November 2011

Episode #5 of the Maryland Construction Network:

 November 22, 2011 topics include:

Md Unemployemnt drops to 7.2%

  • Construction loses 1,100 jobs

Md 30 yr. mortgage rate dips to 3.63%

BuildfFax remodeling index shows nationwide record activity for September

  • But Northeast region down 4.7% from last year

Baltimore County puts hold on several Dundalk Projects

  • Heritage Trail
  • North Point Streetscape
  • Stansbury Park Restoration

HUD gives $3.5M grant to Baltimore Metropolitan Council

Equipment sales show gains in 2011

  • Dealers and rental companies pushing sales gains
  • Aging fleets promise future demand

Anne Arundel Medical Center gets LEED Gold Certification

Camden Crossing townhome complex  lots scheduled for auction

  • Dec. 15th auction
  • Tranzon Fox Auctioneers
  • 34 townhome lots + 11 open space lots

Caesars unveils plan for Baltimore Casino

  • $310 Million dollar project
  • Possible opening in late 2013
  • Needs approval from state gaming commission

2 New Employment Laws in Effect

  • Job Applicant Fairness Act
  • Amended Wage and Hour Law

State Senate Budget Chair favors Corp. Tax Reduction

  • 1/4% reduction offered as possible stinulus for business
  • Sen. Kasemeyer opposes corporate taxation on “combined reporting” method

Jobs Creation Dependant on Tax Increases?

American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act

  • To be proposed in House of Representatives
  • 5 year surface transportation program reauthorization
  • Speed up approvals
  • Increase offshore oil and gas drilling

Material prices rising

  • Prices up 6.9% in last year
  • Contractors not keeping pace with increases
  • Material prices likely to remain volatile

Messages from the Governor

ICC Opens to Public

  • No tolls charged from 11/22 throughDecember 4th
  • 1st all electronic toll road in MD
  • Rates vary by time of day

Upcoming Events

Online Holiday Shopping Tips to Stay Safe

Guest Speaker Topic – Employment Background Checks

  • Jim Randisi – Randisi Associates
  • What is involved
  • Why it should be done
  • Idea of costs

Hot Topic of the Week – Plan Maryland (due to a lack of time this will be continued in next weeks episode)

  • Roots date back to 1974
  • Plan was never written
  • Land usage has expanded far greater than population
  • Objection stems from question regarding final say on zoning decisions

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Episode #4 of the Maryland Construction Network

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November 15, 2011 show topics include:

Senate Approves Repeal of 3% Contractor Withholding

  • Non-controversial ammendment added
  • Must be re-ratified by House
  • President Obama said he would sign

Senate Committe Approves $85B Highway Bill

  • Senate EPW committee votes 18-0 in favor of MAP-21
  • $12B worth of funding still needs to be found due to shortage in Highway Trust Fund revenues

Homebuilder Confidence Rises 3% for November

  • NAHB / Wlles Fargo Housing Index
  • Highest level since 5/2010
  • Low mortgagae rates and home prices are drawing well qualified buyers to purchase

Beware of 4G Cell service Contracts

  • Some carriers restrict 4G service to: internet browsing; email; and intranet access when using plan bandwidth
  • Unrestricted use allowed over wi-fi connections
  • While 4G is fast, it is easy to exceed contract limits and overage charges quickly mount

5 Maryland Towns Receive “Sustainable” Status

  • Aberdeen, Cumberland, Hyattsville, Laurel and Westminster are first in Maryland
  • Allows towns to apply for tax credits and incentive programs that may stimulate improvement projects
  • Next round of community applications fopr sustainable status is January 5, 2012

Will the FHA be the Next Bailout?

