47 Doctors Pursue House, Senate Seats


“Send a doctor to the House”

In an election year dominated by health care, dozens of candidates for Congress have a catchy campaign slogan at their disposal: Send a doctor to the House. Forty-seven physicians — 41 Republicans and six Democrats— are running for the House or Senate this year, three times the number of doctors serving in Congress today, according to a USA Today review.


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Mobile Homeless Shelter

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A forward thinking design for homeless folks.

Phil Elkins’ has created other devices in the past, but recently he turned his attention to creating a portable shelter for the homeless. The result weighs 225 pounds and has a tiny bed, kitchen, and bathroom:

Elkins wanted his design construction to be a simple, light weight, water tight insulated box on wheels, built with an area for displaying and selling handmade wares.[…]

The roof acts as a rain catcher. When it starts raining, a valve is turned to stop the flow of water to the collection tank to allow debris to be flushed from the roof. After a minute of this cleaning process, the valve can be turned back on and collect free water. When the tank is full, it has an overflow feature which allows excess water to drain to the ground. (Pics)

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Eco-Friendly Homes Made From Recycled Plastic

plastic house

House made from recycled plastic

After working with Cardiff and Glamorgan universities for two years, Affresol Ltd., an innovative manufacturer of high quality, low cost, quick construction systems, has developed a new material called Thermo Poly Rock (TPR) from recycled plastics and minerals. The Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the Carbon Trust also played a vital role in developing the revolutionary construction material. Now the company is using this newly developed material in making eco-friendly homes, each of which is made up of four tons of it. Until date, the company has recycled 18 tons of waste plastic in making modular portable buildings. (Video)


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Massive House Built with 6 Million Recycled Glass Bottles


House made of beer bottles

If you liked the house made with plastic bottles in Parque Iguazu, this one will blow you away.  Tito Ingenieri, a character from a city called Quilmes, about an hour south from Buenos Aires, has built a massive home made entirely from beer bottles and trash. And by massive, we mean… (Video and Pics)


Lenders Delaying Evictions, Borrowers Living Rent-Free

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Patricia and Eugene Harrison have lived since October 2008
without making any payments on their mortgage

Despite being months behind, many strapped residents are hanging on to their homes, essentially living rent-free. Pressure on banks to modify loans and a glut of inventory are driving the trend.
It’s been 16 months since Eugene and Patricia Harrison last paid the mortgage on their Perris home. Eleven months since the notice got slapped on their front door, warning that it would be sold at auction.
A terse letter from a lawyer came eight months ago, telling them that their lender now owned the house. Three months later, the bank told them to pay up or get out by the end of the week.
Still, they remain in the yellow ranch-style home they bought seven years ago for $128,000, with its views of the San Jacinto Mountains. They’re not planning on going anywhere.
“We’re kind of on pins and needles, but who’d want to leave when you put this kind of energy into a house?” said Eugene Harrison, 70, gesturing toward a bucolic mural of mountains, stream and flowers the couple painted on the living room wall.
Throughout the country, people continue to default on their home loans — but lenders have backed off on forced evictions, allowing many to remain in their homes, essentially rent-free.
Several factors are driving the trend, industry experts say, including government pressure on banks to modify loans and keep people in their homes.
And with a glut of inventory in places like Southern California’s Inland Empire, Nevada and Arizona, lenders are loath to depress housing prices further by dumping more properties into a weak market.
Finally, allowing borrowers to stay in their homes helps protect the bank’s investment as it negotiates with the homeowners, said Gary Kirshner, a spokesman for Chase bank, a major lender.
“If the person’s in the property, there’s less chance for vandalism, and they’re probably maintaining the house,” he said.
Economists say the situation won’t last forever, but in the meantime the “amnesty” may allow at least some homeowners to regain their financial footing and avoid eviction.
In the Inland Empire, an estimated 100,000 homeowners are living rent-free, according to economist John Husing, who based that number on the difference between loan delinquencies and foreclosures. Industry experts say it’s difficult to say how many families are in that situation nationally because only banks know for sure how many customers have stopped paying entirely.
But Rick Sharga of Irvine data tracker RealtyTrac notes that the number of loans in which the borrower hasn’t made a payment in 90 days or more but is not in foreclosure is at 5.1% nationally, a record high. And yet the number of foreclosures last year was 2.9 million, below the 3.2 million that RealtyTrac economists predicted.
More evidence is provided by another firm, ForeclosureRadar, which says it now takes an average of 229 days for a bank to foreclose on a home in California after sending a notice of default, up from 146 days in August 2008.
“For some reason, banks are being more lenient with homeowners who are behind on their loans,” Sharga said. “Whether it’s a strategy to try and slow down the volume of foreclosures or simply a matter of the banks being able to keep up with volume is something that banks only know for sure.”
Lenders say the trend reflects their efforts to work with borrowers to modify loans to avoid foreclosure. Bank of America “continues to exhaust every possible option to qualify customers for modification or other solutions,” spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens said.
Some lenders are making it a policy to partner with delinquent borrowers. Citibank said this month that it would let borrowers on the brink of foreclosure stay at their homes for six months, whether or not they make payments, if they turn over their property deed.
Such policies may partly reflect the fact that lenders can’t keep up with all the foreclosures, some say.
“The mortgage lenders are so backlogged that some people are able to slip through the cracks,” said Kathryn Davis, a real estate agent at America’s Real Estate Advocates in Corona.
That was apparently the case for the Harrisons, who were told at various times that their house had been sold, that it belonged to someone else and that it was empty.
“It’s been frustrating, a real major pain in the buttocks,” said Eugene Harrison, a nondenominational minister with a clipped mustache and a sudden laugh.

