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Houston Remodelers Council Ranks #1 in The US

Adam Bakir - Thursday, March 20, 2014

Houston RMC Still No. 1!

bandit signsAre you curious to see where your Houston Remodelers Council ranks against others across the country? Well guess what?! Houston is still the No. 1 Remodelers Council in the nation.

To see how we stack up, download the Local Remodeler Council Ranking (as of January 2014).

Want to get more involved in the local Remodelers Council? We are seeking volunteers for two important events.

Annual RMC Charity Project at The Sonrise Shelter – Saturday, April 12 and Saturday, May 3. In addition to having a great time, you'll make a huge impact on the Houston community and the life of every person that The Sonrise Shelter serves. You really CAN make a difference in just a day or two. Skilled labor only is needed on April 12; all volunteers welcome on May 3.

RMC Booth at the Texas Home & Garden Show – March 28-30 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Help raise awarness for the council AND for your company. Volunteer for two hour shifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

To learn more about how you can be involved in the GHBA Remodelers Council, email Lisa Pepitone.

2nd Story Addition by Incredible Renovations

Adam Bakir - Thursday, March 20, 2014

Incredible Renovations specializing in large projects such as 2nd story additions.  This house is located in the memorial area in Houston. 

The house was a single story home with a detached garage that was eating up the backyard.  This family needed more space because the kids are growing so they decided to add a 2nd story with 3 bedrooms, a bathroom and a game room and move the garage to the front of the house. 

This is the 1st video shot at the start of the project.  More videos to follow:  

 

 

For more information about Incredible Renovations visit, www.incrediblerenovations.com or call 713-532-2526.

How Do You Envision the Future of Memorial Park?

Adam Bakir - Friday, February 28, 2014

This is a message from Houston Mayor Annise Parker...

The Memorial Park Conservancy, TIRZ #16, and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department will soon begin long-term planning for the park. Prior to planning, the team is taking public input.

Memorial Park is going through a major planning process, and we want you to have your say. How do you envision the future of Memorial Park?

Take less than 10 minutes to visit http://memorialparkmasterplan.mindmixer.com/ and let the planning team know what you think. Take the Memorial Park Use Survey and the Demographic Survey by Tuesday, March 11. Thanks for your input, and please share the link!

For more information on the survey and on the Memorial Park Conservancy, visit www.memorialparkconservancy.org or contact Suzanne Landau at 713.863.8403 extension 2 or info@memorialparkconservancy.org.

For more information on Memorial Park and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, visit www.houstonparks.org or write to Askparks@houstontx.gov.

Vote for the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

Adam Bakir - Thursday, February 27, 2014

Call to Action: Urge your Representatives to Vote for the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

Call your Representative at (866) 924-NAHB (6242)

The House of Representatives will soon be considering the NAHB-supported H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. This bill addresses serious affordability concerns due to dramatic flood insurance premium increases, and if not corrected, will continue to severely impact the construction, remodeling, and sale of homes in many communities across the nation. This bill will provide certainty and financial stability to the National Flood Insurance Program.

H.R. 3370 provides a more affordable rate structure for policyholders, repeals the rate increases from the sale or transfer of homes, restores the substantial improvement threshold to the historic 50%, requires FEMA to create more accurate flood maps, and ensures that consumers can be reimbursed for successful map appeals.

CALL TO ACTION: Call your Representative at (866) 924-NAHB (6242)
YOUR ASK: Urge your Representative to vote YES on H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

Drive Out Homelessness by Sponsoring HomeAid 8th Annual Charity Golf Tournament

Adam Bakir - Monday, February 03, 2014

The ever popular HomeAid Charity Golf Tournament returns to Tour 18 on April 22, 2014!

This venue was so popular in 2013 that all player spots and sponsorships were SOLD OUT weeks before the actual date!

Drive out homelessness with a sponsorship!

Various levels of sponsorship are available.
At a quick glance, here are the sponsorships remaining:

  • Towel - $1750 (1 remaining)
  • Cart - $750 (1 remaining)
  • Auction - $750 - (1 exclusive)
  • Beverage Cart - $750 (1 remaining)
  • Breakfast - $500 (1 exclusive)
  • Hole - $300 (10 remaining)
  • Driving Range - $250 (1 exclusive)
  • Goodie Bag - $250 (1 remaining)

Click here for more details on each sponsorship.

