April 03, 2007

A message from the HousingPANIC community to American homebuilding tradesmen and women

I hope you don't mind HP'ers if I speak for you on this post...


To the honest, hard working & skilled American tradesmen and women who build America's houses;

We at HP wish you no harm. Quite the opposite, we would like to see an America where you can ply your craft, safely, consistently, fairly, and for a decent wage. We think what's happened to you personally, and to your profession, is one of the saddest chapters in American history.

Housing was turned into a great get-rich-quick Ponzi Scheme by evil and corrupt people. And now you are the ones who will pay the price.

Your jobs were stolen, or wages forced down, by a blatantly illegal labor force, imported from Mexico by greedy homebuilders and developers, with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink from a bought-and-paid-for Congress and President.

Your industry, the late-great-American-homebuilding industry, has now been destroyed by corrupt cabal of commission-hungry mortgage brokers, bankers, financiers, appraisers and real estate clerks. They could care less about you and your families, the quality of the product, and your profession. They simply wanted their short-term commissions and profits - and screw you, screw everyone and screw everything else.

The collapse of the American homebuilding industry, the outsourcing of your jobs to illegal Mexican labor, and the crappiness of new home product, is a great American tragedy. We hope you help us fight the real enemies, restore the American homebuilding industry, and clean up the den of corruption which led to your predicament.

We at HousingPANIC stand behind the American homebuilding labor force.

Fight the power. And best of luck to all of you.

35 comments:

a.creampuff said...

Just because you are an expert craftsman doesn't mean you don't rip people off, too, unfortunately. We all know stories. Revise this to comisseration with honest hammer wielders (doubtless the majority, but still), and then you speak for me.

Anonymous said...

The issue is confined to a relatively small part of the market.


Small VERY small part

Anonymous said...

Well said Keith.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little concerned about the political backlash against immigration that I see all over the place. The US was built on immigration and it is exactly what makes the country strong. Sure, the immigrants that you are talking about are illegal---but that's more a statement about the stupidity of current government policies than of any higher reality.

In the current world where the US is going to be competing with the rising powers of the East, namely China and India, the best defense is to open the gates to immigration and grow.

If you are worried about outsourcing then relax the immigration policies. Contrary to popular belief a lot of white collar outsourcing occurs because of a lack of H1-Bs...

Anonymous said...

Spoke to my cousin in Florida. He's been putting up drywall for 20 years and was recently laidoff. Said he can't find a job in the entire state. He's going to go to New Orleans....
I wished him luck...he's going to need it.

FlyingMonkeyWarrior said...

Yep. But they will be fine because the City PTB are building roads, Arenas, and Stadiums to keep the economy healthy. That will work, right?

GWK said...

This should be placed in the Capital Rotunda for all to read!

David in JAX said...

I would say that this problem is even worse in the commercial construction industry. Between 2000 and 2005 I saw most of the skilled $25-$30/hour electricians, plumbers, sheet metal contractors, glaziers, etc. replaced by $8-$10/hour illegal alliens in my area.

Anonymous said...

The price of an average apartment in the heart of New York City has hit more than $1.2 million.

So people are buying so STFU... there is no bubble.

michael said...

aren't these the same people you bitch about buying all the cheap chinese crap and living beyond their means?

Anonymous said...

BWA HA HA HA HA!!!

NYC apartment prices are on fire. Seattle just posted an 11% YOY jump in prices.

And you tools are still talking about a housing crash. At what point do you just admit you were wrong and move on to looking for black helicopters under your bed?

Anonymous said...

MY WIFE WORKS AT A RETAIL STORE THAT DEALS IN BUYOUTS HERE IN PA. SALES ARE DOWN COMPANYWIDE AND THEY HAVE CUT PAYROLL TWICE IN THE LAST 2 MONTHS. AN EMPLOYEE WHO WORKS PART-TIME AT NIGHT (CONSTRUCTION DURING THE DAY) JUST GOT LET GO WITH THE BUILDER HE'S WORKED WITH FOR 5 YEARS. WANTS TO KNOW IF HE CAN GO FULL TIME WITH SAID RETAILER.
FOLKS...MY CONCERN IS THAT RETAIL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A BACKDROP FOR PEOPLE THAT NEED A JOB FAST. THEY COULD USUALLY COUNT ON THE BIG BOXES OR MOM AND POPS TO PICK THEM UP IF THERE INDUSTRY WAS WEAK AT THE MOMENT. WERE DO YOU GO WHEN RETAIL IS WEAK AND GETTING WEAKER?

Anonymous said...

Quote:
Spoke to my cousin in Florida. He's been putting up drywall for 20 years and was recently laidoff. Said he can't find a job in the entire state. He's going to go to New Orleans....
I wished him luck...he's going to need it.

He'll be back,Hurricanes are coming ...
Pit

Anonymous said...

teach music and dance for a career change.

Mort said...

Ha Ha! Your picture shows a bunch of white guys. Ha ha! Crapshacks, they build overpriced crapshacks. The builders are stupid and greedy, and I love watching empty inventory of crapshacks bake in the desert.

Anonymous said...

Hear that boys, two cities have had appreciation y-o-y. Must be that there is no bubble. Yep, that proves it! Guess it truly is the best time to buy in years. At least that's what my FB friend told me.

Anonymous said...

Mike Holmes (of "Holmes on Homes") has started a foundation to promote education in the building trades. John Ratzenberger (of "Cheers" and "Made in America" fame) has started his own foundation to promote manual skills and "tinkering" among young people. Kudos to both of them. Someone has to retrofit bathrooms and fix electric scooters for all of those aging Baby Boomers.

Anonymous said...

"The price of an average apartment in the heart of New York City has hit more than $1.2 million.

So people are buying so STFU... there is no bubble."

You may have seen the article in the nytimes about rich parents buying their kids places to live in NYC? The other day, I also read that over 250,000 families in southern california make more than $200,000 a year.

So, yes, there are some rich families out there who get paid unbelieveable amounts of money but, the question is, will their money be able to support the bubble?

That's the big question.

Anonymous said...

How you doin with those DOW puts Keith? My mantra is Buy DOW Sell Keith.

Anonymous said...

When the S**T hits the fan in the construction industry the hardest hit will be the illegals!

That's who has all the jobs especially here in california!

People who come here from third world countries, with No building codes to speak of....what the hell do expect the final product to be?

They may be good laborers or good at masonry or tooling leather. But, please explain to me how you can teach code framing and other trades to someone who doesn't understand the concept or language?

*********************************

**********************************

Anonymous said...

I got out of the construction trades in '90. I saw what was coming. I assumed that a young guy could work construction, make a decent living and retire in good grace when it was time. I was wrong. Guys I worked with that are still in the business are competing with $10/hour illegals for the leftovers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said the stores are a little more empty these days. I agree. I have noticed then aren't hords of hispanics and thier kids running around. A lot spanish being spoken very loudly. It is like one day they just disapeared. I mentioned it to my friend and we think maybe they are trying to show the value of their money or they are going home because the jobs are going away. I live in California and it is very obvious. My father was a carpenter during the 60's and 70's and he was so proud of everything he helped build. He would take us kids and my mother and show us what he helped build. He may have helped build the house I live in now. I can't ask because he passed away before I bought this house. It's a good strong house and had good good bones that's why I bought a 25 year old house. (at that time it is now 40) Our houses in this neighborhood are keeping their value because they are good built homes, nice lots, very spacious. I love the new homes now but they put them up so fast with precut forms I just can not imagine they are any good. When you grow up with a carpenter you learn that what looks good and what doesn't and you also learn that wood actually has to be measured twice and cut once. I also learned by watching flip this house alot of hispanics who say they know how to do it really don't and just want a job and get on the job training. My father didn't he was a tradesman and belonged to a union. He didn't stand in front of Home Depot he went to the union hall. What a shame Ross Perot had it right. That sucking sound you hear is the sound of American jobs being sucked out of America. He predicted MESKINS will come to the USA and take over. No one ever wants to hear the truth until it comes knocking on the door.

Anonymous said...

The picture is wrong. 90% of construction workers I see are all brown, illegal, and are always nervously looking over their shoulders for ICE agents.

Anonymous said...

yes but the real estate bubble that is starting and showing 30% a year appreciations in their home countries, where people have lives will forever price them out, and 10 dollar an hour wages here, might guarantee them nothing more than debt slavery, and old age pension poverty, with no where to run.

Anonymous said...

Is there any benefit in reporting the employment of illegals to INS, the IRS, etc?

I have heard that if an employee reports a tax cheating employer, they get 1/2 the money recovered- anyone know if this is true and whether it works?

Anonymous said...

This is such bullshit. The glorius carpenter at the union hall being replaced by the big bad evil brown man. Puhhhleeezzze.

