Builder Chicks represents the day-to-day needs of women in the construction industry. We offer the latest building news, links to educational resources and job boards. We bring you stories related to developments that affect all construction workers. Enjoy your first cup of morning coffee with Builder Chicks.


The January Housing Drop - Not as Drastic as it Appears?

The Euro dropped against the dollar yesterday, ostensibly on the idea that the U.S. housing industry is still shaky.

In January, pending house sales dropped over 7 percent. The problem is-it's not always some gloomy economic indicator that.affects the fluctuating house prices. And in this case, it probably wasn't.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) thinks the barrage of heavy snows played a significant role. And I agree. Buyers simply don't go looking when the blizzards roll in. And in January, the weather was one big tumultuous roll, covering large sections of the nation.

And, let's not forget what Warren Buffet said recently.

Funny how fickle investors are.

Will Congress Extend the First Time Home Buyer Bill?

When the housing market dropped, one of the only things that kept it going was an incentive for first time home buyers to enter the market. Right now, if you have a house to sell, the buyer must make a good offer before April 30, to qualify for the rebate. The rebate is $8,000.

Needless to say, the first time home buyer incentive has moved new buyers into a market when they might not have taken the plunge otherwise.

But, when it ends, housing prices will drop. They can't do anything else. A house that was worth $100,000 to a buyer at the end of April, is only worth $92,000 on May 1. Either the buyer or the builder (or any type of seller) will absorb that loss, meaning buyers will offer less, dropping house prices.

We have a small remodeled house going on the market in the next few weeks. It will be interesting to see the effect if this bill expires.

Women Only Power Tool Classes? Is This for Real?

I can't figure out if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

On the one hand, the guy wants to teach women to operate power tools--and to do a number of other construction-related tasks. But on the other hand, why must the women be separate? Does he think they will feel alienated or put on the spot if they take the classes with the men? Does he offer the same instruction on the same power tools?

I'm not going to judge this guy but I'd be interested in hearing other's opinions on this.

Should women be instructed separately? If so, why?

Cambodian Business Women Find Facebook to be a Financial Friend

I love this. No matter where you are in the world, the internet is reaching out to bring all of us together. This time it’s Facebook.

Cambodian women are known for their strong work ethic but, surprisingly, they’re even better businesswomen. Women own 62 percent of Cambodia’s businesses. Sure, many of them are small startups, but The Asia Foundation notes that Cambodian women are making inroads in formerly male-dominated industries and construction is one of them.

Unfortunately, these progressive entrepreneurs face a lack of traditional support for their business ventures and that’s where Facebook enters the picture. Already, more than a few hundred Cambodian businesswomen have joined their sisters in creating the Cambodia Women in Business site on Facebook, which is proving lucrative, indeed.

Congrats to these industries women and best of luck for their continued success.

New: Women In Concrete

The women who make concrete happen just took a huge step into the future with the formation of the Women in Concrete Alliance (WICA), a brand new organization for women who work in the concrete industry.

Founded by Kimberly Kayler and Kari Moosmann, WICA exists to educate women about the opportunities available in the concrete industry and to provide educational resources.

The new WICA site hosts a "Spotlight" page that features accomplished women in concrete construction.

We extend a big hearty welcome to Kimberly and Kari and to all the women they will undoubtly benefit with their new alliance.

Build it, sister!

What's Your Billing Style?

I overheard a couple of contractors talking yesterday about the way they bill clients. One said he gets a deposit upfront for the job, just in case the client turns out to be a deadbeat. The second contractor (a woman I know and respect), said she never asks for a draw until she's either invested money (materials) or time.

Along conversation ensued about the ethics of billing one way or the other, but, in the end, both contractors made valid points.

So, what's your billing style? And does it depend upon the type of job? Whether the client is new or a repeat client?

Share your thoughts with us.

Sustainability in Construction: 2010 symposium

April 20 is the date for the 16th Annual Sustainability in Construction Symposium. The University of Southern California (USC) will host a thousand construction industry professionals, and elected officials to share the newest green construction technology.

This is shaping up as the "event to attend" in 2010. If there's any way you can make it to Los Angeles, do it.

With the massive environmental push toward green construction and reducing our carbon footprint, this is the way of the future and the sooner you jump on bard, the sooner you'll start seeing the dollars roll in.