The Harrisons missed their first payment in October 2008, shortly after Patricia Harrison, 57, lost her job as a healthcare aide and her husband’s part-time towing work dried up. They said they applied for a loan modification with Countrywide Financial (since acquired by Bank of America) but were told that they couldn’t receive one until they were three months behind on their payments. So they stopped paying.
In April 2009, they received a notice warning them that their property “may be sold at a public sale,” and in July, they were told their house was a bank-owned property.
he bank sent a notice by FedEx in October demanding $3,000, and when the Harrisons called to discuss this notice, they were told they had four days to vacate the house.
Panicked, they arranged to stay with family in New Mexico and started packing their things, filling their garage with boxes of books, camping equipment and art. But no one came to kick them out.
“We were afraid to leave the house, afraid the sheriff was going to come,” said Patricia Harrison, an amateur painter.
After contacting consumer advocates about their situation, the Harrisons decided to stay put. Soon after, two men in a white pickup truck showed up at the house and peeped in the windows, telling the Harrisons that they thought the house was abandoned.
The Harrisons suspected they were planning to move in themselves and chased them away.
The couple don’t want to leave but are in the midst of a running dispute with Bank of America about the terms of their loan modification. The bank says it mailed them documents this month.
As they wade through the red tape, the Harrisons can’t imagine abandoning a house where they’ve left their mark in the goldenrod and potpourri rose walls, the new fixtures and stenciling in the bathrooms, the fruit trees planted in the yard.
Although the Harrisons’ future is uncertain, industry observers agree that the rent-free life can’t last forever. As home values climb, banks will find it financially advantageous to foreclose on delinquent borrowers and sell their properties.
“In many cases, particularly in California, people owe a boatload of payments, and no bank is going to forgive that,” said Guy Cecala, editor of Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication.
In Diamond Bar, the Fraguere family is finally moving on after living rent-free for 18 months. Job loss and other setbacks prevented them from paying their mortgage, but they say they didn’t hear anything from the bank, First Franklin, until a real estate agent showed up at their door last month saying she was going to sell their house.
Sandy Fraguere wasn’t surprised that it had taken the bank so long to ask them to move.
“I don’t think they really knew what was going on or who was there,” she said.
Next stop for the Fragueres is a hotel, where they plan to stay for two weeks until their apartment in Chino Hills is ready for them to move in. Their dogs are being boarded and their belongings stored until they can retrieve them someday. Their children, ages 8 and 9, are being steeled for more instability.
The Fragueres have started saying goodbye to their neighbors, adding yet another empty house to a block that has already seen two other families forced to pack up and leave.
Via latimes.com

Despite being months behind, many strapped residents are hanging on to their homes, essentially living rent-free. Pressure on banks to modify loans and a glut of inventory are driving the trend.

