State Home Builders Tap Snell

HARRISONBURG - J.M. Snell is a believer in the value of home ownership, and the Home Builders Association of Virginia is a believer in him.
     Snell, the executive vice president of Penn Laird-based Valley Renovators, was installed last month as the president of the state trade association. He'll lead the organization, which has more than 3,500 member firms, until next year's annual convention.
     Much of what the HBAV does, he said, is try to find ways to lower costs associated with building so homes can be more affordable for buyers."The building industry will survive regardless. People always are going to need shelter," Snell, 52, said Wednesday in the company's administrative office off South Main Street in the southern tip of Harrisonburg. "Protecting affordability for the promotion of the American dream is a large enough task."The Petersburg, W.Va., native has been on the presidential track for the last two years. He was tapped by the organization's board of directors to be its second vice president in 2013 and was in charge of membership. Last year, he was first vice president and oversaw finances.Snell said he thinks his work to expand the HBAV's membership as a regional vice president drew the board's attention. That's an interesting development when you consider that he said he had to have his "arm twisted" by several local people in the industry to get involved with the association in 2002."I was a skeptic," he said. "In 13 years I've become a bit of a poster child for them because I'm so concerned that home ownership should be affordable, and there are so many groups [in the industry] that have their own special interests."Valley Renovators started 19 years ago as a small company that did additions and renovations, said Snell, a founding partner. Over the years, however, new homes have become its specialty as it builds more than 50 homes a year.The company has built the town homes in Charleston Townes, Taylor Springs and Wellington Park; larger single-family homes in Mill View Estates in Bridgewater; cottages for Sunnyside Retirement Community; and custom homes in Barrington, Battlefield Estates, Magnolia Ridge and other developments.In the early 2000s, Snell said, gross annual revenues for the company topped $10 million. Post-recession they've settled at about $6 million, and new construction remains relatively flat even though the overall housing market has improved.For the company, Snell said he essentially acts as a CEO. Valley Renovators employs 28 people.The past few years, he said the HBAV's main focus was on stormwater as the association worked to understand new regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and try to find cost-efficient ways for members to meet them.The organization also worked with state officials on revisions to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, the set of standards buildings in the state must meet. The HBAV staked out positions for and against proposed changes.One change endorsed by the International Code Council, which recommends model standards for building safe structures, was mandatory sprinklers for new homes. The HBAV opposed the mandate.It costs between $3,000 and $8,000 to sprinkler a house, Snell said, and insurance industry officials claimed it would increase premiums by 10 percent because water often does more damage than fire. Sprinkler pipes also could leak, so insurance companies would receive more damage claims."There was not enough evidence that they are life-saving," said Snell. "We argued that fire alarms are more effective. We supported the adoption of affordable sprinkler systems [as an option] but not the mandate that they all have them."The lobbying efforts were successful; sprinklers are optional.The HBAV now is working with the DEQ to refine and combine its stormwater management and erosion management programs. They're similar, Snell said, and the hope is that an effective consolidation effort can reduce redundancy and fees.
Bradshaw, Vic. "State Home Builders Tap Snell." Daily News Record 31 July 2015, News (Local) sec. Byrd Newspapers. Web. 2015.

 A New Wave Of Stormwater Regs

" J.M. Snell of Valley Renovators, who serves as first vice president of the Home Builders Association of Virginia and on the board of the Valley association, estimated new regulations could add $5,000 to $10,000 per home.Whatever they are, the additional costs will be passed on to homebuyers, Snell said."Builders can't absorb that," he said. "Builders don't build for big profits - they build for marginal profits."Developments already under construction, such as the Preston Lake subdivision east of Harrisonburg, should not be affected by the new rules."
Hunt, Jeremy. "A New Wave Of Stormwater Regs." Daily News Record 26 June 2014, Business Journal sec. web.

HBAV installs executive officers and regional vice presidents for 2015

J.M. Snell has been elected to serve as HBAV first vice president/treasurer. Executive vice president of Valley Renovators in Penn Laird, Snell has been an active member of the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association for 13 years. During that time, he has served on many committees and was a two-term president. On the state level, he’s been a member of the HBAV Executive Board for the past three years. In 2014, he served as second vice president and chaired the HBAV Membership Committee. Snell and his wife, Lori, reside in Harrisonburg