The roaring cement mixers, forests of cranes and clouds of choking dust can feel an almost natural part of the citiscapes of Eastern Europe. Certainly from Bratislava to Bucharest, from Krakow to Kiev, few visitors can fail to notice the abundance of building sites.
Former communist Europe, with its ghastly, energy-sapping office blocks, grim, unwelcoming hotels, and crumbling housing estates, is busy catching up.
Among the yellow hard hats that bob within the apparent confusion of these temporary container cities you might find one man who is responsible for more than his fair share of portaloo rentals.
Sandor Demjan may be behind Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa in the fame stakes, but the chances are his legacy, at least physically, will be more enduring than many of the region's great political leaders of the recent past.
For TriGranit, the real estate company headed by Demjan, now has a potential market value of some [euro]5bn, at least by his own reckoning.
Not bad for a man who was born into the rural poverty of the war-torn, disputed borderlands of Hungary and Romania in 1943.
"My mother was widowed during the war, and we were forcibly relocated after 1945 into Hungary. Twice she had to send me to foster parents to get herself an education. These people were kind enough, but very poor. I was expected to wash in the water already used by the grandmother of the house," he recalls, when asked of those far-off days.
Tellingly, rather than re-use the old lady's lukewarm suds, Demjan trained himself to wash in water from the well; it could be bitterly cold in winter.
Yet for …