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    The Truth About Opportunity Zones – Worth - March 13, 2020 by admin

    Theyre not as inevitably lucrativenor as evilas people think. And with some changes, they can be a win-win for everyone.

    Not long ago, I paid a visit to Brooks, a 1,308-acre, mixed-use community in San Antonio, Texas. Brooks used to be the Brooks Air Force Base, the home of the first airplane hangars ever built in the U.S. (One of the originals from 1918, Hangar 9, still exists, carefully preserved.) For decades, Brooks was the place where the Air Force conducted astronaut evaluation and testing.

    But in the 1990s, it became clear that the Air Force was, sooner or later, going to close the base, and in 2011, it did. The closure meant the end of 2,000 jobs, mostly in the sciencesjobs that paid well. So the state government created the Brooks Development Authority, a public authority charged with transitioning Brooks to economic self-sufficiency. There was a larger mission as well: Brooks is adjacent to San Antonios zip code 78223, a largely Hispanic area that is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. Its poverty rate hovers around 20 percent, and only about 12 percent of its adults over age 25 have a college degree. So creating economic development for its disadvantaged neighbors was a central part of Brooks raison detre. We purposefully pursue employers at both ends of the [skills] spectrum, Leo Gomez, the president and CEO of the authority since 2013, told me. We are trying to create jobs at various levels.

    Gomez is having some success. Brooks is now divided into three parcelsone each for mixed-use, office and light industrial development. Where once there were 163 single-family homes and barracks, there are now apartment communities, parks, restaurants and hotels. The light industrial area has several significant factories, including Nissei Plastic Industrial Co., which makes equipment that makes plastic automobile parts, and Cuisine Solutions, a French company that uses sous vide cooking to make food, mostly for retail. You know those Starbucks egg bites? Theyre cooked by a French company at a former military base in San Antonio.

    President Donald Trump (left) shakes hands with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) during a signing event of an executive order to establish the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images

    Still, theres no easy win for Brooks. Economic development is intensely competitive, and Brooks has several hundred acres left to develop. Good news came in 2017, when Congress passed President Trumps tax cut, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That bill also created opportunity zones, economically disadvantaged areas with a special tax break: Investors who used capital gains to invest in an opportunity zone could avoid paying taxes on those gains for seven years. If you kept your money in the opportunity zone investment for a decade, you wouldnt have to pay any taxes on those gains at all. Advocated by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Republican Senator Tim Scott of North Carolina, the idea was to incentivize investors to put money in disadvantaged neighborhoods, thus creating economic opportunityjobs, basicallyfor lower-income people. Investors would do well, and so would folks in neighborhoods that were not traditionally targets of investment dollars. It was a bipartisan program that both rich people and poor people could support.

    In 2018, Texas Governor Greg Abbot designated Brooks an opportunity zoneone of 8,800 opportunity zones approved by the White House that yearand in January 2019 Brooks announced its first opportunity zone investment: the sale of 9.4 acres of land, on which would be built a state of the art, climate-controlled, self-storage facility, to a private investor. Gomez admits that self-storage is not exactly an employment dynamo. Does a storage facility create jobs? he asks. Not really. But that investor wouldnt have done this if it werent an opportunity zone. And storage, he adds hopefully, is a meaningful amenity for the companies and people who now call Brooks their home, so if it makes Brooks a more attractive place for people to live and invest, well, then, thats a good thing.

    Gomez has another opportunity zone project in the works, 350,000 square feet of light industrial spec space. Traditional banking has not invested in this part of town, but private investors can do it, he says. Opportunity zone investors are going to be a big part of our success for the next five or more years, until development is complete.

    If Leo Gomez sounded a bit defensive, its because opportunity zones have gotten a bad rap in the past few months. Critics have charged that the program gives wealthy investors an enormous tax break with little oversight of where their money is going. All too often, skeptics say, its going into projects that do little to nothing for the people opportunity zones are supposed to help. Last August, reporters Jesse Drucker and Eric Lipton wrote in the New York Times that the Trump administrations signature plan to lift [American cities]has fueled a wave of developments by and built for the wealthiest Americans. Drucker and Lipton characterized opportunity zones as a federal tax break program that was supposed to revitalize impoverished communities but instead enriched the wealthy and politically connected. It didnt help that wealthy, high-profile figures like Anthony Scaramucci, Chris Christie and Jared Kushner were among the first investors. Now opportunity zones have become a political football; Bernie Sanders has promised that, if elected, hell end the program.

    Complicating the situation further, the Wall Street Journal reported in October that investors themselves actually seemed to be having their doubts about opportunity zones. Opportunity zone funds had, to date, raised just about 15 percent of their goals. According to reporters Ruth Simon and Peter Grant, The slow start is raising fresh questions about investor appetite for the program and what impact it will have on distressed communities.

    After talking with people involved in the opportunity zone spaceand after the December release of final IRS regulations regarding the programI think theres a middle-ground forward. Opportunity zones are a good idea. But they need the right regulations, and probably a different administration to enforce them.

    Whats missing right now in a lot of discussions is the bigger picture, Matt McGuire, a senior advisor at CapZone Impact Investments, told me. CapZone is launching an opportunity zone fund, and McGuire comes at the issue from a long record of engagement; hes previously worked at the World Bank, the Commerce Department and the Treasury, and hes an expert in affordable housingnot exactly the type of hedge fund fat cat some associate with the space. If you go back 10 or 15 years in philanthropy, there was a whole push around comprehensive community initiatives, he explains. The big difference with opportunity zones is that instead of directing a grant or using a subsidy or tax credit, youre turning to the private sector and saying, Well make your equity investment more attractive. Go figure out, where are the best places to invest your time and capital?

    The question, McGuire says, is not so much whether rich people are benefitting from opportunity zone investments. Its whether theyre benefiting in a way that also helps communities and individualsas opposed to, say, building projects that promote gentrification and displace longtime residents.

    John Halpern, founder of real estate investment firm Halpern Real Estate Ventures (HREV), argues that the opportunity zone tax break is particularly important now, some 12 years after the Great Recession. Halperns firm, which opened in 2011, invests in whats known as infill developmentbasically, filling in the blank spots in otherwise developed urban areasin places like southern Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey City. HREVs investment premise, Halpern says, was all about coming out of the last recession and focusing on emerging neighborhoodsplaying around the connectivity and the development of that urban core. Which really is very much of the opportunity were seeing in opportunity zones today. The investments were making in opportunity zones are very similar to the type of markets and developments weve been doing over the last 10 years.

