There is a tsunami of backlogged remodeling need in this
country, yet here we are struggling for work. Properties have
been neglected for decades, our cities are (on the whole) a
mess, and yet we are laying off skilled labor. This work must
and will be done. We as a nation should not leave our housing
and cities to future generations to fix. Young people lucky
enough to buy property today are not responsible for the
decades of neglect they are inheriting. We should supply them
with long-term low-interest loans for upgrading their homes
— 40-year notes at 2.5 percent. The bankers
won’t get rich, but the work will get done and the
money will spread through the general economy.
A boost like that will also quickly reveal an underlying
issue: the lack of skilled labor. We need a campaign to promote
the trades to young people and a nationwide program to test and
train young men and women. Perhaps the unions could work with
the military to create a training program in uniform. Each
graduate could receive a nationally recognized
This work cannot be shipped overseas. It must be done, and it
won’t do itself. So why do we sit on our hands and
watch little men destroy our economy? Let the bankers loan
money in a manner that allows the work to get done.
Productivity comes from those who produce.
Rich Kogelschatz’s foundation detail for a
grade-level entry is very nice, especially at the cost he
quotes (“Building Zero-Step Entries,” 9/09).
I have a suggestion for how he might save a few dollars and
improve his thermal efficiency: eliminate the rim board.
In conventional framing, the rim acts as a header to support
the outer edge of the wall plate and as blocking to prevent
joist roll-over. But Rich’s scheme appears to bypass
both of those issues. Since the exterior wall has been moved
off the joists and directly onto the sill plate, no weight
beyond the floor load is bearing on the joists. And when you
consider that the subfloor has been glued and nailed to the
joist flange, then nailed continuously to the sill plate just a
few inches away, how are those joists possibly going to
I’d get rid of the rim board and replace it with
rigid foam for a thermal break. Run the foam down the wall 4
feet or more between the concrete and the studs. You’d
definitely be a leg up in terms of finishing off the basement.
If spray foam is in the budget, getting that rim out of the way
allows you to completely fill the void inside the sill and
beneath that short subfloor span.
Weatherization Wage Too
I found the article on prevailing-wage rules (In the
News, 9/09) to be a disservice to the professional
tradespeople in the construction industry.
The author cites Davis-Bacon, which mandates a prevailing wage
on federal work, but state prevailing-wage laws have become the
rule of the day when it comes to weatherization work using
federal stimulus funds. To this end, the challenge is to
prevent the low-wage-paying (and low-quality) contractors from
further destroying our industry’s image and standard
of living. In St. Louis, the total package (wages and benefits)
for this recently “made-up” job
classification is slightly over $18 per hour. Please explain to
me how this is a living wage for the average U.S. family.
St. Louis, Mo.
Vinyl Siding Is Green
I take exception to Alex Wilson’s sidebar
“Is Vinyl Siding Green?” in the article
“Another Look at Vinyl Siding” (9/09). I have
sold vinyl siding for more than 37 years and know first-hand
how the product has evolved and is installed. It is very much a
green product. The claim “little if any vinyl siding
is recycled after being removed from a building” is
false. I recycle old vinyl siding from our customers every week
and send used accessories to secondhand material outlets in the
St. Louis area.
I also disagree that fiber cement can
“outlast” vinyl. Vinyl siding has improved
every year and will stay on the wall as long as the existing
home stands up.
President, Wholesale Siding Depot
St. Louis, Mo.