ALL levels of sponsorship will receive company name recognition in the Houston Builder Magazine and on HomeAid's website and priority player registration, as well as a proud sponsor card to proudly display at your office in addition to unique recognition at each level. AND if you commit by Tuesday, February 11th, your company name will be included in the March Builder Magazine!

Thank you for considering a partnership with HomeAid Houston to bring hope and homes to Houston's homeless. If you have any questions please contact Lea Pipitone at 713.705.4441 orlpipitone@homeaidhouston.org

Cutting Carbon Pollution and Increase Affordability of Multifamily Buildings

Adam Bakir - Sunday, February 02, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Energy Star program and Freddie Mac have signed an agreement that will help to cut carbon pollution while increasing the affordability of multifamily housing properties. The agreement outlines strategies to save water, energy and money for multifamily property owners and residents.

“Boosting energy and water efficiency not only saves money and makes these properties a better investment for owners and more affordable for families who live there -- it is also an important step in the President’s commitment to fighting climate change by cutting energy waste in our nation’s buildings,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “By making it easier to secure financing for energy efficiency investments and providing data about energy use and efficiency opportunities, these strategies will create lasting environmental and public health benefits while making multifamily buildings more efficient and valuable.”

"Freddie Mac is proud to partner with the EPA in this effort,” said Mitchell Resnick, Freddie Mac Multifamily vice president of loan pricing and securitization. “As one of the largest Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CMBS) issuers in the country, we are looking to guide the industry and the CMBS market towards a greater sensitivity to environmentally responsible lending and investing. This partnership is the first of what we hope are many steps in that direction. We are looking at how energy efficiency improves the financial viability of the apartments we finance, and most importantly its impact on the affordability of rental housing."

Roughly one-third of Americans live in apartments within multifamily buildings, spending approximately $22 billion on energy every year. Rising energy costs are contributing to the decline in affordability for many of these Americans. Housing industry studies have projected that multifamily properties can become 30 percent more efficient by 2020, unlocking $9 billion in energy savings and preventing more than 35 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

In support of the President’s Climate Action Plan, this memorandum of understanding outlines key strategies to make multifamily housing more affordable by encouraging building owners and tenants to benchmark their energy and water performance and take steps to improve efficiency. Among those strategies: 

- Freddie Mac will explore the collection of energy and water performance data from property owners during the loan underwriting and asset management processes.

- By demonstrating the financial value of energy and water efficiency to lenders and borrowers, Freddie Mac hopes to be able to influence lending practices in ways that encourage investments in energy efficiency and make multifamily housing units more affordable.

- EPA will assist Freddie Mac with these, and other, goals, by providing technical and educational support in the use of the Energy Star Portfolio Manager® energy management and tracking tool as well as other Energy Star resources.

The President’s Climate Action Plan calls for helping multifamily buildings cut waste and becoming at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. While EPA has already been working with Fannie Mae and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this latest agreement with Freddie Mac is another critical step forward in meeting the President’s goal. Together, these three organizations influence the largest sources of residential and multifamily lending in the country.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the ENERGY STAR label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. In 2012 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved $26 billion on their utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use from 35 million homes. From the first ENERGY STAR qualified computer in 1992, the ENERGY STAR label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion sold over the past 20 years. Over 1.4 million new homes and 20,000 office buildings, schools and hospitals have earned the ENERGY STAR label.

More information on EPA’s ENERGY STAR buildings program: www.energystar.gov/buildings

More Information on Freddie Mac: www.FreddieMac.com

21,000 Radon-Related Lung Cancer Deaths Each Year

Adam Bakir - Tuesday, January 07, 2014

As Americans across the country look for ways to improve their health this New Year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is highlighting radon testing and mitigation as a simple and affordable step to significantly reduce the risk for lung cancer.

Radon is a natural colorless, odorless radioactive gas, and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, but testing for radon and reducing elevated levels when they are found can make your home healthier and safer. 

