Members of the Greensboro Builders Association met with Senator Rick Gunn (R-Alamance, Guilford) in his office during NCHBA’s Legislative Visits. (L-R) 2019 NCHBA President Phil Warrick, Greensboro EO Cheryl Collins, Senator Gunn, Joan Swift and Gary Hill.
Members of the Greensboro Builders Association met with Senator Rick Gunn (R-Alamance, Guilford) in his office during NCHBA’s Legislative Visits. (L-R) 2019 NCHBA President Phil Warrick, Greensboro EO Cheryl Collins, Senator Gunn, Joan Swift and Gary Hill.
When Phil Warrick attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on a Navy/ROTC scholarship, he was selected as the National Commander of the National Society of Pershing Rifles. This elite group is charged with developing future leaders for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. It was there that Phil first honed his leadership skills that were on full display during his service as NCHBA president in 2019.

In addition to his outstanding leadership skills, Phil was a great motivator not only during his presidential term but also during his prior tenure on the NCHBA senior officer ladder. He played a leading role in recruiting and developing future leaders of the association. The success of this effort will be one of the significant legacies of his tenure.

Phil and his wife Ann settled in Greensboro more than 25 years ago where Phil established an engineering practice serving the residential building community. He joined the local Greensboro HBA, serving it in various roles over the years and as its president in 2016. Through his service there, he became involved in NCHBA where his leadership skills were quickly recognized ultimately culminating in his election as NCHBA President.

During his frequent travels to local associations from the mountains to the coast in 2019, Phil emphasized NCHBA’s core mission of preserving housing affordability through its vigorous advocacy efforts. He noted that without the commitment of NCHBA’s members to that cause, no one else would be defending this critical goal in our state. He also pointed out the many opportunities for member involvement in NCHBA programs and saw an increase in member participation as a direct result.

In addition to leading and motivating, Phil took an active role to ensure the success of the association on many fronts during 2019. Just to name a few, those include:

NCHBA enjoyed one of its most productive and successful legislative sessions ever in 2019. The General Assembly enacted, and the Governor signed into law, virtually all of NCHBA’s pro-active agenda. One of our top legislative priorities and perhaps the one with most interest to our builder members was the enactment of SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors). This act provides for eight (8) hours of continuing education as a condition for license renewal for general contractors holding a building, residential or unclassified license. At least one qualifier of a license shall complete this requirement annually beginning in 2020.

Another key legislative victory was the passage of SB 355 (Land-Regulatory Changes) which culminated a five-year effort by NCHBA to enact. This sweeping legislation makes a number of very significant and beneficial changes in land-use law including vesting protection for an entire project; a new standard for the award of mandatory attorneys’ fees in lawsuits against illegal local government actions; prohibition on third-party rezoning downzoning petitions; allowing certain claims to be filed directly in Superior Court without having to go through the Board of Adjustment; assuring that the State Building Code preempts inconsistent local definitions for buildings or dwellings; limiting illegal conditions in conditional zoning and conditional use permits; and assuring uniform applicability of DOT driveway regulations on city-maintained state roads.

Another NCHBA top priority was the passage of HB 675 (Building Code Regulatory Reform Act of 2019). It was the fifth successful bill of this title to be enacted over the past several sessions to bring about major reforms to the building code and inspection system. Among this act’s several key provisions were requiring that those jurisdictions who conduct residential plan review must do so within fifteen (15) days; a prohibition on local governments mandating minimum square footage requirements for residential structures; and a requirement for the State Building Code Council to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of all proposed changes to the NC Energy Conservation Code considered by it after 01/01/18.

Other NCHBA pro-active highlights enacted include legislation making further refinements in NCHBA’s successful 2015 performance guarantee reform law and legislation to simplify application for tax relief for improvements to real property as result of NCHBA’s successful 2015 builder inventory tax exclusion law. Collectively, the foregoing NCHBA-inspired bills will save our members literally millions of dollars in the future and help keep housing costs in reach for thousands of our citizens.

Housing affordability was also protected by several actions urged by NCHBA staff and taken by the Building Code Council. Examples thereof were amending the 2018 Residential Code to provide a new backstop table to include in Chapter 11 (Energy Efficiency) using R-value requirements and an amendment to the 2017 Electrical Code regarding GFI protections; both of these NCHBA-initiated changes will collectively save members thousands of dollars in avoided costs statewide.

During 2019, NCHBA membership grew by 3%, to more than 14,700 members, preserving NCHBA’s position as the largest state association in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) federation. Both personally and through his leadership team and other members continued NCHBA’s strong record of involvement in the activities of the National Association of Home Builders as would be expected of an association which comprises almost 10% of the membership of NAHB.

Under Phil’s leadership, we continued to make great progress in the implementation of our three-year NCHBA strategic plan—Vision 2020. Further, we continued to strengthen the role and accountability of our regional vice presidents as a vital link between NCHBA and our local membership; and we maintained NCHBA’s strong financial footing by recording a solid 2019 operating revenue profit which thereby increased NCHBA’s net assets to a new record level.

Phil led efforts by the Board of Directors to provide $250,000 in funding to the “Home Builders Education Fund, Inc.” (HBEF), NCHBA’s Section 527 entity during 2019. As we prepare for the 2020 elections, the HBEF has more than $410,000 on hand with additional contributions expected to be authorized by our Board of Directors during calendar year 2020. To provide perspective, a total of $441,500 was spent in support of 79 candidates (53 Republicans and 26 Democrats) by the HBEF during the 2018 election cycle. Sixty of the 170 members, or 35%, of the incoming 2019 Session of the General Assembly benefited from HBEF advocacy spending. In addition, Phil championed increased giving to NCHBA and NAHB’s political action committees (BUILD-PAC) as well as NCHBA’s Advocacy Fund. We expect combined advocacy spending again top $700,000 for the 2020 election cycle.

The NCHBA Volume Builders’ Council continued to thrive despite consolidation within the industry which reduced the council’s membership universe as compared to previous years. Composed of national and regional production building companies as well as several development companies, these 26 entities pay a special dues assessment for council membership which helped the association’s bottom line and, in turn, its advocacy efforts.

The 17th edition of the 21st Century Building Expo & Conference held in Charlotte in September was another solid success. The STARS Awards Gala was again a highlight of the show.

Finally, Phil has overseen staff efforts of NCHBA and our North Carolina Builder Institute to prepare to meet the massive challenge of providing quality, affordable and locally accessible continuing education courses in 2020 to meet the anticipated demand.

While the foregoing successes highlight several of the many accomplishments during Phil’s term, what is not so obvious are the hundreds of hours which Phil has expended in support of NCHBA and its members. While Phil expertly utilized the talents of an excellent senior officer team to assist him, his unselfish service to this association cannot be overstated. His singular dedication and commitment to the association has been truly extraordinary. NCHBA will long be the beneficiary of Phil’s hard work, inspiration and, most importantly, his leadership!

Finally, NCHBA owes a debt of gratitude to Ann and his supportive family especially during his presidential year. All of us join together to thank Phil for all he has done to benefit this great association and industry!