Earth mover heavy contractor equipmetnDid you know that there is a specially designated number you should call before starting any digging projects? 811 is the (free) phone number you need to call before digging to protect yourself and others from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines.

There are millions of miles of buried utilities beneath the surface of the earth that we don't even think about but are vital to everyday living like water, electricity and natural gas. By simply calling, you'll help prevent unintended consequences such as injury to you or your family, damage to your property, utility service outages to the entire neighborhood and potential fines and repair costs.

Most contractors know that they need to find out what’s underground before beginning to break ground, but there may be some finer points of safe digging that you’re not aware of.

How exactly does this 811 thing work?

Simply call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to digging, and your call will be routed to your local call center. Tell the operator where you're planning to dig. Your affected local utility companies will be notified about your intent to dig and will send locators to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines with flags or paint.

When can I begin my digging project?

Wait for the marks! Utilities will mark their buried lines on your dig site. Most crews will arrive to mark your dig site with paint or flags within a few days and will make sure you know where to avoid digging so you don't hit buried utilities. Remember there may be multiple utility lines in the same area. Be sure to check your state laws for specific information. It's also a good idea to call and confirm that all affected utility operators have responded to your request and located accurately. (State laws vary on the process for confirmation; check with your local one-call center for more information.)

It's finally time!

Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work - but respect the marks! Make sure to always dig carefully around the marks, not on them. State laws generally prohibit the use of mechanized equipment within 18-24 inches of a marked utility, which is called the “tolerance zone”. If you must dig near the marks, hand dig or use vacuum excavation to expose the facility. After exposing the facility, avoid using mechanized equipment within the same tolerance zone.

The marks provided by the affected utility operators are your guide for the duration of your project. If you are unable to maintain the marks during your project, or the project will continue past your request’s expiration date, please call 811 to ask for a re-mark. In addition, if excavation equipment is removed from a work site for more than two (2) business days, you must notify the call center again.

Also keep in mind that some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth, and an unintended shovel thrust can bring you right back to square one - facing potentially dangerous and/or costly consequences. Don't forget that erosion or root structure growth may shift the locations of your utility lines, so remember to call again each time you are planning a digging job. Safe digging is no accident!

Source: call811.com and ccicomply.net

Due to advancements in technology and the increasing demand for affordable homes, modular construction continues to increase in popularity. In fact, modular home construction can often go toe-to-toe with, or in some cases even out-perform, site-built homes.

There are several benefits of modular construction for both the contractor and the homebuyer. Speed is a big factor. Since each phase of construction is carefully planned out, there are few last-minute problems or conflicts that will result in delays or plan revisions. Modular homes are typically built 33% faster with greater efficiency than a site-built home. Think about the countless individual pieces of material a site-built home needs from start to finish. Of course, the prefabrication phase uses many of these same materials, but once out of the factory, a modular home requires only connecting several large-scale components. At this point, delays including supply and delivery issues, are often kept to a minimum.

Prefabrication can also reduce the cost and time to build a home by a significant amount in several ways. First and foremost, factories are climate controlled, which means there are no weather-related construction delays adding time and money to the project. Secondly, there are also no cost over-runs from “no-show subs”. Subcontractors are already there in the factory, eliminating the need to find reliable skilled tradesmen. And third, materials are generally bought from suppliers through volume purchasing, thus getting better prices all the while controlling inventory with less waste.

Speaking of wasted materials, stick built homes tend to be less environmentally friendly than their modular counterpart. According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, an estimated 8,000 pounds of waste is created from the construction of a 2,000 square foot home. The majority of that is wood, cardboard, and drywall and almost all of that waste ends up in landfills. Conversely, any extra materials or waste from a modular home is recycled.

There is however one thing that both modular and stick built homes have in common, and that is the need for a written insured new home warranty. As an RWC/HOME of Texas member, you know first-hand the benefits of providing a warranty on your homes. The construction industry comes in all shapes and sizes and so do warranties. Be sure to check out all of our risk management services and warranty products or call your Account Executive for more information.

