Today’s Complex Construction Market is Full of Risk

The only con­sis­ten­cy found with­in today’s con­struc­tion mar­ket is change.

While we all wish that build­ing codes, and there­fore code enforce­ment, would become more pre­dictable with each suc­ces­sive ver­sion of build­ing code adopt­ed, the real­i­ty is that they are becom­ing more com­plex. Ener­gy con­ser­va­tion, life safe­ty and local ordi­nances rarely align because they have been devel­oped in iso­la­tion from one oth­er. As these codes become pro­gres­sive­ly more demand­ing, con­flict between them becomes extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate by archi­tects, builders and code offi­cials.

If that was not dif­fi­cult enough, in the state of Texas each munic­i­pal­i­ty or juris­dic­tion has the author­i­ty to adopt and mod­i­fy build­ing codes. While this does allow them to address spe­cif­ic issues unique to their com­mu­ni­ty, it also adds an addi­tion­al lay­er of com­plex­i­ty as no two juris­dic­tions are com­plete­ly the same. This means that code enforce­ment dur­ing plan review and site inspec­tion varies con­sid­er­ably across juris­dic­tions, and even with­in indi­vid­ual code enforce­ment offi­cials.

An exam­ple of this is the statewide adop­tion of the 2015 Inter­na­tion­al Ener­gy Con­ser­va­tion Code (IECC) in 2016, cre­at­ing sev­er­al chal­lenges as it was lay­ered on top of each juris­dic­tion. The blan­ket adop­tion of the new code cre­at­ed unin­tend­ed con­se­quences in Texas as each juris­dic­tion could inter­pret it dif­fer­ent­ly, and because it is an ener­gy code, intro­duced a new stan­dard of per­for­mance that sim­ply was not present before. Sev­er­al ener­gy require­ments were insti­tut­ed that many stan­dard con­struc­tion details failed to pre­vi­ous­ly address. To over­come this lim­i­ta­tion, stan­dard details need­ed to be changed by archi­tects, eval­u­at­ed by a code offi­cial dur­ing plan review, installed by con­trac­tors and their subs for the first time, and then inspect­ed on-site by a final par­ty. Any small slip by any­one in the deliv­ery chain spells dis­as­ter to the sched­ule and to the via­bil­i­ty of the build­ing.

This sce­nario makes build­ing with­in Texas par­tic­u­lar­ly demand­ing for all those involved. As design­ers and con­trac­tors work through­out the state, one detail devel­oped for one juris­dic­tion can­not be used with­in anoth­er with­out first review­ing the code. Should an inter­pre­ta­tion be need­ed, seek­ing respons­es from over­bur­dened code offi­cials is at best dif­fi­cult to receive. These chal­lenges mean that there is greater risk to the design and con­struc­tion sched­ule than ever before. One dif­fer­ing inter­pre­ta­tion can delay a per­mit by weeks or months, and/​or delay con­struc­tion progress, sequenc­ing, and/​or sched­ul­ing of sub-con­trac­tors. Time is mon­ey, and any delay in today’s con­struc­tion mar­ket can lead to sky-rock­et­ing costs that no cost esti­mate can ful­ly take into con­sid­er­a­tion.

To mit­i­gate this risk, it is impor­tant to look for areas of the build­ing that have the most com­plex­i­ty and sim­pli­fy them.

The Complexity of The Envelope

The enve­lope is like­ly the most com­plex area of the build­ing to design and con­struct. It’s the loca­tion where the ener­gy effi­cien­cy, life-safe­ty, and local juris­dic­tion­al require­ments must all be sat­is­fied in one inte­grat­ed whole. Where and how insu­la­tion is added, its inter­ac­tion with the vapor bar­ri­er, fire/​wind resis­tance, struc­tur­al integri­ty and exte­ri­or look and feel can cre­ate a cacoph­o­ny of chal­lenges for design and con­struc­tion team to solve. Add in the human ele­ment of a code site inspec­tor inter­pret­ing a code require­ment dif­fer­ent­ly, and the risk can nev­er be ful­ly elim­i­nat­ed through good design and con­struc­tion prac­tices; you can do every­thing right and still be wrong.

An exam­ple of this com­plex­i­ty is the ener­gy code require­ment to pro­vide con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion to the out­side of the wall inde­pen­dent of the under­ly­ing struc­tur­al sys­tem of wood, steel, con­crete, or mason­ry. This means that new details were need­ed for every wall type, and, for every type of exte­ri­or fin­ish mate­r­i­al added to the wall. Ques­tions regard­ing how often the insu­la­tion can be pen­e­trat­ed, by which type of fas­ten­er, and to what depth have to be answered by design­ers, con­trac­tors and code offi­cials on each project, with­in each and every juris­dic­tion with­in Texas. And the con­se­quences of a sin­gle poor detail, at best is a delay in the sched­ule, or at worst mois­ture in the wall, are sim­ply too high to ignore.

