Author Archives: CS Editor

ARMA videos released

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has released educational videos providing a look at the various components making up low- and steep-slope assemblies. “Asphalt Roofing 101–A System Above the Rest,” educates the homeowner and commercial property owner in two separate segments. Roofing components such as ice and water barriers, underlayment, shingle-starters, asphalt shingles, hip and ridge shingles, and ventilation are examined. The videos showcase images and information illustrating each component and how they work together. A range of roofing options, including built-up roofing (BUR), atactic polypropylene (APP), and styrene butadiene styrene (SBS) are discussed. To view the video, visit

Architectural Project Delivery Goes Back to the Future

Finding BIM’s place
by H. Maynard Blumer, FAIA, FCSI

An active CSI member since 1962, I spent years authoring articles in my local chapter’s newsletter, based on what I had learned while writing specifications and managing an architectural studio—sharing knowledge with my peers in the old-fashioned spirit of the Construction Specifications Institute. Now, a few decades later, I’m ‘coming out of retirement’ to write one more article after I sat in on a presentation at a chapter meeting given by a contractor about building information modeling (BIM).

This is because it became clear how BIM could help answer many problems I had worked to solve over my 50-year career. The technology improves architecture and construction, increases value, and reduces costs.

By incorporating BIM into a system of project delivery documents, architects will return to being the designer, the specifiers, and the arbiters of tradition, rather than computer operators. Shades and shadows will return to design; there will be watercolor, charcoal, and pencils. Contractors armed with BIM will work with their subcontractors. Graphic portions of shop drawing submittals will replace architect-generated detailed construction drawings. Materials suppliers with manufacturers and subcontractors will employ detail designer-draftspersons who will move their employment closer to real construction—perfecting details, eliminating duplication, and reducing construction costs.

Architectural services will provide the starting place with design concepts, complete specifications, and pilot details, constituting the control documents. Contractor-provided BIM documents will replace shop drawings and will be monitored by architects for concept and specifications compliance. Change orders will keep documents in contractual order while incorporating supplier and subcontractor suggested economies. We will be back to the traditional architectural project delivery. Design will have been snatched from the computer and returned to the architect.

By attaching American Institute of Architects (AIA) A201, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, to appropriate agreements, insurance attorneys and bondspersons know who is covered and who is responsible in accordance with construction case law, as it has been for these years. Ethics and intellectual property will be not be confused. Supplementary Conditions can be provided to cover who does what, as needed, to any project delivery system.

More than a quarter-century ago, I wrote two pieces for The Construction Specifier—September 1989’s “Brand Name Specification” and April 1986’s “Prior Approval” (for materials substitutions). I believe those concepts, along with BIM and AIA A201, provide the keystone for ethical and competitive construction documents that deliver value-added projects when incorporated within any architectural project delivery system.

Maynard Blumer, FAIA, FCSI, is a retired architect and landscape architect living in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He received his bachelor of architecture from Oklahoma State University (then Oklahoma A & M College) in 1953. Blumer directed the production studios of GSAS Architects for 20 years, and practiced as a consulting architect for 27 years in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached at

Epoxy types: General considerations for use and how to read labels

by Martin Ruch and Jim Collins, PhD, PE

One must always determine whether the 'substrate' installation into unsound, weak, or contaminated concrete. Damaged concrete can affect the strength of the bond and can also reduce the capacity of the concrete to resist the loads applied to the anchor, causing premature concrete breakout failure.  Epoxy is only as strong as the substrate to which it is bonding. Photo courtesy MiTek Builder Products

One must always determine whether the ‘substrate’ installation into unsound, weak, or contaminated concrete. Damaged concrete can affect the strength of the bond and can also reduce the capacity of the concrete to resist the loads applied to the anchor, causing premature concrete breakout failure. Epoxy is only as strong as the substrate to which it is bonding. Photo courtesy MiTek Builder Products

In a previous article, the authors discussed the major physical properties of epoxy types, and examined how to read such products’ manufacturer’s printed installation instructions (MPII) to ensure one is not selecting an anchor or repair product that will have a dangerously compromised bond.