Continue reading… “Lenders Delaying Evictions, Borrowers Living Rent-Free”


$500K Retrofit Housing Prize Competition Now Open for Team Registration

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Competition will range from community groups, to corporate teams, to int’l teams

On Tuesday evening the Longmont City Council gave the green light to DaVinci Quest CEO Karl Dakin to proceed with the 2010 Smarter, Safer, Greener House Competition where teams from around the world will compete to retrofit existing homes to maximum efficiency. DaVinci Quest is now issuing an open invitation for teams to sign up to compete for the $500,000 prize.

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Facial Recognition Door Locks

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Is this a  face only a door lock could love?
Security technology has been really moving forward lately for both home and commercial use. A prime example of this is the Face Recognition Door lock. While this is designed more for the commercial market, it could be adapted to home use fairly easily.The enticingly named Model CVJB-G107 is designed for use as an employee timeclock, and bases its facial recognition off of a 2D photograph…

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Modular Mobile Green River Homes


Looks like a great place to park your housing complex

The closer you come to the center of a city the more difficult it is to find unused space available for new construction, except perhaps at the cost of all-too-valuable public parks and other civic places. Building above and below bridges is thus of increasing interest to engaged urban designers around the world.
Like products on shelves, this modular housing system is designed by h3ar to accommodate homes that are plugged into a grid, occupied for a period of time and then removed when necessary. Much like cargo container architecture and other standardized systems, this design is meant for an ever-more-mobile as well as increasingly crowded world.
The location on the water is also no accident: multistory structures become much more accessible by boat-borne cranes already passing along the river, or modified container ships. Aside from a core steel framework each building operates independently and can be pulled back out and shipped somewhere else as needed.

The closer you come to the center of a city the more difficult it is to find unused space available for new construction, except perhaps at the cost of all-too-valuable public parks and other civic places. Building above and below bridges is thus of increasing interest to engaged urban designers around the world.

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Longmont, CO May Host Global Contest

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The Greener Home Competition

