#NationOfBuilders Hearing Explores the State of Homebuilding in America

June 4, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), held the fourth hearing in its Our Nation of Builders series with a focus on the state of America’s homebuilding sector. The subcommittee heard from senior executives representing different businesses in the homebuilding industry about the challenges they face and opportunities for increasing growth and job creation.

“Today we heard from the homebuilding industry about how we can help create the organic environment they need to keep building and creating good paying jobs while building affordable housing for Americans,” said Terry. “This is a nonpartisan issue. Not only will creating this environment foster job creation, but it will also help manufacturers to build the next generation of more energy efficient, more affordable and safer homes.”

After the Great Recession, the housing market in the United States has slowly recovered and the forecast for the homebuilding industry is looking brighter. But while the industry is rebounding, there remain many barriers preventing a full-scale recovery of this important sector of our economy, including overregulation, a lack of skilled workers, and an unfair tax code.

Rick Judson, Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, explained that the nation’s housing markets are beginning to see growth but “economic and policy headwinds remain that have slowed builders’ ability to build and prospective home buyers’ ability to make a home purchase.” He added, “If these headwinds are reduced, then housing’s contribution to economic growth would be larger and the overall economic recovery more robust.”

George Kubat, President and CEO of Phillips Manufacturing, testified that excessive regulatory bureaucracy is hindering the ability of small business manufacturers to succeed. “Certainly there is a need for regulation and governance over manufacturing practices for many reasons including employee safety, equality of treatment, environmental, immigration, health care, taxes, and many more but it can’t possibly make sense for a relatively simple metal manufacturing business like Phillips Manufacturing to work through thirteen federal agencies and dozens of state and local agencies,” said Kubat. “As difficult and expensive as compliance is for Phillips, it has to be impossible for the smallest of manufacturers.”

William Shaw, Founder of William Shaw and Associates, a design, remodeling, and building company, called for more reasonable regulations, expressing, “Remodelers have an acute understanding of how the federal government’s regulatory process impacts real-world small businesses. Many of these regulations have made it significantly more difficult for us to do business and hamper job creation. Housing serves as a great example of an industry that would benefit from smarter and more sensible regulation.”

Edward Martin, President and CEO for the Tilson Home Corporation, highlighted how skilled worker shortages are afflicting the homebuilding sector due to a lack of vocational training. “At Tilson Home, we are experiencing comparable labor shortages across various labor categories. Framing, flooring, and roofing trades experience the most acute shortages in our business, although there is certainly a clear need for more workers in the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical industries,” said Martin. “Because of the inability of our contractors to hire qualified labor, we are experiencing significant delays.”

“We have had over 35 witnesses testify at our manufacturing hearings and many of the themes and issues have been recurrent,” said Chairman Terry. “It’s time we start listening to what these folks are telling us, and start looking at ways we can take their advice, address their concerns and help them help Americans get back to work.”

 

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