There is no question that the U.S. homebuilding industry is being driven by a wave of consolidation, causing merger and acquisition activity to heat up. As the landscape transforms, competitors and collaborators are rapidly buying, selling and merging into each other. Over the next decade, we expect to see 50 percent or more of privately held businesses in the construction industry to transition ownership. 

As consolidation builds, it is important to understand factors driving the force. There are four areas fueling this trend: strong housing market fundamentals, need for scale, diversity and improved operating efficiencies.

The United States is in its fourth year of a slow recovery, as mortgage qualifications remain strict and young buyers are strangled with more student loan debt. Job growth and wage growth are also factors weighing in. More of the younger demographic is renting, instead of buying, than ever before, and the market is only at 70 percent of its 15-year average annual output.

SolarCity, Habitat for Humanity and the California Department of Veterans Affairs are working together to provide veterans with quality homes and low energy costs.

When servicemen and women have completed their time in the field, they may face challenges in getting back into the norms of civilian life, but housing should not be one of them. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is dedicated to working with federal, state and local agencies and organizations to expand affordable housing for veterans. In California, a few groups have partnered to make progress in this area.

Ten real estate developments have been selected as winners of the 2015 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Awards for Excellence, widely recognized as one of the land-use industry’s most prestigious award programs. This year’s winners – five in North America, three in Europe, and two in Asia – were honored in October at the ULI Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

The competition, now in its 37th year, recognizes real estate that achieves a high standard of excellence in design, construction, economics, planning, and management. The program, open to all and not limited to ULI members, is viewed as the centerpiece of ULI’s efforts to identify and promote best practices in real estate development.

Mark E. Humphreys is celebrating his Texas roots and is being recognized for it. The CEO of Humphreys & Partners Architects (HPA) was acclaimed in September when Texas Tech’s College of Architecture named him as an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chair in Urban Design. He is one of Texas Tech’s two Chair sponsors – and the only architect – and his $1.5 million contribution is the largest amount donated to the architecture school, and includes partial state matches. 

On Nov. 5, Humphreys will be recognized with the college’s Architecture Kleinschmidt Award. The Kleinschmidt Award was established by the Texas Tech Architecture Advisory Council to recognize any individual, alumni or non-alumni, or firm whose commitment or service has enriched the College of Architecture. Professor Florian A. Kleinschmidt’s eponymous award was distinguished by being the first leader of the Texas Tech Architecture Program.

As we head into the fall, families across the country have been spending more time in the backyard, often on their porches or decks. This fact serves as a good reminder of the importance of ensuring the safety of the outdoor spaces we enjoy so much. Unfortunately, deck collapses all too often occur in the summer and fall seasons. According to recent industry reports, 6,500 people have been injured from collapsing balconies and decks in the United States since 2003. Complicating matters for existing homes, the North American Deck and Rail Association (NADRA) estimates there are 40 million decks in America that are more than 20 years old. This means they were installed prior to today’s building codes. Amidst this reality, homeowners and builders alike are encouraged to evaluate older structures to make sure they are renovated and compliant with current safety standards. 

To help address this issue and encourage compliant deck design and construction, the American Wood Council recently published updates to its Design for Code Acceptance #6 – Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide (DCA 6) – reflecting new requirements found in the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) and other new provisions pertaining to single-level residential wood deck construction. 

Federal agencies have conducted many studies in the past five decades to collect data regarding labor industry productivity. Although labor output overall has continually increased, especially in manufacturing, productivity in construction has steadily declined beginning as far back as the 1960s. A study by Stanford University Civil and Environmental Engineering Research Professor Emeritus Paul Teicholz found that the U.S. construction industry’s labor output has been experiencing declining productivity at a rate of roughly 0.32 percent per year from 1964 to 2012. 

Homebuyers are increasingly interested in energy efficient homes, and those looking to buy in Arizona have more options with a unique new offering. Fulton Homes, the state’s largest family-owned homebuilder, offers in-home compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations at its newest community, Queen Creek Station. In a partnership with Southwest Gas and AutoNation Honda in Chandler, the community is the nation’s first to offer the upgrade option that allows homeowners to refuel CNG vehicles in their own garages.

Queen Creek Station’s Energy Center features a 2015 Honda Civic CNG vehicle, in-home filling station and other options that solidify Fulton’s selection as the 2015 Energy Star® Partner of the Year. The development’s Energy Center highlights the many energy efficient options available in the community, with homes ranging from 1,800 to 4,400 square feet in size.      

Detroit is experiencing a bona fide renaissance that is putting the steeled city back on the map in a major way. With bankruptcy and other economic concerns now behind it, Detroit is attracting investors and innovators like never before. 

For its part, forward-thinking real estate development company Three Squared also is drawing considerable attention for its innovative residential and commercial cargo container construction approach it recently introduced to the Detroit real estate marketplace. In April, the company broke ground on its highly anticipated flagship project: a three-story, 2,400-square-foot multi-unit model center on Detroit’s famed Michigan Avenue. From this masterful model center Three Squared will accept pre-sell purchase agreements for its first eco-conscious cargo container condo project in Detroit – the $3.4 million 20-unit, 4-story Rosa Parks complex – which represents the first multi-family dwelling constructed from retired shipping containers in the United States. 

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