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NAHB’s children’s book makes impact in construction industry and wins prestigious award.
One year ago, BuilderBooks, the publishing arm of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), released a new children’s book, The House That She Built. The publication, written by Mollie Elkman, aims to help bridge the gap of the industry’s skilled labor shortage by educating and exposing children to STEAM and construction careers, and elevating women in the industry. The book was inspired by the team of real women who came together from around the country to build a one-of-a-kind home in Utah: The House That SHE Built.
This past spring, The House That She Built was one of 150 books selected to receive the prestigious IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award. The book won Gold for the best Children’s/Young Adult Cover Design. The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) had received a record-breaking 1,894 entries.
What started as a house and turned into a book, has now evolved into a full national movement to show girls that they can accomplish anything. To celebrate, Zillow has created a listing for the book.
“We are so proud of the impact that The House that She Built has had on educating young people on careers in construction and highlighting the importance of women’s representation in the industry,” said NAHB First Vice Chairman Alicia Huey, a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Ala. “It is great to see the success and recognition the book has received over the past year, and we look forward to seeing what is yet to come with this movement.”
The House That She Built has received widespread industry support and is making an impact in many ways, including:
- Creating The House That She Built Girls Scout Patch Program
- Hosting activities for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America
- Translation of The House That She Built into Vietnamese
- Printing of 50,000 copies within the first year
- Support from social media influencers in the trades
- Featured at industry shows such as the NAHB International Builders’ Show, the International Roofing Expo and the Floor Coverings International
- Convention and Women in Residential Construction Conference
- The House That She Built limited edition jewelry line created by Goldfine Jewelry to inspire the younger generations. Proceeds from the collection will support skilled workforce development, diversity and inclusion in the construction industry.
- NAHB’s Professional Women in Building participation around the country
The House That She Built is only the beginning of inspiring diversity and inclusion for future generations of the skilled workforce for the housing industry. Industry leaders 84 Lumber and Andersen Corporation continue to be sponsors of the book and support its mission to further workforce development initiatives in home building by generating awareness of the skilled trades to underrepresented communities.
The House That She Built is a 10 x 10 hardcover picture book with dust jacket/36 pages, $17.95 retail, ISBN 978-0-86718-7854. The book is distributed by IPG and is available by visiting SheBuiltBook.com.
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More cities offer online permit applications.
People who would never have considered ordering groceries online or having a cheeseburger and fries delivered reconsidered those options when locked down during a worldwide pandemic. Americans are doing a lot of things differently than they did two years ago.
Businesses have had to make similar adjustments, finding ways to provide their products or services when customers were unable or less inclined to make transactions in person.
Although the City of Ankeny began offering online permit filing prior to the pandemic, the program has expanded exponentially as a result of it. According to Ankeny’s Permit Specialist, Kathy Dozer, “We initially started using the web portal in 2019 with a select few contractors who agreed to help us work through any issues before opening it to more applicants.”
The city limited those early online permit applications to just a few trades at first, then added fence permits. The plan was to gradually expand the program as applicants and staff grew comfortable with it. The plan was going well until COVID-19 shut down city offices and transformed more homeowners into remote workers.
Early restrictions, initiated when little was known about the virus, not only limited face-to-face interaction but often placed strict guidelines on surface contact as well.
“Initial COVID protocol required permits to be filed on paper and left in a bin at city offices,” says Dozer. “But they had to remain there, untouched, for a set period of time before being delivered to the Public Services building, where we could process them.”
On top of this extended delay, most trades and contractors were experiencing an unanticipated spike in business. The city was receiving several times more permit filings than normal, and the backlog of unprocessed permits was growing steadily.
“When it became obvious that the pandemic effects weren’t going to be short-term, we knew we had to get the remaining permit applications online as well,” says Dozer.
Fortunately, the learning curve from the initial program in 2019 gave city staff a model to follow. With some trial and error, the team was able to add the majority of the remaining permits to the portal.
The web portal now allows submittals for projects from fences, sheds, garages, swimming pools, and decks to single-family dwellings, townhomes, multifamily dwellings, commercial permits, and more.
In addition to submitting permits, users can access a variety of paperwork related to their projects, such as site plans, Certificate of Occupancy paperwork, and approved plans. They can also track inspection progress, fees, and correspondence related to each permit.
Several other communities around the metro offer similar services. Waukee, for example, has made permits and applications accessible through the city’s main website with links easily accessible for everything from inspection certificates to multifamily housing permits on the same page with pet licenses and block party permits.