You and your crew have been working hard these past few months. In fact, you’re ahead of schedule. Then, you get a call from one of your jobsites. A woman tripped over a piece of scrap lumber and fell on the sidewalk in front of one of your nearly finished houses. None of your crew saw it happen since they were working inside. Your jobsite supervisor offered to call 911, but the lady seemed more embarrassed about what she described as her “accident proneness” and politely refused the offer. After that, she went on her way. No one bothered to get her name or contact information. You heave a sigh of relief and think all’s well that ends well. Still, you can’t shake the feeling; is there anything more you should have done?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do. What’s the use reporting that an unknown woman fell at one of your jobsites, refused medical attention and disappeared. However, that doesn’t mean this isn’t a Premises / Operations claim under your General Liability policy. Many injuries take time to manifest indications of how serious they really are. The person can be in mild shock and truly believe they aren’t hurt. As they begin feeling pain, sometimes days later, they go to the ER and file the claim under their medical insurance. The medical insurer discovers where the injury happened and eventually seeks reimbursement against your general liability company.  Now you may have to explain why nothing was reported. This could impact your renewal pricing. If the claim spirals into a really large loss, you may even face nonrenewal.

All this can be avoided by establishing and following a simple procedure for dealing with incidents involving the public. Whether they happen to a person or their property, the following suggestions may serve as a general guideline to assist you in setting up an Incident Reporting Procedure:

As soon as you learn of any accident or incident involving the public find out if anyone is injured.

• If someone is hurt, call 911. Stay with the person until first responders arrive and follow any instructions they may give.

• Don’t move the person unless you have to in order to protect them from further injury.

• If you administer first aid, make sure you, or someone you know is competent to do so.

• Don’t admit guilt or accuse anyone.

• Your focus is to keep the injured person calm and make sure they get the emergency medical attention they need.

• If the person refuses medical aid, don’t try to force them. Try to get their name, phone number and address, but don’t insist if they prefer not to talk to you.

• If someone’s property has been damaged, call 911 if first responders are needed to prevent the accident from getting worse - such as a fire spreading.

• Try to get the names and contact information of any witnesses. Keep in mind these may include neighbors or passersby.

• Without putting yourself or others at risk, do what you reasonably can to prevent further injury to people or damage to property.

• Contact your general liability insurance company as soon as you can. Give them all the information you have gathered.

• Put your Incident Reporting Procedure in writing. Make sure everyone in your organization is aware of it. Review it often at periodic safety meetings.

To sum up, a premises/operations claim is a claim under general liability when a member of the public is injured or their property is damaged at any place related to your business over which you have direct, or indirect control.* The extent of injuries or damage may not be apparent at the time of the accident, but knowing as much as possible as soon as possible can be critically important when and if the accident develops into a claim.


If you are insured with the RWC INSURANCE ADVANTAGE, having a written Incident Reporting Procedure as part of a formal safety program can qualify you for significant discounts.**

For more information, visit our website: rwcinsuranceadvantage.com. Or if you’d prefer speaking to one of our licensed agents, give us a call at 1-866-454-2155.

*This generally describes a claim for premises/operations third party liability damages. The various terms, conditions and exclusions in the General Liability Policy must be established to determine if a claim is, in fact, a covered loss.

 **Discounts are subject to all other underwriting criteria and are not guaranteed.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Do you know your Account Executive? Are you aware of everything that your Account Executive (A.E.) can do for you? If you answered no to either of these questions, it is time to get acquainted!

Each state is assigned a specific A.E. who is more than just a product salesperson. You may have only interacted with one another when you initially signed up to become a member. Since you may have discussed your initial enrollment process with them over the phone, it is not always easy to recall with whom you spoke. To find your specific representative, you can call into our main office at 800-247-1812 (Texas: 800-445-8173) to inquire or visit our website and click the "Find Your Account Executive" link within the Builder tab's drop-down menu.

Your A.E. serves as more than an initial contact to guide you through the process, they are also your liaison and program concierge. Their role is to help you develop a suitable program for your business. As a member, you have access to a full array of programs and options. For example, if you desire to obtain a quote for liability insurance, wish to offer appliances coverage, or need additional training set up for your team, your A.E. can make these arrangements.

As the end of the fiscal year approaches, common practice dictates that a performance evaluation analyzing the prior year will be completed. Ultimately, it is a time in which new methods or ideas may be slated for implementation with the intention of improving the overall corporate health. Setting aside time to review your warranty coverages and comparing how your business has developed or changed can be a vital part of this process, the purpose of which is to aid in ensuring that a thorough evaluation has been considered. Since businesses can fluctuate from year to year, RWC/HOME recognizes that your initial warranty options may no longer work as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. This is where your Account Executive can work with you to develop the best plan which complements these fluctuations.

