Texas Swimming Pool Construction Report – June 2019

A review of the latest swimming pool construction permit data from the HBW database for the month of June 2019

Texas – Average Value of New Swimming Pool Construction, June 2019

Last month, there were more than 730 new swimming pool permits added to the HBW database for the combined Texas metro areas of Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.  Out of the four major areas reviewed, Dallas ranked #1 for total new permits (413 permits), while Austin held the highest average value of new swimming pool construction ($64,626) for the month.

Here is a closer look at the new swimming pool construction permit data in Texas, by metro area, for the month of June 2019:


As previously mentioned, Dallas had the greatest amount of new pool construction activity last month in comparison to the four areas reviewed.  There were approximately 160 active pool builders on record that were responsible for 413 pool starts with a total construction value of nearly $20.5 million.  The majority of new permits originated from the counties of Collin (123 permits), Tarrant (100 permits) and Dallas (91 permits), and the average value of construction was $49,568.


The Houston area ranked second for total new pool permits on record last month having 200 pool starts with a total construction value in excess of $11.7 million, and more than half of all new construction took place in Harris County (126 permits).  There were more than 130 active pool builders on file for the month, and the average value of new pool construction landed on the higher end of the spectrum at $58,636.


In Austin, there were 40 active contractors on record last month that generated 75 new construction permits with a total value in excess of $4.8 million.  Nearly all new construction took place in Travis County (68 permits), and the average value of construction was highest in Austin (average value: $64,626) in comparison to the other regions reviewed.

San Antonio

Last month, there were 25 active builders in the San Antonio area that generated 45 new permits and more than $2 million in construction value. Most new swimming pool construction took place in Bexar County (35 permits), and the average value of new construction was lower (average value: $46,621) than the other metro areas reviewed.

To gain more information on the builders, homeowners and permits for the construction activity above, check out HBW for your copy of the latest construction data reports. To gain access to the HBW database and receive custom and detailed reports on the latest residential and commercial building activity in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma, please contact HBW for details.

Metro Atlanta Swimming Pool Construction Q2-2019

A review of the latest swimming pool permit data for Atlanta from January through June 2019

Atlanta Top Counties for Total New Swimming Pool Permits 2018 vs. 2019

In Atlanta, new swimming pool construction permits have been on the rise year after year.  Since 2015, HBW has identified marked growth in swimming pool starts ranging from annual increases as low as 1 percent to as high as 18 percent every year.  So far this year (Q2-2019), new swimming pool construction in Atlanta reflects a 3 percent year-over-year increase, resulting in 1,150 new permits.

For the purpose of HBW reports, the metro Atlanta area includes data from twenty-four counties.  Based on HBW’s latest swimming pool construction activity trend report for the second quarter of this year, and as noted in the above listed graph, the counties with the highest concentration of new swimming pool construction include Fulton County (186 permits); Cobb County (160 permits); Gwinnett County (98 permits); Coweta County (97 permits); and Cherokee County (94 permits); all of the top listed counties are off to a slower start in new pool construction in comparison to the same time last year with the exception of Coweta County; new pools have been on the rise in Coweta for the last five years, and through the second quarter of this year, the area is already 11 percent ahead of figures from 2018.

Other counties that are exhibiting healthy growth in new pool construction but still hold lower concentrations of total permits include Hall County (36% year-over-year increase) and Forsyth County (31% year-over-year increase).

Information utilized for the above listed figures for Metro Atlanta residential construction was directly derived from HBW construction data reports. To gain access to the HBW database and receive custom and detailed reports on the latest residential and commercial building activity in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma, please contact HBW for details.

Quarterly Report: Atlanta Residential Construction Q2-2019

A review of new residential construction permit data from January 2019 through June 2019

Last year, metro Atlanta’s new residential construction market held steady, not having much movement in the direction of growth or slowing down.  Since the start of 2019 (through June), residential construction in the metro Atlanta area has shown a slight sign of slowing with a 4% year-over-year decrease in new permits on record with HBW.