  • LA Times reports 50/50 chance of bailout needed
  • FHA reserves at 0.24% of projected losses – well below 2% minimum
  • FHA does not expect need for bailout – Independent actuary not so sure
  • Future decline in home prices, if any,  will decide the fate

Office Fitout Trends from October edition Building Design & Construction

  • Shrinking Workstations
  • So long partitions
  • Managing noise and privacy
  • Team rooms vs. conference rooms
  • Plan flex space
  • Common area for org’s goals
  • Work the brand
  • Avoid “office future shock”

Maryland Construction Credit Program

  • Richard W. Shaw, Jr. CPCU, ARM – w/CBIZ Insurance Services, Inc.
  • What is the Maryland Construction Credit Program?
  • Who qualifies?
  • Explanation of calculation and application process

Fails Managment Institute 3rd Qtr 2011 Report

  • visit for full text of report
  • 2% growth in 2011
  • 6% growth projected in 2012
  • Review of 2011 performance and 2012 projections for specific segments of the construction industry

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Episode #3 of the Maryland Construction Network

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November 8, 2011 show topics include:

October Unemployment Report released

  • National rate decreases from 9.1% to 9.0%
  • But construction industry LOST 20,000 jobs in non-residential market
  • 2012 outlook 8-5% to 8.7%
  • 2013 forecast 7.8% to 8.2%

Maryland Mortgage Rates for 30 yr. mortgage at 3.81% compared to national average of 3.88%.

Home prices dip 1.1 % nationally in both August and September

  • Low rates only held market prices through summer
  • High inventory (3.5 mil homes) pulling prices down
  • 82 of top 100 metro areas saw decrease in prices

Maryland Fast Track Program gets no Traction

  • Designed to provide expedited review and permitting process in certain instances
  • Governor cites lack of awareness
  • Lack of development also contributing factor
  • USE THIS LINK INSTEAD OF ONE MENTIONED IN PROGRAM- for more information and to see if your project is in eligible area

Building Congress & Exchange of Metropolitan Baltimore

  • First association sponsor for MD Construction Network
  • New logo and branding campaign
  • Results of 73rd Annual Craftsmanship Awards Dinner – 11/4/11 at the Boumi Temple in White Marsh
  • Interviews with winners

Emplyment Screening and Drug Testing

  • Jim Randisi – Randisi & Associates –
  • QuickApp tool for employment screening information collection
  • Oral swab device for portable convenient drug testing testing that is still lab-based w/results in a day
  • E-Cup traditional collection center/urine based sample with results available in 15 minutes

Maryland Workplace Fraud

  • Misrepresenting employees as independent contractors
  • Law passed in 2009 – now becoming actively enforced
  • Fines up to $20k per occurrence
  • Definitions of employee vs. independent contractor vary and are confusing
  • Can pass IRS but not Maryland
  • Inter-agency agreements connecting IRS w/ Workers Comp commission and Workplace Fraud unit
  • Unit pushing for compliance and has thus far waived fines in return for becoming compliant
  • Will not continue forever
  • Burden of Proof on EMPLOYER
  • for more information

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Episode #1 of the Maryland Construction Network

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October 31, 2011 Show topics include:

H.R. Bill 674 – To repeal a 3% withholding on contractors until they file their tax returns that is set to be imposed beginning in 2013.

Passed House of Representatives by vote of 405 – 16
Going to Senate
Must find corresponding offset of expense in 2013

MD State Comptroller says NO! to tax hikes and fee increases.

Peter Franchot calls for a delay on any tax increases and fee hikes so Marylander’s can “catch their breath” as they recover from the recession
Gas tax increase of 15 cents per gallon recommended by commission to fund transportation projects
MD Senate President Mike Miller in favor of increase, Governor O’Malley open to suggestion as possible way to raise money for mass transportation projects and road renovations

Tablet PC’s and your business – How can they help you?

iPads and Tablet PC’s are hitting the mainstream in construction industry
Your necessary documents travel with you
More secure than before
Using them in sales efforts
“Move-in present” with equipment warranty info, info on finishes and other pertinent information preloaded on unit
Convenient home and building automation interface

Getting Bonded – What you should know before you need one.

Special Guest Speaker – Richard W. Shaw Jr. CPCU, ARM Vice-President with CBIZ Insurance Services
What are bonds?
Why are they needed?
What is the process and how you can best prepare your company to be “bondable”?

Hot Topic of the Week – Retainage – An age old practice whose time has come . . .  and gone?

What is retainge?
Where is it used?
Who likes it and who doesn’t
Why should it be discontinued?

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