With Ankeny’s program, nearly any stage of construction that requires a permit or a city official can be submitted through the portal. There are some limitations.
“Right now, the program limits the number of inspections a user can request via the portal, but we’re working on increasing that as we continue to fine-tune the program,” Dozer says. Aside from that, users simply need to register to access records and submit forms.
Paper and email submittals are still accepted, but Dozer says both contractors and city staff have found the portal process quicker and easier.
Dozer says, “It’s a simple process to set up the first time, and the majority of contractors prefer it once they’ve used it.”
Since expanding the submittal options, Ankeny city staff are processing significantly fewer paper applications. More than 85% of home builders use the web portal. Close to 95% of fence contractors submit permits this way as well. Commercial contractor use continues to rise, although less rapidly than residential.
More cities around the metro are offering similar programs, including Des Moines, Altoona, Urbandale, and Waukee. Others have plans to provide the option in the near future.
“Right now, permits can be emailed or filed on paper,” says Norwalk’s Tony Stravers. “But we’re working on our online system and expect to have it operational in the next 6 to 12 months.”
Scott Clyce of the city of Grimes says that suburb also has plans to provide all digital options for contractors in the future.
As more businesses have embraced digital options, the paperwork side of the construction industry continues moving closer to paperless. Unlike online grocery shopping and burger delivery, the online permit system hasn’t required additional staff. It has actually allowed everyone from contractors to city employees to work more efficiently than before.
That’s a change worth making.
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Nine luxury homes will be featured at Kimberley Estates.
The HomeShowExpo is back in Ankeny this July. The Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines is presenting their annual event at Kimberley Estates, developed by Kimberley Development, showcasing nine luxury custom homes built by seven of the area’s finest builders.
This year’s HomeShowExpo is the largest show the Home Builders Association has hosted in over a decade, with homes topping well above the million-dollar price point. From hidden wine cellars to sky deck patios, the builders have pulled out all the stops when designing these homes. Each home has been beautifully crafted with some of today’s top trends in mind. Innovative features you will see include gourmet kitchens; vaulted ceilings; a pool, cabana and outdoor shower; a custom-built kid’s playhouse; zero entry homes; hidden closets and a masterfully crafted wrought iron floating staircase. If you are looking for ideas for your new home or remodel, or if you’re in the market to buy, this is the place to be.
“Kimberley Development is very proud to host the HBA’s most well-attended event at Kimberley Estates in Ankeny,” says Bill Kimberley, president of Kimberley Development. “Our newest luxury living community is incredible and it’s the perfect location for the show. It provides a spectacular backdrop for these nine custom homes that are uniquely tailored for the discerning homeowner.”
“Kimberley Estates is located on a former Century Farm, that backs to Four Mile Creek and an established grassy trail that meanders along mature trees. It’s conveniently located off NE Delaware, one mile from I-35 and NE 36th Street, which makes it perfect for commuters to Des Moines or Ames,” notes Kimberley. “It’s a small, quiet neighborhood featuring beautiful executive homes and you can escape busy life by walking the trails and enjoying nature.”
“We are thrilled to host HomeShowExpo 2022 and introduce you to the new Kimberley Estates neighborhood, conveniently located on the north side of Ankeny,” says Ankeny Mayor Mark Holm. “The City of Ankeny is committed to partnering with our community to ensure that we effectively serve our residents, neighborhoods, and businesses. Our success is thanks to developers and their investment and confidence in the community, our business community for its vision, and our residents for their support of these efforts.”
“Ankeny is a special place, and it is no surprise it is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States,” continues Holm. “Ankeny has everything you are looking for in a place to call home—it’s a safe, family-friendly community with beautiful parks and trails, shopping and entertainment districts, a historic downtown called Uptown, quality municipal services and a premier school district. Ankeny checks all the boxes when it comes to a desirable place to live, and it’s poised for even more success in the future.”
The HomeShowExpo is hosted annually by the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines over three long weekends in July at a new community in the metro area. The event presents attendees with a unique opportunity to peer inside and appreciate the style, craftsmanship and amenities of new custom-built homes constructed by local builders.
The homes are fully decorated and landscaped by local professionals, highlighting the best in current trends and innovations. The builders, vendors and partners are available throughout the show, providing a great opportunity to discuss your home building needs.
