If your lackluster backyard inspires visions of what could be, it’s likely that the projects dancing in your head will involve bricklaying. Fire pits, raised-bed gardens, retaining walls and pet pens all require brick walls, and services from contractors don’t come cheap. Teaching yourself some basic masonry can save you bricks of money. [More]
If you’re looking for something different to do on vacation this summer, how about playing in a giant sandbox driving bulldozers and earth movers? That’s the idea behind “Dig This,” a “construction theme park” opening in Las Vegas this summer. [More]
Want to build the home of your dreams and can’t find enough land for it? Try moving to Tampa. The area has 27,923 building lots, enough to keep homebuilders busy for nine years. That’s assuming anyone actually wants to build something, of course. [More]
Newly released court documents indicate that over a half-dozen companies knew about the rotten egg smells exuding from Chinese drywall since 2006, but they stayed quiet and kept selling the junk. [More]
Do you like farts? Documents and depositions unearthed by ProPublica and the Sarasota Harold-Tribune show exchanges between homebuilder WCI Communities and drywall distributor Banner that reveal the sulfur-emitting drywall problem was known as far back as 2006, and yet customers and authorities were not notified. In one deposition, a Banner executive refuses to admit that sulfur-stinking drywall might bother others, seeing as he himself, on certain occasions, enjoys the sweet aroma of another man’s butt gas: [More]
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has released the names of the top manufacturers of stinky, dangerous drywall, which emits high levels of hydrogen sulfide (the source of its stinkiness). According to the agency, drywall from the manufacturers, all based in China, emitted hydrogen sulfide at levels up to 100x greater than samples from non-Chinese manufacturers. [More]
Never, never open your door to a contractor who randomly appears offering to fix some unseen problem. You would think it’s common sense, but a California senior ended up paying a shady contractor $20,000 to perform $300 worth of work, and it took a sting operation to stop a Long Island contractor who was going door-to-door offering to plug nonexistent carbon monoxide leaks. So how can you protect yourself? Here are a few warning signs to beware….
As if it weren’t bad enough that poisonous Chinese drywall is blame for health problems, corroded electrical work, and general stench. Now the drywall may be to blame for two house fires in Florida. Who knew that Chinese industrial waste is a problematic ingredient for building materials?
The government thinks radioactive industrial waste from China is responsible for a recent sulfur stench that has plagued hundreds of Florida homes. Demand for Chinese drywall spiked during the housing boom, but federal regulators believe the drywall contained phosphogypsum, a banned waste byproduct that features prominently in Chinese construction. When used in drywall, the probable carcinogen can corrode “air conditioners, mirrors, electrical outlets and even jewelry.”
Meet Michelle. We met Michelle at Arbitration Fairness Day and she told us about being forced into arbitration when she tried to get her poorly constructed home repaired. Now she’d like to share her story with you.
Did you know Habitat for Humanity operates retail outlets where they sell used and surplus building materials? Habitat ReStores are located in 47 U.S. states and 9 Canadian provinces.
In 2002, LA banned any new billboards from going up in the city. Since then, an estimated four thousand have been put up by advertising companies who have ignored the law, which obviously the city’s billboard inspectors—”a tiny, and some say incredibly inept, group”—have never bothered to enforce.
Bill Whitlatch, longtime owner of one of the leading home builders here in northeast Ohio, is among the casualties. Three years ago, he borrowed from regional banks to start six developments in the Cleveland area. Soon the region’s home market turned cold. Buyers vanished. Mr. Whitlatch drained his personal savings of $2 million to keep his company going.
Travel guru Peter Greenberg shares three useful and unexpected questions that can make a huge difference when booking a hotel room. Inside, learn how to avoid digs next to the inevitable construction and instead score the room with a shower strong enough to clean a stinky elephant.
Municipal ledger hounds are worried that local governments will slash services as the imploding housing market chokes off access to lucrative property tax revenue. The New York Times visited the future retirement destination of its readers, South Florida, to see firsthand the devastating affect the subprime meltdown can have on communities. For anyone who says “What housing crash, my community is fine,” hop across the jump for a look at your potential future.
Wired has a short article subtitled, “How our technolust helped bring down the housing market.” The article is more sensible than the headline, however—it really focuses on new developments in the housing market, and how expensive it is to retrofit even newly built homes with new (or future) technology: “‘[Remodeling] can be done, but you really need to want it,’ says Kermit Baker, a Harvard economist who studies the remodeling market.” What’s needed, the author argues, is an approach to new home construction that treats homes as dynamic spaces that can be more easily reconfigured to meet the requirements of new owners. Not that anyone is building a home right now, but it’s an interesting thing to keep in mind when you’re ready to leave your shantytown and re-settle in the suburbs.