Cozy up with some good Construction Blogs (and a favor)

If you haven’t already, check out some of the blogs on my Blogroll.  These are other construction law writers from around the United States.  Even if they are not writing for your jurisdiction, most of the information is relevant to readers from any state- or indeed, for readers from many other countries.

In addition to the Blogroll, you can find a plethora of well-written, topical blogs in this year’s “Best Construction Blog” contest run by Construction Marketing Magazine, founded by Mark Buckshon.   Mark’s company is also responsible for publication of the North Carolina Construction News, which is on my “to read” list and should be on yours.

vote signAnd yes, if you think I have ulterior motives, I do.  This blog is one of the contestants, so if you feel so inclined to vote, please consider including this blog among your votes.  (In the alphabetized list, under “C”, “Construction Law in North Carolina,” which is the 14th from the top.

You can vote for multiple blogs, and I encourage you to do so as there are many good contenders this year.  The contest is open until the end of the month.  Happy reading & happy voting!

Design-Build Advantages for Construction Projects (guest post)

Design-Build where contractors and designers work togetherToday we have a guest post from the folks at McCree General Contractors and Architects, located in Orlando.  The McCree folks, naturally enough, think Design-Build has many features that make it advantageous over the traditional Design-Bid-Build method.  Here are their thoughts:

Many construction projects are designed by an architect, and once the client is happy with the design a contractor is then hired to build it. While the client may have been told one estimate by the architect, once the contractor gets the plans the costs may change. There may be aspects of the design execution the architect didn’t think about, or parts that won’t work with the landscape of the construction site. This can result in changes to the original design, higher costs, and delaying of the project. Not to mention the frustration this can create for everyone involved.

Because of these obstacles that often arise between architecture firm and contractor firm, many people are now turning to a Design-Build Construction Firm. At these firms, the architects, designers, and contractors work together from the beginning. The firm takes responsibility for the project in its entirety, from design to execution. If the architect makes and adjustment to a design, the contractor will be right there to let him know if this may violate a regulation or if it won’t work with the topography of the site. Adjustments can be made without ever involving the client. The price quoted is more likely to be accurate, because a contractor and project manager will have also agreed that this design can be executed in the space allotted. There is no finger pointing and blaming the other firm, leaving the client in the middle, frustrated and spending more money than he originally thought. A Design-Build firm is also easier on the client because he only needs to contact one project manager. This streamlined process leads to a more efficiently run project, and efficiently run projects typically cost less and are finished quicker.

A Design-Build firm is advantageous for the client also because these firms typically allow the client to be as involved as he wants. As the design is developed and changed according to the client’s specifications, the contractor will be on hand to let the client and architect know if these changes are possible. There is no need for ordering design changes, which an architect working on his own would charge the client for. Because the contractor works for the firm, and not for himself, he is not looking to protect his own self-interest once building starts. Since the contractor has been involved from the beginning, there should be no surprises or setbacks once ground is broken. If there are, the Design-Build firm should take responsibility, instead of the contractor telling the client to go back to the architect.

All the decisions regarding the design and building of a project will be taken into account from the very beginning with a Design-Build firm. When using separate design and contractor firms, an architect will simply tell the client what will be the most cost effective design, and then a contractor will decide the most cost effective way to build this design. The schedule of the contractor’s team is not on the architect’s mind, and the contractor may not know the most cost effective materials needed to execute the design. These problems are also eliminated with a Design-Build firm. The experience of the team, quality and availability of materials and schedule of the contractor and construction crews are also taken into consideration from the very beginning of the project. This further streamlines the process, making it quicker and more painless for everyone involved.

Melissa again:  Design-Build projects definitely present unique opportunities, and unique challenges.  If you are considering entering into a design-build contract, considering a joint venture with a contractor on a project, or otherwise undertaking a corporate organizational change, make sure you have a good lawyer (or three) on board for the myriad issues that such ventures present. 

Now it’s your turn:  What do you think?  Is Design-Build the next best thing since sliced bread? Have you had issues, problems, or good results as part of a Design-Build team?  Share your thoughts below.

Copyright Info for Shutterstock Photo: Image ID: 61778761  Copyright: sam100

Here’s to Your Family’s Nuts!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my blog readers!  Rather than yet-another-boring-tree photo, I thought I’d share this photo of a squirrel and his nuts, because *every* family has at least a few nuts, right?  Here’s hoping  you get to spend some down time this season with your family, nuts & all!

~ Melissa

squirrel_with_nuts_in_the_snow

Photo (c) Johnny Berg 

 

The top 10 architecture mistakes of the 21st century (guest post)

For a fun Friday guest post, Marcela De Vivo is joining us today.  Marcela is a freelance writer from Los Angeles, focusing on Marketing, Real Estate, and Technology.  She works for Process Sensors Intl and spends her time connecting online, reading and researching. 
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The 21st century is one of the most innovative eras for architecture. With great ideas, there comes great failures.
Starting at number ten is the First World Hotel from Malaysia. It was once, the biggest hotel in the world, but it fell short in terms of design. The main problem came with the color scheme. It looks as if the designer had an obsession with rainbows.

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Number nine goes to a building that looks great as something in your pocket, but not as an architectural inspiration. It resembles an old Chinese currency that is circular with a square cutout in the middle. The building, known as the Fang Yuan building, is in Shenyang, China.

