Are you ready to buy or build a new home?

Are you ready to buy or build a new home?  If so, you probably read all the news stories and predictions that the market has a long way to go before it starts to recover and that home prices will continue to fall for months or years to come.  If you waiting for the market to improve before you buy or build your Dream home, remember that, despite all their claims to the contrary, no one can predict precisely where the market is going.  Trying to time your home purchase with the bottom of the market is futile. If you’re financially and emotionally ready to be a homeowner, it’s always a good time to buy.   All the time you spend procrastinating on purchasing or building a home, you could be building equity, getting tax deductions and enjoying the many other benefits of homeownership!

Or maybe you’re just not sure if you are financially ready.  Here’s a little quiz that might help.

Which one of the following do you NOT need to purchase a home:

  1. A decent credit record.
  2. A big down payment.
  3. Enough money to make monthly mortgage payments.
  4. Enough income to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.
  5. The ability to maintain the property.

Check back in a few days for the answer.

Chuck Miller

Building material prices continue to rise

Single-family housing starts in 2010 totaled 475,000 – a 7 percent increase over 2009 but still substantially below the 1,256,000 average starts per year from 1995 through 2003.  .Think the decrease in demand for new home construction has resulted in lower prices for building materials.  Think again.

Prices for materials used in construction actually increased 5.4 percent in all of 2010.  Prices increased at double-digit rates over the year for four key construction materials. Diesel fuel prices climbed 28 percent in 2010; steel mill product prices rose 12.5 percent (think rebar, nails, kitchen sinks, appliances, etc.); copper and brass mill shape prices were up 12 percent (think electrical wiring, water supply valves and fittings); and prices for aluminum mill shapes rose 12 percent over the year.  Other items that contributed to the climb included lumber and plywood, 5.7 percent; architectural coatings, primarily paint, 1.5 percent; brick and structural clay tile, 1.0 percent; gypsum products, 3.4 percent; asphalt, 4.6 percent; and insulation materials, 4.4 percent.  The National Association of Home Builders predicts single-family housing starts will increase 21 percent to 575,000 in 2011.  Although the demand for construction in the United States will remain relatively weak, the price increases are likely to intensify in 2011 as global demand for construction materials grows.

Have you been waiting to build your new home or remodel your existing home hoping prices will continue to fall?  You might have already waited too long.

Chuck Miller GMB   CGB  CGP  CAPS  MIRM   CMP   MCSP   CSP

President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.

(208) 229-2553

chuck@chuckmillerconstruction.com

Building material prices edge up again

Think the decrease in demand for new home construction is resulting in lower prices for building materials.  Think again.

According to the September 16 producer price index (PPI) report by the U.S. Labor Department, prices for construction materials edged up 0.2% in August. Prices are 3.6% higher than one year ago.

Nonferrous wire and cable prices increased 1.8% for the month and are up 8.7% compared to August 2009. Prices for plumbing fixtures and fittings were up 0.6% in August and up 1.2% from the same time last year. Prices for concrete products inched up 0.5% for the month, but are down 1.1% from August 2009 levels.

Softwood lumber prices slid for a third straight month, down 3.1% in August. However, prices are still 6.8% higher on a year-over-year basis. Iron and steel prices were down 1.5% in August, the third straight monthly price decrease. But, prices are still 18.2% higher than they were one year ago. Steel mill product prices were down 3.9% August, but were still up 17.1% from last August. Prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding prices slipped 0.9% in August, but were up 8.6% over the last twelve months. Prices for fabricated structural metal products decreased 0.2% for the month, but were up 2.8% compared to August 2009.

Overall, the nation’s wholesale prices increased 0.4% last month and are 3.1 percent higher from August 2009.

Are you waiting for the price of that new home you’d like to build to drop further?  I wouldn’t.

Chuck Miller GMB   CGB  CGP   MIRM   CMP   MCSP   CSP

President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.

(208) 229-2553

chuck@chuckmillerconstruction.com

Building an energy-efficient home in Boise, Idaho

The 2010 AVID Home Design Driver Research Survey showed that the majority of home buyers rated energy efficiency as a “Must Have” for their new homes.  Although Boise and southwestern Idaho have some of the lowest power rates in the nation, home buyers still want their new homes to be energy efficient. 

How do you build an energy-efficient home in Boise, Idaho and how much more does it cost?  The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Program has shown that new homes can be both energy efficient to live in and cost effective to build.  In fact, the energy consumption of new houses can be reduced by 40% or more with little or no impact on the cost of ownership.

Building America works with members of the home-building industry to produce quality homes that use less energy without costing more to build.  The goal is to develop cost-effective solutions that dramatically reduce the average energy use of housing while improving comfort and quality.  This is accomplished through a systems engineering approach to homebuilding.

Systems engineering

The systems engineering approach considers the interaction between the building site, envelope, and mechanical systems, as well as other factors, throughout the design and construction process,  It recognizes that features of one component in the house can greatly affect others and it enables builders to incorporate energy-saving strategies at no extra cost . Systems engineering allows builders to identify improvements to the design of a home that will ultimately save money.  For example, the design might incorporate advanced framing systems that require less wood and labor.  The saving on lumber and framing labor can then be reinvested in improved insulation or high-performance windows.  Controlling building envelope leakage by tightening the building envelope enables builders to install smaller, less expensive heating and cooling systems. These savings can then be reinvested in higher-efficiency equipment..

Other examples of systems engineering cost-saving trade-offs include:

Proper placement of heating and cooling systems allowing shorter duct runs saving material and installation costs.

Locating ducts in the interior, conditioned space of a home (as opposed to in exterior walls or unconditioned attic spaces) eliminates loss of conditioned air to the exterior allowing the use of smaller, less expensive heating and cooling systems.

Future articles will discuss each of these cost-effective solutions in more detail. 

Next, Advanced Framing.

 

Chuck Miller GMB   CGB CGP   MIRM   CMP   MCSP   CSP
President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.
(208) 229-2553 or (208) 571-0755

 

Inflation Trends and Building Material Prices

For the past five months (September 2009 through January 2010), the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has risen 0.2% per month. Building materials prices are an exception to general inflation trends, which appear to be tame.

On a year-over-year basis, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is up 2.6%. Excluding food and energy, the index is up 1.6% from a year ago. A broader measure of inflation used by the Federal Reserve — the price index for personal consumption expenditures excluding food and energy — rose 1.6% in the fourth quarter at a seasonally adjusted annual rate and 1.5% from fourth quarter 2008.

However, an index produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that tracks building material prices for builders of single-family homes and multifamily structures has now risen three months in a row.

Although on a year-over-year basis, the single-family index is up only 0.3% and the multifamily index is up a slight 0.2%, in January, both measures jumped 1.0% from December. Chief contributors to the recent rise are lumber, fuel products (gasoline and diesel), plumbing fixtures and copper products.

With a number of countries around the world on the expansion path, building material prices are likely to continue to rise in coming months.

The recent earthquake in Chile will disrupt supplies of some imported building materials — in particular, moldings and door frames. These items can be, and likely will be, replaced by items from other countries, but at a higher price. But Chile is also a major exporter of copper, and although the mines escaped direct damage, operations and shipping will likely be delayed as the country recovers. So far, copper prices on the COMEX are up about 4% since the quake.

Are you waiting for the price of that new home you’d like to build to drop further?  I wouldn’t.

Chuck Miller GMB   CGB  CGP   MIRM   CMP   MCSP   CSP

President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.

(208) 229-2553

chuck@chuckmillerconstruction.com