September 2010 Press & Charter
At Issue: President Obama recently signed into law his health care reform bill - the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which included an onerous 1099 provision for small businesses. According to Section 9006 of the 2,409-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all businesses will be required to send 1099 tax forms to every company or individual from which they purchased more than $600 in services and goods throughout the tax year, beginning Jan. 1, 2012. This expensive and burdensome new paperwork requirement has no connection to health care, but was included as an attempt to generate revenue -- $17 billion over 10 years -- on the backs of small business.
These new requirements will dramatically increase costs, particularly for small businesses, and pull capital out of businesses that could be better used to reinvest in the business and create jobs. The building supply industry is only beginning to recover from the recent housing and economic crisis, and costly new burdens such as
this threaten recovery. This onerous 1099 mandate to pay for health care reform must be repealed.
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) has an amendment to the pending Small Business Jobs Act that will repeal the 1099 health care tax. The Senate plans to vote on this amendment on September 14th. Democrats are trying to block it. Passage of the Johanns Amendment is crucial to preventing a flood of paperwork and costs to businesses across the country. It is the only amendment that fully protects business owners from this costly new burden.
Be aware that there is a competing "repeal" amendment from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) that does not remove the paperwork and administrative burden that is created by this new law. Instead, the Nelson Amendment further complicates compliance responsibilities. While the amendment creates exceptions from the "property" information return requirements, those exceptions do not apply to "services" transactions. This lack of clarity will force small business owners to track expenses associated with both "property" and "services," the amount spent on each, and the method of payment to determine what information must be reported on under the new law. Rather than clarify, the Nelson amendment actually creates even greater complexity for those seeking to comply with the law.
Please contact your senators and urge them to pass the Johanns Amendment and oppose the Nelson Amendment. Full repeal of the new 1099 requirement is the only solution that will relieve small businesses of the cost and confusion created by this new burden.
Cabinets and Countertops
Kitchen trends in remodeling from the Research Center’s Consumer Practices Survey, NAHB Research Center
The housing downturn and recession have resulted in cost-cutting measures in home remodeling, favoring lower-cost materials and an increase in DIY installations. Kitchens, however, have been relatively unscathed in terms of cost-cutting for remodeling expenditures. And, they often feature many high-end products and materials. This market is competitive at the top end, so convincing buyers of a superior value is critical to market success.
The NAHB Research Center’s Annual Consumer Practices Survey (CPS), conducted in early 2009 with input from about 40,000 U.S. households, sheds light on many changes underway in kitchen remodeling. A brief comparison of 2005 to 2008 CPS data reveals the following:
Countertops. The number of U.S. households purchasing kitchen countertops declined by about 20 percent. Laminate market share fell from 38 percent to 29 percent, while granite grew from 24 percent to 34 percent, making granite the most popular countertop material for replacements. Seeing slight market share increases were “other natural stone” and solid wood “butcher block” categories. Solid surfacing declined from 16 percent to 15 percent, as did ceramic tile, which declined from 6 percent to 4 percent. Quartz surfacing remained stable at about 6 percent market share.
Countertops have not seen a resurgence in DIY installations. Granite and natural stone do not lend themselves to DIY fabrication and installation. The popularity of granite has resulted in an increase of specialty retailer purchases but a decrease in home improvement warehouse (HIW) retailer purchases.
Cabinets. The number of U.S. households purchasing kitchen cabinets fell by 19 percent to about 2.7 million. Wood-finish cabinets remained most popular with about 90 percent share. However, consumers began to opt more for lower-cost flat-panel designs over more expensive cabinets with raised wood details and glass panel doors. Like countertops, there was no increase in DIY installations of kitchen cabinets, and HIW retailers lost share of the remodeling market while specialty retailers’ share increased.
For more information, go to: www.nahbrc.com/manufacturer/development/data.aspx.