Testing for radon is an easy and affordable way to protect your family’s health,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. ”Radon is a radioactive gas that can be found in homes all across the country; the only way know if your home has high levels is to test it.”


Part of EPA’s radon action campaign is to remind people to “Test, Fix, Save a Life,” and to recognize every January as radon action month.   
- Test: All homes with or without basements should be tested for radon. Affordable Do-It-Yourself radon test kits are available online and at home improvement and hardware stores, or you can hire a qualified radon tester. EPA recommends taking action to fix radon levels at or above 4 picoCuries per Liter (pCi/L) and contacting a qualified radon-reduction contractor. In most cases, a system with a vent pipe and fan is used to reduce radon. Addressing high radon levels often costs the same as other minor home repairs.
-  Save a Life: 21,000 Americans die from radon related lung cancer each year.  By fixing elevated levels in your home, you can help prevent lung cancer while creating a healthier home for you and your family.Taking action to test and fix high levels of radon gas is not only a strong investment for your health, but also for your home.
Radon test results are a positive selling point for those putting a house on the market and in many areas is a required part of real estate transactions. In addition, if you are looking to build a new home, there are now are safer and healthier radon-resistant construction techniques that home buyers can discuss with builders to prevent this health hazard. More information on how to test, find a qualified radon professional, obtain a test kit or contact your state radon office is available at http://www.epa.gov/radon or by calling 1-800-SOS-RADON.

Factors to Consider Before Beginning a Painting Project

Adam Bakir - Monday, December 23, 2013

There are many factors to consider before beginning a painting project. Special care should be taken when sanding a surface to prepare for painting due to the dust released into the air. The dust may contain lead particles, if the surface contains lead-based paint. Exposure to excessive levels of lead could affect a child's mental growth, and interfere with nervous system development, which could cause learning disabilities and impaired hearing. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure. Unless a lead-based paint inspection shows it doesn't, you should treat paint in homes built before 1978 as if it contained lead. See further information on lead if this applies to your home.

Most paints give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — chemicals that evaporate in the air — that could lead to IAQ problems. The ability of these chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly. As with any chemical, the likelihood of a reaction and the extent and type of health effect will depend on many factors. These factors include the amount of chemical in the indoor air, the length of time a person is exposed to the chemical, and a person's age, pre-existing medical conditions, and individual susceptibility. Eye and throat or lung irritation, headaches, dizziness, and vision problems are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some chemicals.  

In professional painters who are exposed to high levels of paint vapors for long periods of time, some chemicals in paints have damaged the nervous system, liver, and kidneys. Some chemicals cause cancer or reproductive and developmental effects in laboratory animals. Because of these concerns, susceptible people, such as young children and individuals with breathing problems, should avoid paint vapors. To avoid any health risks for themselves and their unborn babies, pregnant women should avoid undertaking painting projects and should limit their time in freshly painted rooms, especially when oil-based paints are being used.

Recommendations

1.Check that the painted surface is lead-free (or assume that any existing paint contains lead) before preparing a surface for repainting.

•Determine that the existing surface is lead-free OR assume surface contains lead-based paint.
•If paint is lead-based, use appropriate preparation and painting techniques.

2.Select an appropriate paint.

•Many water-based paints (even interior paints) have, until recently, used mercury as a fungicide. Any paint that contains mercury should not be used indoors. Evaluate any existing stock of paint and properly dispose of paints containing lead or mercury.
•With painting indoors, make sure you select paints that are for indoor use. Do not use exterior paints indoors.
•Evaluate new paint before you purchase it. There are two categories of interior paints, water-based and oil-based. Water-based paints are referred to as "latex" paints. The oil-based paints are referred to as "alkyd" paints. In general, water-based paints will emit fewer chemicals and lower levels of chemical vapors. Short-term exposure to solvents from alkyd paints can be significantly higher than from latex paints. Express your IAQ concerns to paint suppliers and use their technical personnel as a resource. Not all paint suppliers have information on pollutant emissions; consult other source (For example: manufacturers) if your paint supplier cannot provide adequate information.