    Which begs the question: If HREV has been making such investments without the opportunity zone tax breaks, why does it need them now? Halpern argues that, more than a decade after the financial crisis, investing in emerging neighborhoods is getting more difficult to justifyunless theres a tax break. The timing [of the 2017 tax bill] was in our view perfect, because what was happening was, we were getting to the end of the [investment] cycle. It was becoming harder to rationalize the investments that we were making at the beginning of the recovery cycle, when you were able to look at quite a long runway of growth. Its hard to argue now that youre going to have many more years in this growth cycle.

    Traditionally, Halpern says, the capital that was available for investors like ourselves was typically five to seven-year money. So youre investing at a point in the cycle where you believe you have five to seven years left in the cycle. You can develop a project and exit it and still be in a strong and favorable market.

    A rendering of the Brooks Transit Center, which opened in September 2019. Courtesy of LiveBrooks.com

    But, Halpern argues, after a decade-plus of economic growth, that five to seven-year time span isnt looking like such a sure bethe thinks well likely see at least one recession during that time. So opportunity zones help. Investors are now incentivized to hold the investment much longer term11, 12, 13 years. It allows us to look through the cycles with more patient capital. Opportunity zones, Halper concludes, are a really important incentive to keep the momentum going. In other words, as Leo Gomez suggested, opportunity zones are that shot in the arm that can lead investors to say yes when they might not otherwise.

    HREV now has three significant opportunity zone projects for which it is providing catalyst capital. One project is on a former manufacturing site in Jersey City, where HREV plans to build some 300 units of multi-family housing. Another is in the RiNo neighborhood of Denver, an up-and-coming neighborhood which, in late 2018, was dubbed Americas most improbably cool neighborhood by GQ magazine. HREV is building office, retail, residential and possibly a hotel at the site, which happens to be near a rail yard. Were going to be creating exactly what the community was looking to achieve, Halpern says, so we think thats a great example at the opportunity zone incentive, at work achieving neighborhood goals.

    I asked Halpern if he thought that these projects would create a risk of gentrification, and he pointed out that both those projects were on formerly industrial land. But would office, retail and multi-family housing really help the economically disadvantaged? Helping disadvantaged people is one of the goals [of the opportunity zone program], Halpern replied, but I think the more primary goal is to create economic development in these neighborhoods. That, Halpern says, benefits everyone.

    Truth is, the opportunity zone situation is a mixed bag. Some of the projects involved clearly hew more closely to the spirit of the concept than others; but, on the other hand, not all opportunity zones are a windfall for the moneybagged rich at the expense of the disempowered poor.

    In any event, if a Democrat takes office in November, the opportunity zone landscape is almost sure to change. The program will probably get greater oversight and transparency, which may help reduce criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. It doesnt help that the current head of the Trump administrations opportunity zone working group is Ben Carson, the lackluster Housing and Urban Development secretary, who recently responded to criticism of opportunity zones by saying, News flashrich people are going to get richer, anyway. Carson, Matt McGuire says diplomatically, is not particularly effective.

    There are also two pieces of legislation, sponsored by Democratic congressmen Ron Wyden and James Clyburn, that would reduce the number of opportunity zones and eliminate certain types of projects from qualifying for tax benefits. Clyburns Opportunity Zone Reform Act would prohibit certain kinds of development, including parking lots, stadiums, residential property that doesnt have at least 50 percent affordable housingand self-storage units.

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    See the article here:
    The Truth About Opportunity Zones - Worth

    Tarek El Moussa Gushes Over GF Heather Rae Young on ‘Flip or Flop’ – Life&Style Weekly - March 5, 2020 by admin

    When it comes to Tarek El Moussas relationship with Heather Rae Young, not only are they great as a couple, but theyre a dream team at work, too!The Flip or Flop star exclusively tells Life & Style it was awesome having his lady make an appearance on his show.

    Since the first day we met, we talked about the fact that hey maybe one day we can film together, and, you know, about six months later the opportunity came up and we filmed together, and shes just amazing on camera, the 38-year-old says. It was super cute, and I just really enjoyed it!

    Though nothing is set in stone, Tarek is definitely open to filming more with the 32-year-old Selling Sunset star. You know, well see where things go. At this point in time, Flip or Flopis running the way its been running for a very long time, he adds.

    In fact, their chemistry seems to be so good on camera, Tarek wouldnt be surprised if they end up having their own show together down the line. I definitely see me and Heather doing shows together in the future, he divulges. So actually, a show that I would want to do with her that sounds fun would be developing and building super high-end spec homes in the Los Angeles area and having her sell them. I think that would be a fun show. But thats, you know just a lot of different things.

    It helps that Tarek and Heather have a unique bond. The two announced they were dating in August 2019, and theyve been going strong since then. She understands what I go through on a daily basis, she helps bring my stress down, she talks through things with me and shes just my best friend! Tarek previously told Life & Style.

    Tareks new series Flipping 101w/Tarek El Moussawill premiere on Thursday, March 5th at 9/8c on HGTV and hell be appearing on an upcomingExtreme Makeover: Home Editionepisode on Sunday, March 15th at 9 ET/PT.

    Reporting by Diana Cooper.

    Read the original here:
    Tarek El Moussa Gushes Over GF Heather Rae Young on 'Flip or Flop' - Life&Style Weekly

    Edited Transcript of NWHM earnings conference call or presentation 13-Feb-20 10:00pm GMT – Yahoo Finance - March 5, 2020 by admin

    Aliso Viejo Mar 5, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of New Home Company Inc earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 10:00:00pm GMT

    * Drew P. Mackintosh

    The New Home Company Inc. - Founder & Managing Partner, Mackintosh IR

    * H. Lawrence Webb

    The New Home Company Inc. - Executive Chairman

    * John M. Stephens

    The New Home Company Inc. - CFO & Executive VP

    * Leonard S. Miller

    The New Home Company Inc. - President & CEO

    * Alan S. Ratner

    Greetings. Welcome to the New Home Company Fourth Quarter 2019 Results Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) Please note that this conference is being recorded. I will now turn the conference over to your host, Drew Mackintosh, Investor Relations. Mr. Mackintosh, you may begin.

    Drew P. Mackintosh, The New Home Company Inc. - Founder & Managing Partner, Mackintosh IR [2]

    Good afternoon. Welcome to The New Home Company's earnings conference call. Earlier today, the company released its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2019. Documents detailing these results are available in the Investor Relations section of the company's website at nwhm.com.

    Before the call begins, I would like to remind everyone that certain statements made in the course of this call, which are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. A discussion of such risks and uncertainties and other important factors that could cause actual operating results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are detailed in the company's filings made with the SEC, including in its most recent annual report on Form 10-K and in its quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The company undertakes no duty to update these forward-looking statements that are made during the course of this call.

    Additionally, non-GAAP financial measures may be discussed on this conference call. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most comparable measures prepared in accordance with GAAP can be accessed through The New Home Company's website and in its filings with the SEC.

