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TradeWinds

Industry News List

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Dodge Momentum Index Slips in June

The Dodge Momentum Index retreated 2.3% in June from the previous month, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. The Momentum Index for June came in at 92.2 (2000=100), down from May's revised 94.4. This marked the second monthly decline in a row, following the 0.7% pullback in May. The drop for the Momentum Index during the most recent two months mirrors the recent softening for the U.S. economy, and suggests that the slower pace of economic growth is causing some deceleration in plans for future development.

The 2.3% decline for the Dodge Momentum Index in June was the result of a divergent pattern by its two main segments. The institutional building segment of the Momentum Index fell 10.2%, weighed down in June by a decreased amount of planning projects for education buildings. In contrast, the commercial building segment of the Momentum Index climbed 5.9% in June, regaining some upward momentum after sliding in May. The commercial building segment in June was helped in particular by an uptick in new plans for office projects, including a new office campus in Mountain View CA and a new corporate office building in Everett WA. An increased volume of projects at the planning stage was also reported for stores and warehouses.

About McGraw-Hill Construction:
McGraw-Hill Construction's data, analytics, and media businesses—Dodge, Sweets, Architectural Record, and Engineering News-Record— create opportunities for owners, architects, engineers, contractors, building product manufacturers, and distributors to strengthen their market position, size their markets, prioritize prospects, and target and build relationships that will win more business. McGraw-Hill Construction serves more than one million customers through its trends and forecasts, industry news, and leading platform of construction data, benchmarks, and analytics, including Dodge BuildShare and Dodge SpecShare. To learn more, visit www.construction.com.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies:
McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

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Generation Kingspan™ Student Architectural Design Competition Opens for Entry Submissions and On-Line Design Community Voting

Kingspan Insulated Panels North America, a global manufacturer of insulated metal panels for building construction, announced today the launch of its Generation Kingspan™ Architectural Student Contest.

The contest encourages U.S. and Canadian students to create an innovative, Net-Zero Energy, and low-impact environmentally designed to be a possible Kingspan corporate office building using Kingspan’s Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs) and reflecting its sustainable corporate philosophy.

The entry submissions and online design community voting phase of the competition starts today. Competitors who submit their entry early stand the best chance at gaining the most online design community votes.

The competition merges the benefits of a juried expert panel review with the wisdom of the crowd -- with one winner determined by the judging panel and another winner determined by voting on the Generation Kingspan on-line design community. Both winners will receive an internship at an architecture firm, a $5,000 scholarship and a $1,000 cash prize.

The Generation Kingspan competition will culminate with a Grand Prize winner selection in November at the Greenbuild 2012 International Conference and Exposition in San Francisco. The top designs will compete for exhibit floor votes to determine the grand prize winner, who will be awarded an additional $5,000 toward their scholarship and a high spec laptop with a design software package valued at $5,000.

All submissions will be reviewed first by online voters visiting and participating on the contest website. Online reviewers will have the ability to assign badges to designs based on the three key elements of the design competition: 1. Design/Vision, 2. Sustainability, and 3. Energy Efficiency. In addition, commenting capabilities will enable students, expert voters and entrants to discuss the designs for crowd-sourced learning opportunities. The online community winner will be based on the design that accumulates the most badges.

Complementing the above, the competition also supports a winner, reviewed by an expert jury. The 2012 jury includes:
  • Lira Luis, AIA, RIBA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, Principal Architect Role at ALLL (Atelier Lira Luis, LLC) a MBE certified firm
  • Chris Mundell, AIA, CSI, CDT, LEED AP BD+C, Vice President/Sustainable Design Coordinator at HKS
  • Mark Roddy, Design Principal at Smith Group
  • Keith Spurlin, CSI, CDT, Associate AIA, Business Development Manager, Kingspan Insulated Panels NA, Inc., former project designer, Gresham, Smith and Partners.
  • Paciano Diaz, RA, MBA, LEED AP, Business Development Manager, Kingspan Insulated Panels NA, Inc., former Senior Project Manager, Westfield Corp.
  • Harvey Bryan, Ph.D., FAIA, LEED AP, Professor and Senior Sustainability Scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University

Submissions for Generation Kingspan must be received by October 31, 2012. To learn more about the competition, register online and download materials, visit http://www.generationkingspan.com.

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Largest Shake Table Test Research Awarded Raymond C. Reese Prize

In 2009, Simpson Strong-Tie collaborated with academia on the NEESWood Capstone project in Japan, the world’s largest earthquake shake table test. A research article based on

that test was awarded the 2011 Raymond C. Reese Research Prize by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The research paper, “Experimental Seismic Response of a Full-Scale Six-Story Light-Frame Wood Building,” co-authored by John W. van de Lindt, M.ASCE, Shiling Pei, M.ASCE, Steven E. Pryor, M.ASCE, Simpson Strong-Tie, H. Shimizu and H. Isoda, describes testing and results from the NEESWood Capstone project.

The Raymond C. Reese Research Prize is awarded annually to a notable achievement in research related to structural engineering, with special consideration for how the research can be used. The award was presented at SEI and ASCE’s 2012 Structures Congress in Chicago on March 29-31.

The NEESWood Capstone project was developed to test new design methods for multistory, wood-frame buildings during large seismic events, and featured a seven-story, 40- by 60-ft. condominium tower with 23 one- and two-bedroom living units and two retail shops on the ground level. The condo building was subjected to and withstood several earthquakes created by Japan's E-Defense shake table. The test was also intended to provide a landmark data set to the seismic engineering research community.

"The testing done in Japan shows that performance-based design for light-frame wood structures works. This will allow the engineering and building community to provide safer, better performing buildings in the most cost-effective manner,” noted Simpson Strong-Tie International Director of Building Systems Steve Pryor, who co-authored the paper.

About Simpson Strong-Tie Company Inc.
For more than 55 years, Simpson Strong-Tie has focused on creating structural products that help people build safer and stronger homes and buildings. Considered a leader in structural systems research, testing and innovation, Simpson Strong-Tie works closely with industry professionals to provide code-listed, field-tested products and value- engineered solutions. Its structural products are recognized for helping structures resist high winds, hurricanes and seismic forces. The company’s extensive product offering includes connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, lateral- force resisting systems, anchors and products for concrete repair, strengthening and protection. Simpson Strong- Tie is committed to helping customers succeed by providing exceptional products, full-service engineering and field support, product testing and training. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.strongtie.com.

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Stonhard's Stonshield Systems--The Perfect Flooring Solution

Looking for a safe and durable floor that is easy to clean? Look no further than Stonhard’s Stonshield product line. Stonshield is a seamless, slip resistant, decorative system ideal for light traffic areas, such as locker rooms and showers, but are also capable of withstanding heavy traffic and manufacturing areas such as supermarkets, retail environments and other public spaces.

Stonshield offers six product variations; all textured for excellent slip resistance with formulations to withstand nearly every work environment. Stonshield products are specifically designed to endure thermal shock and cycling, organic attack and hot water wash downs, as well as protect the color of the flooring system from fading due to intense UV radiation.

Stonshield’s decorative systems are available in 12 standard color options and are also available in custom color combinations.

Stonhard offers a single source warranty on both products and installation. With over 90 years of experience and thousands of finished projects worldwide each year, Stonhard is known for delivering high performance floor and wall systems. Our team of project engineers and Architectural Engineer Consultants will evaluate your facility and work with you from start to finish to meet all your requirements.

For more information on Stonhard’s complete line of seamless, high performance floor systems visit us at www.stonhard.com or call 800.257.7953. Stonhard is a member of the United States Green Building Council.

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Weak Market Conditions Persist According to Architecture Billings Index
Drop in demand for design services across the board

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) saw more poor conditions last month, indicating a drop in design activity at U.S. architecture firms, and suggesting upcoming weakness in spending on nonresidential construction projects. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the June ABI score was 45.9, nearly identical to the mark of 45.8 in May. This score reflects a decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 54.4, up slightly from mark of 54.0 the previous month.

“The downturn in design activity that began in April and accelerated in May has continued into June, likely extending the weak market conditions we’ve seen in nonresidential building activity ,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “While not all firms are experiencing negative conditions, a large share is still coping with a sluggish and erratic marketplace.”

Key June ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Midwest (48.0), South (47.6), Northeast (46.4), West (44.3)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (49.0), commercial / industrial (46.9), institutional (46.0), mixed practice (45.9)
  • Project inquiries index: 54.4

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White Paper Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on the AIA web site.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Construction Materials Prices Slip For Second Consecutive Month In June; Prices Of Finished Buildings Are Flat For Month, Rise Modestly Year-To-Year

Year-over-Year Rise in Construction Materials Prices Is Mildest Since 2009 as Diesel and Metals Tumble; Contractors Association Urges Quick Action of Funding Bills to Take Advantage of Lull in Prices

The amount contractors pay for a range of key construction materials decreased for the second consecutive month in June and inched up by just 0.5 percent from a year earlier, according to an analysis of producer price index figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Meanwhile, the amount contractors charge to construct projects was virtually unchanged for the month and rose only between 3.2 and 4.4 percent from a year ago.

"Contractors are finally seeing sustained relief from the outsized cost increases that buffeted them last year," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The half-percent rise in the producer price index for construction inputs from June 2011 to June 2012 was the smallest year-over-year swing since December 2009."

Simonson observed that falling prices for a variety of key construction materials contributed to the mild overall increase. The price index for diesel fuel plunged 9.0 percent in May and is down 10.7 percent from a year ago. The index for copper and brass mill shapes slumped 4.1 percent for the month and 12.6 percent since June 2011. Similarly, aluminum mill products dropped in price from a month and 12 months earlier, by 0.5 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively, while the index for steel mill products slipped 1.3 percent and 3.2 percent. The index for plastic construction products edged down 0.4 percent in June and was up 1.9 percent over 12 months.

A few materials posted substantial increases for the month and year, Simonson added. The index for gypsum products increased by 1.1 percent in June and 13.2 percent compared with June 2011, while the index for asphalt paving rose by 1.2 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively.

The price indexes for finished nonresidential buildings, which measure what contractors estimate they would charge to put up new structures, mostly held steady in June and rose modestly year-over-year, Simonson noted. The index for new industrial buildings posted a rise of 0.1 percent in June and 3.2 percent over 12 months. The index for new office construction was flat for the month and up 3.4 percent for the year. The price for new warehouse construction also stayed level in June; that index rose 4.2 percent from June 2011. The index for new school construction was up 0.1 percent for the month and 4.4 percent for the year.

"A noticeable but uneven pickup in U.S. construction activity, along with sluggish global economic growth, should keep these price trends in place for a few more months," Simonson predicted. "Private owners and public agencies with money to spend on projects would do well to get started now, before the next price spike."

Association officials urged Congressional leaders to provide adequate funding for infrastructure projects while materials costs have moderated. "The price relief means some projects will actually cost less than they would have a year ago," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "The public will miss a rare opportunity unless Congress funds needed increases in water, building and other infrastructure."

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Construction Employment Stagnates In June As Industry Unemployment Rate Drops To 12.8 Percent, Lowest June Rate Since 2008
Lack of Hiring in Construction Combined with Job Growth Elsewhere Threatens to Create Skilled-Labor Gap Once Contractors are Ready to Hire Again, Association Warns

Construction employment stalled in June as more former construction workers left the industry, according to an analysis of new federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. The lack of current job openings, along with the departure of experienced workers, suggests a potential skilled-labor shortage may be developing, construction association officials warned.

“Employment in the construction industry has fluctuated within a very narrow range—1 percent above or below the June level of 5.5 million—for more than two years now,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. While the latest figure was 14,000 higher than one year earlier, the June 2012 total was just 2,000 higher than in May and in June 2010. “Construction employment has essentially been stagnant for much of the past two years.”

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for former construction workers fell to 12.8 percent, the lowest June rate since 2008 and much better than the 15.6 percent rate in June 2011 or the 20.1 percent rate in June 2010, Simonson noted. He added that over the past two years nearly 750,000 experienced workers have either found jobs in other industries, returned to school, retired or otherwise left the workforce. “It will be hard for construction firms to get those skilled workers back when demand picks back up.”

There was little difference among construction segments in terms of recent job gains or losses, Simonson noted. Residential construction added 1,700 total jobs in June and 8,900 (0.4 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction firms lost 600 jobs in June but added 4,300 (0.1 percent) over 12 months.

Within the residential segment, residential specialty trade contractors added 7,600 jobs for the month and 14,100 (1.0 percent) over the past year, reflecting ongoing strength in multifamily construction. In contrast, residential builders—mostly single-family homebuilders—lost 5,900 positions in June and 5,200 (-0.9 percent) over 12 months.

Nonresidential job gains for the year were concentrated among nonresidential building contractors, which lost 1,000 jobs in the latest month but added 4,300 (0.7 percent) over 12 months. Heavy and civil engineering construction firms shed 2,000 jobs in June and 1,800 (-0.2 percent) in the past year. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors boosted employment by 2,400 since May but only 1,800 (0.1 percent) since June 2012.

Association officials noted that one bright spot for the industry was the 27-month highway and transit bill the president is signing into law today. They said the legislation includes many significant reforms that will allow more existing transportation funds to be invested in highway and transit construction projects, as opposed to unrelated programs.

“This measure will certainly help staunch the decline in construction employment among highway and transportation builders,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Congress understands that investing in infrastructure is one of the best ways to support growth within the private sector.”

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Award-Winning Shaderlight Cloud Rendering Powered by Limitless Computing Now Available
First SketchUp Rendering Plug-in to Use Cloud Computing

Limitless Computing Inc.®, a leading provider of 3D mobile Augmented Reality, today announced that users of Shaderlight, the leading interactive and intuitive rendering plug-in to SketchUp, can now harness the power of the cloud with one click.

Now available, the award-winning Shaderlight Cloud Rendering powered by Limitless Computing is the first and only SketchUp rendering plug-in that puts the power of the cloud at every user’s fingertips. Combining high quality rendering from Shaderlight and cloud technology from Limitless Computing, Shaderlight Cloud Rendering delivers the fastest, most cost-effective workflow for SketchUp users.

“Shaderlight Cloud Rendering frees up your computer and other resources, creating quick, affordable images,” commented Daniel Tal, landscape architect, SketchUp author and tester of Shaderlight Cloud Rendering. “It’s simple to set up your model to render. Just upload to the cloud and a high-quality image is delivered directly to you. This service is particularly good for those wanting to render large models or models that use artificial lighting since these can take a good amount of time and computer power. The system is also ideal for rendering animations, putting them within reach for most companies and SketchUp users. Using the Shaderlight Cloud Rendering service allows designers to generate beautiful rendered animations, clearly articulating design themes and ideas.”

“With this new version of Shaderlight I think we're seeing the first big step into the future of rendering,” said Eric Schimelpfenig, founder, Sketchthis.net, and specialist in 3D solutions for kitchens and bathrooms, who has been testing Shaderlight Cloud Rendering. “As the world moves to low-power, lightweight, mobile devices, the choices for super-powerful laptops seem to be dwindling. Adding a cloud rendering option not only makes rendering fast and more reliable, it can be done on any machine, regardless of computing power. This new version of Shaderlight takes your ordinary machine and straps a rocket pack to it. Renders have never looked so good, so fast.”

About Limitless Computing
Limitless Computing Inc. is a Boulder, CO-based company that has been providing cloud computing since 2006 and specializes in Augmented Reality. Limitless Computing brought Augmented Reality to Google SketchUp in 2011 with the release of the mobile application SightSpace 3D for Apple and added Kindle Fire and Android devices in 2012. www.LimitlessComputing.com.

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SITEOPS 6® Features 3D Visualization and Advanced Budgeting

BLUERIDGE Analytics® announces the release of SITEOPS 6®, the latest advancement in the patented site optimization and conceptual design software. With this latest release, users can create comprehensive cost reports by assigning costs to items such as sanitary sewage, landscaping and signage, as well as create richer, three-dimensional site designs by integrating SketchUp® models.

“SITEOPS has become an important part of how we do business,” said Jeffery C. Orsborn, President of Orsborn Engineering Group. “The software continues to push the envelope of what is possible on the web and in civil design. We are saving time and our clients are saving money – a big win-win!”

The release features enhanced design functionality, allowing for more accurate and dependable models and designs. Users can also create, import and work with Blocks to increase efficiency and reduce redundant tasks. After creating customized SketchUp models – or models from the SketchUp 3D Warehouse – users can import them into SITEOPS via Blocks, create optimized layouts with grading, export the site plans to SketchUp with accurate placement of their 3D models on site plans.

“The new features available in SITEOPS 6 will allow our firm to provide clients with accurate, conceptual site designs that are enhanced by 3D visualization and advanced budgeting,” said Luis Alvarez, Project Design and BIM Manager for Klassen Corporation. “Getting our clients to sign on the dotted line just got easier.”

About SITEOPS®
SITEOPS® is patented site-optimization software for land development provided by BLUERDIGE Analytics® that provides the capabilities to conduct rapid site evaluations and ascertain ‘what-if’ scenarios. SITEOPS generates up to thousands of layouts, grading solutions and storm water drainage combinations in a matter of minutes, determining feasibility and identifying the most cost effective options.

About BLUERIDGE Analytics®
Charlotte-based BLUERIDGE Analytics® delivers world-class, evolutionary computing software to retail, real estate and the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) industries.

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AIA and Architecture for Humanity Select Disaster Response Grant Recipients

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Architecture for Humanity are pleased to announce the grant recipients for the 2012 Disaster Response Plan Grant. Awards totaling $10,000 will help each group implement their locally driven preparedness project in the second half of the year.

The Disaster Grant Program is part of the Disaster Resiliency and Recovery Program, which coordinates the organizations’ advocacy, education and training to help architects make effective contributions to communities preparing for, responding to and rebuilding after disaster.

The grant recipients are:
  • Architecture for Humanity D.C. Chapter Disaster Response Project
    The project aims to engage D.C. architects in preparing the District’s shelters, helping with post-disaster damage assessment, and allowing architects to serve as leaders in all the communities of our nation’s capital. It also aims to engage D.C. architects in documenting and learning lessons from past disasters.
  • Washington State Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR)
    A new Intrastate Mutual Aid law in the state allows architects, engineers and code officials to receive training and integrate with emergency management, but many of the details are yet to be determined. The DPR will advocate, educate, and train these design professionals to help implement the new law and prepare communities for disaster.
  • NYC Safety Assessments Trainings
    In partnership with AIANY and the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Architecture for Humanity NY (AFHny) will develop a disaster response network and offer periodic trainings in the post-disaster Safety Assessment Program (SAP).
  • Disaster Assistance Coordination Network in Maryland
    AIA Baltimore, in partnership with the Architecture for Humanity Baltimore chapter, plans to establish an active Disaster Assistance Program for the state of Maryland. This group will liaise between the state emergency management agencies, AIA, and other emergency management professionals in the region to develop plans and programs to address disaster preparedness and recovery.
  • Illinois Architects’ Emergency Management/Disaster Response Workshop
    The workshop will have key leaders of the AIA and Architecture for Humanity work collaboratively to develop an industry-specific comprehensive statewide disaster response plan in an exercise environment working alongside emergency management officials. In addition, develop a post-workshop toolkit for the education of our members in the architect’s role in emergency management in Illinois.

More information will be available soon on the Disaster Resiliency and Recovery Program website, ArchitectsRebuild.org

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit http://www.aia.org.

About Architecture for Humanity
Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit design services firm founded in 1999. We are building a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. By tapping a network of more than 40,000 professionals willing to lend time and expertise to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford their services, we bring design, construction and development services where they are most critically needed. To learn more, please visit http://www.architectureforhumanity.org

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Construction Spending Hits 2-1/2 Year Peak In May As Gains In Private Nonresidential And Residential Building Offset Public Downturn
Industry Economist Predicts Ongoing Strength in Power and Energy, Manufacturing and Apartment Building;Association Officials Say Newly Enacted Highway Bill Will Help, Call for Action on Other Infrastructure Bills

Construction spending in May reached the highest level since December 2009 as widespread gains in private nonresidential construction, single-family and multifamily homebuilding more than offset a continuing downturn in public construction, according to an analysis of new federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said they expect the disparity between private and public construction is likely to persist, although enactment of a federal highway and transit bill will cushion the decline in public spending.

“It is encouraging to see such a broad-based pickup in private construction,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. Simonson noted that private nonresidential spending climbed for the third month in a row and was 19 percent higher than in May 2011. Residential construction surged 3 percent for the month and 8 percent year-over-year, with new multifamily construction leaping 6 percent and 50 percent, respectively, and single-family homebuilding up 2 percent and 15 percent.

The construction economist said that four private nonresidential categories each posted 12-month spending increases of more than 25 percent: power and energy construction, 35 percent; hotels, 29 percent; educational and manufacturing, 27 percent apiece. There were also improvements in year-over-year totals for private transportation such as trucking and rail facilities, up 17 percent; health care and commercial (retail, warehouse and farm), 11 percent each; and office construction, 7 percent.

In contrast, public construction slumped for the fifth consecutive month, falling 4 percent below the May 2011 level, Simonson noted. He said the largest public category, highway and street construction, slipped 0.5 percent from April but edged up 2 percent year-over-year, while the second-largest segment, educational construction, fell 3 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

“Based on the number and variety of projects that have been announced in recent months, I expect the private nonresidential sector to keep posting hefty gains for the rest of 2012 and beyond,” Simonson predicted. “Apartment construction seems sure to remain strong as well. Single-family homebuilding is not as solid but has apparently passed its low point. Together, these categories should mean that total construction spending in 2012 will be positive for the year for the first time since 2007 despite ongoing weakness in public construction.

Association officials said the enactment of a federal highway and transportation bill that slightly increases spending over the next 27 months will keep public construction from falling further. But they urged Congress to include more funding for essential water and wastewater projects.

“Getting a highway and transit bill passed is a great first step,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Next, Congress should focus on keeping other forms of infrastructure from falling behind while enacting measures to support broader economic growth.”

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Bluebeam® Software Transforms Tablet PDF Functionality with New Revu® iPad App
The iconic software program moves to an app for the rest of us.

Today at the Bluebeam eXtreme™ Conference in Los Angeles, Bluebeam Software announced the launch of its new Revu iPad app. With a tap and a swipe, the app facilitates digital workflow productivity by enabling users to access, navigate and annotate PDF files on the go. With Revu iPad, comments and annotations display clearly and accurately so nothing is missed, reducing the ping pong effect of ambiguous communications. A leading developer of PDF-based workflow solutions for the Architecture-Engineering-Construction (AEC) industry, Revu iPad officially expands Bluebeam's award-winning platform solution, Revu for Windows, for use in other industries. Versatile from its inception, Revu for Windows is already successfully used in accounting, aerospace, and education to streamline daily tasks and improve productivity. Revu for iPad establishes creative use of PDF technology for digital workflows not previously possible or imagined.

"Bluebeam Revu iPad removes current barriers to productivity, and enables technical and mobile professionals to work without limits," said Richard Lee, President and CEO at Bluebeam Software. "We are excited to see Revu iPad unlock new possibilities across multiple industries and disciplines. We are finally putting the iPad to work."

Bluebeam Revu for iPad features customizable clouds, highlights, text and other annotations so consumers can markup PDFs with ease, as well as save them for reuse across sessions. Sharing feedback or trying to decipher edits – while wasting precious time, budget and paper – is no longer an issue with Revu for iPad. Bluebeam's new app shatters these archaic limitations.

More than a PDF viewer, Revu digitizes workflows by empowering consumers to:
  • Access, edit and collaborate on the go, in remote locations, on or off the cloud.
  • Quickly navigate through multi-page PDFs using thumbnails and bookmarks.
  • Easily add customizable markups (texts, pen marks, highlights, etc.) on PDFs and save them for future use in Revu's exclusive Tool Chest™.
  • Insert images as an attachment or directly to the PDF using the built-in iPad camera and photo library.
  • Track all document feedback via the integrated Markups list, which records every annotation including the annotation author, date and time.
  • Sync and open files stored in the cloud using iTunes, Dropbox, Box and WebDav.
  • Remove, sync or move files to custom Categories in the included File Access tab so they can be located and opened later with just a tap.

In addition, Revu easily works with Bluebeam's cloud offering, Bluebeam Studio™, taking collaboration up a notch by allowing users to add markups to the same PDF, together in real time or separately on their own time, from anywhere with an Internet connection. Users can chat while working, and track or filter all session activity in the record, which links back the PDFs.

While Revu iPad has an impressive lineup of features and functionality, Bluebeam is continuing to push the limits of how users will collaborate on the go with its app. "Revu iPad is bringing some of Revu's most popular PDF markup and collaboration features from the desktop to the iPad, but we are not done yet," added Lee. "In the coming months, Revu iPad will evolve to include even more functionality – enabling truly digital, mobile workflows and proving that anything is possible with Bluebeam."

Revu iPad is the company's second app offering. Vu iPad, Bluebeam's free PDF viewer, launched earlier this year. Revu iPad will be available on Apple's App Store for $9.99 beginning in July.

Revu iPad was revealed at Bluebeam's eXtreme Conference at the GRAMMY Museum at LA Live. Bluebeam Software products are sold direct and through a global network of authorized resellers. For more information, visit www.bluebeam.com.

About Bluebeam Software, Inc.
Not your typical software company, Bluebeam Software makes smart, simple solutions for paperless workflows based on the PDF format. Founded in 2002 in Pasadena, California, Bluebeam's award-winning PDF creation, markup and collaboration solutions are used today by the world's top architectural, engineering and construction firms, as well as government agencies, accountants and even attorneys, as an intuitive, easy-to-use, PDF-based software solution for dramatically improved workflow and more sustainable, paperless operations. Bluebeam supports customers in more than 60 countries directly through its Account Services team in addition to an extensive reseller network. For more information, visit www.bluebeam.com.

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New Construction Starts to Rise 2% in 2012, Says McGraw-Hill Construction’s Outlook Midyear Update
Forecast shows improvement in housing, with modest gains for commercial building, but institutional building and public works continue to weaken

McGraw-Hill Construction (http://construction.com/), part of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), today released its 2012 Dodge Construction Outlook Midyear Update projections, which revise the forecasts provided last October at the firm’s annual Outlook Conference in Washington DC. The Outlook Midyear Update predicts that total construction starts for the U.S. will increase 2% this year to $445 billion, up from the $434 billion reported for 2011. While slightly better than the flat performance for 2012 construction starts predicted last fall, the updated forecast still portrays an industry struggling to gain upward momentum.

“The construction industry has yet to move from a hesitant up-and-down pattern to more sustained expansion,” stated Robert A. Murray, Vice President of Economic Affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. “After plunging 23% in 2009, new construction starts edged up only 1% in 2010 and were unchanged in 2011, so the modest 2% increase predicted for 2012 is really more of the same. The backdrop for the construction industry remains the fragile U.S. economy, which continues to see slow employment growth, diminished funding from federal and state governments, and the uncertainty related to the U.S. fiscal stalemate and the European debt crisis. On the plus side, energy costs are now receding, interest rates are very low, and lending standards are beginning to ease for commercial real estate development.” Given these divergent factors, the construction market this year continues to see a mix of pluses and minuses by major sector, as follows:

Single family housing in 2012 will advance 21% in dollars, corresponding to a 19% increase in the number of units to 490,000 (McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge basis). While still at a very low amount, single family housing for the past year has been able to register small yet steady gains.

Multifamily housing in 2012 will climb 19% in dollars and 18% in units, given rising occupancies and rents, which reflect elevated demand from potential homebuyers still reluctant or unable to move ahead with purchasing a single family home.

Commercial building in 2012 will grow 10%, following the 12% gain in 2011. Warehouses and hotels will see the largest percentage increases, joined this year by a moderate gain for stores while office construction sees more privately financed projects but less government office buildings.

The institutional building market in 2012 will fall an additional 10%, after sliding 11% in 2011. The tough fiscal environment for states and localities continues to dampen school construction, and the uncertain economic environment is restraining healthcare facilities.

The manufacturing building category in 2012 will retreat 20%, following the 75% jump in 2011 which featured the start of several unusually large projects.

Public works construction in 2012 will slide a further 6%, after last year’s 14% decline. This reflects government spending cuts and the absence of a multiyear federal transportation bill.

Electric utility construction in 2012 will essentially hold steady with its exceptionally strong 2011 amount, helped by this year’s start of two large nuclear power projects.

Copies of the report will be available on June 28th at http://analyticsstore.construction.com/index.php.

Additional reports and projections are available from McGraw-Hill Construction Research and Analytics, http://construction.com/market_research.

About McGraw-Hill Construction: McGraw-Hill Construction connects people, projects, and products across the construction industry. For more than a century, it has remained North America’s leading provider of project and product information, plans and specifications, and industry news, trends, and forecasts. McGraw-Hill Construction serves more than one million customers in the global construction industry through Dodge, Sweets, Architectural Record, Engineering News-Record, GreenSource, and SNAP. To learn more, visit www.construction.com or follow @mhconstruction on Twitter.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies: McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011 its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services, and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

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Labor and Material Prices Slowly Increase in Second Quarter 2012 According to Turner Building Cost Index

Turner Construction Company announced that the Second Quarter 2012 Turner Building Cost Index – which measures costs in the non-residential building construction market in the United States – has increased to a value of 826. This reflects a 0.61% increase from the First Quarter 2012 and 1.85% yearly increase from the Second Quarter 2011.

Karl F. Almstead, the Turner vice president responsible for the Turner Building Cost Index, said, “Optimism for growth in Turner’s markets in the United States is balanced by uncertainty in the global economy. This has resulted in a relatively stable level of market activity. In spite of pressure from competition, labor and material prices slowly continue to increase. ”

Approximately 90% of Turner’s business is performed under contract arrangements where Turner provides extensive preconstruction planning services before the contract price is fixed and before construction starts. By providing preconstruction services and utilizing enhanced procurement strategies, Turner effectively manages the market risks associated with cost-related issues.

Turner has prepared the construction cost forecast for more than 80 years. Used widely by the construction industry and Federal and State governments, the building costs and price trends tracked by the Turner Building Cost Index may or may not reflect regional conditions in any given quarter. The Cost Index is determined by several factors considered on a nationwide basis, including labor rates and productivity, material prices and the competitive condition of the marketplace. This index does not necessarily conform to other published indices because others do not generally take all of these factors into account.

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Builder Confidence Rises One Point in June

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes gained one point in June from a slightly revised level in the previous month to rest at 29 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. This is the highest level the index has attained since May of 2007.

“This month’s modest uptick in builder confidence comes on the heels of a four-point gain in May and is reflective of the continued, gradual improvement we are seeing in many individual housing markets as more buyers decide to take advantage of today’s low prices and interest rates,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla.

“While the June HMI is in keeping with our forecast for gradually improving single-family home sales this year, recent economic reports that have shown some weakening in the pace of recovery likely factored into the marginal gain,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “In addition, builders across the country continue to report that overly tight lending conditions and inaccurate appraisals are major obstacles to completing sales at this time.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

In June, the HMI component measuring current sales conditions rose two points to 32, which is its highest level since April of 2007. Meanwhile, the components measuring sales expectations in the next six months and traffic of prospective buyers held unchanged at 34 and 23, respectively.

Regionally, the HMI results were mixed in June, with two areas of the country posting gains and two posting declines. The Midwest registered a five-point gain to 31 and the West registered a four-point gain to 33, while the Northeast and South each posted two-point declines, to 29 and 26, respectively.

