Thursday, July 12, 2018

the rest of the story

I discovered standing water in our crawl space first; but, it was our (widow) "roofmate" who contacted county building code enforcement first. she was coming up on the end of her 1 yr. guarantee and hired a private home inspector. he found water in her crawl space and she contacted BCE. they came and inspected her crawl space first, then ours. the county BCE official told us both that there were code violations and the builder would have to fix them. then two days later he told us that the county attorney (a private attorney living and working in the next county contracted by shenandoah county to represent shenandoah county) had decided that "they" were not going to issue a notice of violation to the builder.

I was ready "to throw in the towel". Jenny & I have been married for 51.5 years. after the disastrous 3rd house that we owned in SC, I said that we would never own another house again. for the next 5 years we rented. we moved 6 times in 5 years. finally, last november, when our landlord refused to fix a hole in the driveway caused by lightning, I gave up. I can't live in an unsafe house. at 71 we got a 30-yr. VA loan and we bought our 4th house.

Jenny and I are in our "4th quarter". we just want to live out our last quarter in peace. when BCE told us that they were dropping the code violation, I gave up. "you can't fight city hall." then, 24 hours later, I got back into the fray--not because of water in the crawl space, but because we were getting jerked around--time to play hardball (I don't like being jerked around). had "they" decided not to issue the building code violation, then I was prepared to go to the newspaper--just like I did in SC.

I don't know how long that we'll be here--if we're lucky and our health holds out, etc., maybe 10 years--maybe not. sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we're in the 4th quarter and that our "treasure" isn't in a house.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

shenandoah county virginia building code violation

Mark A. Griffey
Building Official

shenandoah county, virginia
Building Inspection & Code Enforcement - Building Inspection

Mr. Griffey,

under section 401.3 of the virginia residential building code ( and paragraph 6 of section 19.2-8 of the code of virginia (, I am submitting my formal complaint of violation of  the virginia building code. Specifically, section 401.3 of the virginia residential building code states "Surface drainage shall be diverted to a storm sewer conveyance or other approved point of collection that does not create a hazard to the dwelling unit. Lots shall be graded to drain surface water away from foundation walls. The grade shall fall a minimum of 6 inches (152 mm) within the first 10 feet (3048 mm).The grading at our house, located at 148 daniel ct., strasburg, does not slope away from the foundation walls as required. This has resulted in several inches of standing water in our crawl space. 

Our certificate of use & occupancy is attached. Please note that our house meets the time requirements set forth in paragraph 6 of section 19.2-8.

Should you reject my formal complaint, then I request a meeting at county offices with you and other county personnel or outside consultants involved in the decision not to issue a notice of violation of the building code to the builder for this violation.

Ray Koenig

approved grading plan (2003)

the ground slopes 15% towards Koenig’s house. 
Section 401.3 of the Virginia Residential Building Code 
calls for the ground to slope away from foundation walls 
at 5% for 10 feet (the 2”x4” on the ground is 10 feet long). 
Failure to meet this building code requirement has resulted 
in several inches of standing water in Koenig’s crawl space. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Friday, June 15, 2018

are your roof, walls, windows, doors, garage door, etc. capable of withstanding a category 4 hurricane?

many state building codes require that houses in coastal areas be capable of withstanding a category 4 hurricane with winds from 130 to 156 mph. 
Saffir–Simpson scale - Wikipedia

How to Calculate Wind Loads From Wind Speeds | Sciencing

pressure P (psf) = 0.00256 times wind velocity V (mph) squared. 

for V = 130 mph, P = 43.3 pounds per square foot (psf)
or 1 ton (2,000 pounds) per 6.8 ft. by 6.8 ft. of surface area 
or 4,330 pounds (2.2 tons) per 100 sq. ft. of surface area 

for V = 156 mph, P = 62.3 psf
or 1 ton per 5.67 ft. by 5.67 ft. of surface area
or 6,230 pounds (3.1 tons) per 100 sq. ft. of surface area

are your roof, walls, windows, doors, garage door, etc. capable of withstanding a category 4 hurricane? 

if the answer is no, then blame government building inspectors. 

building inspection is a state responsibility. typically, states use local governments to perform building inspections. 