If the timing for this sort of evaluation is currently not quite appropriate, keep in mind that your A.E. will periodically be reaching out to you via phone, email, or mailings. However, you do not have to wait for them to contact you to initiate the line of communication. When something from RWC/HOME passes over your desk, let it serve as a reminder to get in touch. Once it is time to think through all the ways in which your business may have developed or changed after your initial enrollment, your A.E. is your best resource. Setting a meeting with your RWC/HOME Account Executive will allow you the opportunity to review each of the servicing options at your disposal. Of the tools in your arsenal, the relationship you develop with your representative is a key component. Remember that they are your partners, meant to serve as a support system for your company, now and into the future.

Map of USAWarranties come in all shapes and sizes and if you are looking for something besides the "traditional" new home warranty, RWC's Customized State Warranty (CSW)* is the answer! This warranty is the most unique and specialized new home warranty program in the industry. Each customized warranty is crafted specifically to meet each state’s statutes regarding new home warranties. The Builder’s liability is limited and individual state requirements for coverage are included, as applicable. RWC’s insurer covers warranted structural failures from day 1 throughout the entire warranty term.

For more information visit rwclive.wpengine.com and click "Warranties - State by State" under the Builder tab. You may also email sales@rwcwarranty.com or call 800-247-1812 x2149.

*Not available in AK, CO, HI, NJ & TX

Why do bad things seem to happen most on Monday mornings? We even call it “Blue Monday.” Take the builder, for example, who wasn’t named Additional Insured on his exterior painter’s general liability policy.

Our builder came to work one fine Monday morning to discover a voice-mail. His painter had over-sprayed a dozen parked cars in a lot across the street from his three-story townhouse project that was nearing completion. It happened on Saturday, which was windy. Too windy for spray painting three floors up. The cars belong to a pre-owned Corvette dealership. Each Corvette is worth an average $40,000. The estimated cost to re-paint all twelve is over $104,000. The painter admitted he’d messed up big time and lamely explained rain was forecast for the next four days, so he decided to “make hay while the sun shined.”

Our builder’s subcontractor was obviously at fault. Our builder had no part in this loss. When he hired the painter he expected he was dealing with a professional who knew his job. Yet our builder’s general liability policy, not the painter’s, is going to pay the claim. Our builder’s insurance company, not the painter’s, is going to defend him in the lawsuit soon to be filed by the Corvette dealership. They are claiming loss of market value now that they have to disclose to customers that their inventory had been damaged. This is going to get ugly and consume large amounts of our builder’s time. His insurance company may not renew his policy. Why? Simply because our builder was not named Additional Insured on the painter’s policy. So, what’s so important about being named Additional Insured anyway?

When you require your subcontractors to list you as Additional Insured on their general liability policies, you become entitled to insurance coverage benefits under their policies. Additional Insured status is most often used in connection with an indemnification agreement, also known as a hold-harmless clause. Hold harmless clauses are common in properly executed contracts between you and your subcontractors.* Under a hold-harmless, your subcontractors agree not to hold you responsible for their negligent acts which may happen while they are working for you. Without you being Additional Insured on your subcontractors’ policies, you can be brought into any suit resulting from your subcontractors’ negligent acts. Without a contract clearly holding you harmless, your general liability insurance company may have to cover the loss and defend you if you are sued. They may seek reimbursement from your subcontractors’ insurance companies, or the subcontractors themselves. Your insurance premium could increase due to the greater exposure, or your insurance company may even decide to not renew your coverage.

Additional Insureds! Hold-harmless clauses! Contracts! Maybe every day is Blue Monday when you have to deal with such things. Consider this, however; why jeopardize your insurance coverage because an incompetent painter decided to use a spray gun on a windy day?

The RWC Insurance Advantage is committed to providing you with the best possible general liability insurance protection. But, we need your help. Here’s a checklist:
(1) Review your contracts with all your subcontractors.*
(2) Are you named Additional Insured on all their general liability policies?
(3) Do they all hold you harmless for all claims while working for you?
(4) Do you obtain up-to-date certificates of insurance every year from each one?

If you have questions about this article or would like us to review your general liability insurance needs, we’d like to hear from you. Contact us by email or call us at: info@rwcinsuranceadvantage.com or 866-454-2155

Make Blue Monday a little less blue.

*Please consider consulting an attorney if you need assistance in drafting contract language. This article is intended to help you better understand general liability insurance terms and coverages. It is not to be construed as legal advice. Terms and conditions of various insurance company policy forms may vary.

