Population growth has continued to rise

Population growth has continued to rise

Population growth has continued to rise, increasing the number of people entering the workforce and needing a place to live. This means businesses need more office space and the demand for housing is high.

Industrial vacancy is at an all-time low of 5% in Chester County, but developers are not seeking to build industrial buildings for lease because rental rates don’t justify the high cost of land development. As a result, it is becoming evident that local and state governments ought to make it less costly to develop the land.

Researchers are seeing more evidence that the younger generation, those that have been putting off buying a home, now has their eyes on single-family homes. This means that housing—especially if it’s in walkable, transit-oriented developments—is in high demand. Over 2.6 million people have moved from major cities to the suburbs in 2016 and 2017.

The statistics couldn’t be clearer: the need for housing may soon surpass the supply. 12 million Americans spend more than half their earnings on a place to live, and since 2015, the combination of rising prices for single-family homes and rising mortgage rates have cut home affordability by 15 percent. Hopefully, in the near future, houses can be built more cost effective to increase housing affordability.
Businesses need more office space and the demand for housing is high so let D.L. Howell help you with land development needs!

3D Printed Homes

3D Printed Homes

In recent years, you likely have started hearing more and more about 3D printing. Currently, 3D printing is being used in medical and industrial fields and even to make art and jewelry. Another area that they are starting to use 3D printing is civil engineering. There has been a lot of research done and it is still in its early stages but different applications in this field are already starting to pop up.

A major reason why people are looking into the use of 3D printing for civil engineering applications is that it can reduce the amount of money invested on tools for manufacturing and the associated labor. The initial investment cost tends to be high but is usually a one-time cost. Right now, 3D printing is being used in a construction process called contour crafting which is used to make 3D homes. This process tends to be fast, uses less energy, and produces little to no waste and therefore this will continue to grow and become used more widespread.

Figure 1: Creating a wall with a 3D printer

Construction technology concept with 3d rendering robot welder build house

Figure 2: House in Russia built in one day

3D printing of concrete can save a lot of time, reducing a 2-week job to just 3-4 days. It also removes laborers from common construction-related injuries. Companies in countries like Brazil, Italy, and Russia to name a few, have been using this technology to build homes that are able to withstand their respective climates. This process may run into some problems trying to be implemented in the U.S. by the many codes and standards. Townships and other governing bodies don’t currently recognize this process as a construction method and the associated plans and calculations are different than ones that these governing bodies are used to. This can cause some reluctance to accept such a process but if they are allowed on a case to case basis and studied then, this process may eventually be more common.

DLHowell Lends a Helping Hand

DLHowell Lends a Helping Hand

When I first started working at D.L. Howell, Denny had mentioned to me that he was on the Board for an organization called Handi-Crafters. Handi-Crafters is an employment and disability-focused support service program. They can give special needs individuals a sense of purpose by providing them with a place to go and a task to achieve every day. Now, I am sure this sounds like an amazing organization to everyone. But to me, it truly stands out.

My youngest brother, Matthew, has Down Syndrome. He is currently 17 years old and a senior in high school. Matthew often tells my mom he wants to graduate high school, go to college, get his license, and work (in that order). That happens to be what my middle brother and I did. Matthew often looks up to us and wants to do what he considers normal.

Organizations such as Handi-Crafters help provide that craved sense of normalcy and purpose everyone is trying to obtain, not just special needs individuals. It is important to help support them. In an attempt to do so, D.L. Howell & Associates will be volunteering at Handi-Crafters the week after Thanksgiving.

I know firsthand how an organization like Handi-Crafters enriches the lives of the people it touches. With Thanksgiving less than a week away and Christmas around the corner, now is the perfect time to consider doing something for individuals who may need some extra help. You will be surprised how much you can enrich your own life in the process.

Please visit: https://handi-crafters.org/ 

A Naturalist’s Dream at Elbow Lane

A Naturalist’s Dream at Elbow Lane

Construction is nearing completion in the rolling hills of West Pikeland Township. Edward Theurkauf, a local landscape architect, employed the services of DL Howell & Associates to prepare site plans for the construction of a single-family home. We always enjoy collaborating with landscape architects and other complementary professions in our industry to create an efficient design that highlights the strengths in each of our fields.

Although it is just a single-family home, the project is located in a High Quality-watershed and proposed over one (1) acre of disturbance, which required it to obtain an Individual NPDES permit. As such, this project was required to adhere to more rigorous standards that are typically needed for a small residential project.

With Mr. Theurkauf we integrated not only common stormwater management best management practices like underground infiltration beds but also included minimalist techniques such as meadow plantings that help to preserve the natural environment and landscape. The home fits perfectly in a lot that is surrounded by acres and acres of protected lands that embody the ideal image of a nature lover’s countryside.

