From New York to California, home builders are starting to see that the future of renewable energy is bright and getting brighter every day. But, it is not just homeowners who are reaping the benefits of this technology. Solar power in new construction is also beneficial to the contractors who are building the structures. Read more
The rising cost of building materials has driven up construction costs by as much as 10 percent in the last year. It’s an alarming new trend that could hurt contractors who are already dealing with an industry-wide labor shortage. Read more
In today’s day and age, builders must be aware of many different state and Federal regulations, including ADA requirements. Unfortunately, many building contractors make mistakes, because these regulations are longwinded and confusing.
Cross-linked polyethylene, commonly called PEX, is a form of polyethylene thermoplastic. The material is formed into tubing and has been used in the US since the 1980s in plumbing, heating and other building systems. It is used as an alternative to copper which is expensive, harder to install and which can corrode over time. It is also used in some projects as an alternative to rigid plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
PEX Piping – Advantages and Disadvantages
While there are many advantages to using this type of piping, these systems are not without their problems, and there have been several class action lawsuits involving PEX piping. Critics allege that PEX piping can fail when it is exposed to chlorine in the water or to an abundance of natural light before the piping is installed. There is also concern that, under certain conditions, toxic chemicals can be released from the pipe.
Some users report problems with the brass fittings in these systems. The fittings have a high level of zinc; when zinc comes into contact with water, it can cause the fittings to fail prematurely. There are also charges that, in some cases, improper manufacturing has made the brass fittings susceptible to cracking. Problems with pipes and fittings can result in leaking pipes and property damage.
Damage caused by water that leaks from a PEX piping system is generally covered under a contractor’s Commercial General Liability (CGL) Policy. The contractor’s policy likely includes completed operations coverage which provides protection when completed work results in bodily injury or property damage during the policy period.
Concerns about this material have led some insurance companies to exclude coverage for work incorporating this material from their CGL Policies. These exclusions typically remove coverage for any type of bodily injury or property damage that results from the use of PEX piping in a contractor’s work. The exclusion applies whether the PEX piping was done by the Named Insured contractor or by his subcontractor.
If you or your subcontractors use PEX piping or have used it in any past projects, it is important to review your CGL Policy to see if an exclusion has been added. These exclusions are typically found in policies written in the non-admitted insurance market, but any policy should be carefully reviewed. If you’re not sure whether your policy covers this exposure, be sure to discuss the subject with your insurance advisor.
Introducing Smart Bricks
When was the last time there was a major revolution in the way we build? I can tell you it hasn’t been in living memory. Sure, there have been a couple of building fads (shipping container homes, hobbit holes, you name it) but those have failed to capture the imaginations of the general public as their designs are a blatant rejection of tradition. For a company to truly lead a building revolution they would have to invent something groundbreaking, yet familiar while also being more cost efficient and effective than traditional building materials (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). But, for the first time in nearly 150 years we could be seeing a change in the way we build as Kite Bricks has just recently introduced the Smart Brick.
What is a Smart Brick?
Imagine really big Lego’s. But not Duplo’s. The Smart Brick is a high-strength concrete block that should allow for cheaper and stronger buildings that can be erected in half the time (at least according to Kite Bricks). We don’t doubt that the supplies will be cheaper and stronger (but assembling Lego’s takes a LOT of time, try building this out of Lego’s). When built correctly, those little bricks are pretty much indestructible. Pair that with the fact that with the fact that you can build pretty much anything that comes to mind (check these out if you don’t believe me).
Why it will Fail
Like the multitude of trendy building products before it Smart Bricks will get swallowed up by a lack of consumer demand. If the product can’t impress the general public to the point where they feel comfortable with the new building technology then we will likely see Smart Bricks turn into a luxury item rather than a building necessity. The developers also have to prove that their product is easier to use, more cost effective and energy efficient than traditional building materials.
Why it will Succeed
Because nothing excites people quite like Lego’s. They’re a reminder of afternoons during your childhood spent outside frantically putting those little bricks together so you could have a castle or a Star Fighter to play with. Imagine having the creative license to build any structure that you can dream up, to rebuild homes quickly after natural disasters so that families don’t have to live away from home for long and having building materials that are less likely to produce debris that could be potentially hazardous to contractors and builders. As of right now, Kite Brick only has a prototype but, with what we’ve seen thus far, we would expect a full-fledged product in the very near future.