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Bill Robinson in New Orleans

or: One Window at a Time

Every once in a while we have an opportunity to do something that makes a difference — something that has meaning beyond the everyday duties and responsibilities of being a parent, or partner or community member. Not to dismiss being a good parent or spouse but sometimes the opportunity to go beyond comes our way.

New Orleans water level

The water was up to here when it settled, and it stayed about that high for 3 weeks. Kind of reminds me of the Randy Newman song: “It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time. Six feet of water in the streets of Evagline.”

In Feb ’08, on a return trip from the Builder’s Show in Orlando, my wife and I stopped by New Orleans to check things out. While Kathy had never been there, I had worked in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico for 15 years as a commercial diver on the oil rigs. A lot had changed in the 20 years since leaving the land of crawfish, jazz and good times. The most notable was Hurricane Katrina and Rita resulting in catastrophic damage from high winds, storm surge and failed levees — especially failed levees.

We stayed in the French Quarter at a hotel with a Paul McCartney suite on that trip. Eventually we made our way to the Lower Ninth Ward — the place we all heard so much about from Anderson Cooper on CNN when Katrina and high water were flooding the Crescent City.

(Note: Click any image to see a larger version. Hit “back” button to return to article.)

Before I visited the city, I’d seen the damage on CNN, but the media coverage had slowed to a trickle. I thought all of the rebuilding had been done. But our visit to New Orleans proved different.

By the time we arrived most of the debris was cleared and what was left needed work — lots of work.

The amount of work was and still is overwhelming — if you try to swallow it at one time. In some ways New Orleans is like a foreign country — a third world country: so many damaged houses, so many empty lots with only narrow driveways and concrete porches. Yet no one was doing anything, or so it seemed at first.

Just the front Just a facade
In some cases, all that remained were facades.


Off the foundation

This home was pushed right off its foundation.

An All-Volunteer Army

After a day or more of looking around, I realized work was being done, just not at my kind of pace. Billions of dollars have been poured into the rebuilding effort. Some of it has hit the target, but most hasn’t. Here’s why.

Prior to the hurricane, much of the housing stock on the area was in decline. The population of New Orleans has been dropping since the ’70s, but there is still much to value here — a community with deep roots, reflected by the fact that sixty-five percent of the homes in the Lower Ninth were owner-occupied. And though many of these homes were of historic significance, most were built on marginal foundations, had no housewrap, no insulation, had antiquated wiring and plumbing, and would never meet current building codes. While several elected officials have boasted that “We’re going to re-build New Orleans,” for the government to rebuild these homes, they’d have to bring them up to code — an impossible task because the cost would far exceed the appraised value of the homes.

Some people ask: “What’s worth saving?” I look at it the other way: “How can we throw all this out?”

And that’s the primary reasons why volunteer and non-profit organizations (faith-based, environmental, historic preservationists, etc.) are doing most of the work. And what a great bunch of folks to be around. No other organized program is having nearly the impact at helping homeowners in the Ninth Ward.

After spending only a few days in the area, I was hooked but didn’t yet know how deep. By June, after I’d made five separate trips to New Orleans, staying for a week each time so I could tend to business back home, I realized I had a lot more to do. With a little support from OSI (a leading manufacturer of construction adhesive and sealants), I was able to plan a two-month extended stay in Louisiana. Once again, New Orleans seemed like a third world country — after all, isn’t this how we handle our foreign affairs?

Windows, insulation, moisture, and more

On our first trip to the city, my wife and I had come across a jobsite where a group of “carpenters” were installing windows.

“Do you see that?” Kathy pointed at a couple of “carpenters.”  I was so busy looking at all the devastation that for a minute I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Yet right in front of us, eager volunteers were installing “new” vinyl windows in place of wood doublehungs.