RWC Insurance Advantage (RIA) recently launched a new website and if you haven't checked it out yet, we encourage you to do so! RWC Insurance Advantage is exclusive to members of the RWC and HOME of Texas warranty programs. Members can now request a quote, apply for coverage or request certificates all from their computer or mobile devices. Here's what RIA offers:

General Liability Insurance* - General Liability is insurance that protects you from a variety of claims including bodily injury to members of the public and damage to property belonging to others that arise out of your business activities. RIA can offer options in the form of an Occurrence Policy or a Claims Made policy. Please visit our website for FAQ’s on these coverage forms.

Umbrella and Excess Insurance* – In conjunction with McGowen Excess and Casualty, these policies provide you with additional limits (usually $1mm to $5mm) of liability above your General Liability policy. Since a General Liability policy protects your business from bodily injury and property damage claims that you become legally obligated to pay, it is essential that you have proper limits in place to protect your business. In today’s litigious society, a $1,000,000 of General Liability insurance may not be enough. Check out FAQ’s on our website. Look under products.

Builders Risk Insurance – We are an authorized agent for one of the worlds largest insurers…Zurich. Builders Risk insurance protects your financial interest in the materials, fixtures and/or equipment being used in the construction, or renovation of a building, or structure in the event they are damaged or destroyed by a covered cause of loss like fire, windstorm, vandalism or theft.

Contractors Equipment Insurance – With Zurich, Contractors Equipment coverage is property insurance that covers the loss of, or damage to covered equipment owned by you, or in your possession resulting from such hazards as fire, theft or vandalism.

As a leader in the residential home building industry we are committed to providing general liability insurance and select other coverages to members of Residential Warranty Company, LLC, throughout the United States*.

Before you renew coverage elsewhere, consider getting a quote with RIA. Just visit our website and click on the Get A Quote button and answer a few easy questions. We will reply via e-mail with a price indication.

*Insurance products may not be available in all states & are subject to underwriting requirements.

A home is one of the biggest investments a person will ever make and in order to keep that home glowing and increasing in value, a well-maintained property should be the goal for years to come. Of course, a warranty will provide protection, but seasonal maintenance by the homeowner is also key to long-lasting digs. As a professional in the industry, you’ve seen first-hand what irresponsibility will do to a residence. It’s imperative to remind your buyers that even though a home may be brand spanking new, regular maintenance is absolutely necessary to ensure safety, comfort, and retain resale value.

It’s easy to preach to a homebuyer about keeping up with seasonal tasks and send them on their merry way, but why not arm them with a comprehensive list of things they should be aware of? Steer them toward RWC's "season maintenance checklist" under the Homeowner's tab. This is a great tool for homeowners to stay on top of things. Furthermore, you as the builder must have gathered hundreds of maintenance tips during your career. Offer up those tips and hints as you meet with your clients throughout the home building journey.

Just for fun, here is a home maintenance quiz that will test your know-how. While this quiz does not address every conventional home maintenance project, it does provide helpful tips that may have been overlooked.

1. How often do forced-air furnace filters need to be changed?
At least every three months during the heating season.
2. What part of the faucet usually needs to be replaced when you have a water leak?
The washer.
3. Should you run hot or cold water through your garbage disposal?
Cold water.
4. How often should the moving parts of garage doors be oiled?
Every three months.
5. What tools can you use to unclog your drains?
A plunger and a plumber’s snake.
6. What tool can be used to unclog a toilet?
Coil spring-steel auger.
7. What faucet part needs to be cleaned every three to four months?
Aerator — the screen inside the end of the faucet.
8. What can you use for traction on icy sidewalks, steps, and driveways?
Cat litter or sand — never use salt because it damages the pavement.
9. Where should the fire in your fireplace be built?
On the irons or grate, never on the fireplace floor.
10. What will prevent soot and add color to the fire in your fireplace?
Throw in a handful of salt.
11. Where should your firewood be stored?
Outside, away from your house and not directly on the ground.
12. What helps keep unpainted concrete floors easy to keep clean?
Concrete Sealer.
13. What should you use to clean unpainted concrete floors?
A solution of 4 to 6 tablespoons of washing soda in a gallon of hot water. Mix scouring powder to the solution for tough jobs.
14. Why should frozen pipes be thawed slowly?
Frozen pipes should be thawed slowly to prevent the formation of steam, which could cause the pipe to burst.
15. How often should your roof be inspected?
A qualified roofer should inspect your roof every three years.
16. What should be regularly checked on your security system?
The alarms and circuit breakers should be checked to make sure they are in working order and the sensors should be inspected one by one.
17. At what temperature should your water heater be set?
120 degrees Fahrenheit
18. How often do skylights need to be inspected?
Skylights should be inspected each time your roof is inspected so leaks don’t develop from cracks and interruptions around its seals, caulking and flashings.
19. What can you use to help a window slide easily?
Rub the channel with a piece of paraffin.
20. What should you look for when you inspect your siding yearly?
Determine if wood-sided homes need to be repainted; check to see if the caulking around the windows and doors has split and cracked, and replace the caulk; clean the mildew; trim shrubbery away so it does not touch the siding.

