The Olympian Sunday Real Estate Cover Article – July 1, 2018
ON JUNE 1ST, OLYMPIA MASTER BUILDERS & THE THURSTON COUNTY REALTORS® ASSOCIATION HOSTED THE FIRST OF ITS KIND, A GUIDED JOURNEY FOR OUR LOCAL OFFICIALS, THROUGH THE HOME BUILDING PROCESS – FROM PLANNING TO PURCHASE.
The Home Building Bus Tour brought together local government and the businesses directly related to home construction to learn, discuss and collaborate in the face of our housing affordability dilemma. The tour was a huge success with presentations by Jeff Pantier, of Hatton Godat Pantier, on Platting, Planning and Permitting; Barbara Whitlow and Eric Lake, of Olympia Federal Savings, on Risk and Financing Development; Ron Deering, of Northwest Family Homes Inc., gave a tour of a live building development at Ridge at Ward Lake, and Phil Harlan, of Keller Williams Realty, spoke about the State of Real-Estate.
At Hatton Godat Pantier, the group received an overview of planning and permitting across the County. After hearing from Jeff Pantier, many of our elected officials identified the planning and permitting stage of home development as a key area where they could positively impact the rate and affordability of home building. Possible solutions include expanding preliminary approval timelines, allowing administrative approval at certain points, expanding zoning designations, allowing for small lot sizes, and creating a modified impact fee program to encourage specific types of units.
Pantier noted that while all four jurisdictions had helpful and problem-solving staff, there were still many challenges to planning for new construction. Availability of land, zoning, long review timelines and impact fees increase development costs and make local homes even more unaffordable.
Barbara Whitlow and Eric Lake underscored Pantier’s message: a longer timeline for construction means extra cost. Any cost added to the construction budget is passed on to the homebuyer, lessening home affordability for consumers. Moreover, the hurdles developers experience at a local level directly relate to their ability to get financing. When regulatory hurdles make financing even more difficult, the result is often that local, mid-sized builders don’t take on the projects that would have benefited the whole community.
Barbara Whitlow, of Olympia Federal Savings, states, “The Thurston County housing market is currently experiencing increased demand for new homes due to the lack of existing inventory of properties for sale in our area. This market demand is increasing the costs of land, construction materials, labor and home prices. As a result of many market conditions, jurisdictions, Realtors, lenders and builders are collaborating more than ever before to develop new ideas for affordable housing solutions.”
The aggregate impact of a housing shortage can be seen boldly in the real estate market. Phil Harlan provided the bottom line: there simply aren’t enough homes to go around. When a house is listed, it’s sold quickly and often over the asking price. Three years ago, homes were on the market for an average of 30 days, but as of this summer, they only stick around for about 10 days. This competition raises prices and makes it nearly impossible for households looking for moderate priced housing to find a new home.
Erin Hall, OMB’s Government Affairs Director, adds, “This tour is an important first step in addressing our housing shortage locally. The engagement, open dialogue and problem solving that happened in just a few hours on the Bus Tour shows how much progress can be made when we work together. It’s a message OMB is proud to share: when we care about homes, we care about our community.”
We would like to give a special thank you to all that attended, as well as the event sponsors – American Workforce Group, Inc., Olympia Federal Savings, and Strategy Insurance Brokers.
For more information about this article or to access OMB’s free online searchable Member Directory, visit www.omb.org.
The Olympian Sunday Real Estate Cover Article – May 20, 2018
May is National Remodeling Month!
Thinking About Remodeling Your Home? Start Here
Sooner or later you may join the millions of people who remodel their homes each year. Perhaps it’s at that moment when you realize that avocado green and harvest gold are no longer the “in” colors for today’s trendy kitchens. Or maybe you have an epiphany one day as you stand in line to use your own bathroom. Whatever the impetus, the thought crosses your mind: Maybe it’s time to start a home remodel. The reasons for home remodeling are as varied as the projects we undertake.
Some of these include:
- Adding more space
- Upgrading cabinets, counters, appliances and fixtures
- Creating a floor plan that’s customized for your lifestyle
- Improving energy efficiency with new windows, doors, insulation, and climate control systems
- Increasing the resale value of your home
Where to Begin
The first step is to develop an idea of what you want to do with your home remodel, then write a prioritized list of your needs and wants. There are many sources to find design ideas for your home remodeling project. Look at magazines and websites and collect pictures of homes or remodeling projects you like.
The more clearly you can envision the project and describe it on paper, the better prepared you’ll be in making your decision. Think about traffic patterns, furniture size and placement, colors, lighting and how you expect to use the remodeled space. If your decision to remodel, involves incorporating Universal Design, which is the process of creating better access for someone with limited mobility, you may want to consider contacting a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist.
Occupational Therapist, Jennifer Hopps of Adaptive Living, LLC agrees, “Contacting an Occupational Therapist that specializes in Aging in Place remodels is a great place to start. They combine their extensive knowledge of the aging process and medical history and are able to help you determine the ideal, long term remodel that fits your needs.”
When considering a remodel or home update, you may want to make sure to improve home efficiency and hire a professional remodeler for green home remodeling. These projects include replacing windows and doors, upgrading heating and cooling systems, adding insulation, and other remodeling to make the home more energy-efficient, easier to maintain, and comfortable.
Chris Winters, owner of CW Construction says, “CW Construction specializes in kitchen and bath remodels. Many of today’s products have green attributes that are great for reducing energy costs. Choosing products like vinyl windows with Low E glass, Ultra High Efficiency Toilets, which reduces water consumption, LED kitchen cabinet lighting which uses extremely low power consumption, and low V.O.C. interior paints that help lower our carbon footprint, ultimately save the client money for years to come. In addition, a number of our clients are aging-in-place and may be on a fixed income. If we can design and remodel their bathroom to meet aging-in-place requirements, why not offer products that can save them money and help the environment at the same time.”
Can you do it yourself?
Once you have created your list of priorities, you’ll need to decide how to accomplish that vision. For the handyman or woman, a do-it-yourself project can be both rewarding and cost-effective. However, more than 30% of all jobs home remodelers perform come from failed DIY projects. Hiring a professional remodeler is the best way to ensure your project’s success. These remodelers are dedicated to maintaining the highest integrity and standards in the industry.
To find a full directory of local remodelers, visit omb.org today!
If you decide to hire a professional, here are a few very important tips for hiring a contractor.
- Is the contractor licensed, bonded, and insured?
You can verify this by calling the State of Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries at 1-(800) 647-0982 or visit the L&I website at www.lni.wa.gov. Ask if there have been any complaints about the contractor, and if any, their status.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Good communication with your contractor is vital to a successful project, as it helps clarify exactly what you want done. Get the answers that satisfy your needs; after all it is your home!
- Does the contractor possess a good reputation among customers and
Ask the contractor to share names and numbers of customers. Check references thoroughly. Visit past work done by your contractor and ask the homeowners for their opinions on the work done.
- Examine your bids carefully.
Bids that are noticeably lower than all others should be questioned. The difference may be in the quality of the materials used, experience of the crew doing the actual work, something is missing on the bid requirements, or it can be an indication that the contractor is not covering all the legitimate business costs. Don’t automatically disregard a high or low bid, ask questions!
- Obtain a written contract.
Be sure that it includes price, payment terms, sales tax, permit fees (if applicable), the specific work to be performed, materials to be used, warranties, and payment schedules. It is also a good idea to include change-order processes, final review, sign-off procedures, and cleanup. Put all change-orders in writing and ask questions as work progresses. Avoid verbal contracts and be very cautious about paying for incomplete work.
- Permits are for your protection!
Make sure permits are in place and inspections are made as the work progresses. Make sure the name of your contractor appears on the permit.
- Does the contractor offer a warranty?
If so, what kind, and for how long? Be sure you understand what is covered under the warranty and what isn’t.
- Is the contractor a member of Olympia Master Builders?
The Olympia Master Builders (OMB) is a professional trade association representing member companies. OMB helps educate members on new products, construction techniques, business practices, and industry issues.