    Hosting the call today is Larry Webb, Executive Chairman; Leonard Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer; and John Stephens, Chief Financial Officer. With that, I will now turn the call over to Larry.

    H. Lawrence Webb, The New Home Company Inc. - Executive Chairman [3]

    Thanks, Drew, and good afternoon to everyone joining us on the call today as we go over our results for the fourth quarter and full year 2019, discuss current homebuilding market trends and provide some color on the future of The New Home Company. The fourth quarter of 2019 capped a year of retrenchment for our company, which was marked by strong cash flow generation and cost curtailment as we made further strides towards our goal of lowering our leverage ratios and streamlining our cost structure, all while moving our product offerings to the more affordable segment of the market. We generated $63 million of cash flow from operations in the fourth quarter through a combination of accelerated backlog conversion, strategic land sales and prudent reinvestment in our business. This brought our total cash flow from operations for the year to $121 million, a considerable sum given the size of our company. It also lowered our net debt-to-capital ratio to 49.2%, a 980 basis point reduction as compared to the end of 2018 and a 1,090 basis point improvement from the first quarter of 2019.

    On the cost front, we kept our SG&A expense below 10% for the fourth quarter, thanks to our efforts to reduce personnel expenses and employing more efficient marketing and advertising methods. Our SG&A ratio, excluding severance charges for the full year came in at 11.3%, 100 basis points lower than it was in 2018. The success we had in 2019 reducing our leverage and improving our cost structure relative to 2018 has put our company on a much more solid foundation as we begin 2020.

    We also entered the new year as a company rapidly transforming itself into a more diverse and affordably priced homebuilder. Average selling prices in the fourth quarter of 2019 declined 13% year-over-year, a downward trend that should continue into 2020 and beyond as we close out of our more higher-priced legacy communities and open more affordably priced ones. In fact, 15 of our next 18 community openings over the next 24 months will be priced below conforming loan limits, and 13 will have base pricing below FHA limits. These communities will shift our company away from the coastal areas of California and into the more inland parts of the state as well as the very strong Phoenix market. Based upon our current projections, entry-level deliveries will jump from 25% of closings in 2019 to just under half in 2020, then move closer to 3/4 of our closings by 2021. Based on our view of the long-term housing dynamics in our markets and the sales trends we've witnessed at the more affordably priced communities we've already rolled out, we believe this product repositioning will lead to better order activity and higher profit margins over time.

    Supplementing the encouraging outlook of our company is the continued favorable fundamental backdrop of our industry, which is characterized by low levels of new and existing home inventory, consumer confidence near historical highs and an encouraging interest rate environment. Last month, the National Association of REALTORS indicated that existing home inventory hit the lowest level since they began tracking the figure in 1999. This is especially true in California. The need to replenish the housing stock of our nation is real and will not be resolved anytime soon. These macro tailwinds give us great momentum as we enter the spring selling season and have created a sense of urgency on behalf of homebuyers that typically bodes well for our industry.

    We have a lot to be excited about, both from an industry- and company-specific standpoint, and I'm optimistic for what this future holds. Additionally, I'd like to note that our recent leadership transition has gone extremely smoothly. With that, I'd like to turn the call over to Leonard, who will provide more color on our operations this quarter.

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    Leonard S. Miller, The New Home Company Inc. - President & CEO [4]

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    Thanks, Larry, and good afternoon to everyone on the call. As Larry mentioned, we continue to execute on our goals of cash flow generation, cost containment and product repositioning in the fourth quarter, putting us in a much better position today than we were 1 year ago. Our team members did an excellent job adjusting their operational focus to meet these goals. This meant more -- being more aggressive on the sales front, turning through slower selling communities to converting cash and making tough decisions with respect to our headcount and our land portfolio. In some cases, these efforts came at the expense of profitability as evidenced by our weaker gross margin performance in 2019. However, now that we are in a better place strategically, financially and structurally, we believe that we can start to make improvements to our gross margins as we move through higher-priced legacy assets and selectively raise prices where demand has improved. We've increased prices across a number of our communities to start 2020 and continue to see year-over-year order growth for the month of January.

    In terms of the overall industry dynamics, I concur with Larry that the market feels considerably better today than it was last year. We finished 2019 with 5 consecutive months of year-over-year order improvement and have experienced solid traffic quality to start the year, a great sign that homebuyers are looking to get a head start on purchasing a home ahead of the spring. With respect to our input costs, land and labor continue to move higher in most markets, while material costs have flattened.

    In terms of the local market color, stronger order activity at more affordable price points has been a consistent theme in all of our markets. However, we did see some stabilization and improvement at higher price points during the fourth quarter. The coastal areas of Northern and Southern California have shown signs of life recently, but it came at the expense of pricing across the market. We continue to believe that these markets will be impacted by affordability and in the case of Southern California, the decline of the foreign buyer segment.

    Demand trends are much more stable in the inland parts of the state where higher order rates have led to a reduction in incentive activity and moderate price increases. Phoenix continues to be one of the best housing markets in the country and will finally start to be a material contributor to our results with 7 new communities coming online this year, 5 with base prices within FHA loan limits. We are excited about these community rollouts as well as our other affordable communities slated to open over the coming quarters. We believe that we have found a compelling niche for our company at lower price points in each of our markets with a continued emphasis on unique design and desirable locations that sets ourselves apart from the competition.

    Now I'd like to turn it over to John for more detail on our financial results for this quarter.

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    John M. Stephens, The New Home Company Inc. - CFO & Executive VP [5]

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    Thank you, Leonard, and good afternoon. For the 2019 fourth quarter, we generated a $7 million pretax loss as compared to a $22.4 million pretax loss in the year-ago period. The current quarter pretax loss included a $6.6 million inventory impairment charge related to 1 luxury condominium community in Phoenix and a $3.5 million impairment charge related to a land development joint venture in Southern California. Including these impairments, we generated a net after-tax loss of $3 million or $0.15 per diluted share for the quarter compared to a net after-tax loss of $16.2 million or $0.80 per diluted share in the prior year fourth quarter. In addition, the 2019 fourth quarter included a net $1.2 million tax benefit related to the extension of the federal energy tax credit for 2018 and 2019 deliveries.

    Excluding impairments, adjusted net income for the 2019 fourth quarter was $3.1 million or $0.15 per diluted share. Our home sales revenue for the fourth quarter exceeded the high end of our quarterly guidance by 9% or $14 million, coming in at $174 million due to the increased sales demand experienced during the quarter and our ability to sell and close more spec homes. 29% of our Q4 deliveries were homes sold during the quarter. Deliveries were up 7% year-over-year, while our average selling price was down 13%, coming in at $870,000 per delivery for the quarter.

