Article Building Industry

Don’t Get Scammed: Hire a Qualified Contractor

By Dennis Sweeny, Executive Vice President of HBA Rockford

There are hundreds of legitimate, ethical contractors in business around Northern Illinois. Unfortunately, there are also scam artists who pose as legitimate contractors. These “fly-by-night” operators often show up in communities impacted by natural disasters to scam distressed home owners into paying for shoddy repairs or work that they will never show up to perform, or, perform poorly and then disappear.

Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Doesn’t have license, if required, and insurance. All professional contractors should be insured and able to show their certificate proving such insurance. Although all states do not require licensing, contractors in states requiring licenses should have it and be able to provide a copy. Roofing contractors are licensed in Illinois.
  • Asks you to sign anything before you’ve hired them. If they want you to sign an “estimate” or “authorization” before you’ve made the decision to hire the contractor, look out. They may be trying to get you to sign what is an actual binding contract.
  • Doesn’t write contracts. Professionals have clear contracts that outline the job, process, the cost, and helps clarify how problems will be managed. If you don’t have a contract, you are not protected when something goes wrong. Don’t hire anyone who tells you a contract “won’t be necessary.”
  • Requires cash or payment in full before starting the job. Shady contractors demand cash and then run with the money. Many home owners have been stranded by paying in full up front. A deposit towards materials is common, but only pay it once you have a contract signed by both you and the contractor. It’s also suspect you’re asked to pay cash to a salesperson instead of a check or money order to a company.
  • Vastly underbids all other contractors. They may have the best price, but that doesn’t guarantee the best work. Such contractors may cut costs on quality, which can end up costing you more when you have to have the substandard work redone.
  • Offers “special” pricing. If you’re told you’ve been “chosen” as a demonstration project at a special, low price, or you’re told a low price is good only if you sign a contract today.
  • Cannot provide customer references. Professional contractors should have current references they can provide from current and past clients — and you should be able to reach those references, not just an answering machine.
  • Difficulty contacting the contractor. Professionals have a physical office, mailing address, phone, and email. They should respond to your queries in a timely manner. Make sure you can verify the contractor’s business address.
  • Tells you to obtain the building or remodeling permits. Professional contractors go to the city or county offices and get the permits for their work themselves. Asking the home owner to do it is a sign that they are not a legitimate contractor.

Do your research and choose someone you feel comfortable with. If your city or state requires contractors to be licensed, look them up on the licensing website even if you’ve seen a piece of paper that looks like a license. Verify they don’t have a record of consumer complaints lodged with your local Better Business Bureau. You can also call the Home Builders Association of Rockford, 815 962-1148, for a list of their member contractors in your area.

Article Building Industry

What Past Recessions Tell Us About the Housing Market

By: Keeping Current Matters

It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who closely follows the economy or not, chances are you’ve heard whispers of an upcoming recession. Economic conditions are determined by a broad range of factors, so rather than explaining them each in depth, let’s lean on the experts and what history tells us to see what could lie ahead. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankratesays:

“Two-in-three economists are forecasting a recession in 2023 . . .”

As talk about a potential recession grows, you may be wondering what a recession could mean for the housing market. Here’s a look at the historical data to show what happened in real estate during previous recessions to help prove why you shouldn’t be afraid of what a recession could mean for the housing market today.

A Recession Doesn’t Mean Falling Home Prices

To show that home prices don’t fall every time there’s a recession, it helps to turn to historical data. As the graph below illustrates, looking at recessions going all the way back to 1980, home prices appreciated in four of the last six of them. So historically, when the economy slows down, it doesn’t mean home values will always fall.

What Past Recessions Tell Us About the Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

Most people remember the housing crisis in 2008 (the larger of the two red bars in the graph above) and think another recession would be a repeat of what happened to housing then. But today’s housing market isn’t about to crash because the fundamentals of the market are different than they were in 2008. According to experts, home prices will vary by market and may go up or down depending on the local area. But the average of their 2023 forecasts shows prices will net neutral nationwide, not fall drastically like they did in 2008.

A Recession Means Falling Mortgage Rates

Research also helps paint the picture of how a recession could impact the cost of financing a home. As the graph below shows, historically, each time the economy slowed down, mortgage rates decreased.

What Past Recessions Tell Us About the Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

Fortune explains mortgage rates typically fall during an economic slowdown:

Over the past five recessions, mortgage rates have fallen an average of 1.8 percentage points from the peak seen during the recession to the trough. And in many cases, they continued to fall after the fact as it takes some time to turn things around even when the recession is technically over.”

In 2023, market experts say mortgage rates will likely stabilize below the peak we saw last year. That’s because mortgage rates tend to respond to inflation. And early signs show inflation is starting to cool. If inflation continues to ease, rates may fall a bit more, but the days of 3% are likely behind us.

