LUMBERYARDS

Pennsylvania bill would protect homeowners against mechanic’s liens

BY Brae Canlen

A bill introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would protect that state’s homeowners from mechanics’ liens filed by subcontractors if the homeowners paid the contractor in full.

The bill would eliminate the ability of subcontractors, suppliers and others to file liens on owner-occupied residences when the monetary obligations have been paid in full. 

This happened not long ago to a group of 17 property owners facing mechanics’ liens in Westmoreland, Pa., because the roofing company they hired allegedly failed to pay the material supplier, according to an article in the Greensboro Tribune-Review. One of the properties is an apartment building. 

The liens were filed last month by ABC Supply Co, the Beloit, Wis., firm with an outlet in New Castle. ABC Supply claimed in court papers that Prime Roofing Systems of Waxahachie, Texas, failed to pay them for more than $64,000 in building materials delivered to the 17 properties. Property owners have said they paid Prime Roofing for the work, which was done to repair damage from a tornado and hail storm that ripped through the county last March.

Rebecca Ruble of Hempfield said she had a $3,700 lien placed on her home by ABC Supply as a result of the Prime Roofing Systems non-payment. She said the proposed legislation — which was introduced in May and is slowly winding its way through the Pennsylvania legislature — is too late to help her.

Under the bill, a property owner would file a notice when work starts, which would require all subcontractors and suppliers to provide owners with notice of the work they are performing or the materials they are providing. These notices might be filed through a website. Ohio has a similar law.

The Pennsylvania House is scheduled to vote on the bill in the next month and then move it on for consideration in the Senate. 

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Builder confidence rises for mature housing market

BY Brae Canlen

Builder confidence in the 55+ housing market for single-family homes rose four points to 18 compared with the same period a year ago, according to a poll released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"We are seeing increased optimism from builders in the 55+ housing segment," said NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. "However, the market still remains weak as many people in the mature-market sector are hesitant to buy. They are concerned about selling their existing home at a fair price, due to low appraisals, an abundance of foreclosures and tighter mortgage lending criteria."

The 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI) measures builder sentiment based on current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market. A number greater than 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. All index components increased from a year ago: Present sales rose four points to 17, expected sales for the next six months increased two points to 26, and traffic of prospective buyers rose five points to 15. 

The 55+ multifamily condo HMI also showed improvement, with an index level up six points to 14. Present sales increased five points to 12, expected sales for the next six months rose three points to 17, and traffic of prospective buyers increased five points to 15.

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LP’s Q4 net loss widens

BY HBSDealer Staff

Louisiana-Pacific reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $46.6 million, compared with a net loss of $6.8 million in the prior-year quarter. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011, LP reported net sales of $312 million, down 1.3% from $316 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“Demand for building products slowed in the fourth quarter due to seasonality and inventory reduction actions taken by our customers at year end,” said LP’s CEO, Rick Frost. “For the full year, U.S. single-family housing starts were down 9% to a 50-year low, which made 2011 another tough year for LP. On the bright side, our South American operations had a record year of profitability, and LP ended 2012 with a strong balance sheet that included $340 million in cash.”

For the year ended Dec. 31, LP posted a net loss of $170.7 million compared with a net loss of $39.0 million in the prior year. Net sales for the year totaled $1.357 billion compared with $1.384 billion in 2010.

LP’s OSB segment reported net sales for the fourth quarter of $131 million, up 3% from $127 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. For the full year, OSB reported sales of $542 million, down 10% from the prior year.

The company’s Siding segment reported net sales of $93 million in the fourth quarter, a decrease of 10% from $103 million in the year-ago fourth quarter. For the full year, Siding reported sales of $430 million, about flat from the prior year.

The Engineered Wood Products (EWP) segment reported sales in the fourth quarter of $46 million, down 6% from $49 million in the year-ago quarter. For the full year, EWP reported sales of $203 million, up 6% from the prior year.

The South America segment reported sales in the fourth quarter of 2011 of $34 million, up 34% percent from $25 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. For the full year, South America reported sales of $145 million, up 16% from the prior year.

“Recently, we have seen some hopeful signs of growth in the North American housing market, which is good news,” Frost added. “Because the economy is still fragile, with slow job growth and little progress made to address our country’s underlying fiscal issues, we are planning on a slow recovery in 2012. Fortunately, our financial situation allows us to be prepared to satisfy market demand if housing is better than we expect.”

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