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Daily Archives: August 13, 2021

Product, Labor Shortages Seen Impacting Design Firms

PALO ALTO, CA — More than three quarters of businesses in the construction and architectural/design services sectors report that product and material shortages and costs impacted their businesses in the second quarter of this year, while more than half of firms in both sectors report labor shortages and costs impacted their businesses, according to Houzz, Inc., the Palo Alto, CA-based online platform for home remodeling and design.

According to the Q3 2021 “Houzz Renovation Barometer” – which tracks residential renovation market expectations, project backlogs and recent activity – more than nine in 10 businesses across both sectors reported second-quarter increases in costs for lumber, copper, steel and aluminum, although about half of the surveyed businesses do not believe that costs will continue to increase in this year’s third quarter. Additional materials that construction pros anticipate increasing in cost include plastic, concrete, paint, foam, and drywall. Interior designers anticipate increased prices for appliances, furniture, and cabinetry in the third quarter, Houzz said.

More than nine in 10 construction businesses report moderate to severe skilled labor shortages, with carpenters, laborers, framers, cabinet specialists and plumbers in particularly short supply.

The Houzz Barometer also revealed that construction pros experienced their busiest quarter in six years, and that confidence among construction and design businesses for home renovation activity remains strong.

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Housing Affordability Reported Down on Rising Prices

WASHINGTON, DC — Soaring building material costs, high demand and low inventory have added tens of thousands of dollars to the price of a new home, causing housing affordability to fall to its lowest level in nearly a decade during the second quarter of 2021, the National Association of Home Builders reported.

According to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, released in August, 56.6% of new and existing homes that sold between the beginning of April and the end of June were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $79,900. This is down sharply from the 63.1% of homes sold in the first quarter of 2021, and the lowest affordability level since the first quarter of 2012, the NAHB said.

NAHB analysis reveals that higher costs for lumber products have added nearly $30,000 to the price of an average new single-family home, observed Robert Dietz, chief economist for the Washington, DC-based trade association, who reported that the national median home price surged to a record $350,000 in the second quarter, up $30,000 from the first quarter, the largest quarterly price hike in the history of the series.

“With the U.S. housing market more than 1 million homes short of what is needed to meet the nation’s demand, policymakers need to focus on supply-side solutions that will enable builders to increase housing production and rein in rising home prices,” Dietz said.


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Kohler Details Progress on Key Corporate Initiatives

KOHLER, WI — Kohler Co., the Kohler, WI-based manufacturer of plumbing products, tile, cabinetry and lighting, has outlined a series of steps the company is taking to adhere to corporate commitments tied to social, governance and environmental issues.

Kohler’s 2020 Believing in Better Metrics Report, released in August, addressed the progress being made to reduce the company’s GHG emission intensity, waste-to-landfill intensity, water-use intensity and other key initiatives.

“While Kohler celebrates creativity, diversity and innovation in all its forms, we know we can do more to protect the planet, build resilient communities and enrich the quality of life for everyone,” said Laura Kohler, senior v.p./human resources, stewardship and sustainability.

Among the highlights of Kohler’s “Believing in Better” initiative were:

n A reduction in operational intensities since 2008 that has cut net greenhouse gas emissions by 48%, operational energy use by 22%, waste-to-landfill by 47% and water use by 46%.

n  Generated more than $1 billion in sales from environmentally favorable products in 2020.

n Completed more “Design for Environment” (DfE) projects, an incubator for developing products that are better for the planet, than in all previous years combined.

n Pivoted manufacturing facilities to produce and donate 80,000 face shields for frontline workers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

n Provided 3,500 showers for the unhoused.

n 26 teams competed in the annual Innovation for Good I-Prize, an internal competition that encourages associates to develop solutions with a social purpose. Three ideas were awarded funding for incubation.

n  More than 1,600 associates from around the world united around various communities and their allies, including launching a “hate has no home” education and fundraising campaign.

“Kohler is committed to providing access to safe water for communities around the globe, delivering innovative solutions to address pressing social issues and strengthening its efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion,” Laura Kohler said.

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