Welcome to the Construction Informer construction blog – featuring news, information and commentary for contractors

4 Breakthrough Panama Canal Engineering Innovations

Photo and Map Courtesy Creative Commons by Pixabay Panama Canal engineering used four breakthroughs from a series of landmark canals. At the heart of each lies a major engineering breakthrough that allowed ever bigger ships to navigate landlocked areas. In...

Approaches to Managing Job Site Inventory

Managing job site inventory is a whole lot easier these days because of new technology. This same technology is also handy for managing tools and fasteners. Here are ideas for getting control of your own job site inventory so you can cut losses and improve...

The Basics of How To Install Tile With Careful Planning

Here is a very broad overview of how to install tile. It’s meant to help you understand the materials, tools and methods you use to install tile. It is not a definitive guide since different installations will require more specific instructions. Install...

5 Ways Equipment Financing is Empowering Small Construction Businesses

Small construction businesses can often get 100% equipment financing, eliminating the down payment, and freeing up cash, according to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA). Most small businesses need equipment in order to operate and grow,...

Want a Fair Chance at a Government Contract? Think Again

Getting a government contract relies on following health, safety and pay rules, but even if you do, those who don’t follow the rules can beat you out.

The Gillespie Group and UZIN® Flooring Team Up for Renovation

After moisture from a boiler and leaking roof raised havoc with the school gym floor, it was time for a complete gymnasium floor renovation.

Why Not Break Out Of The Box?

A press release sent to this construction blog announced that Load Center, LLC, has invented several new electric panel enclosures to make the electrician’s job easier and faster. When changing out panels there are wires that run through the top and bottom. That box, with the wires hanging out, has to be inserted in a cut-out in the sheet rock not much bigger than the box. Most times, after much struggling to install a standard panel the sheet rock ends up getting broken and needs repaired, sometimes repainting, and the wires many times get damaged. Electricians can struggle for 20-30 minutes just to get the standard box in the wall.

Load Center, LLC has designed six and tested four different enclosures to solve this problem. The new Pivot Panel allows the electrician to install this box in the wall in 4-7 minutes with no stress or struggling and with no damage.

Tallest in the West

LOS ANGELES (23 June, 2017) – The billion-dollar Wilshire Grand Center in downtown Los Angeles celebrated its grand opening today, ushering in a new age and downtown skyline for the city. The celebration concluded with a nighttime light show — accompanied by music — presenting a dazzling spectacle of the building’s signature 73-story-high LED lighting as it illuminated the skyline of downtown Los Angeles.

The grand opening is a significant occasion for the city and for the project that began construction with a record-breaking concrete mat pour in February 2014. Over the past five years, 11,500 workers spent 5,433,012 hours constructing the skyscraper that features Los Angeles’s first sky lobby, a sky deck, innovative outdoor spaces, exterior plazas and light features that will redefine the skyline and living experience of downtown Los Angeles for generations to come. The structure is eco-friendly and built with state-of-the-art construction methods. It’s designed to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake with its Bucking Restrained Braces (BRB). It also meets the “Green California” and is acknowledged for its efforts in receiving a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the American Green Building Council.

Go Around to Cut Square

Almost every construction project requires square holes for electrical sockets and other boxes but for years electricians have struggled to create them with rulers, pencils and handsaws. QUADSAW solves this problem thanks to its unique four-blade technology that cuts square holes in seconds and with absolute precision. QUADSAW is a simple attachment to a power drill that uses patented technology to convert rotary motion into linear motion – in four planes at once. The press release sent to this construction blog noted that this unit has built-in spirit levels, and that you can change the blades in seconds with just the push of a button. It’s quicker and easier to switch between single and double socket sizes.

A New Solution to a Safer Working Environment

Cordapillar deals with the predicament that is all too familiar to everyone: extension cords running loose on the floor, creating potentially hazardous conditions in the working environment. Tripping is serious and there are 4,000 cord-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms every year. About half of the injuries are from people tripping over cords, according to what Cordapillar told this construction blog. You cannot always make the extension cable run in straight lines. If your protective solution consists of rigid, straight pieces, the bends can remain unprotected. The designers of Cordapillar have solved the problem in a brilliant way. It consists of modular segments that allow unlimited length and bending around corners. You just snap the segments together.

If You're Gonna Dig, Call 811

The April National Safe Digging Month was created by the Common Ground Alliance (GCA) to make people more aware of the need to dig safely. This initiative promotes an overall focus on the safety of land workers, and reminds diggers to take safety precautions before digging. GCA says to call 811 before digging underground. The service doesn’t cost, and will get utility lines marked. No excavation job is too small to place the call because utilities vary in depth, and many are closer to the surface than expected. A message from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Benefit Everyone with the New Stub-EASE

Until now, conduit stub-ups had been universally accepted as a necessary evil in concrete construction applications. Previous methods of protection and awareness varied from spraying or flagging the stub-ups, to setting concrete blocks over them, only serving to highlight or hide the hazards on a raceway.

