By Katherine Lewis
While most office workers are turning up the thermostats on their heating systems this time of the year, that’s a luxury most construction workers don’t have. We’re often working on sites without power or permanent amenities, so keeping warm can be a challenge.
One of the obvious solutions to this problem is to use portable heaters. So, we’ve put together a brief guide to the types of heaters you can install, as well as how effective they are, and how much they cost. Read More
Carhartt’s Quick Duck Woodward Vest features a media port on the inside pocket, 8.5 ounce water repellent fabric and a lot of warmth. (Courtesy Carhartt)
Working in the cold outdoors has never been one of my favorite things to do. Some people are ready to turn on the air conditioner if the temp gets up to 50 in their homes, but not me. I like warm more than cold and so when Carhartt said they’d give me a jacket if I’d tell them what I thought of it, I said, “Send it over.”
Actually, they gave me a choice and I picked the Men’s Quick Duck™ Woodward Vest, because I used to have a vest jacket and I liked it for those certain times when I didn’t want the bulk of a full jacket but I did want some warmth for my body core. Well, it hung in the closet for a few months until recently when it got cold enough for me to try it out. Read More
Building products made from sorghum continue rolling out, but other agricultural products are also being used with varying levels of sustainability. For example, in a National Institutes of Science analysis, wheat-board products got the highest score of environmental friendliness from a field of 230 products the organization evaluated. (Image credit: huyangshu / 123RF Stock Photo)
With the announcement from ChloroFill LLC, a sorghum-based building material company, and Chromatin, Inc., an agricultural biotechnology company, that the two are teaming up to use sorghum in making building products, we have another example of the evolving quest to find, rediscover or develop sustainable building materials.
In the report “Sustainable Building Material Manufacturing in the U.S.” IBISWorld projects this sector will grow at 7.3% a year for the next five years, and was predicting 30% growth during 2012 alone. The reasons cited include:
- Builders can no longer ignore the benefits to building owners, such as reduced utility costs over the lifetimes of the buildings
- Building codes are evolving to encourage energy efficiency
- Lowering costs for sustainable building materials
- Labor savings from using products that are more consistent to begin with and that retain their properties long after being installed, and that are easier and less costly to maintain
- Tax subsidies and rebates to builders and owners who build more sustainably Read More
So, you just discovered that a recent change in floor loads is going to require upsizing the floor joists. Since the plans call for the joists to be hung with hangers you now have to order new hangers, but first you need to find the part number. It used to be you’d go to the office, dig out the vendor’s book and look it up. But now, all that’s a thing of the past, and beyond structural connectors, we’re probably going to be seeing a lot more of this revolutionary trend — vendors supplying their catalogs as apps that run on iPads, and smartphones.
This one is from USP Structural Connectors and is its complete catalog of hangers, anchors, and connectors. It includes product and application illustrations, installation instructions, fastening schedules, and load ratings. EWP and plated truss connectors also included. It’s available for iPads at the iTunes store. USP says to simply search for its name, which didn’t work for me. But, here’s the URL I found. The company says all its products are compliant with state and national building codes and supported by its own in-house engineering staff, technical assistance teams, and customer service organization.
Tile restoration offers savings over remove and replace. These Before and After shots show the results of the SaniGLAZE process.
By Percy Rosenbloom
In the late 1990s, SaniGLAZE International developed a new technology called restorative bonding. This technology became the lynchpin of a proprietary chemical process used to restore tile and grout to a “like new” appearance that is impervious to moisture and contaminants. This restorative bonding process – known as tile and grout restoration – is a cost-effective alternative to tile replacement. Read More
If you’re looking for an easy way to do punch lists this new iPhone app could be just the ticket. It’s called Snaglist and it’s available on August 5.
It’s pretty simple, you capture a photo of the problem, add a description to it and send a professional report. The beauty of having a photo is you can avoid many of the questions that arise when people look at a list without pictures. This is particularly true when dealing with aesthetic items like a spot on the wall, or a tile that’s out of place.
Another use would be for inventorying job site tools or materials with the bonus of having a photo showing their condition at the time of inventory. Once you let your imagination run with it, you’ll no doubt find many more uses.
While we wait for robotics to take over all our boring, repetitive tasks, home automation continues making us less relevant to everyday, mundane things, like turning on the lights. Image credit: artisticco / 123RF Stock Photo
As telecommunications carriers continue rolling out home automation features there are also companies selling equipment that does the same thing. In this case though you spend the money one-time and avoid the monthly fees.
