Saturday, May 22, 2004

Housing Watch: Another Report From the Frontlines

Yesterday I featured Wunderdog who was reporting from the frontlines of working drywall installation in the Detroit area. Since then, a reader, posted this message which I think is a fitting followup since it's from another region of the country.

I live in NW Arkansas, and I roofed for most of 20 years. Occasionally I still get a side job, as I haven't got a steady job.
Bidding on, and getting jobs is a full-time job, so in effect the people actually doing the work are sub-subcontractors (noone hires by the hour anymore, to avoid paying unemployment, ss, etc.).
Shingling paid $10 per 100 sq. ft. in 1982. It pays the same today, to the person actually laying the shingles.
Jeff Lawson

That's very interesting. I hope to get more information and data in shortly. It seems to me that Daniel Gross's article in Slate painted a very pretty picture of how the companies building houses are standing. So if housing prices are still high, housing starts have just started leveling off, and the corporate spreadsheets of home-building companies are okay where is the money all going? Certainly it's not apparently going into tradesmen's hands. Part of it has to be going into price inflation, but all of it? This is something I should track down later ... in the meantime I'm going to try to read considerable portions of the 105 page FSA Financial Risk Outlook 2004 for the UK. It's the kind of incredibly tedious and boring followup work that pays real dividends as far as investing.

Thanks for chiming in Mr. Lawson, we're very happy to have your report to add to our sources from the frontlines!

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