According to what the maker told this construction blog, Stub-EASE allows the customer to keep future extensions of the conduit from projecting beyond the top of the concrete slab, by attaching to the embedded conduit via a threaded coupling. After the concrete pour, the HDPE (High Density Poly-Ethylene) sleeve and support are cut down to the top of concrete elevation and left in the slab until the future raceway is ready to be safely extended into a wall cavity. At this time, the electrician can use a driver with standard size paddle bit on the plastic partition wall in the middle of the sleeve, to expose the embedded threaded coupling.

Discover Ancient Origins of Construction Estimating

Ancient Estimators is a web series focused on the oft-forgotten key roles estimators and construction managers played in the building trades from the dawn of civilization. Watch the new web series “Ancient Estimators” which explores the primitive origins of modern-day construction planning and estimating in ancient times.

New Drone Portal Amplifies Collaboration

Hangar’s JobSight Project Tracker is a team’s portal to visual records of their job site. The company claims that users get quick and clean access to site-specific aerial data and the information teams need. Save meeting time, eliminate redundant communication, ensure teams are working with thorough, up-to-date data and enhance collaboration by connecting the field to the office in an established rhythm. This interface gathers team members around the same information virtually, and keeps them informed and equipped to verify their projects are on task, creating streamlined project management and a more efficient site, according to Hangar. Other benefits claimed include fewer meetings, better communication, a safer work environment, and true on-site results. Now integrated with Procore.

Harbor Freight Announces Prizes for Skilled Trades Teaching Excellence

CALABASAS, Calif.- Harbor Freight Tools for Schools named the 10 finalists for the very first Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. It awards more than $500,000 to skilled trades teachers and programs in American public high schools, according to the press release received at this construction blog.

The construction teachers honored were: Gerald “Dave” Huffman and Patrick Wadsworth, Gulfport, Mississippi; 
Ed Hughes, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin; Bob Kilmer, Enumclaw, Washington; Cole Smith and Bill Hartman, Rohnert Park, California; and Randy Williamson, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The prize competition drew nearly 700 applicants from 48 states, who were narrowed to 54 semi-finalists.

Consumer Advocates Urge Congress To Cap Payday Loan Rates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), and nearly 40 national and state organizations sent a letter urging Members of Congress to pass the Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates Act. “Currently, payday and car title lenders charge triple digit annual interest rates, often 300 percent or higher. A large body of research has demonstrated that these products are structured to create a long-term debt trap that drains consumers’ bank accounts and causes significant financial harm, including delinquency and default, overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees, increased difficulty paying mortgages, rent, and other bills, loss of checking accounts, and bankruptcy,” the group wrote.

U of M School of Architecture Hosts “Complexity: Dutch and American Housing” Symposium

WHEN: Friday, October 6 through Sunday, October 8, 2017
WHERE: Rapson Hall, University of Minnesota, 89 Church Street SE (East Bank), Minneapolis, MN RSVP: Registration for the symposium is now open. To register, visit http://www.z.umn.edu/complexitysymposium. Based on the book Complex Housing: Designing for Density by Professor Julia Robinson, FAIA, “Complexity: Dutch and American Housing” will explore the values inherent in Dutch Complex Housing and how to apply these values to American housing developments. At the symposium twelve Dutch presenters, representing four projects, will showcase best housing practices governing the development of Dutch housing.

USW Blasts Proposal to Cancel Beryllium Protections for Shipyard and Construction Workers

PITTSBURGHJune 23, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The United Steelworkers (USW) today blasted the administration’s proposal to cancel important protections for shipyard and construction workers exposed to beryllium. Under the proposal OSHA released this morning, employers would no longer have to measure beryllium levels in the workplace or provide medical testing to workers at risk of fatal lung disease. In addition, workers would not have the right to wear protective clothing or to shower at the end of the work shift, making it possible for beryllium to be taken home and exposed to spouses and children.

Roof Design for Builders

CASTLETON ON HUDSON, N.Y., June 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Attention to Detail announces the release of Easy Rafters 4.0, the latest version of its interactive roof design software for builders, remodelers, architects, engineers and do-it-yourselfers. Easy Rafters has been completely rewritten with new features, better support for the latest versions of Windows and a new licensing option. In addition to the Gable, Shed, Saltbox, Hip, Valley, California Valley, Gambrel, and Bay Roof options, the new Polygon Roof (3-12 sides) option has replaced the Octagon Roof. Other new features include jack rafter layout drawings for Valley Roofs similar to the Hip Roof layout drawing, roof sheathing drawings for several roof types, DXF output in AutoCAD 2000 format, and Print Preview functionality.

