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Volume 4 • Issue 4 • July/August 2007

Luxurious bathrooms loom large as a selling point in new homes while remodelors profit from bathroom additions and upgrades.

4 President’s message Support PaCAH in State College and advocate for your industry through Hammers and Gavels and BuilderLink

19 Understanding changes in mortgage lending Victoria A. Reider, acting secretary of banking, answers PBA’s questions

6 Building news

22 Advanced wall framing

Update on issues important to the industry

Framing techniques may have earned a greater role in residential building, decades after their introduction

14 Tune in! Ads about housing issues hit the airwaves with the help of PBA and NAHB

23 Homeowner education Learn how a few common houseplants can help rid homes of that “new house smell”

16 Nail-gun safety Learn how to prevent injuries by stressing nail-gun safety to your employees

24 Member spotlight John Maleno of Maleno Development is dedicated to making every community special

17 Streamline K yields business opportunities

26 The truth about radon

Department of Housing’s new program opens doors for homebuyers, contractors

Learn how controlling radon is a cost-effective selling point for builders

Member Insider Member briefs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A On the hill. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B Hammers and Gavels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C Premier Partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .D

Keystone Builder cover designed by Chris Anderson Photo by Kathryn Morton

Keystone Builder


The homeowner’s getaway

PBA ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT Rob Jones, Central Susquehanna HBA SECRETARY Gene Kreitzer, Lebanon County BA TREASURER Richard Clawson, Indiana-Armstrong BA IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Bradford H. Elliott HBA of Bucks and Montgomery Counties EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT David Martin Editor Eric C. Wise Associate Editor Chris Anderson Assistant Editor/Publication Director Jennifer McDermitt Advertising Sales Jeff Pinwar Graphic Design Jason Gabel Address Correspondence To: Keystone Builder 600 North Twelfth Street, Suite 200 Lemoyne, PA 17043 Phone: 800-692-7339 or 717-730-4380 Fax: 717-730-4396 Web: Advertising does not imply acceptance or endorsement of the products contained in the publication.

For information on advertising in the Keystone Builder please contact Jeff Pinwar at 800-935-1592. Please support the advertisers who have made this publication possible. Publishing and advertising sales services provided by:

2929 Davison Rd. • Flint, MI 48506 Phone: 800-935-1592 • Fax: 810-239-2231 An Exclusive Publication of the PBA Keystone Builder magazine is published six times a year by the Pennsylvania Builders Association®, Editorial Offices, 600 North Twelfth Street, Lemoyne, PA 17043. With the exception of official association announcements, the statements of fact and opinion that are made herein are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not reflect an opinion or philosophy of the officers or the membership of the PBA. Materials may not be reproduced without written permission from the PBA headquarters. KEYSTONE BUILDER is published six times per year by the Pennsylvania Builders Association, Editorial Offices, 600 North Twelfth Street, Suite 200, Lemoyne, PA 17043. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Pennsylvania Builders Association, 600 North Twelfth Street, Lemoyne, PA 17043. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Subscriptions available through membership to the Pennsylvania Builders Association.


I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

President’s message

VICE PRESIDENT Ray Fertig, York County BA

By Stephen Black • PBA President

PRESIDENT Stephen D. Black, BIA of Lancaster County

High-test fuel stems from your involvement


he other day while driving to an appointment, I saw one of those monster Hummers by the roadway; its driver walking from the vehicle with a gas can. That image stuck with me throughout the day, and it got me thinking. Hummers are impressive vehicles — modern-day muscle cars. Many drivers see one coming and begin to inch over in their lane to provide easy passage. Yet despite size and power, the one I saw was apparently stopped in its tracks because it ran out of gas. It’s an apt analogy for the membership of PBA. We are recognized around the state — by legislators, the media and others — for our muscle. With 12,000 member-companies, we can be imposing. Plus, we’re known for speaking out on housing issues, so we do attract attention. But as powerful as we are, our might can evaporate in an instant without participation by our members. You are our fuel, and we need to keep running on all cylinders to ensure we get to our destination. Our recent win on UCC anchor-bolts legislation, which at presstime is on its way to the governor’s desk, shows what we can accomplish when we pull together. A pending bill, the Senate bill for home-improvement contractor registration, offers a fair compromise that doesn’t penalize honest builders because our members spoke out, playing an important role negotiating that legislation. We make a positive difference when our members are involved. We need to keep this in mind for the second half of 2007. We’ll need energy from our members to keep the association moving forward and to keep our issues on track. Our July fundraiser is just weeks away, and everyone’s participation is vital to raising money to support our industry. During the July board meeting, our members will debate and set policy about key political issues and program ideas. Their decisions will provide useful services to members and keep your association financially strong. Consider joining our Hammers and Gavels Club, too. Hammers and Gavels members are our key contacts with state legislators, keeping them well informed on key housing issues. We need your participation. To learn more, please contact Joni Shenck-Flynn at PBA, ext. 3023, or by e-mail at Our workdays seem to regularly fill to overflowing. But we all have to leave time for the work of the association. Our ideas and our participation keep the association motoring full-speed ahead and steer it in the right direction. Stay involved and, better yet, reach out to other builders we want to join us in the driver’s seat. S

‘Meet the Builder’lets associate members compete for your business Based on extremely popular reverse trade shows conducted in neighboring states, PBA is planning a pilot Meet the Builder for Wednesday, Sept. 26 in the northeast region. These types of events are called reverse trade shows because builders man the booths and are visited by associate members promoting their goods and services. The events have proven popular, because builders and associates both benefit. Builders gain exposure to a diverse group of suppliers that ensure their current vendors are competitive. Associates benefit by having the opportunity to meet face to face with homebuilders. Plus, the food and activities make for a fun time. Be a part of this special event and see what all the excitement’s about! Meet the Builder event is open to all PBA members and is sponsored by PBA’s Associates Council. For more information, please contact Bill Lapitsky at (800) 692-7339, ext. 3030.