Fig 03Initially I thought, “Now there’s some progress.” But then I started wondering why they were throwing away the old jambs and sash — the old windows were still operable, the wood was probably old-growth yellow pine or cypress, and the glass was still good, some of it the wavy historic type. On top of that, the new windows were smaller than the existing jambs and to solve that problem, the carpenters were installing wider trim, without any flashing — the walls had no housewrap, the weatherboards (beveled cypress siding) were the only protection.Finally, inside the house, I saw another group of volunteers installing insulation — fiberglass batts. Faced fiberglass batts at that.

That’s when the light came on — several of them: leaders in the rebuilding effort and government agencies were emphasizing energy efficiency and that meant dual-pane windows and insulation. But no one was thinking about the consequences.

The walls did not have a weather-resistant barrier. They had been stripped from the inside down to framing with only studs and weatherboards remaining. The average rainfall in New Orleans is about sixty inches. On top of that, the humidity in Louisiana averages around 80%+.  Historically, all of that hot humid moisture has passed through the exterior cladding into the wall space, but since the walls are balloon framed, plastered and un-insulated, diffusion and air circulation have helped to dry out that moisture.

But once the walls are insulated and drywall installed, the moisture won’t be able to dry out. Excessive humidity and rainfall penetrating the siding will be absorbed by the insulation and condense against the Kraft paper, right against the paper-backed drywall — a perfect breeding ground for mold, especially because once wet, the insulation will never dry out. (The building code mandates the Kraft paper on fiberglass insulation go to the warm-in-winter side of the wall assembly — except in climate zones 1 & 2. New Orleans, and much of south Louisiana, is in climate zone 2. This is often overlooked by building officials and certainly by most contractors as well as rebuilders, especially the volunteer type.)

I consult with homeowners regularly and I always advise them not to use spray foam.

I noticed some jobsites were using spray foam, the two-part stuff that comes to the jobsite in a truck. The big benefit of this application is being able to quickly fill every nook and cranny with high R-value foam. It is quick and usually thorough — cheap it ain’t. However when this foam is applied directly to the backside of the weatherboards, the ability to drain and dry is drastically diminished.

Remember that for 70-100 years+ these walls have wetted and dried through the ventilated wall cavity behind the siding. The spray foam takes that option away. The least that happens is the paint begins to peel and the worst is the wood begins to succumb to the attacks by mold, mildew and decay. This is not hypothetical; I have seen it happen.

And mold is just one problem, Formosan termites are another. In fact, New Orleans is a case study on how these insects do their business. Since I’ve been working down here, every window I’ve examined that shows signs of water intrusion and not enough drying, also suffers from formidable Formosan termite damage.

Well-meaning folks — both governmental and non-profit volunteers — were unknowingly creating a second disaster and it had nothing to do with the rising waters from storm surge and failed levees.02 - short-lived casing

But that’s not all. That new wider trim used to patch in the vinyl windows wasn’t like the original material — vertical-grain old-growth cypress of yellow pine.Oh no. The new trim was #2, unprimed, face-grain softwood. And no one was priming end cuts. The same material was used to trim doors, too, and planted right down on the concrete porches. If I could have pulled my hair out, I would have.

Modified rainscreen

After my first visit to New Orleans, I struggled for a solution to these unique insulation/weather resistive barrier, and trim issues. With technical assistance from building product manufacturers, especially from Pactive, and with help from Julie on the JLC Forums, along with techniques developed by the LSU AgCenter Extension program, I came up with a simple modified rainscreen design to insulate the unprotected walls, one that would allow for air circulation and diffusion.


Step One:
These homes are balloon framed — and I mean down to the foundation, if there is one! (see illustration above). We work on these homes after the interior is gutted and the walls stripped down to bare studs. There’s no housewrap and there’s no way to install it. We start by installing a bug screen. Because of high humidity, we don’t block the stud bays off but instead we encourage air circulation so that any moisture that penetrates the weatherboards and enters the “rainscreen cavity” will dry. The bug screen blocks little critters from climbing up inside the walls.