Throughout the metro Atlanta area there have been approximately 11,730 housing starts in the first half of this year, and nearly half of all new construction took place in the following five counties:

Gwinnett County

Through the second quarter of this year, Gwinnett County ranked #1 for total housing starts in comparison to other metro Atlanta area counties.  As of 2018, the population is estimated to be 927,781, making it the second-most populous county in Georgia.  Since the start of this year, there have been 1,513 new residential construction permits added to the HBW database for Gwinnett, reflecting a 17% year-over-year decrease in new residential construction.

Fulton County

Fulton County ranked second highest for total new residential construction permits on file with HBW through Q2-2019.  Being city-center and having Atlanta as its county seat, Fulton’s population and residential market continue to grow; based on 2018 estimates, the population was 1,050,114, making it the state’s most populous county and the only one with over 1 million inhabitants.  Since the start of this year, there have been more than 1,320 housing starts in the area, reflecting a 5% year-over-year increase in new residential construction activity.

Cherokee County

According to the Cherokee Ledger-News (August 29, 2018), Cherokee County (population 254,500+) is currently the fastest growing county in the metro Atlanta area.  In the first half of 2019 (thru Q2-2019), Cherokee’s new residential construction market has held steady with no major changes, resulting in nearly 1,070 housing starts on file with HBW.

Forsyth County

According to HBW records, Forsyth County has been experiencing a decline in new residential construction year after year since 2016.  This year (thru Q2-2019) has followed the same pattern of decline as there has been a 25% year-over-year decrease in new home construction permits, resulting in just over 1,020 new permits.

Cobb County

Similar to Forsyth County, the County of Cobb has also demonstrated a decline in new residential construction since the start of this year.  Unlike Forsyth, Cobb County’s new residential construction market has been on an upward growth trend for the past five years, so the 30% year-over-year decrease in new residential construction permits through Q2-2019 is uncharacteristic of the area.  Over the next six months, Cobb County will certainly be an area to watch for improvement in its residential construction market.

Information utilized for the above listed figures for Metro Atlanta residential construction was directly derived from HBW construction data reports. To gain access to the HBW database and receive custom and detailed reports on the latest residential and commercial building activity in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma, please contact HBW for details.

Construction Job Rate Continues to Climb

An overview of the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on construction industry jobs as of June 30, 2019

There is no time like the present to be looking for employment in the construction industry.  From offering paid apprenticeships to procuring services of top headhunters, employers are in an ongoing and intense battle for trade professionals.  Based on the latest report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released July 5, 2019), the 12-month period ending June 30, 2019 produced 224k new jobs in construction, and the unemployment rate was somewhat steady at 3.7 percent.

During the month of June, the construction industry added 21k jobs, and more than half were in specialty trades. Nonresidential construction employment gained 14,900 net jobs in June and is up 146,700 jobs for last 12 months. All major segments of nonresidential construction added jobs last month, with most of the job growth being in the nonresidential specialty trade contractor segment where 12,000 new positions were added (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Construction wages were also up, reflecting a 3.2 percent year-over-year increase and resulting in an average hourly wage of $30.73.  While the construction industry’s unemployment rate (4 percent) slightly worsened in comparison to May (3.2 percent), the unemployment rate has exhibited improvement in comparison to 2018.

In a separate report, BLS published that “employment of construction laborers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Laborers work in all fields of construction, and demand for laborers should mirror the level of overall construction activity.”

For the latest updates on construction industry news, business and marketing tips, stay connected with the HBW Blog.  To gain access to the latest reports on construction permit data in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, contact HBW.

Luxury Home Sales on the Decline

A look at the highs and lows of luxury residential property sale prices in the U.S.

According to a recent report from realtor.com, home sales valued over the $1 million mark have experienced the deepest decline since 2010.  In March, such high value property sale prices were down 8.3% year-over-year in eighty-five luxury markets that were analyzed.