    The decrease in our average selling price was consistent with our continued transition to a more affordable product, including more deliveries from our Sacramento operations and in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Based on the homes in backlog and spec homes available for first quarter delivery, we are estimating first quarter home sales revenue of between $75 million and $90 million and our average selling price for the first quarter to be approximately $875,000.

    Our backlog conversion rate for the quarter was 97% as compared to 61% in the year-ago period. The improvement in our fourth quarter backlog conversion rate was the result of a higher population of specs that completed during the quarter that we were able to sell and deliver. For the first quarter, we estimate our backlog conversion rate will return to the mid-60% range.

    Our net new orders for the 2019 fourth quarter were up 106% over the prior year and up 15% sequentially from the 2019 third quarter. The year-over-year and sequential order improvement was largely driven by an 83% increase in our fourth quarter monthly sales absorption rate due to stronger homebuyer demand in California. As a result of the higher fourth quarter backlog conversion rate and the lower beginning backlog to start the fourth quarter, the number of homes in our backlog was down 22% from the prior year but was an improvement from the 33% decline in backlog units at the end of the 2019 third quarter due to stronger fourth quarter order activity. The dollar value of our backlog stood at $126 million as of the end of the year.

    Our gross margin for the 2019 fourth quarter, including impairments, was 7.8% versus 8.1% in the prior year period. The 2019 fourth quarter included a $6.6 million inventory impairment charge related to 1 luxury condominium community in Scottsdale that had a slower absorption and required more incentives than originally anticipated, while the 2018 fourth quarter included $10 million in inventory impairments. Excluding impairments, our gross margins from home sales was 11.6% for the quarter versus 13.5% in the prior year period. The 190 basis point reduction in gross margin before impairments was primarily related to higher incentives and interest costs. The lower gross margins relative to our quarterly guidance was largely due to a mix shift in delivering more homes at one higher-priced legacy community in Southern California, where higher incentives were needed to sell nearly completed spec homes. Excluding impairments and interest and cost of sales, our gross margin from home sales for the 2019 fourth quarter was 16.8% as compared to 17.7% in the year-ago period. For the 2020 first quarter, we are projecting home sales gross margin of between 11.8% and 12.1%.

    Our SG&A rate as a percentage of home sales revenue for the fourth quarter was 9.9%, flat with the prior year despite a 7% decrease in home sales revenue and was approximately 100 basis points lower than the -- our quarterly guidance. Our overall G&A spend for the fourth quarter was approximately $650,000 less than the prior year period due largely to lower personnel expenses, and that was after allocating about $700,000 less in G&A costs to the fee business during the 2019 fourth quarter as compared to the prior year period.

    For the 2020 first quarter, we are projecting our SG&A rate to be in the low 16% range. The higher anticipated first quarter SG&A rate is the result of lower anticipated Q1 revenues due to seasonality and timing of deliveries. As is typical, we expect our SG&A rate to drop sequentially as we move through the balance of the year and increase our revenues.

    Our share of joint venture activity for the 2019 fourth quarter resulted in a pretax loss of $3.8 million and included a $3.5 million impairment at our Southern California land development joint venture in Corona. The balance of the loss allocated to us was largely due to the write-off of certain capitalized selling and marketing expenses at 2 homebuilding joint ventures in connection with the adoption of the new revenue recognition accounting standard at the joint ventures. For the 2020 first quarter, we are anticipating about a breakeven to a slight loss from our joint ventures.

    Our fee building revenue for the fourth quarter was $31 million as compared to $42 million in the year-ago period. The lower fee revenue for the quarter was due primarily to less construction activity at our Irvine fee building communities. For the 2020 first quarter, we are estimating fee building revenue of between $20 million and $30 million.

    Our effective tax rate for the fourth quarter was a 56.9% benefit as compared to a 27.8% benefit in the year-ago period. The higher benefit rate for the 2019 fourth quarter was primarily due to the extension of the federal energy credits during December 2019 for homes that closed during 2018 and 2019. We estimate an effective income tax rate, including discrete items, of approximately 15% for the first quarter.

    We ended the year with 21 active communities, up slightly from the 2018 fourth quarter. We expect our first quarter 2020 ending community count to be up 1 community on a sequential basis, and for the full year, we plan to open approximately 12 new communities, 7 of which are located in Phoenix. However, on a net basis, we expect our year-end community count to remain relatively flat from where we ended 2019. As a result of the strong operating cash flow that we generated during the quarter, we ended the year with $79 million in cash after paying down the balance outstanding under our revolving credit facility and repurchasing $5 million of our senior notes due 2022.

    For the full year 2019, we reduced our total debt by approximately $83 million, and we ended the year with a debt balance of $305 million. We spent $25 million on land during the fourth quarter, and $91 million for the full year. For 2020, we are budgeting land spend of between $100 million to $125 million.

    I will now turn the call back to Larry for his concluding remarks.

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    H. Lawrence Webb, The New Home Company Inc. - Executive Chairman [6]

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    Thanks, John. In conclusion, we made great strides in the fourth quarter to improve our balance sheet, rightsize our cost structure and reposition our company to take greater advantage of the healthy demand trends we've witnessed at more affordable price points in our markets. 2019 was a year of retrenchment for our company, and we look forward to reaping the benefits of these efforts in the years to come.

    Finally, I'd like to thank all of our team members for their hard work in 2019 to get us where we needed to be from a strategic and financial standpoint. Your ability to execute on a number of fronts and continually adjust to the ever-changing landscape of our industry gives me great confidence in the future of The New Home Company. I'm also proud of our recent recognition as Professional Builder magazine's 2019 Builder of the Year, a great honor for our entire team.

    That concludes our prepared remarks, and now we'll be happy to take your questions.

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    Questions and Answers

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    Operator [1]

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    (Operator Instructions) Our first question is from Alan Ratner, Zelman & Associates.

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    Alan S. Ratner, Zelman & Associates LLC - MD [2]

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    So first off, congrats on the progress in the quarter. I know, obviously, it was a little bit of a push and pull there between the focus on cash generation, debt reduction and obviously trying to drive that margin higher. But I agree with you, certainly much stronger starting point heading into 2020 than this time a year ago. My first question on the gross margin. Totally understand kind of the moving pieces there and as you try to move through some of those legacy projects, the drag that's having. Was curious if you might be able to frame for us the more recent community openings that you've had targeted more at the entry-level price point. How do the margins look on those versus kind of the current company reported averages?

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    Leonard S. Miller, The New Home Company Inc. - President & CEO [3]

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    Alan, it's Leonard. Thanks for the question and good to talk to you. All those new communities that we've opened up and really targeting lower price points, what I would say is that both the absorption rate and the gross margin is well above the company's average on the gross margin standpoint. Specifically to your question, it's about 300 to 400 basis points higher.