Step Two:
We install 1-in. wide strips of 3/8 in. extruded polystyrene foam (XPS) to either side of every stud bay, gluing the strips to the weatherboards with adhesive caulking. Those strips provide the 3/8 in. rainscreen cavity.
Step Three:
We cut 1-in. XPS to fit snugly in each stud bay, then seal all gaps with spray foam. Once the XPS has been installed there’s still room for fiberglass (even when it’s compressed a little, fiberglass still has a good R-rating!).


Big money isn’t always better

My real gig is window and weather barrier installation. Of course, I’m always watching how other folks do it, especially the large projects that have been getting most of the press attention down here, like Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” campaign, and Global Green. Surprisingly, those folks aren’t getting it right either. I’ve watched their crews installing Marvin Integrity windows and getting it wrong:

  • They’re still cutting the X to modify the building wrap.
  • They’re not lifting the head flap up and flashing beneath it shingle-style.
  • They’re sometimes using engineered wood adhesive to seal the windows to the wrap.
  • They’re not always using self-adhesive flashing to seal the nailing fins to the weather resistive barrier — I’ve driven by homes where the nailing fins are still exposed.
  • And when they do apply flashing on top of the nailing fin, they often flash over the bottom fin, too.

Our industry is slow to change — almost glacial. Anyone in our business knows that problems with windows and WRB integration aren’t limited to New Orleans. The fact is that every time a manufacturer introduces a new product, it takes almost twenty years for builders to adopt the proper installation procedures. Professional construction education is a national and urgent issue.

EDH: Efficient, Durable, & Healthy

As I see it, high-visibility programs and projects aren’t the answer to the problems faced by homeowners in New Orleans. Proper funding, supervision, and educational programs are the only way to save this city.

Dens Armor installed on the lower half of the first floor walls.

One faith-based group we worked with rejected using paperless drywall (Dens Armor Plus) in areas subject to wetting because of the additional cost for the material, approximately $500-$1,000 per home.The math was simple. They had a limited funding source and if even $500 was added to each home, they wouldn’t be able to rebuild as many homes. Now that’s a real problem.

The volunteer and non-profit organizations doing the bulk of the rebuilding are performing miracles — one home at a time, in some cases several homes at a time. It has been a long learning experience, but they have the process nailed down. They are getting people back in their homes. And while that’s one image I’ll never forget — watching a homeowner carrying insulation and drywall into his recently cleaned shotgun-style home — there is a serious storm on the horizon.

The focus of getting folks back into homes — on budgets that are often too tight, frequently sacrifices critical core issues that make a home efficient, durable, and healthy and avoids the most important issue: Should we rebuild more homes poorly or fewer homes well? To my knowledge, those folks are still installing regular drywall. In this climate, and with these porous homes, it’s just a matter of time before mold begins to grow on those walls, compromising the health of the occupants and the community.

Long-term solutions

Recently, while working with some organizations to launch minority contractors into mainstream weatherization, I have had an opportunity to work with a remarkable group of licensed contractors who really want to learn. Those folks have motivated me to start a “contractor’s club” with regular meetings. We’ll bring in guest speakers from the industry, and we’ll review proper building practices and new products, because the solution down here isn’t “one window at a time,” it’s “one contractor at a time.”

The time for the hordes of untrained volunteers is over down here. Like many parts of the country, New Orleans needs well-trained professionals to lead the rebuild; construction managers to supervise contractor, carpenters, and volunteers. If you’re wondering: “What can I do to help?” just come down for a week or so. But first, make sure you are going to be placed where you can do the most good. And if you can’t make the trip, find a local organization where you can lend a hand with funding.

One Community at a Time

One of the first people I met here is Ward McClendon, “Mack” to everyone. He owns and runs the Village. I met him at the first Historic Green event in ’08. Our first meeting was at the back of the Village. When we passed by each other, Mack’s response to my “How ya’ doin’?” was “Too blessed to be stressed.” Turns out that is a common greeting down here, and an exceptional attitude.

