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Monthly Archives: November 2018

Plan a Successful Playground Design

The most important advice for planning a playground is to take your time. If you are rushed into any decision-making then it is likely that the end result will not suit your individual requirements. There are so many options and designs that it is important to consider them all prior to committing to the final design.

Another element that will help lead to a successful result is the involvement of the children that are using the space. Allow them to create their own ideas of how they would like the equipment to look. This will make sure that they value their new play space and will enable your chosen playground company to tailor the designs to available products. It is well-understood within the industry that idea generation from children can be incredibly resourceful and inspiring.

Following on seamlessly from this is the acquisition of a reputable playground company. They will support you through the entire process and will be directed by the strictest guidelines in relation to safety. Their experience will allow them the opportunity of tailoring your designs to provide further benefit.

A site visit will be conducted which will allow your chosen company to determine the space they have to work with. This will allow them the opportunity to discuss possible limitations or opportunities. It may be that you need guidance with regards to the exact products and equipment available. All of this needs to be tailored to your budget constraints and individual requirements.

From this point a design will be generated. This is often the stage where there is a lot of tweaks and discussions in order to achieve the best design. At this point the imagined concept will come to life. Both you and the children involved will be able to see what the end result will look like in the actual space.

Once a design is agreed it is then for your chosen company to organise an installation date. It is often the case that best-served professionals will look to arrange this based around your existing commitments.

It is important that you are kept up-to-date throughout all stages of the design and installation process. Time invested in this process will ensure a successful finish. Look for organisations with informative websites where you can see the previous work that they have completed. Ensure that they have a positive internet presence and a range of communication methods.

Types of Foundation Cracks

It is not uncommon to find minor cracking in concrete foundations, possibly indicating a need for concrete foundation repair. This is because concrete shrinks as it cures. Curing is not just the result of water loss, it is also a chemical reaction. The amount of shrinkage that will occur depends on many factors, such as the type of concrete that was used, the temperature at the time of the pour and how much water was used.

These are usually thin, vertical cracks that appear randomly throughout the foundation. They can range in length from a couple of inches to the entire height of the wall. If the concrete was incorrectly or poorly mixed, the cracks will tend to be larger. The degree and characteristics of the cracking can also be influenced by the use (or lack) of steel reinforcements. Shrinkage cracking will typically stop once the concrete has been cured.

Foundation cracks occurring in an older building should be of more concern. In particular, be on the lookout for vertical wall cracks that become noticeably larger in a short period of time. Although the cracking may be the result of settlement, it can also be an indicator of more serious foundation problems. Cracks that are wider at the top than bottom can be dangerous as well, especially if you find them near the ends of a brick wall.

Generally, wall cracks that have a wider bottom than top are caused by settlement. If there is too much settlement, there may be underlying foundation issues that need to be addressed. Contact a seasoned foundation contractor if you have concerns about this kind of cracking, especially if they are appearing in a brick wall, to see if home foundation repair is needed.

Take note of any cracks that have a step-like pattern. These types of cracks can be caused by foundation settlement, as well as expanding and contracting soil or landscaping too close to the building.

Other causes of this kind of cracking can include:

Omitted footings
Frost heave
Shallow footings
Water problems
An inadequate backfill

Step cracks can often be seen outside as well as inside your home. You will want to have any cracks with this pattern inspected by a foundation repair expert.

Horizontal cracks in walls are often the most serious type of cracking. In most cases they can only be seen in crawl areas or a basement. Sometimes the cause of this type of cracking is expansive soil or improper backfilling. Either way, if you find horizontal cracks in either of those areas, immediately contact a foundation contractor, especially if the cracks are increasing in size over time.

Customized New Homes

Space Is Everything

Where you will live is a big decision. Ever move into a house or apartment only to complain about the size of the bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, or the amount of storage space? Obtaining a mortgage loan takes effort and commitment on the part of individuals. Buyers tend to stay in their houses longer than renters. When you purchase a property, you either have to live with its inconveniences and inefficiencies or spend the money to make the necessary improvements. Buyers should take the same time and care needed to obtain their loans and put that effort into finding residences that will match their lifestyles and grow with them. Buyers of new homes have the opportunity to pick layouts that address their own unique needs and include customized features that simplify their lives.

Desirable Features

New homes provide a number of features that can increase owner satisfaction and happiness. Customized features include a variety of options and plans for both the indoor and outdoor areas. Design plans involve the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Additional floor plan considerations involve storage space, lighting needs, cabinet placements, and the number of electrical outlets.

Features of recent constructions encompass all aspects of a residence and all types of occupants. Owners looking to maximize outdoor space can incorporate larger yards, landscaping, decks, porches, and pool spaces to enhance the usability and function of the areas around their houses. Those worrying about safety and protection can have built-in security systems. Media enthusiasts may install wiring for sound systems and entertainment centers. Additionally, individuals can choose paint colors, floorings, and cabinets. This process saves them from spending both the time and money on renovations.

Green Technology

Energy efficiency is one of the aspects of building that attracts buyers for both its design features and cost savings. While older properties may have gaps in the doors and frames, contemporary houses contain insulation, sealed doors, and modern double-pane windows that all keep heat and cool air inside the property. These features reduce energy costs and provide the added bonus of stronger protection during severe weather. Contemporary appliances are also made energy efficient, utilizing less power than used appliances. Owners see the savings in both their energy bills and in repair costs.

Architects Versus Engineers

For anyone in construction, this may seem obvious, but it occurred to me that it may not be as obvious to everyone else. So Today I wanted to take a moment to discuss the differences between an architect and an engineer and explain why one is exceptionally qualified to lead the other.

Before I jump into the meat of this discussion, I want to share an experience I had several years ago. A higher education client was modernizing their university’s central power plant. Given the substantial engineering this project required, the Owner selected an engineer who was exceptionally skilled with the various building systems impacted by the project. The firm was hired directly by the owner and setup to lead the project. The engineer, realized that while the project was primarily an engineering project, there were several architectural elements that would also be impacted. Not having any in-house architects, the firm turned to an outside architect and hired them as a sub-consultant with the principal engineer in the lead.

The firm I was with at the time received the award to provide the architectural services. I was assigned the project and worked with the engineer to complete this project. This was the one and only project I ever worked on where the architect did not have the lead role.

It was the single worst project experience I have ever had.

I’ve got a lot of friends who are engineers. My wife is one. Many of my closest friends are engineers. This means that I have endured decades of jabs about architects and typically being the only architect in the room, I have no recourse but to laugh along. The truth is that architects do push the boundaries of engineering. Often to the point of mockery. We tend to do so out of ignorance. After all, we certainly don’t understand each system the way our engineer colleagues do.

Despite this, there is one thing my fellow engineers don’t fully appreciate. Without proper coordination and alignment between all of the engineered parts, the entire project would fail to come together.

Coordination between the various building systems is a critical part of every project. If left undone, a deficiency in coordination stands to wreak havoc throughout construction and subject the owner to change orders, additional costs, and delays.

It may surprise some to hear that architects are responsible for coordination of engineering systems.

In order to better understand this, it’s important to review the education, training, and examinations required of architects and compare that to the education, training, and examinations required of engineers.

Engineers begin their academic careers in general engineering classes but soon concentrate their education in one of several major disciplines. An engineering student may choose a major in Mechanical, Electrical, or Civil engineering (just to name a few). Each of these concentrations focuses education on a specific set of physical properties in which students specialize. After graduation, those who choose to go into construction, learn to apply those concepts to specific building systems aligned with their engineering major. When it comes time to become a licensed Professional Engineer, the examinations required by licensing boards are tailored to the engineering discipline. In short throughout an engineer’s career, the concentration they choose stays with them throughout their lives. I won’t make a blanket statement stating that engineer’s don’t know more than one discipline, but I will say that I have encountered very few who either practice or even dabble in another.

On the other hand in addition to core design and architecture theory classes, architecture students are required to attend several years of classes in structures, building systems, and construction practice. When a student graduates, one of the first duties (pun intended) assigned is detailing bathrooms (where all building systems come together). When it comes time for licensure, an architect must pass a series of examinations (seven at last count) that include building systems and structural systems.

In short, the only licensed professional in the design team that is educated in all of the major systems of a building is the architect.

On my disastrous old university project, the engineer did such a poor job of coordination, that his own people would come to meetings often uninformed of the impacts that changes in another in-house engineering discipline had on their work. Often these guys sat just across the aisle from one another.

I certainly did not know it at the time, but the Owner’s mistake of hiring the engineer as the project lead doomed that project to failure.

It seems like a reasonable assumption that on a project that is primarily about replacing building systems, the engineer would take the lead, so I don’t fault the owner for making that assumption.

I now know what a folly that decision can be and hope I’ve helped some of you avoid this mistake.