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Want to be a successful contractor? Check out these conferences.

Published on August 28, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Boryana Gramatikova

Being successful as a general contractor requires a very eclectic set of skills. It is a labor-intensive job, which demands not only physical resilience, but also constantly developing your social and leadership skills.

As a professional contractor, you need to keep track of the changes in industry policies on licensing and bonding, learn to communicate effectively with your subcontractors, and search for better ways to navigate the workflow. Rather than trying to unriddle everything on your own, an easier way to accomplish these tasks is to attend general contractor conferences.

The benefits of attending a contractor conference are many. First, every conference has networking value. You will also have the opportunity to catch the latest trends in tools usage, technologies, and processes, and hear innovative ideas.

Here are some general contractor conferences that might be worth your while:

The A/E/C Collaboration 2014

Dates: Sept. 10 through 12

Location: Austin, Texas

Description: The A/E/C Collaboration 2014 is an AGC Building Contractors Conference at Austin’s Omni Hotels & Resort.

The conference will feature top performers from the construction business sector, who will teach attendees how to streamline their operations, and introduce the latest collaboration techniques and show how to use them to improve your company’s position in the marketplace.

Some of the lectures include:

  • “2015 Forecast: Outlook for Construction Segments, Materials, Labor and Local Markets”
  • “Managing Legal, Bonding and Insurance Risks on Joint Venture Projects”
  • “Improving Onsite Productivity with Collaborative Lean Implementation”

You can register for the A/E/C Collaboration 2014 online, or send an email to duntonr@agc.org for help and more information.

2014 Fall Conference & Expo by AGC California

Dates: 22-24 October, 2014

Location: Rancho Mirage, California

Description: the 2014 Fall Conference and Expo is organized by AGC California, and will be at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort.

The conference is designed to be a more educational event for general contractors. The keynote address is titled “Public-Private Partnerships: Achieving success by leveraging best practices in PARTNERSHIP,” and it will be given by John McArthur from the Kiewit Development Company.

Attendees can work on their networking skills by visiting the Expo, where various booths of proven industry professionals can be found.

You can sign up for the 2014 Conference and Expo by creating an account and then registering online.

18th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference

Dates: November 5 through 7

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Description: The 18th Annual AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference is organized by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA). This year it will be at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

The three-day conference will feature 36 interactive sessions, covering the latest industry issues and their financial implications. Some of the lectures will be:

  • “Profitable Growth Strategy and Implementation Risk in Today’s Volatile Market”
  • “Business Survival Strategies: Practical Business Continuity to “Bullet-Proof”
  • “Managing Organizational Transitions from the CFO/Controller’s Seat”

Registrations completed before the 5th of September will come at the discounted price of $780. All single registrations after that will cost attendants $860.

Know of any other great upcoming contractor conferences? Write us a comment.

Boryana Gramatikova is a recent University of Westminster graduate with an MA in Broadcast Journalism. Her interest span across film, sports and Asian culture. She has vast experience in blogging on everything surety bond-related. Currently she contributes to the JW Surety Bonds blog.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 

 

 
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Next Life: Bringing Historic Properties into the 21st Century

Published on August 26, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Riggs Kubiak

New York City has no shortage of celebrated landmark properties, protected for their historic value. Today, however, these buildings are often in need of structural updates (including electrical, audio-visual, and HVAC) to preserve their character and ensure their continued future use.

Such projects are multi-faceted – and often have a unique set of challenges. Take, for example, the Grace Episcopal church, built in 1847, which was in the planning stages of restoration late last year.

ICS Builders was tapped to complete the art conservation and reconstruction of the roof in keeping with its original historic design while completing updates to the church’s infrastructure. ICS ensured that the new upgrades elevated the church to modern capabilities while keeping with the feel of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.

While restoring the church, ICS Builders discovered a hidden mural on the ceiling, dating back to 1866. Staff preservationist Lisa Renz was called in to ensure the delicate unveiling process was a success.

The ICS team overcame many of its roadblocks by implementing proper safety measures and gaining the trust of residents in their capability to perform their duties with the community’s best interests in mind. The project was successful because the church hired a firm equipped to handle such a specialized job.

