Posted by Tyson at 30 October 2014

Category: Building

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With the Obama administration weeks away from issuing recommendations for how to speed delivery of infrastructure projects and streamline private financing, Vice President Joe Biden advocated for more private investment in infrastructure on Oct. 27.
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Posted by Tyson at 30 October 2014

Category: Uncategorized

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CSH2014-Model [All photos by BUILD LLC]

BUILD’s Case Study House 2014 (CSH2014) is now site secure and it’s an excellent time to cover the progress so far, along with what’s next. When a project is site secure, the utilities are installed, (power, water supply, sewer,) the drainage package is done, and the earthwork is complete. It’s a big milestone on a project because the messy part of the project is behind us (especially as we’re entering into the rainy season). So far, the construction has gone quite smoothly and the framing is nearly complete. Momentum is on our side.


For those of you just tuning into our coverage on the CSH2014, we’ve designed up a highly machined appearance with a warm entry stoop projection. The envelope maximizes windows and transparency to get as much light as possible inside — we’re generally desperate for that sort of thing here in the gray Pacific Northwest. The traditional floor plan has been flipped so that the common areas are located on the top floor, with the more private bedrooms below, and the garage and rec room as a partial basement below that. While there are a few quirks with a top floor living, kitchen, and dining room, we just couldn’t resist the natural light and views of the top floor. Additionally, a dumbwaiter has been integrated into the design to help move items like groceries from the garage to the kitchen. The inverted program also allows for a roof hatch and ship ladder to access a roof terrace which will supplement summer time drinks and meals with a sweeping view of the city and mountains (not to mention providing accessibility to maintain a green roof). These ideas, and a few others, are being researched and developed in the BUILD laboratory.


At this point in the project, a tremendous amount of work has been accomplished that, for better or worse, will all be invisible at the end of the project. This includes the demolition of the existing house, all of those underground utilities, the excavation work for the new home, and the stockpiling of soil for future use. Because this work is unseen at completion, all the more reason to review some of these hidden details at this point in the project.

While today’s post covers the specifics of the CSH2014, these challenges and solutions are very typical on projects in and around the Pacific Northwest. Anyone who has built or remodeled a house can take comfort in the fact that all of this is behind them. The material is also a good primer for anyone looking to remodel or build. It’s the real grit of designing and building a home with the tips we’ve gathered from decades of experience.

We uncovered the old sewer and previous sewer connection at the property line and, not surprisingly, the 104 year-old sewer line had some issues. Older sewers were typically constructed of clay pipe sections three to four feet in length and, while the connections overlapped, they weren’t typically sealed or outfitted with a gasket. This means that over time, those hard working tree roots will find a way in between the clay pipe joints. This sewer line was no exception, and three large root-balls from a nearby tree had grown into the line and needed to be drilled through. This process involves snaking the line with a drill to bore out the tree roots, then pressure jetting the line to push the debris out.


The sewer line presented another challenge in that a section clay pipe near the sewer main previously broke and settled a bit, creating an offset along the line. The sewer contractor performed a remote spot fix: a relatively new technology that uses a deep excavation cut to access the damaged area of the sewer without digging up the street. Using a camera and patch kit, a small section of sewer liner (like a sleeve) was snaked to the location of the break and expanded into place. This sleeve adhered to the old sewer line and set like an epoxy cast, all from the sewer location we had already exposed on site. Following the successful patch, a new liner was shot from the city sewer main to the sewer stub on-site. And just like that, we have a sewer that will be good for another 100 years.

With these repairs completed, we were ready to have the remaining sewer connection to the house hooked up and tested. The footing drains and downspout drains (installed after the foundation and waterproofing work) could then be routed to a catch basin and connected to the sewer.  

A new water line was installed from the existing meter along a route near the sewer connection. Prep work and conduit for the new gas service could then be installed. Finally, conduit for the future electrical line would be ready for install and cover. With all this work, there are numerous inspections by the building department. And under recent changes to the building code, a host of new drainage and Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) inspections are required for managing stormwater on-site. Given the amount of moving parts (inspections and the like), getting to the point of being able to backfill the site and focus on the construction of the house feels like a long journey successfully navigated.

While the sewer line was being repaired and the other utility work was underway, the foundation was poured and the framing progressed far enough that we could confirm window and door sizes. The lead time on the glass and door package (manufacturing, assembly, and delivery) is an important critical path component for keeping the project moving along at a reasonable pace.


