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    Tarriffs notwithstanding, the cost of a new home has been driven primarly by the cost of the labor it takes to build it. This will come as no surprise to home builders. But this take from Curbed is illuminating:

    A new analysis of the housing market has found that substantial differences in the price of labor have become the primary reason for stratifying construction costs across the country.

    Construction costs have jumped 23.6 percent since 2004, according to “What’s Up With Construction Costs?” a new report by BuildZoom economist Issi Romem. The housing cost spike that started in the mid-2000s at the tail end of the pre-Recession building boom was initially caused by increases in material costs; the continued rise is now mostly a factor of rising labor costs.

    BuildZoomRomem notes that the key drivers of construction costs are still “lots and local regulations,” the combination of high land prices and restrictive land-use policy. But in especially expensive metros, labor costs have also vastly accelerated the cost of construction.
    Winter Weather - Copyright: iStock.com | LawrenceSawyer
    In addition to cold stress, there are other winter weather related hazards that workers may be exposed to when performing tasks such as driving in the snow, removing snow from rooftops, and working near downed or damaged power lines.

    Winter Driving
    Work Zone Traffic Safety
    Stranded in a Vehicle
    Shoveling Snow
    Using Powered Equipment like Snow Blowers
    Clearing Snow from Roofs and Working at Heights
    Preventing Slips on Snow and Ice
    Repairing Downed or Damaged Power Lines
    Working Near Downed or Damaged Power Lines
    Removing Downed Trees
    Winter Driving
    Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers: recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, for example, driving on snow/ice covered roads; are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles they operate. For information about driving safely during the winter, visit OSHA's Safe Winter Driving page.

    Employers should set and enforce driver safety policies. Employers should also implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate. Crashes can be avoided. Learn more at: Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA Safety and Health Topic’s Page).

    Employers should ensure properly trained workers' inspect the following vehicle systems to determine if they are working properly:

    Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.
    Cooling System: Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.
    Electrical System: Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.
    Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
    Custom home building posted a small gain year-over-year, according to the NAHB’s analysis of Census Data from the Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design survey.

    NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz writes:

    There were 54,000 total custom starts for the third quarter of 2018. This was a slight improvement over the third quarter of 2017 (51,000). Over the last four quarters, ending with the third quarter of 2018, custom housing starts totaled 175,000. This was a 1.2% gain over the prior four quarters. Note that this definition of custom home building does not include homes intended for sale, so the analysis uses a narrow definition of the sector.

    As measured on a one-year moving average, the market share of custom home building in terms of total single-family starts is now 20%, down from a cycle high of 31.5% set during the second quarter of 2009.

    The onset of the housing crisis and the Great Recession interrupted a 15-year long trend away from homes built on the eventual owner’s land. As housing production slowed in 2006 and 2007, the market share of this not-for-sale new housing increased as the number of single-family starts declined. The share increased because the credit crunch made it more difficult for builders to obtain AD&C credit, thus producing relatively greater production declines of for-sale single-family housing.

    Recent declines in market share are due to an acceleration in overall single-family construction, especially in spec home building. As this part of the market cools due to declining affordability, the market share for custom homes will likely stabilize.