Indeed, when specifying epoxies, there are a few important things to check on the product label, such as:

  • recommended substrate—concrete or concrete masonry unit (CMU);
  • certifications, such as International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), ASTM, and Department of Transportation (DOT);
  • whether good for wet or saturated conditions;
  • expiration date;
  • temperature range for nozzle, working, and cure times; and
  • installation instructions.

The guideline is to find a product meeting the requirements of a specific application.

Further, installers need to determine whether the ‘substrate’ installation into unsound, weak, or contaminated concrete. Damaged concrete can affect the bond’s strength and can also reduce the capacity of the concrete to resist the loads applied to the anchor, causing premature concrete breakout failure. Epoxy is not magical—it is only as strong as the substrate to which it is bonding.

Installers need to drill the correct hole diameter when setting bolts in epoxy. The correct dimensions are always stated in the manufacturer’s technical data sheet. Generally, it will be 1.6 or 3.2 mm (1/16 or 1/8 in.) larger than the anchor diameter. If the hole is too large, the capacity of the anchor can be reduced. If the hole is too small, it can be difficult for the installer to insert the anchor and still allow room for enough epoxy to form a bond.

Installers need to clean the hole properly. Most manufacturers recommend the hole to be blown out and cleaned with a specific brush. These brushes also serve to roughen the interior surface of the hole for increased bond strength so specifying the recommended diameter is important. When the MPII is unavailable, the best practice for installers is to drill, blow, brush, blow, brush, and blow.

Installers needs to check the concrete integrity. Ideally, a bonded anchor should be installed into concrete of known compressive strength. Engineers who specify epoxy anchors also specify the compressive strength to ensure the epoxy can achieve its published bond strength.

When the compressive strength or overall integrity is unknown, they sometimes require field testing of the embedded anchor to determine if the concrete is good enough. One must never specify an epoxy anchor into concrete that appears to be unsound, weak, contaminated, or otherwise substandard. Also, as a general rule, concrete should always be left to cure for a minimum of 21 days before installing bonded anchors.

Finally, any epoxy anchors specified for seismic loads are tested to a specific set of design standards and require a design professional to be properly designed per the applicable building code.

CollinsJim Collins, PhD, PE, is MiTek USA’s manager of engineering projects. He has worked 14 years in the engineered wood industry and eight in the truss industry. A former director of engineering at International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), he has been a licensed professional engineer for 25 years, and is a member of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Concrete Institute (ACI), and Concrete Anchor Manufacturers Association (CAMA). Collins can be contacted at

RuchMarty Ruch is vice-president of retail sales and merchandising for MiTek Builder Products. He has more than a decade of experience in commercial/industrial sales and spent 14 years working in the building materials industry with Gibraltar Industries and MiTek in marketing and product development roles. Ruch can be reached at

Special inspections as originally intended

Michael A. Matthews, PE

As required under the International Building Code (IBC), special inspections are designed to be a proactive method of enhancing public safety by ensuring buildings are constructed in accordance with design documents, specifications, and approved shop drawings.1

Special inspection requirements were introduced as a result of numerous high-profile structural failures that occurred throughout the United States during the late 1970s and early 1980s. These included:

  • 1973 collapse of the Skyline Plaza, a 26-story reinforced concrete residential tower (Fairfax, Virginia);
  • sudden roof collapse of the Rosemont Horizon Arena (Chicago, Illinois) in 1979; and
  • suspended pedestrian walkway collapse at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (Kansas City, Missouri) in 1981.

The fatalities and injuries resulting from catastrophic structural failures such as these drew national attention, highlighting a need for more stringent building regulations that would help prevent future tragedies.

Congress gets involved
In 1982, the U.S. House of Representatives tasked the Committee on Science and Technology with studying the underlying contributing factors to these structural failures. In 1984, the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, chaired by Al Gore, presented a report of the findings in House Report 98-621, Structural Failures in Public Facilities.

While the subcommittee identified more than 20 contributing elements to structural failures, the report emphasized six factors determined to be of “critical importance in causing (and conversely, preventing) structural failures.” Recommendations to address the six critical factors included a call for improved organization and communications during the construction process, including the development of a written document defining the organizational responsibilities for each project, as well as onsite inspection by the structural engineer of record (SER) during the construction of principal structural components.