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    Alan S. Ratner, Zelman & Associates LLC - MD [4]

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    Got it. That's very helpful. Second question, I think there's a lot of mixed signals coming out of California right now. Definitely, the data has improved quite a bit. We were even starting to hear a little bit of kind of anecdotal commentary that perhaps the foreign buyer was starting to come back a little bit as some of the Chinese trade talk rhetoric toned down a little bit. On the other hand, I know there's a lot of concerns over the coronavirus now going on even here and some people talking about that having a potential impact on the spring. So was curious if you could just talk a little bit about what you're seeing. I know the foreign buyers in a small piece of the market in general, and I know you're kind of moving away from those coastal projects. But can you give us any insight into what the current climate's like?

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    H. Lawrence Webb, The New Home Company Inc. - Executive Chairman [5]

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    Alan, this is Larry. It's interesting because I anticipated you'd ask a coronavirus question, and I feel like I'm the only person who's qualified to answer that, who's not in Wuhan right now. I can tell you, anecdotally, we made a strategic plan to exit, in particular, the upper end of the Orange County market a couple of years ago. And so as we sit here today, our -- the majority of our communities are in South Orange County that was never very influenced by the Asian market to begin with. But on an anecdotal basis, I've been in pretty close contact with the 3 large landholders in Southern California, and they've all said that they're seeing an uptick in the Asian buyer. And it -- so far at least, we haven't seen any negative impact outside of -- on the coronavirus. It just hasn't impacted us because we weren't really selling to the Chinese buyer in a very significant way anyways. But I haven't heard any stories or any comments from any other builder or any master plan developer that they've seen any hit at all at this point.

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    Operator [6]

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    Our next question is from Sean Monaghan, Symphony Asset Management.

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    Sean Monaghan;Symphony Asset Management;Analyst, [7]

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    Just, obviously, you've seen a lot of refinancing come out of the homebuilding space in the last month, 1.5 months. I was just wondering if you guys could kind of give any update on what you guys think about your debt levels and potential refinancings down the road. That's it.

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    John M. Stephens, The New Home Company Inc. - CFO & Executive VP [8]

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    Yes. I mean, obviously, the bond -- high-yield market's been very strong of late since the beginning of the year, and clearly, many homebuilders have gone to market, which has been very, very positive. We've also seen our bonds sort of trade up here in the last couple of months. We've got a little more than just over 2 years left until maturity. Obviously, it's something that we will continue to evaluate, and at some point, we will look to refinance those. But we'll continue to evaluate sort of what is the price to do that relative to what we're trading that now. And again, it's something that we have our eye on, but there's a lot of considerations that go into that.

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    H. Lawrence Webb, The New Home Company Inc. - Executive Chairman [9]

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    Sean, this is Larry. I think it's safe to say that, a year ago, we were in a much more difficult position financially than we were -- we are today. But it was our primary goal to lower our leverage, and John and Leonard and their teams have done a really great job getting under 50% in 1 year -- really less than 1 year. And it's our goal to keep improving the financial position of the company so that when the right opportunity occurs, we're going to be able to take advantage of that. But as we sit here today, we're primarily focused on maintaining our leverage at 50% or so and improving our margins.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Operator [10]

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    There are no further questions at this time, and I would now like to pass the call back over to Larry Webb for closing remarks.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    H. Lawrence Webb, The New Home Company Inc. - Executive Chairman [11]

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thanks a lot. Big picture, the last year has not been easy. We set some pretty specific goals of reducing costs, both building materials as well as G&A. We also wanted to lower our leverage significantly. We want -- we were in the middle of a pivot towards more affordable housing, and we wanted to continue that. And along the way, we wanted to never compromise on the quality of our homes, our customer service or how we treat our staff. We have gone through the last year and basically been pretty darn successful in all those areas, and we are -- we really feel like we've laid the foundation for the company now to take the extra cash that we brought into to look for opportunities and over the next 2 to 4 years, be improving everything that we do.

    And along the way, we transitioned Leonard into being CEO. Leonard and John have done a fantastic job, and I would say, without a doubt, the company is in significantly better shape than it was 12 months ago. And we appreciate everything that both the bond and the equity holders have done for us with their confidence, and we look forward to continuing to improve. Thank you.

    Read the rest here:
    Edited Transcript of NWHM earnings conference call or presentation 13-Feb-20 10:00pm GMT - Yahoo Finance

    L.A.’s Most Expensive Property Taxes: The Manor – Celebrity Net Worth - March 5, 2020 by admin

    One of the most famous (and most expensive) homes in Los Angeles is The Manor. Built in 1991 for late TV mogul Aaron Spelling and his wife Candy, the 123 room, 55,000-square-foot mansion sits on 4.7 acres and carries an annual property tax bill of $1.12 million. Nicknamed Candyland while the Spelling family occupied it, the Holmby Hills estate has room for everything and it should, since it is larger than the White House. The home comes with 14 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms as well as a flower-cutting room, an aquarium, a nightclub, and a French wine and cheese room complete with sidewalk-caf style tables and chairs. Oh, by the way, this is where Tori Spelling grew up, so we can kind of forgive her for the money management troubles that have plagued her adult years. Something tells us that when you grow up in a home like this, learning how to budget and balance your checkbook aren't big priorities.

    Aaron Spelling died in 2006. Candy Spelling sold The Manor to Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone in 2011 for $85 million in all cash. Ecclestone turned around and sold it in 2019 for $119.75 million, making it the priciest ever home sale in Los Angeles County. It bested the previous record of $110 million set by the sale of Peter Morton's Malibu beach house in 2018. The Manor was the fourth sale of $100 million or more in Los Angeles and the third in the tony Holmby Hills neighborhood. The Playboy mansion sold for $100 million in 2016 as did a nearby spec mega-mansion.

    Image via YouTube

    The Manor is the largest home in Los Angeles and one of the largest in the United States. It sits on the ground of Bing Crosby's former home. Construction on the estate began in 1988 and concluded in 1991 at a cost of $12 million. The two-story home has a basement as well as an intermediate level for closets between the second story and the attic. It has a screening room, a gym, three rooms for wrapping presents, a humidity-controlled room for storing silver, a barbershop, four two-car garages, a tennis court, and a pool. The parking lot can hold 100 cars and there are 16 additional carports. A staff of 30 ran the place when the Spellings were its inhabitants. Ecclestone turned Candy Spelling's room for her doll collection into a hair salon and massage parlor.

    Ecclestone put the mega-mansion on the market for the first time as a pocket listing in 2014 at $150 million. She put it on the market for real in 2016, at $200 million. She later dropped the price to $160 million. The $119.75 sale price is the most expensive in California's history, just edging out a mansion in Silicon Valley's Woodside that sold in 2013 for $117.5 million. The national record still belongs to Ken Griffin's $238 million New York penthouse overlooking Central Park.