While high-end residential construction has seen a decline overall, thirty-five out of eighty-five of the markets reviewed actually experienced growth in luxury sales as of March 2019. Many of the growing cities are secondary markets, and according to the report, several have been experiencing at least 58 percent growth in luxury sales – Those areas include:

  • Westchester, New York
  • Plymouth, MA
  • Louden, VA
  • Honolulu, HI
  • San Luis Obispo County, CA

When looking at regions where HBW focuses its data reports, Florida had a few areas that reflected noteworthy growth (and declines) in luxury home sales:

Tampa – Tampa continues to grow both in new home construction and sales, and when it comes to value, home sale prices experienced a 13.7 percent year-over-year increase, with the entry-level price point landing at $731k in March.  In Pinellas County, luxury sales were on a high and reflected nearly a 47 percent increase from March 2018 to March 2019.

While Tampa stays in the spotlight, other Florida areas have experienced significant declines in luxury home sale prices.  For example, as of March 2019, home prices in Sarasota, Florida experienced more than a 14 percent year-over-year decrease, and Collier County reflected a nearly 2 percent year-over-year decline in price.

So, what are the most expensive luxury markets in the U.S.?  You can simply look to Northern California for the highest luxury residential property sale prices; the top five were reported as follows:

  1. San Mateo, CA – Luxury Sale Price: $3,654,000
  2. San Francisco, CA – Luxury Sale Price: $3,374,000
  3. Marin, CA – Luxury Sale Price: $3,158,000
  4. Santa Clara, CA – Luxury Sale Price: $2,835,000
  5. Eagle, CO – $2,556,000

To gain access to the HBW database and receive custom and detailed reports on the latest residential and commercial building activity in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma, please contact HBW for details.

Mark Your Calendars: Five More Industry Expos

At the start of the year, we posted “Construction Industry Convention and Expos 2019” where we listed construction trade shows through the summer to help you plan ahead and secure dates for the first half of the year.  Now that we are mid-year, it is the perfect time to look at the coming months to assess if there are any other expos that would be a good fit for your business to round out networking and education programs that you have in place.

As previously mentioned in other posts, conventions and expos can serve a valuable purpose; along with having an opportunity to view the best and the brightest of the industry, industry events provide a multitude of opportunities to network, expand your knowledge and catch up on continuing education credits.  If you are a manufacturer or supplier and are looking to get the word out on a new product line or launch, it is the ideal time to put your new products in the spotlight, and connect with new and established customers with whom you may not have the chance to visit in-person on a regular basis.

The following is a list of expos and events to consider for the second half of 2019:

Event: Build Expo
Date(s): July 17-18, 2019
Location: Cobb Galleria Centre (Atlanta, Georgia)

Build Expo offers educational seminars and industry events throughout the U.S. nearly every month of the year.  The remaining events from July include locations such as Atlanta (July 17-18), Houston (August 14-15), San Diego (September 18-19), and Tampa (October 23-24).

Event: GlassBuild America
Date(s): September 17-19, 2019
Location: Georgia World Congress Center (Atlanta, Georgia)

GlassBuild America expects to house approximately 450 exhibitors, including everything from manufacturers and distributors to fabricators and retailers of flat glass and residential windows and doors. The event attracts a variety of attendees within the glass, window and door industries.  According to the website, 48 percent of attendees hold executive and high-level management positions.

International Pool, Spa and Patio Expo (PSP Expo)

Date(s): November 2-7, 2019
Location: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (New Orleans, Louisiana)

According to the event website, this year’s expo is expecting to draw more than 10,500 buyers from all regions of the United States and from around the world, including residential and commercial builders, installers, service professionals, spa dealers, outdoor living retailers, buying agents and other industry professionals.  As for education, there will be more than 45 speakers covering topics for every segment of the residential and commercial pool, spa, and outdoor living industries.

Event: Remodeling Show (co-located with DeckExpo)

Dates(s): November 6-8, 2019

Location: Kentucky International Convention Center (Louisville, Kentucky)

The tradeshow’s frequency is annual, with the DeckExpo rotating locations.  Remodeling Show co-located with DeckExpo brings together thousands of remodeling and residential construction professionals from all over the nation to connect, learn, and elevate their craft.  The show is expected to have over 200 building product manufacturers, an in-depth educational conference program with business and jobsite training, and plenty of networking events to join.

Event: The Buildings Show

Date(s): December 4-6, 2019
Location: Metro Toronto Convention Center (Toronto, Canada)

The Buildings Show is listed as North America’s largest event for industry products, services, educational programming and networking.  For just over 30 years, the event has brought together design, architecture, construction and real estate sectors.  New this year is the PropTech Expo, Buildings Connect, along with HomeBuilder & Renovator Expo and the World of Concrete Pavilion.  Buildings Connect provides a dynamic showcase of innovative technology directly impacting people, places, properties, portfolios, energy use and operational efficiencies within the built environment.

For more information on construction business and marketing tips, stay connected with the HBW Blog.  To get ahead of construction activity and gain access to the latest permitting data in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, contact HBW for more information on construction data reports and industry leads.

Five Ways to Make Your Videos More “Instagrammable”

Quick tips for making business videos Instagram-worthy

If your business is not using Instagram, you may be missing out on easy opportunities to reach your target audience. Consider the fact that one billion people use the social media platform every month, and of all the social networks, only Facebook and YouTube have more people logging in each day. Additionally, out of the one billion monthly active users on Instagram, more than 500 million of them use the platform every day (source: Hootsuite). To put it simply, there are one billion reasons to get started with your own Instagram account.

While this blog post is not going to be dedicated to setting up your profile, we will address one of the most important types of posts that you can have on Instagram – videos.  According to a study conducted by Hubspot with results published by Search Engine Journal, Instagram video posts receive twice the engagement of other post types. Additionally, Instagram has made video marketing more accessible for small businesses, thanks to Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, IGTV, and posting video to your feed.  Engagement statistics aside, video gives you the ability to share complex concepts and in-depth stories that simply cannot be captured in a single image.

Assuming that you are not a contractor by day and a videographer by night, you could probably use a tip or two on making sure that your videos are ready to post.  Here are five ways to make your videos Instagram-worthy:

  • Be Still – While this may seem like an obvious one, you would be amazed by how many people record video without keeping the viewer in mind; it’s just easy to get into what you’re recording rather than how you are recording it. The result can leave the audience feeling like they are on a spinning tea cups ride, creating an unpleasant viewing experience. Additionally, movement makes it difficult to make seamless edits later when you may choose to combine a few segments of footage rather than use the entire video. Whether you choose to use a tripod, an experienced videographer or just prop your camera on a stable surface, make sure to keep the camera nice and steady.
  • Include Text – Keep in mind that many viewers will not choose to turn up the volume on your video. If your video cannot be understood without the voiceover or audio, then it is vital that you use text overlay and/subtitles to help tell the story.  Even if they crank up the volume, the text won’t interfere and is an expected part of most Instagram video experiences.
  • Be Brief – Keep your videos brief, especially if you want to add it to your story. You should keep the video duration under one minute. From your feed, videos will play automatically and can be up to 60 seconds in length, making them easy to scroll through and view.
  • Link it Up – Be sure to add a link to a specific webpage where you are ultimately driving traffic. Whether you add the link directly to your Instagram story or refer viewers to a link in your bio, it is important to provide easy access for the viewer to take the next steps.  Using a service that allows you multiple links from one URL is always an option as well.
  • Include Hashtags – On Instagram, it is all about the hashtags. It is how you and your videos will be found by everyone outside of your followers.  The more specific you make your hashtags, the better chance you have of reaching your target audience.  While you can put as many hashtags as you desire, try not to go overboard.  Some research points to higher engagement rates with posts having up to eleven hashtags, and while this sounds great in theory, it is more important that you choose relevant hashtags – think quality over quantity.

To truly know what is and is not working for your Instagram posts, make sure to review engagement data on a regular basis and identify the content that is receiving the greatest response.  From there, you can create all posts, videos included, to be perfectly “Instagrammable”.

For more information on construction business and marketing tips, stay connected with the HBW Blog.  To get ahead of construction activity and gain access to the latest permitting data in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, contact HBW for more information on construction data reports and industry leads.

Developing the Next Generation of Construction Professionals

The tight construction labor pool is only getting smaller, and the need for training the next generation of construction professionals is becoming more evident.

Time and time again, we visit the issues that construction business owners are facing on a daily basis, and one of the greatest challenges to a construction business today is the shrinking labor force.  In fact, a survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) indicated that 80% of construction companies are having difficulty hiring hourly craft positions.  Despite the fact that average earnings for construction workers have been on the rise and are at a 9-year high, construction companies seem unable to increase their workforce.

So, what’s the answer to this ongoing issue?  Truth be told, every business goes about handling their staffing issues differently, but from a big picture perspective, much of the answer is with training the next wave of construction professionals.  As quoted in the AGC report, Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist stated, ‘Labor shortages in the construction industry remain significant and widespread. The best way to encourage continued economic growth, make it easier to rebuild aging infrastructure and place more young adults into high-paying careers is to address construction workforce shortages.’

One way to do this is to offer training to younger job seekers, as well as make the industry more attractive to talent.  While this sounds like an easy solution, based on recent data, it poses quite a challenge. A survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed that 74 percent of adults (ages 18-25) know the career fields that they want to enter, but only 3 percent would choose construction trades.

The survey went deeper into the issue and reported that the two most common reasons for those who chose not to go into the industry were wanting a less physically-demanding job (48%) and the belief that construction work is difficult (32%).  ‘Survey participants were then asked if there was any compensation level that might entice them to reconsider a career in the trades.  For slightly more than 20 percent, that number is either $75,000 or $100,000, but for the plurality (43%), there is no amount of money that could make them give the trades a second thought.’

In addition to training, it appears that higher wages and an overall change in how the industry is perceived can help entice younger adults to consider careers in construction.  This also requires a change in perspective on who is invited to careers in construction.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median age for an American construction worker is 42.5, and males make up almost 90 percent of workers in the industry.  Such statistics point to a need for more females to have opportunities to join the workforce.  The U.S. Department of Labor reports that women earn 95.7% as much as men in the same job within construction – This margin is better than most industries where the standard reflects women earning 81% less than their male counterparts across the board.

While labor shortages won’t be resolved overnight, construction business owners can help with propelling the industry forward by: offering training and career opportunities for millennials and young adults; encouraging women to enter construction and providing related opportunities for employment; connecting with trade organizations and schools to offer career path programs; upgrading your technology and equipping crews with tools and education that can be of value to them in the future.

For more information on construction industry trends and business tips, stay connected with the HBW Blog.  To get ahead of construction activity and gain access to the latest permitting data in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, contact HBW for more information on construction data reports and industry leads.

OSHA Offers Consulting Services

Information about OSHA’s free safety consultation program

Would you invite OSHA to come visit your workplace and job sites?  Before you say “no”, first ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Where are the weak points in my job site safety program?
  2. How can I improve safety on the job?

While many contractors’ greatest fear is to have OSHA conduct an inspection, there is a program in place that is designed to alleviate those fears and prepare business owners for an actual inspection.

If you follow OSHA on their social media or news feeds, you have probably noticed the latest push regarding their free and confidential onsite consultation program.  Unlike OSHA inspections, the On-Site Consultation Program has been put into action to help small businesses improve worker safety, and save money, by identifying potential hazards.  Curious about how it works?  Here are a few facts about the program to help you determine if the service is right for you:

  1. Experience – Not only does OSHA set the standard, but they reportedly have conducted 26,000 consultation visits nationwide during FY
  2. Helping Workers – A recent infographic released by OSHA noted that 2.9 million workers have been removed from hazards as a result of conducting consultations.
  3. Small Business Resource – With the service being free, it can attractive to small businesses looking for guidance in certain areas. 80% of the businesses who have utilized the service have fewer than 100 employees.
  4. Savings – In just one year (2018), OSHA reported $1.3 billion in annual savings due to the consulting program.
  5. No Citations – On-Site Consultation services are separate from OSHA’s enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. The consultation is confidential and will not be reported routinely to the OSHA inspection staff.
  6. No Guarantees – Having a consultation does not guarantee that you will pass future inspections.

So how does it work?

First, keep in mind that a consultation is a voluntary activity; this mean that it must be requested by you from OSHA (see OSHA’s Consultation Directory). The consultant will discuss your specific needs and schedule a consultation.

According to OSHA – Once on your job site, the consultant will meet with you prior to commencing the walk through and review. While reviewing your entire workplace, the consultant will identify safety and health risks (not just those based on OSHA’s standards), and he/she will review findings with you at the end of the visit.  From there, the consultant will send you a final and detailed report on findings, confirm agreed upon abatement periods and keep in contact periodically.

While the program is free, there are some requirements should an OSHA consultant identify hazards. As a business owner, it will be your obligation to correct serious job safety and health hazards–a commitment which you are expected to make prior to the actual visit.

To learn more about what happens during an OSHA On-Site Consultation, visit their program information page.

For the latest updates on construction business and marketing tips, stay connected with the HBW Blog.  To gain access to the latest reports on construction permit data in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, contact HBW.

Beat the Summer Heat

A few ways to keep crews safe from high summer temperatures

Keeping your crews safe goes beyond safety training and harnesses.  With the summer upon us, the heat can be fatal if safety precautions are not in place.  Not to mention, failing to protect employees working in extreme heat is an OSHA violation.

Earlier this month, OSHA published a news release stating that the U.S. Department of Labor cited a Georgia Water Services Company after one of their employees suffered a heat-related injury on a jobsite in Key West, Florida.  According to the release, “an employee suffered heat exhaustion and was hospitalized after working in direct sunlight and wearing required protective clothing during welding and fabrication work at a Key West, Florida, worksite. On the day of the hospitalization, the heat index ranged between 83 and 88 degrees. OSHA cited the employer for failing to protect workers exposed to outdoor heat hazards, and failing to report a hospitalization within 24 hours, as required.”  Now the employer faces $21,311 in penalties, including the maximum penalty allowed by law for the heat-related violation.

For those of us who are born and raised in the South, often we don’t take the heat seriously enough, and while that may be fine for leisure activities, it is a major liability that requires attention as a construction professional.  In order to beat the heat this summer, here are a few things you can do for your crews to keep them safe when working outdoors:

  • Water, Rest and Shade – While they seem obvious, water, rest and shade are three concepts that should be integrated into your daily routine and safety practices. It’s quite simple… As an employer, it is crucial that you provide your crews with plenty of water, appropriate breaks and rest as well as shaded areas on the jobsite.
  • Provide Time to Acclimate – New and/or returning workers should be given a chance to gradually increase their workloads and take more frequent breaks as they become accustomed to and build a tolerance for working in the heat.
  • Have a Plan – All members of your crews should be aware of emergency protocol, as well as prevention and safety practices related to high heat conditions.
  • Monitor – Along with foreman and site supervisors, your crews should be monitoring themselves and each other for any signs of heat exhaustion or illness. If they aren’t already aware of the signs, now is the time to inform them of what they should look for and how to handle it.  To assist, here is a list of common signs and symptoms.

OSHA conducts training and outreach on heat-related workplace hazards every spring and summer. Information on establishing a heat illness prevention program, a video on protecting workers from heat illness, and resources with other suggested best practices are available on OSHA’s heat illness prevention page.

To receive the latest updates on construction business and marketing tips, stay connected with the HBW Blog.  To gain access to the latest reports on construction permit data in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, contact HBW.