are the states' poor performance in enforcing building codes partly responsible for the fact that the quality of construction over the last 50 years has declined while the quality of goods and services in other industries has increased more than 200% over the last five decades? 

answer: ABSOLUTELY! 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

the sad state of home construction in the US

many who bought new houses in the past 50 years know what this chart shows:

that the quality of construction of new houses over the past 50 years is poor when compared to the quality of homes built 50 years ago. basic systems, e.g. structure, roof, floors, windows, weather protection, HVAC, appliances, etc., are less reliable in many new houses today than those built 50 years ago.

why? the reasons are probably many--
  • builder incompetence and greed 
  • decline in skilled labor 
  • government's failure to protect consumers 
  • consumer reticence 
  • a costly legal system that protects builders more than it protects consumers

whatever the reasons, the chart is clear--while productivity and quality of non-agricultural products have more than doubled over the past 50 years with advances in technology, productivity and quality in construction have declined, despite advances in technology. many who bought new houses in the past 50 years are left with fixing builder messes at their own expense--the ones that can be fixed--while the productivity and quality of new homes continues to decline.

what's the solution? I honestly can't tell you. It looks to me like the trends that are so obvious in the chart will continue--bad news for new home buyers--that's you and me. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017


62,264 views from 2007 when I started this blog. 

most of my posts these days are to my blog


I'd love to hear from you; contact me through any of my blogs.

take care,
Ray Koenig
PE, retired

Friday, August 5, 2016

be kind

Ian MacLaren, a noted Scotsman, author of “Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush,” cared deeply about those around him. His oft-quoted words offer wise counsel: “Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.”

Ian MacLaren was the pseudonym or pen name of Rev. John Watson. Wikipedia has an entry for MacLaren. His book “Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush” was a best seller in the 1890s. In 1965 in the Chicago Tribune the words attributed to Ian MacLaren are a close match to the quotation we are tracing [CTM]:

"Most of us are acutely aware of our own struggles and we are preoccupied with our own problems. We sympathize with ourselves because we see our own difficulties so clearly. But Ian MacLaren noted wisely, “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

hazzards of rebuilding in a flood zone

More Rain, More Development Spell Disaster For Some U.S. Cities : NPR

I feel deeply for the people of Ellicott City who got hammered by the flood. We, including government, should do everything possible to make those who suffered losses whole again. IMHO, the government should condemn the property along Main Street, purchase it from the owners, and return it to it's natural state (natural drainageway), extending to the flood zone limits. No construction of any kind should be ever permitted again within the limits of the flood zone.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

comments from Hondo

Hondo has left a new comment on your post "Silver Spring Transit Center": 

I lived in Sun City Hilton Head from 2008 to 2013. My stucco house was built in 2005. I started to address the cracks in the stucco in 2011 having an infrared study done by a resident in Sun City. It passed the initial home inspection. The first year was ok but with sections on the border of failure. In 2012 the test revealed a failure and Pulte had to replace one side. The problem here is that they did not change the location of the expansion joints around the windows and set up another failure in the future and the other sides were headed for failure. Pulte did not charge me anything because they want to mitigate the class action suit but there is no guarantee that they will continue to fix stucco problems free of charge. Infrared test costs are paid by the homeowner and have to be done once a year or once every two years at a cost of @ $200. Furthermore, I had cracks in the foundation, and the overall quality of the house for being built in 2005 was poor. The HVAC system and roof were going to need replacement earlier than one would expect. I had cracked tiles and window leaks. All things that you would think I would have seen or read about in the home inspection when I bought the house. But you get caught up with the allure of Sun City and a house on a lagoon that you put the practical side on the back burner. The major reason I moved back north was that I felt that within 10 years I would be spending a chunk of my retirement savings to maintain a house that was fairly new.
Plus, Sun City was not the best fit for me. Politically, it is tea party conservative and I felt I was living in a large nursing home at times because there is a large segment of the population who have owned there for twenty years and are now in their 80s. Also the expense of having three golf courses would increase the POA at some point. This is just my opinion and I also felt that a large segment of the residents felt self-entitled. I worked for the management company there in a customer service position for 5 years which added to my perception. I guess the bottom line is that I am highly suspect over the construction quality of all the homes built there (even the new section) and would recommend that perspective buyers look at the overall fit of moving into a large, and aging senior community. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


When I was working, I was a civil engineer. 
I was also a consumer, and I paid taxes.