(Quiz provided by NAHB.org)

“Limited inventory”. “Rising interest rates”. “Barbell of imbalance”. Many homebuyers and real estate professionals alike are finding themselves challenged by the law of scarcity in today’s market. Simply put, there are more buyers than there are homes to fill. Anyone in the home building and buying world is intimately aware of the impact presented to us with this unique situation. There are several factors creating this imbalance.

house built of money dollar billsFirst-time homebuyers who are starting families and move down buyers who are looking to downsize have put a strain on the inventory availability. The need for each group is similar, the wants may differ, but the need can be met with access to more inventory of affordable homes. With the average sales price of homes increasing exponentially, the opportunities for these buyers is continually diminished. Add in the threat that homes will now cost more because of rising interest rates, and a crisis is created. Interest rates are not currently creating a deferral impact upon buying trends, however, as the prices continue to rise, it prices many families out of the market entirely.

What does this all mean? To put it bluntly, the market needs more homes for the fixed income and average income buyers. Meeting these buyers needs starts at a price point and includes flexible options. Fixed income buyers who are downsizing tend to fall into the group of sellers that are cashing in on the equity increases in their current homes. They may be retiring or reducing their workload, pushing them toward fixed income levels. However, first-time homebuyers have a different hurdle. These apartment and rental home buyers need better programs in place to help them get out of the rental trap. With the increased need for rentals came the increased cost of renting. Many of the options available for renters taps out their income which reduces the chances that they can save money for a down payment. A good rental history shows they can afford the home, but they don’t have the income set aside for a 20% down payment. Does your company offer incentives to first-time homebuyers? What can your trusted lenders do to help them?

Although it is a challenge for the buyers, it is a positive for sellers and builders who are looking to gain a profit after a long stretch of being at a standstill. This opportunity for growth for builders is understandably a cautious undertaking. Willingness to work with these buyers can be rewarding to builders but it is wise to take precautions to avoid the pitfalls of the past. Ensuring that you work with other professionals who are licensed properly and that you are providing a high quality, warranted homes will set you as a builder apart from the crowd. Many lenders are now requesting that a 10-year structural warranty is in place when the buyer is using FHA/VA and USDA financing. As a member in good standing with RWC, you are in a position to meet this requirement and can meet the buyers lending needs.

In conclusion, home buying needs and demands are at the crossroads between availability and affordability. Somewhere in the middle is exactly where builders should strive to be to reap the rewards. As a tradeoff, qualified buyers are willing to settle for higher interest rates if given the opportunity to achieve the long-term goal of homeownership. Scarcity is real, but buyers are abundant.

green building earthThis weekend marked the 48th anniversary of Earth Day. On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans came together to fight for a clean, sustainable environment and that fight still continues today. Consumer-awareness has increased over the years, and so has the demand for Earth-friendly products and procedures. According to the NAHB, and in conjunction with a series of studies conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics, “at least one-third of surveyed single-family and multifamily builders said that green building is a significant portion of their overall activity. And by 2022, this number should increase to nearly one-half in both sectors.”

You, as a builder, can have a big impact from the get-go; essentially starting with a clean slate for every home you build. How can you contribute to the home’s carbon footprint? Simply look around a typical house. There are opportunities everywhere to make improvements or conserve. Do you incorporate environmentally-friendly features such as water saving faucets and toilets, low VOC paints and adhesives, and energy-efficient appliances and systems? Not only is saving money for the long haul important to buyers, but the way the home itself impacts the future (and present) environment is also significant.

House hunters today have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a builder. Will you measure up? Do you have special certifications such as LEED or Energy-Star? Have you won awards for your ecological principals? If green building is in your wheelhouse, then show off -- highlight these practices on your website, social media, on promotional materials, and by word of mouth! Those are exactly the types of things that consumers today are attracted to.

More and more builders are joining the green home movement with sensitivity to nature preservation and homeowner requests. Slowly but surely, eco-friendly elements are becoming the ‘standard’. If you haven’t done so already, incorporating just a few of these building practices will be beneficial for your business. With this buying preference in mind, there is much opportunity and value in this market. Prospects will certainly do their research when planning for their dream home and you may just win them over when Mother Nature is in your corner.