Shedding Light on Fair, Affordable Housing

HFH 806 houseDay in and day out we’re consumed with the products aspect of building and remodeling homes at CertainTeed. As a building materials manufacturer, we are committed to helping create high-performing, energy-efficient comfortable homes for families.

 We take pride in the fact that we contribute to healthy, thriving communities — especially through our partnerships with YouthBuild, Habitat for Humanity and Homes for Our Troops.

 However, despite the number of available homes in our communities, the stark reality is that not everyone has access to quality, affordable housing. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are more than four million violations of fair housing laws each year. This means that discrimination based on race, disability, familial status, national origin or religion is a reality for many individuals that are attempting to rent an apartment or buy a home as well as securing a mortgage and home insurance.

 In terms of affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity reports that in the United States 48.5 million people are living in poverty, without stable, decent housing.

 There are only 30 affordable and available housing units available for every 100 low-income households. This is a very complex issue that organizations such as Make It Right — which is rethinking the design and construction of affordable housing — are tackling.

 There are dozens of organizations dedicated to fair, affordable housing issues and we encourage you to get involved. To learn more, check out this list of 101 resources that are helping to build better communities.

 

 

Build Home Insurance Perks into Your Pitch

cit5glamourimagesmallWhether you’re a builder or an architect, you’re always looking for new ways to sell your homes to your clients. Here’s something unique to build into your pitch – the homeowners insurance benefits. Savings and extra perks go along with insuring a new house versus an old one. You can get a leg up on the competition by using a lesser known perk to your advantage.

To start off: simply buying new can help your clients save. Homes built within the last 10 years could qualify for a discount of up to 20%. Given that the average U.S. homeowners insurance premium exceeded $822 as of the end of December, the new discount could generate savings of up to $164 a year. Providers prefer new homes because they believe there is a lower risk of them incurring an expensive claim.

Other ways that new homes can earn your clients home insurance savings and help with your sales message include the following:  

New plumbing

Plumbing system failures are the leading source of home water losses, according to the Insurance Institute for Building and Home Safety (IBHS). It’s no wonder that home insurance providers wish to avoid plumbing malfunctions when the average claim per incident weighs in at more than $7,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

Updated plumbing systems in new homes form a major part of a moisture management strategy and can therefore earn your clients preferred home insurance policies, which generally come with lower premiums.

A modern HVAC system

Heating and cooling systems can be testy. In fact, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). To avoid the approximate $5.8 billion dollars in damage that heating systems cause in fire damage every year, insurance carriers consider new HVAC systems a major factor in determining whether a homeowner qualifies for a preferred policy. New HVAC systems also typically work more efficiently and can save your clients 20% or more in utilities costs.

More fire safety

From 2007 to 2011, the U.S. experienced nearly 50,000 fires due to electrical malfunction and $1.5 billion in direct property damage, according to the NFPA. The average fire claim costs insurers in excess of $33,000, according to the III. Again, new wiring is a factor in qualifying for a preferred policy. Other anti-fire measures in new homes include smoke detectors, which can win owners premium discounts of up to 5% ($41 on that average premium cited above).

Roof stability

Roof damage from wind and hail costs an average of $7,177 per claim, so home insurance providers favor sturdy roofs. If your building project involves roofs that the carrier qualifies as impact-resistant,—UL class 3 or higher—your clients could get preferred status and qualify for lower premiums. Some materials that qualify are metal and concrete tile.

None of these savings are one-time price breaks: They can extend for years, which should increase their appeal to buyers. In fact, homeowners who go 10 years without filing a claim can win a discount of up to 20% on their premiums. New homes make it much easier to reach that 10-year threshold.

When speaking with potential buyers about the benefits of buying new, add home insurance discounts to your toolbox. You can get your clients focused on protecting their homes, while adding the benefits of lower monthly premiums. Doing so can help persuade clients to buy new – and to buy with you.

Guest Blogger Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley has been Community Manager for HomeownersInsurance.com since 2007. She is a native New Yorker with a background in journalism and professional writing.

 This guest blog post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of CertainTeed Corporation.

Small is Beautiful in this Contemporary Cabin from Simplex Homes

When you start to think about downsizing  you may want to consider modular construction if you are building.  At Greenbuild this year, the Green Zone exhibited a wonderful option.Simplex House

The Greenbuild Cabin, designed by Resolution:4 Architecture and built by Simplex Homes, was an excellent example of more efficient living similar to the types of residential options you would see at the Solar Decathlon.  Attendees at Greenbuild could see products at work in a modular one-room retreat that was aesthetically very pleasing.

The 806-square-foot cabin is designed to have a strong connection to the exterior, with abundant natural lighting achieved through low-e, Argonne-filled, double-pane glass. With a LEED Platinum certification as the goal, the cabin employs a number of green technologies, including rainwater collection, a greywater system, photovoltaic array, EPDM rubber membrane roofing system and a super-insulated envelope.

The cabin houses a fully functional kitchen and, through its creative use of space and natural lighting, invites residents to live large.  

An Insight from CertainTeed Green Guru Mike Bottoms

I asked CertainTeed Green Guru Mike Bottoms, Solar Sales Manager the following questiongreenbuild-nation-20x20:

If you had the ability to change one thing about the way we construct homes and buildings what would it be?

I would like to see all homes have a solar array. It would not only cut down on the stress on the  infrastructure of the grid, but would also improve the lifestyles of people by lowering utility bills and give them more independent from the utility companies. The challenge we face currently is that solar is still very connected to rebates and incentives.  As the utility rates go up and incentives go down we will reach parity at some point.  Right now we are more dependent on rebates so I would like to see those be more permanent and consistent state to state.