Keeping a project on schedule is often a strategy of compressing tasks on site and we’re always looking for opportunities to complete smaller tasks while larger items are being sorted-out, constructed, or inspected. As an example, we usually take some time during framing to lay-out the primary cabinetry and furniture on the floor. This allows us to make small modifications in framing that will help with things like lighting lay-out later.

With the opportunity to roof and dry-in on the immediate horizon, we begin looking more closely at the pending MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) rough-in, a process that has been refined over the years. Once the roof is on and building reasonably weather protected, we first install the primary electrical devices – can lights, electrical boxes, fans, and block-outs. This takes a couple of days and stakes out ground for these items before plumbing and mechanical lines have a chance to conflict with these lay-outs. With interior dimensions confirmed we can start work on the cabinet shop drawings. Although it’s a bit further out, we also set our sights on the eventual finish work.


While we’ve got all the trades on site for construction of the primary residence, it’s always a good opportunity to tackle some of the smaller, less critical work. These periphery projects can often fill in the gaps and take care of lulls in the schedule (like waiting for inspections). At the CSH2014, we have a remodel of an old garage on site that is being updated to a new silver box. This structure will be used for storage and staging during construction, eventually to be finished out as the family art studio.


On any project (residential ones in particular), an important factor throughout the construction process is neighbor relations. While we have a good track record, this project has proved to be particularly challenging. Neighbor relations at the CSH2014 are a continuous work in progress, kicking off with the single worst start of any of our projects over the past 16 years of business. Not long after we staked the property corners, a next door neighbor was concerned about the legal (and correct) location of the side yard and related property line. Although we had no obligation to do anything more than conform to the City of Seattle's prescribed 5ft side yard setbacks, we offered to reduce the scale of the home and provide a wider side yard. We also promised to not place a fence tight to the line which would be close to their house and window openings. The house design factored in the mapping of our neighbor's window pattern to ensure privacy between the two homes as well. We were proactively doing those types of things that a good neighbor would do. However, as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Following these conversations and concessions, our neighbor, out of the blue, hired an attorney and threatened legal action. While we were finally able to settle through further negotiations, the sad irony was that the written resolution basically prescribed what we had already agreed to verbally, it just cost our neighbor a healthy chunk of time and money in legal fees.


With the agreement in place, we proceeded into construction thinking the worst was behind us; we were meeting other neighbors and making friends. Nevertheless, we were wrong. The same neighbor, not understanding the agreement that they had forced upon us, felt compelled to issue further "demands." We dismissed these as none of his business and offered the suggestion that we move forward in neighborly coexistence. However, our emboldened neighbor didn't seem too interested. Rather, multiple complaints were filed to both the Building and Land Use Departments, (all of which were dismissed,) the police were called several times, (but never bothered getting out of their cruisers,) and many threats were issued. As you’ve probably gathered, our neighbor has more than a little free time. And nothing has come from any of this.

Even after a track record of successful projects, this interaction really left us scratching our heads. Were we too accommodating up front? Did we feed right into a misguided feeling of entitlement? While we are familiar with the Lesser Seattle way of thinking, this whole situation has been unsettling. We’re building a new home in for a nice little family. With all the ways to spend one's energy, and all the causes that would benefit from one's time and money, why choose to spend those resources getting in the way of one home being built?


That concludes the CSH2014 progress to date. To sum up the lessons learned on this phase of the project: always include a healthy contingency for utilities, build in plenty of time for the ever-increasing list of required city inspections, get out ahead of the lead time required for the window and door package, mark out light and cabinet locations, and don’t underestimate the timesink of the un-neighborly neighbor.

Cheers from Team BUILD

Build Blog

Posted by Tyson at 29 October 2014

Category: Architecture News

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Construction Safety 2 300x225 Important OSHA Injury Reporting Changes for 2015Effective January 1, 2015, OSHA has revamped its requirements for reporting specific injuries and hospitalizations. In addition to notifying the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, employers under federal OSHA will be required to notify the administration within 24 hours when an employee suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. This new rule resembles the CAL/OSHA rule already in place.

Current regulations require an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of 3 or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye is not required.

Learn more about the new notification requirements now at

The post Important OSHA Injury Reporting Changes for 2015 appeared first on ModSpace Blog – Construction News, Updates & Insights.

