Remodeling for Reason – Bungalow Insanity

Exploring for interesting (and relevant) reading. Came across Bungalow Insanity, not mentioned in the recent articles about housebloggers in the media. This blog has become a fast favorite for me.

Bungalow Insanity chronicles the adventures of Julio, Stephanie and their daughter Chloe in renovating a 1911 Craftsman bungalow, chosen because it still had enough of it’s original “stained woodwork” intact to be worth doing for these “old home” lovers.

Most of the other houses we looked at had already been “redone,” usually by a flipper (which meant a lot of cut corners) or by a homeowner (which meant lots of problems).

The blog has been live only been live a few months but posts have been backdated for the last couple of years to keep continuity and “best tell” their story, of transforming a neglected ex-rental unit into a beautiful home.

Why do I like this blog? In a word – engaging.

The writing takes one forward. Can a blog about home restoration and renovation actually be “gripping”? Probably not – yet I find the posts highly readable and entertaining, especially the longer more detailed ones. Their story and their challenges are well told. The voice is conversational and matter of fact. The accompanying photos are always good and used well to illustrate points.

The focus. No lengthy ruminations about the weather, navel gazing, or vacation snaps here (in fact Julio spent his “vacation” working on the house). No doubt about it – this is a blog about remodeling and renovating. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact they have to get going because they have a baby on the way in July … but I like that posts are about the renovations.

The gory details. What they did, how they did it, and why – with lots of insights and a bit of self-observation sprinkled in. This is more where they’ve done the work themselves. That’s the thing about reading houseblogs – you can learn from them. Julio & Stephanie seem to be early adopters, interested in “going green” and energy efficiency. You know early adopters … they’re the people that get the bad tankless water heaters so the rest of us can get better ones, later on. Lots of experience shared, lessons learned, and even happy endings.

I find myself admiring their enthusiasm in the face of what has obviously been a long slog (Bungalow Infinity?). They’re making great progress though. They also answer questions when comments are posted and are friendly, polite and tactful. Recommended reading if you enjoy houseblogs. A good place to start if you’ve never had the pleasure.

Top 10 Greenest Cities in the USA

Burlington, Vermont is the most eco-friendly city in the USA according to a new survey from Country Home magazine. The survey rates cities based on “air and watershed quality, mass transit use, power use and number of organic producers and farmers’ markets.”

The Top Ten List:

  1. Burlington, Vermont
  2. Ithaca, New York
  3. Corvallis, Oregon
  4. Springfield, Massachusetts
  5. Wenatchee, Washington
  6. Charlottesville, Virginia
  7. Boulder, Colorado
  8. Madison, Wisconsin
  9. Binghamton, New York
  10. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

Read more from the Associated Press.

Home Depot Exposed – Gouging Customers for Remodeling Projects

For some people, the Home Depot brand is synonymous with Home Improvement. But in the last few months, at least in California, the once trusted brand has become associated with far less desirable words – “nightmare”, “horror story”, and now “fraud”.

Home Depot is being investigated by KNBC in Los Angeles for ripping off customers.

KNBC (NBC4 TV) reports that these allegations are backed up by statements from Home Depot insiders (former salespeople and subcontractors).

NBC4 has heard from customers in 22 states and from insiders from across the country, who have given NBC4 a paper trail of internal documents, suggesting the company overcharges customers on window and siding installations, kitchen remodels and on roofing jobs.
Joel Grover and Matt Goldberg, NBC4 TV

In October 2006 when the investigation started, KNBC’s focus was on service issues in California. Now, it’s gone all the way to outright fraud, with complaints from across the nation.

Home Depot’s response to this latest charge has been to apologize for the situation and promise to investigate. “We have no practice overcharging customers in any way, shape or form”.

It’s a fascinating, if unsettling, read. The video should be up later this morning.

Home Depot Investigation – Part 3 – Article and Video on NBC4 TV

Home Depot Investigation – Part 2

Home Depot Investigation – Part 1

Texas to get tough on Home Improvement Contractor Fraud

New legislation has been introduced to overhaul the Texas Residential Construction Commission. Bill 1686 is designed to give more protection to homeowners and seniors in particular.

The bill highlights:

  • all home builders to be registered with the TRCC
  • all home improvement contractors doing work over $2500 to be registered
  • free TRCC complaint process for homeowners
  • criminal charges can be laid against offending contractors
  • establishment of a recovery fund to help provide relief from certain types of damages
  • much more …

From a statement released by the Texas House of Representatives:

There are many reputable builders and remodeling contractors who do a good job on home improvement projects. For those who don’t, we’re putting some teeth in the law so that homeowners will be protected … There have been too many horror stories of contractors who have taken money from elderly homeowners and left the job half-done, or not done at all. This Bill would put a stop to that kind of scam.
State Representative Ruth Jones McClendon (District 120, San Antonio)

Read the actual Bill (PDF).

Rep. McClendon’s Press Release.

Detailed report on HomeOwners for Better Building, a consumer action site.

Ohio Remodelers are real ladies’ men

Professional Remodelers of Ohio is out to charm the ladies. This year, the RemodelOhio Show has undergone a bit of makeover, changing it’s name and shifting focus from DIY products and services to connecting homeowners with professional remodelers. In particular female homeowners, who are taking a more active role in deciding who to hire. In the words of PRO executive director Brenda Callaghan, “… women are becoming a stronger voice in remodeling. They want their homes to be nice, and they want to work with a professional.”

To that end, this year’s show caters to the ladies by having:

  • a female spokesperson (local broadcaster Robin Swoboda)
  • a soap star (Aiden Turner of “All My Children” fame), and
  • hair and makeup makeovers on the “Remodel Yourself” stage

in addition to more conventional seminars on kitchens, decorating, custom decks, and adapting your home as you age.

Did I mention the hot tub full of firefighters raising money for charity? No?

Well you have to give credit where credit is due. Ohio Remodelers have big cojones. It’s a bold move, I just hope it doesn’t alienate all the guys out there.

RemodelOhio runs Thursday Jan 25 through Sunday Jan. 28 at the International Exposition Center. Remember ladies, what happens in Cleveland stays in Cleveland. ;)

Read the source article New focus at remodeling show by Melissa Herbert on

Home Improvement Contractor complaints down in NJ 2006

Is New Jersey tougher on contractors? New Jersey’s Department of Consumer Affairs has reported a 25% decrease in consumer complaints about home renovation contractors this past year. Why? While judgement is still out on this one, it seems that Jersey’s new Home Improvement Contractors Registration Act, which requires mandatory registration for access to work permits and operating in the home improvement business , may have been the key factor.

Read more analysis from Consumer Action at

Read the original AP Article.

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