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Reducing Raw Materials in Construction Part 2

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There’s plenty of sand in the world, but not all sand can be utilized for construction materials. Sand is an important component of concrete, but the methods utilized to extract the best sand for this job can leave the environment in shambles. Therefore, it is imperative that the construction industry makes a push for more sustainable construction processes that reduce the amount of raw materials needed to complete jobs.

In part one of this two-part series, the Houston contractor attorneys at Cotney Law explained why dredging beaches and river beds negatively affects the environment while reflecting on the construction industry’s unsustainable need for sand. Now, we will continue to discuss this topic while considering solutions to this pressing issue.

Desert Sand is Useless for Construction

There are numerous deserts throughout the world that are covered with sand; so, why is the construction industry only tapping into beaches and river beds? This sand is largely useless for construction due to years of erosion polishing it down into smooth, rounded grains that lack the necessary grit and angular composition to effectively make concrete. This issue doesn’t exist in beaches or river beds.

A Cycle of Excessive Excavation

The OECD estimates that the world uses 27 billion tons of sand a year. They expect this to double to 55 billion tons by 2060. If you factor in the volume of sand and gravel used for land reclamation purposes such as coastal developments and roads, this number rises sharply to an estimated 40 tons. Roughly 20 tons of sediment are produced naturally each year, so our needs are clearly superseding availability.

Proposing Solutions

Scientists are now working together to find solutions to this problem including:

  • Utilizing more efficient building methods
  • Finding suitable substitutes for cement and sand that don’t compromise the durability and structural integrity of concrete
  • Using more recycled materials from demolished buildings

Researchers at Bath University have proposed one solution—replacing ten percent of the sand used to create concrete with plastic. They believe that by doing this, they can significantly reduce the amount of sand needed to be excavated to create concrete.

“There’s a serious issue with plastic waste,” said Dr. Richard Ball, a member of Bath University’s architecture and civil engineering department. “Anything we can do to address this and find alternatives to putting plastic in landfill is welcome.”

A similar development out of Australia is using recycled plastic to fortify concrete. This cuts costs and lessens the environmental impact of alternatives like traditional steel mesh. This technology, created by engineering firm Fibercon, uses 100 percent recycled plastic to cut the amount of CO₂ produced by as much as 90 percent. As researchers continue to develop these new technologies, our raw material construction will decrease drastically.

If you would like to speak with a Houston contractor attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

The construction industry is responsible for extracting billions of tons of sand and gravel each year. These raw materials are utilized to make concrete for building residential and commercial structures. Clearly, these excavations are taking a toll on the environment. As the industry continues to strip beaches and river beds of their raw materials, we are not only witnessing the destruction of the environment, we are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and the disruption of delicate ecosystems.

In this two-part series, the Houston construction lawyers at Cotney Law will discuss this pressing issue and examine a variety of strategies for reducing raw material consumption in the construction industry. As a contractor, adopting sustainable practices is one way to show that you care about the environment and are willing to seek out workarounds to help the environment prosper, but if you want to remain compliant with all current legislation as you transition into new, green construction methods, contact a Houston construction lawyer.

Dredging Beaches and River Beds

Extracting sand from a flowing body of water is like removing the governor from a car. Sand helps limit the speed of flowing water, so removing the sand accelerates this flow to unmanageable levels. This can cause the water table to fall, which allows water to bleed into land along the river bank. When this land is populated with farms or other plots of fertilized land, it can lead to major issues such as Lake Okeechobee’s toxic runoff in Florida.

On the other hand, dredging beaches leaves beachside property vulnerable to increased damage from storms. Sand operates as a buffer between the storm and a piece of property. It helps mitigate some of the excess energy produced by storms, but when it is excavated residents are left utterly defenseless when a storm rolls into their area. These two scenarios illustrate why reducing raw material consumption is so important. If the construction industry continues to excavate sand recklessly, communities and ecosystems will be left in a state of disrepair.

The Unsustainable Demand for Sand is Growing

In a study titled “A Looming Tragedy of the Sand Commons,” Dr. Aurora Torres of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) states that the problem with our raw material consumption is that our “demand for sand is outpacing what we know about the environmental impact of extraction.” She believes that this issue is a “hidden ecological disaster,” which explains why very little is being done to reduce raw material consumption.

Why don’t we use sand from the desert? What is the best type of sand for making concrete? These questions and more will be answered in part two.