Now that I'm retired, I'm a taxpayer and a consumer, 
who just happens to be a civil engineer.

update, 8/31/14:

Here is a recent exchange on my other Pulte blog:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

the truth about Pulte Homes

I started this blog in 2007 when I discovered that Pulte Homes was putting out false information about the nails that they substituted for hurricane clips in the house that I owned, and THOUSANDS of other houses, at Sun City Hilton Head in Okatie, SC. (SCHH is located near the coast where the SC building code requires that houses be capable of withstanding a 130 mph wind gust from a hurricane.)

In late 2011 we put our Pulte house at SCHH on the market; it finally sold in mid-2013. We are now part of a VERY large group: FORMER owners of Pulte homes.

Unfortunately, Pulte Homes, or Pulte Group, or whatever they're calling themselves these days, isn't the only bad builder; and, unfortunately, shoddy construction isn't limited to private construction. Check out . Not only is government failing to protect us from shoddy construction in the houses that we buy; but also, government is taking OUR money (taxes) and using it to fund shoddy public works' projects.

Back to 2007...


Monday, November 9, 2015

Pulte Homes' propaganda team pushes shoddy houses

...........Pulte Homes' propaganda team pushes Pulte's shoddy houses
................................while feeding at the Pulte trough

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday, November 7, 2015

in a nutshell

Take it from someone who knows construction, and who made the mistake of entering into a contract with Pulte to build a new house. * 

You don't want to sign a sales contract for a new house with Pulte Homes. 

Pulte builds shoddy houses and treats their customers poorly. Pulte Homes is dishonest, reckless, and arrogant.

* The sales contract, which includes a binding arbitration clause, is based on a lot selected by the purchaser and a house "description". Detailed construction plans are NOT made available by Pulte to the purchaser--ONLY a "sales-type" description of the house and schematic "floor plans".  The house that Pulte built for me (under contract) was different from the model home.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Pulte Homes' mantra

When problems occur with Pulte Homes' houses (they do regularly), Pulte Homes always says: "Pulte Homes is fully committed to customer satisfaction and quality."


If that’s the case, then why did Pulte Homes deliberately build thousands of houses with unreinforced concrete foundations on expansive soils in Arizona in the early 2000s, and then do the same thing in Texas years later, leaving customers in Arizona and Texas to deal with devastating consequences of failed foundations? Why did Pulte Homes deliberately substitute nails for hurricane clips in thousands of houses in coastal South Carolina? Why did Pulte Homes install defective stucco in thousands of houses at the same location?

There are widespread problems with Pulte Homes' houses at many other locations. Pulte Homes’ mantra is always the same: "Pulte Homes is fully committed to customer satisfaction and quality."

Dishonest, reckless and arrogant Pulte Homes

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Pulte Wall of Shame
..........................a public service announcement

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pulte roof truss connection


This is how Pulte Homes connects roof trusses at Sun City Hilton Head, SC. The SC building code requires that houses at SCHH be capable of withstanding a 130 mph hurricane.

In articles by The Island Packet (eg, ):
· Pulte installed hurricane clips at these connections BEFORE 2004 and AFTER 2007

· TWO THIRDS of the truss-to-truss connections in houses built between 2004 and 2007 that The Island Packet inspected had either one nail or NO nails or the substitute two nails were short, driven in split wood, or missed their target COMPLETELY

· Beaufort County, SC issued occupancy permits for houses here with KNOWN and documented, but uncorrected, defects

· In 2007 2,749 houses at SCHH built between 2004 and 2007 were re-inspected and repairs were made to 668 of them

· In 2009 The Island Packet reported that roof truss connections in BRAND NEW HOUSES here CONTINUE to be defective

· Dishonest, reckless and arrogant Pulte Homes CONTINUES their SOP to “DENY, DENY, DENY” (see Rasmussen article, pg 12A, The Island Packet, 4/28/20 and )

SCHH roof design does NOT meet SC building code: