Green Summit kicks off with statewide code changes

Posted on July 20, 2011 by Mike Means

Higher standards in energy efficiency mandated

CenterPoint Energy is one
of this year's sponsors.

Changes to the International Energy Conservation Code and the effects those changes will have on Oklahoma builders is just one of the reasons to attend the third annual Green Building Summit in September, said Todd Booze, chairman of the OSHBA Green Building Committee.

The third annual Oklahoma Green Building Summit is scheduled Sept. 27-28 at the Reed Center in Midwest City, and is presented by the Oklahoma Home Builders Association, the Association of Energy Engineers and the private consulting firm Guaranteed Watt Saver Systems of Oklahoma City.

"This is the best opportunity not only for builders, but architects, engineers and realtors to come and learn what the changes to the IECC are and how to implement them," Booze said.

"There are a lot of changes to building practices coming out of this code and the Green Building Summit provides an opportunity to come understand what those are and how they will impact us in Oklahoma."

Masco Contractor Services
is one of this year's

Specifically, much more stringent standards have been adopted in regard to energy efficiency related to construction and workmanship. These include such elements as envelope air sealing and water-resistant barriers, and builders will need to understand what products will be suitable to meet these standards. The code workshop will begin at 7:30-8:45 a.m. Sept. 27 and will be presented by Kelly Parker, president, Guaranteed Watt Saver Systems (GWS).

Another reason to attend is to hear from the nation's leading expert in green building and energy efficient construction, Joe Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng., and ASHRAE Fellow. Lstiburek is a principal of Boston-based Building Science Corp., and is a Fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

"Joe is one of the founders of building science in the country," Booze said. "He is going to talk to us about problems he sees in building and construction related to incorrect and inefficient design which will be good for architects to hear. People will be able to come and learn how one component in design has an effect something else."

Public Service Company of
Oklahoma is one of this
year's sponsors.

While green building by definition is a lot of things, Booze said energy efficiency requirements are at the forefront right now as the new code requirements are focused on energy and durability.

Booze expects to see a strong showing of Realtors at this year's summit.

"Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of Realtors, which is helping organize the 2011 summit, has a green resource council and are really pushing their membership to come," he said. "The summit will benefit Realtors and their understanding of green homes and how they fit with their customers in the housing market."

Conference sponsors are American Electric Power, Climate Master, CenterPoint Energy, Dow Building Solutions, Forest Building Materials of Oklahoma City, Masco, Morrison Supply Company of OKC, Tyvek, ONG and OG&E. Dolese is exhibiting sponsor and Kirkpatrick Bank, WebRevelation and GWS are contributing sponsors.

Registration is open: visit the Oklahoma Green Building Summit 2011 website or call the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association at (405) 843-5579 or toll-free at (800) 256-9980.

Click here for a listing of National Association of Home Builders Certified Green Professionals in the state.

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State Convention attracts more members

Posted on July 18, 2011 by Mike Means

OSHBA past presidents
Tom French, left, and Mike
Gilles, right, visit with Kelly
Parker, president of
Guaranteed Watt Saver
Systems, morning presenter.

Durant, Choctaw Casino - Organizers are excited about this year's attendance numbers at this past weekend's Oklahoma State Home Builders Association annual convention - 140 over last year's 96.

Some first-timers told us it was time to get back in the game with attendance.

The regular attendees said that with the new state-mandated codes, the playing field has changed. After the breakout session Friday morning, one builder told us he learned of an important mandate involving slabs. This guy is very familiar with the homebuilding landscape, but this energy-efficient practice he knew of before is now being mandated and he's shocked.

He heard it at the convention.

As with technology, the game plan changes daily. Builders got a bird-s eye view.

If attendees weren't in the Advanced Framing talk Friday morning, builders and non-builders stretched their imaginations with a creativity pep-talk. One premise: Afraid to make mistakes? Don't be. You won't grasp the best learning tool of success. Take KFC's Col. Sanders. He tried 1,009 restaurants before finding one that accepted his fried-chicken recipe. Take a hint.

Dozens of builders who attended were already Certified Builders - and several BECAME certified after the weekend due to the education component of the convention.

Statewide, 150 are certified and, this year, the association certified 14 additional builders. But, we also lost 13 because their education credit mandates were not fulfilled.


The state conference is the best place to fulfill that accreditation. A new campaign for the coming year will be asking your buying public, "Is your builder certified? If not, why not?" If YOU may get asked that question, what will your answer be?

In today's market, certification sets you apart from others. The greater competitive edge you have, the better. Think about it when you consider attending next year. And bring the kids. The pool set-up here is no pool - it's a mini-White Water Bay. Perfect to keep the wife happy.

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Boomers seek to find ways to let seniors stay in their homes

Posted on July 12, 2011 by Mike Means

Thanks to Dyrinda Tyson with Newsok for this piece!