ModSpace Blog – Construction News, Updates & Insights

Posted by Tyson at 29 October 2014

Category: Building

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About 86% of Southern state respondents, mostly nonunion, report problems in finding adequately skilled craft workers.
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Posted by Tyson at 27 October 2014

Category: Building News

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BikesA couple of weeks ago, I was in the Twin Cities visiting some customers. While there, my friend Randy Manthey and his wife Christine invited me to their new flat in downtown Minneapolis.

Vélo North Loop, in the Warehouse District near the M River, caters to an active lifestyle, particularly those who bike. They have street level bike parking and a “bike kitchen,” where residents may access tire pumps, spare chain links and a bike wash.

Most folks move there partially because it’s in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, just a short ride to the central business district. Chef-driven restaurants are close by, as well as Target Stadium and a farmer’s market. On this particular evening, we enjoyed our dinner on the community rooftop patio, then walked over to a Twins game.

Bike-friendly buildings are on the rise, according to the the Wall Street Journal, along with common areas. There are lots of wins: more exercise, fewer cars and less carbon, all in a more social environment. Two of my children have chosen to live at the heart of their respective cities, and both enjoy the connectivity  and convenience it provides.

It’s my hope and belief that we will see more of this type of densification. Europeans have been living well this way for centuries before the car.


Planting Acorns

Posted by Tyson at 27 October 2014

Category: Building

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ENR goes off the beaten path a bit during a visit to Panama Canal for coverage of ASCE’s conference.
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Posted by Tyson at 26 October 2014

Category: Building News

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Target BwoodIn the final stages of a recent project, we discovered that our concrete slabs had elevated moisture content as compared to the specifications required by the desired floor coverings. This persisted in spite of running the HVAC system for 30 days, our standard operating procedure.

Was their storm water matriculating through sub grade? Was there a leak? Did our vapor barrier have a breach? While I had asked the question about openings, the reality was that we were not managing egress and ingress enough. In the process, we were trying to dehumidify the universe. Sometimes, we all overlook the simple. In this case, the solution was to keep the doors closed.

Floor coverings are affected to one degree or another by PH issues and excess water vapor emissions through a concrete slab. Moisture can cause failures across the board if not managed. In the case of LVT, it can cause gaps in the joints, adhesive release or with carpet delamination. Left uncorrected, these problems can evolve into health and safety issues caused by mold, mildew and floors lifting.

A few things we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way)

  • Ready-mix concrete. Adding water to concrete onsite increases workability, but it also can increases moisture in a slab.
  • Minimize below slab moisture transmission by the using an intact vapor barrier.
  • Consider the size of granular fill. Granular fill is intended to have large enough voids to prevent moisture wick.
  • Surface cracks should be filled to deter moisture transmission. However, expansion joints should not be filled.

Most importantly, if the substrate is not right, the floor will not be long term.

Planting Acorns

Posted by Tyson at 26 October 2014

Category: Building

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Leo Quinn, who returned U.K. defense contractor QinetiQ Group to profitability in five years, will take over the struggling British contractor giant in January.
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Posted by Tyson at 25 October 2014

Category: Architects

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The goal of any construction firm or contractor is develop a loyal customer base. You want to be the first person or company a customer will think of and go to when they have a project that needs to be completed. These loyal clients will trust you and will give you contract after contract at your price.

We would like to thank Construction Business Owner for this informative article on Developing Loyal Customers.

The construction industry is full of competition, especially as the industry is slowly recovering. Most of your competition are excellent firms or contractors in their own right. They often offer a very competitive price to yours. It is difficult to make yourself standout in the construction industry, so the question is, how do you develop a loyal customer base?

Here are some tips to developing a loyal customer base:

1. Prioritize

Spend at least a third of your time face-to-face with your customers in relationship building sessions. Some good examples of this would be: meals, industry meetings, sporting events, or spending time with community organizations. Make your customers are a priority and schedule them into your calendar. Try to schedule three meals a week or more with current or potential customers. It is important to be in a relaxed setting with the customer in order to get to know them better.

2. Help Customers

Look for ways to help your customers and treat them like a business partner. Before meeting with them, do some research and make a plan of how you will be able to help them be more successful. Send things to your customers quarterly that will help their bottom line such as: books, whitepapers, articles, or even just updates on supplier or industry news. With these items, send a note or email about how this can help them or say that you thought this would be useful. Sending theses things, even are if they are small, will help reinforce your relationship. People like to help those that go out of their way to help them.

