The Great Recession was a major game changer for our industry. In fact, the home building environment has changed so much that even for experienced builders, conducting business in today’s recovering market is like starting afresh.

I’d like to offer the advice I give people just starting out: Join your local home builders association (HBA). If you’ve already done so, take advantage of all that your membership provides.

Local HBAs function independently to provide services and benefits unique to members in their particular area, so I can’t begin to list everything they offer. But I can say that all local HBAs offer superb networking opportunities and help members stay on the inside track of the local housing market.

Another perk: local HBA membership also includes membership in your state association and the NAHB.  State associations vary considerably, but they all focus on ensuring a positive environment for home building and protecting their members’ interests.

Members can see firsthand the value that local and state associations provide. But the impact of NAHB’s great work at the national level may not always be so obvious; often the value to members is that we prevented onerous measures from being imposed.

The Bottom Line A bottom line number makes the NAHB’s value clear: the association’s advocacy efforts in the legislative, regulatory, and legal arenas saved members about $7,250 per start (both single-family and multifamily) in 2012.

Such outstanding advocacy is important in today’s legislative environment where Congress is poised to act on crucial issues that could affect every builder’s business and bottom line. There is no way an individual could provide the level of advocacy to protect housing and homeownership as Congress tackles tax reform, immigration, and reform of the nation’s housing finance system.

Our economics and research team provides the incisive analysis that makes the NAHB the nation’s leading authority on home building and keeps members ahead of the curve on subjects ranging from buyer preferences to local market forecasts.

Members also have access to expert advisers (i.e., business management consultants, legal research staff, and financial specialists); councils focusing on specific aspects of housing (i.e., remodeling or multifamily); and education programs.

Education programs are among the NAHB’s most popular offerings, and the most recent NAHB Builder Member Census reveals that members who have earned NAHB professional designations make more money than their counterparts who haven’t earned designations. According to the survey, members holding:

• The Graduate Master Builder designation had company revenues that averaged $1.6 million more last year than those without the designation.

• The Certified Graduate Builder designation had company revenues that averaged about $990,000 more.

• The Certified Green Professional designation had company revenues that averaged about $824,000 more.

• The Certified Graduate Remodeler designation had company revenues that averaged $506,414 more than those without an NAHB remodeler designation.

• The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist designation had company revenues that averaged almost $111,000 more.

A 2012 NAHB consumer survey found that buyers think contractors with specialized designations are more professional and credible (83 percent), provide better quality work and craftsmanship (78 percent), provide better service levels (76 percent), and are more reliable (74 percent). Also, 64 percent of buyers agree specialized contractors are “worth paying a higher price for.”

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