'Aging in Place' is a concept that allows seniors to remain in their homes safely

Kimmi Houston, a
homebuilder and Realtor,
and Jack Werner, commercial
and residential inspector, look
at chairs where a ramp would
be more suitablle for
"aging in place" at a home in
northwest Oklahoma City.

The people around Suzanne Broadbent's table were professionals, but their stories of aging parents, not surprisingly, were extremely personal.

Jack Werner's father, who died about 20 years ago, had a series of fender-benders just backing out of his driveway.

"It was like that old joke," said Werner, a home inspector and engineer. "He'd say, I back out of that driveway at the same time every day'  like everyone is supposed to know that."

Homebuilders Kim and Kimmi Houston said they learned lessons hard and on the ground.

"My mother was quite independent, and she did not give up," Kimmi Houston said. "Broken hips, broken wrist, broken leg, all sorts of breaks throughout this whole thing, and she did not give up."

Her father-in-law, on the other hand, did start to coast.

"So you really don't know what you're facing," she said. "My mom was very meek, very quiet, like a mouse, but she was a fighter. And his dad was quite the opposite. He'd just sit in his chair and watch Westerns all day," Kimmi Houston said.

Kimmi Houston's mother died in 2004 and Kim Houston's father in 2007, but millions of Americans wrestle with similar problems.

Members of the baby boom generation  born between 1946 and 1964  began turning 65 this year, and adults ages 65 and older made up almost 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, according to U.S. Census figures.

With the group right behind them, those 45 to 64, comprising 26 percent, it's not an issue going away any time soon.

Many of those baby boomers are concerned about their parents as well as their own well-being, Werner said.

"We get more and more calls (about aging parents)," said Werner, who owns A to Z Inspections in Oklahoma City. "That's the first step. And then, Would you provide ideas for improvements?'"

That prompted Werner, along with the Houstons, to seek out training for Aging in Place certification through the National Association of Home Builders. All emerged as Certified Aging in Place Specialists, CAPS  Werner with extra credentials allowing him to teach.

The designation is relatively new, but the idea behind it is not.

Aging in place

"Occupational therapists have been talking about it for about five to 10 years," said Anne Marie Grassman, a registered occupational therapist with OU Medical Center.

The aging-in-place concept focuses on what it takes for people to live at home safely and comfortably as they get older. Certified Aging in Place training helps builders understand how to accommodate an older person's changing needs.

Broadbent's Putnam Heights home, originally retrofitted for her mother, provides a lesson in doing it gracefully.

The front walkway gently slopes up to meet the front porch with no steps to trip over, and the doors inside feature lever handles instead of doorknobs elegant but also easier on arthritic hands.

Such touches can't hurt when it comes time to sell a house, either.

"If you can make it so that you can age in place, but it's not obvious, your resale factor becomes a lot better and probably a lot less of a burden to the family," Kimmi Houston said.

But the effort involves more than structure.

A variety of components are brought into play, Werner said, from community resources such as Meals on Wheels to health care providers to family members. Occupational therapists are vital to the effort, he said. Their home assessments help families draw up a battle plan.

Those plans are going to vary from person to person, but some simple measures can help: installing railings near key areas such as the bathtub and along steps, replacing doorknobs with levered handles and removing floor rugs that can trip a person up.

Shifting furniture around to open up space can help, too, critical if a wheelchair comes into play.

"Just try to take a tour of your own house (in a wheelchair)," Kimmi Houston said. "It's eye-opening."

Baby boomers themselves are also looking ahead for themselves, building and buying homes featuring wider doors and hallways, walk-in showers spiraling inward with no ledge to step over and levered plumbing fixtures.

Werner said he's seeing such features in homes being built for buyers over age 50.

"We may never need it, but what's wrong with a wider hallway?" he said.

Read more here.

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Builder Profile: Brenda Love, Elite Quality Homes

Posted on June 30, 2011 by Mike Means

As published in Builders Magazine

by: Stacy Tetloff

Elite Quality Homes

Brenda Love puts her knowledge and experience to use to build homes she can be proud of.

Brenda Love

Brenda Love started a career in architecture and engineering, joining a firm in 1971. In 1987, Love founded her own architectural firm in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The firm's clients included three corporate companies, with projects all over the United States, including one out of Atlanta.

When Love decided she didn't want to continue to travel, she started a design build company, moving the operation to Oklahoma City in 1999. For the first three years, Love and her business partner built mostly entry level housing, transitioning over to Elite Quality Homes in 2001.

Know the Industry

A background in architecture and engineering gave Love the insight she needed into building codes and understanding framing to create a successful homebuilding business. In addition to that extensive knowledge, Love is a Certified Builder with the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, and is a Certified Green Professional. Love stays on top of industry education by maintaining the educational requirements required each year to keep those certifications.

Love's knowledge and experience help her handle the business end of the company, including all of the finances. She is also on hand to work directly with the customers to create the plans for the home and make the design decisions. The company also benefits from the knowledge and expertise of Victor Squicimari and Bill Stewart. Squicimari is the vice president of the business, handling all of the sales of the company as well as advertising and promotions. Stewart is the construction manager, managing all of the construction in the field.