Sunscreen to the Workers

WATERFORD, Ontario–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Skin cancer is by far the most common form of cancer and too much exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases the risk of skin cancer. However, according to a 2016 survey Deb Group commissioned, 71 percent of outdoor workers are not provided sunscreen by their employer’s to use at work.1 A new survey commissioned by Deb Group, and conducted online by Harris Poll among 2,057 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, examines the public’s opinions on sunscreen at businesses. The study found that 74 percent of adults believe businesses with outdoor workers should provide sunscreen for their employees to use while at work.

KWA Construction Recognized as One of the Top Ethically-Driven Companies in North Central Texas

August 7, 2017  — KWA Construction, a leading general contractor of multifamily developments in Texas, has been selected as a finalist for the Dallas Business Journal’s Torch Awards for Ethics, proving itself to be one of the most trusted, respected and ethically sound companies among its employees, clients and the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Dallas Business Journal and the Better Business Bureau selected finalists based upon a rigorous study of each company’s respective policies, education, business-to-business recommendations, client reviews and financial track record. Out of a pool of nearly 100 applicants, KWA and 17 other finalists were chosen for their ethical merits.

    “This coveted recognition is an overall reflection of our core values, culture and steadfast commitment to the success of our clients and community,” said KWA Construction President Brian Webster. “Whether it be through our open and honest conversations with developers discussing budget and project constraints or through our company’s philanthropic efforts throughout the year, KWA is passionate about doing the right thing both inside and outside the workplace.”

BBB Torch Awards for Ethics were established in 2002 to publicly shine a light on those companies which maintain a solid commitment to ethics and trust in the marketplace. This is the first year the North Central Texas BBB is partnering with the Dallas Business Journal to host the prestigious award.

In September, five regional winners will be announced. Each will then be considered alongside other winners from BBB’s in the US, Canada and Mexico for the 2017 International Torch Awards for Ethics.

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About KWA Construction

KWA Construction is a Dallas­-based construction firm specializing in multifamily developments. As general contractors, our team of experts has developed a reputation for being among the best in our industry. Founded in 2004, KWA Construction serves from a foundation of values created and realized by each individual who works in our organization. We strive to set the standard for excellence at the beginning of a project and carry that high standard throughout every process and estimate to ensure clients receive the greatest value at the right cost, every time. For more information about KWA Construction, visit www.kwaconstruction.com.

Death & Injury Infographic

Courtesy ANBU Safety





ANBU Safety infographic

How To Stop Silica Dust Dangers

Infographic Courtesy of Bosch Tools





Architects & Celebrities Accept Challenge to Help Homeless Cats

LOS ANGELES, CA. AUGUST 29, 2017 – One of this year’s most innovative design events, Architects for Animals® “Giving Shelter” exhibit, returns to the Herman Miller Showroom in Culver City on October 19th 2017. The event is expected to be a sold-out fundraiser for LA-based non-profit FixNation, which provides free spay and neuter services for the city’s skyrocketing population of homeless cats.

LA’s top architecture and design firms as well as individual architects and designers have been invited to design, build and donate one-of-a-kind and functional outdoor dwellings for cats. Shelters will be displayed at a cocktail reception attended by the public, VIPs and media representatives. Also on display: cat food bowls decorated by feline-loving celebrities such as Jay Leno, Beau Bridges, Morgan Fairchild, Tricia Helfer, Jackson Galaxy and Elvira; all bowls will be available for purchase via an online auction.

“These cat shelters are absolutely remarkable,” says FixNation’s Co-Founder and Executive Director Karn Myers. “They will help raise awareness about homeless cats and provide practical solutions that can be implemented throughout our community.”

This year’s event has added significance as the organization honors Myer’s late husband, Mark Dodge. The couple co-founded FixNation 10 years ago.

Los Angeles is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of homeless felines, an estimated one to three million cats. FixNation is a model for successful Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and humane colony management programs across the country and around the world.

“Many communities use lethal methods in an attempt to control the population of stray, abandoned and feral cats. Such methods are not only horribly cruel, they simply don’t work,” explains Myers. “TNR is a much more effective and compassionate alternative. Our mission is to manage colonies of homeless ‘community cats’ and gradually reduce their number through sterilization.”

Participating firms include Abramson Teiger Architects; ES-EN-EM; HLW; HOK; Knowhow Shop; Kollin Altomare Architects; Pfeiffer Partners Architects; RNL; and Standard Architecture | Design.

The “Giving Shelter” event is open to the public from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm at the HermanMiller Showroom. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased online or at the door.