First prize in the ‘Sitting Pretty Porta Potty Screen Contest’ goes to All photos: Sardone Construction

First prize in the ‘Sitting Pretty Porta Potty Screen Contest’ goes to Brian Paletz, AIA. All photos: Sardone Construction

Last month, we told you about the “2015 Sitting Pretty Porta Potty Screen Contest,” created in response to Highland Park’s new rule that portable toilets be screened from the public’s view at residential construction sites.

The contest, sponsored by Sardone Construction and HPD Architecture, closed June 29 and the winners have been announced. Close to 30 people registered and 17 submitted designs.

To refresh your memory, the challenge was to create screens that were more attractive than the standard plywood construction, “to design a porta potty screen of your own. Something with a bit of flare! Maybe a little splash! A screen that says, “When ya gotta go, you might as well do it in style!”

Four winning entries showcase originality, splash, and practicality. The first-place design will be built by HPD and Sardone in the coming weeks.


Permian Basin Builders Association

Master bedroom and bathroom of a home on the Permian Basin Builders Association Parade of Homes 2014, built by Ashingdon Homes. Photo: PBBA

In the Midland-Odessa area, there’s a big resource for business people in all aspects of residential and commercial construction, the Permian Basin Builders Association (PBBA).

This group is known for its two big annual events, the Home and Garden Show each February and the Parade of Homes each October. But they offer other benefits to members and homebuyers, as well, said member Travis Pate, Project Manager at Texas Classic Homes.

“The benefits are being able to know what is happening in the industry, being able to communicate as a group to the governmental entities, and being able to have a voice at state and national government entities, as well,” Pate said. “We have continuing education programs for builders, as we’re a social and philanthropic organization, as well.”

With many of their nearly 300 members small business owners, being part of a trade organization can help alleviate the “little fish in a big pond” feeling, Pate explained. Members often look to other members when they need services because there is a feeling of reliability.

“If somebody is willing to invest in themselves and their community to be a member and pay their dues, which are around $500, it probably means they are an upstanding person and have an upstanding business,” he said. “The analogy I use is that if parents are going to the bookstore or library and getting books on parenting, whether they read them or not, it probably means they’re pretty good parents to begin with.”

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Highland Park constcution

An example of an acceptable portable toilet screen sent by Highland Park to contractors working in the town. All photos: Highland Park Building Inspection Department

Highland Park is implementing a new requirement that portable toilets be screened from the public’s view at residential construction sites. No one wants to pooh-pooh* the new rule, so instead, two Dallas companies are encouraging creativity and responding with humor.

Sardone Construction and HPD Architecture launched the “2015 Sitting Pretty Porta Potty Screen Contest” Monday. Here’s the challenge:

We are challenging you – our readers, friends, and colleagues – to design a porta potty screen of your own. Something with a bit of flare! Maybe a little splash! A screen that says, “When ya gotta go, you might as well do it in style!”

“When I got the email from Highland Park, they included a couple of pictures, examples [of screened portable toilets], and all I could think was, ‘We can do better than that!,” said Larry Paschall, architect and founding member of HPD Architecture. “Those plywood boxes aren’t necessarily going to look any better than the portable toilets. Why not see what people can come up with?”

In the email sent from the Highland Park Building Inspection Department to contractors, they wrote,”Our department is requesting the very best quality of screening that you can provide.” No one wants wasteful spending, but this contest might elicit some spectacular design options.

The town’s No. 1 and No. 2 concerns were that portable toilets are unsightly to the public and bothersome for neighbors.

“A typical construction area looks like a missile testing site and in the middle is a bright blue or bright orange porta potty that looks bad,” said Stephan Sardone, owner of Sardone Construction. “I was thinking how funny it would be if we had really ornately designed screens for these porta potties that fit their new rules.”


With Western Texas Intermediate oil hovering around $45 a barrel, folks have been speculating about new home construction in Midland-Odessa and how layoffs and budget cuts might affect the spectacular boom of the past few years.