3.Always read and follow all the instructions and safety precautions on the label

•Do not assume you already know how to use the product. The hazards may be different from one product to another. some ingredients in individual products may also change over time. The label tells you what action you should take to reduce hazards and the first aid measures to use if there is a problem.

4.During interior painting, minimize exposing people to odors and contaminants.

•Try to schedule interior painting when the home is unoccupied, for example: when people are at work or school, or on vacation. Under normal temperature and humidity, most emissions occur during drying, in the first few days after painting. You can also try to schedule painting for dry periods in the fall or spring, when windows are more easily left open for ventilation.
•Use exhaust fans to remove paint fumes from the building. Exhaust fans (such as a box fan, blowing from the room to the outdoors) should be used in the area being painted to remove fumes. Supply fans can be used in adjacent areas to keep fumes out. Operate fans and provide as much ventilation as possible continuously (24 hours/day, 7 days/week) from the beginning of the painting work until 2 or 3 days after painting has been completed.
•Block any heating or air-conditioning return openings — opening which send air back to the furnace or air-conditioner — in the rooms you are painting (if necessary turn off the regular home heating, cooling, or ventilation systems) to prevent circulating air from the work area to other areas of the home. If supply air is necessary for heating/cooling, make sure to provide adequate exhaust ventilation to avoid pressurizing the room and driving pollutants to other parts of the house. Do not block a cold air return with the furnace or air-conditioner running if it is the only return in the house.

5.Use Appropriate Storage and Disposal Practices for Paints, Solvents, and Clean-up Materials.

•Latex paint usually cleans up with soap and water. For alkyd paints, you will need to purchase specific products as listed on the label. Never use gasoline to clean paint brushes. Gasoline is extremely flammable. Read the label to find out if the paint cleaner is flammable. All flammable products should be used away from ignition sources such as water heaters, furnaces, electric motors, fans, etc.

6.Use Appropriate Storage and Disposal Practices for Paints, Solvents, and Clean-up Materials.
•Seal containers carefully after use.

•Buy only as much paint as you need to finish the job to avoid having to store or dispose of unused paint.
•When possible, keep paint containers in storage areas equipped with exhaust ventilation, but not near heating, ventilation, or air-conditioning equipment rooms.
•Use an appropriate waste disposal method to dispose of any paints containing lead or mercury.

7.Use and handle paint strippers properly.

•Paint strippers contain chemicals that loosen paint from surfaces. These chemicals can harm you if not used properly. Some paint stripping chemicals can irritate the skin and eyes, or cause headaches, drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, or loss of coordination. Some may cause cancer, reproductive problems, or damage of the liver, kidney, or brain. Others catch fire easily. Proper handling and use of paint strippers will reduce your exposure to these chemicals and lessen your health risk. From more information see What You Should Know About Using Paint Strippers (CPSC-F-747-F-95-002) at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/423.html

No Regrets Remodeling

Adam Bakir - Friday, November 29, 2013

EEBA Builder's Guides

  1. Use energy efficient construction.
    Building tight, well-insulated homes reduces heating and cooling costs. When combined with mechanical ventilation and pollutant source control, tight, energy- efficient homes are comfortable, economical, and promote good health. Indoor air quality and energy efficiency walk hand-in-hand.
     
  2. Control water and moisture.
    Controlling moisture in a home can help reduce mold, mildew, and other biological growth which are linked to a variety of health effects. Methods to control moisture include building an energy-efficient home with proper air-sealing, proper use of vapor barriers and vapor diffusion strategies. The entire building envelope, from the foundation to the roof, should be designed to not only prevent moisture entry, but also to allow any moisture which does enter a means to escape. Proper ventilation can help ensure that indoor humidity levels remain at acceptable levels.
     
  3. Eliminate, reduce, or control pollutant sources.
    Eliminating or controlling individual sources of pollution are important steps in providing good indoor air quality. By using appropriate materials, isolating materials which may cause problems, and providing adequate ventilation, the levels of pollutants indoors can be greatly reduced. Included among these pollutants is radon, for example. If you live in a high radon area, you should consider using techniques to reduce radon entry when building your addition.
     
  4. Provide mechanical ventilation.
    Proper ventilation removes or dilutes stale air from your home, and provides cleaner air from outdoors. There are many approaches to ventilation which achieve these goals. So, "build it tight, and ventilate right."
     