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    L.A.'s Most Expensive Property Taxes: The Manor - Celebrity Net Worth

    Favourite Room: Restoring the traditional charm of this Victorian home in Toronto added to its functionality – The Globe and Mail - March 5, 2020 by admin

    Suzanne Dimma folds a blanket in the master bedroom of her home in Toronto, on Nov. 8, 2019.

    Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

    Suzanne Dimmas bright, airy 700-square-foot master bedroom was, until recently, an unusable third floor divided into four tiny rooms.

    When the Toronto interior designer and her husband, Arriz Hassam, bought the Victorian semi-detached house in the citys Cabbagetown neighbourhood two years ago, they began a nine-month renovation. The aim was twofold: To restore some the homes traditional charm and to make it more functional.

    Favourite Room: A historic Georgian manor outside Toronto blends a storied past with a fresh look

    To that end, one of the first things to go were the interior walls on the top floor so that they could create a spacious master bedroom with a king-size bed, lots of closets and an ensuite bath. I wanted it to be lofty and open, but cozy at the same time says Dimma, who has her own interior design firm and is a former editor-in-chief of House & Home magazine.

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    I love this space because the light is so beautiful, at all times of the day. From my desk I have a view of Riverdale Park and I can hear cows, horses and sheep pretty much year-round. Sometimes the smells as well, but thats okay, she says. The back looks onto a private deck. Some days I feel like Im in the country. Others, I feel like Im in my own little Parisian pied--terre.

    A recessed mid-century writing desk in the master bedroom.

    Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

    As with most old homes, closets were negligible so one of the first things the couple did was hire a millworker, la Fabrika of Toronto, who added closets everywhere they would fit, a challenge given the sloped walls and roofline. To the right of the king-size bed, they built a dresser, and bedside tables were replaced by a 12-inch ledge behind the bed, which holds books, reading glasses and knickknacks.

    Dimma describes her decorating style as boho minimal, a term that sounds contradictory but, she insists, is not. I like layers, but I like them to be clean, she says. I like to see patterns mixed together, but I dont want it to look cluttered. It can be a tricky mix.

    Mixed with vintage pieces collected over the years, including both chairs in the loft, the couple added many historical touches befitting a Victorian home, such as the tarnished brass sconces behind the bed, brass hardware, antique knobs and Forbes and Lomax switches the old-fashioned toggle kind to authenticate the space.

    Just that last little detail, alone, makes it feel like its been part of the house forever, Dimma says.

    Old-fashioned Lomax switches authenticate the space.

    Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

    To add texture to the walls she used V-groove panelling, Brenlo custom wood mouldings, painted Benjamin Moore CC-40 cloud white. Its a trick she uses a lot in her design work for clients in order to break up boring drywall. Mine is four inches wide, but Brenlo will make it to any spec. We did it throughout the house to give back some of its original integrity, she says.

    The ceiling height was another challenge. To make the room seem taller, Dimma put in a low-profile IKEA Malm bed with the light oak veneer. Then she covered the relatively inexpensive base with white linen, with a delicate cross-stitch, and part of her own capsule bedding collection with Au Lit Fine Linens. Im a big fan of linen, she says. I like that its relaxed and not fussy. You just have to embrace the wrinkles and accept them as an inherent part of the beauty of the fabric.

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    Then there was the alcove to contend with, another awkward, but interesting part of the space. At first, Dimma considered a daybed, with lots of colourful cushions, but then she remembered she had a vintage desk she had bought years ago and couldnt part with.

    It fits there perfectly and its where I do my writing and my billing, says Dimma, who works from home. Its my favourite place. I look out onto green space and I feel like Im sitting in the treetops.

    Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

    Navire sconce by Atelier De Troupe in brass: $945 at Hollace Cluny (hollacecluny.ca).

    Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

    Lavato cross-stitch linen sheets from Suzanne Dimma capsule collection; $290 (queen duvet set) at Au Lit Fine Linens (aulitfinelinens.com).

    Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

    Ochre knit storage basket; $14.99 at HomeSense (homesense.ca).

    Sign up for the weekly Style newsletter, your guide to fashion, beauty and design, and follow us on Instagram @globestyle.

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    Favourite Room: Restoring the traditional charm of this Victorian home in Toronto added to its functionality - The Globe and Mail

    The Best of CES 2020 Including Smart homes, Fitness, Laptops, Audio and More – Mighty Gadget - January 18, 2020 by admin

    CES is the biggest consumer tech event of the year and gives us a glimpse of the latest and best technology that will be launch throughout the year. So what are some of the highlights of this years show?

    Time will tell how good the Suunto 7 is, but this is the first multi-sports watch in a long time to use WearOS. It could be one last hail mary to compete with Garmins' increasingly feature-rich range of sports watches, but it is a risky bet with the questionable battery life that WearOS brings. One thing is for sure, this looks like one of the best WearOS devices of the year.

    Unlike the Suunto 7, or other fitness watches, the Withings ScanWatch is more of a health watch. It is fitted with a medical-grade electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor which monitors your heartbeat constantly and can detect irregular heartbeats which are a symptom of arrhythmia. There is also an Sp02 sensor which contentiously tracks blood oxygen levels and can identify sleep apnea risks in advance.

    The Yale Linus Smart Lock solves the concerns many people have with smart locks, you can still use your normal keys so you don't have to worry about the battery dying on your or some other sort of failure. It is not the first product to do it, I have reviewed the Nuki 2.0 Smart Lock which does the same, but this looks sleeker with a superior build.

    The Netatmo Smart Door Lock is arguably more impressive than the Yale Linus, they claim to be ultra-secure, you get 2 years battery life and the design can accommodate any thickness of door. However, you are still reliant on electronic keys and until the product hits the market and is thoroughly tested, people (including myself) will be concerned about the potential of locking or unlocking issues.

    The LG OLED48CX brings OLED technology to smaller screen TVs, with this 48-inch model it is apparently able to reproduce a sharp picture quality, with the density of the 8 million-plus pixels comparable to a 96-inch 8K TV. Furthermore, this model has support for Nvidia's G-Sync tech, which means the TV can sync with compatible PCs and support 4K 120fps gaming.

    While rollable and 8K TVs maybe more headline-worthy most people won't be buying one this year, The Panasonic HZ2000 takes a great OLED TV and makes it better by introducing the next generation of Panasonics custom-made Master HDR OLED Professional Edition panel, as well as an improved version of its HCX Pro Intelligent processor.

