AGC Releases New Study and Recommendations to Improve Safety

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) today released a new safety study and recommendations to help firms improve safety.

The AGC partnered with Virginia Tech to study every construction fatality from 2010 to 2012. Here are a couple of the findings indicated in AGC’s press release:

“Some of what we found in the study confirms long-held assumptions about key safety challenges. For example, that more fatalities occur during the spring and summer; that falls are the leading cause of construction fatalities and that vehicular operations account for one in four construction fatalities.”

“Yet our new study also dispelled a number of long-held assumptions. For example, noon, as opposed to any of the morning hours, is the most deadly hour for construction fatalities. We also found construction firms that employ fewer than 10 people have a significantly higher fatality rate than larger firms. And we learned that transportation-related fatalities are increasing.”

The AGC will be making this report available, free of charge on their website. For more information, visit www.agc.org

FEMA Flood Mapping Budget Under Review

A budget proposal by the Trump Administration could potentially reduce federal funding for FEMA flood mapping.

“A proposal by the Trump administration to cut $190 million in funding for updating U.S. maps of flood-prone areas would trigger higher insurance rates or more homebuilding in risky locations, a consumer group said on Monday.

The White House 2018 budget, unveiled last Thursday, would eliminate a $190 million “discretionary appropriation” for the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) updating of U.S. flood maps and “explore other more effective and fair means of funding flood mapping efforts.”

Costs for mapping have been shared by insurance policyholders and the federal government for the past 15 years, said a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA), which operates the flood insurance program.

“The president’s budget directs us to explore avenues to shift these costs away from general appropriations,” the FEMA spokeswoman said.”

source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-budget-idUSKBN16R2FT

Home Builder Confidence At Highest Level in 12 Years

The home building market has seen its share of problems in the last decade, but home builder confidence has risen to its highest levels in 12 years.

According to an article on CNBC:

A monthly index of builder sentiment jumped six points to the highest level in 12 years. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market index hit 71 in March, a sizable jump from 58 in March of 2016. Anything above 50 is considered positive sentiment.

“Builders are buoyed by President Trump’s actions on regulatory reform, particularly his recent executive order to rescind or revise the waters of the U.S. rule that impacts permitting,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.

Builders are not only pleased with Trump’s first move on water, they also expect further deregulation to bring down construction costs. There are, however, other roadblocks keeping the nation’s builders from producing more homes, which are sorely needed in today’s tight housing market.

source: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/15/home-builder-confidence-soared-to-highest-level-in-12-years-as-trump-rolls-back-regulations.html

Executive Order Issued for WOTUS Reconsideration

The US EPA and Army Corps of Engineers issued a controversial rule in 2015 regarding Waters of the United States (WOTUS).

According to a recent article on CNBC:

“The Waters of the United States rule, known as WOTUS, was drafted during the Obama administration and broadened the definition of such things as “tributary” and also toughened controls over “adjacent waters.”

Agriculture groups have been critical of the rule, claiming farmers could lose ranch or farmland because of the regulations. Homebuilder groups also lashed out at the Obama water rule and said it was costly to their business.”

For more, see this CNBC article: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/28/trump-executive-order-seeks-to-roll-back-controversial-obama-water-rule.html

 

2017 EPA CGP Takes Effect

The new 2017 construction general  permit (CGP) issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went into effect on February 16, replacing the 2012 CGP.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

“The CGP takes effect Feb. 16 and will last for five years. While it’s applicable in only New Mexico, Idaho, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, this permit provides other states with a model for developing their own stormwater management requirements.”

“Thanks to new language, enforcement is much clearer and more reasonable for active construction sites. EPA is signaling a move away from focusing enforcement actions on minor details of onsite Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) to make them a more effective compliance tool. The new permit states, “The SWPPP does not establish the effluent limits that apply to your site’s discharges.”

“Still, the new permit is far from perfect: EPA has introduced controversial language that considers all builders on a shared site “jointly and severely liable” for compliance with permit terms, including violations of “shared” treatment ponds and other features.

NAHB filed comments arguing that this type of liability framework is illegal, because operators often work on a site at different times, and cannot legally or physically control the activities of others.”

source: http://nahbnow.com/2017/01/2017-gcp-big-wins-but-liability-concerns-remain/

Rotating Homes

Have you ever gotten tired of the view from your house?

From the article on CNN titled “Will these houses make you dizzy? Architects build rotating homes” looks like an Architect in Australia has solved this problem.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/22/architecture/rotating-homes/

Imagine living in a house that follows the direction of the sun when it’s hot.

Or one that offers a different view out of your bedroom window every day of the week.

For some bold homeowners this is becoming a reality, thanks to an innovative wave of architects who are re-imagining the concept of the house.

Once something firmly routed to the ground, homes are now becoming moving entities that can rotate, change shape, and even adapt to the seasons.

Below is a video clip from the CNN article.

3D printing concrete

There are a lot of recent technologies that have impacted the civil engineering, land surveying and construction industries. Technologies such as GPS, machine control and drones just to mention a few.

Another new technology that could revolutionize the construction industry is 3D printing.

According to Wikipedia, 3D printing is defined as:

“3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object.”

The 3D printing industry is starting to develop technology to use concrete as the material for making objects. The article 3D Printers Can Now Print Concrete from the website Curbed explains how one university is printing concrete structures.

This video was included in the article linked above, and describes the 3D printing process for concrete structures:

 

Foam raises concrete that weighs thousands of pounds

I’ve seen numerous places where concrete slabs and sidewalks have settled. Normally the repairs require removal of the existing settled concrete sections, placement of additional stone bedding, and pouring new concrete to match the level of existing concrete.

Below is a video from TechInsider showing a product that raises existing concrete without the need for reconstruction.

Per TechInsider:

“Mudjacking or slabjacking is a technique used to raise and level concrete. Foundation Works has developed a new foam technique, Polylevel, that can raise thousands of pounds of concrete despite its light weight.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/foam-raises-concrete-weighing-thousands-2016-10