More Housewarming Than Expected: City-Built Home Was Insulation-Free

Something was missing, it turns out, in this brand-new home Mayor Parker turned over to Mary Porras in a “housewarming” ceremony on August 4th. Built by a contractor hired by the city, the single-story replacement house at 4005 Lila St. in the Fifth Ward had no insulation, an inspector from the state’s General Land Office discovered about a week later — after Porras had already moved in.


The home was one of 242 properties damaged by Hurricane Ike that the city planned to repair or rebuild with federal funds allocated for that purpose. The city has reviewed about 750 applications for the program, has already repaired or replaced 24 homes, and has 47 currently under construction. General Contracting Services installed the insulation in Porras’s home the day after the problem was identified, but an organization called the Texas Organizing Project wants the mayor to appoint a task force to prevent similar problems and get repairs completed more quickly. James Noteware, the city’s housing director, says no problems have been found in any other homes built by the same contractor.

Photos of home and ceremony: Housing and Community Development Dept.

32 Comment

  • Just like my house built in the 1950’s.

  • Comedy.
    Yet these are the same people that love to tell me how to run my buildings. As if I don’t have my own incentive to put in good insulation. Besides conserving our resources needed to generate electricity, using good insulation saves me $ — so I don’t need the city telling me how much to use of what type (though I don’t mind a suggestion)
    Next time an inspector yells at me because the toilet paper roll is an inch too close to the toilet (yes, they have codes regarding this stuff), I’m going to tell them to get their own ‘house’ in order before telling me what to do.

  • So she got a new house – on the taxpayer’s dime, no less – and it wasn’t perfect. It must feel horrible to have your sense of entitlement violated like that. Maybe she’d be happier in River Oaks, Piney Point, or Tanglewood. Oh yeah, so would the rest of us!

  • At least it’s _painted_ green.

  • General Contracting Services, a private company, is the one inspecting your home and telling you what the codes are?

  • @Alan Yeah! Stupid poor people, complaining that they might die in fire. So ungrateful.

  • Positions of bathroom fittings are governed by the Americans with Disabilities act, are designed to allow disabled Americans to more easily use the facilities and are pretty straightforward. Of course it’s much easier to blame things like this on an apparently over-zealous government than to actually consider that there might be a perfectly valid reason for them.

  • If you read the story it’s kind of unremarkable. A contractor with a good record made a mistake, an inspector missed it (& was suspended without pay), another found it, and the contractor fixed it within a day.

  • Sounds like the contractor cheaped out! How embarasing this must be for everyone involved!

  • That drywall must have gone up fast to miss the insulation.

    Or maybe they hired someone that builds KOA camps to install it.

  • Forgot the insulation, eh? Did they also forget to charge the city for the insulation? Did the contractor pocket the insulation money and install the insulation in another property? Why in the hell am I, the taxpayer, paying to build houses for folks? Oh, I get it. There is no need for me to take advantage of a free education, make something of myself and buy a home. I can just goof off and the “man” will give one to me for free. Isn’t America Great?

  • @Bubba – you are paying for it – in this case, for an elderly woman whose home was damaged during Ike – because this is America, and we don’t throw out old poor people like so much trash. And, it gives selfish douchebags something to complain about. You’re welcome.

  • Today’s chain email of Margaret Thatcherisms:

    1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

    2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

    3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

    4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

    5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

  • aww @John (another one): I heart you!

  • … still going on about the toilet rolls…

  • Because history shows that when a community helps little old ladies whose houses are wrecked in hurricanes, the next step is the fall of the nation. I think I’ll quit my job tomorrow!

  • Yeah Eric and old Maggie has to live alone in her evil Alzheimers riddled mind…..That is before she burns in hell. Personally I’d love to see old Mags suffer a good decade or two longer. Ayn Rand would be proud of your teabagging rant.

  • Hang in there Eric, class warfare is in these days, so is calling those that don’t agree with our county’s direction racist. BTW Alzheimers is a terrible way to die and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, even a small minded blog poster.

  • @John(another one), what, exactly, is untrue about the Thatcherisms? Or, do you really think that we can solve every problem merely by extracting enough money from the productive parts of society?

    It may be the right thing to do to provide housing to the less fortunate, especially those no longer capable of working. However, we must not forget that the means to provide that assistance come from the resources of the productive members of society, and every dollar that’s taken is one less dollar those folks have to improve their own lives. Most of us pay that price willingly, but the recipients need to be careful not to bite the hand that provides the aid.

  • @Ross, I’m not going to defend statements I didn’t make, and I’m not going to debate an abstraction of a potential problem that frankly does not exist.

    I do think it’s interesting that in our society, where we are born into lives of amazing prosperity and safety, living longer and healthier lives full of leisure and comfort unimaginable to most of the humans who’ve ever walked this planet, we have large numbers of people convinced that poor people are stealing something from them and ruining their lives. It’s rather bizarre.

    And really my only point was that anybody who can find out that the city is helping provide housing for poor elderly people who’ve lost their homes in a natural disaster and see that as an opportunity to rail against freeloaders is a flaming asshole. But I guess that’s kind of obvious to any sensible person.

