Volume 49, Issue 7 - July 2014


Multifamily Housing Continues to be One of Construction Industry’s Top Prospects

Construction spending has continued to edge up monthly through much of the first half of 2014. Despite uncertainty in sectors such as single-family homes and public construction, multifamily housing has helped keep the momentum going.

Construction industry economists, including the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America’s chief economist Ken Simonson, have noted multifamily housing as a top prospect for 2014. Simonson has also reported he expects the upturn in the sector to last into 2015.

According to recent analysis of new Census Bureau data by AGC, multifamily construction spending saw a 4.4 percent increase from March to April and jumped 31 percent from April 2013 to April 2014.

“Demand for apartments appears to be very strong,” says Simonson, while cautioning that there are still “several warning signs about homebuilding.”

The surge in demand for multifamily construction certainly hasn’t been lost on the glass industry. In fact, Tampa, Fla.-based Doers Window Manufacturing CEO Dan Ochstein says the escalation in work on multifamily units—including condominiums, student housing and nursing homes—has directly prompted his company to expand.

“We’ve had such a spike in business that we were no longer capable of supporting it with just the one facility,” Ochstein said. “We had to open a second factory just to service that portion of the business.”

Doers opened its second location in March, just five months after making the decision to do so. Ochstein says Doers has been “staffing up more and more” to meet the increased demands in the multifamily sector, and he doesn’t see it stopping anytime soon.

“We’re not seeing any slow down at all,” he says. “From everything I’m hearing, in the next five to 10 years we’ll continue to see increased demand in that sector.”

Northern Architectural Products president Bob Pecorella says he has seen a definite rise in the multifamily construction market, though the pace of the early parts of the projects has slowed noticeably.

“We have seen strong increases in mid- and high-rise multifamily and hotel commitments,” says Pecorella, “although we continue to see longer lead times in getting final approvals to move ahead.”

Multifamily construction spending increased from March to April

Multifamily construction spending increased from April 2013 to April 2014

Cal/OSHA Targets Construction Sites for Safety Rules Compliance
Construction sites in the San Francisco Bay area have gotten Cal/OSHA’s attention, following a recent series of fatal accidents in the region. According to a Cal/OSHA press release, investigators will be deployed to inspect construction worksites to determine whether adequate measures have been taken to identify safety hazards and prevent injury.

“Construction sites present special challenges to worker safety,” says Christine Baker, director of the department of industrial relations (DIR). “Employers need to have strong safety programs in place and train their workers to follow procedures.” Cal/OSHA is a division of DIR.

On May 21, a worker at a residential project in San Jose fell to his death from a three-story building. On May 20, a worker on a San Mateo project tumbled 9 feet from a wall sustaining fatal head injuries, and a worker near the top of a 22-foot rebar column in San Diego was killed when the column fell on him. On May 18, a construction worker was killed when the train bridge he was dismantling in downtown Riverside collapsed, crushing him. All four accidents are currently under investigation by Cal/OSHA.

Fall protection will be among the items Cal/OSHA inspectors will be checking during its inspections, as falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers. If inspectors find a lack of protection or a serious hazard, they can stop work at the site until the hazards are abated. Employers who fail to comply with Cal/OSHA safety regulations will be cited and ordered to correct the violations.

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