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Construction Materials Prices Drop In May Including Key Construction Materials Like Diesel, Copper, Brass And Aluminum Products

Rare Slowdown in Construction Materials Prices Likely to be Short-Lived, Construction Economist Notes, Meanwhile Firms Are Making Slight Increases to Amounts they Charge to Construct Most Buildings

The amount contractors pay for a range of key construction materials edged down 0.3 percent in May and climbed by only 2.3 percent from a year earlier, according to an analysis of producer price index figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Meanwhile, the amount contractors charge to construct projects remained largely flat for the month and is up only between 3.1 and 4.3 percent for the year.

“The slowdown in construction input price increases is a rare and possibly short-lived event,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, noting that the last time prices rose so slowly from a year earlier was February 2010. “Meanwhile, some of the price increases we are seeing for materials like gypsum and lumber reflect a strengthening new residential and commercial remodeling construction.”

Simonson noted that prices for a number of key construction materials declined between April and May. The price index for diesel fuel dropped 3.6 percent in May and is down 0.2 percent compared to last year. The index for copper and brass mill shapes declined 1.6 percent for the month and 8.3 percent since May 2011. Likewise, aluminum mill products dropped in price for the month, by 1.9 percent and fell 9.0 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the index for gypsum products increased by 1.2 percent in May and 13.6 percent compared to last year while lumber prices rose by 2.2 percent for the month and 7.0 percent since May 2011.

The price indexes for finished nonresidential buildings, which measure what contractors estimate they would charge to put up new structures, mostly inched up for the past month and are now beginning to outpace increases in construction materials prices, Simonson noted. The index for new industrial buildings actually declined 0.1 percent in May and is up only 3.1 percent for the year. The index for new office construction inched up 0.2 percent for the month and 3.4 percent for the year. The price for new warehouse construction also increased by 0.2 percent in May and rose 4.2 percent compared to May 2011. And the price for new school construction was up 0.1 percent for the month and 4.3 percent for the year.

The construction economist added that materials prices are likely to remain moderate for the time being, based on recent reports and future market pricing for diesel fuel, copper and steel. Simonson attributed the slowdown to weakening demand from Europe, as well as China and other developing nations.

Association officials said the new pricing data shows that now is a good time for public and private sector owners to start construction on needed projects. “The price break makes this an ideal time for both private sector owners and government agencies to start construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Taxpayers will get a good deal if Congress can complete work soon on long-stalled highway and transit funding, and avoid making further cuts to building and infrastructure construction projects while prices are still relatively low."

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Construction Employment Declined In 30 States Between May 2011 And 2012 While 27 States And D.C. Lost Jobs For The Month As Public Construction Shrinks
Texas Adds the Most Construction Jobs and Montana Adds the Highest Percentage Year-over-Year While Florida Experiences Largest Annual Decline and Alaska Has Largest Percentage Drop in Construction Jobs

More states lost construction jobs in May than at any point since June 2011 as 30 states experienced annual job losses and 27 states and D.C. lost jobs during the past month, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. The weak state construction employment figures come as public investments in construction decline and the federal transportation program is at risk of shutting down on June 30.

“As the public sector continues to restrain growth in construction demand, we will continue to see weak reports like this,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “There isn’t enough demand for private sector structures to compensate for dwindling investments in highways, bridges, water systems and public buildings.”

Simonson noted only 19 states plus the District of Columbia added construction jobs between May 2011 and May 2012, while construction employment was stagnant in Kansas for the year. Montana added the highest percentage of new construction jobs for the year (15.2 percent, 3,400 jobs), followed by North Dakota (13.7 percent, 3,200 jobs) and Nebraska (10.6 percent, 4,400 jobs). Texas added the most new construction jobs (15,600 jobs, 2.8 percent), followed by California (11,700 jobs, 2.1 percent), Arizona (11,000, 10 percent) and Indiana (8,800 jobs, 7.5 percent).

The economist said that among states that lost construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-20.4 percent, -3,200 jobs), followed by Wisconsin (-10 percent, -9,200 jobs) and Mississippi (-9.2 percent, -4,500 jobs). Florida lost the most jobs (-22,200 jobs, -6.6 percent), followed by Illinois (-12,200 jobs, -4.7 percent), New York (-12,100 jobs, -3.9 percent) and Wisconsin.

Twenty-one states added construction jobs between April and May 2012, while construction employment levels were stagnant for the month in Delaware and Maine, Simonson noted. Nebraska added both the highest percentage and the most new construction jobs for the month (8.2 percent, 3,400 jobs), followed by Montana (7.6 percent, 1,700 jobs) and West Virginia (2.5 percent, 800 jobs). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs for the month were California (2,600 jobs, 0.5 percent), Ohio (2,400 jobs, 1.4 percent) and Texas (2,400 jobs, 0.5 percent).

Mississippi had the steepest percentage decline among states that lost construction jobs for the month (-5.1 percent, -2,500 jobs), followed by Wyoming (-4.9 percent, -1,000 jobs) and Rhode Island (-3.9 percent, -600 jobs). New York had the largest number of job losses (-7,800 jobs, -2.5 percent) followed by North Carolina (-4,800 jobs, -2.7 percent), Maryland (-4,600 jobs, -3.2 percent) and Illinois (-4,600 jobs, -2.3 percent).