  5. Use combustion equipment wisely.
    The selection, installation, and integration of combustion equipment with other systems is an important part of building a home with healthy indoor air. If combustion appliances are not installed, maintained, and operated properly these appliances can produce combustion pollutants that can damage your health, or even kill you. In addition, improperly vented appliances can add large amounts of moisture to the air, potentially resulting in both biological growth, and damage to the house. Fortunately, builders can take steps to reduce the risks for combustion equipment.
     
  6. Understand how to properly operate and maintain the home.
    How a house is operated, maintained, and lived in is one of the most important factors affecting indoor air quality. Planning for this maintenance during the construction process, and learning what's important will not only promote good indoor air quality, but will also decrease problems with the physical structure of the house over time.
EPA


US Homelessness Declines in 2013

Adam Bakir - Thursday, November 21, 2013

Local communities report homelessness rose in California 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released its latest national estimate of homelessness, noting reductions in every major category or sub-population since 2010, the year the federal government established a strategic plan to end homelessness. HUD's 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress finds significant and measureable progress to reduce the scale of long-term or 'chronic' homelessness as well as homelessness experienced by Veterans and families

Meanwhile, local homeless housing and service providers in California reported that the number of sheltered and unsheltered persons increased by 3,895 individuals since 2010. 
 
"We're making real and significant progress to reduce homelessness in this country and now is not the time to retreat from doing what we know works," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "If we're going to end homelessness as we know it, we need a continued bipartisan commitment from Congress to break the cycle trapping our most vulnerable citizens between living in a shelter or a life on the streets. I understand these are tough budget times but these are proven strategies that are making a real difference. We simply can't balance our budget on the backs of those living on the margins."

Ophelia Basgal, HUD's Regional Administrator for California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii, added, "Local housing and service providers are on the front lines of helping us battle homelessness and they need our help if we're going to prevail. Not only is there a moral imperative to tackle this problem head on, it makes fiscal sense to invest in solutions that work."

Nearly 20 percent of homeless people were counted in either Los Angeles (nine percent of total or 53,798) or New York City (11 percent of total or 64,060). Los Angeles experienced the largest increase among major cities, reporting 11,445 more homeless people (or 27 percent) in 2013 compared to 2012. New York City reported 7,388 more homeless people (or 13 percent).

HUD's annual 'point-in-time' estimates measure the scope of homelessness on a single night in January of each year. Based on data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties, last January's one-night estimate reveals an eight percent drop in homelessness among veterans and a seven percent reduction among those experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness.

During one night in late January of 2013, local planning organizations or "Continuums of Care" across the nation and in California conducted a one-night count of their sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. Yearly changes to a state's housing and economic conditions as well as adjustments in local data collection methods can produce significant differences when attempting to compare one year to the next. Still, HUD continues to offer significant guidance and technical support to these Continuums of Care to continually improve the confidence level in these state and local reports as they are incorporated into the annual national homeless estimate.

The Obama Administration's strategic plan to end homelessness is called Opening Doors - a roadmap by 19 federal member agencies of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness along with local and state partners in the public and private sectors. The plan puts the country on a path to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020. The Plan presents strategies building upon the lesson that mainstream housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness.

The decline in veteran homelessness across the country is largely attributed to the close collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on a joint program called HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). Research demonstrates that for those who have been homeless the longest, often living on our streets for years at a time, permanent supportive housing-housing coupled with supportive services to address mental illness, substance addiction, and other challenges-not only ends homelessness for these vulnerable individuals, but also saves the taxpayer money by interrupting a costly cycle of emergency room visits, detoxes, and even jail terms. Since 2008, a total of 58,250 rental vouchers have been awarded and 43,371 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes of their own because of HUD-VASH.

Chronic homelessness among individuals is declining and has done so quite substantially since 2007. This decline is partially attributable to a long-standing push to develop more permanent supportive housing opportunities for those struggling with long-term homelessness who otherwise continually cycle from shelters to the streets. 
  
Read HUD's 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress including state and community-level data.

 


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