  • A final note: any middle class American who insists that somebody else is freeloading while they worked for what they have is full of crap. As middle class Americans, we are born into a wealthy society with incredible social stability – because as a country we’ve decided to have some kind of social safety net. We live in a society with incredibly high literacy and good infrastructure, because of government spending in these areas. Our economic activities are possible because they’re protected by a regime of law – courtesy of the government – that creates an environment where business can thrive. We have a huge technology sector that has created a lot of wealth that quite simply would not exist without government-funded research. The rest of the business community uses the products of that sector to increase productivity. Every middle class American has reaped vast benefits from government spending since the day they were born, and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. So please, spare us the tedious “I’m so independent and did it all myself” crap. Yes, you worked hard. Yes, you should be proud of your achievements. But if you have some illusion that those achievement would have produced the same results if you didn’t live in a country without all those things – many of which simply would not exist without government spending – you’re delusional.

    And stop using the internet. It’s a product of socialist government meddling.

  • John, another one:

    You really need to get some rest. You’ve been burning the candle at both ends and it’s showing.

  • But he’s pretty much correct…

  • Without making light of the situation or trying too hard to defend a general contractor who I know nothing about. I suspect that the media report on the missing issue may not be making clear what insulation is missing. I suspect that it is only the attic “blown-in” insulation, which is usually not done until very near the end of construction, and the start up of HVAC. Given that the report indicates that the problem was fixed the next day, that seems logical since it takes about 20-30 minutes and very little mess to install that insulation. If it was the wall insulation done at a much earlier time in the construction process, the fix would require removing all the exterior wall sheetrock, or installing a very expensive expanding foam type insulation, both of which would be messy and require time consuming rework after being done at this point. Again, not to defend the builder, but this would not be the first time that oversight has occured, but it of course should have been noticed by the City of Houston inspector when doing a Cert of Occupancy inspection, as one of the things that inspectors like to hassle building superintendents about, is pieces of blown in in the HVAC emergency drip pan.

  • John (another one)….oh yes, we owe all our successes to the almighty government. Gimme a break you moron. The government is our biggest impediment TO SUCCESS right now. I’m sure there are bunch of great success stories like the $525 Billion loan to Solyndra that Obama made for the Amazing technological advances in solar power….yeah a company that is bankrupt and was just raided by the FBI last week. Look, I get that we need to help the poor…but to say that we as middle-class Americans owe our advances to our goverment is a an absolute joke. Just read today that when factoring in inflation, the average 35 year old male makes less today than he did in 1961. THANKS BIG GOVERNMENT, YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!!!! Ron Paul, 2012.

  • @SFP

    “oh yes, we owe all our successes to the almighty government. ”

    I didn’t say that. Try again, this time reading for content.

    “Gimme a break you moron.”

    A compelling argument to be sure.

    “… like the $525 Billion loan to Solyndra that Obama made for the Amazing technological advances in solar power….”

    Ooh, an anecdote. I hear if you bang two together, they produce data. Well, actually, no.

  • @John ” Every middle class American has reaped vast benefits from government spending since the day they were born, and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. So please, spare us the tedious “I’m so independent and did it all myself” crap. Yes, you worked hard. Yes, you should be proud of your achievements. But if you have some illusion that those achievement would have produced the same results if you didn’t live in a country without all those things – many of which simply would not exist without government spending – you’re delusional.”

    Sounds like your giving a ton of credit to our government to me….which means you’re delusional. And yes, that was an anecdote. I’m not going to waste my time digging up hundreds more, because you’re obviously very liberal, and things like logic and facts simply won’t persuade you. hell, you’re probably one of the 40% that that thinks Barry is doing a good job at president.

  • Eric, unless you had to live through Thatcher’s gutting of Britain then it’s probably better not to comment about it.

    SFP, I’m not sure how you ascribe the fact that the average worker earns less now than in 1961 to the government. If I was looking for someone to blame I would start looking for the people who have that money that used to be paid to employees.

  • @Jimbo….its really quite simple you see. You take the governments CPI index and adjust the wages for inflation. And no, it’s not the people who have the money to pay the employees which are to blame….but rather those who have the power to print the money and control interest rates. And there you have your lesson in Inflation 101.

  • @Jimbo, Thatcher was the best thing to hit Britain since Churchill, unless you think it’s reasonable to subsidize money losing, incompetently run government owned businesses forever. Absent Thatcher, Britain would be completely irrelevant to the world, instead of just mostly irrelevant. My British colleagues think Thatcher did great things. So do I, and I lived through the worst of the Heath and Wilson eras.

  • For those that are implying that my aunt, the owner of this home, is an opportunist’ you are wrong! She worked for 43years at St Joseph Hospital paid her dues as a hard-working citizen. She’s almost 90 years old and on dialysis. This was a true blessing that she qualified for this program. I will be forever grateful to the city for improving her quality of life. I cannot say enough good things about Mayor Parker. She is has a caring heart and shows that side with the elderly and less fortunate.

  • @ Michael Poulos:

    Nothing personal, dude, but I don’t care who your aunt is or how hard she worked or for how long or what her diseases are; the government shouldn’t be building brand new houses for sick 90-year-olds. Her blessing is somebody else’s burden, so it should be accorded her with respect from whence it came.

    It would’ve been a lot cheaper and more in accordance with the notion of a ‘social safety net’ to demolish and cleaned up her property, then given her a decent apartment for the rest of her natural life; or to have arranged for the ownership of the house to revert back to the federal government upon her death. As it stands, this is mostly just a transfer payment to her inheritors or debtors. That’s not really in the public interest.