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Last week’s big announcement of the merger of StanPac and Ryland Group, creating a new member of the Top 5 Homebuilders, spawned a flurry of articles and blogs, most of them suggesting the kingdom and the power and the glory of mergers, forever and ever, amen. The truth of the long history of mergers is, with a few notable exceptions, that they are virtually always "less than meets the eye," sometimes dramatically so. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who was an employee of one the firms, three years later.
The shortage of qualified trade contractors is a problem that vexes the entire industry and finally people are waking up to it, largely for the wrong reasons. Suddenly trade shortages as an obstacle to growth is appearing in articles and blogs and occasionally even cited by industry market researchers and engineers. Here’s the bottom line: we have tremendous structural demand at all price points yet there is ample evidence that in each segment and especially entry-level, sales prices are too high.
So who's going to build entry-level? Great question, but until it's solved, everyone else building the move-ups will see their opportunities restricted. The key issue here is cost and builders by and large live in a strict paradigm that says if land, labor and materials are all up – which they are – how can we possibly build entry-level housing at the margin we need? Now comes the scary part. Everyone is looking to a Fed rate increase this fall, and then what?
Below is a quote from an online article by Professional Builder Magazine. While this is interesting the real issue here is: What lessons did you learn from the recession? What IF the economy takes a downturn or what if in your marketplace home sales tails off again? Are you prepared, do you have a plan ? “Prices keep rising, but according to David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices, “There is no bubble to be anxious about.”
The housing market is enjoying some good tailwinds, which typically mean positive things for residential construction. As work picks up – especially in home repair and remodeling – increased demand for categories like roofing and framing are helping to drive product innovation in nailers.   
A beautiful, high-performance floor starts with what you can’t see—a stable floor frame and subfloor underneath. Simple installation mistakes can lead to squeaky floors or damaged finishes, along with the cost and hassle of associated callbacks. Get it right the first time by following these installation best practices:
Deck projects can expand to include a wide range of applications, such as light-commercial projects at restaurants or hotels as well as a variety of marina and dock projects near waterways. The possibilities can be seen in a recent dock project completed by Innovative Marine Solutions Inc. (IMS), of Breiningsville, Pa.
Here are some tips for running a successful Roundtable event. 1.      Ensure you email those attending in advance so that they know the number of tables, which topics are being discussed at which and the order/timing of each of the topic sessions. This will allow those attending to carefully select the topics that most interest them and most importantly, to think about the topics and make notes on questions/issues they want to raise.
Above: Squash blocks installed to support load from above. Right: Load from above without squash blocks or blocking panels caused this web to buckle. Blocking panels should have also been used to provide lateral support to the joist ends.  
One of my “guilty pleasures” – you know, things that you should be embarrassed to admit you love – is the John Travolta movie, The Phenomenon. It is a sweet and sappy but scientifically intriguing yarn about an auto mechanic who has no idea why but suddenly finds incredible brain power that first astounds, and then frightens the local townsfolk. Robert Duvall, playing the country doctor, tends to Travolta as overzealous government agents try to steal him, while his girlfriend Lace tries to comfort him.
  Now that the U.S. Department of Energy’s new residential water heater regulations are in effect, it’s important to understand the new challenges builders and remodelers may be facing. The U.S. Department of Energy announced the regulations in 2010, which requires all units to comply with higher energy-efficiency standards.
Here is a structure that you can provide to your trades to help them think about Cost of Quality in their business. Cost of Quality is 3% of revenue, what is that in your company in $ For most companies the breakdown or profile of Cost of Quality is: Failure Costs 70% Appraisal Costs (Audits) 25% Prevention Costs 5% (increasing THIS will reduce failure costs) What is your profile?
For those of you that have projects with regulatory agency permits, it is imperative that you respect the Birds’ Breeding Season. If you think you know when birds’ breeding season starts, think again! First of all, there are both nesting and breeding seasons. These critical birds’ reproduction seasons actually depend on the species and climate.
It began simply. The laundry washer breaks down and a repair company is called to fix it. Quite simple.
If properly applied, top-quality exterior paint should last for up to 15 to 20 years. March marks the start of spring, a time when homeowners look to increase curb appeal and repair any damage done to the exterior of their homes from winter weather. Whether installing new products such as windows and doors or repairing damaged items – you’ll likely need paint. Stay up to date on the latest options in exterior paint to help educate and guide your customers this spring.  
Spring is here, and work is picking up as the weather warms. The Home Depot is kicking off the spring season with its first quarterly Pro Appreciation Event of 2015, including seven days of exclusive savings on tools from well-known brands like DeWalt, Makita and Milwaukee. The event runs from March 23–29 and includes an in-store appreciation day in all U.S. stores on March 26 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
With warm weather approaching, upgrades and enhancements to outdoor spaces are top of mind, especially considering that 85 percent of single-family homes in the United States include a porch, deck or some kind of outdoor living area, according to USA Today. Whether working on a porch or deck – you’ll need lumber. It’s important to study up on the pros, cons, and latest options in wood versus composite lumber to help educate and guide your customers.  
We all know we do a great job, while we all can improve our business it’s just minor stuff, things are just great. But so often we are unaware of what is really going on and how much needs to be improved. Here is the 'gorilla video', when you play it tell everyone to hold comments until you are done. Ask them to count how many times the ball was passed between the players wearing white shirts, tell them you will have questions afterward. After you play the video ask a question such as, how many passes did they make, who was the best? DON’T ask about the gorilla.
Tools and technologies are introduced every day that can help you do your job more efficiently. From new inventions to subtle enhancements, here are several innovative products that will help you save time and money.   Upgrade
The key barriers to Implementing Lean Construction have been listed in a UK Construction Industry study. These provide great insights to ensure that your lean implementation is successful. All of the barriers in this report can be overcome; it is all about planning, laying the groundwork and having top leadership support. The study found the most significant barriers were……….. 1 Lack of adequate lean awareness and understanding 2 Lack of top management commitment 3 Cultural & human attitudinal issues

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