Construction / Blog

The Flats at Village Hill

Published December 19, 2014 in Community, Construction, Staff, Brad Hutchison, Charles Roberts, Liv Wyatt

Construction is nearing completion in Northampton at the Flats at Village Hill.

Construction Begins on Long Island

Published December 18, 2014 in Construction, Staff, John Kuhn

Work has begun on the Bellport House on the coast of Long Island!

Trolley Barn Complete!

Published August 29, 2014 in Community, Construction, Staff, Chris Farley, John Kuhn

The entire project team gathered for a lunch at the completed Trolley Barn today in North Amherst's Mill District. The commercial spaces are prepped and ready for tenants to move-in and make them their own, and the apartments are ready for residents to make them feel like home!

More coverage of the project is available here.

Up a Lazy River

Published August 15, 2014 in Construction, Historic, Staff, Brad Hutchison, Chris Farley

It's actually not a river. It's a canal. And we didn't travel up. We floated down.

KRA and structural engineer GNCB recently rafted beneath a mill building to observe conditions. Aside from a few spider-related scares, they returned safely to shore.

And if you didn't catch the song reference above, there's this:


Under Construction - Easthampton and Amherst

Published August 11, 2014 in Community, Construction, Historic, Staff, Brad Hutchison, Andrew Bagge, Aelan Tierney, Chris Farley, Charles Roberts

We have added a number of "under construction" photos of our Olympia Oaks (below) and Cottage Square (bottom) projects on our facebook page.

Two Methods of Brick Shear Testing

Published November 13, 2013 in Construction, Historic, Staff, Chris Farley, Liv Wyatt

On recent renovation projects, we have needed to understand the shear strength of existing masonry, both to confirm adequate shear resistance in the existing structure and to engineer additional shear-resisting components when necessary. Here are two methods our engineers have used to evaluate this.

Method A: The head joint on either side of a single brick is removed using an ArborTech head joint saw. A stainless steel bladder is inserted into the void on one side of the brick. A movement indicator is hot-melt glued to the other end of the brick and a metal stop is glued to the adjacent brick. Hydraulic fluid is then pumped slowly into the bladder until the brick is pushed toward the void on the opposite side. The movement indicator shows how much the brick moved. This reading, along with the area of the brick bed joints and the hydraulic pressure, is plugged into a formula which results in a number which indicates the wall’s ability to resist shear.

Photo by Chris Farley, AIA

Method B: Another way of testing is called the "shove test." The tester has a small hydraulic jack with a load gauge that is installed within the wall.  Similar to Method A, the jack increases pressure on the adjacent brick until sliding occurs. Some feel that a displacement gauge is not necessary, since the sliding occurs suddenly in a brittle failure mode, and the load usually falls off dramatically.

Diagram by Ryan Hellwig, P.E.

Because Method B requires the removal of an entire brick, it is good to have a mason on site when testing. With Method A, only the head joints are removed, making a mason's presence during testing less critical.

Joist hangers that don’t

Published November 11, 2011 in Construction

When working on old buildings, we often make little discoveries that cause us to shake our heads in disbelief.  Andy and Tom recently discovered the situation shown above on a recent site visit.

The photo shows the left and right side of a single existing floor joist. On the left side of the floor joist, someone made the most of a crowded situation by flexing the joist hanger so that the metal conduit could remain in place.  They managed to get a few hanger nails into the beam and one nail into the 2x joist.  Not ideal, but at least they tried.

Fortunately, the right side of the same joist was free of obstructions so that the hanger could be secured directly to the joist and to the beam. But it wasn’t meant to be: they managed to install a couple of nails into the joist, while somehow missing all the nails that would secure the hanger to the adjacent beam. Needless to say, this joist hanger isn't supporting anything.

Simpson has a variety of videos available that show how to install their more complex hangers.  The video below shows a different application, but if you’ve never installed a joist hanger, it will give you a general idea of what should happen.