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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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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Your DIY Pergola Makes Everything Even Cooler: Part 2

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

Hi friends! I’m excited to be back to share how we built this gorgeous pergola with Simpson Strong-Tie’s new Outdoor Accents® line. If you’d like to read about how we built the floating deck, click here.

If you recall, we built the floating deck and pergola for our neighbors, who also happen to be a fellow military family. The deck and pergola are our welcome home gift to their deployed soldier. Aren’t they amazing? I’m so thrilled that we were able to work with Simpson Strong-Tie and give our neighbors a beautiful new outdoor space that they can enjoy for years to come.
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Repetitive Training Needed to Fix the Most Common West Coast Framing Errors

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Take framing, for instance. In November 2009, Simpson Strong-Tie Pacific Northwest Outreach Coordinator Jim Mattison penned the article Framing Hardware Dos and Don’ts for the Journal of Light Construction, outlining some of the most common framing errors as seen in the field, including notching studs and joists around anchors, using incorrect fasteners and overdriving nails with pneumatic nailing equipment.

So what’s evolved out there on the jobsite in the eight years since? “Not much,” bemoans Mattison, who says common framing mistakes still vex most of the builders he visits across the Western US.  “When it comes to installing the hardware, the problems that plagued the industry in 2009 persist today, and while some of the hardware has changed in configuration and use, simple installation errors regarding use of incorrect fasteners and fastener overdrive are still happening frequently.”
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You Can Have a Cool DIY Floating Deck: Part 1

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

Hi friends, I’m so excited to share our biggest and best DIY project to date! We partnered with Simpson Strong-Tie to build a floating deck and pergola for our neighbors. Our neighbors are a fellow military family and this floating deck and pergola is our welcome home gift for their deployed soldier. I am thrilled to work with a company like Simpson Strong-Tie that proudly supports our brave men and women in uniform. And I’m equally thrilled that we were able to bless our neighbors with this amazing outdoor space that they can enjoy for years to come.

Because Adam works during the week and I homeschool our two young kiddos, we dedicated our weekends to building this deck and pergola for our neighbors. It took the two of us about 10 weekends from start to finish. It was a ton of hard work and we’re incredibly proud of the result! As an Army family ourselves, we know the sacrifice of deployment all too well and we’re so thankful that we’re able to give back to a fellow military family. I mean, who wouldn’t want to come home to this gorgeous space?!
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Protecting Homes Against Earthquakes With Seismic Retrofitting

If an earthquake were to strike at this very moment, are you confident your home is adequately constructed to withstand it? Depending on where you live, how your house is built—and the year in which it was originally constructed—an earthquake could have a devastating impact on your physical and financial health.

We’ve all witnessed the catastrophic impact that large earthquakes can have on society recently, and our hearts go out to those affected in Mexico who are picking up the pieces. Since October is Earthquake Preparedness Month and October 19 is the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill, we thought we’d share some steps homeowners and building owners can take to help minimize the risk of damage.

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