By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

 

 

Unlike prior years, 2019 will not be full steam ahead for our area’s housing market. The predicted return to normalcy after a run of several frenzied years will be hard to characterize with a broad brush (though many will try). While more nuanced and complicated than before, there will be no shortage of opportunities and no reason why we cannot continue to be the envy of the nation.

Looking ahead, here are four things to watch in the year to come and why they matter:

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By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association 

Craig Johnson had no idea who, if anyone, would turn up for Collin College’s first construction management course offerings. The newly hired instructor only had a few weeks to get the program up and running. Johnson expected around five students. He ended up with nearly 20.

These students enjoy a unique learning opportunity in the form of Collin College’s 340,000-square-foot technical campus, which recently broke ground in Allen. Once complete, the campus will include a 400-by-90-foot area exclusively dedicated to the construction trades.

Labs for plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and safety will be coupled with a 6,000-square-foot “build” lab, providing hands-on opportunities for students in all programs to work together on various projects. With a labor shortage hampering Dallas-Fort Worth’s construction industry to the tune of 25,000 to 35,000 missing workers, opportunities for graduates will be plentiful.

I recently met with these students while providing a guest lecture on the demands our fast-growing region is placing on the construction industry. I wish I was speaking to a stadium full of students who shared their interest. However, sharing an hour with them left me most excited about the quality of who is about to join our industry and optimistic that others will follow.

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The Dallas Builders Association held its annual ARC Awards gala on Aug. 18 at the Westin Galleria Dallas, and we’re pleased to see so many wonderful builders and firms get recognized for their hard work! The awards, presented in partnership with Centricity this year, are held each summer to recognize building excellence by associate members, remodelers, and custom builder members of the DBA.

Winners were named in approximately 75 categories including Best New Home, Best Conceptual Design, Best Outdoor Living Space, Remodeler of the Year and Custom Builder of the Year.

Classic Urban Homes was named Custom Builder of the Year, CandysDirt.com Approved Builder Key Residential was honored as the Remodeler of the Year, and Greg Paschall of Intex Electrical Contractors is the Associate of the Year. Jenny Anchondo of Morning Dose served as the mistress of ceremonies.

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Dallas Builders Association executive officer Phil Crone says that the Dallas ordinances on parks and trees need refinement before a final vote.

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

On May 16, the Dallas City Council heard separate proposals concerning a new Park Land Dedication Ordinance and revisions to Article X, which concerns tree planting and conservation in the city limits. A vote on each is expected before the council’s July recess.

My personal involvement on the tree ordinances dates back to 2009, when the Dallas Builders Association began to talk with stakeholders about possible improvements. Article X has created challenges for new development, especially in South Dallas. The premise of the ordinance is to assign fees to the removal of trees on private property. Property owners can attempt to reduce or eliminate fees by preserving the existing tree canopy, replanting desirable trees using best practice methods, and/or other sustainable development methods.

The new draft of Article X does provide property owners with more carrots, but it also adds more sticks and lacks transparency on key items such as the fees and how they are used. Another problem

Phil Crone

is that the ordinance now assigns a mitigation fee to nuisance trees such as Hackberries and thorn-ridden Mesquite trees, albeit at a lower rate than others. Hackberries are found in large numbers on property throughout Dallas, meaning that several small fees add up to one large fee when it comes time to remove them. The larger a Hackberry grows, the more brittle and dangerous it becomes. Their leaves attract aphids that drip honeydew on everything below. Eventually, black sooty mold grows on the honeydew. In other words, a Hackberry has no redeeming qualities. The Dallas Builders Association is proposing a measure that allows property owners to remove smaller, less desirable species, defined as Class 3 trees in the ordinance, without paying a fee.

Article X currently lacks the credit for new replacement trees now required by state law. House Bill 7, which became effective in December, was supported by the City of Dallas and the Dallas Builders Association in the most recent legislative session. By focusing on credit for planting replacement trees, we felt this was a better alternative to more aggressive proposals that sought to remove municipal authority from tree preservation entirely. The proposed changes to Article X outline the process that, in most cases, should achieve the result state law allows. However, inclusion of language from the statute would guarantee property owners no worse than the outcome provided for by the legislature.

Our final concerns with Article X deal with transparency. (more…)

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

In the midst of a labor shortage of nearly 20,000 construction workers in our area, the Dallas Builders Association is looking for young people to enter into an industry that desperately needs them. Much of our outreach has centered on our area’s vocational trade school programs. These are the same programs President Trump called to expand during last month’s State of the Union Address. They are also where about three in every four students are “Dreamers,” otherwise known as eligible recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), whose status is very much in limbo ahead of President Trump’s March 5 deadline to end the program in the absence of Congressional action.

Their future and the future of the housing industry are inextricably linked.

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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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On average, the North Texas labor shortage is adding two months and $4,000 to the cost of every home.

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

“The guest worker program unnecessarily lowers construction worker wages.”

“Put simply, there is no construction labor shortage.”

“It’s five o’clock somewhere. And maybe there’s a construction worker shortage, too, somewhere. But it’s not significant in the U.S., and it’s not very widespread.”

Would you believe that all of these are recent quotes from organizations involved in the construction industry? Believe it or not, they were recently published in Illinois and Michigan. I share them because I want to illustrate the labor demand difference between the laggers and leaders of our nation’s economy. It also demonstrates the uphill battle that looms for any type of legislative fix for immigration and long-term cure to our labor shortage.

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