Another person I’ve met here in Louisiana is Ms. Shelia, the first homeowner I consulted with in New Orleans. In this region of the country, it is common to add a Ms. or a Mr. to everyone’s first name — it’s way of showing respect. Believe it or not, I’m called “Mr. Bill.” Once you get used to it it’s kinda’ nice being respected, and showing respect.

When I first visited Ms. Shelia’s home during the renovation process, I was more than disturbed. So much was wrong: the foundation was failing, the brick veneer was coming away from the soffit, windows were not installed correctly, signs of water intrusion where everywhere, and I’m not talking from the flood.

The group working on her home ( was pushing hard to get the home ready for Ms. Shelia and her family to move back in. It brings tears to my eyes to write this. Those folks wanted to come back home, to their house, to their neighborhood. I realized right then and right there my part was to help make their home as good as it could be so it would be a safe place for them to live.

I have been preparing for this all of my life and now I have my chance. My first reaction to seeing the damage in New Orleans was “What can I do to help?” Now I’m asking “What can we do to help?” Slowly and surely, I am becoming part of this community. That is the important component without which all of the rest is only mildly interesting and not very effective; and certainly not durable or sustainable. It is all about relationships; making connections. It’s not about rebuilding a city. The job we face is rebuilding a community.



I believe that, from an early age, we all start on a journey toward some kind of goal or destination. A few of us reach that place. Some of us keep on traveling toward it all our life. Some of us just wander around in circles. I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in that system.

I have lived in Indiana, California, Arkansas and Louisiana. I have done military time in California, Virginia, Washington, and Vietnam. I have worked in the North Sea, England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, all three coasts of the US, and both coasts of South America — Venezuela and Chile, plus New Zealand.

Through all of my jobs, all of my traveling, I’ve wanted to see what is on the other side.

These days, I’m training, consulting, and educating anyone who will listen on how to build efficient, durable and healthy homes. Sometimes I wonder what gives me the right or privilege to do this? Who died and made me king? But that’s just part of my journey.

I had a car accident in ‘68 right after returning from Vietnam. My eye was patched for about 6 months. Nearly lost it. Ended up getting a leather eye manacle and got a lot of mileage out of that. Used to ride motorcycles then. Nothing left but a dim memory….

When I started working construction in Santa Barbara (for a fraction of my previous pay as a diver), I worked on a framing crew building a 12,000 square foot home in Montecito. I was surprised at the hectic jobsite, the lack of organization, of leadership, of expertise. No one seemed “in the know;” no one seemed in charge. What a difference from diving, where for fifteen years I often worked 400-500 feet below the surface. Not much room for error down there; someone in the know was in charge all the time — or people died.

Not so in residential construction. People think that anyone with a circular saw, a hammer, and a hundred foot power cord can be a carpenter or a contractor. But what are the guidelines? Where can you learn more?

One day while working for a contractor on a basement remodel, everyone seemed to suddenly disappear and I found myself in the middle of the slab on knee-boards with a steel trowel in each hand. I didn’t have clue what to do.

At that moment I decided I was going to find out how all of this construction stuff worked — and share it with anyone else who would listen. I felt helpless out on that wet concrete and knew there was no reason to. No one should feel helpless in this industry.

I still do not know who is in charge (and I still don’t know a lot about construction, either), but I’ve helped a lot of folks in New Orleans. My greatest accomplishment has been as a father to three wonderful daughters, next to that, I’m working to make a difference in the rebuilding of a city.

Pretty cool!


38 Responses to “Bill Robinson in New Orleans”

  1. Gary Katz

    What a GREAT story! Thank you so much for contributing. I enjoyed learning about who Bill Robinson is as much as I enjoyed learning more about what’s going on in New Orleans!

  2. Bill Robinson

    Thanks Gary, It was a learning experience for me.
    I appreciate the opportunity to share the experience.

    And I hope this will encourage some readers to understand how important our communities are and take the time to do something.

  3. David Collins

    THANK YOU so much! I wish there was more time in this life to get to know people and find out who they are and where they’ve been. What an amazing history you’ve described, I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for your service to our country and to us.

