Jim Kollaer's blog

This article was originally published in the November/December issue of Construction Savvy.  Reprinted with permission.

My first construction boss told me everything he thought I needed to know about jobsite security. He said, “If it is not nailed down, someone will steal it.”

That advice holds true today but needs to be amended to say, “If it is not nailed down, stored in a locked secure container or tool box, behind an 8-foot-high chained and locked perimeter fence with 24-hour 360 video on a jobsite with one entry gate, a 24-hour armed security guard and dogs, it will be driven off, carried off or destroyed.”

In many cases, quoting one subcontractor, “Some construction jobsites are secure, but many are still like the ‘Wild Wild West’ where it is ‘may the lowest bid win’ and ‘winner take all’.”  “Take all” means that they might take tools, equipment and building materials if you don’t have a jobsite security plan that prevents it.  The industry rebound means you have to pay closer attention to the security and safety of your jobsite.  Last year, according to industry sources, the industry lost over a billion dollars in materials and equipment theft.   Read more » about ACT Now on Jobsite Security, Part 1 of 4

If Jim Kor (Kor Ecologic) gets his way, building a fuel-efficient car may one day be as simple as pressing “print”.  Well, almost as simple.

Kor heads a team of Canadian engineers designing a car whose plastic body can be manufactured with a 3-D printer.  They've already made a prototype of their car, dubbed the Urbee, and are working on a second, more advanced version called the Urbee 2.  David Baker, a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, quoted Kor from a presentation he made at the 2013 VERGE technology and sustainability conference in San Francisco in October:

“What we like about 3-D printing is it can print anything.  And when you can print anything, you can think of everything.”   Read more » about Maybe Your Autonomous Car Will be Printed on a 3D Printer

The LA Times reported last week that Congress has instructed the FAA to have a plan that will allow private companies to fly drones in US airspace by 2015, but if you watch carefully you might see them already flying in your neighborhood or over your construction site.

They might be used in a variety of ways.  Construction company SpawGlass has proposed using them to survey sites for safety during construction.  The company has put together the following 2-minute video of their corporate building in Houston in order to demonstrate the inspection capabilities the drones provide.   Read more » about Drones in Your Construction Future?

Recently we made two points about the cost of gypsum products, especially wallboard.  First, last year during the economic downturn, many gypsum suppliers reduced overall capacity by closing production plants.  Second, we illustrated the gypsum price increases for the last three years.

Robert Denk, Assistant Vice President for Forecasting and Analysis at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) posted in the Eye on Housing a comparison between the price of lumber and gypsum in light of the recovery in the residential markets.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Denk says that, “Building materials prices have been responding to the progress of the housing recovery.  Early improvements in the housing market put upward pressure on materials prices, particularly wood products and gypsum.   Read more » about You Must Be Kidding!

We have written about autonomous or driverless vehicles as an early signpost for technology changes in the industry.  Komatsu and Rio Tinto are two names on the forefront of autonomous vehicles in the construction and mining industry.  Komatsu, a Japanese company known around the world for its heavy-duty construction machinery, has made a commitment to developing autonomous heavy vehicles that can be used to improve production and payback on some of the largest sites and mines in the world.  That program is named “FrontRunner”, and it has been deployed to two sites, one in a copper mine in Chile and the second in Australia.   Read more » about Komatsu Pioneers Autonomous Vehicles for Mining Sites [VIDEO]

Jack Eimer, president of the Central Region of Transwestern, a privately held full service real estate firm, talked recently about the future impact of technology on the users of office space with Marc Allen, Transwestern property manager.

The discussion was part of Transwestern’s Ask the Expert series. In this particular issue, Eimer asks Allen to speak to the technology changes that will impact those users of office space who are signing 10-year leases today.