The subcommittee noted:

For various reasons, the structural engineer of record or the designee is often not present on the jobsite during the construction of principal structural components. The absence of the structural engineer has permitted onsite flaws and changes to go unnoticed and uncorrected.

It was also noted this situation “has been consistently cited in cases in which structural failures have occurred.” The subcommittee went on to recommend provisions be “written into the building codes and adopted in public forum which make the onsite presence of the structural engineer mandatory during the construction of structural components.”

Building codes react
In response to the subcommittee’s recommendations, the 1988 supplement to the 1987 edition of the Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA) National Building Code addressed improved building safety by including a new section, titled “Special Inspections.” The requirements outlined address three specific areas:

  • adequacy of construction material;
  • fabrication; and
  • installation techniques.

Special inspection requirements have been expanded over the years to include new structural components and were carried forward into the 2000 and all subsequent editions of the IBC to date.

Where are special inspections defined in IBC?
Special inspections are mandated and defined in IBC Chapter 17. Specifically, Section 1704 identifies the required special inspections, and subdivides the requirements by material, such as soil, concrete, masonry, or steel. Additionally, Sections 1706 through 1708 provide specific wind and seismic triggers for other inspections related to the lateral force resisting systems of buildings. Sections 1711 through 1715 list requirements for determining design strengths of materials, alternative test procedures, and load testing.

While various IBC editions have been adopted in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, not all states have a mandated uniform statewide building code. However, as of February 2015, all states including the U.S. territories have adopted uniform statewide building codes based on the 2003 or newer editions of the IBC in some manner.

While several states and localities have limited the requirements of Chapter 17 to be applicable only to state or local municipally funded projects, these are the minority. Some form of special inspections is required by the building code on commercial facilities in nearly every state. If one is unsure whether special inspections are required in a specific project location, it is recommended a copy of the uniform statewide or local building code be obtained, as well as a review of amendments to the adopted edition of the nationally recognized building code, such as the IBC.

When are special inspections required?
Special inspections are required for building components identified in IBC when the design of these components is required to be performed by a professional engineer or architect. Inspection items include fabricators for pre-engineered structural components, fabrication process for prefabricated wood products, as well as for materials such as:

    • concrete;
    • masonry;
    • structural steel;
    • high-load wood diaphragms;
    • soils;
    • deep foundation systems;
    • sprayed fire-resistant materials;
    • mastic and intumescent fire-resistant coatings;
    • exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS);
    • smoke-control systems; and
    • any special cases as determined by the building official.

Where are special inspections defined in construction documents?
IBC Section 1704.1.1 mandates a Statement of Special Inspections is required to be completed by the registered design professional in responsible charge and submitted to the building official for approval. The registered design professional in responsible charge for the structural systems should be the SER.

IBC Section 1705 outlines the requirements for the “Statement of Special Inspections,” which identifies the materials, systems, components, and work required to have special inspections or testing, and delineates the type and extent of special inspections and testing required.

While some design professionals place the Statement of Special Inspections on one of the sheets within the construction documents, others generate a separate document, as is mandated by some jurisdictions. In addition to the statement the requirements are often listed within the structural general notes on the construction drawings themselves. Examples of this include such statements as:

Special Inspections shall be required for cast-in-place concrete materials and installation as per the IBC.


Special Inspections shall be required for the cold-formed steel framing materials, welding, and structural details as identified in the Schedule of Special Inspections.

For jobs with a project manual with specifications, special inspection and testing requirements are generally also delineated in Part 3–Execution of the structural specification sections, such as concrete, masonry, steel, and fabricated wood trusses.

