Steel: A Sustainable Construction Choice

Steel is one of the greenest materials in construction. With a high recycling content and an industry committed to reducing emissions, steel surpasses other construction materials in regards to sustainability. 

Steel in Construction

Steel has always been a popular choice of material. Steel framing is used in Type II-B construction because of its strength and durability. When framing out a building, steel is lighter than a structurally sound wood frame, and because steel is pre-engineered, it cuts down on time needed to build.

In addition, steel is flexible and can be molded into almost any shape. The non-combustible material has a long lifespan, combined with the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any construction material. This gives steel the ability to withstand all types of inclement weather.

Steel Manufacturing

Steel is made of iron, one of the most abundant elements on Earth. Even though iron is plentiful, the steel industry continues to work toward sustainable practices. Manufacturing plants use steel scrap to make new steel, which helps to conserve energy and resources. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, the industry has reduced energy intensity by 31% per ton of steel shipped, and emissions by 36% per ton of steel produced since 1990. 

Recycling Steel

Steel is one of the most widely recycled materials on the planet, with 80 million tons of steel recycled in North America every year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. All steel can be recycled, and because it is magnetic, it is quickly sorted from waste at recycling plants.

Recycling steel does not affect the strength and durability that is crucial to building with the material. This allows steel to be recycled an unlimited number of times without compromising the product. 

Due to its strength and sustainability, steel is a natural choice in our building developments, where we utilize Type II-B construction. 

 

A Development for Growth: 151 Chestnut Street

A city committed to growth. A vision to develop affordable housing for teachers. A group of people willing to do the work to make a difference.

Horton Group is excited to partner Davenport Properties in a market rate housing project in Springfield, Massachusetts. Horton Group will complete the construction on a 60-unit building in the former Willy’s Overland Building on 151 Chestnut Street. 

The idea began with Paul Doherty and other members of Springfield Business Leaders for Education when they asked how to support teachers in the Springfield Public School System. 

“Over several meetings, we came to identify an area where we are able to move the needle best was by helping to attract and retain teachers here in the city,” said Tricia Canavan, President and Owner of United Personnel.

After teaming up with Davenport Properties, they searched for the perfect property, and plans started to come to fruition. At the press conference, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno explained that the construction for the $14.5 million investment is beginning this summer, with plans for completion in 2020. 

Willy’s Overland Redevelopment Housing Initiative

The 35,000 square foot building was once home to a car maker before being damaged in a gas blast and abandoned in 2012. Once completed, the renovated building will have a vibrant retail space with a cafe and patio on the ground level, along with 60 apartments and common areas catered toward teachers.

After visiting a housing project with a similar vision in Baltimore and speaking with a teacher group, as well as students at UMASS Amherst, Davenport Properties understood what types of amenities teachers wanted in their community.

The main lobby with offices, computers, and a conference table will be incorporated into common living areas for teacher collaboration. In addition, there will be a common area with a fireplace, big screen TV, and kitchen, as well as a fitness center in the building. 

Just the Beginning

While the development is focused on attracting and retaining teachers, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is expecting the property to draw in “an eclectic mix: the millennials, the baby boomers, empty nesters…but especially teachers,” he stated. 

While this initial development is 60 units, Chuck Irving of Davenport Properties believes this building is going to be a step forward for Springfield.

“We went out and invested in another building and another property for the ability to do several hundred units,” Chuck shared. “Because we think this building is going to be successful, and we think this whole neighborhood is going to turn into something very valuable for the community.”

Learn more about Willy’s Overland Redevelopment Project here:

 

How Drones are Changing Construction Sites

Drones are becoming increasingly popular at construction sites. These small, easy-to-maneuver cameras are controlled from a remote on the ground. They are proving to be useful during every stage of construction, from mapping out a worksite to monitoring safety and timelines. 

Construction sites are large areas where a lot of people and machinery are coming in and out daily. Missing even one detail on the job could cause complications for weeks. Communication, attention to detail, and timeliness are essential to making sure a build happens correctly and on schedule. Drones are being used on construction sites to aid in the process. 

Design and Pre-Construction

When planning to build on a new site, it is necessary to survey the land and prepare plans for the build. Drones quickly and accurately survey the job site. This cuts out surveying tools and human error, which means drones can save both time and money in the initial stages on construction.

In addition to surveying, drone photography gives a clear birds-eye view of the land, which you can use to map out the site. Project managers can then use this real data and merge it with the virtual design of the project. This can help owners visualize the project, making it a useful tool when bidding on a project or explaining your vision to your client. 

During Construction

During construction, drones can collect data to see the progress of the build. Again, this can be useful when meeting with clients to discuss the phase of development. In addition, it helps the project manager to stay on track with the schedule. 

When equipped with streaming video, drones make it possible for the project manager to monitor the work site from another location. Management can instantly communicate needs based on video happening in real-time. This decreases delays that occur when workers need an answer, or a project manager notices an issue that needs to be resolved. Video streaming with drones also allows managers to track materials on the site and acts as a 24-hour surveillance system, keeping the worksite safer. 

