion and dreamed what it would be like to raise our families there. Or envied the amazing renovation makeovers depicted on television shows that give the home owners a sense of pride and accomplishment. But how does your dream home compare to what home buyers across the country are looking for in their new home?
A recent study from the National Association of Homes Builders, What Home Buyers Really Want, shared the results of a survey of the preferences of thousands of home buyers. On average, home buyers are looking for a home that is 17 percent larger than their current home, a median of 2,226 square feet. But, likely as a result of the ongoing challenges of the economic downturn, that size is 13 percent smaller than the average size of homes started in 2012.
The layout of the home is more important than the location to most buyers. Living space and number of rooms was ranked the most influential characteristic by 65 percent of buyers, while only 33 percent ranked proximity to locations they need to go as tops. A sense of open space continues to be popular, with about three-quarters of home buyers wanting a kitchen that is open to the family room, and nearly two-thirds looking for ceilings on the first floor that are 9 feet or more tall.
Some of the most wanted features in a home involve saving energy. Energy Star-rated appliances were rated as essential or desirable by 94 percent of respondents, and 91 percent wanted an Energy Star rating for the whole home. In fact, nine out of ten buyers would rather buy a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2 percent to 3 percent less.
Convenient organization and storage is another home buyer favorite. More than 80 percent of the respondents said they wanted walk-in pantries and pull-out shelves in the kitchen, a laundry room and storage in the garage.
Today’s home buyers want the latest technology. While only 15 percent of home owners currently have a wireless home security system, 50 percent want one. Similar gaps in “have” versus “want” occur with security cameras, lighting control and wireless audio systems, and multi-zone HVACs.
The most unwanted home features include elevators, a location in a golf course, high density or gated community, and having only a shower stall and no tub in the master bath.
So whether you’re planning or dreaming about what your next new home will look like, or you’re making renovations to your current home so that it will appeal to its next owner, keep these home buyer preferences in mind!
Combine Function and Fashion with Edible Landscaping
by Kenny Guffey, President
Sevier County Home Builders Association
As Americans become more health conscious, farmers’ markets, produce co-ops and community gardening spaces are gaining popularity. Many families want to grow their own food, but may be challenged by a lack of space for a full-sized garden in their yard. But did you know that with the concept of edible landscaping, you can have an attractive-looking yard or patio that also provides fruits and vegetables your family can eat?
According to the Ohio State University Extension Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, edible landscaping is the use of food-producing plants in the constructed landscape, principally the residential landscape.
Edible landscapes combine fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs. The designs can incorporate any garden style and can include just a few, or be completely comprised of edible species.
Some reasons to include edible plants in your home’s landscaping include:
Ability to pick and eat fresh, fully-ripe fruits and vegetables
Control the amount of pesticides and herbicides used on your food
Save money by not buying fruits and vegetables at the grocery store
Grow unique types of foods that may not be available in the store
Many edible species are not only functional from a food-on-your-table perspective; they are also attractive. For example, some flowers, such as begonias, day lilies, carnations, pansies, peonies and roses can be eaten. They also make a colorful addition to salads or as a garnish on plates. Red and yellow tomato and pepper plants add a splash of color to ornamental beds.
To help you get better use of your yard, raspberry or blackberry bushes make a great border, and fruit trees provide shade. Just make sure you consider where you are placing them, cleaning rotten fruit or berries that have dropped onto your patio can be a frustrating and messy chore.
More ideas for edible landscapes include:
Put pots of herbs on the patio
Include cherry tomatoes in a window box or hanging basket
Build a grape arbor
Grow nasturtium, violas, borage, or calendula and include flowers in salads
Grow Red-jewel cabbage
Plant colorful pepper varieties alongside flowers
Tuck lettuce, radishes, or other short-lived greens into a flower bed
Replace a barberry hedge with gooseberries
Put basil together with coleus in a planter
Try yellow or “rainbow” chard
Grow chives around the mailbox
Train raspberries up your fence
The amount and location of consumable plant varieties you choose to include in your landscaping is completely up to your tastes, both literally and figuratively. Make sure to do your research and know how much sunlight and water each plant requires, what type of soil will best support that species, and how much maintenance you’ll have to do to get the fruits and vegetables you desire.
For more hints for home owners, go to www.nahb.org/forconsumers.
By Kenny Guffey, President
Sevier County Home Builders Association
There are any number of reasons families might want to make better use of the space they have in their current or new home. As a family grows, their lifestyle changes, and space for storing toys or doing homework is at a premium. Multigenerational living, where elderly parents, grown children or other relatives all live under the same roof has become common. Or it may just be cosmetic, and the best way to keep clutter at a minimum.
Home builders and remodelers are responding to the demand by maximizing the utility of living spaces without sacrificing visual appeal. With creative storage and built-in features, dining rooms can become a home office or game room in minutes, living rooms can be used for family meals, and foyers can store much more than coats and umbrellas.
In new home construction, smaller-scale, walkable communities have become popular. To accommodate the size constraints of a skinny lot, homes are being designed with features like stacked garages where two cars can be housed trunk to hood instead of side by side. Using flexible walls, attractive flooring material and a roofless interior garage space, the area can easily be converted to a patio for entertaining.
Improved energy efficiency of windows and doors means homes now feature more indoor-outdoor connectivity. Moveable walls and outdoor spaces tucked within the home’s floor plan provide for better flexible use of the space, as well as improved privacy in densely populated areas.
The often-unused space under a stairwell can be engineered to accommodate filing cabinets or drawers, or even to create a sanctuary for the family pet complete with a bed and gates to close it off. Drawers built into stair risers are a great place to store small items such as gloves and hats or art supplies.
The trend extends to home furnishings as well. Murphy beds, where a piece of furniture conceals a bed that can be set up for sleeping in few minutes, have been around for many years. Modern murphy beds are hidden not only in armoires or bookcases, but new designs feature beds that lower from the ceiling electronically at the touch of a button, or fold out from inside a desk or counter.
Other creative, multi-purpose furniture designs include dining tables that convert to a billiard table, bookcases that contain fold-down chairs for when you’re entertaining more than the usual number of friends and family, and cocktail tables with trays that pull out for eating in front of the television.
Contact Sevier County Home Builders Association to learn about more trends in home design, or to find a home builder or remodeler to create the home of your dreams.