Building news

Developers want to reclaim slate quarry by Katie Zimmerman Pete Iselo and Ron DeCesare of Slate Hills Entrepreneurs are aiming to pioneer a project that will reclaim 39 acres of unused, abandoned quarry land located in the slate belt region of Northampton County. They applied for a state Growing Greener grant that would allow them to fill the quarry and redevelop the land with commercial and high-density residential development. Although the innovative Slate Hills reclamation project has been met by some question and speculation, it has received support from influential individuals and groups. The proposal involves refilling the quarry and grading it to replicate the original lay of the land, where it will then be home to 21 acres of commercially zoned property and 18 acres zoned for high-density residential use. Located in Plainfield Township, the quarry (which spans five acres and is 750 feet deep), is filled with water and surrounded by 34 acres of waste slate piles extending into Washington Township. Most of this nearly 2-million cubic yards of slate rubble, some piled nearly 90-feet high, would be used to fill the quarry. Developers will use the rest for road base, driveway, utility trenching and a barrier required by the township that will separate the commercial and residential zones. The developers say their project will provide long-term economical benefits, the preservation of farmland, and the elimination of trespassing that often occurs in quarries. The developer’s plan says the 505 residences, 10 restaurants, five parks, and 73 other businesses within a half-mile radius will benefit as well from this project. Iselo said the proposal has been well received overall, although questions remain about the displacement of water in the quarry and the ultimate responsibility for the stability of foundations for decades to come. The Slate Hills grayfield reclamation project has the support of affected townships, the local school district, three state representatives, Northampton County government, the Slate Belt Chamber of Commerce and the Slate Belt Council of Governments.

If developers find success redeveloping the site of an old quarry in Northampton County, others may seek quarries (like the one shown above) for redevelopment projects. Pennsylvania builders will be able to choose from about 250,000 acres of abandoned mining sites.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has given its support, and the promise of a $1.2-million grant to fund the project. However, the grant is pending until Washington Township grants Slate Hills Entrepreneurs permission to move and use the slate rubble to refill the quarry in Plainfield Township. Iselo was waiting for the township’s final decision at presstime. S

Strange object draws interest at builders show A woman attending the Mercer County Home Show helped Bill Ewing learn about an object his son Chris Ewing found sealed inside the wall of a home he bought and remodeled. Ewing, owner of Bill Ewing Construction, was puzzled by the intricately carved piece of wood that is about 3 feet long and 1 inch wide. He put it on display during the show, hoping someone would identify it. One attendee came through, suggesting that the carvings looked like something from a fraternal organization, the Odd Fellows. Ewing confirmed that the group used carvings like the ones on the object, although he hasn’t connected it to the prior owners of the house, or found an explanation of the object’s use. Have you encountered something unusual while remodeling a home or excavating a new building site? Contact Eric Wise at (800) 692-7339, ext. 3003, or by e-mail at S 6

I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

When yesterday’s small, single bathroom won’t do Luxurious bathrooms loom large as a selling point in new homes while remodelors profit from bathroom additions and upgrades by Nikki Brand teve Black, president of Stephen Black Builders, said during his 28 years in business, clients have increasingly requested larger and more elaborate master bathrooms and a greater total number of bathrooms in their homes.


Continued on page 8 July/August 2007 • Keystone Builder



Builders may want to make bathrooms “green” as well as luxurious to reach a niche of customers. Here are some ways to make a bathroom environmentally friendly:

BATHROOMS Continued from page 7

Black said on average, four-bedroom homes he builds have three and a half to four bathrooms. He said there is often a powder room on the first floor, a bathroom for guests, a “Jack and Jill” bathroom for two bedrooms to share and a master bathroom. Sometimes when there are children of the opposite sex, they will each have their own bathrooms. The common trends Black has seen in master bathrooms are heavy glass shower doors, multiple shower heads, tile, splitting the bathroom into two rooms, elaborate custom vanities, vessel sinks, ornate faucets and heating lamps. Jim Rumbaugh, president of The Meritage Group, said many couples are requesting a shower head placed at an optimal height for the wife and one at the optimal height for the husband. They also like instant hot water and separate valves for each shower user that are preset to the water temperature that the user prefers. 8

I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

“I haven’t built a bathroom in the last five to 10 years that doesn’t have a whirlpool,” Black said. “I am amazed at how many couples want a Jacuzzi bathtub, even though they don’t usually use it,” Rumbaugh said. “They are carpeting a majority of the bathroom with maybe tile or marble around the sink where the water might splash.” Black said most of his clients aren’t showing an interest in water-conserving toilets, faucets or shower heads. Rumbaugh said The Meritage Group builds energy-efficient homes with efficient windows, furnaces that are 95 percent efficient and other features, but clients aren’t inquiring about making bathrooms more efficient. “They are spending money on bathrooms and kitchens,” Rumbaugh said. “They skimp on items like carpet and hardwood floors to have a larger kitchen and bathroom.” Continued on page 10

• Low-flow toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush versus the old standard of 3.5 -5 gallons per flush. This saves homeowners $90 a year on their water bill. • Dual flush toilets have separate buttons to flush solid waste and liquid waste, using less for liquid wastes. • Low-flow shower heads save water and energy used to heat water. • Installing low-flow faucet aerators on sink faucets can reduce faucet water consumption by 13 percent. • Energy Star-rated exhaust fans can save as much as $120 in energy during the approximately 10-year lifetime of the fan. • Floors and countertops made from recycled products such as glass or paper can be used in a bathroom, along with environmentally-friendly flooring, such as cork tiles — which do not absorb moisture — or bamboo.

REGISTER NOW! 2007 PaCAH • July 20, 2007 • State College

Motorcycle Poker Run (afternoon event) Enjoy a scenic ride, and have a shot at winning a $500 prize. During the ride there will be several locations to pick up playing cards. At the end of the ride, the participant with the best hand wins! 2007 PBA Builders’ Cup golf tournament (afternoon event) Local association teams can compete for the Cup and a $500 purse! Foursomes from each local will compete in a complete round on a Penn State golf course — the team with the best score wins. PaCAH Summer Outdoors Fest (evening event) Come out and enjoy live entertainment, an outdoor games competition, hayrides, a bonfire and a variety of other fun activities — all set against a pristine lake at the Stone Valley Recreation Area.

For more details and to register, please visit or contact Megan Roby at PBA at (800) 692-7339, ext. 3027.

1450 W. 21st St. Erie, PA 16502 814-454-2883 • Fax 814-456-6710

Sales and Service

MILLCREEK HTG INC. 1606 Lehigh St. Erie, PA 16509 (814) 866-2737

July/August 2007 • Keystone Builder



BATHROOMS Continued from page 8

With such an emphasis on bathrooms, Betsy Rosengrant-Stein, president of KD Rosengrant-Stein Builders and Remodelers, said she has heard of people adding bathrooms to their one-bathroom home even though they are about to move out because it has become an important selling point. She said her company has been in business for 47 years and she has never seen people so interested in bathrooms. Her clients are also spending more money on bathrooms than in recent years, preferring ceramic tile to Fiberglas shower inserts. “Last year we raised the roof on a ranch and added four bedrooms and a bathroom and the bathroom was about as large as one of the bedrooms,” Rosengrant-Stein said. “I’m working on a mother-in-law addition to a house and the owner will not give up one of her bathrooms to make room for the addition.” S Photo provided by Stephen Black Builders Inc.

