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CONSTRUCTION DETAILS communicating what is important to you
( 1 Vote )
Written by Dale Vanderwerff   
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 10:59

It is crucial for you to communicate to your contractor all the aspects of your project that are important to you. You may want to write a list to remember to discuss each of these items. They could be as minute as how to protect the rest of your home or business from dust, or something you deeply believe in like building "green".

Requesting specific brand name products that you have researched or heard good things about may also be valuable.  Who will move the piano out of harms way?  What time will the workmen start in the morning? Can the general contractor access the project through the side door to interfere less with day to day life?

What if you want to build "green"? Does your builder know which materials are sustainable? What do they know about more effecient light fixtures and daylighting?  Are there more efficent plumbing fixtures, furnaces or insulation options?

Another topic that seems important to many of us is buying American. This can effect everything on your project from nails to windows. More importantly it effects your neighbors, your communities and your country by providing jobs. Research has shown that there is only a slight cost difference to "buy American"

The value of communication can not be overstated. It smoothes the way for a good schedule, an acturate budget and great results. Good communication will get you what you want and not leave you disappointed in the end when things don't turn out as you had expected.

NEXT: Contracts and their many forms


( 7 Votes )
Written by Dale Vanderwerff   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 12:08


So where does it all start?  New construction isn’t always the easiest to accomplish especially if this is a new experience.

The process starts with an idea or need to add or change something.  It then begins to take on a life of its own.  Often one knows what they want.  The difficulty is not only how but also what is involved in getting this task completed.  Once the task has begun it follows that the people involved want answers.  Where is the best place to get answers?  How do you know where to turn?

First, ask people you know who have had work done on their place, ask who they used and if they were satisfied.  Second, ask the local building authorities for contractors that work in the area. They will usually not recommend someone but may give you two or three names to pick from.  Don’t forget to ask the local Chamber of Commerce for names.  The point is to ask around and eventually you will get a list to work from.  Narrow your list down to two or three contractors and schedule meetings.

The meetings will not only be a time for you to relate what you are trying to accomplish but also to see how the contractors deal with the information and communicate.  There are also things that you will personally feel are important as well.  You must be sure that the company that you are dealing with understands the things that you feel are important.  Eventually you will want to deal with someone who is honest, communicates well and responds in a timely manner.  The other very important part is that you find someone you can trust and feel comfortable with. 

Do ask for references from your chosen contractor and follow up on them before you make any commitment.   It may amaze you to hear what people will say about the contractor and his workmanship.  

Next: communicating what is important to you 

Sustainable Materials I
( 1 Vote )
Written by Dale Vanderwerff   
Friday, 27 August 2010 12:40

There are many aspects of sustainability.  Sustain means to endure, maintain or suffer.  None of us want to suffer or endure using the wrong materials.  The question remains what are the right materials?

In construction, the LEED or green way to determine some of the right materials would be to use rapidly renewable materials.  Material that is planted and harvested in less than a ten year cycle usually constitutes a rapidly renewable material.  These materials are defined as any materials resources that replenish themselves faster than the demand for the product.

Some of these green materials to consider are bamboo, wool, cotton insulation, agrifiber, linoleum, wheatboard, strawboard and cork.  Use of these materials is considered more environmentally responsible, protecting our natural resources.  As demand and production for green materials increase, they are expected to become cost competitive with conventional materials.

Existing Buildings - Reuse or Not to Reuse?
( 1 Vote )
Written by Dale Vanderwerff   
Friday, 27 August 2010 12:36

Reuse of existing buildings versus building new structures is recommended by LEED as one of the most effective ways to minimize environmental impacts while saving money.  First, there is the enormous amount of landfill that occurs when an existing building is torn down along with the fuel and pollution that comes with transporting the demolished building to its final resting place.  Next, there is the landfill site itself and how it affects the local environment, wildlife and water quality.

In comparing the reuse of an existing building to a new structure you must take into consideration the replacement value of the materials that were used to form the existing building.  For example, if you could save the shell of an existing building, you would save on the purchase of the foundation, the brick, and the steel roof structure (among other items) by their reuse.  Not only that, but each of these components would not have to be manufactured, thus saving the natural resources at their source.  With the process of building reuse, both fuel and pollution in manufacturing and the transportation of these new replacement materials would be saved.

Locally the community is having a discussion regarding the Brainerd Building.  It was the original high school building in the Libertyville, Illinois area.  There are community leaders who are trying to save, reuse and give the building a purpose again.  Others do not understand why the community would put money into a building that seems in such disrepair.  It can make economic since, however, if you consider the material values of all that you throw away and its environmental impact upon the demolition of this building.  This is not to mention the interesting architecture that would be preserved and positive community vibes that would come with a restored building of this type.

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