LUMBERYARDS

Bricks outperform against moisture, study says

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center compared moisture resistance among typical residential exteriors and found brick veneer provided the highest in moisture resistance and dryness.

The study aimed to determine how exterior cladding impacts the moisture content of the wooden components in wall construction. The study showed that brick veneer outperformed the other wall systems tested, including vinyl, fiber cement, manufactured stone and stucco siding, which account for approximately 90% of the cladding systems used today.

"The lab report’s findings on brick’s superior moisture resistance are extremely significant,” noted J. Gregg Borchelt, president and CEO of the Brick Industry Association, which funded the study along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Builders will want to choose brick if they wish to provide their customers the protection of a superior wall system — instead of one that is just ‘good enough.’ ”

According to the BIA, modern construction practices to increase comfort and energy efficiency have resulted in tight walls that are highly insulated and sealed against air filtration. When moisture is not sufficiently controlled, risks increase dramatically for mold growth, wood rot and infestation by insects, reduced efficiency of insulation and corrosion of fasteners. The report attributes the lower moisture content in the wood components to brick’s inherent thermal mass properties, the 1-in. air space in the brick veneer wall and the increased thermal absorption of the test brick’s red color.

Each wall assembly test consisted of interior gypsum board, wood studs with fiberglass insulation between the studs, sheathed with either OSB or plywood and clad with brick veneer, vinyl siding, fiber cement, manufactured stone or stucco and was then subjected to ambient weather conditions over a one-year period. Additionally a portion of water-resistant barrier was compromised and the wall assembly behind it subjected to a daily water injection over a five-day period to evaluate its ability to dry after a leak.

The full report can be viewed at gobrick.com/nahbrcreport

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International Builders’ Show kicks off in Orlando

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Education is at the forefront of this year’s National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show, which begins Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. 

The event features more than 190 educational breakout sessions offering a wave of information on green building, sustainability, sales and marketing, architectural design, community planning, business management, and innovation and technology.

“The show itself is really designed to help builders weather the downturn in the housing market and prepare for a market rebound,” said Michael Cobb, SVP education for the NAHB. “I’d also say that frankly we want to enhance the level of professionalism within the industry.” 

Cobb said of the approximately 65,000 IBS attendees, about 20,000 attend the educational sessions. And while green building sessions tend to draw the biggest numbers, sales and marketing sessions are second in popularity. 

Cobb said that its common knowledge that the square footage of the homes is dropping and that consumers want more for their money, and builders want to know how to best market those ideals to potential buyers. 

“They’re looking for an understanding of what the preferences are of the various consumer demographic levels would be,” he said. 

According to Cobb, IBS attendees on average have 10 years in the industry, and much of the educational series are geared toward helping them improve certain aspects or shore up particular weaknesses in their company. However, IBS also features about 28 programs designated as core content (what the IBS considers fundamental knowledge and skill sets in the building industry) aimed toward new builders as well.

One of the biggest draws to the education series is the green building sessions. Kevin Morrow, the NAHB’s senior program manager for green building, said one of the biggest focuses this year will be the sessions devoted to the new National Green Building Standard. 

“I think that’s something that every builder in this country should be aware of,” he said. “Just because it’s the first and it’s the only ANSI (American National Standard Institute) residential green building standard.”

The International Builders’ Show runs Jan. 12 through 15.

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Lennar swings to a year-end profit

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Miami-based home builder Lennar reported a fourth-quarter net income of $32 million, down 9.8% from $35.5 million for the same period last year.

Revenues for the quarter ended Nov. 30 were $761.3 million, down 11.1% from $856.4 million for the same period in 2009.

During the quarter the company reported home deliveries of 3,089, down 12% from the same period last year. New orders for the quarter were at 2,520 homes, down 5% from last year. The company reported a cancellation rate of 20% and a backlog of 1,604 homes, down 2% from the fourth quarter of 2009.

For the full 2010 fiscal year, the company reported net income of $95.2 million, compared with a net loss of $417.1 million for fiscal year 2009.

Revenues for the year were $2.7 billion, down 3.5% from $2.8 billion reported last year.

During the year the company delivered 10,955 homes and received 10,928 new orders, both down 5% from 2009. The company’s cancellation rate for the year was 17%.

“We are very pleased to report net earnings of $32 million for our fourth quarter, which despite the challenging housing market, makes it our third consecutive profitable quarter,” said Stuart Miller, president and CEO. “Our intense focus on construction costs, product re-engineering, and SG&A reduction all contributed to improved gross and operating margins year over year and a full year of profitability in fiscal 2010.”

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