But while economists might raise a red flag, local homebuilders say pent-up demand and a more diversified economy are keeping the phones ringing and people signing on for new home construction.

“The demand is still the same as it has always been—everyone wants their home built yesterday,” said KC White, owner and president of KC White Homes, Inc. “More people outside of the oil world are calling my phone. There are more than just oilfield-related jobs here.”

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The spec house at 6115 Desco Dr. will look similar to this. Photo courtesy Shoot2Sell.

The spec house at 6115 Desco Dr. will look similar to this, also built by LRO Residential Development.

Spec homes are a sign of strong builder and bank confidence in a market, as they are created without any specific buyer in mind, just the belief that one will be interested once it is completed. The higher the price tag, the higher the stakes.

In our inventory-parched market, homebuilder Les Owens, President of LRO Residential Development, has that confidence in the Dallas market, even at multi-million-dollar levels. He’s starting two spec houses this month, one in Preston Hollow for $3.15 million, and another in Devonshire for $2.2 million.

Both houses are available for customization, but Owens is breaking ground now and says he will complete them in late summer/early fall this year.

As we reported earlier this month, luxury home sales in Dallas-Fort Worth skyrocketed in 2014—those with prices of $1 million and up grew 15 percent year-over-year, the second highest sales volume in Texas (bested only by Houston).

Luxury home sales in DFW represented 1.2 percent of the market, and top-performing luxury brands are seeing more multi million-dollar sales in areas that have strong resale value and high existing demand.

“Established neighborhoods and homes of significance in coveted areas such as Highland Park, Preston Hollow, Greenway Parks, and The Volk Estates are desperately pursued, and the quality of the design continues to be a driving factor,” said Caroline Summers, a Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s agent. Jump to read about the houses and see photos!


A reader writes:


We recently purchased a new home in the Highland Park area, the builder and seller were both a family “group”. The mother and father funded and the son “acted” as the builder. The seller did not honor any of the contracted warranty or 3rd party inspection items; he refused to do ANY further work on the house, contract or no contract. The builder is not honoring his 12 month contrator’s warranty either. My wife and I have spent more than $100,000 to make “things right” on this home; including mold inspection/remediation and encapsulation. This was a brand new home; no one ever lived in it prior to our moving in back in February, 2011. Any ideas as to how I can get the word out on this builder. In my opinion, he is a thief!  Thanks, Jim and Jane

I am so sorry to hear of all your troubles. I have the highest regard for builders. I love my home builder so much, and trust him so much, if he told me to swim across White Rock Lake, I would. There are many fine builders in Dallas, but like all professions, there are a few who perhaps could be doing “something else” — and I’ll bet you would say that “something” else has to do with concrete. I sought the advice of someone I trust for this one, another home builder, Carolee Kamesch, of Prestige Designer Homes:

Dear Jim & Jane:

The Texas Residential Construction Commission might have been helpful in dealing with your deadbeat builder; however the commission was allowed to sunset by the Texas legislature and ceased all operations in August 2010.  Since the commission is no longer in existence, the terms of your contract will dictate your options in dealing with the builder.  Most builders today will include a “mediation/arbitration clause” in their contract.  These clauses are designed to keep the builder out of court… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since you want to avoid it, too.   Look at your contract to see if one is included.  If it is, it may require that you go to mediation before filling for arbitration.  Based on the builder’s actions so far, mediation probably wouldn’t have been successful anyway so you would have to proceed on to arbitration to get a binding award for your damages.  The arbitration process is designed not to be as long and costly as a full blown court battle, however it will still be expensive and take many months on a claim the size of yours.  I’m a builder, not an attorney so I can’t give legal advice, but my recommendation is that you contact a good residential construction attorney to discuss your options.  The local Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas would be a good source for attorneys who specialize in construction disputes.  Don’t let the fact that it’s a builder’s organization concern you.  The attorneys who are members of the HBA are experienced with construction disputes and represent both builders and homeowners.  Good luck, and sorry to hear this about a fellow home builder!