Fee Shift The Wisconsin state legislature has passed a law that requires home buyers, not builders, to pay impact fees. Previously, local governments assessed impact fees in a lump sum for all lots in a subdivision, often well before the lots were sold. Now, the fees will be assessed when a building permit or certificate of occupancy is issued. Supporters say the change will reduce the price of home lots and keep local governments from collecting fees for projects years before the money is spent. Critics say the change could slow development and force an increase in property taxes.—P. Curry
Housing Grants California has awarded $210.7 million in housing grants to 42 counties. The money will provide housing for more than 11,000 state residents. The largest award was $129.9 million, given to the Multifamily Housing Program and its Supportive Housing Component, which provides low-interest loans to build new affordable apartments and rehab existing ones. The funds are from Proposition 46, a $2.1 billion housing bond that California voters approved in 2002.—P.C.
Green City Global Green USA and actor Brad Pitt have announced that Workshop APD has won the Sustainable Design Competition for New Orleans. The design will be built in the Holy Cross neighborhood of the 9th Ward. The competition's goal was to demonstrate how green building and intelligent architecture can be brought together in an innovative way, while respecting the historical context of New Orleans' neighborhoods. It is the group's hope that the design will serve as a model for the healthy, green rebuilding of the city.—N.F. Maynard
Virtual Reality Virtual design modeling is still in its infancy, but a recent “Work on the Boards” survey by the American Institute of Architects suggests the practice is poised to become standard in construction circles before long. While only 28 percent of the firms in the study reported having ever used virtual design/building information modeling (BIM), 36 percent planned to increase their use of it over the next year. Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents said they expected BIM to become the “norm” for building design in the next five years; 41 percent predicted it would become mainstream in the next five to 10 years.—J. Sullivan
Oh, Canada As the U.S. housing market enters a period of correction, Canada's market has been booming. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), a government agency that tracks housing activity, early this year predicted that the country would hit 208,700 starts in 2006. CMHC has since revised its estimates twice and in August projected that the industry would start 227,900 units this year, the second-highest level since 1988. Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist, told Canada's Globe and Mail that lower interest rates are driving the market. He added that the province of Alberta alone would reach 49,000 starts, surpassing its previous record of 47,925 starts in 1978. CMHC expects Canada's starts to fall to 209,100 units in 2007, however.—J. Caulfield
Hot Jobs Builders looking to find the best project supers and salespeople or employees looking for new opportunities should visit www.builderjobs.com. Hanley Wood, parent company of BUILDER, bills the site as a “Monster.com” for home building, complete with job listings, articles, and career tools. Users can click on one of 14 job categories and link to a job's description and all the listings nationwide in that category. Posting a single job costs $149; volume discounts are available. The service is free to job seekers.—S. Zurier
Nostalgic ... Not Time-worn teddy bears and baseball trophies may be attic bound in many a boomer home as kids wrap up their first semester of college. A recent nationwide survey by KB Home found that 45 percent of adults would opt to convert their child's room into a home office or study once junior leaves the nest. Another 17 percent said they'd convert the space into a hobby or craft room; 11 percent would make it an exercise room; and 10 percent would spring for a home theater or media room.—J.S.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.