Monthly Archives: July 2017

New Royal Oak law cracks down on sloppy home construction sites

An updated city law takes effect next week that puts new restrictions — and potential penalties — on home builders in Royal Oak that block sidewalks and fail to maintain construction sites.

The updated city ordinance has been in the works for months and became one of the biggest issues in the city after multiple neighbors and officials complained about the practices of some builders.

Realtor and builder John Farhat, who has had no issues with the city, told City Commissioners this week he agrees changes needed to be made.

“To see builders closing sidewalks for months at a time is unfair,” he said.

With hundreds of housing renovations and new homes going up in the city in recent years, officials say new rules for builders will stop many of the problems they see with some builders.

“It’s going to clean up these neighborhood (disturbances) and put an end to it,” said City Commissioner Dave Poulton, who led the call for updating Royal Oak’s construction site code along with City Commissioner Jeremy Mahrle.

Violations of the updated code will now be a civil infraction. First-time violations have a minimum fine of $250 and second violations are double that amount.

Builders who rack up three or more violations face a criminal misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Some of the biggest problems, including litter, have come from builders failing to contain properties under construction with fencing, blocking and muddying sidewalks and keeping portable toilets too close to neighboring houses.

Builders will now have to get a city permit for any work that encroaches on the right-of-way or adjoining sidewalk. Dirt or debris on the right-of-way has to be cleaned up daily and trees protected with a protective screening.

Additionally, before construction begins at a site it has to be enclosed with metal fencing at least four feet high. Excavation sites have to be closed within 60 days.

Officials noted the city gets complaints on a minority of housing developers who have created disturbances in neighborhoods.

City Commissioner Patricia Paruch warns the city will need to have enough enforcement if the construction site ordinance update is to be effective.

“Until we beef up enforcement we’re still going to have problems with builders that are bad actors,” she said.

City elected officials also plan to look at other city ordinances on the books that can have an effect on how builders operate, such as installing silt fencing that keeps mud and earth from clogging city water-sewer lines.

“It’s a big issue,” said City Engineer Matt Callahan.

Mahrle said he wants to see other issues considered, including prohibiting demolition work on holidays.

Still, the new rules that go into effect July 20 are a good start, he added.

“This is a good first step in securing construction sites and mitigating the disturbances in neighborhoods,” Mahrle said. “I don’t think most builders are bad actors.”

Original Source:

Original Author: Mike McConnell

Original Date: 7/12/17

Top Trends in Home Improvement & Remodeling

You can’t say we have returned to the times when housing was booming, but with 1,226,000 homes built in the last year, we’re not far from it. With Americans projected to collectively offload over $300 billion in home improvements over the next year the housing industry is currently looking pretty good.

So what are homeowners getting into this year as far as home improvements go? Here are a few favorite trends that tipped to being routinely installed this year.

Smart home technology is the latest in home improvement industry trends. The projection is that 33% of houses will get connected with at least one smart device, if they haven’t done so, with home security topping the list. The rise of voice activated technology is also leading the charge to make smarter homes more desirable.

Big homes are on the down swing as more people are choosing less square feet for their living space, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This new trend means a home modeler contractor needs to get more creative with their floor plans while still fitting in lots of storage space and energy efficient appliances.  New construction homes of 2017 are smaller than those seen in the past.

Matte finishes are taking over from the more sparkly finishes such as chrome and sparkly granite. Black stainless steel is now the favorite finish of choice. Matte is big in the kitchen, but it’s also filtering down to smaller appliances and other areas of the house such as bathroom faucets.

Even toilets are getting the treatment these days. Why settle for the standard porcelain throne you have to clean yourself when you can get one of the newer models that clean themselves. Toto’s Neorest 750H toilet has “Actilight cleansing technology” which treats the bowl with a mist before each use with the aim of preventing sticking waste. There’s also a built-in UV light that supposedly accelerates decomposition of inorganic substances.

There’s a lot to get excited about in home improvement this year, so if your goal is to live cleaner and better, then this is the year to start your remodeling plans.

Learn more about Aspen Construction and the variety of home construction upgrades they provide including: new construction, home additions, bathroom remodeling, kitchen renovations, and finished basements at  To contact one of our home construction specialists call 517.404.2176 today.