The big takeaway is you don’t need to fear the word recession when it comes to housing. In fact, experts say a recession would be mild and housing would play a key role in a quick economic rebound. As the 2022 CEO Outlook from KPMG, says:

“Global CEOs see a ‘mild and short’ recession, yet optimistic about global economy over 3-year horizon . . .

 More than 8 out of 10 anticipate a recession over the next 12 months, with more than half expecting it to be mild and short.”

Bottom Line 

While history doesn’t always repeat itself, we can learn from the past. According to historical data, in most recessions, home values have appreciated and mortgage rates have declined.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this year, you can make the best decision by working with a trusted real estate professional. That way, you have expert advice on what’s happening in the housing market and what that means for your homeownership goals.

Article Building Industry

No One is Talking About the Elephant in the Room : Energy Code Requirements

By Dennis Sweeney, Executive Vice president

HBA of the Greater Rockford Area

I read an article about adaptive office building reuse, and it caught my attention because 1) our members have done similar and related (school) reuse projects in Rockford, and 2) it mentioned building codes as an obstacle to affordable residential conversions, although it only mentions one requirement—the bedroom window.

Over the past two decades, the once-local residential building code has become a national code driven by the Model Energy Code and green energy and zero carbon footprint policy objectives. As a result, market forces for energy consumption and conservation have been replaced by energy consumption and savings code mandates.

The first such mandate that had an impact on my thinking about this was when the ARC’s Great Home Give Away raffle house had to add insulation to the interior foundation walls, resulting in insulation and installation costs that were not budgeted for. Then there are the three air exchanges per hour mandate for new homes. (With pressure to lower it in every code cycle) There’s pressure to get a certificate of occupancy, requiring houses to be so airtight that you have to pull in outside air to operate modern gas furnaces and water heaters, appliances that will be on the radar to be eliminated as carbon fuel users.

This air exchange requirement has made the traditional wood burning fireplace obsolete. There may eventually be an energy code requirement to mandate their conversion to a ventless fireplace as a condition of a housing sale. This would be an energy version of a clear water inspection.

Finally, the excessive insulation requirements result in increased structural building costs due to the extra volume of insulation product. There is a lack of new insulation technology that would achieve the requirements with less product. HBAR member Bill Carlson of Carlson Roofing commented to me, “We’re making money the new fashion way, government mandates.”

I have no quarrel with those who want to build a zero-carbon footprint house, and neither will the builder. The issue is that they are mandating everyone must do the same. With the amount of known natural gas reserves, it makes no economic sense to impose this in the United States. Listen to the builders who have been in business, survived the recessions, and built hundreds of new homes. They know what they are doing and how to give buyers the best, affordable, energy-efficient product for their housing dollar. Then if you want to, you can always pay for more.

Building Industry

Nobody Asked Me But… It’s a Catch-22

By Dennis Sweeney,
Executive Vice President HBA of Rockford

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, a WWII bombardier, is a satirical war novel examining the absurdity of war and military life through the experiences of numerous characters attempting to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home. The title refers to a fictional bureaucratic stipulation that embodies illogical and immoral reasoning, which has become associated with such policies since the publication of Catch-22 in 1961.

Here is the current housing situation. As a result of the federal spending to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic, inflation has ballooned. To mitigate the impact of this inflation and reduce its long-term impact on the economy, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates. As a result, 30-year mortgages are now over 7.00%, and housing sales are plummeting. To counter this, the housing industry is lobbying the federal government for support to build houses, and one federal response is to spend more money. That is a catch-22.

Building Industry

Quick Action to Avoid Housing Downturn

The following is copied from a mass email from IL State Rep Allen Drewes sent to members of the Home Builders Association of Illinois on April 15th, 2022.

Good Afternoon Fellow HBAI Members,  

In the coming days you will see information coming from NAHB on an initiative to collect member signatures on a letter destined for the White House, urging the administration to take immediate action to address economic threats facing the housing industry.   

Our charge is to help get this in the hands of members and our local HBA’s.  The letter will be sent to the White House at the end of next week, so there is some urgency in alerting the broader membership.  I’ve included language that can be shared in this email, which includes a link to the letter and signature portal on  

Please join me with this important initiative, by not only sending this to your local HBA Leadership but also encouraging those leaders to get this to their respective members for signatures.  I appreciate everyone’s efforts in communicating this imperative request.     

We are more effective as an NAHB Federation and this is how we all can make a difference for ”our” housing industry! 

Take Action: Sign Letter to Biden Urging Quick Action to Avoid Housing Downturn

NAHB is increasingly concerned that the housing market is reaching an inflection point that threatens to derail the current housing and economic expansion. To send a strong message to the White House, all NAHB members are invited to sign a letter urging the Administration to keep housing at the forefront of our nation and address critical housing affordability issues. Visit to read and sign the letter. Share the link with other members to help NAHB demonstrate the strength of the Federation. 

Allen Drewes – Illinois State Rep 
5N765 Crane Road St Charles, Illinois 60175
630-927-0088 Direct 
[email protected]