    • Bill Robinson

      Thanks David, I know you do a lot beyond the day-to-day for others.

      My thanks to you for helping to make the wonderful community we share.

  4. Mike Hawkins

    Great story. After watching the Holmes on Holmes episodes and reading your story, it is very sad what is happening in New Orleans. I have been to a third world county and have seen how the people live in squalor. When you are in a place like that, it doesn’t really sink in. But when it happens in our own country, something is very wrong. It just goes to show that you can’t solve a problem by just throwing money and wishful thinking at it. I commend you for doing what you are doing. I spent 25 years in the fire service and enjoyed helping people. I now still work in my retirement(?) as a trim carpenter, helping solve people’s problems in a different way. Keep up the good work.
    Mike Hawkins

    • Bill Robinson

      Yes Mike, I am thinking that when we can help others we are at our best. The sense of fulfillment is complete.

      Interesting you mention the Holmes build here in the Ninth Ward. They built one of the first 6 homes. And even though Make It Right is the tagline for the Brad Pitt initiative as well as Mike Holmes even there they had disconnects with the details. Not only did they get the windows wrong the emphasis was on something built in Canadian cold/cold rather than the Louisiana hot/humid.
      Thanks for your service as a fire fighter and I am sure you carry that service to your trim carpentry.

    • Bill Robinson

      ‘Preciate that Mr. Lavrans, when you get the time come on down.

      I had never lived in a city before this. The years I worked down here we lived across the lake (Pontchatrain) to escape the city, now I want to be a part of it.

      It is all cool, and Jazz Fest is right around the corner.
      Laissez les bon temps roulez

  5. Jim LaBorde

    Your article shows what a great educating tool this forum is. I learned new issues concerning humid climates zones that I did not know. Keep up the good work.

    Jim LaBorde
    Knoxville, TN

    • Bill Robinson

      Glad it is helpful Jim, I have learned a lot as well.

      Before coming back here I was living in a mild coastal climate.
      The environmental conditions here in the hot/humid are rich with opportunities to learn.
      Back in Cali all we had was the occasional fire or earthquake, here the moisture in the air is enough to keep a conscientious builder in fits.
      Not to mention the wind, soil and uninformed builders.

  6. Robert Mulchinski

    Mr. Robinson, your article raised several thoughts in my mind. My initial thought was the same as yours, that New Orleans was “rebuilt”. As you have stated that this is not the case, although with your efforts and the other groups mentioned they are on their way. This leads me to my main question. Why is it, there are so many people still in our country, our own back yard, with need of relief, but we are send exorbitant amounts of money abroad? Many of our actors, a few past presidents and even local groups in my area, Long Island, are promoting events to raise money for Haiti. Well in my opinion, Bill Robinson has the right idea, assist our local families and keep the money here to re-build.

    My reply is not with any intention of sounding like we should disregard others in time of need. But basically that we need to finish clean up efforts in our own “house” first, then worry about others.

    Mr. Robinson, your article was very informative. Thank you for your time taken to publish this, it touched a sensitive subject matter with me. I am glad to see that there are still efforts being made for our local families. Again THANK YOU!!

    • Bill Robinson

      Robert I have to admit that just after the Haiti disaster I was at the airport getting on a flight and the airport was full of relief workers headed to Haiti.
      It was tempting to think of going there however there is still much to be done here.
      I am not going.

      I agree, let’s take care of our family, community, country while there is a need.

  7. Loren B

    Excellent article. I live in a historic neighborhood that’s being revenged by remuddelers and bad upkeep. Its refreshing to hear others who value the old details and who are concerned enough to educate people. Putting the extra time and money into doing a total system makes way more sense than just slapping the status quo technique over every situation. Thanks Bill!

    • Bill Robinson

      Before I came down here a couple of years ago I wan not too concerned about historic buildings. Boy, I am getting an education. THe materials, the workmanship, the story.
      For the time being my focus is on how to make old homes efficient, durable and healthy wile maintaining the initial form.
      Interesting pull between the forces of modern energy efficiency and good old time construction.