Association officials warned that construction employment was likely to get worse if Congress continues to cut investments in public infrastructure and buildings. They added that a failure to enact new federal transportation legislation before a June 30 deadline could result in tens of thousands of construction layoffs around the country.

"While the economy will have to get a lot better before we see big gains in construction employment, public cuts are not helping the situation,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. “Passing a highway and transit bill, in particular, would give a needed boost to construction employment.”

View the state employment data by rank and by state.

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Substantial Drop in Architecture Billings Index
All regions report declining demand for design services

Following the first negative reading in five months, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has had a significant drop in May. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the May ABI score was 45.8, following a mark of 48.4 in April. This score reflects a sharp decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 54.0, down slightly from mark of 54.4 the previous month.

“For the second year in a row, we’re seeing declines in springtime design activity after a healthy first quarter. Given the ongoing uncertainly in the economic outlook, particularly the weak job growth numbers in recent months, this should be an alarm bell going off for the design and construction industry,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The commercial/industrial sector is the only one recording gains in design activity at present, and even this sector has slowed significantly. Construction forecasters will have to reassess what conditions will look like moving forward.”

Key May ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Northeast (48.6), West (47.6), Midwest (46.8), South (46.1)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (50.7), multi-family residential (48.9),
  • institutional (45.6), mixed practice (41.5)
  • Project inquiries index: 54.0

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White Paper Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on the AIA web site.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Construction Employment Experiences Largest Decline In Two Years In May Even As Spending On Construction Activity Inched Up By 0.3 Percent in April

Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction Suffers Largest Employment Decline Within Sector, Likely Reflecting Impacts of 1.4 Percent Decrease in Public Construction Activity During the Previous Month

Construction employment fell in May by 28,000, the largest decline in two years, and is now at the lowest level since last August, according to an analysis of new federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. The drop in construction employment comes as new figures show a 1.4 percent decrease in public construction spending restrained overall construction activity growth to 0.3 percent.

“With construction employment shrinking for the fourth month in a row, the industry is clearly having a difficult start to the year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In particular, cuts to public sector investments in construction are taking their toll, given that heavy and civil engineering construction experienced the largest employment decline within the sector.”

Total construction employment now stands at 5,516,000, or 0.5 percent lower than a month earlier but 18,000 higher (0.3 percent) than in May 2011, the economist said. Meanwhile the industry’s unemployment rate is at 14.2 percent, nearly double the national average. He added that overall construction employment is still far below its peak level of 7,726,000 in April 2006.

The nonresidential construction sector lost 17,400 construction jobs in May, Simonson noted. Heavy and civil engineering construction firms – which perform a large share of publicly funded construction work – shed 11,200 jobs while nonresidential specialty trade contractors lost another 7,700. Nonresidential building contractors added 1,500 for the month. Residential construction lost 11,000 total jobs as the residential specialty trade contractors shed 10,000 jobs and residential builders lost 1,000 positions in May.

Meanwhile, construction spending in April increased by 0.3 percent compared to March 2012 and 6.8 percent compared with April 2011 and is now at an annualized rate of $820.7 billion. Private sector demand for construction expanded by 1.2 percent for the month and 12.5 percent year-over-year, but overall growth was held back by a 1.4 percent monthly decline in public construction activity and a 3.2 percent drop from the April 2011 level.

Association officials said the new construction employment and spending figures underscore the need for quick Congressional action on a number of long-term infrastructure measures, including reauthorizing clean water and surface transportation programs. They said members of Congress participating in a conference committee negotiating what could possibly be a new highway and transportation bill should feel a new sense of urgency given the grim construction employment figures.

“Getting a highway and transit bill passed would certainly help counter any possible backslide in construction employment,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “While the overall economy will need to be much stronger before private sector construction activity and employment begin to approach pre-recession levels, investments in infrastructure will certainly help put more construction workers back on the job.”

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New Simpson Strong-Tie® SDWF Structural Wood Screw Designed to Simplify Floor-To-Floor Connections

Simpson Strong-Tie introduces the new SDWF structural wood screw with TUW take-up washer. The SDWF-TUW kit is faster and easier to install than other floor-to-floor connection methods.

The unique design of the SDWF fastener enables it to attach upper and lower walls together from the top, spanning the floor system and providing an easy-to-install connection within the continuous uplift load path of the structure. The innovative TUW take-up washer plays a key role in the long-term performance of the SDWF when installed between the screw and the sole plate of the upper floor. As the structure settles because of shrinkage and construction loading, the threaded portion under the head of the screw ratchets up through the tabs of the TUW. The interlock between the tabs of the take-up washer and the threads under the head of the SDWF prevent the screw from sliding back under load, providing a simple yet reliable means of shrinkage compensation up to 3⁄4" per story.

The code-listed SDWF comes in various lengths with all required installation hardware. For more information, visit www.strongtie.com/fasten.

About Simpson Strong-Tie Company Inc.
For more than 55 years, Simpson Strong-Tie has focused on creating structural products that help people build safer and stronger homes and buildings. Considered a leader in structural systems research, testing and innovation, Simpson Strong-Tie works closely with industry professionals to provide code-listed, field-tested products and value-engineered solutions. Its structural products are recognized for helping structures resist high winds, hurricanes and seismic forces. The company’s extensive product offering includes connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, lateral-force resisting systems, anchors and products for concrete repair, strengthening and protection. Simpson Strong-Tie is committed to helping customers succeed by providing exceptional products, full-service engineering and field support, product testing and training. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.strongtie.com.

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