In some areas of North Texas, beautiful custom homes like this one from Classic Urban Homes would not be allowed due to their stucco exteriors. Thanks to HB 2439, that will change come Sept. 1. (Courtesy Photo)

Staff Reports

Area homebuyers grappling with affordability challenges and lack of diversity in housing choices will soon see significant relief thanks to the Texas Legislature. HB 2439, which passed by overwhelming majorities in the House (133 to 9) and Senate (26 to 5), was signed into law by the governor and becomes effective on Sept. 1. 

The new law prevents local governments from enforcing regulations that artificially make housing less attainable for working families by forcing them to choose more expensive products in the design and construction of their home. The law also helps local material suppliers and contractors who were previously limited or prohibited from doing business in some of the area’s fastest-growing cities. 

In the hearings that preceded the bill’s passage, much of the opposing testimony came from suppliers and contractors who contended their business depended on local product mandates. Testimony in favor of the bill came from those whose business was correspondingly crippled by them. 

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Brian Miller of Northern Kentucky, who was named Executive Officer of the Year for 2017, congratulates Dallas Builders Association Executive Officer Phil Crone. (Courtesy Photo)

From Staff Reports

It’s been a pretty big year for Phil Crone, the executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association, and getting recognized by your industry has to be the icing on the cake for him. The Dallas Builders Association relaunched their Parade of Homes, hosted a City Council debate, and worked to get more trade education in public schools — all initiatives that deserve recognition. 

And that’s exactly what Crone received on July 24 with the National Association of Home Builders named him Executive Officer of the Year. The award was presented at the annual Association Management Conference in Baltimore and honors a dedicated executive officer whose actions, commitments, and accomplishments in a single year has been truly exceptional. In addition, Crone was recognized for promotion of the national Executive Officer’s Council and for assisting in the advancement of his peers. The award is in memory of Gary Komarow, former chief legal counsel of NAHB.

In 2014, Crone received the New Executive Officer Award, which is presented to an EO who has served no more than three years in an association management position, but who is judged to have made major contributions to the profession during that time. Crone has served as the Association’s executive officer since January 2013.

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By Phil Crone
Executive Officer
Dallas Builders Association

In the midst of a nationwide, 10-year low in affordability, the housing industry is bracing for additional tariffs. From tile to countertops, laminates, lighting, and furnishing, about 450 products commonly found in new homes and remodeling projects are seeing tariffs rise from 10 percent to 25 percent due to the escalating trade war between the United States and China.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), homeowners and homebuilders nationwide will be paying an additional $2.5 billion. Existing tariffs on Chinese imports and Chinese retaliatory tariffs already reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product by 0.15 of a point. These additional tariffs will lower GDP by another half a point. While painful, they should not, in and of themselves, induce a recession.

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Recent severe weather has brought the issue of fly-by-night roofing companies to the forefront of the Texas Legislature. To combat scammers that prey on homeowners after hail storms and high winds, Texas State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) introduced HB 2101, also known as the Reroofing Contractor Registration Act. 

In order to comply with the proposed law, all roofers wishing to do business in Texas would have to register with the state. 

“This is a great bill that will help protect vulnerable consumers,” said Dallas Builders Association executive officer Phil Crone. “Wind and hail events, which are common this time of year, unfortunately also cause fly-by-night contractors to crawl out of the woodwork. When your roof is leaking and you want nothing more than to get your life back in order, you are ideal prey for these vultures.”

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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…)