Many home buyers value mature trees, but sometimes removal is warranted. HB7, now signed into law, regulates the fees imposed for tree removal.

By Phil Crone
Dallas Builders Association Executive Officer

Governor Greg Abbott on Aug. 16 signed House Bill 7 into law ending a long and tumultuous road that the measure took prior to his signature. The legislation, authored by State Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Port Neches) and State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), enables property owners to receive mitigation credits to offset tree mitigation fees imposed by municipalities. The new law, effective Dec. 1, is very similar to HB 744, which was vetoed by the Governor in June.

Many Texas cities regulate the removal of trees from private property as development occurs. Often, this takes the form of a fee paid by the property owner to the city as a condition for permitted removal of the tree from private property. The methods and valuation used to calculate tree removal fees vary greatly among municipalities. In some cases, these fees can approach the figure paid by the property owner to acquire the property to begin with and render development financially infeasible.  
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Hurricane Harvey put many previously safe areas underwater. If you’ve never coped with rebuilding from a flood, the Dallas Builders Association has some advice.

By Phil Crone
Special Contributor

The Dallas Builders Association extends its heartfelt thoughts to our friends on the coast who are suffering from the wrath and devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. To help those affected, please text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross or visit redcross.org.

While storms of this magnitude bring out the best in most, they can bring out the worst in others. Often this comes in the form of unscrupulous contractors from out of state who follow major weather events looking for work. Sadly, the damage left in their wake is usually financial, adding to the suffering of storm victims.

Please use the information below as a guide on how to rebuild with confidence. Additional information is available through the Texas Association of Builders and the Greater Houston Builders Association.

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By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

Everyone loves trees, so why are they so controversial? They are the focus of years of back and forth in the Texas legislature and the subject of intense debate at several city halls and neighborhood meetings in the Dallas area.

It may come as a surprise to some that when you purchase land, the city can require that trees come at an additional cost if they must be removed to make way for your home site. If you happen to be building in South Dallas, the cost for tree removal can approach or exceed the price of the land itself. These fees do not come from the world’s most expensive logging company; instead, they come in the form of mitigation fees assessed by the city based on the size and species of the trees that need to be removed.

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Tesla Solar Roof

All photos courtesy of Tesla

If you’ve assumed Tesla Solar roofs would be priced sky high, prepare to be amazed.

The company opened up ordering last week and they priced, on average, at $21.85 per square foot. That’s less than the cost of a regular roof, taking into consideration the energy savings over a 30-year period.

These roofs aren’t 100 percent solar tiles — they’re a mix of non-active tiles and active solar tiles, depending on the energy needs of a house. Non-active tiles cost $11 per square foot; active solar tiles cost $42 per square foot. So for a house needing 35 percent solar panels, the cost works out to $21.85 per square foot. There are lots of variables in determining the percentage of active tiles, of course, like the location of the home and shape and height of the roof.

To put this in perspective, Consumer Reports estimated that a solar roof needs to be $24.50 per square foot to be competitive with other kinds of roofing materials.

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New House under Construction

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer
Dallas Builders Association

Labor, Land, and Local regulation add up to the three “L’s” of Dallas’s affordability crisis. On April 25, the Trump administration added a fourth “L” — Lumber — to that equation when they announced plans to impose duties of up to 24 percent on most Canadian lumber. The most recent agreement between the two nations expired on Oct. 12, 2015, and was followed by a one-year cooling off period before a new agreement could be negotiated.

Before the tariff, the other three “L’s” accounted for much of the $100,000 premium on new home prices when compared to the existing market. Now, the escalation of a decades-long trade dispute between the United States and Canada is making matters worse. The industry knew that striking a new agreement would have its challenges when the cooling off period ended in October, but few predicted those challenges would include Donald Trump and his protectionist stance on trade finding their way into the White House the following month.

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UNT Team

Michael Garza, Jacob Flores, Esther Valero, Bobbie M. Daniels, Dawson Guerrettaz, and Juan Lopez will represent the University of North Texas at the Race to Zero competition.

Green building and design is one of the fastest growing segments of today’s homebuilding market as more and more homebuyers looking to avoid the high energy bills summer’s blazing temperatures often bring.

To train and encourage the green building professionals of tomorrow, the U.S. Department of Energy is hosting 40 teams from 34 schools across the United states, Canada, Norway, and China for its Race to Zero Student Design Competition. And with the guidance and encouragement of the Dallas Builders Association, the University of North Texas’ Association of Construction Engineering Technology will send its very own team to the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo., this weekend.

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A freak hail storm a few years ago completely wrecked the tile roofs of the historic Swiss Avenue neighborhood. (Photo: Amy Curry)

A freak hail storm a few years ago completely wrecked the tile roofs of the historic Swiss Avenue neighborhood. (Photo: Amy Curry)

By Phil Crone
Special Contributor

Make no mistake, storm season in North Texas can be a scary experience, even for lifelong residents. Especially this time of year, we are no strangers to hearing the eerie wail of tornado sirens or posting photos of hail that confirm to the rest of the nation that everything is bigger in Texas.

For storm victims, the scariest thing next to the storm itself is cleaning up and getting their lives back on track. These fears are well founded. Smashed cars, personal belongings scattered about by Mother Nature, and leaky roofs from every subsequent rain create a feeling of vulnerability one can only imagine unless they’ve been through it themselves. Vulnerable people are the prey of the lowest of segments of our society and, in the contracting world, we call those storm chasers.

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fire protection

What a difference 38 years makes

Times change. Accidents happen. We learn. Prior to the 1960s, it was not uncommon for automobile dashboards to be metal and seats to lack seat belts and head support. Similarly, we continue to learn and improve construction materials, techniques, and building codes to make us all safer.

The March 3 tragedy at the Preston Place condos offers an exemplar of some of those changes. Recently, I spoke with Perry Wallace, 30-year construction veteran and VP of Construction for Transwestern and Dallas Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Price. I wanted to understand the advancements that have been made over the past 38 years since Preston Place was built. Transwestern is currently building the Laurel apartments at the corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway. Chief Price was the lead firefighter on the Preston Place fire.

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