On a snowy, cold November afternoon in 2010, the company that makes building materials for the United States, a global leader in building construction, was on the brink of bankruptcy.
Its CEO, Thomas Broughton, was struggling to find a buyer for its supply of steel and aluminum.
Its business was in shambles.
Its cash hoard was exhausted.
In his bid for survival, Broughtons business partner, Michael DeHaan, had taken the helm and set out to make it better.
Broughon’s plan was simple: Make more products for more people.
He would invest more in new machines and new equipment, and eventually he would expand production to the point that the company could meet demand for its products.
Boughton hoped to bring his company, which employs about 2,400 people, back to profitability by 2020.
He hoped to return to his childhood home in Massachusetts and live in a home he loved, where his family and friends still came to see him.
His family, too, was waiting for him, because their home in Arlington, Virginia, had been torn down to make way for a development.
The destruction was part of a larger pattern of demolitions, which the government, aided by a wave of lawsuits brought by local residents, began to target in the 1980s and 1990s, according to documents reviewed by The Wall St. Journal.
The government has been pursuing more than 1,000 lawsuits alleging that building materials and materials suppliers like Broughons were ripping off local residents in states where the government had imposed restrictions.
The lawsuits, filed in nearly every state, have been widely hailed as the first step in the country toward ending the practice, which has been called “building-supply apartheid.”
But the lawsuits and the government’s enforcement of the rules have created a complicated and costly system that has left many homeowners frustrated, according a study by the National Consumer Law Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group.
In recent years, the federal government has launched investigations into about 500 cases of building-supplies violations, a fraction of the thousands of lawsuits it has filed.
The number of building materials suppliers in the United Kingdom is estimated at about 10,000, according the company, the government said.
The problem is that many suppliers are poorly regulated and don’t follow all the rules set forth in government regulations, said John Kavanagh, the head of the law center.
And the companies that are supposed to follow those rules are under pressure from the government and private investors, who say they can’t compete with big corporations that can easily skirt those regulations, he said.
Some of the companies are doing things that aren’t right.
The companies that were inspected have failed to meet standards that are in the building codes, said Brian Stolz, a lawyer with the law firm of Jones Day who is a partner in a class-action lawsuit against the government.
The cases have cost the U.S. government $20 billion in fines and settlements, according and has been an embarrassment for the Trump administration.
But the problems with the companies have only deepened.
Since 1990, more than a third of all U.N. building inspections have been conducted by private inspectors, according an analysis by the U and P Building Materials Institute.
The inspectors who conducted the inspections often are not trained in the construction codes, and they often don’t have the expertise to determine the proper workmanship of the materials, according that study.
The inspections also have been plagued by errors.
One inspection in 2009 at the National Institutes of Health found that a building material supplier in Georgia was failing to properly treat a galvanized roof that was leaking, even though a similar roof was already in use.
The U.K. inspectors found a similar problem in the Ustak Group, a supplier of building construction materials to the United Nations.
In 2013, inspectors at the Department of Defense in Los Angeles found a faulty building-inspection system.
A government official said the department was working on a plan to improve inspections.
Building materials companies say the government has no authority to make or enforce building-safety regulations and that many building codes are out of date.
The United States Department of Justice, which regulates building materials supply chains, has taken steps to crack down on the companies in recent years.
In the past few years, it has prosecuted more than 80 individuals for violating building-residents’ rights, said Robert H. Clements, a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.
Building-resident advocates say the federal authorities’ focus on suppliers has resulted in more than $1.5 billion in settlements, which often involve thousands of dollars in fines.
Building material companies also say they are struggling with the fallout from the building-building controversy.
Building companies, including Broughrons, say they have seen increased demand from local homeowners for building materials in recent months, but they’re not making enough for