The BuildZoom blog

Chicago spending millions on green development for low income families

Rendering by DesignBridge, Ltd. Chicago is proud of its architecture – despite Donald Trump’s cringe-worthy addition to the riverside – and rightly so. But beyond the striking high-rises that line the Chicago River, the city has seen a quiet renaissance of green, safe, beautifully designed, and affordable housing projects. A permit for one such project – known as “Casa Querétaro” – at 1614 South Damen Avenue in the working class Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, has just been issued, according to Chicago building permit data analyzed by BuildZoom. The development is being spearheaded by The Resurrection Project (TRP) and the construction will [...]

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$20M for Better Bleacher Seats at Wrigley

Photo via Nick Uilivieri Maybe this is all an attempt to exorcise the curse of the billy goat. Whatever the motivation, the Chicago Cubs are embarking on The 1060 Project, a $575 million, 4 year renovation of one of baseball’s best loved ballparks, Wrigley Field. The plan is privately funded and calls for expanded bleachers and VIP seating, upgraded infrastructure, larger storefronts, bigger parking lots, and a state of the art new TV broadcast center, among many other improvements. Building permit data shows contractor activity kicking into gear on October 15th, beginning with some infrastructure upgrades and the first of many [...]

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Home Improvement Patterns In San Francisco Suggest A Growing Divide in The Living Standards Of Owners And Renters

We recently used our collection of building permit data at BuildZoom to explore whether remodeling and home improvement activity  in San Francisco has tended to rise or fall with home prices and rents.  From the BuildZoom Remodeling Index, we know that home improvement activity in San Francisco has been rising steadily since 2009, but we wanted to better understand the surge in home improvement.[1] Common intuition is that the increase in remodeling activity is part of the recovery from the Great Recession, and that it must be closely tied to rising home prices and rents. While the intuition is consistent with what [...]

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SolarCity Dominating the San Francisco Solar Industry

The City of San Francisco wants its residents to go solar. In 2008, they launched GoSolarSF, which offered powerful incentives for homeowners & businesses to install solar panels.  There is a current proposal on the table, Solar Vision 2020, which would require all new commercial buildings to use solar power. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is trying to pass legislation that would mandate solar panels be installed on every new building, as well as legislation requiring installation of enough panels each year on “tenant-occupied residences” to generate 2 megawatts of electricity. Spurred on by government incentives and market demand, the [...]

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Six Months with AngularJS at BuildZoom

Last week at BuildZoom, we rolled out a complete rework of how homeowners manage their remodeling projects through our service. Since deploying our first feature that leveraged the AngularJS JavaScript framework six months ago, the magnitude of the angular code we’ve sent to production has increased with every release. This latest release continues the trend, leveraging a slew of AngularJS features, on top of our existing Ruby on Rails code base. With the implementation came many learnings. Some more general, while others strictly for angular junkies.   Reusable components A good engineer is a lazy engineer. Laziness drives engineers to [...]

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Introducing the BuildZoom Remodeling Index

Whether we recycle or dump our waste into a landfill, we tend to replace that which is old, with something shiny and new.  Homes are the exception to the rule. Almost half of the homes in the U.S. were built over 40 years ago, and keeping the housing stock up-to-date is a task of epic proportions.1   There are over 130 million homes in the U.S. and the bill for their maintenance and remodeling is on the order of 300 billion dollars a year.2  Yet despite the staggering figure, existing sources of data on the extent of remodeling activity are of [...]

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BuildZoom office burglary — $2500 reward — update!!

Update: After our story was covered on ABC 7 News, we were contacted by a nearby startup that was burglarized on July 6th and July 13th. Comparing footage, it’s clear that the same person broke into both offices. Update 2: It appears that this woman is breaking into SF startups with a Doorking / DKS code entry system. She has obtained a master key and is able to enter any office with this system. Update 3: We believe we have identified the burglar. It’s a local San Francisco woman who has been convicted of similar crimes in the past. An [...]

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National construction activity grows 8% in April 2014

The national construction industry took a step forward in April 2014, growing 7.94% over the past month based on our analysis of building permits issued across 90 US cities and counties.  This figure represented the highest count in 2014 to date, a positive indicator for an industry that had been negatively impacted during the winter months by severe weather conditions in several regions. Month-over-month gains were most evident in the residential construction sector, which grew 8.94% in April 2014; compared to 5.31% growth in the commercial construction sector. On a year-over-year basis, permitting actually declined by -2.91% in April 2014, [...]

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Who is spending money on their homes (and how much are they spending)?

To help illustrate some characteristics of consumers expenditures on home improvements, we took a closer look at the Joint Center for Housing Studies’ tabulations of the 2011 American Homeowner Survey, paying particular attention to expenditures based on household income. First, it should be noted that there are about 75 million owner-occupied units in the US.   Here is the breakdown of these units according to household income: Next, we filtered homeowners who reported improvement projects that involved a professional (as opposed to DIY).  Here is the tabulation of homeowners within each income bracket who reported a project in 2011:   [...]

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How much is spent on remodeling each year?

When it comes to a rough approximation of the “remodeling industry,” the figure I hear most frequently is “around $300 billion annually.” To better understand this figure, we should first note that most estimates are based off some section of primary data gathered by the US Census, so this is a good place to start. The Value of Construction Put in Place Survey (C-30)  The C-30 provides monthly estimates for the total dollar values of construction work done in the US.  Its methodology considers a range of primary data sources.  Of note: New private residential construction estimates come from their Survey of [...]

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Starting with AngularJS at BuildZoom

Last week at BuildZoom, we rolled out the first feature built using the AngularJS JavaScript framework. Up to this point our app, which helps homeowners find remodeling contractors they can trust, had been primarily Ruby on Rails, with javascript written utilizing jQuery and (Twitter) Bootstrap. This was an exciting moment since a major reason for joining BuildZoom a month earlier was to expand my experience with the latest front-end technologies. I had experimented with AngularJS prior to BuildZoom, finding the framework very intuitive. Coding the “angular” way enforces modularization, the lack of which is a common problem with javascript code. [...]

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Vivint Solar: A closer look at an emerging player in the solar industry

In our recent article on the growth in solar installation projects, we were surprised at how quickly Vivint Solar had grown in just a short amount of time.  Our data reveals that in just 18 months, they had become the second most active solar installation contractor in the nation. We decided to take a closer look at the company and see how they stacked up to SolarCity. Who is Vivint Solar?  Vivint is based out of Provo, Utah.  According to VentureBeat, Vivint Solar is part of home automation company, Vivint and launched in 2012.  Since then, it has raised over three-quarters [...]

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