Home #1: Unique Homes
Home #2: Kyanite Design & Build
Home #3: Brenner Built
Home #4: Kyanite Design & Build
Home #5: Sage Homes
Home #6: Kimberley Development
Home #7: Genesis Homes of Iowa
Home #8: Epcon Communities / Clarity Construction
Home #9: Kimberley Development
Dates & Times:
July 9 – 10 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
July 10 – 10 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
July 14 – 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
July 15 – 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
July 16 – 10 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
July 17 – 10 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
July 22 – 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
July 23 – 10 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
July 24 – 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
$15 for Adults
$5 for Children 6–10
Under 6 Free
From I-35 take Exit 96 for NE 126th Avenue. Go West on NE 126th Avenue. Go South on NE 22nd Street, which turns into NE Delaware. The HomeShowExpo will be on the West side of NE Delaware.
Parking is FREE and on-site at the HomeShowExpo. Look for the signs for designated parking area off NE Delaware.
The Uncoastal Social at Luxury Lane is Thursday, July 21 from 6:00–10:00 p.m. The event will include a tour of the homes, raffle prizes, food, drink and a concert by The Pork Tornadoes. Tickets are $150 per person and $1,250 for groups of 10.
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New coloring book highlights careers in architecture.
Numerous programs and theories have arisen over the past few years in an attempt to address the growing need for young people in the skilled trades. The majority of those efforts target high school students (through programs like that at Des Moines’ Central Campus and the Build My Future events across the state) and young adults looking for an alternative to the traditional four-year degree (through apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs offered by many employers).
The Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Iowa) is targeting an even younger audience—elementary students—with a new coloring book the group recently introduced. “We want to inspire the next generation by fostering, educating, and helping to spark interest in a career in architecture for young readers,” says AIA Iowa’s Executive Director Jessica Reinert.
She says the original concept for the project began last summer. The first copies of the book were released in April. “We realized there was a need for more outreach to young readers, highlighting the great things architects do for our community. I’ve always loved the books my boys received in elementary school that taught them about what a firefighter or a police officer does, and I thought, ‘We can do that for architects!’”
The book, Bee an Architect Activity & Coloring Book, highlights the important skills and interests an architect needs, following Bee through different activities. “There are a variety of fun interactive puzzles, activities, and illustrations designed for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary children,” Reinert explains. “It’s important for children to know what an architect does and how architecture affects all of us in our daily lives, from our house to our school and to the local grocery store or hospital in our community.”
The book is available through libraries and classrooms across the state. Reinert says the Iowa Chapter has made it a priority to reach underserved neighborhoods throughout the state, including rural and urban areas. To help with accessibility, the book is available in both print and digital formats through aiaiowa.org/page/FutureArchitects, the group’s website.
The group began distributing promotional materials, including bookmarks and posters, in advance of the print release, which clearly served its purpose. “All 7,500 printed copies of the book and 5,000 bookmarks are already earmarked for distribution to public libraries across Iowa, to elementary school educators, sponsoring architectural firms, the Boys and Girls Club, and a number of other kid-friendly community events over the summer,” says Reinert.
As with any Association project, Reinert says the Bee an Architect book was a group effort from initial concept to finished product. “The character itself was designed by Azusa Allard, AIA, an architect at FEH Associates. The ideas for activities within the book came from Gladys Petersen, Associate AIA, who’s an intern architect from Hy-Vee Corporation. And Emily Lyon, AIA Iowa Communications and Outreach Coordinator, handled the printing and promotion of the piece.”
Reinert herself formulated and wrote the story for the book. “It’s so important for children to be exposed to resources like this. It helps them visualize themselves as an architect one day, just the way my boys used to do with books about police officers and firemen,” she says.
Activities in the book include word searches, mazes, and shape identification and offer glimpses into the tools used and tasks performed by an architect throughout the day.
The first of its kind in the country, Bee an Architect has already spurred interest from other AIA chapters that have inquired about the project. Reinert says the Iowa chapter plans to release more books in the future, possibly creating new characters to highlight different aspects of the architecture world. “We hope this will inspire other AIA chapters across the country to build upon the impact this book is having and to meet the needs of the young readers in their respective states,” she says.
Whether it’s designing the structures, constructing them, or playing a part somewhere along the way, the future of the architecture, engineering, and construction industries depends on young people who are inspired to pursue careers in these fields.
Maybe any child in the United States can grow up to be President. But a lot more are needed in other roles. Those are dreams worth inspiring, too.