Today’s guest post is contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from ChangeOfAddressForm.com. You can reach her at: m.hatter12 @ gmail. com. Read on to find out how those scraps and remainders could, in a pinch, turn into some cold hard cash.
During the construction project, there are a variety of materials that are simply tossed in the dumpster that can be re-purposed for other uses or used to enhance a last minute idea. As you perform construction observation, take note: there could be tons of this material that can be used to save a great deal of money, if you know what you’re looking at. What recyclable materials are available on a construction site that can be reused later?
1. Wood - A lot of scrap wood is discarded during any given construction. While some of these pieces can be simply too small or odd-shaped to be of any real use, other pieces might be a perfect shape for other smaller projects. Frames, odd angle cuts, small pet doors, stairs, and a variety of other wooden uses can be created with this material that you may find yourself tossing in the dumpster. In any event, you could simply sell it by the pound to those who wish to burn or otherwise use the material which could recuperate some of the expenses of building the structure.
2. Drywall - Given the nature of renovations or new constructs, it is quite common place to have sections of drywall that are too small for a complete wall, but they could be used to patch holes or fit into smaller areas in other locations. As long as you can keep the drywall from experiencing moisture, it can be held for quite a long time before it is reused elsewhere.
3. Glass - If you’re planning a renovation project, keep in mind that securing the old windows can help you down the road in future projects. As long as the glass is intact, it can be cut down to fit a variety of other situations which could help save you a great deal of money on your next project. Although storing these pieces of glass may be a sensitive ordeal, the benefits could outweigh the risk as some plates of glass could be as much as $100 and up for each piece.
4. Concrete - Whether you are laying a new foundation or renovating a location, you could accumulate a great deal of wasted concrete. Although recycling concrete can help reduce the amount of waste in landfills, you can use pieces of this material to assist in other applications. Bits of concrete can be used to add stability to pipes and conduits that run underground, for example.
5. Copper - Not only does the wiring within a location contain copper, but pipes contain this metal as well. In some areas, recyclers will pay as much as $3 per pound for copper. In renovations or new developments, some of your expenses can be reimbursed by recycling copper. If you projects don’t produce a lot of waste from the metal, there is nothing that says you can’t simply save a collection of it until it becomes worthwhile to take to a recycler.
You don’t have to be a member of Green Peace in order to see the value of re-purposing or recycling materials from a construction site. There is a great deal of usefulness from these bits and pieces that can save you a great deal of money later on. The next time you walk a building site, take a look around prior to clean-up and determine what can help save money later.
Thanks Madoline for your thoughts.
Your turn: ever recoup expenses through recycling or re-purposing construction debris? Share in the comments, below.
Today, we have a *very* informative guest post by Mike Freiberg. Mike is a staff writer for HomeDaddys, a resource for stay-at-home dads, work-at-home dads, and everything in between. He’s a handyman, an amateur astronomer, and a tech junkie, who loves being home with his two kids. He lives in Austin.
It isn’t the biggest, or the flashiest—but it’s definitely the priciest
The new One World Trade Center (or Freedom Tower) has been a difficult project to get moving since it was announced nearly twelve years ago. Numerous architects and dozens of possible designs were considered, and ultimately scrapped, as the project underwent one reinvention after another. The project was finally completed May 10th of this year, rising to a symbolic 1,776 feet, and running up a bill of just under $4 billion—making it (by far) the most expensive skyscraper ever built.
For comparison, the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world, dwarfs One WTC by over 1,000 feet, and is much more lavishly appointed—but was built for less than half the price ($1.5 billion). So where did One World Trade Center’s nearly $4 billion price tag come from?
The world’s first fortress skyscraper
The Freedom Tower designers had to juggle several competing priorities. The tower shouldered a heavy rhetorical burden, as a symbol of fortitude and resilience—but it also had to meet the pragmatic needs of a global financial hub on an extremely valuable piece of real estate. It was a tall order; but by far the most expensive and challenging aspect of Freedom Tower’s design was security—demonstrating that the lessons of the 9/11 attacks would be taken seriously.
From the exterior, One World Trade Center looks like any other skyscraper. Inside, though, it’s built like a tank—and incorporating (and concealing) these features was the greatest source of cost overruns during the tower’s seven-year build. Here are a few of the most impressive innovations.
A towering concrete base
Unlike most skyscrapers, One World Trade Center is set on a 20-story, windowless podium of highly reinforced concrete, built to withstand a 1,500 lb. truck bomb of the type used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. When completed, the podium will be sheathed in prismatic glass to conceal the blast walls. The podium uses 720,000 cubic feet of “iCrete”, an expensive designer concrete mixture capable of withstanding 14,000 pounds per square inch of pressure—nearly three times the compressive strength of normal high-rise concrete.
A colossal air-quality apparatus
While the exterior is fortified against explosions and impact, designers also considered the threat of biological and chemical attacks, as well as fire, sparing no expense for One World Trade Center’s internal air system. Each stairwell is composed of reinforced concrete, with a separate, pressurized air supply to keep them operational in the event of an emergency.
The building is also dotted with biological and chemical filters and detectors, as well as ventilation shafts that can quickly expel contaminants as soon as they are detected.
