Aging in Place The NAHB is promoting aging-in-place features—elements in a residence that enable consumers to grow older comfortably in that space—in new and existing homes. The organization's Remodelors Council, Seniors Housing Council, and Research Center are working with members of the Aging in Place Council and the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association to educate consumers about planning ahead to guarantee home safety and comfort as they age. “Every American should have the option to live in a home that is comfortable and allows them to maintain their independence and dignity,” says NAHB president Bobby Rayburn.

The association encourages those who intend to remain in their homes through their senior years to take steps to modify their homes to make it easier to perform routine tasks such as cooking, bathing, and climbing stairs. To help in this effort, says the NAHB, builders and remodelers are incorporating aging-in-place features such as first-floor bedrooms, no-step entrances, larger bathrooms—which make maneuvering easier for people with walkers and wheelchairs—and conveniently located, easy-to-use controls and handles in both new and refurbished homes. The Remodelors Council offers a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist professional designation for construction professionals who would like to help homeowners devise practical solutions for modifying their homes. Interested builders should visit

Systems' Best The NAHB's Building Systems Council (BSC) in November announced the winners of its 2004 Excellence in Marketing and Home Design Awards honoring the best of systems-built housing. The awards recognize top-notch marketing materials, model homes, and residential construction in the concrete, log, modular, and panelized home industries.

The competition is open to BSC member manufacturers and vendors, NAHB member builders whose marketing materials specifically target the systems-built housing industry, and NAHB member builders who use systems-built housing. Fifty-two companies from across the country entered the 2004 contest, whose winners, including Heritage Log Homes (marketing) and Epoch Homes (home design), will be featured in the January/February issue of Building Systems Magazine.

“The array of entries and winners showcased the limitless design and state-of-the-art construction methods that are defining the modern building systems industry,” says Kimberly Friedgen, chair of the BSC Sales and Marketing Committee.

Jobs Boost Though some of the country's job markets continue to be weak, 18 states, including California, Georgia, Texas, and Minnesota, have surpassed their prerecession employment peaks—and others are in a position to catch up soon, which bodes well for housing demand, according to panelists at last fall's NAHB Construction Forecast Conference.

The strongest metro area job and housing markets can be found where defense-related firms are big business, particularly since government spending in this arena has risen considerably—San Diego, Baltimore, and Phoenix are examples. Gateway communities with a strong influx of people also are well positioned for growth, as are metro areas driven by technology, including Seattle, New York, and Boston.

On the flip side, cities that feed off manufacturing and automobile trades still trail the national recovery rate. Indiana is at the top of that list: 22 percent of its jobs are related to the industrial and manufacturing sectors.