The building industry has come a long way since the time when auger drills and two-man bucksaws ruled the job site. Today's homes are far more energy-efficient, more structurally sound and more rapidly built than ever before. The following technological advances have a lot to do with that and are well worth considering for any construction project:
- Preconstructed wall systems. These include such panelized and modular products as structural insulated panels, insulated concrete forms and pre-cast concrete walls for foundations. These alternatives to traditional stick framing provide builders relief from often-volatile lumber prices, minimize production delays, allow for more flexibility in scheduling around trade contractors and provide more structural strength. They allow homes to be built much more quickly, sometimes in just hours.
- Engineered structural members. Engineered I-joists, finger-jointed studs, roof and floor truss systems, and laminated-veneer lumber and glulam beams provide many of the same time-saving benefits as wall systems. But they’re more forgiving of small errors in measurements and allow for more-open interior spaces with fewer load-bearing walls or support posts. The biggest benefits, though, are realized in straighter, truer walls and ceilings, which make the work of the subsequent trades such as drywall and trim installers go more quickly.
- Weather-resistant barriers and flashing systems. Product advancements in moisture control help prevent mold, rot and interior damage. Drainage planes under siding and flashing systems for window and door penetrations keep wind-driven rain from entering a home.
- Plumbing manifolds and home-run systems. These products, which connect PEX or other flexible piping directly from a fixture to its own supply valve on a central manifold, eliminate virtually all interim connections and joints that eventually get covered in wall or ceiling cavities. In addition to reducing the chance for leaks at these connections and simplifying maintenance, builders can realize time and money savings because installation is easier and quicker, as piping can be snaked around corners and through studs. A study shows that installers can save up to 30 percent over traditional copper installations.
- Air-admittance valves. These one-way, pressure-activated ports in plumbing systems replace traditional pipe venting and the associated roof penetrations, eliminating the chance for leaks around those penetrations, as well as the labor and time for making the holes and sealing around them.