Builder Buzz: Be careful on the Gulf Coast

As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation along the Gulf Coast neared, I found this press release in my files warning contractors of the dangers when bidding public projects.
“… contractors who may not be familiar with the bidding process for public works projects could find themselves facing disastrous financial consequences, according to Daniel Hill, an attorney with law firm Thorp Reed & Armstrong, especially if they don’t familiarize themselves with state and local laws appropriate to the bidding process … and fast.
“‘A small regulation or law associated with a project bidding process can scuttle months of hard work and effort for a contractor,’ says Hill. An example in the region comes from a contractor who bid on and won a project to construct an elementary school in Mobile, Ala. The contractor, Coastal Builders Inc., submitted the lowest qualified bid, and seemed poised to begin construction. In the eleventh hour, both the school board and Coastal discovered that they had failed to include the cost of a control package required under the contract in its bid. Initially the board agreed to pay for the cost and proceed, but later balked and refused to pay this cost.
“Coastal took the board to court and lost. Why? Because ultimately Coastal was in violation of state law regarding the bidding process for public projects, and lost in excess of $35,000 on the project. For contractors currently bidding on projects in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region affected by Katrina, these types of oversights could equal far greater financial losses.
“The bottom line is, if contractors do not familiarize themselves with state bid laws when contracting for a public project, and ensure that they completely comply with the letter of all statutory procedures when dealing with a public agency, they could pay large costs in the end.”

Oil canning is out there
I spent the larger portion of a beautiful August day cruising around rural central Wisconsin (some might call that redundant), shooting photos for upcoming issues of Rural Builder, Frame Building News, and Metal Roofing Magazine. It was heartening to see a number of new post-frame and metal frame buildings going up in a variety of locations, and they were good-looking structures, too.OC-Tappa2.JPG
Something not so great caught my eye as well while inspecting the area’s standing seam metal roofing: oil canning. For those who don’t know, oil canning is the perceived waviness in the flat area of roof panels. Various organizations will tell you that oil canning is an inherent part of light-gauge cold-formed metal products, particularly those with flat areas. The issue is purely aesthetic, as oil canning does not in any way compromise a roof panels’ integrity.
This is not a problem for the roof panels on a typical post-frame building, since those panels are corrugated for strength and do not oil can. But it is for standing seam panels, which are growing in popularity for both residential and commercial use. The oil canning we saw was most apparent at mid-day, when the sun was directly overhead, accentuating even the tiniest ripple. Roof customers expecting a perfectly flat, flawless panel might be turned off by the sight.
There are many things a contractor can do to minimize the likelihood of oil canning, like using thicker steel, backer rods, and panels with low-gloss paint, and insisting on a level roof deck. For more best practices on minimizing oil canning, read Jim Austin’s story on the subject in the October issue of Metal Roofing (

Walker, Mich. update
Last issue we brought you a story from the Grand Rapids Press concerning a proposal in Walker, Mich., to allow a panel to dictate materials and colors used in the construction and renovation of commercial, office, and industrial buildings. In August Walker’s City Commission gave the first of two necessary approvals to enact the ordinance, according to another story in the Press.
The story says “the ordinance bans the use of pole-barn-style metal siding on office, industrial and commercial building walls that are visible from public streets, neighboring residential properties or parking lots. The ordinance also discourages the use of smooth-faced gray concrete block and tilt-up concrete panels as primary wall materials.”
While at first glance this seems to be a blow against post-frame building, Jim Simon, a respected post-frame builder based in nearby Grand Rapids, e-mailed us to say that this does not necessarily affect post-frame and that this ordinance is not bad for our industry. While we think metal siding can look just fine in those applications when used correctly, we’ll take Jim’s word for it and not sound the alarm button!

Score one for metal
At a recent meeting of the New York State Code Council, representatives of the Metal Construction Association presented the case for metal as a roofing material and won.
In Utica, N.Y., the Common Council was looking to establish an ordinance that would prohibit the use of metal roofing materials of any kind in residential areas. The law would have been enforceable if it passed through the New York State Council for consideration and acceptance at a meeting in mid-June, but it was stopped short.
Dave Hunt and Ann Schade of Revere Copper in nearby Rome, N.Y., took the time to educate the council on the historical, environmental, and aesthetic benefits of metal in a wide variety of options as a roofing material. The council ultimately did not allow the ordinance to go through.
At the MCA’s recent semi-annual meeting, Schade revealed that a big tool used in presenting metal’s case was the idea book two, the second version of the architectural design resource published by Metal Roofing Magazine. With a wide variety of projects showing metal’s beauty and versatility, the idea book can help win over metal’s skeptics. Look for the idea book three next spring. To obtain copies, call Kyler Pope at 715-445-4612, ext. 873.

Shot in the arm for post-frame
In early August, the board of directors of the National Frame Builders Association convened in Savannah, Ga., and many interesting and important items were discussed. NFBA directors are committed to providing as much value as possible to association members, creating the best Frame Building Expo possible, and growing the post-frame market. NFBA.jpg
To that last point, at the meeting the NFBA board gave its approval to an initiative that could really give the post-frame industry a boost. It’s difficult to go into details at this time, since the plan has not yet been finalized, and the information is sensitive. But in broad terms, it can be said that the association is gearing up to make a significant financial contribution to growing the market for post-frame, the largest the industry has ever seen.
Stay tuned in the months ahead — our magazines will keep you up to date on any developments in this exciting story.

MCA certification gets boost
Sources in the metal panel industry have told us that the Metal Construction Association has sent its members an e-mail informing them that Home Depot will only sell painted metal panel products that meet standards set by MCA’s certification program. A source tells us that Home Depot sells $44 million worth of metal panel products per year — the majority unpainted, but with painted gaining momentum.Metal Const Assoc Member.jpg
Currently, only four manufacturers have products certified under MCA’s program: ATAS International, Classic Metal Rooifing Systems, Dura-Loc Roofing, and Union Corrugating. All but Classic were exhibitors at Frame Building Expo in Nashville. Akzo Nobel, PPG, and Valspar have paint products certified under the program.
For more information about MCA’s certification program visit the association’s website.

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