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Congressional bill addresses safety in building codes

BY Brae Canlen

Testifying before Congress about a lack of safe building codes in some states, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety urged legislators to pass a bill that would provide incentives for adopting updates to the International Residential Code (IRC).

“Every region of our country is vulnerable to one or more potentially devastating natural hazards, which is why improving disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery must be a national priority,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “HR 2069 is important legislation that provides a vehicle to put scientific knowledge about the proven benefits of building codes to work, which will significantly improve our nation’s safety and resilience.” 

Also called the “Safe Building Code Incentive Act,” HR 2069 would provide qualifying states with an additional 4% of funding available for post-disaster assistance if they adopt and enforce the IRC from one of the last two cycles it was updated, which are 2012 and 2009. 

Specifically, Rochman mentioned the importance of a continuous load path in the construction of residential and commercial buildings and the need for strapping to connect the roof to the foundation.

Rochman also showed the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee a video of wood-frame houses being subjected to wind speeds and gusts up to 120 mph at the IBHS Research Center. During this test, the roof of the home built using conventional construction practices lifted off entirely under the force of about 95 mph winds. The loss of the roof caused total destruction of the home only moments later.

The IBHS recently evaluated the building codes in 18 hurricane-prone states along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. The resulting report, “Rating the States: An Assessment of Residential Building Code and Enforcement Systems for Life Safety and Property Protection in Hurricane-Prone Regions,” can be viewed by clicking here.

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Russin Lumber expands shingle offering

BY Ken Clark

Montgomery, N.Y.-based Russin Lumber is now carrying Eastern White Cedar shingles from Bardobec, a manufacturer located in Daaquam, Quebec. Russin will be carrying raw shingles in Extra, B and C grade and will also act as the exclusive distributor for Bardobec’s B-Chroma line of Prefinished shingles.

Bardobec has been manufacturing white cedar shingles for more than 25 years. All B-Chroma prefinished  shingles are coated over 100% of the surface area of the shingle and are carefully dried using infrared ovens, according to the company.

“I’m so happy to add Bardobec’s high-end shingles to our stable of siding products,” said Jordan Russin, Russin Lumber VP. “Since Barbodec offers their B-Chroma line which utilizes PPG coatings, they’re a natural fit with the work we’ve been offering out of our own prefinishing facility.” 

Russin has begun to receive Bardobec’s products into its Montgomery distribution center and is accepting orders for immediate delivery.

Russin Lumber is a manufacturer and distributor of building materials covering 13 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

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Slowdown seen in new-home sales

BY Brae Canlen

Sales of newly built, single-family homes declined 8.4% in June 2012 compared with the previous month, reaching an annual rate of 350,000 units, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

The bad news follows similar numbers from the National Association of Realtors, which reported last week that completed sales transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops declined 5.4% in June 2012 compared with May.

Both agencies saw year-over-year improvements, however. June’s sales were 16% higher than they were in June 2011, according to the latest report from the Census Bureau.

"While we would have liked to see a third consecutive month of new-home sales gains in June, the fact remains that the sales numbers are up on both a quarterly and yearly basis, while builders continue to report that they are seeing more serious buyers in the market for a newly constructed home with all of the latest updates," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. 

On a regional basis, new-home sales gained 14.6% in the Midwest and 2.1% in the West, but fell 8.6% in the South and 60% in the Northeast in June. 

IHS Global Insight attributed the overall sales decrease mostly on the “hard-to-understand sales plunge in the Northeast that may just be a bad reading.” Which is one of several reasons why the economic and financial advisory firm takes the longer view on housing data. “We prefer looking at moving averages or quarterly figures, since these estimates iron out volatility and highlights trends,” wrote economists Patrick Newport and Michele Valverde.

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