One summer in college I worked for a small independent contractor building a custom home. Just him, me another friend of mine from college. We both made $9 an hour (this was in 1995 so it was decent pay for a summer job then). Worked from 6:30 to 2:00 and had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy at the beach. It was a great time.

At the start of the summer I didn't know one end of a nail from another. But I learned quickly and helped with framing, putting up the roof, siding, putting up stairs and learned about the wonders of Typar. And you know what, it's not rocket science. It's robotic after you get the hang of it. It's manual labot and $10-12 an hour is what those jobs should pay.

Anonymous said...

As my dad was a brickmason, I think this post was worth publishing. Thanks Keith.

It led me to wonder what the next generation of cheapie houses will look like. Total prefabs delivered by flatbed from Ikea (or, more likely, Sears or Wal-Mart) made in China, to be screwed together by minimum-wage neoslaves... guided by post-literacy pictograms?

Kinda like those Sears or Aladdin kit homes... but different.

Anonymous said...

I'm a contractor here in Orange County, CA. Things sure have slowed down but still plenty of jobs to go around. I've been in the business for 25 years. I was trained by some of the most talanted people who really cared about what they built. We do the high end jobs for people who would never be hurt by a housing bust.

I own the company and will not hire anyone who is illegal, they make a great laborer, but when you need a highly skilled worker they usually don't fit the bill.

The competition does make more money using them, but they quality of the work shows. We see crappy work all the time, usually granite is the worst. Go to a tract sometime and see who is working on the jobs. The crap out there is amazing.

I can't wait for the bust to really happen here. It will weed out the people who have no business in this business. This isnt Trading Spaces.

Like they say, "never buy a house that was built during a housing boom".

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"I'm a little concerned about the political backlash against immigration that I see all over the place. The US was built on immigration and it is exactly what makes the country strong. Sure, the immigrants that you are talking about are illegal---but that's more a statement about the stupidity of current government policies than of any higher reality."

The US was built on LEGAL immigration, not an invasion of illegals. You are right, the current government policies ARE incredibly stupid -- for allowing millions of illegals to flood over the border so that a wealthy few can benefit as the expense of most everyone else.

"In the current world where the US is going to be competing with the rising powers of the East, namely China and India, the best defense is to open the gates to immigration and grow."

So we're going to compete with China and India by becoming a Third World cesspool, eh? I am sure having millions of uneducated, unskilled, illiterate Third Worlders flooding into the country is really going to help us compete.... NOT!

We need educated, law-abiding people coming here, and we should be picking the best, not the ones that will work for cheap and don't mind breaking the law to come here.

"If you are worried about outsourcing then relax the immigration policies. Contrary to popular belief a lot of white collar outsourcing occurs because of a lack of H1-Bs... "

Whatever. Whether the American engineer is replaced by an Indian one in India, or an Indian one with an H1-B, really doesn't make any difference. Either way, it means there is zero incentive for an American college student to study a challenging subject like science or engineering.

Keep drinking that corporate/PC Kool Aid.

bogalusan said...

Those Sears kit homes, if they were assembled properly, were good stuff.

One of my relatives owned and lived in one for decades, and it's still standing and strong.

a.creampuff said...

Not their fault, but what they built was at best boring, more often ugly and/or outsized monstrosities - atop once rolling hills of arable land; topsoil all gone.

Pick a one- to three-digit number. Go to Rte. or Hwy. [fill in your number] near you. Here's what you'll see: gas stations, signs, chain restaraunts, car sales, gas guzzlers with one passenger going nowhere fast. "We can do better" - understatement of the century.

With all due respect, the construction industry earnestly ruined the landscape. Maybe a little hiatus would do some good.

Anonymous said...

The US was built on LEGAL immigration, not an invasion of illegals. You are right, the current government policies ARE incredibly stupid -- for allowing millions of illegals to flood over the border so that a wealthy few can benefit as the expense of most everyone else.

Legal vs. illegal is just semantics. Try to think of things more in terms of supply and demand rather than government policy. At best government policy is misguided and generally ignored by society. At worst it actually distorts the market as it is doing now.


So we're going to compete with China and India by becoming a Third World cesspool, eh? I am sure having millions of uneducated, unskilled, illiterate Third Worlders flooding into the country is really going to help us compete.... NOT!


Crack open a history book. You know, the ones where they have long boring stories about the past. The past is that thing which happened before right now. A little reading should show you that actually huge influxes of uneducated people of different races was what built the US into the world power that it is today.

