When the mortgage crisis rocked the nation's economy, many people assumed that homebuilders were among the entities responsible for the meltdown. That is an inaccurate assumption according to Kevin Robles, president of the Tampa Bay Builders Association.
"At times builders have been perceived poorly by the public, but homebuilders are pillars of our community," Robles said. "They have big hearts and generous souls, and are involved in a variety of community outreach programs."
"Many people don't realize that a lot of the pioneers who made the Tampa Bay community what it is today were people within the homebuilding industry," added Jennifer Doerfel, executive vice president of the association. "I don't know of any other industry that has had that kind of impact on our community."
Formed in 1946, the association is the sixth largest trade organization in the country for those in the construction industry and related fields. Its members spend much of their time in leadership roles throughout the community, as well as volunteering with charities and working for the rights of homeowners, according to Doerfel.
"One big issue we are facing in Washington is the threat of Congress to eliminate the mortgage interest rate deduction, which helps a lot of homeowners," she said. "Sometimes that deduction can mean the difference in homeowners being able to stay in their homes."
Building a community is as important as building homes for the members of the association. Both as members and on their own, Tampa Bay area homebuilders are very involved in numerous efforts to give back to the community.
"The TBBA sales and marketing council has been very active with Trinity Café, putting in volunteer time to feed the homeless," said Robles. "Builders are involved in community outreach all over the Tampa Bay area.
"Our Remodelers Council is heavily involved in helping to build many projects without compensation that improve the community. Right now, many members are teamed up with local landscape architects, contractors and the Tampa Police Department to build the Tampa Police Department Memorial Garden. TBBA's Remodelers Council is responsible for the installation of the Pergola, Gateway, benches and other important amenities, and the tentative completion timeframe is early November."
The association's new website, tampabayremodelers.net, "was designed to educate and help consumers in the Tampa Bay area find licensed professional contractors who can help make improvements to their homes," Robles said. "Right now is a great time for owners to reinvest in their homes. The materials are more affordable than in recent years, and in Hillsborough County, the permitting fees have been cut by 50 percent from Oct. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012."
Owning a home will continue to be the lynchpin of the American dream, and Robles said the Tampa Bay Builders Association is a great resource for those looking to buy a new home or to make improvements on their existing home. Consumers searching for a builder, remodeler or related businesses can find help on the organization's website.
Naturally, the association endorses the purchase of a new home as opposed to the purchase of a foreclosure or resale home.
"You can pick out everything that goes into a new home and have it customized to meet your family's needs," Robles explained. "A new home includes a warranty as well, which provides peace of mind."
"The downturn in the economy resulted in the introduction of new floor plans based on adult children returning home to live or elderly parents living in the home," Doerfel said. "There are some great ideas out there to fit any lifestyle or family arrangement."
The Tampa Bay Builders Association's popular Spring Parade of Homes, which is scheduled for March 24 to April 1, 2012, is the organization's annual event where the public can get a first hand look at the latest innovations in homebuilding and design.
"Housing is a critical part of our economy," Doerfel noted. "There are so many jobs that are tied to housing. Without a kick start to the housing economy, we are not going to see any real change nationwide or in the Tampa Bay area."
For information, visit tbba.net, or call (813) 571-8222.