As construction professionals, it behooves us to stay on top of the latest trends and legislation. Funding for green construction projects and possible fossil fuel regulations pound this idea home.

Build it green, sister!

Punakha Construction Women Sing as They Work

Even heavy work - hand-compacting the soil has a light side. These two women from Punakha stay busy but raise the level of enjoyment by singing. Is your jobsite like this?

Maybe it should be.

Non-Residential Construction Dollars Lowest Since 2003

We reported last week how Kansas City residential construction rose but its commercial building was still low.

That trend seems to be the norm for other parts in the nation as well with dollars spent on commercial construction at the lowest they've been since 2003.

So what's the deal?

The deal is investor confidence. Until the economy shows signs of healthy and steady improvement, venture capitalists and commercial lenders are going to keep a tight grasp on the purse strings. Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractor's spokesman thinks the decline indicates a weakness in the commercial real estate sector. What was your first clue, Ken?

Despite the numbers and the naysayers, the only way to boost commercial construction is to prompt the investors to start investing again. Eventually demand catches up with supply. In the areas where unemployment rates are dropping, more workers mean more consumer consumption and the trickle-up effect will soon be felt by the banks who will happily start footing the costs, once again.

Bank on it.

Warren Buffett Predicts 2011 Housing Recovery

When Warren Buffett talks - ears perk up.

His actual words are, “Within a year or so, residential housing problems should largely be behind us,” so let's hope Mr. Buffett is spot on.

Here in Kansas, we've seen some recovery but we never experienced the kind of downturn that took the coastal states by storm. We slowed a bit, moving into remodels to keep our crews working but houses are still going up, albeit much slower than they were five years ago.

This is encouraging news, not only because Warren Buffett said it, but because other industries take stock of what he says and plan accordingly.

March 7-13: National Women in Construction Week

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) will be kicking off a week of festivities starting March 7. Designed to celebrate and focus attention on women in the building trades, the NAWIC offers ideas for celebrating this week with your own crew.

A full two months of preparation went into this years celebration and some of the exciting events will include a week long construction camp for women and girls, a construction fashion show, scavenger hunts and "Girls Night Our at Home Depot."

You've got a week to get your own festivities together. Look at the NAWIC handout for some cool ideas. Let us know what you do to celebrate Women in Construction Week.

Top 10 Green Building Bills

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) just announced what it thinks are the Top 10 GREEN bills. Here’s a quick rundown of all 10:
  1. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – More than $80 billion for new, green energy technology and energy efficient programs. This bill is now law. 
  2. The American Clean Energy and Security Act – provides funding for bringing existing structures up to code and reducing carbon emissions. HR 2454 
  3. The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act – HR 2187 – funding to bring public schools up to code. 
  4. The Expanding Building Efficiency Incentives Act – HR 4266 – Tax incentives for installing energy-efficient commercial building measures. 
  5. The Property Assessed Clean Energy Tax Benefits Act – HR 4155 - Finance initiatives for homeowners to install energy saving measures. 
  6. Act to Enhance Private Financing for Clean Energy Technology - HR 3836 – Allows private funding for implementation of renewable energy. 
  7. The Energy Efficiency Modernization Act – HR 4099 – Promotes energy efficiency for those in federal housing to improve resident affordability. 
  8. Water Accountability Tax Efficiency Reinvestment Act – HR 1908 – reduces water waste through tax incentives. 
  9. Livable Communities Act – (pending introduction) proposes $4 billion for sustainable initiatives, including housing, transportation and green energy efficiency. 
  10. Federal Personnel Training Act – (pending introduction) proposal to fund training on federal workers in green technology and green building techniques.


Malawi Women Bring Solar Technology to Villages

This demonstrates how valuable women are in building our world.  In my head, I'm hearing, "Give a man a fish...feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish...feed him for a lifetime.

If you lived in a village that used parafin for lighting, what would it mean to you to suddenly the ability to generate light with solar technology? It would mean everything.

The Center for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE) chose 6 semi-literate Malawi women and trained them to become solar engineers in the Barefoot College of India. They learned the fundamentals of solar energy and how to build and install the new technology in their own villages.

Kudos to CCODE for their progressive thinking and kudos to these new women solar engineers. The world just got a little bit brighter.

Is India's Solar Mission Achievable - The Market Perspective

Build it Sister!