Fortified, secure elevator shafts
One World Trade Center’s elevators are encased in three feet of concrete, and serve as an internal “spine” for the building, to prevent collapse in the event that the steel exoskeleton gives way (as it did in the September 11th attacks). The tower contains 71 elevators, none of which have buttons—instead, the car identifies each passenger, and will only bring them to the floor for which they are authorized, at an impressive 23 miles per hour. It remains to be seen how smoothly this system will operate—the building will open late this year.
An integrated security and safety network
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Freedom Tower will feature over 400 closed-circuit surveillance cameras, networked security doors, temperature and air quality monitors, and automated elevators connected via a huge web of shielded communications cables. Security teams will have a constant stream of richly-detailed status reports from across the building, so that even minor problems like electrical failures or a buzzing smoke detector reach security instantaneously. Early on, this security grid will also incorporate airport-style checkpoints and electrified fencing on the tower grounds, but those measures will be phased out after several months of normal operation.
Of course, these mammoth security expenses have been highly controversial—what seems like an appropriate symbol of vigilance to some, manifests paranoia to others—but however you interpret them, it’s not all that surprising that One World Trade Center is now the world’s most expensive skyscraper.
Thanks, Mike, for the detailed information on the newest symbol in the NYC skyline.
What do you think about the Freedom Tower? Is it money well spent? Over-engineered to death? Share in the comments section, below.
As many of you may be aware, the North Carolina legislature was considering a bill that would effectively take away the option of LEED certification for public projects. In a misguided effort to protect the NC timber industry, the original bill would essentially take away the option of using LEED for public projects.
Thanks to the strong potests from many industry groups, and the great coverage of the issue by Bob Kruhm and the folks at his paper NC Construction News, the NC Senate passed an amended version of House Bill 628 on Monday night that retains the option of LEED certifciation for State construction projects. Read the full story here. [For the original bill and other versions, click here].
Today 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
Today, we welcome back Christopher G. Hill as guest author. Chris is a LEED AP, Virginia Supreme Court certified mediator, lawyer and owner of the Richmond, VA firm, The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill, PC. Chris has been nominated and elected by his peers to Virginia’s Legal Elite in the Construction Law category on multiple occasions and is a member of the Virginia Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” for 2011 and 2012. He concentrates his practice on mechanic’s liens, contract review and consulting, occupational safety issues (VOSH and OSHA), and risk management for construction professionals.
Chris authors the Construction Law Musings blog where he discusses legal and policy issues relevant to construction professionals. Additionally, Chris is active in the Associated General Contractors of Virginia and the Board of Governors of Construction Law and Public Contracts Section of the Virginia State Bar. Most importantly, Chris’ blog was a personal inspiration to me as I set about my own blog back in 2009. Welcome Chris!
First and foremost, thanks to my pal Melissa for the opportunity to post here at her great blog.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, I will explain the title of this guest offering. When Melissa first contacted me for my thoughts on poor project management from the contractor’s perspective, my first thought on how to avoid causing friction was “Don’t think like an architect.”
Before you flip the switch and head off for another post, possibly even another blog, hear me out. Yes, I know that much of the audience for this piece is likely to be architects and other design professionals. Yes, I know that all of you try hard. But no, not all of you can run a job smoothly when acting as an Owner’s representative on a project (as opposed to designing a great building). I’m here to help with my “musings” (see how I did that?) gained from years of representing the folks that you all seem to think are trying to ruin a project: contractors and subcontractors.
The main thing that both “sides” of this equation need to remember is that you are all in this together. Without your approval, the GC (and by extension the subcontractors and suppliers) on the project won’t get paid. Without the GC and its cohorts, you, the architect, will have to listen to an Owner complain about the pace of the project and the fact that you aren’t running the project how that Owner wants it run. See? All of us are in the same boat.
Failing to row in the same direction (to continue to beat this metaphor over the head) as the GC and seeing the GC as one that seeks to undermine your beautiful and artistic design sensibilities can only undermine those sensibilities. GC’s and subcontractors, if asked nicely early on, can give you great insights into the scheduling, proper materials, and even the best and most efficient building design.
For example, an HVAC subcontractor can help you with the ductwork design in the beginning so that later on you aren’t barking at the GC because the subcontractor requested a change order (now waiting on your desk for approval) due to the fact that a load bearing wall would have to be moved in order for the ducts to go where you wanted them. This minor bit of early discussion avoids the issue and keeps the GC and its subs happy, keeps the project on track and avoids messy things like liens and bond claims.
Failure to consult early and often, in a cooperative manner, leads to grumpy GC’s, ticked off subs, and a project that slows to a glacial pace. This keeps everyone, including you, from being paid.
I could continue to rant, but you are smart folks. You can do all of that engineering type math and all of that geometry and work with CAD that I decided was too hard so I went to law school. You get the point: you and those that perform the construction at your project are not adversaries. Yes, you represent the owner and want to make sure that the building is built right. However, the best way to do this is to consult early and often. Free information flow is the best way to keep everyone happy and everyone paid.
Thanks again to Melissa for letting me rant.
Thanks, Chris. Ranting with a purpose is always welcome on my blog! Readers, it is your turn. Questions, comments, or rants for Chris or me? Comment below.