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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Slow Recovery May Be Leading to Serious Housing Shortages

The following excerpt is from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) weekly online newspaper, Nation’s Building News:

“Even as foreclosures continue to flood some of the worst-hit housing markets in the country, economists are beginning to sound the warning that today’s extremely low levels of new residential production could lead to significant housing shortages, especially among market-rate rental apartments, as household formation rates return to normal.

The housing downturn and economic recession have kept household formation rates at below-normal levels for roughly three years, said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. As the economy moves to higher ground, the housing market will begin to feel the pressure from new households, he said, and there will be a surge of demand from echo boomers, who comprise an even larger group than their baby-boomer parents.

NAHB economists project that the industry will need to deliver 16 million homes over the next 10 years to keep pace with demand. As the excess inventory is worked off, which is likely by the end of 2012, the long-run demand for new housing — based on population growth, immigration and the replacement of losses from the housing stock — will average approximately 1.5 million single-family and 300,000 multifamily units annually, or about 1.8 to 1.9 million total starts.

Coming off extremely low levels of construction, starts last month were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000, a level that is far below what will be needed.

When housing starts bottomed out in the first quarter of 2009, they were running at only 27% of average starts during the “normal” production period of 2000 to 2003, according to analysis by NAHB. This year, production is expected to rise to 45% of normal, with a further increase to 67% of normal next year.

The road back to normal levels of residential construction will be longer for some states than others. By the end of 2011, the top 20% of the states will see their production levels back to normal. Those states include Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

NAHB is forecasting 647,000 total housing starts in 2010 and 991,000 in 2011, an indication of expectations for housing to recover at a relatively slow pace. Curtailed credit to build new housing is a major constraint, and the availability of acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) financing is expected to remain exceptionally tight even during the early phases of the housing upturn.”

To read more about the severe apartment shortage forecasted over the next few years, see the Feb. 22 edition of the Nation’s Building News to read the remainder of this article.

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How to Safely Contain Lead in a pre-1978 Home

Did you know? Effective April 22, 2010 (Earth Day), a new law instituted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require remodelers working in homes built before 1978 to test for lead and be certified to work in areas in the home containing lead using lead safety practices.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) wants to protect homeowners from harmful lead exposure, and suggests asking your remodeler if they plan to test for lead.

“Consider it a red flag if a remodeler doesn’t mention lead if you live in an older home. Even though the law is not in effect until April, they still need to make homeowners aware of lead exposure,” says Bob Boothroyd, owner of The Boothroyd Group and an EPA Certified Renovator in Connecticut. He adds that current law requires that renovators give homeowners an EPA lead brochure and have it signed to signal that homeowners have been properly notified of the dangers.

Henges Insulation is affiliated with NARI and plans on undergoing lead abatement classes to get properly trained and certified.

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Busy Weekend at the Home Show

Henges Insulation & Fireplaces attended the Greater Kansas City Home Show this past weekend. Our west & southwest area energy consultant, Bill Hocker, and General Manager Greg Kudrna are pictured at our booth.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City, along with Kansas City, Mo., Parks & Recreation hosted the 62nd annual HOME SHOW and Flower, Lawn & Garden Show at Bartle Hall this past weekend. The Greater Kansas City Home Show is the longest-running home and outdoor consumer event in town, bringing innovation, ideas and inspiration to area homeowners since 1947. It has been ranked by USA Today as one of the top 10 places to get a jumpstart on spring.

Despite unpredictable bursts of snow and ice outside, thousands came to Bartle Hall for professional advice from experts in home building, remodeling and more. The show featured the latest in home and garden products, innovative green technologies and an abundance of advice on saving time and money on home improvement adventures. More than 400 exhibitors set up camp for the weekend, offering advice, demonstrations, products and entertainment to visitors.

Just across from the acclaimed appraiser Dr. Lori, the Henges crew greeted passers-by and learned more about what our consumers are looking for. We brought an electric fireplace and a display of batt, cellulose and BIBS insulation to give our visitors a real look at their options. Our professional team helped dozens with their decisions on insulation and fireplaces. We’d like to thank everyone who stopped to chat with us. We look forward to seeing you again next year! But certainly, if you missed us, give us a call. We give out advice all year!

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Kansas City a Leader in Effiency Initiatives

As we spoke about in a recent post, “Renewable and Green Energy Solutions for Missouri Homes,” the folks at Henges Insulation recently attended a meeting of the Missouri Association of Accredited Energy Professionals (MAAEP). This non-profit association of energy assessors and home performance professionals promotes renewable and green energy solutions for existing homes and buildings, as well as new construction.

According to EnergyBoom.com, The MAAEP wants to make Missouri not just a coal state, but also an efficiency state too. The good news is  that we’re already making progress. The article states that “In the Midwest, Kansas City is a leader in efficiency incentives. The Home Performance with Energy Star rebate program is working with Kansas City Power & Light and Missouri Gas Energy to provide home owners with rebates of up to $1,200 when properties are improved with efficiency upgrades.” The Metropolitan Energy Center has had more than 200 completed contracts since the program began, with many in the pipeline.

Exciting news for Kansas City. As Barry Dicker of Decent Energy says, “We can have a much more significant impact by acting collectively, than any of us can individually.”

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Fire safety – fireplaces and space heaters

We know it can get awfully chilly during the winter, especially in older homes. The use of alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces and space heaters, is growing quite popular in the U.S. as a means to offset high home heating costs and to increase homes’ comfort. The problem is, misuse and incorrect installation is predicted to spur a corresponding increase in the incidence of fires. According to firesafety.gov, fire departments responded to 412,500 home fires in the U.S. in 2006, which claimed the lives of 2,620 people and injured another 12,925, not including firefighters. We sure don’t want to see this number rise!