While this project is still in progress (the roof is in the process of being replaced), we can learn a great deal from this including:

  • The importance of ensuring that the updates fit with the aesthetic of the neighborhood,
  • Implementing safety measures to allow community members access to the building even during the construction, and
  • Finding the right projects for your expertise that will allow you to put your best foot forward.

The construction industry holds great opportunity, but it is imperative that firms find the right projects and professionals for their team.

Riggs Kubiak is the CEO and founder of Honest Buildings, the world’s leading connection engine for real estate projects. 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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New Options for Energy Management and Control in Smaller Commercial Facilities

Published on August 15, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Martin Flusberg 

Although energy management systems (EMS) are the norm in industrial buildings and large commercial facilities, they’re far from it for most commercial facilities. That’s because according to the Department of Energy, 90 percent of commercial facilities are smaller than 25,000 square feet, and most of these facilities don’t have an EMS.

The reasons for the difference in EMS penetration are fairly straightforward. The potential savings of an EMS in smaller venues does not justify the cost of a system intended for the complexities of larger facilities. Moreover, those systems were typically designed for use by on-site facility managers and, as a result, tend to be overly complex for smaller facilities without dedicated facility professionals on-site. In fact, our experience suggests that typical 100 store retail chains often have only one facility manager supporting the entire portfolio.

Fortunately, a variety of recent technological developments have changed the EMS equation. Ubiquitous internet connectivity and cloud computing, low cost sensors and wireless communications, and the application of analytics to “big data” have changed the very nature of an EMS, resulting in cost-effective, user-friendly systems more accessible to smaller facilities.

EMS for Smaller Commercial Facilities

An EMS often starts with control of heating and cooling, the largest energy expense in a majority of commercial facilities. Heating and cooling systems in smaller facilities generally have more in common with systems in homes than with systems in larger facilities. As a result, relatively low-cost internet-controlled thermostats can take the place of more costly HVAC control systems. This has brought the savings and convenience of HVAC control to smaller facilities without the complexities associated with traditional EMS. And fortunately, many small commercial EMSs offer intuitive interfaces that include features particularly important to small buildings

Lighting cost is also particularly important as it is typically among the highest energy expenditures in smaller buildings. The good news is that fewer lighting circuits in small facilities means lower costs for lighting controls, and a new generation of products leverages centralized installation and wireless communications to make them even more affordable.

There are also relatively inexpensive new technologies that monitor facility operations at a granular level. Such systems may monitor energy use of individual pieces of equipment and present that information centrally, along with temperature and other variables. This granularity can deliver several major benefits, including:

  • Identifying opportunities for significant savings;
  • Informing management about the prevalence and costs of equipment powered on when it shouldn’t be, helping enforce corporate operating procedures; and
  • Proactively identifying equipment problems, potentially lowering maintenance costs and avoiding major disruptions.

For companies with multiple facilities, benchmarking capabilities deliver additional value by highlighting efficient and inefficient facilities. With granular monitoring, it is possible to pinpoint the reasons for performance differences across locations. And, users are able to identify equipment models that perform best, informing purchasing decisions with hard data.

Finally, such an EMS represents a cost-effective way to perform “continuous” or “monitoring-based” commissioning. Since equipment conditions can, and do, change constantly – often resulting in “drift” or performance degradation – ongoing monitoring ensures that operations can be fine-tuned at any time.

Smaller facilities are now well-positioned to take advantage of new, cost-effective and user-friendly EMSs that deliver significant business value.

Martin Flusberg is CEO of Powerhouse Dynamics. He has spent most of his career developing innovative technologies that address climate change; the first half in transportation and the second half in energy. Most recently, he was co-founder and President of Nexus Energy Software, a pioneer in delivering on-line energy and carbon analysis to consumers and businesses. 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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Strategies to Promote Employee Health and Safety

Published on August 12, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Stephen Ellis

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), on any given day, nearly 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation. Because of the nature of the job, injuries do happen, sometimes fatal ones. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average for all industries. As such, it’s crucial for construction sites to create and maintain health and safety standards for the organization for both the well being of the employees and the well being of the company.

