The Big Picture
I received a voice-mail message from a retired plumber in San Diego who had read our story on locating post-tension cables in the January issue. He was able to articulate in just a few spoken words what we had failed to do in more than one thousand written words. He said the best way to eliminate any concerns about cutting into one of these cables is to run all the potable water pipe above ground or out of the slab. My first reaction was: " Why didn't we cover that angle?"
The tone of his message seemed to reflect years of frustration he'd apparently had with this issue-why the industry can't seem to change or why builder-developers can't be sold on the concept of piping out of slab? Even though it may add to the cost of the house, the amount of time, money, and frustration it saves after the home is built is well worth it. The argument in favor of piping above ground seems strong- seismic considerations, aggressive water, defective products, human error, etc. With that as a backdrop, RJ readers can look forward to a follow-up story that takes a closer look at the issue.
UninsuredWith the construction and insurance industries faced with a legal and financial crisis caused from construction defect claims (read: mold) in several western states, Federated Insurance has decided not to renew coverage for new construction contractors who work on multifamily, tract homes or who do any stucco work in the state of Texas. Late last year, the company sent out a letter that said it will "begin this non-renewal process on policies renewing on April 1, 2002 and after." Premium increases would have been "necessary across the board for contractors whether they were involved in this type of work or not...We felt it would be impossible to pass on the size of premium increases that would be necessary to continue to cover these types of exposures."
While Federated has discontinued coverage, other carriers have elected to increase premiums. Some contractors have realized increases of 300 percent, depending on their specialty and location. The combination of no coverage and huge premium increases has made it difficult for some contractors to keep their doors open. This is another important story we're working on and hope to publish soon.