An Insight from CertainTeed Green Guru Bob Marshall

greenbuild-nation-20x20I asked the following question to CertainTeed Green Guru Bob Marshall, Manager, Marketing Technical Services for Ceilings:

If you had the ability to change one thing about the way we construct homes and buildings what would it be?

Since my interest is primarily with commercial construction, I would say it would be a higher level of attention to the acoustic environment in buildings. It has such great power to effect the way that humans work in an office facility, how well they learn in educational facilities and how well they recover in a healthcare facility. There are volumes of academic research to support these very obvious connections. What is helpful to us now is that LEEDv4 has actually placed points available for effective acoustic design in just about every relevant point system that is part of the new rating system.

Greenbuild 60-Second Stopby: BioNova Natural Pools

BioNovaThe BioNova Natural Pool (booth #725) is a new innovation created by BioNova. The swimming area and the planted regeneration area are completely separated. The waste-water is treated in a biological way without using chemicals, so you can swim and bath in absolutely natural, vivid water. The water quality is as high as in the natural pre-Alpine lakes. Even on smaller properties you can now realize your dream of your own Natural Pool according to what I learned.

The BioNova Pool requires less space than other Natural Swimming Pools, because they place the technology underground. Additionally a planted soil filter replaces the regeneration area. This NSP blends harmoniously with every garden! And last but not least: there’s a huge cost advantage in comparison with traditional Swimming Pool. It is a great fit for the hotel and wellness sectors.

Worth a visit!

Greenbuild 60-Second Stopby: Rainwater Collection Systems – The Original Rainwater Pillow

DSCN2768The Original Rainwater Pillow (booth # 1121) is a large volume rainwater/storm water harvesting system designed to be stored in horizontal wasted space above grade.  They can create custom pillows up to 200,000 gallons. Systems can be developed for residential, commercial and industrial applications.  Typically the water is collected off of the roof and goes to a pre-filter which removes asphalt and other particles. Systems are available for potable and non-potable applications.

The Pillows can be stored under a deck or crawlspace in a residential setting. For commercial or industrial settings, the system can be stored in a basement or a parking garage.

The water can be used for irrigation, flushing toilets, laundry, drinking water and much more.

Well worth a Stopby!

An Insight from Our Green Guru Lucas Hamilton

greenbuild-nation-20x20I asked Lucas Hamilton, Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed the following question: 

If you could change one thing about the way we construct homes and buildings, what would it be?

It would be the fact that our financial model or the way we value properties today does not reward long term sustainable construction practices.  Lenders are not considering the life cycle of the building in their lending decisions.  Providing for upfront costs for measures that could make the building more efficient over a lifetime are not taken into consideration.

We need to create financial models for borrowing and building that are based upon a life cycle assessment  that truly rewards the  permanent installation of energy saving and sustainable materials and systems.

The Road to Greenbuild Ends at The Pennsylvania Convention Center

CT13021_GreenbuildLogoWelcome to Philadelphia!  I can say that because CertainTeed and our parent company Saint-Gobain’s North American headquarters are here. Everyone is very excited for this year’s show.

The portfolio of brands, including CertainTeed, can be found under the umbrella of our parent company Saint-Gobain North America (booth numbers 1411 and 1511).  Our products and brands work to create “Life’s Material Difference,” which means that no matter where or how you touch our products, they have a real and lasting impact on quality of life.

The Saint-Gobain North America family of brands at Greenbuild this year includes: CertainTeed, SAGE, ADFORS, and two products from Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics – GreenGlue™ and Thermalbond®.

Take advantage of our new Education Lab located along aisle 400. We are offering industry-leading courses open to anyone attending Greenbuild:

  • Solar Photovoltaic: Architectural Considerations – Wednesday Nov 20, 2-2:45 PM
  • Atypical Methods for Achieving Reverberation Time for LEED v4 Acoustic Performance – Wednesday, Nov 20 3:30-4:15 PM
  • Transparency Publications Summary: LCA, EPD and HPD -Thursday Nov 21, 9:15-10:00 AM
  • Designing High-Performance Schools: Impact of Novel Building Materials on Classroom Acoustics and Indoor Air Quality at Slatington Elementary – Thursday Nov 21 12:45 – 1:30 PM
  • Dynamic Air Barriers & Moisture Management: An integrated systems approach – Thursday Nov 21, 3:30-4:30 PM

There are still seats available. It is best to pre-register to guarantee your seat.

Not attending Greenbuild?  We will be blogging from the show. Check back for updates.

If you are at the show, please stop by and see us at  Booths 1411 and 1511.

Building Knowledge Experts at AIA2013 – Expertise that Inspires

AIA2013CertainTeed Technical Marketing Manager for Ceilings Bob Marshall conducted a session at AIA2013 on Ceilings in the Health Care Segment.  During the presentation while Bob was discussing the noise levels in hospitals and how it impacts healing, the question was raised:

“Why do we accept higher noise levels in hospitals if we know that it impacts the patients’ ability to heal?”

Two things work in our favor. Acoustical standards and guidelines are well documented and hospital administrators are getting validation regarding just how much acoustics matter and they are starting to make better choices when upgrading their facilities. We have to keep in mind that hospitals are very competitive but we are starting to see changes that have positive effects on patients and recovery. Rooms are painted in pastels now with artwork on the wall so administrators are starting to make the environment more pleasant for the patients.  At some point, they will have to address the noise levels as they relate to healing to continue to remain competitive. There is research that will speak to just about every architectural decision from an interior perspective. We are just validating and giving them the tools to go ahead and sell the acoustical benefits for making these changes.

If you have a question or comment, we would love to hear from you. Although AIA 2013 is over, we know these questions will continue to be raised.