Inspections

Rigorous inspections can be done almost instantly with drones. These small flying cameras can fit pretty much anywhere, without the need for workers to climb to the roof or below ground. Flying a drone to one of these hard-to-reach areas of the structure saves time, gives a close-up view, and eliminates safety concerns.

Project Completion

Once the project is complete, drone photography and video can show a timelapse of the build from start to finish (as long as the entire project was streamed). Giving your client aerial views of the full project can help with marketing and show the entire site in one photograph. 

Drones, along with other advanced technology, continues to change the construction industry, helping to make worksites safer and more efficient.

 

10 Questions to Ask if Buying New Construction

Brand new everything. No surprise issues behind the walls. Custom designed for your wants and needs. 

New construction is an opportunity for you to build your dream home. While the thought of moving into a never-lived-in-before house is blissful, there can be stressful moments throughout the process. A new build runs much smoother with patience and communication. This means you need to ask your questions upfront and stay in communication throughout the build. 

Below are ten questions to ask your builder or contractor when constructing a new home:

Who is my point of contact during the build?

There will be a lot of people on the construction site, and they may not always be the people you need to speak with. Find out who your point of contact is from the start, and stay consistent in communicating with that person. This will help to eliminate the run-around when you need an answer to a specific question. 

Is the lot included?

Before signing on, the budget will be one of the first things you discuss with your builder. Give your total budget upfront so the builder can keep that in mind as the project moves through each stage. Some builders will have the cost of the lot included in the sale price of the home, while others keep this as a separate transaction for the buyers. Find out whether you need to close on the lot before construction begins. 

What are standard fixtures and what is extra?

Generally speaking, builders have a model that comes with standard features. A builder specifications sheet will go through all standard features in the home. If you want extras and your budget allows for you, determine what is of most importance to you and let your builder know as early on in the build as possible. 

How much input can I have on design?

If starting from the beginning of the build, there can be a lot of flexibility in how much input you have in the design. As the home nears completion, there is less of a chance for you to build-to-suit

If you have a vision that is different than the standard features of extras the builder provides, speak with them to determine if what you want can be incorporated while sticking to your budget. 

When is the scheduled completion?

Once you have determined your budget and design plans, the builder can give you a scheduled completion date. This allows you to plan for how much time you need alternate housing. 

Is a builder’s warranty included?

Find out if the builder’s warranty comes with the completion of the house. Knowing the builder will fix issues that may arise after the sale of the home can eliminate a lot of stress. 

Is landscaping included?

An empty lot means there is a significant amount of work to do with landscaping. If landscaping is not included with the build, you will want to put some of your budget aside so that you can attend to your property. 

Are there homeowner rules?

Is the new home in a development or condominium complex? Find out what the homeowner association rules and regulations, along with the monthly fees, are. It’s best to know this first so that your dream home is also in your dream community. 

Do I need a home inspection?

You may think that because the construction is brand new that you don’t need a home inspection. But it’s important to know that everything has been built up to code. Inspectors know what to look for in newly constructed homes. 

Are there energy-saving features in the home?

Energy-saving features help you live sustainably and can also help save you money on monthly payments. Every year, there are new and advanced technologies to make your home more sustainable and more comfortable. Find out what the builder is doing to keep the build eco-friendly. 

Do you have more questions about new construction process? Contact us.

How does the Horton Group eliminate noise in a multi-unit building?

Noise.

It can interrupt your workflow or wake you up from a deep sleep. Unnecessary noise can range from distracting to infuriating, and isn’t something you should deal with in the places you spend the most time in.

With all of our multi-unit buildings, whether a residential luxury condominium community or an office park, we concentrate on eliminating noise.

When you go into an old building, one of the things you may notice right away is the noise of footsteps from the floor above you or overhearing a conversation from a unit over. In the past, buildings were not always soundproofed because there weren’t solutions that were budget-friendly and effective. With today’s materials, soundproofing can be attained in any building. Below are some of the solutions to combat noise travel.

Walls

“Paper-thin” walls are no longer acceptable in buildings. To reduce noise from room to room, soundproofing the walls is an important step. It can be challenging to identify where noise is coming from, as sound travels the path of least resistance. When building, the entire space needs to be taken into consideration, including windows, vents, and doors.

Materials that are dense and resilient are best for blocking sound. For walls, this can be achieved with noise-reducing drywall, double walls (this is perfect for office spaces), and dense insulation.

Flooring

Flooring is another factor in eliminating unwanted noise from neighbors. Just like walls, layering up noise reducing products is most effective.

While carpet with padding underneath is one option for creating dense layers, most people prefer hardwood and tile in their homes. The Residences at 66 High Street were built with materials that make you forget about your upstairs neighbors. We start with a layer of Homasote soundproof board, which is made of 98% recycled materials. The next layer is AdvanTech plywood, followed by engineered hardwood flooring. These three layers help to eliminate noise while combining strength and moisture resistance.

If moving into a new building or searching for office space, ask what has been done to reduce noise. This will save you many headaches in the future.

