In Houston, building science attracts a crowd
More than 50 residential builders and remodelers attended an all-day Houston Building Science and Energy Forum held at the Houston Dow Center.
Hosted by Dow Building Solutions and the Greater Houston Builders’ Association (GHBA), presentations addressed the building and energy challenges specific to hot and humid climates, and outlined changes to 2012 Houston energy codes.
The event kicked off with a keynote address from Doug Garrett, Building Performance and Comfort. During his presentation, Garrett discussed new technologies from Dow Building Solutions that address indoor comfort and exterior durability in hot, humid climates.
All the proceeds from the forum are being donated to HomeAid Houston, a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that partners with local builders and vendors to create transitional housing for Houston’s homeless.
Labor Department investigating home builders
The federal government has begun an in-depth investigation of possible wage infractions in the residential construction industry, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
So far, government officials have sent out broad demands for records on wages paid and hours worked by direct employees of home builders, as well as those working for their contractors. Recipients of the letters include PulteGroup, Lennar, D.R. Horton and KB Home, according to people familiar with the matter. A Labor Department spokeswoman confirmed the investigation but declined to discuss details.
The letter instructed the home builders to immediately turn over the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, pay rates and hours worked for all employees over the past two years. It asked the names of all contractors hired in the past year. The letter didn’t allege any specific violations of law.
Nancy Leppink, acting director of the labor department’s wage and hour division, told the New York Times that the government was focusing on the residential construction industry because it had so many vulnerable immigrant workers and because some construction contractors had been misclassifying workers as independent contractors to circumvent wage laws.
Executives in the residential construction industry called the investigation yet another example of overaggressive regulation in the Obama administration. The Leading Builders of America, an association of 19 production home builders, said the inquiry was overly broad and “especially troubling given that no issues have been identified to warrant an investigation,” according to the Times.
Drywall distributor offers $53 million settlement
Banner Supply Co., the Miami-based drywall distributor, has agreed to pay $53 million to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming it sold defective drywall imported from China. The settlement offer, which is still subject to court approval, will be deposited into an escrow account for plaintiffs who claim their houses need remedial work after being built with toxic drywall.
Banner and its insurers deny any wrongdoing, pointing out that the company never manufactured the drywall it sold or delivered.
The settlement was reached before in the New Orleans court of U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, where many of the Chinese drywall cases have been consolidated.
A final approval hearing is set for Feb. 3, 2012, in New Orleans.