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I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007



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We’ve got an award just for you


new tradition begins at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort on Nov. 16. PBA’s Builders Gala, a prestigious awards ceremony, will honor the best of Pennsylvania’s homebuilding industry. In a change new this year, PBA members are now eligible to submit their own entry forms for any of 10 award categories.

For additional details, please visit or see the next page for award, program and registration details.


I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

Winning can help your business N

eed a leg up on the competition? Submit your entry form today for the 2007 Builders Gala and compete against your peers for the chance to be recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s best in the homebuilding industry. By entering, you are taking the first step in creating positive publicity and new business for your company. There is no better marketing tool than to tell consumers you were named Pennsylvania’s Developer of the Year, Remodeler of the Year or another equally impressive title from among 10 award categories. Aside from new business and recognition among your peers, award winners will receive a glass statue (pictured on facing page) and a press kit tailored to help you publicize your newest honor to local media.

Enter today to win in any of the newly revamped award categories

Entrance fee

MEMBER AWARDS • Builder of the Year • Remodeler of the Year • Distinguished Achievement • Hammers and Gavels Club Member of the Year • Associate of the Year • Building Innovation • Housing Advocate

$25 per award entry

• Developer of the Year • Multifamily/Multiunit Housing Champion • 50+ Housing Champion LOCAL ASSOCIATION AWARDS • Association Leadership Award • Best Community Service Project • Best Local Newsletter

How do I submit my award entry?

Entry deadline Aug. 1, 2007

Additional details/questions Please contact Megan Roby at (800) 692-7339 or via e-mail at, or visit

1.) Complete the application form with category, payment and contact information. Only one application form per person is needed, even if submitting multiple entries. 2.) Review award descriptions (available at to ensure you are eligible for the award you are entering, and complete entry form(s). 3.) Submit application and award entry forms with payment. All entries must be received at PBA no later than Aug. 1. Entries can be faxed to PBA at (717) 730-4396, or mailed to: Attn: 2007 Builders Gala Award Nominations Pennsylvania Builders Association 600 N. 12th St., Suite 200 Lemoyne, PA 17043

July/August 2007 • Keystone Builder

I 13

Tune in!

Ads about housing issues hit the airwaves with the help of PBA and NAHB

by Nikki Brand ennsylvania Builders Association has jumped into homes, cars and offices with radio spots airing during commuting hours. PBA’s Hous-



I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

ing Minute, designed to educate people about housing issues, has aired since January on a central Pennsylvania radio station, with themes chosen by the PBA government affairs department. The commercials have discussed topics like the UCC, the case against mandatory carbon monoxide detectors and how to find a reputable builder for your remodeling project. Scott Elliott, PBA director of public relations, said legislators and members have told PBA staff they’ve heard the commercials, which air on WHP 800 AM, a talk radio station that draws both Republican and Democratic listeners. Elliott said any local home builders association may use the radio ads in their region with PBA absorbing production costs. In some areas, radio stations will air the Housing Minute for free, as a listener service. In addition to PBA’s efforts, NAHB’s “Buy Now” campaign provides grant funds to local builders associations in the U.S. These associations may use NAHB’s prepared ads for print, radio or TV or create their own campaign with a similar “buy now” theme. For more information about the program, visit www. or call NAHB’s Niki Clark at (800) 368-5242, ext. 806l. Laurie Lourie, executive officer of the Wayne County Builders Association, said her association struck a deal with Bold Gold Media Group, which doubled the $5,000 in grant money WCBA received from NAHB through the “Buy Now” campaign when WCBA agreed to use them as its exclusive broadcaster. “I’m pleasantly surprised at how well the ads have worked and the number of phone calls they have generated,” Lourie said. “Two of our contractors got jobs as a direct result of the ads. Our members recognize the value of the ads, and we had two new members join because they liked the awareness we are creating for the industry.” S

MEMBERINSIDER July/August 2007

Member briefs

Reassessment troubles confirm PBA suspicions Bedford County officials learned this week of the problems caused by the county’s 50-year-old assessment system. According to the Altoona Mirror, Bedford’s chief assessor reported that a spot check of more than 100 properties found inequality in 90 percent of the assessments. While anti-growth groups suggest impact fees as a remedy to unfair property taxes in Pennsylvania, the findings in Bedford County demonstrate the outrageous imparity in the state’s property tax assessments. PBA leaders believe this problem, which often punishes owners of new homes while rewarding people who spent decades in the same home, must be addressed before other options like impact fees are considered.

Federal ruling makes subcontractors responsible for safety of their workers General contractors are no longer responsible for ensuring that subcontractors use proper safety equipment and procedures at job sites, under a late April federal ruling. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled that one employer cannot be held responsible for maintaining the safety of a separate company’s employees. NAHB supported the appeal that led to this change in OSHA enforcement.

Hearings allow industry to share concerns about building code Lou Biacchi, PBA director of government affairs, and Doug Meshaw, PBA director of association and member services, joined municipal, county and building code representatives May 8 in sharing concerns about the administration and enforcement of the Uniform Construction Code during a hearing before the state Senate local government and labor and industries committees. Participants reported that residential and commercial builders face uneven fees, delays and varying levels of responsiveness from townships that opted for self-enforcement of the building code during the past three years. Elam Herr, representing Pennsylvania township supervisors, objected to suggestions for state-imposed caps on inspection fees and providing a choice of third-party inspectors. PBA members support the availability of multiple third-party inspectors to keep projects on schedule and encourage competitive pricing.

ICC will not add fire sprinkler,carbon monoxide detector mandates to code Building code officials voted in May to deny attempt to require fire sprinklers and carbon monoxide detectors in new homes. The International Codes Council considers many proposals during its annual meeting, including changes to the International Residential Code. If approved for inclusion in the 2009 International Residential Code, the fire sprinkler amendment would have made new residential construction more expensive by thousands of dollars and new homes less affordable for consumers. The majority of PBA members do not support mandated fire-sprinkler requirements but agree sprinklers should be available as a consumer option. PBA agrees with building safety experts who assert that carbon monoxide detectors provide a false sense of security. The accuracy of detectors limits their ability to offer adequate protection from carbon monoxide dangers.