What are building allowances for new construction?

For new developments, builders may choose to include allowances in construction contracts. Allowances help to establish clear expectations about costs, as they allocate funds to particular areas throughout the construction process.

If your builder offers allowances, it enables you the right to provide a product or service. This cost is deducted from the total amount you owe the contractor. For example, if the price of the home is $400,000, and the builder gives you a $20,000 allowance for flooring, the amount paid to the builder is lowered to $380,000.

Providing allowances gives future residents flexibility to customize their home and contractors clear guidelines from which to move forward. Some of the usual allowances in residential construction include:

  • Appliances
  • Flooring
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Kitchen countertops
  • Cabinetry
  • Light fixtures
  • Door hardware

In addition to providing customization for new construction, allowances can help you stay on budget. Each allowance is its own budget, helping you pick finishes you want while staying true to your maximum overall cost.

By working with tenants or owners throughout the process of the build, builders provide information about allowance options, as well as the pros and cons of choice for cabinetry, flooring, countertops, or any other selections that may be available. Also, if you go above the mini-budget in one area of the house or condominium, you can get back on track by cutting back somewhere else.  

If you know you want to be involved in choosing finishes for a new home, start working with the builder or general contractor as soon as possible. This will allow you to learn about the options you have, review the allowance for each, and make decisions without feeling rushed. If a build is almost complete, the general contractor will have to begin making choices so the job is not delayed, which would cost time and money.

What is the Role of a Project Manager?

Project managers, especially in construction, are responsible for juggling a handful of responsibilities. From start to finish, they carry out all aspects of the building process to align with the visions set forth by clients and developers. All the while, a project manager must ensure that tasks get completed safely, on time, and on budget.

Construction project managers must be experienced within the industry, as they tend to a variety of responsibilities requiring a great deal of knowledge. These include:

Planning: Before a project gets underway the project manager must establish a timeline for each stage of construction. Throughout construction, the project manager makes sure each stage is finished for timely completion.

Resource Management: Project managers must understand what resources and tools are required for a given project and have them available.

Staffing: Just as they are responsible for the resources for projects, a project manager is also responsible for staffing individuals of all trades. Hiring the correct people is essential, as the timeline and quality of work is dependant on it.

Setting Benchmarks: Setting benchmarks allow all parties involved to have a clear understanding of when certain things need to get done.

Budget Management: Project managers are responsible for the financial planning of a project and ensuring that the scope of work stays within budget. If any changes are made that influence cost, those too must be accounted for by the project manager.

While the above list encompasses the broad roles of a project manager, a lot more work goes on behind the scenes in order for a project to be completed on time and at a high quality. For a project manager to be successful, it takes a great deal of cooperation, communication, and confidence in his or her decisions.

 

What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood floors are a sought after finish in any home. Hardwood floors create a high-end look, are durable and easy to clean, and have a low-allergy surface. But solid hardwood flooring can expand, contract, and warp during warm or humid months. This is why we choose to install engineered hardwood flooring from Neal’s Wood Flooring in The Residences at 66 High Street.

What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

Engineered hardwood flooring is made up of several layers. The top and bottom layers are 100% natural wood. The middle layers consist of plywood, hardwood, or fiberboard, and are crossed in different directions. Engineered hardwood flooring is typically between ⅜” and ¾” thick.

What are the benefits?

The construction of engineered hardwood flooring prevents warping and bowing, leaving you with durable, long-lasting floors. This allows you to install engineered hardwood flooring in areas of the home that are subject to moisture, such as basements or bathrooms. In these rooms, installation should occur with a protective moisture barrier.

What type of wood can be found in engineered flooring?

When it comes to engineered wood flooring, the possibilities are endless. You can find just about any type of wood, including hickory, oak, maple, walnut, birch, tigerwood, and even bamboo. You also have options for the surface finish, including wide or narrow boards, gloss or matte finish, or hand-scraped or distress for a rustic appearance.

Getting the right look is important when choosing wood floors. Depending on the room size, flow of traffic, and level of the room, some options will be more suitable than others. Neal’s Wood Floors answers some additional frequently asked questions here.

 

What is a Build-to-Suit Property?

Are you looking for an office space or residence, but none seem just right? There is no need to compromise. Build-to-suit (BTS) developments offer extreme flexibility, as a given room or building can be shaped to meet the various wants and needs for you or your business.

Build-to-suit properties are most often commercial leases, but can also be found in residential developments. With BTS, the landlord or developer builds to a tenant’s specifications. During construction the tenant is allowed the freedom to dictate his or her future space, as long as changes do not interfere with the structural and mechanical systems. Buyers or tenants can make significant changes through the restructuring of walls, rooms, and closets. Decisions on aesthetics, including finishes, appliances, and color scheme, are also made during the BTS process.

At Horton Group, we aim to please by offering build-to-suit developments. If you’re looking for a commercial property that can be built to meet your company’s needs, check out 350 Goose Lane Office Park. Our luxury condominium units at The Residences at 66 High Street can also be altered to fit your family’s needs.

 

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