3. Maintain Constant Customer Contact

Trust is built up over time. Trust requires regular one-on-one contact, conversations, memories, and fun. The construction business can cause many distractions due to the pressure of project deadlines and the pressure of completing projects. Sometimes taking time to build relationships with customers is the first thing in your schedule that is cut out when you are short on time.

Track your business relationships to help avoid this. A good way to start is to make a list of your recent customers (customers from the last 2-3 years). Segment these customers into groups such as: repeat customers, old customers, one time only customers, target customers (prospects), etc. Next, rank them based on your experiences with them. Ask yourself how hard or easy they were to work with and the potential for them becoming loyal.

4. Spend Time Top Prospects and Customers

After you make your rankings, try to spend more time with the highest ranked customers. Commit to seeing these customers at least every two to three months. Keep track of every time you meet. Document how the meeting went and what you did. Note any potential business opportunities or anything big that is happening with their business or their personal lives. The more you can learn about your customer the better. Your goal is ultimately to convert prospects into repeat customers. After that, you want to change repeat customers into loyal customers who will only use your company for all their construction needs.

5. Timing

Timing is everything no matter what business you are in. Being in the right place at the right time isn’t always luck. Making customer relationships a priority will help your company land more jobs because your customers will be more likely to come to you if they have a problem. If you have built trust with them, they will seek your advice and will ask for your feedback before they seek out bids.

6. Care About Their Business

Customers want to know you care about their business, their challenges and their lives. Use your records of your meetings. Become familiar with their lives. Ask them questions. Document their hobbies, goals, vacations, activities and other major life events. Try to listen more than you speak and soak up as much information as possible.

Overall, the most important factor into building a loyal customer base is trust. Taking the time to build relationships with your customers will not only lead to happier customers, but it will also help your bottom line. Satisfied and loyal customers are much less likely to make a switch. Keeping a customer is a lot less expensive than acquiring a new customer. Loyal customers also become your biggest advocates and will be much more likely to refer your business to a friend.



Construction Marketing Blog

Posted by Tyson at 25 October 2014

Category: Building

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Both public and private institutions are boosting their technology and science offerings.
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Top tips for working in construction

The construction business is one of the most pulsating and challenging business ventures. It demands lot of investments in terms of your energy, capital and time that is the main reason why it is very essential that you are passionately interested in this business venture.

With each passing day this arena is facing lot many changes in the techniques, equipments and style of working. You can do yourself a huge favour by seeking the right qualifications in order to have in-depth knowledge about the different dimensions of the construction business. No doubt, the reality picture tends to be different but it is always worthwhile to be well versed with the theoretical aspects in order to focus on the challenges of the actual world of work.

It will also help you in becoming more receptive of the changes and better options. You will be able to embrace the novelty easily if you remain open to its challenging nature. For that you always need to be on your toes and make sure you are well aware of the changing trend. With this attitude you will never lag in the race of being a proverbial in the construction business and lead your company towards excellence and proficiency.

Make sure you have the right tools. It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but it's understandable if you can't get the job done because you haven't got the equipment you need. As an example, portable hyundai generators can provide you with power when out in the field

Hence, you should seek this business option only when you think and firmly believe that it is your area of expertise. This will help you in creating better perspective and clear the expectation zone! It is important to be interested and really like the construction work in order to reap better rewards!

Once, you have set your mind in your business endeavours you need to take the first step of launching the construction business. You can also affirm your intensions and visions by joining the trade union. This step can facilitate your functioning as a proficient business venture. Moreover, the formalities, legal procedures, financial liabilities can be sorted by seeking the right guidance and information.

Most importantly, the construction arena is sure to make you more aware and concerned about the safety needs of your workers and employees. Hence, you will be giving lot of importance to safety meetings. These meeting can be taken as the right opportunity to seek awareness about the location and enforcing required rules and regulations. This is why you should never avoid or delay the safety meetings and its significance in your business. The insightful observation when blended with experience can help you get prepared for emergencies also. This also pave the way for better adjustments when require.

It is clear that this business can be crude and demanding in many respects, yet it also creates a very profitable and satisfying venture. In order to get the maximum of your business set up you need to have proper vision and clear expectations. Your attitude and working style is going to determine your success and the heights of your profits. Therefore, it is time that you open yourself to the creative and profitable ideas to ensure that your construction business is a roaring success from now on!