Construction Advisory Group is committed to contributing to the industry by conducting a blog-conversation on monitoring projects and navigating the construction world.

Monday, November 30, 2009

General Contractor Performance Bond Information |

General Contractor Performance Bond Information |

Construction Advisory Group is proud to be a resource for consumer questions about construction practices, the construction industry and contractor best practices.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Innovative structure sensors

According to Globe Update, the restored St. Anthony Falls Bridge, on I35W across the Mississippi River, contains 323 sensors to monitor for structural weaknesses, strained joints and corroded concrete and reinforcing. The previous bridge collapse on August 1, 2007.

According to Catherine French, a structural engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, who heads a project to collect and interpret data from the new bridge, sensors suggest issues requiring investigation and possible repairs.
Also, the St. Anthony Falls Bridge is made of high performance concrete containing coal-combustion byproducts fly ash and silica fume, making it denser and more waterproof. A different approach, with the same results, has been elaborated at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, whereby a mixture of carbon nanotubes and polymer that is very strong and has electrical properties allowing it to act as a sensor skin.

This great new technology will apply not only to bridges, but dams and high-rise buildings exposed to high velocity winds. We see an application in South Florida construction, where high-rises and hurricanes inhabit the same landscape.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Feds find link between drywall, corrosion

Click here for Nov 23 2009 Fox New 7 Report:
Feds find link between drywall, corrosion

Protocols for Chinese Drywall inspections are under consideration. Expertise is of the essence. Certified, licensed inspections will preserve investments, health and sanity.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

A-201 Challenger

The American Institute of Architecture's A-201, a family of documents that relate to General Conditions and establish the ground rules between owners, architects, engineers and contractors, has enjoyed the endorsement of the Associated General Contractors of America until 2007.

The AGC and other contractor groups now support a competing contract, called
ConsensusDOCS. The groups are working to challenge the pre-eminence of the AIA’s A-201 document, claiming the most recent version shifts too much risk away from architects and places it on contractors.

Christine Riker, office manager for the
Todd Hess Building Co., said Hess Building uses ConsensusDOCS for roughly 90 percent of its jobs, and that it really takes all parties’ considerations into account.

Jeremy Vermilyea, president of Tigard-based
Vermiliyea Law Group, often represents contractors in contract disputes. He recommends caution when using the latest AIA sponsored document.

We see this competition as a welcome development, since a well balanced contract is always the key to a successful project.

Comments, opinions, experiences: your input is welcome.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

St. Louis' 300 Acre River Project

According to St. Louis Business Journal, 11/4/2009, The City Council designated Mike Sellenschuetter and his Riverwalk the developer af the 300 acres project along the Missouri River, called Harbor San Carlos.

The plan calls for a hotel, shops, condos, marina, restaurants and pedestrian walkways on the St. Louis’ largest undeveloped swath of land.

This project has six or seven private angel investors who, Glenn Jamboretz, a consultant and spokesman for Riverwalk Development, declines to name.

Arcturis is the project architect and Cole & Associates is the engineer of records.

We are intrigued with this undertaking; should it be a “Reality Project” considering today’s national economy in general and the construction industry in particular?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cost by the square foot

Engineering News-Record is promoting the new 2010 Edition of ENR Square Foot Costbook.

Quotes from the promotional material include:

“No other publication make cost estimating so easy."


“Each project is broken by CSI MASTERFORMAT division and costs are reported in two ways: total cost by division and square foot cost by division.”

For decades, square foot indicators have been used in conceptual estimating. This method is at times successful, and at times not so successful.

A Conceptual Estimate/Budget Projection has been recognized to be more accurate based on a preliminary take-off, unit price estimate and the correct application of factors related to the very local conditions.

In today’s economy, a budget estimate must be closer to reality than at any other time. If a "hard number quote" is to be presented, we would be hesitant to endorse a square foot indicator approach.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Construction Permits Extended Expiration Dates

According to New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, on Commercial Real Estate Politics, “The City Counsel will vote on Wednesday on a law that would create a Department of Buildings program to allow developers to quickly restart work at stalled construction sites once the real estate market rebounds.”

This law will allow renewals of building permits at stalled construction sites for up to four years after they expired.

Under current law, construction permits expire after 12 months of suspended or abandoned work.

The building department has identified 541 stalled construction sites across the five boroughs so far this year.

Obviously, the permits should be issued after a complete inspection, not only from a safety angle but structural integrity as well.

It is a very commendable action and should serve as an example of good will for all our municipalities across the land.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Academics of Super Concrete

Parthenon, photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/simon_music

U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is conducting studies related to a Geopolymeric based super concrete that will create impervious bunkers and “bomb bouncing structures” by using geopolymers as a bonding agent.

Geopolymers are synthetic aluminosilicate materials. In layman's terms: super cements capable of far exceeding the strength of modern concrete.

There are all kind of theories floating around, in Europe particularly, speculating that the ancients used similar chemical formulations for their concrete. Some theories go as far as reinventing the pyramids by concluding that the huge blocks used are, in fact. cast-in-place superconcrete blocks and not natural stone.

What is really amazing -- and indeed inexplicable -- is that the Panthenon in Rome, the largest unreinforced concrete dome, stands after 2000 years, as strong as ever. Go and figure that out since we all know that concrete is not an impervious material and water combined with alkaline and acid elements is the number one concrete enemy.

Since we are just construction guys, the Construction Advisory Group will refrain from any related academic polemics.

The concrete we know today was developed in England in the mid-1800s when Portland Cement was produced for the first time.

We hope that once the study is over, at least the economical parameters of this study will be released by the Air Force.

It would certainly verify the applicability of super concretes for civil purposes.

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Hoover Dam Case Study: Schedule Recuperation

Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge over Colorado River linking Nevada and Arizona

Design: concrete-steel composite arch bridge

Total Length: 1,900 ft.

Height: 890 ft.

Longest Span: 1,080 ft.

Designer: HDR, Inc. Lyn International for the bridge and Severdrup Civil Inc, for the approaches

Completion Date: November 2010

When completed, this will be the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States. The composite design, using concrete for the arch and columns with steel construction for the roadway deck, was selected for schedule and cost control.

The arches are made of 106 pieces, 53 per arch, cast in place 24 feet at a time.

More than 17,000 cars and trucks are expected to use the new bridge daily, a number expected to grow by 50 percent over the next 20 years.

Strong wind gusts across Black Canyon on September 15, 2006 appeared to be the cause for the collapse of the “high-line” crane system used to carry people and materials.

The crane collapse anticipated a two years delay on bridge completion, yet, according to experts, the time recovery is well on it’s way. The schedule recuperation is remarkable considering that the project lost the master crane.