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. 

 

New Construction: the Process of a Residential Build

New construction means you don’t have to deal with hidden issues that come with older homes, knowing you are up to code on everything, and you don’t have to compete for a highly desired home during a seller’s market. While building a new house is a process that takes time, patience, and open communication, the end result is a home built specifically for your needs and desires.

How long does new construction take?

Based on your plan, your builder or subcontractor will be able to estimate the timeline, but it’s essential to remain flexible throughout the process. The timeframe of new construction varies for every home. Factors that affect the process include the land being cleared and approved for building, the size of the house, weather conditions throughout the build, and change orders. In addition, if decisions about finishes and materials are put off, items may take weeks to arrive, pushing back the finish date.

Hire Professionals

When you choose who to work with, you can decide to hire a contractor, builder, or subcontractors for each part of the build. Contractors and builders will oversee the project from start to finish, so you don’t have to worry about hiring multiple people throughout the process. When hiring, take into consideration the experience and communication styles of the people you meet with. You will be working with these people for an extended period of time on your biggest asset, so take the time to interview and choose people you trust.

Site Preparation

Once you have a piece of property that is zoned for residential living, the first step is getting it ready for a new build. Depending on the state of the lot, this can including clearing land or tearing down an existing structure. Vacant land may also need work to reach electric, gas, and plumbing for the house.

Layout and Design

Working with an architect or builder, create the design of the home. The professionals you work with will help keep you on track so basic systems like HVAC and electrical work correctly. Communicate your overall vision, your style, and your must-have items. Once the floorplan is complete, you will be able to get into more specifics of each room. This can be a time-consuming step, as the number of options that go into the design of a home, from the layout down to the cabinet hardware, can seem endless. Be patient and begin with the overall vision before narrowing in on design elements.

Build

As the build progresses, you get to see your vision come to life. At this point, the professionals you hired take control, as they make sure the job is done correctly while adhering to code.

The build begins with pouring the foundation and framing the walls, floors, and roof of the house. From here, “the guts” are completed. This includes everything you can’t see behind the walls, including heating and cooling units, electrical work, and plumbing. During this time, SmartHome systems can also be installed. Workers will then close up the walls with insulation and drywall. At this point, you can really begin to see the vision come to life.

The next phase includes installing finishes and design elements. Starting with the floors and paint, then moving on to cabinets, appliances, and light fixtures. The final few weeks of the build include all the finishing touches.

 

Are you interested in a custom residential build? We’re happy to answer any questions. Contact us to learn more.

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.

Countertops: Granite vs. Quartz

In addition to appearance, there are several factors to consider when choosing a material for your countertop. A handful of materials can be used for countertops, which offer various aesthetic qualities and functions. Two of the most popular materials used for countertops are granite and quartz.

Having a general understanding of granite and quartz is important. Granite is a 100% natural material. It is mined from quarries, cut and then polished. Quartz countertops are a 95% natural material; the other five percent is binder and color. With this basic makeup in mind, we can compare qualities of both.

Look of Countertops

Granite is slightly more natural looking due to its 100% natural composition. It can be found in a variety of unique colors and patterns. Though not quite as organic in nature, quartz still provides a stone aesthetic. Since it is engineered, quartz may be more easily found to fit a particular color.

Maintenance

Granite is more porous than quartz. For this reason, it requires more maintenance. It is suggested that granite countertops be resealed annually to ensure longevity, while quartz does not need the same care.

Durability

Both granite and quartz are incredibly durable. Because of granite’s porous nature, spilled liquids can cause staining. While quartz will not stain, it can be damaged by excessive heat.

Price

While the cost of granite and quartz are similar, quartz can run slightly more expensive. Based on estimates from HomeAdvisor, the national average cost to buy quartz without installation fees is $75 per square foot, while slab granite can typically be purchased between $40 and $60 per square foot without installation. We suggest getting quotes from two to three professionals, with installation fees factored in, so that you are able to get what you want for the best price.

In deciding between granite and quartz, there is no right or wrong decision. In the end, it comes down to personal preference, and you cannot go wrong with either.

What is a change order?

During the construction process, it is important to address sensitive subjects to avoid future conflict. Contracts solidify expectations and help to ensure that contractors and customers understand expectations.

Once a contract is in place to specify a scope of work and the budget, change orders are essential for moving forward. A change order is a written document that records alterations made during construction and acknowledges any increase or decrease in the cost and timing of the project.

In short, change orders consist of:

  • Revisions made to the scope of work
  • Updated pricing for revisions made
  • Alterations to the existing contract to accommodate the new scope of work
  • The signatures of the contractor and the customer

For a more in-depth understanding of the subject, check out eSUB’s explanation.

The key to a successful change order is a clear, two-sided understanding of expectations between customer and contractor.

At The Residences at 66 High Street, building allowances provide a clear set of guidelines for both contractors and customers. In the event that a client goes under or over the total budget for the allowance, a change order would be necessary.

OSHA Safety Standards

As part of the United States Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created by Congress to assure safe and healthy working conditions for private sector employers and workers across various industries, such as construction, maritime, and agriculture.

In the construction industry, which includes construction, alteration, and repair, OSHA is essential in identifying and enforcing workers’ rights and protections, while also helping employees to understand their responsibilities to employers.

The list of laws and regulations that caters specifically to the construction industry is broken up into 29 subparts that address a wide array of topics. Topics include:

For the full list of OSHA construction regulations, click here.

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.

 

Certificate of Occupancy: What is a CO?

Certificates of occupancy (CO) determine whether a building is suitable for living or working. The primary purpose of a CO is to:

  1. Dictate a structure’s function. Functions of a structure can include residential, retail, commercial, or industrial properties.
  2. Determine if the structure is suitable for occupancy. Structure is suitable for occupancy so long as it complies with all standards and codes related to its function.
  3. Make sure a structure complies with building codes.

While requirements for COs may vary depending on location, they are typically needed in a number of different instances, which include:

  • New construction.
  • Property conversion – when the function of a building changes. The Residences at 66 High Street are an example, as the history industrial Mill Building was turned into residential units.
  • Change of ownership.
  • Major construction – Any construction that changes the occupancy of the property or alters the entrance or exit of the property.

Certificates of occupancy are ultimately awarded if the structure passes a number of inspections, which include plumbing, electrical, fire safety, and general building.

 

What is Type II-B Construction?

New construction, whether it is for a single family home, small business, or large complex, requires builders and companies to follow strict guidelines to ensure safety for all involved.

Every building is classified as a construction type based on the materials used to build and the fire resistance rating of the materials. The five main types of construction are outlined below:

  • Type I – Fire Resistive
  • Type II – Non-Combustible
  • Type III – Ordinary (Exterior Protected)
  • Type IV – Heavy Timber
  • Type V – Wood Frame

In our ongoing luxury project, The Residences at 66 High Street, we build to fit guidelines of Type II-B construction. Type II-B construction is an uncommon form of construction in Luxury Real Estate condominium developments such as this. The walls and roof are constructed from non-combustible materials, such as masonry, tilt slab, or metal. Weight bearers in Type II-B buildings are typically steel beams.

Type II-B construction is one of the reasons The Residences at 66 High Street has won the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Connecticut’s distinguished HOBI Awards for:

  • BEST Condominium Community
  • BEST Luxury Condominium Unit
  • BEST Historic Rehab
  • 2016 PROJECT OF THE YEAR

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