Remodelers’ livelihoods are directly impacted by happenings on Capitol Hill. Whether professionals want it to or not, legislation will be passed that dictates how houses are built, remodeled, inspected and more. Therefore, becoming involved and educated in government affairs and advocating for the industry should be a vital part of any remodeler’s agenda.
Bruce Case, CLC, president of Case Design/Remodeling Inc., Bethesda, Md., and chairman of NARI’s Government Affairs Committee recommends remodelers familiarize themselves with government advocacy by visiting NARI’s website, which includes position papers and detailed information about myriad issues. “They can make sure they understand it all,” he says. NARI.org also has a feature allowing remodelers to type in their ZIP code to get federal and state representative contact information. “Go see them or write them an email,” Case encourages.
After that initial education, remodelers can take it a step further and become actively involved. “We have a volunteer group on government affairs,” he says. “We’re all remodelers as our day job. Anyone who wants to get more engaged can. We can use any help we can get, and it’s a way to get people’s voices heard. That was my story. I was reading about different things in magazines throughout the years and wanted to be involved rather than finding out what happens after the fact. I wanted to be on the front end and try to have more impact.”
One of the hot-button issues right now revolves around the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed crystalline silica rule. Case is involved in talks with OSHA to ensure the passed rule is suitable for the remodeling industry. “NARI is all for ensuring worker’s stay safe because silica is harmful to health,” Case explains, “but we’re raising flags because what OSHA proposes is focused to a much larger construction site involving testing, monitoring and apparatus that are hard to employ on a small home remodeling job. It’s probably a couple of years before things will be enforced or passed, but NARI is active right now because now is the time to raise our hands and have a say before it is passed.”
Other government advocacy issues the committee is monitoring include a proposed LRRP rule for the commercial arena, tax issues and workforce development.
Case emphasizes the importance of being involved as early as possible. “With LRRP, we found out about it after the fact,” he recalls. “We made a commitment to our members at NARI to become more proactive and on the forefront in part of the conversation and development of these regulations. Silica is a perfect example where nothing will probably be passed for two years. We heard about this when OSHA first proposed it. It’s important to keep an eye out for any regulations that will have a big impact on remodeling, whether it’s home or commercial.”
Now, the committee is determining what to do about the proposed silica rule. They have communicated the importance of it to membership to increase understanding and awareness. NARI also joined the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which comprises 15 to 20 home building and construction entities that share resources, investments, contacts and work together. “We have a lead legal counsel that speaks for us as one voice as coalition, so our voices together are stronger than they’d be as individuals,” Case says.
Case notes these processes often take years. “You give input, but that doesn’t mean it changes it tomorrow,” he says. “It’s a long-term vision and approach. If you’re committed long-term to this industry and to your business, thinking long-term with government affairs is going to be the best way because things don’t happen overnight. It takes time to ensure everything is done the right way.”
Intimidation should never be hindrance if a remodeler wants to become involved. “The representatives work for us,” Case says. “Reach out to your local or federal rep and talk with them. They love talking to their local constituents. There might be political differences, but the reps are usually pretty good people. They’ll listen to what you have to say.”