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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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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By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

With so much of the news cycle focusing on Washington, D.C., many may be unaware that Texas is in the thick of a legislative session. That will certainly change soon as we approach the March 10 bill filing deadline and debate heats up on topics ranging from the budget to bathrooms. For the residential construction industry that represents more than $31 billion in economic activity and more than 702,000 jobs in the state—there is a lot on the line.

As it stands right now, our Association has more than 50 pages of bills in our “decision list,” meaning they have an impact on home building one way or another. While the Texas legislative process is designed to kill bills as opposed to passing them (the old Schoolhouse Rock Bill on Capitol Hill skit rarely has a happy ending in Austin), we nonetheless are optimistic that this session will be a positive one for the housing industry.

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home builders Bella Vita

When the homebuilders whose signs you’ve seen around your neighborhood suddenly declare bankruptcy, it can give you pause. But when news of those bankruptcies opens a floodgate of customers with unhappy experiences, prospective homebuyers begin to worry even more.

After Bella Vita Custom Homes and M. Christopher Custom Home Builder filed for bankruptcy last month, we’ve been hearing from worried folks that have been considering building a new home.

The questions were consistent: “How do I know this won’t happen to me?” and “How do I avoid choosing a bad builder?”

With that in mind, I reached out to Phil Crone, executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association, to get some advice.  I’ll also share an extra step I take when choosing a contractor that can also be applied to choosing a home builder.

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New House under Construction

A shortage of skilled workers is putting the construction industry in a bind, says Dallas Builders Association executive director Phil Crone.

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

These days, any article about President Trump, especially one that is an opinion piece, is bound to be read with a certain level of trepidation. That being said, how he addresses the labor shortage will be the barometer by which the construction industry evaluates his presidency.

Certainly, actions to peel back costly regulations are welcome and applauded, but — in the Dallas area at least — the lack of boots on the ground is currently a much larger concern than any amount of red tape.

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The Dallas Builders Association would like to address the dire shortage of skilled workers by a potential innovative partnership with Dallas ISD.

The Dallas Builders Association would like to address the dire shortage of skilled workers by a potential innovative partnership with Dallas ISD.

If you’re building a new home, or are a builder, this will come as no shock to you: It’s taking longer to get the job done, and it’s more expensive.

In fact, at a recent annual meeting, National Association of Home Builders economist Robert Dietz said this shortage was actually holding home construction growth back.

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IBS Orlando 2017

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

Heading into this year’s International Builders’ Show, I felt that the show had two things working against it: making the move from Las Vegas to Orlando, and holding the show earlier in January than usual.

Most of the people I spoke with shared my opinion that Vegas is a bit more fun than Orlando. The vibe definitely changes when the show moves to Orlando. Hotels in close proximity are hard to come by, and Pointe Orlando (essentially a mini version of the Shops at Legacy) is a less than adequate substitute for the Vegas strip. Moving the show up in the calendar a couple of weeks meant that it was right on our doorstep as soon as everyone emerged from the holiday hiatus. I think that also contributed to NAHB’s concerns about pre-registrations being down about 10 percent. When the show opened Tuesday morning, none of that mattered.

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