Feel free to contact (Theurkauf Design and Planning https://www.theurkauf.com/ ) and (D.L. Howell and Associates, Inc. https://www.dlhowell.com/  ) to see how we can help you with your latest land development project.

Importance of knowing where the Floodplain Is.

Importance of knowing where the Floodplain Is.

Given the weather and subsequent flooding that has been occurring recently, many officials are looking for ways to reinforce and barricade areas that are most at risk. One such area that last year was inundated with flooding was southeast Texas, particularly the Houston Metropolitan area, after Hurricane Harvey. Due to massive amounts of flooding, 68 people lost their lives, and some reports estimate the damage to be over 125 billion dollars. To avoid similar losses in the future, a plan is being proposed to install what is known as an IKE dike along the Bolivar Peninsula that would extend along the rest of the Galveston Island coast to complement the existing seawall. A new floating floodgate is to be installed at the entrance of the Houston Ship Channel that, when built, will be able to be closed to prevent the storm surge from making its way further inland.

Graphic by Todd Wiseman

More recently, Hurricane Florence and Michael devastated parts of the Carolinas and the Florida panhandle this year, with extreme flooding and winds that destroyed many homes and businesses alike. These extreme weather events seem to be a growing trend, and old standards used for the design of stormwater systems and buildings just aren’t cutting it anymore. They are in need of an update, and some are taking notice. FEMA, for instance, has recently been re-evaluating their existing floodplain maps due in part to the massive flooding that occurred after Hurricane Harvey and mainly due to the property damage during Hurricane Michael. A prime example of where old floodplain maps failed was highlighted by the destruction caused in Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida. Although located on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, some 200 homes were in an area classified as X Zone, which does not require any flood insurance. Most of these homes were destroyed or heavily damaged when the storm surge from the hurricane hit the shores, flooding the area.

Flooding is often the element of storms that cause the most damage, and with dynamic and changing landscapes, evaluating land’s susceptibility to flooding events is crucial for the protection of property. Fortunately, D.L. Howell has a team of capable engineers and designers that are able to perform floodplain analysis to determine the effects of a large storm event on your property.

image references:  https://insideclimatenews.org/news/01112018/fema-flood-map-climate-change-hurricane-mexico-beach-florida-sea-level-rise

https://www.texastribune.org/2017/09/12/after-dismissing-need-storm-surge-barrier-sylvester-turner-says-housto/

 

 

Gold Standards

Gold Standards

Well, its October again which means a couple things: The World Series, Octoberfest, Halloween, and most importantly, the start of the Gold Rush season! If you haven’t watched the show before, it’s a reality TV show that follows the day to day activities of small gold mining crews in Alaska. And just like the clients of D.L. Howell & Associates, these miners need to prepare plans and obtain Permits from the local municipal, State and Governmental agencies before they can stick a shovel in the ground. This is very similar to obtaining the necessary environmental permits to do Land Development Projects in Chester County.

Opencast mining quarry with machinery at work. Digging equipment, industrial landscape

Being familiar with the challenges in obtaining permits from agencies, such as the Chester County Conservation District and DEP, to disturb environmentally sensitive areas, such as woodlands, wetlands, streams and associated riparian buffers, I find it amazing that in Alaska, under a mining permit, you can pretty much bulldoze right through as many wetlands and streams as you want. I’m not talking about guys with shovels and gold pans like the 49-ers, I’m talking 100-ton D9 dozers that wipe the stream bed completely off the map to dig down to “pay-dirt”. Now it is Alaska, and very remote, so there probably isn’t too many homeowners calling the DEP or local Municipality to complain about muddy waters downstream. If a stream gets muddy in the wilderness and no one is around to see it does it make a noise?? I’m sure the proper cofferdams, dirtbags sediment traps are in place and just not shown on TV. It’s also hard to believe these guys can blow through 50 acres of wetlands and streams and our clients need to give up their first born and a pint of blood to cross a stream or disturb 2,000 SF of wetlands?!

The truth of the matter is that mining activities, even in the remote parts of Alaska, are highly regulated and contain frequent inspections. Our buddies at EMCOR (formerly URS) oversee the miners, making sure these guys do what they are supposed to in accordance with all the applicable regulations. And although you don’t see this part of the process on the show, these miners are responsible for escrowing monies for reclamation of the land when they are finished. It may seem like all they do is dig up and sluice tens of thousands of cubic yards of dirt all summer long and then roll out of town but when they are finished mining they are required to remediate the land they disturbed. This includes grading and the replanting of trees & grasses to ensure that the native ecosystem returns to normalcy after they are gone.