Houzz Stat: Building permits, changes and delays

BY Erin Carlyle, Houzz

Worries may continue after learning more. Finding out what the permit requires causes delays for some homeowners, especially experienced applicants. In fact, the most common change to initial plans among this experienced group is delaying the start of the project.

Nearly half (47 percent) of first-time homeowner applicants change their plans in some way after learning about permit requirements, while 42 percent of experienced applicants do so. The most common change among first-timers (25 percent) is deciding to hire a pro instead of undertaking a DIY project.

Building regulations lead to plan changes. The policies of local building departments make revisions necessary for the projects of more than a third of homeowners. One in five projects ends up different than initially planned (though of similar size), while one in seven ends up larger than originally planned. Nearly two-thirds of projects remain similar to what was initially envisioned.

Mixed feelings abound. Some respondents found the permit process fairly straightforward, while others found aspects of it frustrating. In terms of finding out whether a permit was required, about 45 percent of those who received approval said the process was straightforward, while 7 percent said it was frustrating. The rest (48 percent) were somewhere in the middle.

About 73 percent of homeowners who received a building permit found at least one aspect of the permit process frustrating, and about 84 percent found at least one part of the process straightforward.

Read more about the survey here.



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New hire at Jones Stephens

BY HBSDealer Staff

Jones Stephens announced that Shane Roden has joined the team as a plumbing product manager. Roden will focus on new product initiatives in key categories. 

Roden brings 25 years of experience in product management, sales management, and engineering previously working for JPW Industries. He has undergraduate degrees in Industrial Engineering and Marketing along with a MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He will be based at Jones Stephens’ Moody, Alabama headquarters.

Jones Stephens, a distributor of plumbing specialty products, is a World and Main Company. Based in Cranbury, N.J., World and Main offers product development, merchandising, global sourcing, and distribution solutions across the home, hardware and building supply categories.



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Regulatory Wrap-Up

Regulatory Wrap-Up: Wages back in the spotlight



Labor Department: The Labor Department began the rulemaking process to revise or rescind its tip pooling regulation when the agency sent a revised rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. The 2011 Obama-era rule, which is currently in effect, prevents tip-pooling policies whereby tipped workers share with non-tipped employees. That rule has been the subject of multiple legal challenges and the U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing one of those cases. If the Trump Administration moves to rescind the rule, then the U.S. Supreme Court case may become moot.

GAO Wage Study: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study commissioned by Senator Bernie Sanders that found roughly 20 percent of families with a worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr were at or below the poverty line. The study also examined the use of federal safety net programs by families at or near the poverty level.

Cincinnati: A council member has proposed a motion to link an existing business tax credit to a minimum wage increase beyond the state minimum of $8.15/hr Under the motion, companies seeking the job creation tax credit must offer a minimum $12.50/hr wage to their employees.

Tipped Wage: The Restaurant Opportunities Center launched the website to advocate for the elimination of the tip credit. The organization has been active in state and local campaigns across the country.

Paid Leave

Washington: The State Department of Labor and Industries released its implementation rules for the paid sick leave law that passed by initiative in 2016. The rules cover specifics of the law such as how employees will accrue paid sick leave, when they can use it and how to calculate rates of pay during the leave period. The rules will be open for public comment through Nov. 17.

Duluth, Minn.: The city council agreed with the mayor to delay discussion of a potential paid leave proposal until after the Nov. 7 election. The mayor’s current priority is a ballot initiative to increase the sales tax by half a cent. Business leaders reportedly agreed to support the sales tax proposal if the city tabled discussions of a potential paid leave mandate.

Netflix: The popular online video streaming company announced an unlimited leave policy for new parents during the first year after a child is born or adopted.

Pay Equity

Illinois:  The house voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation that bans employers from asking about prospective employee’s salary histories. The override vote awaits action in the Senate.


E-Verify: The House Judiciary Committee, by a 20-10 vote, approved legislation that would mandate a nationwide E-Verify program. A separate bill that would overhaul the H visa guest worker program was approved by a much narrower margin (one vote). House leadership has not indicated when either bill will receive floor time.

Tax Reform

U.S. House: House members approved the U.S. Senate-passed budget rules that provide an easier path for future large-scale tax reform. The new rules will allow tax cut and tax reform legislation to proceed with a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of meeting the 60-vote threshold.

Health Care

Congress: Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Kevin Brady, both chairmen of powerful tax writing committees, introduced legislation to extend the cost-sharing subsidies for insurers for two years. The bill is being presented as a tradeoff for delaying enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and retroactively exempts businesses from the employer mandate. This represents a significantly more conservative approach than the bipartisan subsidy fix proposed by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray.

ACA: Attorneys General from 19 states petitioned a federal court to force the federal government to continue making monthly ACA subsidy payments to insurance companies while litigation against the Trump Administration proceeds. The court rejected the request, handing a victory to the Trump Administration.


FTC: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will not pursue enforcement actions against companies that sell products that allow children to give voice commands. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act currently bans the collection of audio recordings of children under 13 without parental consent. Companies that collect the recordings must do so for only a brief period of time and use them solely for voice commands.


U.S. House: Two democratic lawmakers introduced the Clean Ports Act and the Port Drivers’ Bill of Rights Act in the U.S. House. The Clean Ports bill seeks to improve air quality in port regions, while the other bill is in response to the recent USA Today investigative articles on the wages and working conditions of port truckers. Neither bill has a chance to advance in the Republican-controlled House but serve to highlight the contentions issues in and around the nation's ports.

Los Angeles/Long Beach, Calif.: The ports released the final update to their Clean Air Action Plan. The update will be considered at a joint public meeting on Nov. 2.


Amazon: During the past year the e-commerce retailer has won approval to become a wholesale drug distributor in several states, signaling an effort to enter the pharmacy benefit manager industry.

Key Takeaways 

  • Unions and other activist groups are attempting to take advantage of the media’s focus on the issue of sexual harassment. Organizers will use the issue as an entry point to engage with employees, communicating with and eventually organizing workers within restaurant and retail locations. Companies should reinforce policies and procedures with field management teams to inoculate themselves from accusations of harassment.
  • Major corporate brands continue to announce new and more robust paid leave policies shining a light, not only on their brand, but increasingly on brands that have not moved in a similar direction. Support for some type of national leave policy is gaining traction from economists and political leaders across the ideological spectrum as well as notable sectors of the business community. Companies in the entry-level employment space may face continue.

Legislature Status for Week of 10/30/17

  • The United States Senate is in session this week.
  • The United States House is in session this week.
  • The following state legislatures are in session year round: Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
  • The following states are currently in special session: Arkansas, Connecticut and Oklahoma.


We've recently launched a podcast that focuses on politics and policy for the restaurant industry. You can listen to the "Working Lunch" podcast by clicking here, or subscribe on iTunes here.

The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.




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On Friday, the Trump administration ramped up its trade dispute with China, announcing $50 billion in tariffs. What is the most likely outcome of this move. (Choose up to 3)