January, 2012
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

HouseLogic Poll Finds Voters Driven by Jobs, Housing in 2012 Election


A survey by Houselogic.com, the consumer website from the National Association of Realtors®, finds that jobs and the housing market will be two of the most important issues for voters in the 2012 election. Nearly one-third of respondents said housing will be the top issue on their mind when they head to the polls next November.

Respondents were asked, "What issue area will have the greatest impact on your vote in 2012?" National security, health care and energy/environment trailed housing and unemployment by wide margins:

Jobs/unemployment – 54 percent
Housing – 27 percent
National security – 8 percent
Health care – 4 percent
Energy/Environment – 2 percent
Other – 4 percent

With unemployment still high, it is easy to see why so many Americans are concerned about the job market. However, employment and the housing market are inextricably linked because economic growth and job creation cannot occur without a housing recovery.

Housing accounts for more than 15 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product – it's a key driver of the national economy. Home sales generate jobs. NAR estimates that for every two homes sold, one job is created. New spending on homebuilding products, furniture and other residential investments also have a significant economic impact.

Some recent indicators show that the economy might be starting to rebound, with pending home sales rising strongly in October, according to NAR's Pending Home Sales Index. However, any changes to current programs or incentives must not jeopardize a housing and economic recovery. Unemployment, consumer confidence and consumer spending will not rebound until a number of issues are addressed.

New Technical Notes Released From Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute

The Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI) has released two new Technical Notes to its online collection. The new Technical Notes available are: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Reinforcing Bars (Construction Technical Note CTN-G-2-10), which covers the most routinely received inquiries concerning various aspects of reinforcing bars and reinforced concrete design and construction. Economical Reinforced Concrete Construction (Engineering Technical Note ETN-C-1-10) explains how the initial cost of reinforced concrete structures can be reduced through advanced planning and detailing to minimize the expenses related to the materials and the construction activities associated with formwork, reinforcement and concrete.

Both publications are available for free. To order, call CRSI at 847-517-1200 or go to www.CRSI.org and click on Webstore, then search under Merchandise and Technical Notes.

Busting The 10 Biggest Small Business Myths

by Barry Moltz, small-business speaker, consultant and author

If you'd like to learn why Mr. Moltz includes "The customer is always right," "Sales is the most important number" and "Customers only care about low prices," visit www.openforum.com/articles/busting-the-10-biggest-small-business-myths.

Certified ASHI Inspector Earns Ph.D. in Home Inspecting

John Bouldin, ACI, President of ProTechs Home Inspections, completed what could be the first Ph.D. earned specifically in the inspection of wood-framed residential structures. The degree was awarded by Virginia Tech University through the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products on July 2, 2011. This dissertation is titled "Methodology for the Visual Inspection of Selected Engineered Wood Products and Connector Hardware for Prescriptive Non-Compliance at the Pre-Drywall Stage of Residential Construction."  Several prominent ASHI members and Virginia building code officials served as subject-matter experts in the development of this project.

The author hopes this will open up further dialogue between inspectors and academicians to enhance the awareness and perceived value of professional residential inspections and to encourage further academic research into this field.

HUD Offers More Than $40 Million in Grants for Housing Counseling

Funding will help hundreds of thousands make informed home purchases or avoid foreclosure

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that more than $40 million is available for a broad range of housing counseling programs to help families find and preserve housing. These grants will be awarded competitively to hundreds of HUD-approved counseling agencies and state housing finance agencies across the nation that offer a variety of services, including how to avoid foreclosure, how to avoid mortgage scams, how to purchase or rent a home, how to improve credit scores, and how to qualify for a reverse mortgage.

  HUD-approved counseling agencies also provide counseling and financial literacy education to renters and homeless individuals and families.

 National and regional agencies distribute much of HUD's housing counseling grant funding to HUD- approved community-based housing counseling organizations that provide information and guidance to low- and moderate-income families seeking to improve their housing conditions. These larger organizations help improve the quality of housing counseling services and enhance coordination among their counseling providers. 

More information about HUD and its programs is available at www.hud.gov.

Extreme Weather 2011: A Year for the Books

A dozen weather-related disasters in the United States alone have caused more than $1 billion in damages each, breaking the record of nine billion-dollar disasters set in 2008, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Altogether, the damage from these events exceeds $50 billion.

These twelve disasters, listed below, resulted in the tragic loss of 646 lives, with the National Weather Service reporting over 1,000 deaths across all weather categories for the year.

  • Groundhog Day blizzards – Jan. 29-Feb. 3
  • Midwest/Southeast tornadoes – April 4-5
  • Southeast/Midwest tornadoes – April 8-11
  • Midwest/Southeast tornadoes – April 14-16
  • Southeast/Ohio Valley/Midwest tornadoes – April 25-28
  • Midwest/Southeast tornadoes – May 22-27
  • Midwest/Southeast tornadoes and severe weather – June 18-22
  • Southern Plains/Southwest drought and heat wave – Spring-Fall
  • Mississippi River flooding – Spring-Summer
  • Upper-Midwest flooding – Summer
  • Hurricane Irene – August 20-29
  • Texas, New Mexico, Arizona wildfires – Spring-Fall
NOAA continues to collect and assess data regarding several other extreme events that occurred this year, including the pre-Halloween winter storm that impacted the Northeast and the wind/flood damage from Tropical Storm Lee. Currently, these events are not over the $1B threshold using the available data.

2011 Hurricane and Tropical Storm Recovery Assistance Information

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster. If you are in an area within a disaster declaration, you may be eligible to apply for disaster assistance from the SBA.

To find information about disaster loans, including current disaster declarations, disaster loan fact sheets and applications, go to www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/disaster-loans.