In response to the com­plex­i­ty of codes and their enforce­ment, most design­ers and con­trac­tors have tried to evolve exist­ing enve­lope details and means and meth­ods of con­struc­tion for wood, steel, con­crete and mason­ry con­struc­tion. How­ev­er, this evo­lu­tion­ary process has reached the tip­ping point. There are sim­ply too many devi­a­tions to keep track of, too many vary­ing opin­ions on the right or wrong way to do things and too much risk to con­tin­ue down this path. It is time to go back to the draw­ing board and look for enve­lope sys­tems that have been designed for today’s needs that can elim­i­nate the risks of using old think­ing to solve new prob­lems.

Rethinking the Envelope to Meet the Challenges of Today

To solve the com­plex­i­ty of today’s con­struc­tion mar­ket, a sim­ple solu­tion is need­ed. Each time that you can reduce the num­ber of trades, con­nec­tions, lay­ers, fas­ten­ers, mate­ri­als, and more, you can sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce your risk points. With regards to the enve­lope, less is more.

The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem was designed from the onset with this mantra in mind. By cre­at­ing a sim­ple wall sys­tem that incor­po­rates struc­ture, insu­la­tion, and sim­pli­fied assem­bly, most of the risk points have been addressed before the Bau­tex Block even leaves the fac­to­ry. When design­ers spec­i­fy Bau­tex, they remove the bur­den of deter­min­ing how prod­ucts and mate­ri­als from mul­ti­ple man­u­fac­tur­ers will per­form to meet mul­ti­ple and com­pet­ing code require­ments. Bau­tex walls save time, mon­ey and headache for those that use it.

Texas Cus­tom Solu­tions based in Buda, Texas is one con­trac­tor that has seen the effi­cien­cy in work­ing with Bau­tex.

City require­ments were all met with ease, and the peo­ple at Bau­tex were good to work with,” said Charles Down­ing with Texas Cus­tom Solu­tions.

The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem only has two lay­ers – the insu­lat­ed con­crete block wall and the flu­id-applied air and mois­ture bar­ri­er. These very sim­ple lay­ers can be quick­ly installed in sequence which sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduces con­struc­tion time. When com­pared to stan­dard wall sys­tems, the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem elim­i­nates between four to six lay­ers of mate­ri­als. Struc­tur­al mem­bers, cav­i­ty insu­la­tion, fur­ring, con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion, a vapor bar­ri­er, and the attach­ments of each of these lay­ers to each oth­er have all been replaced and inte­grat­ed into one sim­ple sys­tem with just two com­po­nents. This inte­grat­ed solu­tion means that there are few­er details to con­sid­er, few­er trades involved in the field, and few­er code inter­pre­ta­tions to make.

It had a learn­ing curve as any­thing does, but it was easy to work with,” Down­ing said.

In addi­tion, the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem is also resis­tant to the risk of future codes as it was designed to meet more strin­gent stan­dards than are on the fore­see­able hori­zon. The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem has been designed to exceed meet the fol­low­ing:

  1. Ener­gy Code: 200 – 250% high­er than the cur­rent­ly adopt­ed 2015 IECC in cli­mate zones 2 and 3
  2. Fire Safe­ty: 4‑hour load bear­ing wall sys­tem with zero flame spread and extreme­ly low smoke devel­op­ment
  3. Wind­storm Safe­ty: ICC/FEMA rat­ed for hur­ri­canes and tor­na­do safe room con­struc­tion

The end result means that no mat­ter where you build in Texas, there are no juris­dic­tion­al amend­ments that the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem can­not meet. With Bau­tex, archi­tects can stan­dard­ize their detail library for one sim­ple assem­bly and con­fi­dent­ly re-use it for mul­ti­ple projects across mul­ti­ple build­ing juris­dic­tions with­out mod­i­fi­ca­tion.

And use of Bau­tex does not lim­it the designer’s use of fin­ish mate­ri­als; the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem does not need to be mod­i­fied to work with dif­fer­ent archi­tec­tur­al fin­ish­es. Vir­tu­al­ly any type of exte­ri­or or inte­ri­or fin­ish, awning or oth­er archi­tec­tur­al appur­te­nances, and shape or form can be cre­at­ed using Bau­tex, free­ing design­ers and con­trac­tors from lim­i­ta­tions that are present when using stan­dard wall sys­tems.

We’ve learned a few new fin­ish-out ideas since build­ing with Bau­tex. It’s a very durable prod­uct,” said Down­ing.

Old processes yield average results; new processes yield superior results

Build­ing design and con­struc­tion has become increas­ing­ly more com­pli­cat­ed, putting more work and pres­sure on those tasks while deliv­er­ing projects on-time and on-bud­get. Design­ers, con­trac­tors, and code offi­cials need to take back con­trol of the build­ing process by look­ing at inte­grat­ed sys­tems that solve the real­i­ties of today’s con­struc­tion mar­ket.

The Bau­tex Wall sys­tem is one of the few inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts that actu­al­ly sim­pli­fies the con­struc­tion process, yet yields supe­ri­or per­for­mance, both of which are crit­i­cal in meet­ing the needs of build­ing own­ers.

So take back con­trol of your sched­ule, regain design free­dom and peace of mind, and deliv­er on-time and on-bud­get with the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem.