The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced a final rule requiring employers to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. The rule, which also updates the list of employers partially exempt from OSHA record-keeping requirements, goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, for workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction.
Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA’s regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule.
All employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA’s new severe injury and illness reporting requirements. To assist employers in fulfilling these requirements, OSHA is developing a Web portal for employers to report incidents electronically, in addition to the phone reporting options.
In addition to the new reporting requirements, OSHA has also updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The previous list of exempt industries was based on the old Standard Industrial Classification system, and the new rule uses the North American Industry Classification System to classify establishments by industry. The new list is based on updated injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.
For more information about the new rule, go to www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014.
Major Insulation Manufacturers Collaborate to Train Contractors
Insulation manufacturers CertainTeed, Johns Manville, Knauf Insulation and Owens Corning are working together to create a unified training credential for insulation contractors. The High Performance Insulation Contractor credentials offered through High Performance Insulation Professionals are now available through these participating manufacturers and directly through HPIP and Distributor Member IDI.
The current building economy requires greater knowledge and experience from insulation contractors. This coalition of manufacturers and suppliers will elevate the industry by providing quality training and a unified, impartial set of credentials that will be recognized by builders, architects, homeowners, suppliers, and code officials.
HPIP supports the growth and expertise of its members who provide high performance, energy efficient, fiberglass-based insulation systems and related components. Founded 30 years ago as BIBCA, the rebranded organization HPIP now embraces many high performance systems and methods and is committed to elevating the status of the trained insulation contractor in the building industry.
Updated Recommendations for Gypsum Panel Product Repairs
As the technical, promotion and information center of the gypsum industry, the Gypsum Association regularly revises its publications to reflect technological advances, clarify ambiguities and respond to questions from the public. Updates to both GA-221 Repair of Joint Ridging and GA-222 Repairing Screw or Nail Pops fall into the latter category. Each set of recommendations clarifies best practices associated with common wallboard repairs.
Joint ridging, or beading, is a uniform, fine linear deformation that can occur at the joints of finished and decorated gypsum panel products. Compression at the edges or ends of the panels due to extreme fluctuations of temperature and humidity is the most common cause of ridging; however, misaligned framing can also contribute to the problem. Whatever the case, repairs of joint ridging should be undertaken only after a wall or ceiling system has stabilized. The Gypsum Association recommends waiting until a new structure has experienced at least one complete heating/ cooling cycle before making repairs.
Fastener-popping, or the protrusion of screw or nail heads above the gypsum panel surface, can be the result of improper application or fastening. However, the most common source of popping is lumber shrinkage due to initially high moisture content in newly constructed wood framing.
Overly long fastener length contributes to the problem. While fastener-popping that appears before or during finishing and decoration should be repaired immediately, popping that occurs a month or more into the heating season should wait for repair until the season’s end.
In the case of fastener-popping, the secure reattachment of the gypsum panel product to the framing is essential. Again, all new screws or nails should be of the proper length. Key to the repair methods outlined in both GA-221-14 and GA-222-14 is careful sanding and treatment with joint compound as well as observing recommended drying times prior to redecoration.
Both documents are included in the GA’s free download library, which is available from www.gypsum.org.
Builder Confidence Hits Highest Level Since November 2005
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose for a fourth consecutive month in September to a level of 59 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, released Sept 17. This latest four-point gain brings the index to its highest reading since November 2005.
"While a firming job market is helping to unleash pent-up demand for new homes and contributing to a gradual, upward trend in builder confidence, we are still not seeing much activity from first-time home buyers,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Other factors impeding the pace of the housing recovery include persistently tight credit conditions for consumers and rising costs for materials, lots and labor.”
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 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.
All three HMI components posted gains in September. The indices gauging current sales conditions and traffic of prospective buyers each rose five points to 63 and 47, respectively. The index gauging expectations for future sales increased two points to 67.
Builder confidence also rose across every region of the country in September. Looking at the three-month moving average for each region, the Midwest registered a five-point gain to 59, the South posted a four-point increase to 56, the Northeast recorded a three-point gain to 41 and the West posted a two-point increase to 58.
Architecture Billings Index Reaches Highest Mark Since 2007
The last three months have shown steadily increasing demand for design services and the Architecture Billings Index is now at its highest level since 2007. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the July ABI score was 55.8, up noticeably from a mark of 53.5 in June. This score reflects an increase in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 66.0, following a very strong mark of 66.4 the previous month.
The AIA has added a new indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms that can provide a strong signal of the direction of future architecture billings. The score for design contracts in July was 54.9.
Key July ABI highlights include the following:
• Regional averages: Northeast (55.5), South (55.1), Midwest (54.1), West (53.5).
• Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (61.0), multifamily residential (56.5), institutional (53.3), commercial/industrial (51.2).
• Project inquiries index: 66.0.
• Design contracts index: 54.9.
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.
August Construction Rises 2 Percent
At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $490.2 billion, new construction starts in August advanced 2 percent relative to July, reported McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial, on Sept. 20. Residential building stayed on the upward track, and nonbuilding construction rebounded after its loss of momentum in July. At the same time, nonresidential building retreated from its improved July amount, continuing the up-and-down pattern that’s been present during 2013. For the first eight months of 2013, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis came in at $329.4 billion, up 1 percent from the same period a year ago. If electric utilities are excluded from the year-to-date statistics, total construction starts in the first eight months of 2013 would be up 10 percent.
The August data lifted the Dodge Index to 104 (2000=100), compared to a revised 102 for July. So far during 2013, the Dodge Index has hovered within the range of 98 to 106, after averaging 103 for the full year 2012.
Residential building in August increased 4 percent to $214.1 billion (annual rate). Single-family housing grew 2 percent, maintaining the steady growth that’s been present during 2013. While the month-to-month increases have been smaller than last year, the consistent gains have enabled the pace for single-family housing in August to be 11 percent higher than the start of this year, and 30 percent higher than the average monthly pace reported during 2012.
By geography, single-family housing in August revealed this pattern: the Midwest, up 4 percent; the South Atlantic and Northeast, each up 3 percent; the West, up 2 percent; and the South Central down 1 percent. Since May, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has moved up from 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent, but this increase in the cost of financing has not had much if any negative impact on homebuyer demand and single-family construction.
Multifamily housing in August jumped 12 percent, achieving the second highest monthly amount so far in 2013. The top five metropolitan areas for multifamily starts in August were New York City, Boston, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Nonresidential building in August dropped 8 percent to $148.9 billion (annual rate), falling back after a 9 percent gain in July. Much of the downturn came from the institutional categories, which fell a combined 16 percent. Healthcare facilities pulled back 44 percent after showing improved activity in July, as construction is being restrained by several factors, including uncertainty related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and a greater number of hospital mergers. Education-related construction in August dropped 5 percent, also after showing improved activity in July. Most of the smaller institutional categories showed reduced contracting in August.
Transportation terminal work dropped 50 percent from its heightened July amount. The public buildings category in August retreated 35 percent, while church construction stayed depressed with a 14 percent decline. Amusement and recreational work ran counter to the generally downward movement for institutional building in August, climbing 57 percent.
The commercial categories in August grew a combined 3 percent. Office construction increased 10 percent, and hotel construction climbed 23 percent. Warehouse construction in August advanced 3 percent, but store construction fell back 9 percent. The manufacturing plant category grew 21 percent after a weak July.
The 1 percent gain for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis for the first eight months of 2013 was due to varied behavior by the three main construction sectors. Residential building climbed 27 percent year-to-date, with single-family housing up 30 percent and multifamily housing up 19 percent. Nonbuilding construction fell 21 percent year-to-date, and nonresidential building was down a modest 3 percent year-to-date, as the result of this pattern by major segment: commercial building, up 10 percent; institutional building, down 9 percent; and manufacturing building, down 14 percent.
By geography, total construction starts in the January–August period of 2013 showed gains in four regions: the Northeast, up 9 percent; the West, up 6 percent; the South Central, up 4 percent; and the Midwest, up 2 percent. The South Atlantic was the one major region to report a year-to-date decline, falling 13 percent, as the comparison was against the first eight months of 2012 that included the start of two large nuclear power facilities. If electric utilities are excluded from the year-to-date construction start statistics in the South Atlantic, then that region would register a 17 percent gain.
Nonresidential Construction Index Dips in Q3
FMI has released the 2014 Third Quarter Nonresidential Construction Index report, and the index shows a decrease of 3.3 points from Q2, but is still above the same time period in 2013. The cost of materials and labor continues to climb, weighing negatively on the index.
Other factors keeping the NRCI from rising are government entities continuing to reduce spending and avoid making final decisions on the highway bills, as well as private investors taking a passive role waiting for others to act first.
The good news is that the economy has passed the "survival” stage and currently occupies the "thriving” phase, according to the report. Backlogs remain strong with expectations of improvement and productivity up slightly. Thriving in the new economic climate will require companies to not just be the strongest or biggest, but also the most adept at dealing with change.
Increasing Home Values Affect Housing Affordability in Second Quarter
Nationwide housing affordability dipped in the second quarter of 2014 as several markets saw a firming of home prices, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, released Aug. 14.
In all, 62.6 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of April and the end of June were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $63,900. This is down from the 65.5 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the first quarter.
The national median home price increased from $195,000 in the first quarter to $214,000 in the second quarter. Meanwhile, average mortgage interest rates decreased from 4.57 percent to 4.44 percent in the same period.
Youngstown–Warren–Boardman, Ohio–Pa. claimed the title of the nation’s most affordable major housing market, as 90.4 percent of all new and existing homes sold in this year’s second quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $52,700.
Meanwhile, Cumberland, Md.–W.Va. was the most affordable smaller market, with 97.2 percent of homes sold in the second quarter being affordable to those earning the median income of $54,100.
Other major U.S. housing markets at the top of the affordability chart in the second quarter included Indianapolis–Carmel, Ind.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Harrisburg–Carlisle, Pa.; and Scranton–Wilkes–Barre, Pa; in descending order.
Meanwhile, smaller markets joining Cumberland at the top of the affordability chart included Kokomo, Ind.; Davenport–Moline–Rock Island, Iowa–Ill.; Battle Creek, Mich.; and Lima, Ohio; in descending order.
For a seventh consecutive quarter, San Francisco–San Mateo–Redwood City, Calif., was the nation’s least affordable major housing market. There, just 11.1 percent of homes sold in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $100,400.
Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were Santa Ana–Anaheim–Irvine, Calif.; Los Angeles–Long Beach–Glendale, Calif.; San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara, Calif.; and New York–White Plains–Wayne, N.Y.–N.J., in descending order.
All five least affordable small housing markets were in California. At the very bottom was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, where 16.6 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $77,900. Other small markets included Napa, Salinas, Santa Rosa-Petaluma, and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles; in descending order.
Visit nahb.org/hoi for tables, historic data and details.
Armstrong® First in Pennsylvania to Earn LEED® Platinum Recertification
The Armstrong World Industries corporate headquarters building in Lancaster, Pa., has been awarded LEED Platinum recertification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The Armstrong facility is the first building in Pennsylvania and among only 17 buildings globally to achieve recertification at the highest level possible under USGBC’s LEED-EBOM (Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance) program and the first in the country to earn a recertification credit for its superior acoustic environment.
To attain its Platinum recertification, Armstrong corporate headquarters, also known as Building 701, adhered to strict standards in five categories, including Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Two additional categories, Innovation in Operations and Regional Priority Credits, provided opportunities to earn extra points.
When it was originally LEED Platinum certified in 2007, Building 701 became the first commercial building in the country to earn an Innovation credit for its superior acoustic design.
In 2013, Armstrong made improvements to raise the level of acoustic comfort in the open plan areas and was able to further reduce noise and improve speech privacy, resulting in a 29 percent increase in employee satisfaction.
People in the News
Donald R. Maier is now the executive vice president and chief executive officer of Armstrong Flooring Products. Maier succeeds Thomas B. Mangas, who left Armstrong to become executive vice president and chief financial officer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Previously, Maier was senior vice president, Global Operations Excellence for Armstrong.
Cemco, Los Angeles, has contracted with two industry experts to provide architectural representation of its full line of code-approved steel framing and metal lath products to U.S.–based architectural firms. Cynthia Belisle, a registered architect in Texas and Louisiana, and Kimberly Grosch, founder and president of the KG Global Architectural Marketing Group, Inc., will both be representing CEMCO in the Central and Western United States, respectively.
Parex USA, Inc., Anaheim, Calif., has promoted Rodrigo Lacerda to president of ParexGroup Americas, and hired James Chilcoff as managing director of Parex USA.
As president of ParexGroup Americas, Lacerda will supervise all the group’s companies in North and South America and will continue to be part of ParexGroup’s executive committee as senior executive vice president. In his new role, Lacerda will coordinate the growth of the group on the North and South American continents and ensure the company continues to develop sound strategic positions in each of the countries where we are present.
Chilcoff has had a successful career in the building materials industry. He previously spent 12 years with James Hardie in various sales, marketing and general management roles, including in Australia, where he led the company’s operations. More recently, Chilcoff was the managing director of U.S. Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer of metal and flashing products.
Companies in the News
Grabber® Construction Products has acquired All-Fast, Inc., a full-line distributor of staples, nails, air nailers and staplers, power tools, saw blades and other equipment for the power fastening customer. Grabber’s relationship with All-Fast will be managed by Matt Nelson, Southeast regional manager for Grabber. Kenny Rump has been named branch manager of Grabber/All-Fast.
Gypsum Management and Supply, Inc., headquartered in Tucker, Ga., has signed an agreement to acquire Contractors Choice Supply, Inc. of Lubbock, Texas. The deal expands GMS’s presence in West Texas and establishes Contractors Choice Supply as a wholly owned subsidiary of GMS.
GMS is the largest distributor of drywall, acoustical ceilings and other specialty building materials in the United States. Founded in 1971, GMS now operates a network of more than 140 distribution centers nationwide.
Contractors Choice Supply, founded in 2000, is a distributor of drywall, metal framing, acoustical, insulation and other specialty building products in West Texas.
ITW Building Components Group, an Illinois Tool Works Inc. company, has completed a comprehensive business rebranding initiative and changed its business name to Alpine.
The rebranding process included extensive industry research, which found that Alpine is known for its engineering excellence, productivity-enhancing software and equipment solutions, and strengths in service and partnership.
In conjunction with the business rebranding, Alpine has created a new logo (pictured). In addition, a new website (www.alpineitw.com) is being launched. The official announcement will be made and celebrated at the Building Component Manufacturers Conference, Oct. 7–10 in Charlotte, N.C.
Alpine is a division of ITW and part of the company’s North American Construction group. The division was formed in 2007 and shaped by the acquisition of four companies: Truswal (2004), Alpine (2006), AmeriCAD (2007) and hsbCAD (2008).
Products in the News
ClarkDietrich Building Systems, West Chester, Ohio, announced that the newest version of its ClarkDietrich Wall Type Creator™ Revit® add-in is now available for free download at the Autodesk® Exchange store. Wall Type Creator gives architects the ability to seamlessly integrate information-rich wall types.
Wall Type Creator can be found under the Architectural Tools section of the Autodesk Revit Exchange Apps store. The Autodesk Exchange Apps store is a portal to the Autodesk software ecosystem, providing access to add-ins that allow designers to find and immediately download solutions to some of their more pressing design challenges.
For more information, visit http://www.clarkdietrich.com/BIM.
Senco, an international manufacturer of professional-grade fasteners and power fastener products that is headquartered in Cincinnati, has received an evaluation report (ESR #3558) from ICC Evaluation Service certifying that these fasteners meet the codes in the 2009 and 2012 International Building Code and International Residential Code.
The fasteners that gained approval are commonly used for connections involving cold formed steel framing. Common applications include joining drywall/gypsum sheathing to steel, steel to steel framing, steel sheathing to steel framing, and certain wood to steel framing.
Visit the ICC-ES website http://www.icc-es.org/ to access the full report.
New on the ’net
The American Iron and Steel Institute’s S200-series (cold-formed steel framing), S300-series (profiled steel diaphragm) and S900-series (test) standards are now available for downloading free of charge at a new website location, www.aisistandards.org.
The free downloads include the following documents:
• AISI 2012 S200-Series Framing Standards Bundle – The bundle includes 10 documents.
• AISI S200-12: North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – General Provisions, 2012 Edition
• AISI S201-12: North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – Product Data, 2012 Edition
• AISI S202-11: Code of Standard Practice for Cold-Formed Steel Structural Framing, 2011 Edition
• AISI S210-07 (2012): North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – Floor and Roof System Design, 2007 Edition (Reaffirmed 2012)
• AISI S211-07 w/ S1-12 (2012): North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing - Wall Stud Design, 2007 Edition With Supplement 1 (Reaffirmed 2012)
• AISI S212-07 (2012): North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – Header Design, 2007 Edition (Reaffirmed 2012)
• AISI S213-07 w/S1-09 (2012): North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – Lateral Design, 2007 Edition With Supplement 1 (Reaffirmed 2012)
• AISI S214-12: North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – Truss Design, 2012 Edition
• AISI S220-11 - North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – Nonstructural Members, 2011 Edition
• AISI S230-07 w/S3-12 (2012) – North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing - Prescriptive Method for One and Two Family Dwellings, 2007 Edition With Supplement 3 (Reaffirmed 2012)
• AISI S310-13: Standard for the Design of Profiled Steel Diaphragm Panels, 2013 Edition
• AISI S900-Series Test Standards – Includes 14 test standards.
What’s App, Doc?
Dryvit Systems, Inc. created an iPad App designed to help its sales force educate architects and general contractors on the Why, How and Wow of Dryvit.
Using profound imagery, the App helps Dryvit representatives explain how the components of Outsulation® by Dryvit work, and why it’s the best façade solution for both commercial and residential buildings. The Dryvit App showcases the beautiful finishes and design options available as well as projects around the world through case studies and photography.
Download the app from the iTunes store, or go to http://tinyurl.com/kqffyyc.