To further encourage and sustain employee health and safety in the workplace, consider implementing these three practices.

Implement Strict Safety Policies

Ideally, a workplace is hazard-free. However, some trades, such as ground construction and mechanical engineering inherently involve precarious work and unstable environments. Having a set of safety policies in place can minimize danger. Spread awareness by labeling unsafe environments, posting general warning signs and referencing the qualifications needed to enter various regions of a worksite. Also, employees not designated to work in certain high-risk positions should be discouraged from entering hazardous zones or attempting jobs they are not certified to complete.

Follow Safe Work Practices

A system of safe work practices can lessen the number of at-work injuries. Invest in products designed to prevent slip and fall accidents, such as anti-slip safety mats, restroom handrails, and entryway umbrella bag dispensers. Keep a clean and clear site to prevent workers from tripping on or getting struck or cut by hazardous materials. Additionally, using personal protective equipment such as hard hats and safety goggles, as well as utilizing proper work zone safety awareness will also limit injuries.

Provide Health and Safety Training

Ensuring a safe culture requires strong commitment from the top down, and safety must become everyone’s responsibility. Therefore, it’s important for every construction company to implement required safety-training programs for all employees to partake in. These programs should include first aid and emergency action plan training. Each work zone should also be supplied with first aid kits so small injuries can be quickly remedied. As required by jurisdiction, fire and emergency drills should be held on a regular basis. Also, ensure these procedures are taken seriously and require active engagement. Last, encourage employees to be responsible and take sick time when necessary without reprimand.

Health and safety standards should be a part of every business plan. In addition to saving life and limb, a commitment to improving workplace health and safety standards can help a business avoid potential lawsuits and other monetary loss. Further, an employee-focused culture that emphasizes health and safety creates a positive environment for optimal job satisfaction, morale, and productivity.

Stephen Ellis is manager of risk control for TriNet,

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Why Old Technology is Stifling Project Profits

Published on August 7, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Craig “Tooey” Courtemanche

While I write this, file cabinets in a job site trailer are being filled to capacity, a superintendent is misplacing a thumb drive with the latest drawing set and a subcontractor is days behind schedule because he’s still trying to get sign-off on a key submittal. And that’s just on a single project. All of these problems have a common base cause: using outdated technology to run a construction project.

Whether the approach is using email with Excel files as attachments for communications, or attempting to run in-house file servers in the name of “securing our data,” the result is the same: outdated technology used for project communications and collaboration wreaks havoc on the bottom line of too many construction businesses.

Here are the three aspects of construction project management that are getting hit the hardest by the use of older technologies:

Team collaboration is harder than it should be: Client-server applications designed in the 1990’s and run on in-house servers provide limited accessibility to project data. User licenses and VPN access requirements drastically inhibit communications and collaboration as team members wait to retrieve newly updated information before continuing their work. Project staff are required to suffer through slow VPN connections and remote desktop applications, and are routinely forced to hunt through emails with outdated attachments.

Communications are overwhelming: With thousands of emails and multiple revisions going back and forth, the volume of communication can be endless – this makes keeping updates to contracts, insurance documents, project plans, RFIs and change orders impossible. With no streamlined system in place, there will undoubtedly be details (and dollars) lost.

Projects are slipping their schedules because of a lack of information and communication: Keeping projects on schedule is imperative to profitability, and avoiding delays requires every party to deliver their work on time. Without the ability to monitor deadlines and anticipate delays in permitting, inspection, or obtaining equipment, valuable time and resources are lost.

The solution to overcoming these challenges is cloud-based construction software. Cloud-based solutions can be implemented quickly, without requiring complicated or expensive maintenance or updates. Software automates communications processes and workflows automatically, creating a central hub for real-time project information. The files that the project team needs to get their jobs done are no longer on a single in-house server or on a lost thumb drive. Instead, this data is stored securely in the cloud—ready to be used and shared by all team members.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of cloud-based construction software is the ability to access project data on smartphones or tablets from the field. When project team members have the capacity to archive and track emails, contracts, drawings, daily logs, RFIs, submittals and punch list items from their smartphones, they also have the ability to answer any project related question instantaneously. The ability to diagnose problems in real-time and resolve them quickly increases project team collaboration, escalating efficiency and drastically increasing project margins.