Fifty Longmont homeowners could get full-house makeovers.
But that wouldn’t mean new couches, matching drapes and fresh paint.
These makeovers would include installing solar panels, wind turbines and data-control centers to manage energy use and safety systems.
Englewood-based DaVinci Quest is putting together a global contest to invite teams to design environmentally friendly smart homes — and then renovate 50 houses — for a “significant cash prize.”
And Longmont residents could be the beneficiaries if the company chooses Longmont as the host city.
“It’s kind of like ‘Extreme Home Makeover,’ only with 50 houses,” DaVinci Quest CEO Karl Dakin said. “What may be done to each one may be similar; it may be entirely different.”
The company’s “Greener House Contest” will kick off later this year, Dakin said. He expects DaVinci Quest to choose its host city within the next three months. The company then in early December will put out the call for teams to start designing.
Crews would start renovating and retrofitting houses next summer, likely between June and August, Dakin said.
The goal is that 50 teams will be matched with 50 homeowners who will give over their houses to be renovated to make them more energy efficient, safer and smarter.
If you build a house smart enough to manage energy, Dakin asked, why not build a house smart enough to manage other things as well, such as safety?
That could take many different forms, he said. For example, a system could alert firefighters that no one is inside a burning home or alert residents when the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch.
The contest criteria, so far, are:
Reduce the house’s energy consumption and reduce the waste produced there.
Produce and store energy, as well as store water, at the house.
Enhance communications and telecommuting opportunities.
Link the home with local safety departments.
Operate the house as a system and connect it with available community systems.
Spend no more than $25,000 on the renovation.
Solving problems
DaVinci Quest is a spinoff of the DaVinci Institute, which Thomas Frey launched in 1997 in a small office on Main Street in Longmont. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Frey spent 15 years as an engineer and designer for IBM, where he received more than 270 awards.
The institute began as “a nonprofit futurist think tank,” according to its Web site, but soon morphed into an organization focused on tangible results: inventions, innovations, business concepts.
The institute began educating aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs to give them the skills to make their projects viable, according the Web site.
That is, in part, how DaVinci Quest came about, Dakin said. The affiliate is a for-profit social enterprise that is taking on global social problems by fostering innovations, he said.
“Problems in the world need to be solved, and we need new innovations to do that,” Dakin said.
DaVinci Quest plans to do that by creating a series of 10 competitions to focus resources — time, money, people, ideas — on issues such as energy consumption, health care, food supply and natural disasters.
And it’s doing it through a relatively new concept called “crowdsourcing,” which Dakin describes as “using the world as our research and development team.”
Instead of handing over a task to a panel of experts, DaVinci Quest puts out an open call for ideas. The Internet allows people from all over the world to “come at a problem in every way,” Dakin said.
“The potential wisdom of the crowd is greater than a bunch of smart people in a room,” he said.
Teams could be university faculty or government agencies — or just a random person who decides to take on the challenge.
“It can be anybody anywhere in the world,” Dakin said. “We want to involve as many people in the world as possible.”
But there has to be an incentive, a push, a reason for those faceless people in the global crowd to focus on one issue. Enter DaVinci Quest and its contests.
DaVinci designs the criteria for a contest and creates measurable objectives and metrics to determine who wins.
And the “Greener House Contest” is its first.
DaVinci Quest is limiting its search for a host city to Boulder County, in large part because of the countywide ClimateSmart program, Dakin said.
ClimateSmart helps residents and businesses invest in energy-efficient improvements by providing loans for more than 40 different energy-efficiency upgrades.
Dakin said DaVinci Quest plans to choose one city — rather than pick 50 homes scattered throughout Boulder County — to cut down on complications that would come with different building codes, plans, permits and programs.
DaVinci Quest is looking for a company to sponsor a “significant cash prize,” though the amount hasn’t been determined. It also is looking for companies to sponsor each of the 50 teams.
A team can be one or more people from any-where in the world. Each team would pay an entry fee, be matched with a homeowner and use local programs to finance renovation costs.
The city would function as the economic development partner to help provide support services and guide everyone through building code issues.
Dakin met with Longmont Area Economic Council president and CEO John Cody last week to discuss the economic development possibilities of having Longmont as host city for such a contest.
By Rachel Carter via TimesCall.com

Fifty Longmont homeowners could get full-house makeovers. But that wouldn’t mean new couches, matching drapes and fresh paint.

These makeovers would include installing solar panels, wind turbines and data-control centers to manage energy use and safety systems.

Englewood-based DaVinci Quest is putting together a global contest to invite teams to design environmentally friendly smart homes — and then renovate 50 houses — for a “significant cash prize.”

Continue reading… “Longmont, CO May Host Global Contest”


James May’s Lifesize Lego House


The Lego House

I can confidently wager that some of you have spent a fair amount of time building miniature cities with Legos at some point in your lives. I know I did. Not only cities, but spaceships and boats, and forts, and . . . well, you get the picture. But James May, a toy fanatic from the UK (who has his own TV show, James May Toy Stories), built a real house from Legos. (Pics)


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House on the Water by Formodesign


House on the Water

Our friends from formodesign sent us House on the Water, a self-sufficient house for nomadic life offshore. Designed as a rental house for people who want to be independent it’s available only through water. It is located by Navagio beach, NW coast of the Greek Zante island. (Pics)


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