Key concepts
Registered design professionals should consider the following details concerning special inspections:

      • paid for by the owner, IBC Section 1704.1 states owners or their agents shall employ an approved agency to perform special inspections, removing any appearance of a conflict of interest with the general contractor paying for inspections of their work;
      • special inspections may only be performed by qualified special inspectors approved by the building official;
      • special inspection contracts with the owner will be hourly with an estimated budget since the inspector has no control over the quality of the work, or the means and methods used by the general contractor in the installation of the work;
      • special inspections are not a substitute for the general contractor’s quality control (QC) programs;
      • special inspections are also not a substitute for quality assurance (QA) and quality inspections performed by the jurisdiction;
      • when done correctly, special inspections add QA to the project’s structural and life-safety components; and
      • it is often acceptable to combine Statements of Special Inspections from all disciplines into one all-encompassing Statement of Special Inspections and Schedule of Special Inspections.

In the next edition of this two-part series, this author will delve into choosing a special inspector, adding value to a project, and what it really means to be “installed in accordance.”

Michael A. Matthews, PE, is president/CEO of the Structures Group (TSG), a consulting engineering firm specializing in a diverse range of skills focused in the areas of structural engineering, forensic analysis, special inspections, risk analysis, and independent plan reviews. He has been a licensed engineer for nearly 30 years, and is licensed in 20 states, as well as the District of Columbia. A sought-after speaker on topics related to structural engineering and forensic analysis, Matthews has presented seminars at Kansas State University, American Institute of Architects’ (AIA’s) ArchEX conference, Virginia Building and Code Officials Association (VBCOA) Annual Conference, and the annual Virginia Engineers Conference. He can be contacted by e-mail at

ASHRAE recognizes industry achievements

At the ASHRAE Winter Conference, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) presented its F. Paul Anderson Award to Damon Gowan, the retired president and CEO of EMCOR-Gowan. Photo courtesy ASHRAE

At the ASHRAE Winter Conference, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) presented its F. Paul Anderson Award to Damon Gowan, the retired president and CEO of EMCOR-Gowan. Photo courtesy ASHRAE

At the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE’s) 2015 Winter Conference in January, more than 60 professionals were recognized for their industry contributions.

The F. Paul Anderson Award, the association’s highest for technical achievement, is given for outstanding services performed in the HVAC&R field. This year, the winner was Damon Gowan, Fellow ASHRAE, Life Member, the retired president and CEO of EMCOR-Gowan, a provider of construction, tenant build-out, sheet metal fabrication, HVAC, and mechanical services.

Technology Awards were also given out to those who have applied innovative building design incorporating ASHRAE standards for effective energy management and indoor air quality (IAQ) while also serving to communicate innovative systems design. First-place recipients were:

  • Existing Industry Facilities or Processes: William C. Weinaug Jr., PE, for the Antarctica Empire of the Penguin animal exhibit and ride attraction at Sea World (Orlando, Florida);
  • Existing Other Institutional Buildings: Kateri Héon, Ing., and Pietro Guerra, Ing., for Centre Civique de Dollard-des-Ormeaux (Québec);
  • New Commercial Buildings: Benjamin Frank Gozart, Tom Marseille, PE, Charles Chaloeicheep, PE, and Tom Boysen Jr., PE, for the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) Federal Center South, Building 12021 (Seattle, Washington);
  • Existing Public Assembly: Jason Troy LaRosh, PE, for the Janesville (Wisconsin) Ice Arena addition and renovation;
  • New Healthcare: Mark Stavig, PE, for Peace Island Medical Center (San Juan Island, Washington);
  • New Other Institutional Buildings: Matthew William Longsine, PE, and Henry Di Gregorio for the Tacoma Center for Urban Waters (Washington);
  • New Educational Facilities: Brian Haugk, PE, and Brian Cannon for Valley View Middle School (Snohomish, Washington);
  • Existing Commercial: Roger (Jui-Chen) Chang, PE, BEMP, for the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse (Grand Junction, Colorado); and
  • New Public Assembly: Art Sutherland for the Westhills Recreation Centre (Langford, B.C.).

Additionally, ASHRAE announced a new Honorary Member, as elected by the board of directors—Stefano Marino, PhD, who served as the Vatican chief engineer overseeing the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescos in the Sistine Chapel, as well as a complete redesign of its environmental controls.

A full list of winners, inductees, new Fellows, and student design competition finalists can be found online.