Accurate, up-to-date project information, securely delivered to all project team members on any Internet-connected device – that’s the promise, and the reality, of today’s cloud-based construction software. Soon enough, the days of working with paper logs and outdated in-house servers will be only remembered as an unloved remnant of the past.

Craig “Tooey” Courtemanche is the Founder & CEO of Procore Technologies Inc., a cloud-based construction management software provider. More than a decade ago, Tooey founded Procore in order to leverage the power of the internet to improve construction project management. Today, hundreds of thousands of construction professionals worldwide manage their projects with Procore’s cloud-based construction project management software.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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Captives for Construction Cost-Control

Published on August 5, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Matt Lanza

The construction industry seems to be in an optimistically uncertain state, economically speaking. Opportunities appear on the upswing, as plans for new development and construction projects take shape. That potential growth is tempered given that the construction industry still faces financial challenges. Many appear determined to be as “lean and mean” as possible until the market rebounds to its pre-recession levels.

Accordingly, owners of construction firms are scrutinizing their bottom lines, looking for ways to be as financially strong as possible to compete effectively in the marketplace. One often-overlooked strategy for accomplishing that goal is addressing the cost of certain forms of insurance – workers’ compensation among them.

It’s no secret to anyone in the construction industry that they are required to pay high premiums for workers’ compensation insurance based on their industry’s claims as a whole. The construction company or trade service owner who has a low number of claims and is “the exception” to the industry norm often feels frustrated paying higher premiums based on the experience of others in the industry – rather than on their own individual company’s performance.

That is where investigating the “captive” option can significantly benefit such a company. Captives are not new, but in recent years, the popularity of this option has increased as businesses evaluate new ways to save on their bottom line.

Initially, the captive was the domain of larger companies such as Sears or IBM, which in effect formed their own insurance companies. The same principle now works on a group level, enabling companies that are not the size of Fortune 1000 corporations to leverage similar advantages.

Since insurance companies make money on profits after evaluating claims paid out, it stands to reason that lower claims result in lower premiums. For companies paying annual premiums of $200,000 or more in combined coverage (WC, GL and Auto), the group captive allows them to be “part-owners” of an insurance company and receive lower rates. The group captive is comprised of a number of different companies coming together in one group. This concept allows everyone to “put money into the pot,” to become their own insurance companies, and buy excess and reinsurance. Unspent revenues and investment dollars come back into the group and reduce everyone’s cost.

The captive idea is advantageous for those with good records in a difficult industry. With a captive market, the issue of proper claims management is better, and rates are better – often, much, much better!

Anyone with good loss ratios, better than their peers, is a potential candidate for a captive. The same goes for any business owner who is diligent about loss control, claims management and wants to have a good environment for their employees. This approach will have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line, allowing the company to allocate resources where they are really needed. Construction businesses seeking to control costs would do well to ask their carrier about captives.

Matt Lanza (pictured to the left) is executive vice president of Knight International, providing commercial insurance and risk management solutions. Knight International is based in Braintree, Mass., and serves a national client base.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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Fueling your Construction Site

Published on July 30, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Chad Wenzel

In construction, dozens of trucks, generators, compressors and specific machinery are often needed to get the job done well. Virtually all of that mechanical infrastructure requires fuel every three to four hours, so it’s no surprise that fuel is among the highest recurring costs for the majority of construction operations. Unfortunately, fuel costs are largely out of any company’s control. In today’s global economy, fluctuating fuel pricing is unavoidable, but there are methods and techniques for construction professionals to understand, assess and mitigate these risks and effectively manage fuel costs.