Building Homes to Age In
by Jennifer Ludden, NPR
As Americans live longer than ever, some will find it difficult to stay in their beloved homes: Steep stairs or a slippery shower can pose dangers, and standard houses are not wheelchair accessible. One solution? With 78 million baby boomers about to hit retirement age, some say the time is ripe to overhaul the way homes are designed.
This movement is already helping 82-year-old Jim Waggoner.
He has lived in a Veterans Administration nursing home in Tampa, Fla., for 13 years, since cancer in his back and spine left him in a wheelchair. A lifelong bachelor, Waggoner figured he'd die in this institution. But then he hit it off with a nurse at the nearby VA hospital. Jim and Cheryl got married last year and wanted a cozy place to live.
"We had discussed just remodeling my place," Cheryl says, "but there would have been too much to do. We would have had to have taken everything down, all the walls, the works."
It's a common problem — and an expensive one. Making a home accessible can cost tens of thousands of dollars. So Cheryl went online, and that's where she discovered the kind of homes Keith Collins is building.
Explore A Universal Design Home
Imagine building a house when you're young that you can live in as you age.
Collins brings a personal passion to homebuilding. He spent time in a wheelchair after serving in Vietnam and sees overlap between the needs of injured veterans and the elderly. Florida, as it happens, has a lot of both. Collins explains that his company, New Millennial Homes, uses what's called universal design.
"The design allows a person to remain independent and keep their dignity," he says.
Collins tailored the Waggoners' white ranch house to make life easier for them.
The mailbox is low enough for Jim to collect the mail in his wheelchair. There are no steps — just flat entries — and doorways are wide. All door handles are levers: Collins says a large share of seniors lose some dexterity, making it more difficult to turn traditional knobs.
In the kitchen, Collins points out the open space under the sink. That's to allow someone to do dishes while sitting, either in a wheelchair or on a stool, for rest. Even the wood in the walls is tailored: 2-by-8s instead of 2-by-4s. That lets the builder pop in a grab bar without ripping out the wall — and that saves money. Collins is adamant about building for the middle class.
"If you do it right from the beginning," he says, "it would normally cost you no more or very little compared in cost to any other conventional home."
Collins is also proud that his homes look like any other. He says he loves it when people walk in and ask, "Where's the handicapped house?" In fact, some of his features designed for accessibility are commonly found in glossy kitchen magazines: shelves that pull out like drawers, for example, and a faucet over the stove, to avoid having to lug a heavy pot of water from the sink. Aging experts say this crossover appeal is essential.
"We absolutely recognize that if these are pitched as they help you when you're old, that's a recipe for disaster," says Elinor Ginzler of AARP.
She'd like to see boomers plan ahead and buy a home with universal design now or use it for that kitchen renovation. But here's the problem: No one ever thinks they'll need such accommodations.
"We have polled people to ask them about the whole concept of what is old," Ginzler says. "And no matter what decade they are in, they believe that old is the next decade. And if you're even in your 80s, old is in your 90s."
Universal Design Has Broader Appeal
So advocates — and builders like Keith Collins — are trying to broaden the appeal. Those flat entries and wide doors? They're great for moms with strollers. Lever door handles? They're so convenient if your arms are full of groceries.
New Millennial Homes designed the ranch house for Jim and Cheryl Waggoner in Tampa Bay, Fla. Because its universal design features were planned at inception, the cost -- $171,000 -- is about the same as a traditional house.
Some communities aren't leaving it to the marketplace. In recent years, dozens of states and localities have passed laws promoting aspects of universal design. In part, that's because a lot of money is at stake. Medicaid and Medicare pay for a huge chunk of nursing home costs. AARP's Ginzler says the fewer people that must move into nursing homes, the more public money these states and cities save.
For Jim Waggoner, moving out of a nursing home and into his own house, at last, simply means freedom. It gives him "the ability to do what I want, when I want and how I want — and not have somebody tell me that I can't do that, or can't do this," he says.
It's a privilege millions of Americans don't want to lose just because they're old.
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