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Chairman's Letter: Standing Up for the Remodeling Industry

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Chairman's Letter: Standing Up for the Remodeling Industry

NAHB’s new chairman outlines challenges and advocacy efforts for the year.

By Jerry Konter, NAHB Chairman February 22, 2022
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nahb jerry konter
This article first appeared in the February 2022 issue of Pro Remodeler.

jerry konter nahb I’m proud to take the helm as the 2022 Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The work we do as remodelers, builders, developers, and associates is critical to our nation. And the work we do as an association is critical to the members who rely on us to stand up for housing in the policy arena.

To say our industry has faced unprecedented trials since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is an understatement. But through it all we have remained resolute, thriving despite the many challenges.

Ongoing Challenges

NAHB has seen several significant victories this past year: a court ruling that made members eligible for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness; a decision by OSHA to exclude construction from its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard; and an increase in funding provided to workforce development programs organized and sponsored by local home builder associations.

Two years into the pandemic, supply chain disruptions represent the greatest challenge to our industry. We continue to educate the White House, Congress, and key stakeholders on the need for more action to resolve building material supply chain challenges. Lumber prices have again risen above $1,000 per thousand board feet, another blow to housing affordability.

RELATED: Savannah-Based Builder to Lead NAHB

Lumber supplies were hit by an unusually bad summer wildfire season in the western U.S. and Canada. Meanwhile, U.S. sawmill output has not risen sufficiently to meet the strong demand from the home building and residential remodeling industries. And the Commerce Department’s action in late November to double tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. further exacerbated price volatility and raised construction and remodeling costs. Our advocacy efforts are focused on finding creative solutions that provide a stable supply of lumber and other building materials at competitive prices.

Advocacy Moving Forward

Supply chain problems are not our only challenge. Record percentages of NAHB members are reporting labor shortages as well. More than half of remodelers surveyed for a recent NAHB/Royal Building Products Remodeling Market Index reported a shortage of workers in each of 16 trades listed in the questionnaire. In the most extreme cases, more than 90% of remodelers reported shortages of workers needed to perform rough and finished carpentry, while more than 80% reported a shortage of subcontractors in 11 of the 16 trades.

We are finding new ways to address the nation’s skilled labor shortage, including working with a wide variety of local associations and educational institutions, our workforce development arm Home Builders Institute, and student chapters across the country. A new agreement with NAHB and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America is also planting the seeds to renew interest in residential construction as a viable pathway for many of today’s youth.

RELATED: Remodelers Head Into 2022 With Cautious Optimism

NAHB is also working with policymakers to make sure credit is available to remodelers and their customers at a reasonable cost. We’re working on tax policy, including energy tax credits, that affect our members. And we remain the primary voice for the residential remodeling industry in the development of building codes.

We have an ambitious agenda. One that I know will keep us busy as we keep our industry on track and moving toward a post-pandemic future. I am confident that residential remodeling and the home building industry will continue to lead the way. I wish you all a safe and prosperous year ahead. 

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