  • Evaluate specific site needs. For example, some sites may require on-site fueling for individual pieces of equipment, and others jobs may need a fuel tank and pumps delivered (complete with special shields to protect against theft and pilferage) to facilitate a more flexible fueling structure.
  • Set up a contract with an on-site fuel delivery provider. This reduces employee time wasted on gas station trips. The best fuel suppliers will offer delivery day or night—even on weekends—and will have tanks that can accommodate more than one product (a critical consideration for sites that may require both standard gasoline and off-road diesel for heavy equipment).
  • Monitor fuel use to more accurately project future needs. Track usage closely and look for patterns daily. If you contract with a fuel supplier they may implement a technology like SMARTank™ Remote Tank Monitoring Systems, which use automatic tank gauges (ATGs) to notify you when levels are low. This type of truck-to-office technology can also provide fuel reports that assist with accounting, data management and fuel efficiencies.

Chad Wenzel is vice president of sales for Taylor, Mich.-based Atlas Oil Company, a premier fuel supply, logistics and services company delivering comprehensive solutions to customers throughout the distribution lifecycle, from crude oil E & P companies to refineries to retail gas stations and commercial end users nationwide, 24/7/365. For more information, call 800-878-2000 or visit www.atlasoil.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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The Hotel Development Puzzle: Piecing Together a Capital Stack

Published on July 17, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Barbara Anne (“B.A.”) Spignardo

The recent uptick in hotel development is a result of unusual, intricate pieces put together behind the scenes to create a healthy capital stack required to finance such projects. In order to narrow the current loan-to-cost ratio gaps in hotel development finance, it may be necessary to fit together several financing arrangements, such as the use of new market tax credits, EB-5 immigrant investor financing and historic tax credits.

New market tax credits (NMTC) target investment and development in low-income communities. The basic structure of a NMTC transaction involves the formation of a community development entity (CDE), capitalized by Investors with cash. The CDE uses the cash to invest in a qualified active low-income community business. Use of NMTC reduces investors’ tax liability, thereby increasing economic return.

Congress enacted the EB-5 program to use capital contributed by foreign investors. The EB-5 program provides investors with a visa, possibly maturing into a permanent green card, provided the investor satisfies EB-5 requirements. There is a minimum investment depending on the unemployment rate in the targeted location. EB-5 investors must create or preserve at least ten full-time jobs that meet specific requirements for U.S. workers within two years of the investor’s admission to the United States.

Historic tax credits (HTC) provide an opportunity to generate equity to finance development of hospitality properties, for historic buildings located in downtown, low-income areas. HTC permit a dollar for dollar reduction in federal income tax obligations equal to 20 percent of the cost of rehabilitating a certified historic structure, or 10 percent for the rehabilitation of a non-historic and nonresidential building constructed before 1936. To qualify for HTC, both the project and the developer must meet requirements of the National Parks Service, as well as local regulations for the rehabilitation of historic structures.

Each of these pieces that may increase available capital pose certain risks for investors. One prominent risk associated with a NMTC transaction is of recapture of the NMTC by the IRS if the CDE no longer meets the requirements of an eligible CDE, the investments are not “substantially” used for low-income community investments, or the CDE redeems any equity investment. Challenges faced by EB-5 immigrant investors include delayed capital return and job creation requirements. In order to qualify for HTC, there are project and developer requirements that must be satisfied, as well as the possible risk of recapture of tax credits.

Hotel development is re-emerging in reliable locations, however, with creative capital collaborations pieced together to minimize the difference between traditional lender-financing and project costs for such developments. Utilizing alternative financing arrangements such as new market tax credits, EB-5 immigrant investor financing and historical tax credits, each have their own challenges to overcome. However, if a developer is able to overcome the challenges posed by use of such financing arrangements, and piece these financing opportunities together, the rate of new development will accelerate.

NOTE: For more information on the matters discussed in this post, please contact the author. This post does not intend to dispense tax advice, and the author disclaims any such tax advice purported to be obtained from this article. For tax advice regarding the matters discussed in this article, a tax attorney professional should be consulted.

Barbara Anne (“B.A.”) Spignardo is a member of Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram’s Real Estate and Business groups in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at spignardo@slslaw.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Building Tomorrow’s Asian Economy

Published on July 15, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Desislava Nikolova

The growth of Asia’s economic standing in the world is hardly news to anyone; however, as any investor can tell you, past results are no guarantee of future growth. While Asian growth has, to date, been impressive, it does face one looming problem that could limit future growth: an infrastructural bottleneck. Simply put, without improvements to infrastructure in the form of transportation networks (rail networks, airports, roads), updated electric grids, and sanitation, Asian economies cannot continue to grow, much less retain their rapid pace of growth.