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Eight is the Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. It contains many buildings that seems incomplete. Patched by a bunch of metal plates with various patterns, the square is lacking a wholesome building.

 
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Lucky number seven was created through the collaboration of Dutch architecture studio MVRDV and Spanish architect Blanca Lleo. The result was not so great. Assuming they were going for a abstract look, it came off as random and bland. It contains random streaks of red lines in obscure areas.

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Six is a shiny pineapple shaped building in Macau. It is a hotel and a casino with 430 rooms and over 800 table games. It is also the home to the “star of Stanley Ho”, the world’s largest cushion shaped internally flawless D-color diamond.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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At number five, the National Library of Belarus opened in 2006 in Minsk. The shape is reminded of a virus. It houses the largest collection of Belarusian printed materials and has the third largest collection of Russian books.

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 Number four is similar to the Fang Yuan building because of its circular structure. The Aldar headquarters located in Dubai has the shape and color of a fly’s eye.

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Number three is the Meadowlands Xanadu that is to be finished by 2013. It is located in New Jersey. Even the governor is saying bad things about the project.
 
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Number two goes to the EMP Museum for being just plain random and hideous.
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Number one, the worst architecture made to this date, is none other than the latest observation tower of the 2012 London Olympics, the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture and observation tower. It is like an entanglement of wires construed together by an even gray spiral.
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This concludes my list of the top ten architecture mistakes of the 21st century. You really have to wonder what the architects were thinking when they created these buildings.  All we can do is hope others won’t follow suit.
 
Do you concur? Object? Have other nominations?  Let us know in the comment section, below.

Research Produces New Standards for Construction (guest post)(& more)

Welcome Back!  The “regular season” of Construction Law in NC blog posts has now officially started.

Recently, I had the privilege of writing on the subject of Private, Single Panel Arbitration on Chris Hill’s blog.  Please read the article if haven’t already. 

The first issue of my brand-spanking new newsletter, The Construction Professional, went out yesterday to those on the email list.  If you want to be one of the cool kids, be sure to sign up now by visiting the right hand side of the blog.  (Or, you can simply shoot me an email at mbrumback at rl-law dot com).

Finally, today’s post is a guest post by Susan Wells.  Susan is a freelance blogger who enjoys writing about automotive and health news, technology, lifestyle and personal finance. She often researches and writes about automobile, property and health insurance, helping consumers find free insurance quotes, and the best protection available. Susan and I welcome your thoughts and comments on this article.

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The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) sits on a 90-acre parcel of land in South Carolina. The research facility is dedicated to advancing building science by evaluating various residential and commercial construction materials and systems.

In layman’s terms, IBHS builds things and then attempts to destroy them by recreating conditions of natural disasters. In a studio-like production, the laboratory builds houses and then submits them to fire, wind, ice and water damage.

The IBHS research center even has a few videos on YouTube that demonstrate the effects of wind damage and fire.

two houses compared in wind damage situation

This destruction is an integral part of the construction industry as insurers work to identify risks and mitigate them through improved materials and structures. IBHS President Julie Rochman explains that the research center allows them to produce controlled experiments that are not being conducted anywhere else in the world. No longer forced to rely on case studies or opinions, the IBHS can record its findings and actively search for (and test) stronger systems.

Engineer Scott Sundberg explains the value of the research center in a single sentence, saying, “One test is worth a thousand expert opinions.”

To those at the IBHC, the information produced by these experiments is essential to advancing a sustainable community. Using hard data and conclusive evidence, such large-scale and detail oriented research allows the insurance and construction markets to focus on effective mitigation techniques. The average consumer will also have more access to product knowledge and has the potential to become more informed about products and strategies that can make their homes and buildings safer.

“Predictability and reliability of building materials and information is extremely important to the sustainability of the community, “says Mississippi Housing Director Gerald Bessey.

“Collectively as we apply these to public policy decisions and as the market place makes market choices. I think the market will react to good information that’s reliable and stable.”

In insurance underwriting laboratories like IBHS, disaster resistant and energy efficient technologies are merging to produce a new definition of sustainability.

Admittedly, there are few market standards for “green” products, and the FTC is actively working to mitigate the damage caused by “greenwashed” products that touted false claims of durability and environmental benefit. For uninformed consumers and construction managers, the wrong green system could put building structure at risk.

Some elements, such as vegetative roofs, can actually serve as fuel for fires or pose a threat under high winds. The IBHS proposes that energy efficiency and structural durability can work in tandem to create a truly sustainable product: one that will be environmentally friendly yet resilient in the face of environmental disasters.

One such recommendation is retrofitting older homes. Owners can replace windows and doors with energy efficient and wind resistant materials and seal energy leaks. Simple weatherization steps can actually help the average homeowner reach a new level of sustainability without rebuilding their home using entirely new green technology.

Interestingly, there are green insurance policies that allow policy holders to rebuild after a disaster using green upgrades. This would allow for recycling of debris, LEED certification as well as coverage for new appliances.

Most insurance policies do not currently consider products like wind-resistant glass to be a green upgrade, but as research begins to define standards of sustainability, it’s only a matter of time before green technologies and resistant materials merge to produce the highest standards of construction.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?  Drop me an email or leave your musings below.

 

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