Opinion

Building a house out of newspapers

Friday, February 10, 2006

It's time to plunge into the growing clip file on my desk.

Here's a couple items nestled among the ponderous pronouncements by the politicians and the incessant screaming by the anarchists.

In the February issue of Presstime, a national newspaper industry publication, there was a short story that caught my eye this week.

The headline was, "The House Headlines Built," and the story by Shani Smothers talks about a Texas family that is using newspapers to construct their house.

It bears repeating here:

"One Texas family doesn't just get into reading its local newspapers; it's preparing to live in them.

"Since 2001, the Perez family in Bruceville-Eddy has been hard at work building a two-story, 3,800-square-foot home -- out of newspapers.

"Specifically, Victor and Karen Perez and their three children, ages 15 to 19, are building the house from sun-dried bricks made of sand, mud, cement and old copies of The Dallas Morning News and the Waco Tribune-Herald.

"Victor, 51, a contractor, learned the so-called 'padobe' method of brickmaking in New Mexico, where he saw a house made of other paper products. He decided to use newspapers, he says, because he wanted to employ natural, recyclable materials.

"At presstime, the family had completed three bedrooms, two bathrooms, the kitchen, a game room and the family area, primarily on the lower level. The next step will be to finish the second floor, including an office and a veranda. So far, they've spent $35,000, says Karen, with a $50,000 final price tag expected.

"The house is designed to maintain a constant temperature of 78 degrees in an area that drops into the teens in winter and reaches over 100 degrees in summer.

"This is thanks to a principle called solar passive energy, a product of the padobe bricks, the sun's heat, and the position of the house's windows.

"Many of the newspapers were donated by The Dallas Morning News, Karen says.

"'We would certainly like to continue to support them in any way that we can," adds Lorenzo Vigliante, the Morning News' assistant circulation director for state operations.

"Says Karen, 'It's been an adventure.'"

One other note from the clip file this week.

The Primezone Media Network, which faxes various items to the paper from Los Angeles, reported this week that New York City, Brooklyn and Chicago are the sweetest cities, according to a Verizon SuperPages.com survey.

They are the sweetest cities because they have the most candy stores.

The rest of the list in descending order: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Seattle, Bronx, Cincinnati and Portland, Ore., tied, Honolulu, St. Louis, San Diego, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, San Francisco, Cleveland, Denver, Baltimore and San Antonio.

I can see the dentists rubbing their hands together in glee from here.

Mason is the editor of The Marshall Democrat-News. Spectrum appears on Friday.