One such company is Control4, a maker of residential and commercial automation systems. The company recently announced the availability of its Starter Kit, HC-250, that enables smart-home control in a single room with the ability to expand to a complete home system. The system relies on a little box for the brains that automate, integrate and control the key devices and systems in your home. The HC-250 provides control of lighting, temperature, and security systems, while also providing instantaneous access to your video and music collections, gaming systems, streaming content and more, all through the TV in your living room or from your favorite Android® or Apple® tablet or smartphone. Read More
When moving beyond spreadsheet estimating the ability to drag and drop adds functionality, saves time and contributes to ease-of-use. (Courtesy Sigma Estimates)
Estimating software sold as a subscription, where you pay a monthly or annual fee and all updates and maintenance is included in that fee, is a compelling model for AEC firms because it means your software is always up to date, and for at least a year, you know what the cost is. There are cloud models of this where the software resides in the cloud and you use it through a browser, and then there’re the earthly models, Read More
Dri-Design Solar Facade with Konarka Power Plastic(R) offers to energize commercial buildings. (Photo: Business Wire)
Konarka Technologies recently announced a partnership with Dri-Design to make a façade for commercial buildings that also generates power from the sun. Konarka is a maker of lightweight, flexible organic solar film that converts light to electricity, and Dri-Design makes metal rain screen panels for building façades. Put them together and you get what the companies claim can deliver a recurring revenue stream for building owners, tax credits and renewable energy credits where Read More
The LinkedPro fall prevention track can be used to attach multiple lines to a single anchor point. This system makes it possible for several workers to safely pass each other on the same system or to create several routes from the same starting point. (Photo courtesy XSPlatforms BV)
One big challenge in fall protection is managing the connections from multiple fall arrest harnesses. Lines get tangled and then people disconnect from the anchor point to get them untangled. But, there is at least one product available today that claims to solve that problem.
The LinkedPro system is modular and can be used in various configurations. The biggest advantage pointed out by the manufacturer is that there is a steel cable for each user so each can move freely without interfering with another. They also don’t have to disconnect at dangerous or undesirable locations in order to pass each other. The system offers safe passage to and along multiple routes. Read More
The Yeti 1250 Solar Generator is Goal Zero’s highest capacity portable recharger to date and is billed as, "the most easy to use, affordable, dependable and complete solution available for those looking to 'trade-up' from their conventional gas-powered back-ups." The Yeti 1250 is 16 inches tall, 11.6 inches wide and 14.5 inches deep and weighs 103 lbs. (Photo Courtesy Goal Zero)
Every now and then an energy-related product catches my attention and I just have to tell about it. That was the case with the announcement of the availability of the new Yeti 1250, a portable, solar generator. That’s right, a SOLAR generator.
According to the manufacturer, Goal Zero, this generator will run a chest freezer for eight days and a refrigerator for up to four days, all on one charge. It will run a laptop computer for more than 30 hours. It doesn’t produce any more power than what is being drawn so it’s much more efficient than gasoline or diesel generators. The unit charges up in 20-22 hours from the sun, or, plug it in and it charges up in 16-20 hours. Right now there are two form factors available. One is called a kit, and it Read More
This runs on iPads that have iOS 4.3 or later. (picture courtesy of iTunes and Construction Centrics LLC)
Here’s an app that might be interesting to superintendents near and far. I haven’t used it so if you try it out and have comments, please let us know what you think.
The Construction Superintendent family of applications streamline the process of gathering and reporting critical construction project information. The developer says Superintendent Journeyman provides a comprehensive set of site management forms and administrative support tools that raise the efficiency and effectiveness of project superintendents.
It costs about $100 and has a 4+ rating.
Deco Block with flower inside could be the beginning of a floral accent incorporated into a bathroom wall, or up high in a closet wall to let more light into the space. (Photo Courtesy of Quality Glass Block and Window)
Quality Glass Block and Window sent a decorator glass block to me and asked if I’d use it in a project. Well, I didn’t really have a glass block project planned anytime soon so I asked if they could send me some more information that I might use to base a post on because this item was very interesting.
Basically it’s a glass block with a slot in the bottom that has a plastic plug. When you remove the plug you can put all kinds of decorative things inside such as glass beads, terrarium decorations, your kid’s latest drawing or even jelly beans. Then, you use the block with others, or, by itself. There are Internet pages full of glass blocks that have been decorated, but most of them involve drilling holes in a standard block, or somehow adding decoration to their outsides. With these, the holes are already there. While this is more “crafty” than many construction pros might consider getting into, it does offer some unique opportunities for dressing up spaces.
They aren’t cheap, but then, you’d use them sparingly anyway, right.
Consistently in the Harris Interactive studies, female respondents preferred flowing leaf patterns identified as contemporary styles, thus leading Therma-Tru to introduce its new Avonlea decorative glass offering in early 2011, it notes. The glass design is inspired by the simple beauty found in nature and features clear baroque glass with fluid lines in a free-flowing leaf pattern accented with bronze water glass and black nickel caming. (Photo Courtesy Therma-Tru)
Everything old, is new again, and that even applies to entryways. Harkening back to architectural styling of old, decorative glass is more in vogue than ever, according to research conducted for Therma-Tru by Harris Interactive.
In a 2009 survey, 58 percent of respondents said they preferred doorlites in an entry door, and the next year that number had risen to 60 percent. Read More