A Coastal Home Is Built to Withstand the Severe Weather that Destroyed Its Predecessor

Dave Caldwell doesn’t have to travel into the future to see how a sustainable beach house—a complete rebuild of a home destroyed by Hurricane Sandy—in Westerly, R.I., will survive the next major storm. Half an hour northeast along the coastline, on the ocean side of Narragansett Bay, stands a testament to resiliency, another new home that Caldwell built in October 2012, just two weeks before Sandy swept in.

The Westerly, R.I., coastal home features an asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system.

The Westerly, R.I., coastal home features an asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system.

Featuring the same asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system, the Narragansett Bay home weathered the worst storm to hit the Ocean State in more than half a century, emerging unscathed while 1,000 other coastal Rhode Island properties incurred a combined $35 million in damage. The home’s survival demonstrated the power of construction techniques used to protect against the forces of nature—techniques that Caldwell repeated in the re-creation of the Westerly home.

For Caldwell, the second-generation owner of North Kingstown, R.I.-based Caldwell & Johnson, a design-build firm founded in 1968, the construction industry’s response to Hurricane Sandy only validates an approach to sustainable building that emphasizes long-term value over one-time costs. He says the owners of the Westerly home, a retired couple from South Carolina, were not afraid to put a little money into making the building stout and durable after their previous home was destroyed by the storm. “The goal,” he says, “was to sit and watch the next category 5 hurricane blow through.”

HURRICANE DESTRUCTION AND ITS AFTERMATH

It’s a good thing nobody was at the Westerly home in late October 2012 when 15-foot waves carrying softball-sized stones and tons of sand crashed onto Misquamicut State Beach. The structure there at the time was a bedrock of family tradition, an annual summer destination for the owners and their children and grandchildren. But without insulation to even keep out cold air in winter, it was no match for flooding and gale-force winds. Caldwell describes the storm’s impact in neat and peaceful terms. “After the tidal surge, not much of the house was left,” he says. “Where the living room used to be, there was a 4-foot pile of sand.”

Commissioned to rebuild using the maximum footprint allowed by regulatory agencies, Caldwell designed a flood-resistant foundation using concrete footings and pilings reinforced with rebar and breakaway walls at ground level so the rest of the house will not be compromised by the next big storm. The whole house received airtight insulation, efficient heating and cooling systems, and a third-party-verified air quality measurement that combined to achieve a silver rating by the National Green Building Standard, which is maintained by the National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.

Caldwell gets a lot of customer requests to add rooftop solar panels. Many times he says no because of shading impacts or suboptimal roof orientation that can limit energy production. When site conditions allow for solar, Caldwell usually brings in a subcontractor for the installation. For high-end projects with an aesthetic that requires preserving the architectural integrity of the roofline, Caldwell has his own construction crew, led by foreman Dwayne Smith, install solar shingles that integrate with traditional shingles to form a seam- less roof system. Smith went through a manufacturer’s training program to become a certified roof shingle and solar shingle installer, making Caldwell & Johnson eligible for warranty protection from the supplier and demonstrating to customers that the firm is serious about the product.

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern for the client, a retired physicist.

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern.

“Durability is a key component of sustainable green building,” Caldwell explains. “Oceanfront homes in our region are exposed to some pretty harsh elements throughout the year, including high winds, ice, salt and more. Fortunately, the individual components of the integrated solar system are up to task, and the fastening system allows the entire array to be secured directly to the roof deck as an integral unit.”

Caldwell was able to easily dispel the concern by referring to the Narragansett Bay project that survived Hurricane Sandy, where his team had installed solar shingles for the first time. “That home came through the storm with no problem at all. The solar energy system turned on and hasn’t had a problem since,” he says.

If the conditions in Rhode Island don’t provide enough assurance that solar shingles can withstand the worst that Mother Nature has to offer, Caldwell can also point to an installation he’s put on his own ski house in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, about 4,000 feet above sea level. “If you wanted to test this stuff, that’s getting on the outer edge of the bell curve,” he says. “I wouldn’t put traditional solar panels there. It would be too dangerous. But in pretty harsh conditions, the solar shingles work great.”

Pages: 1 2

AIA Releases Six Design-Build Forms as Part of Contract Docs Expansion

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) launched nine new contract documents. These include a new owner/consultant agreement with two accompanying scope of service exhibits for land surveying and geotechnical engineering, as well as six new administrative forms for use on design-build projects.

“We are constantly collaborating with industry stakeholders and practitioners to identify growing contract needs,” says Kenneth Cobleigh, managing director and counsel, AIA Contract Documents. “Our customers expressed a need for a standard form of agreement owners could use to engage necessary consultants and leverage their expertise; the new C103 document addresses that need these additions also cap off our design-build family of documents, which are preferred by the industry at large for commercial design-build projects.”

The C103–2015, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Consultant without a Predefined Scope of Consultant’s Services establishes expectations between an owner and consultant on a project. This agreement contains basic business terms related to copyrights and licenses, claims and disputes, termination or suspension, and compensation.

The accompanying scope of services exhibits include:

  • C201-2015, Standard Form of Consultant’s Services: Land Survey: This exhibit establishes the duties and responsibilities of a surveyor who is hired as a consultant by a property owner, and allows the parties to select between a boundary, topographic, or ALTA/ACSM survey.
  • C202-2015, Standard Form of Consultant’s Services: Geotechnical Engineering Services: This exhibit establishes the duties and responsibilities of a geotechnical engineer who is hired as a consultant by a property owner. It separates the geotechnical engineer’s services into four phases: explorations and testing, preparation of a geotechnical report, design services, and construction services.

Both documents are scope of services exhibits intended to be attached to AIA Document C103-2015. They may not be used as stand-alone agreements. The AIA worked with land surveying and geotechnical engineering experts to define the parameters of these documents.

“We were pleased that the AIA sought our input on technical content during the development of C201-2015, Standard Form of Consultant’s Services: Land Survey,” says Curt Sumner, LS, executive director of the National Society of Professional Surveyors. “We believe this document is an important addition to the AIA library of contract documents.”

The AIA has also added six new design-build forms to complete the Design-Build family of documents, which has quickly become one of the most popular document families in the AIA portfolio. The six new documents include:

  • G741-2015, Change Order for a Design-Build Project
  • G742C-2015, Application and Certificate for Payment for a Design-Build Project, Contractor Variation
  • G742S-2015, Application and Certificate for Payment for a Design-Build Project, Subcontractor Variation
  • G743C-2015, Continuation Sheet for a Design-Build Project, Contractor Variation
  • G743S-2015, Continuation Sheet for a Design-Build Project, Subcontractor Variation
  • G745-2015, Change Directive for a Design-Build Project

The new documents are currently available through the latest version of the AIA Contract Documents desktop software, as well as individually through AIA Documents-on-Demand and AIA Documents-on-Demand Plus.

Fewer Contracts and More Coordination Point to Design-Build Becoming Even More Popular

When contractors and owners elect a certain project delivery method for their project, it can affect all aspects of the construction, including costs, time to complete the project and amount of exposure to liabilities for each involved party. Owners and designers have long viewed the “Project Delivery Method” as the comprehensive process including planning, design and construction required to execute and complete a building facility or other type of project. Choosing the right project delivery method is integral to a successful project. Currently, there are at least four types of common project delivery methods: construction management at risk (CMR), design-bid-build (DBB), design-build and multi-prime (MP). There is a growing trend showing the more traditional design-bid-build product delivery method is losing its appeal and other options, like the design-build delivery method, are taking its place.

To understand why the design-build process is growing in popularity, it is helpful to discuss three areas where the four processes are different: number of phases and essential parties, number of essential contracts and the liability exposure under the contracts within each method.

NUMBER OF PHASES AND ESSENTIAL ‘PRIME’ PARTIES

Traditional design-bid-build is the familiar, drawn-out process where the owner of the property contacts a designer to create plans and specifications. Once complete, the owner takes the plans and specifications and begins the bidding process. After a bid is accepted, only then can construction begin. The CMR and MP methods use similar processes, though the owners may contract to different parties instead of contracting with the general contractor (we’ll discuss this more later). Under design-bid-build, CMR and MP methods, a minimum of three players is necessary in every project: the owner, designer and the contractors in their various forms.

The design-build method uses an “integrated” process, whereby the designers and contractors are one-and-the-same entity. The process of designing and constructing occurs simultaneously and thus eliminates the lag time between an owner’s receipt of a design and the acceptance of a bid. Also, because there is only one entity performing the design and construction, the only two necessary “prime” parties are the owner of the project and the design-build entity.

NUMBER OF ESSENTIAL CONTRACTS

Another closely related factor to the number of phases and essential parties is the number of contracts created during the project. The traditional design-bid-build project first requires the owner to form a contract with a designer that will design the building or project in isolation and without any input from the construction team. CMR operates similarly again; however, it allows for input from the construction team as to what materials would be the most cost-effective and merchantable for the desired purpose. In these two processes, two contracts exist: one between the owner and designer and one between the owner and construction-management constructor.

MP requires the owner to contract directly with each contractor and subcontractor instead of with one general contractor. Under this process, a minimum of two contracts exists between the owner and the designers and contractors, likely increasing as the size of the project increases.

Conversely, the design-build process merges the designer and builder into one entity. Because the one entity handles both jobs, the contracting process is streamlined and results in only one contract between the owner and design-build entity.

LIABILITY EXPOSURE UNDER THE CONTRACTS

As the volume of contracts involved in the project increases, the more fragmented the liability exposure becomes. In the design bid-build, MP and CMR methods, the owner first secures the designs from the designing entity. When the owner hires the constructing entity, he or she warrants to the constructing entity that the designs and specifications are sufficient for its hired purpose. The designer and the contractors are independently responsible for their work product, but the owner is still held responsible for any representations made to either entity. Although the CMR method attempts to foster the communication between the designer and contractors, no contract exists between the two and, therefore, liability remains on the owner for all
representations made. Further, any change orders, which frequently arise, and any other “gaps” are solely the responsibility of the owner.

Design-build removes the wall that is frequently erected when construction projects go wrong. Frequently during litigation involving the design-bid-build process, designers will attempt to avoid liability by pointing the finger at the contractors and vice-versa. Design-build, by creating a merged entity including the designer and the contractor, places the responsibility of designing and constructing with that one entity, which facilitates problem resolution instead of gearing up for an adversarial proceeding. Therefore, the design-builder is responsible not only for designing the project so that it will satisfy the desired standards, but it must also complete the project required by the owner in the contract.

As for “gaps” with the design-build process, they are essentially eliminated. The entity is performing both roles. Should the owner provide the design-builder with prescriptive designs and specifications, however, the design-build contractor is the party
responsible for discovering any inconsistencies with the performance standards by which they are bound. Any consistencies found will be the financial responsibility of the owner.

FEWER BUMPS

It is easy to see why the design-build process is growing in popularity. Costs are decreased by streamlining the process in many ways: an overlapping process of concurrent designing and constructing, fewer required contracts, and the ability of the contracting entity to adapt to the changes in design and construction. Although liability exposure is more concentrated in the design-build entity than in the other methods, the benefits of coordination between the designer and contractor will surely outweigh its detriments.

In addition to making the project delivery process easier, fewer bumps along the way will surely decrease the time and costs associated with the completion of a project. As we follow the trend toward a more design-build-focused construction industry, we will likely experience a positive effect on the litigation process, where claims will arise only between two parties as opposed to the requisite three parties in a traditional design-bid-build-based action.

KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly

Editor Christina Koch married Bart Thoreson on Aug. 29 along the lake behind their Iowa home.

Editor Christina Koch married Bart Thoreson on Aug. 29 along the lake behind their Iowa home.

My new husband Bart is the one who shared the “work smart, not hard” mantra I related in my November/December 2014 “Raise the Roof” column, page 8. He’s constantly recommending ways to complete tasks that I have to admit are simpler than my own attempts. It’s not always easy for me to accept his suggestions because I’ve being doing things just fine on my own for a long time.

I can’t help but see the parallels to the construction industry—an industry that many say is slow to change. However, I think we can all agree that if a new way of doing things helps us work smarter, it’s worth a try. In “Business Sense”, Todd A. Jones and Katie Dunn discuss project delivery methods. Jones, an attorney with experience in construction law and litigation, points out that fewer contracts and more coordination with design-build lead to more efficient projects. Jones also thinks that as the construction industry continues to embrace design-build,we’ll see less litigation—a win-win for everyone.

Surely, as you’ve become more experienced in your position, you’ve developed “tricks of the trade” that help you complete tasks more efficiently. In “Tech Point”, John Jensen, president of Jensen Roofing Inc., Newcastle, Wash., and the training program manager for the Edmonds, Wash.-based Tile Roofing Institute, shares a couple “tricks” that will ease tile roofing layout. What are your “tricks of the trade”? Please share them with me!

Her Roofing family was in attendance (shown here at the rehearsal dinner). From left to right: John Riester, vice president of business development; Barrett Hahn, publisher, who served as the wedding photographer; and Becky Riester, who was a bridesmaid.

Koch’s Roofing family was in attendance (shown here at the rehearsal dinner). From left to right: John Riester, vice president of business development; Barrett Hahn, publisher, who served as the wedding photographer; and Becky Riester, who was a bridesmaid.

As winter approaches, it’s a good time to remind your customers how they can avoid emergency calls to your roofing company. In “On My Mind”, Connie Menard with Greenawalt Roofing Co., Landisville, Pa., shares seven tips your customers can complete to ensure their buildings are well protected this winter. Step No. 6 is “Clean your gutters”, something my husband does for our home and that of our elderly neighbor on a regular basis. Our neighbor says I’m lucky to have such a considerate husband. Bart says he’s just trying to avoid potential problems from arising. I’m pretty sure they’re both right.