Wednesday, December 30, 2009

OUT with the OLD!

I don't know about you but I am glad to see 2009 go. Most of us saw things in the economy that we had never seen. My dad saw the depression of the late twenties and early thirties and it was far worse.
2009 was bad enough for most of us and we'll eventually be telling our grandkids all about how tough it was. Of course, it may not be over.
2010 holds much hope and we welcome it like we would a rescue helicopter to a sinking ship.
We at FCC were fortunate in that we had new work to keep us going mainly because we've been building here for over thirty years. Newer contractors had a much tougher time and sadly some even had to go out of business.
There are painful lessons to be learned from a recession. We learn to be more frugal and live within our means as a country and in our own families. I am confident we will come out on the other side stronger and perhaps humbled.


"When things go wrong as they sometimes will, When the road you're trudging seems all up hill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you must, but don't you quit. Life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a failure turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out. Don't give up though the pace seems slow--You may succeed with another blow, Success is failure turned inside out--The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far; So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--It's when things seem worst that you must not quit."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cold Weather Building

There are a lot of myths about building in winter. I have heard for years that lumber splits and shatters when you try and nail it when it is frozen the work takes three times as long etc. etc. etc. It is true that lumber with a high moisture content is more prone to splitting than dry wood, it is generally not a problem with good quality graded lumber. Plywood, OSB and metal roofing is not affected by cold at all.
Cold weather has a negative affect on tools which lowers efficiency and profitablility. Saws, nailers, compressors and generators are much harder to keep running in cold weather unless careful measures are taken.
Wearing bulky cold weather gear also slows down progress, but if the work is carefully planned it can be done efficiently. Keeping a large crew motivated is very difficult in cold conditions so a small crew is ideal.
Anyone can work in below zero temperatures but it takes care and planning to work profitably in those conditions. Once you start getting 10 below and colder it becomes more and more problematic depending what you are doing.
I've heard people say that after it gets below zero it all feels the same. These people have never worked at extreme temperatures. There is a big difference from -10 to -30 and even more at -40 and -50.
We have done metal roofing at -50 but it was very slow. The batteries in our drills would only last a few minutes and it was hard to keep our finger warm. It was doable as long as there was no wind but it wasn't profitable at those extreme temperatures.
At zero and above it is very comfortable as long as the wind isn't blowing. Once the wind starts blowing it is very difficult to stay warm even if you can keep the equipment working.
Most winter temperatures in south central Alaska are only extreme for short periods of time so it is fairly easy to keep working throughout the winter.

Reflect upon your present blessings,
of which every man has plenty;
not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some."
Charles Dickens

Monday, December 14, 2009

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs have become the standard in rural Alaska. Durable, attractive, low maintenance, easily installed, good in wind, fire resistant and great for sliding snow, metal roofs come in several different profiles and many colors. We primarily use the 29 gauge Norclad profile with #14 screws and 15# felt underlayment. We always sheath our roofs with plywood or OSB instead of using purlins.
The roofs are called lifetime roofs and will indeed outlast most of us. There are many of the old tin roofs put on in the thirty's and forties that are still functional.
From a remote builder's standpoint, a properly installed metal roof rarely prompts a warranty call. I have even seen improperly installed roofs perform well.

He who knows all the answers has not yet been asked all the questions. - Author unknown

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cement Based Siding

Over the years, having rebuilt more than a few homes destroyed by fire, a product has become more and more popular. The product is Cement based siding. It is very resistant to fire and looks similar to any other lap siding. The cost is slightly less than Cedar and much more fire proof. It needs to be painted but is pre-primed and takes paint very well.
With Cement based siding and a metal roof your chances of catching on fire are greatly reduced.
If your lot is heavily wooded with spruce and you want a little extra peace of mind, cement based siding might be a good option.
We don't have pricing for it on our site yet but we can easily figure it for you on an individual basis.

Where you end up isn't the most important thing.
It's the road you take to get there.
The road you take is what you'll look back on and call your life.
Tim Wiley