Have a Little Faith

Today, Elite Quality Homes continues to build homes that are primarily in the 1,800 sq. ft. to 4,000 sq. ft. range, although with the current economy the company has built as small as 1,100 sq. ft. Love explained, "It just depends what is out there. With the different economy, all builders have had to change their business, including adding in remodeling."

It also includes where the company builds. Elite Quality Homes typically builds on south side of Oklahoma City, but has built in northeast Oklahoma City and in Norman, as well as to the west, in the past 12 months. "We've expanded our horizons because of the economy. When customers ask us to build outside of our usual area, we do," Love said.

The recent economic downturn has definitely presented the home building industry with challenges. According to Love, however, things are better in Oklahoma for builders.

As of January 2011, the unemployment rate in Oklahoma City was reported at 6.3 percent, lower than the 9 percent national average or the 6.6 percent Oklahoma state average. The challenge is to help potential homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, to overcome their fears and anxiety over the negative outlook on the economy. Part of that confidence should come from the interest rate, explained Love. "There's no better time to buy a house than right now. It's amazing what kind of home you can buy with today's low interest rates. People have to have faith that it's safe to buy a house, in spite of what we hear on the news," she said.

Negative press has affected buyer confidence, but Love noted that the activity in home buying has started to turn around. "We've seen a lot more activity this year, and a lot of people are ready to buy and need to buy," she said.

Be Proud of What You Do

Love's company places the highest priority on building quality homes from the best materials. The goal is to create a home that is as maintenance-free as possible and to make homeowners happy. Of the company's customers in 2010, 65 percent were repeat customers, or the friends or family members of a previous customer. "That's what we've worked for," Love explained. "We don't depend totally on advertisements. We get referrals by always doing a good job on our homes and placing emphasis on customer service. It's important to walk away from a home that we've built and be proud of it."

Whether building a home for a baby boomer looking to retire or a first-time home buyer in their early twenties, Love gets enjoyment out of seeing the excitement when the homes are completed, and seeing the anticipation of the homeowners to live in a new, healthy and safe home.

"When I was younger, I thought you had a job and worked for money. But, as you get older, real enjoyment comes from having a career and enjoying it. I enjoy driving buy and saying, I did that.' I'm able to do that every time I drive by a home we've built," Love explained.

Don't Forget the Necessities

Love is current president of the Southwest Home Builders Association and serves on the state board of directors for the Oklahoma State Builders Association.

Membership and involvement in the builders associations is an absolute necessity as far as Love is concerned. "It's your responsibility to be involved," she said. The homebuilders associations provide support and supervision of the building industry, educating the public, government and builders. "In the HBAs, we have widely supported the Certified Builder program, which brings credibility and responsibility to every builder and to the industry as a whole," Love explained. In addition, the homebuilders associations are instrumental in giving back to the community, something Love also strongly believes in.

"The Moore Home Builders Association refills backpacks with food for children who would not otherwise eat over the weekend," she said. The Southwest HBA supports and gives $5,000 every year to the Red Cross. The list goes on, but Love cannot stress the importance of the homebuilders associations enough.

In addition to education and community involvement, the influence of the associations in the political realm of building is also a necessity. "I believe in the Build PAC program," Love said. "Build PAC supervises the laws that are being passed, supporting candidates that support the building industry." As Love explained, Build PAC keeps an eye on the issues that will affect everyone, from builders to homeowners."

To view some of Elite's products, visit, or contact Brenda at

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The Green Thing

Posted on June 27, 2011 by Mike Means

Once in a while I get one of those chain emails that are really quite cute. Well here is one that I received that I thought was worth sharing. Enjoy.

The Green Thing

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day." The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks. But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad how the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?

~Author Unknown~

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Should Tornado Shelters be mandated?

Posted on June 24, 2011 by Mike Means

A call to mandate tornado shelters has been on the horizon before. Now, it's blown through town again.

There I was watching the television when a local anchor said he thought tornado shelters should be mandated. Here we go I thought - more government mandates all in the name of safety.

I had one builder tell me he could absolutely build a house that could withstand a tornado, be burn proof and literally remain standing from an earthquake. The problem is NOBODY could afford it because it would be so expensive.

The housing industry is in the tank, our economy is anemic, jobs are difficult to come by and, if economists are correct, inflation is around the corner. What can we do to insure that things don't get better?

Add more mandates to the cost of building a home.

Please don't misunderstand me. I think shelters are prudent. But it should be a customer's choice where he or she spends his money. I've read reports that say the odds of your home being destroyed by a tornado are 1 in 1 Million over the life of your home. Should every new home be forced to have a shelter for the chance of that occurring?

If mandates increase the cost of new housing then logic says people will spend their hard-earned money elsewhere. And, since most people have a mortgage, that means the extra cost is tied up for the life of the loan.

So, tell me what you think. Do you want more mandates or would you rather decide for yourself what you want in your new home?

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