I know that it's hard to believe, but seriously, there is this whole genre of books where they talk about the past. They're called ``History''. Try it, it's pretty entertaining.


Whatever. Whether the American engineer is replaced by an Indian one in India, or an Indian one with an H1-B, really doesn't make any difference. Either way, it means there is zero incentive for an American college student to study a challenging subject like science or engineering.


It's shocking to think that there might actually be people in the world with such a simplistic view as this.

Let's just ask a simple question: does an Indian with an H1-B living in SFBA get paid exactly the same as an Indian living in Bangalore? Now, think about that for a minute. It's hard, I know, but just try.

The US has become great by being the beneficiary of the ``Brain Drain''. In order to do that, you have to open up the immigration and allow the brains to drain. Recently, the drain has been closed which is not exactly a good thing.

sinis said...

Crack open a history book. You know, the ones where they have long boring stories about the past. The past is that thing which happened before right now. A little reading should show you that actually huge influxes of uneducated people of different races was what built the US into the world power that it is today.


You mean the same history books that talk about the immigrants learning English and making a better life for themselves and putting their culture on the back burner so as to adopt the American culture? You mean that history? Or the future of America that involves a "quilting" (new term being used - PC bullshit) of different races but no homogeny, and no common language, and no adoption of American ideals, just the over all lust for the dollar? That is the bleak future "illegal" immigration brings. Legal immigrants have to meet certain standards and are usually educated, have a sponsor, etc. Those are the ones we should be bringing her in droves, not the uneducated, illiterates from Mexico, south america, russia, asia, etc. (it just happens to be the mexicans who are currently invading our country). So if you like Mexico, and that "old pueblo" look and feel, along with the hacienda, and 20 kids, then I think you will do well in the future...

Anonymous said...


You mean the same history books that talk about the immigrants learning English and making a better life for themselves and putting their culture on the back burner so as to adopt the American culture? You mean that history? Or the future of America that involves a "quilting" (new term being used - PC bullshit) of different races but no homogeny, and no common language, and no adoption of American ideals, just the over all lust for the dollar? That is the bleak future "illegal" immigration brings. Legal immigrants have to meet certain standards and are usually educated, have a sponsor, etc. Those are the ones we should be bringing her in droves, not the uneducated, illiterates from Mexico, south america, russia, asia, etc. (it just happens to be the mexicans who are currently invading our country). So if you like Mexico, and that "old pueblo" look and feel, along with the hacienda, and 20 kids, then I think you will do well in the future...


No, actually I was thinking of the bit of the history book which details how every wave of immigration into the US was accompanied by the same racist drivel that you're spewing right now.

It's happened before, it will happen again. It worked well the last N times and will in all likelihood work well this time. And of course every time, there are reactionary naysayers such as yourself that predict that the subhuman Irish, Italian or Hispanics will somehow destroy the country.

But the fact is that allowing immigration is what made the US into the superpower that it is today. Even if certain backward elements of the US population seemed to think that Catholics, e.g., weren't really humans in the strictest sense of the word.

Anonymous said...

First of all - if America was actually built by immigrants, one needs to consult history.
When Henry Ford doubled his workers' wages for good reasons, the thinking was not to slash them in order to take advantage of immigrant desperation. He still made his money, obviously.

I'm getting a little fed up with this continual pointing to China and India as the new global reality...let's get with reality itself. They will, both of them, never achieve anything close to North American or European levels of middle class consumption, and the reason should be obvious.
There is not enough to go around.
Our planet will tilt first, and its natural resources will tank long before this is accomplished.

America achieved its majority middle class lifestyle and consumption pattern at a time in its history when its population was approximately 10% of the combined population of both China and India at present.

Should these two nations achieve even a 10% middle class (supposedly consuming like Americans - which, I know, is the big neocon wet dream) what will the other 90% of the population do? Stand on the sidelines waving flags and cheering?
Not bloody likely. I'd imagine a good healthy revolution would be in order, then.

And finally - anyone with eyes can see what has happened in America and elsewhere when cheap labor is the foundation of corporate profit: junk.
There was a time...when immigrant labor would have had to ramp up its skill level to achieve a good tradesman quality. The cream would have risen to the top and a small margin would have accomplished this goal. (and been paid accordingly.)

The bigger picture - whether a yuan, a rupee or a peso, parity with a greenback is just not on this poker table. We'd look pretty silly in a nation where no-one can afford to buy anything anymore (except cheap Chinese plastic sold in Walmarts)


you're just as robbed with a fountain pen
as with a gun, son.