Currently Reading

Mud Puddles No Longer Deemed Protected Waters


Mud Puddles No Longer Deemed Protected Waters

NAHB Policy Briefing | Decades of uncertainty over federal jurisdiction of U.S. waterways is resolved

By National Association of Home Builders March 2, 2020
Mud puddle with water and surrounding trees is no longer subject to WOTUS regulations
The EPA has announced a new final rule that better defines waters of the U.S. | Photo: David Lally (CC by 2.0)
This article first appeared in the March 2020 issue of Pro Builder.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler resolved decades of uncertainty over federal jurisdiction of U.S. waterways when he announced a new final rule that better defines waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), during NAHB’s International Builders’ Show

For years, NAHB has been pushing the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to produce a more sensible definition of WOTUS, which, because of its excessively broad definition, has slowed and restricted new development, needlessly driving up housing costs. 

In August 2016, then presidential candidate Donald Trump addressed NAHB’s board of directors and promised to rescind a 2015 WOTUS rule that vastly expanded federal overreach by regulating isolated ponds and man-made ditches. The new final rule delivers on that promise.

The new rule announced by Wheeler recognizes the difference between federally protected wetlands and state protected wetlands. It preserves water protections and gives states the certainty to manage their lands and waters in ways that protect both their natural resources as well as their local economies.

Perhaps most importantly, the new rule adheres to the statutory limits on the authority of the EPA and the Corps of Engineers. 

EPA’s new final rule will replace the 1986 rule and will narrow the extent of federal jurisdiction by excluding isolated water bodies, most ditches, and “ephemeral” waters that only form in response to rain. In the end, home builders and developers will be better able to determine whether they need federal permits for construction activities.


Single-Family Home Construction Costs and Profit

The cost of constructing a typical single-family home increased, as builder profits fell slightly, according to an annual NAHB survey of home builder members conducted late last year.

The NAHB Construction Cost Survey asked builders about the various components comprising the sales price of typical single-family homes they built during 2019. Survey results showed that while the average new-home sales price climbed to more than $485,000—the highest average sales price (not adjusted for inflation) in the survey’s history—nearly two-thirds of that cost went into constructing the home. 

chart showing construction cost and profit breakdown of single family home sales price

Chart background photo: Elenar /


On average, 61.1% of the sales price, or $296,652, goes to construction costs, up significantly from 55.6% in 2017. In fact, construction costs as a percentage of sales price are only slightly lower than the highest percentage (61.8%) ever recorded since the cost survey began in 1998. Add to that finished lot costs (18.5%), over--head and general expenses (4.9%), sales com-missions (3.7%), financing costs (1.7%), and marketing (1%), and the average builder profit is 9.1% before taxes, compared with 10.7% in the previous survey in 2017. 

Access a PDF of this article in Pro Builder's March 2020 digital edition


Written By

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing, and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. For more, visit

Related Stories

Housing Policy + Finance

NAHB 2022 Legislative Conference Puts Pressure on Congress to Act on Housing Affordability

Over 600 home builders attended the NAHB 2022 Legislative Conference to advocate for effective affordable housing policies


NAHB Chairman’s Message: Members Urge Action on Housing Crisis

The National Association of Home Builders is relying on strength in its membership numbers to press the issue of housing affordability with the White House and Congress

Labor + Trade Relations

Incidents of Workplace Discrimination Doubled in 2020

The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 sparked a movement for racial justice and equality that traversed the globe, but it seems that the construction industry has yet to catch on


More in Category


Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.