If you would like to speak with our Houston construction lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Despite a severe labor shortage and a cooling housing market in areas like Dallas, Houston has remained a venerable hotbed for construction. Houston currently leads the nation in jobs added over the last year, and the burgeoning city is primed to continue growing thanks in part to its close proximity to water, talented sports teams, and growing economy. Houston is primed for success, and its ability to sustain growth in the construction sector is a testament to its population explosion over the last decade. Simply put, people want to live in Houston.

A larger population means more opportunities for contractors to work on commercial and residential building projects. Tackling a larger volume of projects exposes you to more potential legal disputes. Fortunately, partnering with a Houston construction attorney from Cotney Law gives you access to a legal professional who can assist you with various services including license defense, dispute resolution, bond law, corporate transaction law, OSHA defense, contract negotiation, lien law, and more.

Expanding Construction

Houston added 29,500 jobs from September 2017 to September 2018. This 14 percent increase led all other cities in the United States. Year over year, Houston’s continued growth has positioned the city in the limelight. What makes Houston such an attractive location for builders? Among other major cities in Texas like San Antonio and Dallas, Houston sets itself apart by:

  • Hosting citizens who dine out more than any other city.
  • Being the home of the world’s largest medical center, the Texas Medical Center.
  • Accommodating the fourth largest city population in the United States.

Comparing Houston to Other Major Cities in the United States

Houston isn’t the only city in the United States that has experienced an influx of construction jobs over the last year. The following cities have also benefited from a growing pool of construction workers:

  • Phoenix added 14,600 jobs and grew by 13 percent.
  • Dallas added 14,100 jobs and grew by 10 percent.
  • Orlando added 12,300 jobs and grew by 17 percent.
  • Midland added 6,600 jobs and grew by 23 percent.

“Many construction firms are expanding their headcount as they benefit from favorable market conditions. The question is whether conditions will remain positive amid a growing trade dispute with China and turbulent stock market conditions,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) in a news story posted to the AGC website.

Houston is at the forefront of this expansion, and unless conditions change drastically in the near future, the growth of the fourth most populous city in the country will remain consistent on its positive trajectory.

If you would like to speak with our Houston construction attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

In the construction industry, any instance of payment being exchanged from one party to another is typically accompanied by a lien waiver. Lien waivers document the receipt of funds and waive the mechanics lien rights of the party receiving payment. This document is typically issued to a contractor, subcontractor, materials supplier, or equipment lessor. It finalizes the payment and eliminates the possibility of a lien being issued against the party providing payment once a contract or part of a contract has been completed.

Contractors commonly utilize lien waivers, but the inconsistencies in their regulation can lead to confusion. Fortunately, a Houston construction lien attorney can assist you with any lien waiver disputes that arise whether you are trying to finalize payment from the owner or between yourself and your subcontractors. Now, our Houston construction lien attorneys will answer some common questions about Texas lien waivers.

Does Texas Require a Particular Statutory Lien Waiver Form?

The State of Texas requires any construction professionals who plan to issue or utilize a lien waiver to fill out a particular statutory form. Utilizing the wrong form or failing to use a form at all when issuing a lien waiver will result in a document that is not legally binding. In other words, a subcontractor could still file a lien against you if they signed off on a non-binding lien waiver form. Texans should consult a Houston construction lien attorney to ensure that they are utilizing the correct forms when issuing lien waivers to paid workers.

What are the Requirements for a Binding Texas Lien Waiver?

In order to ensure that your lien waiver is binding, it must be delivered and completed in accordance with Texas statutory requirements and the information outlined in the statutory form. Contractors who wish to issue a lien waiver to a compensated contractor must provide evidence of payment for a conditional waiver and a physical receipt for an unconditional release.

An unconditional waiver (Unconditional Waiver and Release Upon Progress Payment) waives all claimant rights after a particular date with no caveats. In other words, you’re off the hook. On the other hand, a conditional waiver (Conditional Waiver and Release Upon Progress Payment) acts similarly except this waiver confirms that payments have been received and processed.

Are Unconditional Lien Waivers Prohibited in Texas?

The laws regarding unconditional lien waivers vary from state to state, but in Texas there is no statutory interdiction of these waivers. As long as you have the correct forms, you can utilize both unconditional and conditional lien waivers. This is crucial, as Texas is only one of twelve states with prescribed lien waiver forms.

If you would like to speak with our Houston construction lien attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.