    The LG is a 7.1.4-channel system with forwarding- and up-firing units in the soundbar plus two wireless rear speakers. The soundbar is compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, HDMI eARC, 4K HDR passthrough, and Google Assistant.

    For people that prefer speakers and amp, the Focal Chora 826-D incorporates a Dolby Atmos into the speaker itself with a speaker driver installed above the loudspeaker that directs the sound towards the ceiling at a carefully calculated angle, so that the audio signal is reflected around the entire room. The result has the listener wrapped in the sound and immersed in a highly realistic 3D world.

    I have been very impressed with 1More earphones in the past, and they have finally entered the True Wireless market. However, the 1More True Wireless ANC also incorporate active noise cancelling pitting themselves against the popular Sony WF-1000XM3 earphones and one of the few brands that are both true wirelesses with ANC. Furthermore, these are priced below both the Sony WF-1000XM3 and the Apple Airpods Pro

    Sennheiser hopes to make noise-cancelling headphones more affordable with the HD 450BT Headphones, while there are plenty of cheap ANC headphones out there, I doubt many will be able to compete with the audio quality typically associated with Sennheiser

    Microsoft announced the 8.3-inch Microsoft Surface Duo which gave us the first glimpse of foldable laptops but won't launch until the end of this year. Lenovo will pip them to the post with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 which is a 13.3-inch OLED (2048 x 1536) foldable laptop. Unlike the Surface Duo, this is a single foldable OLED similar to the Samsung Fold and Huawei Mate X. It will launch with Windows 10 as its operating system but a Windows 10X will be available at a later date.

    The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is the thinnest Chromebook, at 0.4 inches, it features Intels new 10th Gen processors with a fanless design and a 13.3-inch 4K AMOLED panel.

    I will admit, high refresh rate monitors are a little wasted on me but there is a big demand for them and Asus are consistently pushing the boundaries of performance with their products The ROG Swift 360 is the first monitor of its kind, hence being the best monitor at CES, but this comes with a caveat, this is just a 24.5-inch which is considerably smaller than the common 27-inch models gamers love.

    Another piece of technology that featured in many new products at CES is mini-LED. Mini LED is a transitional technology between traditional LED and Micro LED, which is used on the Samsung The Wall TV. The Acer Predator X32 is one of the new products featuring this and is based on a 10-bit IPS panel with a 38402160.

    It is similar to the Acer 27 Predator X27 but ramps up the spec, with the smaller monitoring using 384-Zone Mini LED-based Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlighting whereas this uses 1,152 zones which then allows Acer to crank up the brightness to 1400 nits in HDR mode.

    This is a G-Sync Ultimate monitor with a refresh rate of 144 Hz which ticks the boxes for most gamers. The downside of this product is the price, which is an insane 3,299 in Europe and $3,599 in the USA.

    I am already deaf in one ear, and singling out peoples voice is bad enough as it is. For people that require hearing aids, this problem is even more pronounced, but the OrCam Hear helps solve this. OrCam Hear works by identifying and isolating someone's voice from a crowd and then beaming their speech to Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids. It uses lip reading and body gestures to figure out which voice you most need to hear in a given moment and intuitively switches when there's someone else you want to listen to.

    Last Updated on 12th January 2020

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    The Best of CES 2020 Including Smart homes, Fitness, Laptops, Audio and More - Mighty Gadget

    Mossmorran is going to restart soon: Here’s what’s going to happen – Fife Today - January 18, 2020 by admin

    After months of being out of operation, the Mossmorran Fife Ethylene Plant is to be started up again soon, with joint operators Exxon Mobil revealing what residents nearby can expect to see.

    Mossmorran has been flaring for months to burn off gas which can't be processed while two boilers are being repaired.

    There have been a growing number of complaints over excessive flaring at the Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP), which some residents say even causes vibrations throughout their homes and results in sleepless nights.

    The plant will be restarted soon, with a date yet to be confirmed, but here's how Exxon Mobil - who run the plant jointly with Shell - say it will happen.

    STEP 1: ETHANE GAS ARRIVES

    The ethane is needed to begin sequence of generating steam and starting major machines.

    There will be a 3-4 day journey for natural gas from the North Sea via St Fergus near Peterhead.

    The ethane gas will be separated at the Shell plant next door and sent to FEP,

    As major process machinery not yet started, some gas is diverted to flare.

    STEP 3: BOILER AND FURNACE OUTPUT INCREASED

    Both combine to generate the steam needed to start major machines

    Steam and water vapour will be visible from the plant

    STEP 2: FLARE SIZE MANAGED

    Some of ethane gas sent to furnaces and some to ground flare

    Remainder sent to elevated flare

    These steps combine to reduce elevated flare size

    Steam will be added to ensure the flare burns clean

    STEP 4: MAJOR PROCESS MACHINERY STARTED

    Three major compressors started

    Each started individually in sequence

    Visible steam will start to reduce as it is consumed by the machines

    STEP 5: DISTILLING TOWERS STARTED

    Final stage of start up

    Three distilling towers brought online

    Elevated flare will fluctuate but will not increase

    STEP 6: SAFE RE-START COMPLETE

    Ethane gas now being turned into on-spec ethylene

    No longer in elevated flare

    On-spec ethylene piped to Braefoot Bay terminal

    Total time for safe re-start around 6 days

    More here:
    Mossmorran is going to restart soon: Here's what's going to happen - Fife Today

    How One Prefab Building Company Is Rebuilding Better in the Face of Disaster – Professional Builder - January 15, 2020 by admin

    The Thomas Fire in December 2017 burned nearly 282,000 acres in the California counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara. It reportedly destroyed 775 single-family homes and damaged another 200.

    It was an ideal opportunity for Dvele, a three-year-old prefab home manufacturer, to showcase its first fire-resistant spec home under its California Wildfire Rebuild Initiative. Dubbed Skyview, the 2,280-square-foot single-level house, assembled on a burned-out lot, was built to wildfire mitigation standards set by San Diego county, which are considered tougher than the Wildland-Urban Interface Code that California follows, says Brandon Weiss, Dveles chief innovation officer.

    The San Diego standard mandates such products as ember-resistant soffits (to keep fire detritus from getting inside the house), noncombustible siding, and dual-glazed R-20 windows. A rooftop solar array from Sunflare provides energy resilience. Skyviews selling price was $1.4 million, including $550,000 in land costs.

    Dveles rebuild initiative offers lower prices and faster build times than traditional rebuilding techniques, Weiss says, and can produce a house in its Loma Linda, Calif., factory and assemble it on site within four to six months, from permit to occupancy. The companys website shows eight home plans ranging from 1,129 to 3,956 square feet and priced from $245,000 to $719,000, exclusive of land costs.

