Alternative Homes — the Impact of Rising Rents and Mortgages

After the collapse of the housing market in 2008, homebuilding is back on the rise, and the cost of housing is increasing nationwide.

According to the United States Census Bureau, in the third quarter of 2017, the median asking price across the country for a vacant rental unit reached an all-time high of $912. In comparison, the median rental price for vacant units in 1997 was below $500 nationwide. That kind of an increase outpaces inflation, adding significant burden to the wallets of renters nationwide. What’s more, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) reports that nearly 48% of renters in 2015 spent more than 30% of their income on housing, with lower-income homes being the most affected.
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Picking Up the Pieces — Examining the Effects of Hurricane Harvey

From hurricanes and earthquakes to wildfires, floods, freezes, droughts, severe storms and more, natural disasters plagued the United States in 2017. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reports that 2017 could be a record-breaking year for disasters that cause over $1 billion in damage. As of October of 2017, NCEI reported 15 such events in the United States, only one fewer than in the record year of 2011. Without going into the details of why these events occur — we’ll leave that to the scientific community — there are ways to prevent damage and destruction by building resilient communities and structures.
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Laying Foundations: Simpson Strong-Tie Mentoring Future Construction Leaders of America

Good news for anyone involved in construction: The industry added 23,000 specialty trade contractor jobs in November 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bad news? Construction employers will likely struggle to fill new positions, as a labor shortage triggered by the 2007–2009 Great Recession continues to dampen more robust growth for the builder economy.

In fact, the number of builders reporting a critical shortage of labor has grown from 21% in 2012 to 46% in 2014, 52% in 2015 and 56% in 2016, says Paul Emrath, who tracks industry economic statistics as the vice president for survey and housing policy research for the National Association of Home Builders.
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Protecting Your Home from Earthquakes

On a Sunday morning in late August 2014, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake surprised Napa, California residents and caused structural damage to many homes and businesses in the area. Local news outlet KQED reported that the earthquake caused $300 million in damage to homes and commercial properties.

Napa is right in our backyard, about 60 miles north of Pleasanton. Many Simpson Strong-Tie employees felt the quake, but fortunately no one was injured. If you’ve ever been in a large earthquake, you would probably agree that it’s a frightening and unsettling experience. And unlike other natural disasters, there’s no warning. Here is one woman’s story about the Napa earthquake:
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Build An Easy DIY Bar Cart For Your Next Holiday Party

This week’s post was written by Jen Woodhouse from The House of Wood.

Hello! Jen Woodhouse here, happy to be back on the Building Strong blog, sharing my DIY bar cart just in time for the holidays!  Tis the season for entertaining and this bar cart with removable tray is the perfect addition to your festive holiday party.
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Modular Building: a Faster, Higher-Quality Alternative to Stick-Built Construction

Modular construction — sometimes also known as prefabricated, prefab, prebuilt, manufactured, factory-built, or panelized construction — ain’t no stroll in the trailer park. Although double-wides and modular prefabs sometimes roll off the same factory floor, the similarities end there between mobile homes and true modular construction, which is gaining a foothold in markets as builders and developers look for higher-quality, more efficient construction processes.

Like component construction, modular building takes much of the labor off of the construction site and puts it on a factory floor, where assembly can be value-engineered to minimize waste and maximize speed and overall product quality. And while modular building includes trusses and panels, modular component facilities are much more than your run-of-the-mill truss plant.
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Turkeys and Gratitude

There are a couple of turkeys that like to hang out around our home office in Pleasanton and, no, I’m not referring to any of my colleagues — we actually have a gang of wild turkeys that comes up from the creek behind the office. Almost every day, these colorful birds feel safe enough to stroll onto the office walkway pecking for food outside our office windows and doors. It’s surprising to me that these beautiful creatures could be so fearless (or is it simply naïve?), especially around Thanksgiving time. Their presence reminds me that being fearless is important, because nothing new would ever be discovered if we were too afraid to venture outside our comfort zones.
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Build a Modern “Chic” Chicken Coop

This week’s post was written by Jamison from Rogue Engineer.

This past spring, my wife, Jamie, decided to bring home six chickens. Then she pointed at me and said, “We’re going to need a coop.” Well, six months later, the chickens were still sleeping in our old rabbit hutch at night and free-ranging around the yard during the day. One morning I went to let them out and saw all six of them tightly packed into a hutch designed for one rabbit, and I knew the time had come.

When I sat down to design this coop, I knew that we wanted something awesome. We wanted to design a coop with clean, modern lines that had a simple yet great-looking exterior. This thing will be sitting in our yard all the time, so we knew just any old coop wouldn’t work. Jamie and I sat down to research coop designs but nothing was exactly what we wanted. We didn’t want the standard look of boxes attached to boxes. We wanted everything housed in one single unit, under one roof.
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How to Fix the Most Common East Coast Framing Errors

Of all the possible mistakes that pop up across East Coast construction sites, one easy-to-correct framing blunder continues to vex even the best builders and structural engineering experts – the use of incorrect fasteners. Despite the industry’s best training efforts, the availability of print handbooks and installation guides, and even easy-to-understand smartphone videos and graphics, framing laborers are seemingly content to bang away at various anchors, straps and plates using whatever nail happens to be loaded in the gun.

“Even with great advancements in building designs and roof and framing systems, the bigger issue remains how well those designs are executed in the field,” explains Simpson Strong-Tie builder service rep Kevin Kelly. “No matter how much training we do and how many pocket install guides we publish, the biggest issue with framing connectors is always the use of incorrect fasteners.”

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