State asks Bethlehem to back off with carbon monoxide detector requirement Responding to PBA’s concerns, the state Department of Labor and Industry addressed Bethlehem’s carbon monoxide detector ordinance this month with a cease-and-desist letter. The invalidated City Ordinance 4419, enacted March 6, would have required all buildings with woodburning or fossil-fuel burning equipment — as well as homes with attached garages — to have carbon monoxide detectors installed. PBA opposes mandates for carbon monoxide detectors because the International Code Council has found the devices are unreliable and unworthy of inclusion in the International Residential Code. S Member Insider • Keystone Builder



Data Quality Act calls for ‘empirical, replicable and testable’ data

On the hill

All too often, state government bases decisions on faulty or unverifiable information, data and research. In the environmental field, for example, emotion, or the desire to achieve a “clean environment,” often takes precedence over facts in the determination of standards for regulations or policies. Proposal: State Sen. Edwin “Ted” B. Erickson, R-Chester, introduced Senate Bill 752. It creates a state-level data quality act by amending the PA Regulatory Review Act to expand the scope of review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission to include the examination of the quality of data, studies, reports and information underlying state regulation. If enacted, the bill would put the burden of justification on the regulatory agency to demonstrate that the regulation is based upon testable information as evidenced in supporting documentation, statistics, report studies or research. Reaction: PBA supports the creation of a state data quality act that would prevent approval of regulations based on questionable or faulty data. Update: Erickson, a former biology professor and regional administrator for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, was pushing for a full Senate vote at presstime. What people are saying: “I believe this legislation is a common-sense requirement of our regulatory agencies that will improve the overall regulatory environment as well as increase transparency in government,” Erickson said.

PBA pushes for amendment to Mechanics’ Lien Law Currently, the Mechanics’ Lien Law provides a residential exception for homes up to $1 million. This is inadequate protection for many Pennsylvania builders, especially those who finance multiple projects at the same time and who hire subcontractors for multiple contracts. Proposal: Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, is sponsoring SB 726, which amends the Mechanics’ Lien Law by repealing the one-million-dollar maximum residential construction contract exemption and replacing it with an exemption of residences up to three stories, not including basements. Reaction: The amendment would more thoroughly protect homeowners from subcontractors filing liens as a result from a dispute between a builder and subcontractor. In addition, the legislation does not alter the original concept of the law to keep it limited to low-rise residential. Large multi-story apartments and condominiums are considered commercial construction and are not included in this exclusion. Update: At presstime, PBA anticipated the bill could be considered by the House sometime in June. What builders are saying: “The Mechanic’s Lien legislation that was passed last year is having a negative impact, and that impact is far reaching to buyers, Realtors, banks, etc. This legislation is driven by commercial construction, not residential, and it is adding costs and delays,” said J.B. Riley of Traditions of America.

PBA partners with Realtors to avoid RTT increase PBA joined with the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors to mount an awareness campaign against proposed increases to the realty transfer tax. The realty transfer tax in Pennsylvania is already one of the highest in the country and is a major impediment for home purchasers, since the taxes are due and payable in full at the time of the real estate closing. Proposal: To keep efforts to raise the realty transfer tax increase at bay, PBA is asking legislators to look at more viable options to help fund the necessary transportation upgrades that put the burden on the entire state and not just the construction industry. Other options include reforming the prevailing wage act, raising the gas tax, consideration of demand-side pricing, options available through the Transportation Partnership Act and better coordination of transportation planning. Reaction: Since mass transit benefits the citizens of only those specific areas in which there is mass transportation, PBA members feel the legislature should also consider regional funding solutions. Update: There are no bills currently addressing a realty-transfer-tax increase, however, PBA is concerned that if other funding legislation for transportation upgrades fails, legislators will decide to revisit a realty transfer tax increase as an option. What builders are saying: “I don’t understand why the commonwealth has this transportation problem that affects literally everyone in the state, and instead of coming up with a funding solution that is spread equitably over a large group of people, they want to raise the realty transfer tax,” Scott Sesler, immediate past chairman of the PBA governmental affairs committee, said. “There are better, fairer, more creative approaches to resolving the transportation problems of Pennsylvania.” S


I Keystone Builder • Member Insider

Answer the call: PBA seeks Hammers and Gavels members

PBA members educate elected officials and eliminate perceived barriers of communication through the Hammers and Gavels Club.

by Jennifer McDermitt s builders, it is our job to ensure the legislators who make crucial decisions that affect our industry have all the necessary information to make decisions that benefit — not serve as a detriment — to housing. Susan B. Anthony once said, “Organize, agitate, educate, must be our war cry,” which is why PBA’s Hammers and Gavels Club is seeking new members to do just that. This grassroots network is crucial to the future of the building industry, developing relationships with legislators and ensuring our agenda doesn’t get lost in the legislative shuffle. Hammers and Gavels Club members make themselves available to lawmakers to offer expertise and advice on topics that affect housing. Members are the first to receive notice from PBA of pending floor votes, committee meetings and hearings and other legislative issues that affect the industry. PBA explains the bills to members and provides talking points to help them educate legislators. “My whole reason for being a member of a builder’s association is the legislative representation, and I like being part of the process,” said Stuart Price of Granor Price Homes, a Hammers and Gavels Club member. “The talking points Hammers and Gavels members are given allow us to be prepared when we talk to legislators, which is the most effective manner of getting PBA’s legislative agenda moved forward.” To help re-energize the Hammers and Gavels Club efforts for the upcoming session, PBA recently contracted with a consultant, Joni R. Shenck-Flynn. For information about the Hammers and Gavels Club or to join, contact ShenckFlynn at (800) 692-7339, ext. 3023, or S


Member Insider • Keystone Builder



PBA Premier Partners BA’s Premier Partners, an elite group of businesses, support the housing industry while growing your business. They share the interests of the housing industry and work to improve its professionalism. PBA is able to offer additional benefits without raising member dues with the generous financial support of the Premier Partners. Please consider taking advantage of the products and services the PBA Premier Partners offer to help grow your business. PBA’s Premier Partners will be available to discuss these products and services at the upcoming July Board of Directors meeting in State College. “PBA’s Premier Partner program has quickly become an indispensable part of our association. Our sponsors find that being a Premier Partner is a vital way they can directly support the growth of the housing industry.” — Brad Elliott, Elliott Construction, 2006 PBA past president “Today’s global economy is more competitive than ever. That’s why the role of our Premier Partners is so critical to the continued growth of the residential construc-


tion business and their own business. In so many ways, their sponsorship dollars support the growth and enhancement of the housing industry — everyone’s bread and butter.” — Steve Black, Stephen Black Builder, 2007 PBA president “I call the sales people that I want to communicate with. My secretary and professional assistants clean my mail and phone log of all others. We make exceptions for the Premier Partners; we know they share our interests.” — Joe Dolan, Dolan Construction, Inc. “One of the best investments we have made in our future is investing in PBA’s future. We believe that by working closely with the other Premier Partners that it will bring success to all of our organizations. Our hard work will lay the foundation for future Premier Partner success. ‘For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today’ — African Proverb.” — Rick DiMarco, PM Computing “As an associate member, Strober Building Supply understands that the PBA is extremely vital to our industry’s defense. Being a Premier Partner of PBA helps our association grow stronger and better able