    These all-electric models are built to Passive House and LEED specifications. They include roof-mounted 8.4-kW solar arrays and emergency power through built-in batteries. The homes biophilic design gives owners more exposure to the outdoors and the homes are also equipped with connected home features such as cellphone-controlled remote security and lighting and mesh Wi-Fi networks.

    In the fourth quarter of 2019, Dvele will complete 11 homes. It expects to produce 60 to 80 homes in 2020, about half of which are likely to be rebuilds, Weiss says. For every house that Dvele makes, it offsets its carbon footprint by planting 10,000 trees.

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    How One Prefab Building Company Is Rebuilding Better in the Face of Disaster - Professional Builder

    Dog Days of Winter – skijoring, sledding in the ‘Root – Bitterroot Star - January 15, 2020 by admin

    The annual Darby Dog Derby, hosted by the Bitterroot Mushers, is scheduled for January 18th and 19th at Gibbons Pass. Details can be found at bitterrootmushers.org.

    By Jeanette Hunter

    Winter sunrise takes a while to crawl down into icy Gibbons Pass, but the rising cacophony will assure you youve come to the right place. 2020 marks the thirteenth year for the Darby Dog Derby (DDD), hosted by the Bitterroot Mushers. Whatever the weather, its a magnificent backdrop for the 2-day gathering. In 2019, it started at a balmy 27 degrees and 50 shades of grey: saged, browned, heathered, and whitened, from the sky to the pines swaying with the winds symphony.

    From as far away as Oregon and Canada, teams travel to participate in this event each January, competing in 2- to 8-dog sled races and the slightly eclectic sport of skijoring, which requires a dog or two in harness streaking down the trail while attached to a person strapped into cross country skis. You might ask yourself whod be crazy enough to try this, but try and succeed! they do, and somewhere deep in your skull you may find yourself thinking maybe you, too, could release your own inner child in such a manner. Actual kids can also participate in the festivities, due to the generosity of so many of these mushers. The pee-wee race gives 4- to 10-year-olds the opportunity to experience dog sledding, even if their families dont own a sled and team. Participation is limited, helmets are required, and entry requests are available online prior to The Derby.

    The camaraderie between humans and dogs and even among competing teams is strongly evident as enthusiastic dogs are placed in the rigging then led to the starting lines, sometimes with nearly as many handlers as dogs to prevent a premature start to the race. Bright-colored booties commonly cover paws, the human team members frequently take time to stroke or talk to their canine companions, and teams occasionally return with an injured or tired pup carefully packed on the sled. Energy and trust abound at these events.

    One would expect to find huskies and malamutes, but the number of rangy, short-haired dogs may surprise you. Their athleticism is highly-valued, and muscular frames tend to generate substantial heat. Additionally, hollow hair is a trait of many of these chosen slender breeds, lending some pretty remarkable insulative qualities, and pups that tend to cool down quickly are carefully blanketed as needed.

    Stories abound, occasionally with Iditarod roots. Tawny little Patia often joins in this Montana melee, her mother a canine member of the 2011 winning team in that famous Alaskan race. Quite a few of the dogs are actually adopted from shelters or when other mushers retire. One of the 2017 skijor runners previously belonged to a racer who tragically died in a car accident, and the sledding community rallied to find homes for all his dogs. Teams from acrossthe nation have participated in the DDD, although the majority are from the northwest.

    Nicki Arndt, the race marshal, wished for something to be known by all: This couldnt happen without the strong support of an entire community. In addition to the greatly appreciated financial assistance from many of the valleys businesses and Mikes amazing culinary creations for the annual mushers dinner at Little Blue Joint, the BEARS (Bitterroot Emergency Amateur Radio Service) team has stepped up each year to keep things running smoothly and, more importantly, safely. Should someone ever be injured or end up (heaven forbid) missing, BEARS would save the day. Members even hiked up the surrounding hills last summer to determine the best location for the repeater for quick and most accurate placement prior to this years event. Snowmobilers from the Bitterroot Ridge Runners, seemingly displaced from this favorite recreational area for the weekend, were all in and ready to lend a helping hand shuttling workers, fencing, and trail markers. And while Lost Trail Ski Area keeps this area groomed all season, quite a bit more trail is brought to spec for the derby to accommodate a 23-mile run.

    Spectators are welcome and appreciated, but please leave your vehicles where Highways 93 and 43 meet just a minutes walk away from the oft-crowded Gibbons Pass parking area and starting point for the race. Another great observation point most years is located 8 miles east of Highway 93 on the north side of Highway 43, where the 8-dog teams circle around and return. Due to the openness of this snowy meadow, visibility is spectacular. Outhouses are available, but bring plenty of warm drinks, food, and clothes, and even snowshoes or cross country skis for a truly delightful and memorable experience. Your own canine comrades may appreciate staying home, due to the cold temperatures and being sequestered to your vehicle. For more information on the upcoming January 18th and 19th event, check out bitterrootmushers.org. Now, mush!

    Originally posted here:
    Dog Days of Winter - skijoring, sledding in the 'Root - Bitterroot Star

    Whirlpool recall: customers angry after replacement machines ‘too small’ and the ‘wrong colour’ – The Scotsman - January 15, 2020 by admin

    Outraged customers who have been forced to manage without a washing machine for almost a month since have voiced their anger that they are being offered a replacement model which is inferior to their original appliance.

    Customers took to Twitter to complain that after being told to register for a replacement machine following a December recall by the firm amid fears of a fault which could pose a fire risk, they are being told that they will receive a machine which is a different size - or colour - to their original model.

    Others complained that after being told to arrange a delivery date for their new machine via a link on Whirlpool's website, they found that no dates were available in their area. Whirlpool's social media staff told customers that they were "sorry for any disappointment caused" and urged customers to keep checking back.

    Families have been forced to manage without a washing machine since 17 December when the appliances were recalled by Whirlpool.

    Whirlpool customers this morning received an email stating that they would be entitled to a replacement machine to replace those affected by the fault which can cause the door locking system to overheat, creating the risk of a fire. According to Whirlpool, 79 fires are thought to be attributed to the fault, which develops over time.

    Twitter user @rbutlerUK said: "The replacement machine isn't like-for-like, if it was the load size would be the same, so how can you say you're offering like-for like when the new one offered holds less of a load?"

    @WELSHRYANp ADDED: "why are you sending emails, saying you are offering a like for like replacement for the recall affected models, but the replacement is a lower spec model?"

    @Dsbailey87 said: "Hi I've been offered a replacement but in the wrong colour after contacting customer service who were useless and clueless and had no solution."

    Whirlpool told customers that it would not offer refunds as it wants to ensure that faulty machines are removed from people's homes and "do not enter the second hand market".

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    Whirlpool recall: customers angry after replacement machines 'too small' and the 'wrong colour' - The Scotsman

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