  8. larry haun

    Good go! I wish I was down there with you. My experience is that in this Greening Time of construction, building has become way to complicated. LEED lists and all become mind-boggling to me and I have been building for 60 years or more. Lately I have been writing some about building simply, building with local materials, and building small. How green is that?
    My best to you. Larry Haun

    • Bill Robinson

      Larry I will leave a light on for you. Myron Ferguson was down here last week and he was mentioning how he has connected with you–and that he felt honored you counted him in your circle of friends.
      I am now honored to have “met” you.
      Maybe someday soon we can visit.
      My “other home is in Arroyo Grande and I get back there form time-to-time.
      Thanks Larry

  9. David Pugh

    Mr. Bill: Thanks so much for the article you wrote. We are all beneficiaries of the work you are doing. Thank you for inspiring us to become more knowledgeable about the issues surrounding the work we are performing. May your tribe increase!

  10. Joe Stoddard

    Good work old friend, as always.
    What I want to know however, is were you (or anyone) able to get these guys to slow down, listen, and correct the bad workmanship that is being installed in the field? Or are they telling you to take a hike – this is how “pappy” did it… etc.? And why can’t Marvin get the word out.. is it because nobody is looking at the installation guide they supply, or is it because the guide is incorrect?

    When I was doing federally-funded weatherization work in the early ’80s, an engineering firm was in charge of approving the work, and they had a good guy in the field who made sure some minimum standard of workmanship was being followed or the checks weren’t released.

    It was still an imperfect system – we were working beside other contractors who were completely clueless…and overall the work was not “pretty” – but it was good enough oversight to catch the most heinous of mistakes… like backwards flashing laps and nail flanges exposed that would have caused the program to do more harm than good.

    Is there any equivalent supervision going on in New Orleans ?

    Thx –

    • Bill Robinson

      Hey Joe, thanks.

      Slowly they are listening. Some days I believe they will all hear maybe not me but some voice. Right now I am busy “teaching” weatherization (not sure anymore what that even means) and the audience is growing.
      It takes time. The community we live in , JLC, is unique and I am looking forward to the family reunion in Providence next week.

  11. Michael A. Mahoney

    Hello Bill,
    Your story and experiences were very moving and I applaud you.
    I will have to agree, that more individuals than not, lack the proper knowledge and skills that are mandatory in becoming a contractor.
    One of the many problems begins at the State level, that is granting H.I.C. registrations to individuals who have never swung a hammer or worse have no clue to what they are doing. Consumer Protection does not enforce our qualifications or workmanship.
    The second problem is the local level. Certain codes are only enforced or changed when something goes wrong and all codes are based on the minimal requirements.
    I believe that a mandatory written exam should be taken to become a registered, licensed contractor. Who knows, I may not even pass, but it would definitely narrow down the playing fields and hopefully provide the public with quality contractors.
    There are many issues that plague our market and I fear it will be a very long road.

    • Bill Robinson

      Agreed Michael the systematic downplaying of the value and importance of working in the trades and the commercialization of building have taken the craft out of craftsmanship.
      That is why the work Gary K is doing means so much.

      And I am honored to be included.

  12. Evan Meister

    Mr. Bill,
    I could not agree more with the idea of more education but besides this type of a publication, is there another way to learn as much as possible about certain projects? Ever since meeting Mr. Katz at a lumber yard seminar I have subscribed to JLC and also this and boy has it opened my eyes in many ways!. Thank you to Mr. Gary Katz!
    Take Care, Evan

    • Bill Robinson

      Evan, when I had my awakening on the basement slab several years ago I began a quest to learn all I could: starting with magazine subscriptions, books and joining a trade association.

      The Katz was not on the road then but there were other opportunities. I was also fortunate enough to be in a place where some of the old guys were willing to share their knowledge and experiences. The best stucco guy I ever met taught me how to layer building paper and window flashing to shed water. At first it was a complete mystery, now I think i get it.