It’s terribly important to have a functioning smoke detector that is less than 10 years old and equipped with fresh batteries. You should have an escape plan and practice fire safety in every room. In addition, be sure to follow these few, critical safety tips:

With wood stoves and fireplaces:

–       Inspect and clean chimneys at least annually (sap residue in the chimney can ignite).

–       Don’t burn paper, trash or green wood. Paper burns at a higher temperature than wood, putting off more heat than chimneys are designed for.

–       Keep combustible objects at least three feet away.

–       Inspect for damage or obstructions at least monthly.

With space heaters:

–       Only use units with the UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories Inc.) listing and approval.

–       Do not plug any unit into an extension cord; only directly into an outlet.

–       Unplug when not in use.

–       Don’t leave on while you sleep.

–       Don’t store or dry anything on top of the heater.

–       Ensure anything combustible is at least three feet from heater.

NEVER use your kitchen stoves to heat your home! Leaving the door open for any period of time will overwork the coil, causing it to overheat and creating a huge fire risk.

For more helpful information about how to prevent a fire, visit .

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Looking Forward: Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo

There’s a little less than a month until the folks at Henges Insulation head down to Orlando, FL, for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo.

The HPBExpo recently released a statement about this year’s hottest products. Think eco-friendly, efficient, and easy-to-use products. (We’ll be sure to fill you in with a post-show recap, too!)

HPBA President Jack Goldman says, “Today’s manufacturers are designing fireplaces, stoves and other heating products with efficiency and environmental impact in mind. There are more options than ever to supply homes with warmth and ambiance that not only help cut heating costs, but also provide consumers with renewable fuel options. This year’s HPBExpo features the latest products for the hearth of the home.”

And (drumroll, please!), the latest hearth trends, courtesy of HPBExpo, are:

Cleaner and Greener: From high-grade, cast-iron stoves forged with recycled material to wood burning fireplaces that release fewer emissions, manufacturers are exploring new technologies and fuels to reduce the environmental impact of hearth products while increasing product efficiency. From heating an entire house to only the rooms that are used most, fireplaces, stoves, inserts and outdoor wood hydronic heaters are being designed to meet and exceed strict government emissions standards.

In the Zone: Heating rooms that a family occupies the most, or zone heating, makes today’s stoves and fireplaces allow a home’s central heat to be turned down.  Fans, circulators and blowers enhance that efficiency, helping to save even more money.

All-in-One: Home is where the hearth is. As the center of relaxation and entertainment, new fireplaces can include entertainment features like iPod docks, wire management channels and built-in media cabinets to form an instant sanctuary.

Art of Fire: The beauty of a flame is amplified by manufacturers who have designed fireplace masterpieces that can be hung on walls, can feature rich veneers, sculptures and glass, and sometimes even touched off with LED lighting.

Convenience is King: Manufacturers continue to develop the latest in remote controls, timers, and hopper technology. Modern hearth products offer flip-of-the-switch heat and ambiance, self-cleaning capabilities, and can allow for multiple days of operation with little hassle or interaction.

Mainstream Alternatives: Wood, corn and cherry pits are just a few of the biomass fuel options that continue to gain in popularity.

Maximized Living Space: From classic fire pits to portable heaters and stoves, outdoor heating sources extend seasons and increase entertainment square footage. New multipurpose products that can serve as an outdoor fireplace, a wood-fire grill, or even a garden sculpture also bring new utility to outdoor spaces.

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Kansas City-area foreclosure activity falls in January – Kansas City Business Journal:

This is an interesting article on the number of foreclosures we have seen in the area. The obscene number of people losing their homes is finally decreasing.

via Kansas City-area foreclosure activity falls in January – Kansas City Business Journal:.

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Extreme Green Building

Brian Plaster recently built a 4,400 sq. ft., 2-story home in Las Vegas to the absolute highest green building standards. His first month of energy only cost $1.60!

Plaster’s home has received numerous certifications and the highest ratings by third-party verifiers such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and the National Association of Home Builders’ Green Building Standard program. Third-party inspectors were brought in to evaluate each step in the home’s construction, from the design of the home to the implementation of its operation systems, to ensure it met all the green standards available at the time.

“Perhaps the biggest difference in how we built this house versus every other home we have built in Las Vegas deals with the insulation and how we sealed the home,” Plaster said. The garage was insulated with Icynene foam, the interior walls with batt insulation and cellulose was blown into exterior walls and the attic.

Plaster said that building green adds approximately three to five percent to building costs, but savings on resources, such as electricity, gas and water, will recoup this upfront cost in five to 10 years. In addition, homes that meet green standards ensure a healthier air quality and a more comfortable home.

 

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Top 10 Green Home Improvements in 2010

A whopping 90 percent of home buyers said they considered heating and cooling bills important, according to The National Association of Realtors’ 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. The same report showed as many as 70 percent looking for homes with high-efficiency appliances, according to a recent U.S. News & World Report.

Adding fuel to that fire may be the fact that “Uncle Sam is now handing out tax credits worth up to $1,500 when you purchase certain energy-efficient home products,” says the article. But you have to act quickly: all tax credits expire at the end of this year.

So what are the biggest “green” home improvements/upgrades you can make? You can start by performing an energy audit. Then follow 9 other necessary steps to improve your home’s efficiency, from adding insulation to installing a programmable thermostat. Check out the interactive slideshow here.

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Happy Birthday, Abe!

Since the beginning of our great country, we have experienced the leadership of many great men. Today, we would like to recognize the birthday of one whose legacy endures in the U.S., President Abraham Lincoln. Happy 201st Birthday, Abe!

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