While it is difficult to narrow down the activities of the North Carolina Home Builders Association in 2015 to just 10 items, the following list is a snapshot of our most important work this past year.
In the case of legislation, a more detailed description was provided in the Winter 2015 issue of North Carolina Builder magazine, which is available online at www.buildermags.net/nc
1. Prohibited Aesthetic Controls on One-and Two-Family Dwellings
SB 25 (Session Law 2013-86, effective 06/19/15) prohibits local governments from mandating design and aesthetic controls on single family, duplex and townhome structures.
COST SAVINGS: Varies based on whether and to what extent local governments imposed such controls; however, statewide savings are estimated to be in the millions of dollars in those jurisdictions which did and others which were likely to follow.
2. Exempted Builders’ Inventory from Property Taxation HB 168 (Session Law 2015-223, effective for taxable years beginning on or after 07/01/16 and applies to subdivision of land or other improvements made after 07/01/15) exempts from the property tax the increase in value of real property held for sale by a builder to the extent the increase is attributable to subdivision or other improvement. The builder must apply for this exemption annually and it can last no longer than three years. This exemption ends the earlier of when the improved property is sold, when a building permit is issued, or five years whichever occurs first. Developers continue to pay the tax on the raw land and home builders continue to pay the tax on the finished lot.
COST SAVINGS: The NAHB Economics Department estimates savings of $145 million annually.
3. Repealed Municipal Protest Petition Authority HB 201 (Session Law 2015-160, effective 08/01/15) repeals municipal protest petition authority which, under prior law, required a rezoning to receive a 3/4 supermajority of a city council to be approved. These petitions were often filed in major residential, commercial or mixed use cases by NIMBY-neighborhood groups. Protest petitions have killed many good projects across the state over the years.
COST SAVINGS: Millions of dollars in projects which will be built as a result of repeal.
4. Enacted Building Code Regulatory Reform Act HB 255 (Session Law 2015-255. Effective 10/01/15) enacted several significant changes in the building code/inspection process in our state. Among them: creates a 7-member residential code committee within our 17-member state building code council; prohibits “partial inspections;” requires local building inspection departments to accept, without further inspection, any design or other proposal for a component or element in a building which is completed, and field inspected, by a licensed engineer or architect who certifies under seal that the design complies with all requirements of the commercial or residential code; specifies certain acts to be misconduct by code official; raises the threshold to trigger issuance of a building permit to $15,000; and requires all appeal decisions, interpretations, and variations of Code issued by BCC to be posted on web within 10 business days.
COST SAVINGS: Millions of dollars in avoided future costs. 5. Enacted Favorable Land Development Law Changes HB 721 (Session Law 2015-187, effective 10/01/15) addresses abuse by some local governments with respect to “performance guarantees” required when plats are recorded (e. g., caps at 125% of reasonably estimated cost of completion). Assures developer choice of bonding or letters of credit for subdivisions roads and other improvements and regulates the sometimes excessive periods for which such bonds are required to be held. Another provision regulates the practice of some local governments to put “permit holds” on existing lots as leverage to require improvements in a future phase of the development.
COST SAVINGS: Millions of dollars in future avoided land development costs.
6. Fixed Disposal of Condensation Issues for High Efficiency Furnaces and Air Conditioning Units
NCHBA added an amendment to HB 538 (Session Law 2015-207, effective 10/01/15) to allow both condensate and AC condensation to drain indoors to municipal and community wastewater systems, providing a fix for instances when 90+% high efficiency (i. e. “green”) furnaces shut down on extremely cold days when the drain line to the outside freezes the condensate.
COST SAVINGS: Hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoided costs as well as future energy savings by preserving the option of high efficiency furnace installation.
7. Helped Pass Regulatory Reform Act of 2015 HB 765 (Session Law2015-286, generally effective 10/22/15) contains a number of NCHBA-sought provisions including: on-site wastewater amendments; isolated wetlands clarifications; cluster box units/amend stormwater management law; and prohibition of mitigation for impacts to intermittent streams.
COST SAVINGS: Millions of dollars statewide.
8. Helped Pass Local Government Regulatory Reform Act HB 44 (Session Law 2015-246, generally effective 09/23/15) contains a number of NCHBA-sought provisions including zoning permit choice and riparian buffer reform.
COST SAVINGS: Millions of dollars statewide
9. Established NCHBA Volume Builders Council This new council, composed of national and regional production building companies -all of whom pay a special dues assessment for council membership -provides additional resources for NCHBA advocacy efforts and affords a voice to this important segment of our industry. Currently the council is composed of more than 20 production building companies.
10. Created the Home Builders Education Fund, Inc. The NCHBA Board of Directors created the Home Builders Education Fund, organized under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, to provide additional resources to assist in the election of pro-housing officials and for other advocacy purposes. This entity will supplement and compliment the role of NCHBA’s existing political action committee (NC BUILD-PAC).