      It is a process, we are trying to maintain what is good from the past with what hopefully is good for now and into the future.
      Keep on reading, asking questions, and going to events where others are willing to share and learn.

  13. Robert Steurich

    Hello Bill,
    Maybe you or Carpentry could list the most reliable volunteer building organizations and contact info for those who want to go down and volunteer in New Orleans.

  14. Bill Robinson

    They are all getting better as the awareness of poor building practices become evident.

    I do have some favorites:
    PRC RT
    Project Homecoming
    St Bernard Project

    There are others, these I am most familiar with. If, after checking out the links I would be pleased to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each to help you make a decision which one you would want to work with.

    I even have a couple of projects of my own I could use some help with.

    If that is interesting holler at me and we can work it out, thanks for asking.

  15. Matt McDonagh

    Mr. Robinson,

    Thank you, both for your time with the people of New Orleans, and for shining a light on an issue I have previously not seen covered. As the construction manager for a local non-profit I cannot begin to describe how accurate your observations have been.

    Our organization has adopted a philosophy that if we cannot do something right, we won’t do it. Sometimes this means subcontracting, or waiting for experienced tradespeople to volunteer. (Come Monday I’m hoping for a mason, and a concrete guy) Our experienced volunteers have always been critical in not just finishing one house, but in providing tips, techniques and skills that can be utilized long after they have left, and I cannot begin to describe how beneficial they have been to the success of our program.

    As a personal sidenote, I would also like to send my appreciation to Mr. Katz and the contributors of This is Carpentry. Your shared knowledge has truly helped to develop a young carpenter, and I cannot begin to describe what an honor it is to even be posting in the same forum.

    Episcopal Community Services

    • Bill Robinson

      Good to hear from you Matt, I feel much the same as you in being honored to be in this community.

      If there is ever anything I can do to help you do not hesitate to let me know.
      I am available.

  16. Peter L Watson

    Hey ” Mr Bill ” , ” Mr Pete ” from SLO town Ca. Couldn’t believe when I saw that the article was about you and what you have been doing in ” Narlins “. Good Job and keep up the good work. Hope to see you when you come back to Arroyo Grande ! Peter L Watson

    • Bill Robinson

      Pete, it is good to hear from you, hope you are keeping busy in SLO.
      When you are ready we can keep you busy here.
      Come on down.

  17. tom struble

    Great article Bill,your one of the good guys!

    I really liked that modified rain screen you came up with
    there are houses built like that in my area and now i have some info on how to approach it

  18. Ray McCon

    Hey Bill, Thanks for all you do. Being a resident of a town only a little ways from New Orleans I deeply appreciate your willingness to help us. Your analysis is dead on on the difficulties of rebuilding. Many, many of the homes in NO where far below code before the storms and now it makes you want to cry. Keep fighting the good fight and hopefully we will get this city back in time.

    • Bill Robinson

      Thanks Ray, if you have the time and inclination maybe we could connect.
      You can contact me through the website.

      Where are you?


  19. Marc PoKempner

    Bill – Thanks for doing this! I’m at the very beginning of renovating a double shotgun in Holy Cross. It’s gutted, an almost blank slate and I want to do things right, at reasonable cost, with a more modern, open design. Thinking of making two apartments, but front /back rather than side/ side. I’ve done smaller projects up north and ca and want to be hands on, with help from professionals when needed. House is raised @ 4ft and seems to have had little water damage – very damaged wood windows, no utilities at all. Who should I contact first? Thanks!

  20. Denise Burns

    This was an eye opener. I have just moved back to NOLA after a 29 year hiatus in Maryland. I am renovating a 4-plex for myself and three tenants. There have already been many surprises so my nest egg and disability are not going very far in funding this renovation. I want to do it right. Can you point me to someone/someplace to turn here in the city to make certain that we insulate/install windows…correctly. I am grateful for this article and the work you have done in this city that I love.


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