Refab Now!

farm forclosure image

Foreclosed farm, Great Depression

I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to defend modern prefab from an analysis by Chad Ludeman and in the end, failed, coming up only with a tie. I spent the rest of the day thinking about it and realized that no, we both fail. Now that Hugo George Chavez Bush and the Republican administration have nationalized the financial structure that funds the entire housing industry, the mortgage guarantors and the reinsurers, neither site built nor prefab has a future.

Now that there are tens of thousands of empty houses in the rust belt, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of foreclosed and abandoned houses across the sun belt, we have to figure out where people are going to live now, and we have to fix what we've got rather than building new. That means Refab, not Prefab.


Buffalo, New York
Refab Now: the Pottery Barn Doctrine

I wish I could take credit for the coinage, but it goes to commenter Victor. It is better than just rehab, it is a positive expression of what we have to do. Now that the government owns the industry, it can set policy. It is what Colin Powell called the Pottery Barn Doctrine: You broke it, you own it. Now you fix it.

katrina house photo

New Orleans, Louisiana

Refab Now: Hurricane bait is off the ledger

No more money to fund hurricane and tornado bait that the reinsurers have to pay for again and again. Build where it is safe and stable, don't build where it gets washed away.

pool arizona photo

Pool at foreclosed house, Phoenix, Arizona
Refab Now: No more McMansions

No more low density suburban sprawl. No more McMansions. If the government is funding development then it can tell every builder that there is no more money without assessing the cost of externalities, that we are not paying for highways and sewage treatment plants to service greenfield land when there are thousands of houses sitting empty across America.

boston house photo

Boston, Mass

Refab Now: It can solve our energy and carbon problems.

48% of our energy is consumed by buildings. Now that the government owns the business, they can fix that, and demand efficiency. Since they are the lender, they can lend for renovation and rehabilitation, not new construction. If they can drop half a trillion on the banks and investment houses and 25 billion on the car makers, they can drop a few bucks on insulation and caulk.

Refab Now: Let's use this time-out to ensure that we do it right, that we fix what we have instead of mindlessly building more. Demand a plan from your politicians before you vote for them.

More rants on renovation in TreeHugger:
Big Steps in Building: Ban Demolition
Razing Buffalo : Why is This Happening? : TreeHugger
Donovan Rypkema : LEED stands for "Lunatic Environmentalists ...

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