to protect ALL our members interests.” — Mike Kurpiel, Strober Building Supply “American Home Bank is a PBA Premier Partner because PBA is committed to the partner’s success with builders. The feedback, access and advice from the PBA board and leadership is valuable in developing AHB’s builder strategy. PBA is a first-class trade group, and PBA’s affiliation with NAHB brings a level of industry knowledge, support and resources that are unparalleled. We’re delighted with the support and value of the Premier Partner Program” — James M. Deitch, chairman & CEO, American Home Bank “Residential Warranty Company LLC is strongly committed to the building industry. As a Premier Partner, my company and I have been given a number of unique opportunities to meet people in the industry that we would not normally have access to. We admire the work done by the association. In turn, fellow members have shown us a new respect for supporting them.” — Lori Fetterhoff, Residential Warranty Company LLC. S

Gold Level Sponsors

ethical builders become RWC members. RWC’s warranty also provides the benefit of an effective dispute process including free mediation and binding arbitration, if necessary. RWC offers a variety of warranty choices including our exclusive Customized State Warranty providing structural coverage from day of closing at a low, flat rate for homes priced up to $1 Million. Please contact Lori Fetterhoff, account executive, at (800) 2471812 Ext. 2147 for more information.

insurance agency committed to excellence in service for our builder clients, their customers and lenders. We are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and trusted title work for the area counties, including but not limited to Cumberland, Dauphin, York, Adams, Lebanon, Perry, Lancaster and Franklin for over 32 years. Contact Wayne Keech at (717) 975-7839.

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage By utilizing our extended rate lock products, we offer our builder partners the opportunity to eliminate market risk, easing buyer concerns and allowing us to sell more homes more profitably. • (610) 564-8105 Builder’s Total Control Builder’s Total Control (BTC), a division of American Home Bank, was formed to help builders sell more homes. BTC allows builders to meet the customer demand for one-stop shopping, gain control of the mortgage finance process and share in the economic rewards of a mortgage company. Contact Yana Peifer at (717) 285-6688.

Silver Level Sponsors Strober Building Supply Strober Building Supply, a Pro Build Company, is dedicated to the building industry. Strober is always on the cutting edge of new products and services, as well as providing technical and building industry knowledge. Our involvement at the national, state and local builders association is extremely important to Strober. For more information, please contact Michael Kurpiel, Market Development Manager. • (800) 883-8800 ext 665. Residential Warranty Corporation By providing an RWC insured warranty on your new or remodeled homes, you distinguish your company from the competition. Only highly qualified, financially sound, D

I Keystone Builder • Member Insider

Comcast Imagine if you walked into your brand new home and found the cable TV service already activated — and you didn’t even have to pick up your phone? We can make it happen for your customers when you participate in Comcast’s Advanced Connected Homes Project, at no cost and little effort on your part. For more information, contact Don Jones at (412) 747-6161. Chase Chase is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset and wealth management, and private equity. (877) CHASEPC Ferguson Ferguson is one of the leading distributors of plumbing supplies and heating and cooling equipment in the United States. • (610) 715-1479 Builders Land Transfer Builders Land Transfer, a division of Affiliated Settlement Services Group LLP, is a full-service national title

Bronze Level Sponsors 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty Watch profits go up and inventory come down when you offer the protection of 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty®! Ask about our new home, pre-owned home and remodeler’s warranty programs. The Lumber Yard The Lumber Yard is known for providing contractors with competitive prices, quality products, professional services and customer attention that is second to none. Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Do you ever have potential customers say they’d love to do business with you but they don’t have the extra money? Learn about Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s homeownership programs and their new Renovate and Repair home repair program. PM Computing PM Computing offers the ultimate next generation of home technologies for in-home connectivity and control.


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S I N G L E  S O U R C E A C C O U N T A B I L I T Y

ŗ ǯ Ş Ŗ Ŗ ǯ ŝ ş ś ǯ ř Ř Ř ş ȱ DZ DZ ȱ  Ѣ ю љ і ѡ Ѧ  ѡ ќ ћ ђђ ћ ђ ђ џ ǯ ѐ ќ њ

Prevent injuries by stressing nail-gun safety by Nikki Brand he Center for Disease Control reports that between 2004 and 2005, the number of worker-related nail gun injuries increased by 39 percent. You can help prevent injuries, ranging from puncture wounds to the hand to fatal chest wounds from ricocheting nails, by reviewing nail gun safety with your employees and subcontractors. “Employers should train workers on the particular type of gun they use and also let them know the risks of using the gun,” said Dave Morrison, senior risk management consultant for Eastern Alliance Insurance Group. “Many people use a pneumatic nail gun, but the safest gun setup is the sequential trip trigger, because it requires the nose be depressed before the trigger is depressed. The challenge is that some people will stay away from the sequential trip trigger gun, because they believe it is not as fast.” Morrison said locking a nail gun trigger in place in an effort to make it “shoot faster” is unsafe. The manufacturers’ recommendations for use and safety should always be followed. International Staple Nail and Tool Association offers 15-minute Toolbox Talks, outlines for employer safety presentations. The association’s web site states that employers should never apologize for taking the time to learn about safety. Employers should also not allow disruptions, as this will reinforce that safety is just as important as any other company function.


National Association of Home Builders has also compiled a 15-minute Toolbox Safety Talk about nail gun safety, including these tips: u Inspect the tool before each use. u Always wear safety glasses, a hard hat and appropriate hearing protection. u Always assume that the nail gun is loaded.

Number of Consumer and Worker Nail-Gun Injuries (Injuries treated in hospital emergency departments – United States)

45,000 __ 40,000 __ 35,000 __


30,000 __ 25,000 __ 20,000 __


15,000 __ 10,000 __

u Never carry the tool with your finger on or under the trigger; always remove your finger from the trigger when not driving nails. u Drive nails into the work surface only, never into materials that are too hard to penetrate. u Do not drive nails close to the edge of the work surface, on top of other nails or with the tool at too steep an angle, which could cause the nails to ricochet and hurt someone. u Never point the tool at yourself or others in the work area and keep hands and feet away from the firing head during use. u Remove all nails from the tool before connecting it to the air compressor and do not exceed the manufacturers’ recommended working air pressure rating. u Securely fasten the air hose to the tool to prevent it from becoming disconnected. u Disconnect the air before clearing jams, performing maintenance, leaving the work area or moving the tool to another location.

5,000 __ 0 __ 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Source: Center for Disease Control


I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

A complete Toolbox Safety Talks manual is available at or by calling (800) 368-5242, ext. 8507. S

HUD program opens doors for homebuyers, contractors by Jennifer McDermitt emodelers stand to benefit under a new program that allows homeowners to use government-insured mortgages for home improvements. In an effort to expand the options for affordable housing, the federal Department of Housing recently unveiled its new Streamlined 203 (K) Limited Repair program. Homebuyers may now finance up to an additional $35,000 into their Federal Housing Administration-backed mortgage to improve or upgrade their home before moving in. The Streamline K program addresses two major housing issues: the need for affordable housing and blight reduction.


By offering this new program, HUD is opening the doors to many homes that may have been excluded for FHA financing during the inspection. Under the terms of the program, homebuyers must select an FHA-approved lender and obtain a detailed proposal of the repairs and modifications, as well as a cost estimate on each repair and modification. At closing, the seller of the property is paid off and the remaining funds are put into an escrow account. The contractor is paid following inspection by an agent representing HUD. For more information about the Streamline K program, visit offices/hsg/sfh/203k/203kslrp.cfm. S

Remodelers may earn new business as consumers may finance certain home improvements including some window replacements through FHA mortgages.

Strober Building Supply MORRISVILLE, PA (800) 234-2581

EAGLE, PA (610) 321-0970

EASTON, PA (610) 252-3142

To find our other locations, visit us at

July/August 2007 • Keystone Builder

I 17



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Banking secretary explains proposal to change mortgage-lending law What problems in consumer mortgage lending are you expecting the department’s package of bills to address? The Banking Department published “Losing the American Dream: A Report on Residential Mortgage Foreclosures and Abusive Lending Practices in Pennsylvania” (available at www.banking. in March 2005. The report documented that during the period studied, compared to the other 49 states, Pennsylvania had the ninth-highest foreclosure rate among prime loans and the fourth-highest foreclosure rate among subprime loans. The study further documented that traditional foreclosure factors — job loss, divorce, and illness, for example — failed to account for the disproportionate number of subprime foreclosures. Contributing factors included making loans without regard to the borrowers’ ability to repay; loan flipping; excessive fees and packaging; aggressive or deceptive marketing; home improvement scams; prepayment penalties; and payments set so low that the borrower’s payment doesn’t even cover all of the interest due, much less any principal. It is interesting, too, that the study found that brokers, lenders, servicers, contractors, builders, developers and appraisers

all have the potential to contribute to a transaction that results in foreclosure. Licensing and enhanced oversight of the entire mortgage transaction will benefit all consumers in the commonwealth. Can you describe the scope of the problems, specifically, how many consumers have complained in the past few years in comparison to the total number of mortgages granted in the commonwealth? Has the number of mortgage lending complaints grown over the past 15 years? If so, to what extent? This is a great question, but it seems to infer a specific answer solely based on consumer complaints. Complaints are a tricky variable to measure, because they depend upon many factors, for example, on how widely publicized our toll-free number is at any given time or under whose administrative jurisdiction the complained-about entity falls. The scope of the problem can be more accurately and clearly illustrated by trending Pennsylvania’s delinquency and foreclosure rates against national averages. (By comparing to national averages, some of the normal economic highs and lows are put into better perspective.) I will, nonetheless, try to answer your question as fully as possible. Total number of mortgages in Pennsylvania. In 2005 — the most recent year

for which comprehensive, industry wide data is available — Pennsylvania tied for the sixth-largest number of mortgage loans made among the 50 states. Just over a half-million originations resulted in $65 billion in loans with an average size of $118,690. Mortgage-related consumer complaints in Pennsylvania. Clearly, mortgage-related complaints are on the rise and are becoming an ever-increasing focus of the Banking Department’s consumer services division. Unfortunately, because of a recent change in data systems, comparable data on an annual basis for the 15-year timeframe you’ve asked for is not readily available. However, of the more than 6,400 consumers who called the Pennsylvania Department of Banking’s toll-free helpline (800 PA-BANKS) in 2006, 1,837 (roughly 29 percent) had mortgage-related concerns. The Banking Department secured $1,196,108 in consumer refunds from mortgage companies in 2006. That’s a three-fold increase from the previous year. Complaints received thus far for 2007 seem to be trending in the same direction. Pennsylvania’s delinquency and foreclosure rates compared to national averages. At the end of 2006, 5.7 percent of all Pennsylvania loans were past due; the national average was 4.8 percent. Further, 1.6 percent of all Pennsylvania Continued on page 20

July/August 2007 • Keystone Builder

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QUESTIONS Continued from page 19

loans were in foreclosure; the national average was 1.0 percent. Alarmingly, 5.3 percent of Pennsylvania’s subprime loans had gone bad; the national average was 3.5 percent. Builders engaged in self-financing when selling their completed homes are not required to be licensed as mortgage brokers under current law, but they would be under changes you have endorsed. What types of consumer problems relating to the self-financing exclusion have spurred this proposal? How will the repeal of this exclusion for builders and real estate agents solve problems that consumers have reported? The Pennsylvania Department of Banking does not keep statistics on builderrelated complaints. Such complaints are, typically, referred to the attorney general or the department of state. With regard to licensure, the Banking Department’s goal is to ensure that every mortgage transaction in Pennsylvania is fair and is facilitated by a knowledgeable professional. You’ are correct in your assertion that builders are exempted from licensure under Pennsylvania’s current law — so are real estate professionals and insurance companies, for example. We believe that everyone should play by the same rules and that states need to be consistent in overseeing the mortgage industry so as to prevent the types of problems we’re currently experiencing. The license will assure us — and the public — that the person who deals directly with consumers has passed a criminal background check, demonstrated a solid understanding of mortgage practices and laws, and is committed to continuing mortgage-related education. PBA members are aware of faulty appraisals distorting real estate values (that negatively affect builders and consumers) in certain parts of Pennsylvania. How does the department’s package of legislation address the relationship between sellers,


I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

lenders and appraisers so that all Pennsylvania residents buying and selling homes are provided an accurate and fair appraisal? The improper inflating of home values by appraisers was cited in the banking department’s foreclosure study as a consistent abuse and a contributing factor to foreclosures. Inflated appraisals were prevalent in the highly publicized Monroe County foreclosure crisis and have been documented in other areas of the Commonwealth as well. As introduced, House Bill 1081 and Senate Bill 485 would include the attorney general and the secretary of banking on the state board of real estate appraisers and increase the maximum civil penalty the board can assess from $1,000 to $10,000 per violation. In addition, the department is moving forward with a regulation that, if approved, would prohibit mortgage licensees from improperly influencing or attempting to influence an appraiser. Specifically, licensees may not seek to compromise the independent judgment of an appraiser or work to ensure that an appraisal matches a requested or target value for a property. Is there any other information regarding this package of legislation of which PBA members should be aware? It’s important to remember that amending current state law is just one component of a comprehensive effort to reform mortgage lending in Pennsylvania. The department’s foreclosure study made recommendations that fell into roughly three categories: changing the way the banking department conducts business under existing authority, adding specificity to present statutes via regulation, and amending current state laws. With regard to changing the way the Pennsylvania Department of Banking conducts business, under Gov. Ed Rendell’s leadership, the department has already doubled the number of examiners who focus on nondepository

licensed entities (including mortgage bankers and brokers); executed interagency information-sharing agreements with federal regulators and expanded the department’s licensing division to ensure effective background checks on license applicants; created an investigations unit which has focused more than 80 percent of its efforts in the past two years on entities involved in mortgage lending; supported the Pennsylvania Office of Financial Education, added staff to its consumer hotline, created a position of consumer group liaison, and developed materials to educate consumers about the rapidly changing mortgage marketplace; and issued a policy statement to certain licensees that defines dishonest, fraudulent, unfair, unethical and illegal practices under existing state law for which the department can — and will — suspend, revoke or refuse to renew licenses. Further, in July 2006, the banking department published for public comment an advanced draft of a proposed regulation to define the proper conduct of business for mortgage bankers, brokers and consumer discount companies that originate mortgages under Pennsylvania law. Public hearings were held in the fall. In very general terms, the proposed regulation requires two things. First, it requires additional and simplified — but not duplicative — disclosures of important loan terms to consumers. Such terms will include whether a loan: escrows taxes and insurance, includes a balloon payment or prepayment penalty, or employs a variable interest rate or negative amortization. Second, it requires that state-licensed mortgage professionals reasonably determine a borrower’s ability to repay the offered loan given all of its terms and conditions, not just the introductory payment. It is expected that the regulation will begin the state’s independent regulatory review process in late June. S


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Advanced wall framing: Old idea garners new attention by Jennifer McDermitt dvanced wall framing — or as it is sometimes referred optimum value engineering — may have earned a greater role in residential building, decades after its introduction. With the current economic downturn, as well as the rising costs of lumber and materials, advanced wall framing is gaining in popularity in the industry and prompting builders to give a new look to an old idea. “The downturn in our industry is forcing everyone to streamline their processes and techniques,” said Mark Fortney, director of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center. “Advanced wall framing is one of those things that just makes sense. You use less materials, save time and save money.” Dana Bres, research engineer for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said today’s consumers helped drive the resurgence of advanced wall framing. “Builders who use these techniques successfully are using it as a selling point, because they can articulate to their customers how they are saving money while also getting the most out of their homes,” Bres said. “Advanced wall framing is environmentally beneficial,” he said. “When you can save both ‘greens’ — money and the environment — customers are going to like it,” he said.



I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

“Advanced wall framing is environmentally beneficial, because of the lumber savings. When you can save both ‘greens’ — money and the environment — customers are going to like it,” Dana Bres, research engineer

What is advanced wall framing? Advanced wall framing covers several framing techniques designed to reduce the amount of lumber used and waste generated in the construction of a home. Techniques include the following: u Designing homes on 2-foot modules to make the best use of common sheet sizes and reduce waste and labor, u Spacing wall studs up to 24 inches on center, u Spacing floor joists and roof rafters up to 24 inches on center, u Using two-stud corner framing and inexpensive drywall clips or scrap lumber for drywall backing instead of studs, u Eliminating headers in non-loadbearing walls, u Using in-line framing in which floor, wall and roof framing members are vertically in line with one another

and loads are transferred directly downward, u Using single lumber headers and top plates when appropriate.

What’s the catch? If advanced wall framing saves money, saves the environment and is a selling point to customers, why isn’t it more common? According to Fortney, some builders are resistant to it because of the time it takes a crew to learn the techniques. “There’s no real formal training for this. It’s something you teach your crews and they have to practice and perfect the techniques,” Fortney said. “Until they get their skill level up to par, however, you are going to take longer doing the job and you are going to have to check and recheck all their work. If they screw up, the money savings goes out the window and the home is compromised.” Another challenge is getting your project approved by code officials. “Code officials are, by nature, a little suspicious of advanced wall framing,” said Bres. He recommends bringing a code official in on the project early on, telling the official that advanced wall framing is going to be used and asking the official what he or she needs to get the project approved. Bres said the few challenges are worth it, however. “If you want to find a ‘secret’ to cutting costs, this is definitely one of them, and it warrants some research.” S

Homeowner education

Freshen air by going green by Kim Barger Special to Keystone Builder uilders and remodelers can set themselves apart by providing informative responses to clients’ questions and showing they care. Go one step farther with your service and create a handy brochure or list to answer one of the most common questions: What can I do about that smell? Similar to a “new car smell,” new and remodeled homes also have odors associated with them. These odors can come from paint, carpeting or other materials that were installed during the building or remodeling process. While some homeowners may simply dislike the smells, others may worry about potential health problems that could result from exposure to these odors. Believe it or not, there is a simple and affordable solution to help purify the air in homes, which will ultimately lead to a healthier environment and fewer odors. The solution? A few common houseplants.


According to a study done by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, common indoor plants can remove certain pollutants from the indoor environment. For example, the Boston fern effectively removes formaldehyde, while the peace lily works on acetone. Plants such as the bamboo palm prove to be good all-around plants based on their ability to remove chemical vapors, as well as their resistance to insects, amount of moisture released and ease of growth and maintenance. The type of plants that a new homeowner should purchase will depend on several factors including the source of the odor or pollutant, the homeowner’s personal preference and the size of the house. Fortunately, there is a fairly wide variety of plants from which to choose. Although the smells may not disappear immediately after the plants have found their new home, the homeowner can be assured that the plants are effectively purifying the air. Consequently, odors will slowly begin to disappear, and the air in the house will be cleaner, resulting in a happy homeowner, a satisfied (and potential repeat) client and a win-win all around. S

Encourage your customers to bring houseplants, like this peace lily, into their homes to freshen the air from odors given off by new carpeting, paints and adhesives.

Set your company apart from the competition by offering homeowners this list of top air-purifying houseplants: • • • • • • • • •

Bamboo palm Boston fern Chinese evergreen Chrysanthemum Devil’s ivy Dwarf date palm English ivy Gerbera daisy Janet Craig

• • • • • • • • •

Marginata Mother-in-law’s tongue Ornamental corn plant Peace lily Philodendron Pot mum Snake plant Spider plant Warneckii

2669 West 16th Street, Erie, PA 16505 (800) 600-7177 • (814) 833-0655 Fax (814) 833-2884

Congratulations to the Maleno Team July/August 2007 • Keystone Builder

I 23

Member spotlight

Maleno Development Family is dedicated to making every community special by Nikki Brand ith expertise in building houses, condominiums and apartments, Maleno Development in Erie can help just about anyone find a home that fits their needs. In business for 31 years, the company has developed more than 900 home sites. This year, owner John Maleno said the company plans to construct 18 homes, 22 condominiums and 36 apartment units. The company also works on small commercial projects. The real estate agents on staff can help people find the perfect place to fit their needs. When Maleno started working for builders and remodelers a few decades ago, he realized how satisfying it was to see the finished product of all the hard work put into a project. Since starting his own company, many of his seven children have seen what their father appreciates about the industry and joined the company in various roles. John’s son Dominic is a construction manager, daughter Anne Maleno manages apartment properties, daughter Julie Maleno is a property manager, son Jarrod Maleno is a real estate agent and daughter Natalie Washburn is a real estate agent involved in the rental properties. “Maleno Development’s commitment to quality craftsmanship, efficiency, and affordability is shared by all who work within the company,” John Maleno said. “With over three decades of experience in land development and residential construction, Maleno Development has made a commitment to building high-quality, high-value homes in great communities with a standard of attention and customer service to our homeowners that is second to none.”


Business quick facts: Maleno Development • Owner: John Maleno • Years in business: 31 • Types of projects: residential homes, condominiums, apartment units, small commercial developments • County of operation: Erie • Local association: Builders Association of Northwest Pennsylvania • Association involvement: past president of Builders Association of Northwest Pennsylvania, past president of Pennsylvania Builders Association (1993) • Company philosophy: Maleno Development has a commitment to building high-quality, high-value homes in great communities with a standard of attention and customer service to our homeowners that is second to none. 24

I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

Clear communication about every project is important to clients, so the Malenos make it one of their top priorities. “We pride ourselves on our call-back procedure,” John Maleno said. “We have a policy of solving problems in 72 hours or less.” Maleno Development is confident about the quality of their work and shows clients they stand behind their craftsmanship. “We offer a 2- to 10-year warranty on all products, and that is not the standard in this market,” John Maleno explained. John Maleno said helping customers have the most cost-efficient and safe homes is important to his caring staff. “We build energy-efficient homes that lead to healthier indoor air quality and savings in utility costs for our customers,” he explained.

Keeping them on their toes While planning large developments, Maleno has to keep a watchful eye on the government to stay current on ever-changing rules and regulations for the industry. “As the government continuously revises regulations, it becomes harder to get a project approved,” John Maleno said. The Maleno Development staff has been strong supporters of the Builders Association of Northwest Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Builders Association and National Association of Home Builders for years. John and Dominic Maleno are past presidents of their local association, and both are directors of NAHB. John Maleno served as president of PBA in 1993. John Maleno said one of the benefits of association membership is that associations on the local and state level keep abreast of changing regulations and try to help government officials make sensible regulations. Plans for the future of the company include continuing to develop beautiful communities and serve satisfied customers, John Maleno said. “Proud of our time-honored commitment and family dedication to excellence in residential developments, we will continually strive to make our communities a special place to live,” John Maleno said. S

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Controlling radon is a cost-effective selling point for builders by Nikki Brand uilders can show clients how much they care about safety by installing passive radon control systems in their homes. Many builders in Pennsylvania routinely include passive systems in new homes because the state’s geology often leads to radon seeping through foundations. In planning meetings with their customers, builders can show their awareness of radon and care for those living in their homes. Taking a few minutes to discuss radon remediation is an easy opportunity to gain the trust of your consumers and show your expertise. Passive systems use a pipe to collect radon under the foundation and vent it through the roof. Appendix F of the International Residential Code lists the guidelines for installing passive systems that make upgrading to an active system easy. “Installing a radon control system during the construction of a home is more aesthetically pleasing than installing it after completion,” said Jeremy Ling, a licensed radon mitigator for Biechler & Tillery Inc. in Harrisburg. “Building a house with radon-resistant new construction techniques provides the new homeowner with a means to anticipate higher radon levels,” said Matthew Shields, from the Pennsylvania DEP-Radon Division. “The techniques are easy, and not much money is involved to properly install a system.” Municipalities may adopt Appendix F of the IRC to require passive radon systems in new homes. While PBA opposes many ordinances that exceed the Uniform Construction Code, the association recognizes the conditions in Pennsylvania merit the adoption of Appendix F of the IRC and will not oppose these radon-related ordinances. Shields recommends builders check with their local municipality about a radon-related ordinance before beginning a project. These steps to radon-resistant new construction are suggested by the DEP: u Use 4-6 inches of gravel. The best gravel is 2B, washed and clean with no fines. u Plastic sheeting 6 mil poly is recommended, with 12-inch overlaps. u Seal openings. Using a urethane caulk at the floor-wall joint, as well as other openings, helps prevent the movement of gases in and out of the home. A straight run of 4-inch pipe is the optimal design. u Vent piping from sub-slab through the roof. Using 3- or 4inch PVC pipe up an interior wall, or chase and a minimum of bends, provides maximum stack effect. In the attic, there should be at least 3 feet of exposed pipe in case fan installation is necessary. u Electrical junction box in the attic. The outlet should be within 6 feet of the pipe to power a fan if necessary and meet NEC requirements for plugged devices.


System operation without an installed fan is accomplished naturally by vent pipe air being warmed by the transfer of heat 26

I Keystone Builder • July/August 2007

from the envelope of the house. The warmed air rises in the pipe exhausting soil gases from the subslab. “This may not be enough force to keep radon less than 4 pCi/L, depending on soil uranium concentrations,” Shields said. “Testing is the only way to know. We recommend testing soon after occupancy.” S

What is radon? Radon is a radioactive byproduct of naturally decaying uranium. It is an odorless, tasteless gas found in some soil, rocks, groundwater and building materials. Radon is continuously released into the air. It can enter homes through cracks in the foundation and may accumulate within homes if the gas isn’t vented back into the outside air. The federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon exists in unsafe levels in 49 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. The EPA guideline is that any radon level above 4 picocuries per liter puts residents at risk for health problems. An estimated 40 percent of Pennsylvanian homes have levels exceeding that guideline. Inhalation of large amounts of radon is estimated to cause 860 to 3,800 lung cancer deaths per year in Pennsylvania.



Pennsylvania Builders Association


Keystone Builder - July/August 2007  
Keystone Builder - July/August 2007  

Keystone Builder - July/August 2007