What Could Go Wrong?
Risks related to using innovative building materials and methods
By Eric Gilkey
CLM’s Construction Community’s recent webinar looked at the latest innovative materials and methods being used in construction and the risks involved with each.
Jack Levy, partner, Gilbert Levy & Bennett
Paul Mason, large loss claims specialist, AXA XL
“In today’s presentation we’ll be covering some cool-looking and interesting products, such as cross-laminated timbers; modular construction; and shipping container construction. The issue with new products and concepts like these is that the industry wants to get it to market, but there is not a lot of review required to get code approval.”
“Cross-laminated timbers are pre-fabricated wood panels made in a factory or plant, and can be as thick as 12 inches and 10 feet wide by 40 feet long. They are used to create walls, ceilings, and floors. It involves gluing 2x6s together length-wise, then stacking them in crisscross fashion and compressing them. They can weigh several tons.”
“Part of the problem is that without a prescriptive standard for how you make cross-laminated timbers, you’re subject to potentially catastrophic failures.”
“I did notice in my research that all cross-laminated timber manufacturers call for use of their products to be in non-water exposed places, but if you look at the photos of the buildings that are being built with it, it all looks very exposed.”
“Shipping container buildings are stackable, come in standard sizes that are easily configured, are easily transported, and they are cheap—you can even get them for free. When the Chinese ship products in these containers, it’s cheaper for them to abandon them than it is to ship them back empty.”
“The [shipping containers] are stout; they’re not the problem. The problem is what happens when you modify the box and integrate and assemble several of them. The real concern is how to integrate the components and make them liveable.”
“Modular construction, includes the manufacture of components being done in a factory before it is shipped to a building site and attached to a slab on grade or other foundation. A Canadian study says it takes half the time to construct versus ‘stick-built’ structures.”
“With these modular units, you have walls that are not only plumbed, but also drywalled and sometimes even finished. So the complaints have been moisture leaks, HVAC problems, mold, and an irregular, siloed building-inspection process.”