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The Death of the New Home Construction Industry

Death by a thousand cuts. The federal government, in their infinite wisdom, has required any state accepting federal stimulus dollars to pass an onerous, complicated energy code which will add $10,000 to $15,000 to the cost of every new home. Most states enacted the code into law in January, 2010. This comes on the heels of multiple  expensive code changes to the International Residential Code which, over the past 10 years, has also added $15,000 to $25,000 to the cost of each new home. Each generation of code writers seemingly wants to leave their mark on the industry by imposing paternalistic, overreaching changes to new home construction requirements. No component of the of the home, from foundation to roof, has been unaffected.

New home construction must now compete directly against enormous numbers of distressed properties selling at steep discounts, banks unwilling to extend credit for new projects, and buyers who recognize that purchasing and remodeling an existing home is a far better value than buying new. Adding insult to injury are the vast majority of municipal and county governments who have gutted inspection departments and have neither the staff nor the resources to assist homebuilders with code compliance.

Affordable housing in it's most basic sense (cost of construction) is not even an afterthought for these bureaucrats that have never swung a hammer, never produced a product, never made a payroll. Affordable housing to them is deregulating Fannie and Freddie, writing millions of subprime and exotic loans, and in the process burying our financial system and economy. Such is the state of modern governance.

Disclosure: No Positions