Allen responds by saying, “Imagine what it would be like if employees commuted to work in automated cars. After arriving at work, the employee’s car would drive back home – alone. At the end of the workday, it would come back to pick up its owner, or perhaps even carpool participants. The cars will probably be electric so all the extra transit would not cost a fortune in gas. Additionally, the commute time could be productive rather than stress-inducing. It may sound like science fiction, but driverless vehicles are already being used successfully by Google, mining/minerals firm Rio Tinto and others.” Read more » about Transwestern Talks Technology

The design and construction skills, technology, mechanics and financing in parts of the world today are making it possible to create buildings that are approaching the “mile high” tower that the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright wrote about in the 1950s.  These new towers, being designed by collaborative teams taking 3-6 years in the design phase and the same to construct, are currently limited only by demand, materials and technology and stretch the limits of construction technology.  Not only that, but they will have to withstand the environment for at least 50 years into the future.

Today, the tallest building in the world is the 2,717-foot (829.8 meter) tall Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai built by Besix and designed by SOM.  Now Adrian Smith, (the designer of the Burj Khalifa when he was at SOM), is part of the Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill (AS+GG) who is designing the Kingdom Tower for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that will top out at 3,280 feet or one kilometer tall when it is completed.  A construction contract has just been awarded to the Saudi Binladen Group (SBG) for the construction expected to take over 5 years.  SBG is the world’s largest construction company with over 100,000 employees.

Not only are these buildings tall, they employ more energy efficiency into their designs according to “Tall Buildings,” an article written by Peter Fairley a Paris and British Columbia based journalist, in the September/October issue of Green Source Magazine.   Read more » about Tall, Really Tall, Super-tall, Mega-tall, Hyper-tall and “OMG”-tall Buildings

According to a recent article in Construction Executive’s Tech Trends, the world’s first “invisible” building has been granted a building permit by the South Korean government for a location just outside of Seoul, Korea near the Incheon International Airport.

A press release from the California-based GDS Architects announcing the permit approval includes the following statement about the design of the 1,476-foot-tall “Infinity Tower”:

“GDS in collaboration with Samoo Architects and A&U were awarded first prize in a National Design Competition sponsored by Korea Land & Housing Corporation (LH) to provide Design and Engineering services for the 450 meter tall Observation Tower poised to become Korea's National Landmark back in April 2011.  In addition, GDS Architects won the original International Idea Competition out of 146 entries from 46 countries in December of 2008.”

The Construction Executive article says that the building “will include observation decks, movie theaters, a water park, a roller coaster, restaurants and bars.”  Construction is scheduled to begin next year.   Read more » about Tall, Taller, Tallest and now Invisible Buildings!

During the 1980s recession, a commercial development firm with the name BOHICA started in Houston.  The name of the firm was a mystery until we discovered the origin of the name.  The principals of the firm told me that it meant “Bend Over, Here it Comes Again”.

Funny in a weird sort of way, but if you are a residential or commercial developer, contractor or sub today I have one word for you – BOHICA.

By now many suppliers, contractors and subs have received 2014 price notification letters from the major gypsum producers like American Gypsum, CertainTeed, and National Gypsum.  The letters, addressed “To all our Customers”, state that there will be a 20% price increase beginning January 1, 2014 for all gypsum products, and that the price will hold throughout the 2014 year.  That sounds familiar since around this time last year we wrote that there were 25 and 30 percent increases over the last two years as supplies diminished and demand grew.  While the industry is not recovering as fast as originally predicted, the prices are growing faster than the economy.   Read more » about Gypsum Wallboard Prices Increase Again for 2014

The newest, “earthquake proof” bay bridge opened earlier this month on Labor Day to the delight of thousands of commuters in cars, on bikes and on foot who have been waiting for two decades for the new bridge to open.

An earthquake during the 1989 World Series collapsed two fifty-foot long sections of the original bridge.  Commuters have been waiting over two decades for a replacement bridge that ultimately cost $6.4 billion (5 times the original estimate).  The engineers and contractors have claimed the new bridge will withstand the most severe earthquake that will likely occur over the next 1500 years, even though none of them or us will be around to monitor it.   Read more » about The Other Story of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge


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