Meeting this need and reach their individual development goals, though, will not be cheap. According to the Asian Development Bank, the current decade will see the entirely of Asia needing approximately $8 trillion in infrastructural work. Understandably, the lion’s share of this work will need to be directed towards India and China, but what few realize is that the cumulative need for Southeast Asia (i.e. Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.) reaches over $2.5 trillion. Though these are staggering sums of money, when considering that the World Bank estimates that spending a mere 10 percent more on infrastructure can add 1 percent more to long-term growth, the potential return could be equally amazing.

Aside from more generalized and abstract financial terms, here are some examples of how this translates into real, relatable terms as well as some examples of projects that are already underway.

  • China has an estimated need for 400 airports, with India expected to need at least 100.
  • Southeast Asia alone has a population of more than 600 million, which is larger than the EU or North America, and most of these people will be “middle class” within the next decade; however, infrastructurally, only 71 percent currently have access to electricity and only 25 percent have access to piped water.
  • A pan-Asian railroad which stretches from China to Burma, Singapore, and Cambodia is already under construction.
  • Access to Burma’s offshore oil and gas assets are driving construction in gas pipelines and access ports.
  • To ease traffic in Bangkok, Thailand is spending $67 billion to upgrade and add to its rail system, including the addition of high-speed rail lines.

Not only does this monumental undertaking present a benefit to Asia, but it could be just as beneficial to any companies who are willing to offer their expertise. Clearly, with the multitude of individual projects being discussed as well as the scale of the entire infrastructural project, planning firms, engineering firms, construction firms, and even management system firms will be in high demand. Simply being in demand, though, is not enough: a company needs to be able to handle the logistics, certification/licensing requirements, and logistics of working effectively in a foreign country.

Desislava Nikolova is a blogger and social media and online marketing coordinator for EVS Translations

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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The Timeless Strength of Concrete Construction

Published on July 11, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By Joe Eull

The next time you’re on a job site, take a look around and you’ll undoubtedly see concrete. It’s not surprising, of course, because concrete is the one of the most-used – if not the most-used – construction materials. It forms all or part of some buildings. It’s on our roadways and driveways and sidewalks.

In addition to all the concrete that you can see, there’s probably at least as much that you can’t see. It’s on the inside of buildings, for example, and under the surface of roadways. That’s because concrete makes up the vast majority of underground water and sewer infrastructure.

With all of the concrete in use today – and the knowledge that it’s been a key construction component for thousands of years – you might think that today’s concrete construction techniques have remained unchanged. But like most building materials, concrete today is stronger than ever before.

Here are a few of the most prominent advantages of precast concrete construction materials:

Strength –The tensile strength of concrete gradually increases over time, while other materials can deteriorate, experience creep and stress relaxation, lose strength and deflect over time.

Longevity – Studies have shown that concrete products can provide a service life in excess of 100 years. Many concrete structures, including the famous ancient buildings of Rome, are still standing after thousands of years.

Lower lifetime costs – Concrete’s superior strength means that installation is often easier, quicker and less costly, requiring less ongoing maintenance and a reduced likelihood of future problems.

While concrete as a building material is a quality product that can handle the stresses of traffic, the rigors of freezing and thawing, and the intrusion of water better than any alternative, contractors know that product durability is one part science and one part smarts.

Even the highest quality concrete products can fail when improper storage, transport and installation come into play. There are several resources – including the National Precast Concrete Association and the American Society of Concrete Contractors – that can share best practices and answer any questions about concrete construction techniques.

As you consider building materials for upcoming projects, it’s easy to become enamored with the “next big thing” – whether it’s fiberglass, high-density polyethylene or engineered stone. But there’s simply no questioning the durability and lasting impact of concrete construction. There’s a good reason why concrete has been a tried-and-true material for thousands of years, so don’t trust your important projects to anything less.

Joe Eull is president of Eull’s Manufacturing, which produces precast concrete products in St. Michael, Minn. For more information, visit www.eullsmanufacturing.com

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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