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Saturday, September 24, 2011

ENR Southeast Announces Winners of 2011 Best Projects Awards

After extensive review, the judges for ENR Southeast's annual "Best Projects" competition met Sept. 8 and determined this year's winners. The judges chose 35 winners from a group of more than 100 entries from the states of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. They picked a top winner in each category, along with "Award of Merit" winners in many of the categories.

Also - Like last year, this year's judging was broken up into two panels. To determine a best overall award, each panel nominated two projects for the top prize. All of this year's judges are currently determining these four nominated projects, which include the following: the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla.; the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Campus East at Fort Belvoir, Va.; Merck & Co.’s Vaccine Bulk Manufacturing Facility in Durham, N.C.; and Pentagon Renovation, Wedges 2-5, in Arlington, Va. We will announce the group's selection as soon as it is available.

This year's 35 winning projects, and the groups that submitted them for the competition, are as follows:
Best Civil Works/Infrastructure Project
Cape Coral Facilities and Utilities Expansion Program, Cape Coral, Fla. - Submitted by MWH Constructors
Best Cultural Project
The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Fla. - Submitted by The Beck Group
Best Government/Public Building
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Campus East, Fort Belvoir, Va. - Submitted by Clark/Balfour Beatty, A Joint Venture
Best Green Building
NASA Langley Research Center Headquarters Building, Hampton, Va. - Submitted by Hill International 
Best Health Care Project
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Hollywood, Fla. - Submitted by ANF Group
Best Higher Education/Research Project
Georgia Health Sciences University, College of Dental Medicine, Augusta, Ga. - Submitted by BE&K Building Group
Best Industrial Project
Merck & Co. Vaccine Bulk Manufacturing Facility, Durham, N.C. - Submitted by Merck & Co.
Best K-12 Education Project
Stoddert Elementary School and Community Center, Washington, D.C. - Submitted by EE&K
Best Landscape/Hardscape/Urban Development
Piedmont Park North Woods Expansion, Atlanta - Submitted by Brasfield & Gorrie
Best Multifamily/Hospitality Project
JW Marriott Marquis Miami - Submitted by Suffolk Construction Co.
Best Office Project
Bridgewater Office Fitout, Fairfax, Va. - Submitted by Balfour Beatty Construction
Best Renovation/Restoration
Pentagon Renovation Wedges 2-5, Arlington, Va. - Submitted by Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
Best Retail/Mixed-Use Development Project
Legg Mason/Four Seasons, Baltimore, Md. - Submitted by Armada Hoffler Construction Co.
Best Small Project
Bread For the City, Washington, D.C. - Submitted by Turner Special Projects Division
Best Sports/Entertainment Project
University of Georgia, Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall Expansion, Athens, Ga. - Submitted by Brasfield & Gorrie
Best Transportation Project
Bridge of Lions Historic Rehabilitation, St. Augustine, Fla. - Submitted by RS&H

New World Symphony Campus Expansion/New World Center, Miami Beach - Submitted by Facchina Construction of Florida
Government/Public Building
U.S. Southern Command Headquarters, Miami-Doral, Fla. - Submitted by Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
BRAC 133, Alexandria, Va. - Submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Green Building
Florida International University School of International and Public Affairs, Miami - Submitted by Suffolk Construction Co.
Health Care
University of Virginia Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, Charlottesville, Va. - Submitted by Gilbane Building Co.
Higher Education/Research
Virginia Tech/Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, Roanoke, Va. - Submitted by Skanska USA Building
University of Virginia South Lawn Arts and Science Complex, Charlottesville, Va. - Submitted by Barton Malow Co.
Rolls-Royce, Prince George County, Va. - Submitted by Faithful & Gould
K-12 Education
Sarasota County Technical Institute, Sarasota, Fla. - Submitted by Willis A. Smith Construction
Suncoast High School, Riviera Beach, Fla. - Submitted by Suffolk Construction Co.
Atlanta Aiport Gateway Marriott, Atlanta - Submitted by Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates
Westin Peachtree 2009, Atlanta - Submitted by W.S. Nielsen
Balfour Beatty Construction - Carolinas Headquarters, Charlotte, N.C. - Submitted by Balfour Beatty Construction
Retail/Mixed-Use Development
Gunther Volkswagen, Buford, Ga. - Submitted by Choate Construction Co.
Small Projects
Cullman Regional Medical Center - Emergency Department Expansion & Renovation, Cullman, Ala. - Submitted by Robins & Morton
Virginia Polytechnic State University, Visitors & Undergraduate Admissions Center, Blacksburg, Va. - Submitted by BE&K Building Group
University of Georgia Stegeman Coliseum Renovation, Athens, Ga. - Submitted by Choate Construction Co.
Palm Avenue Parking Garage, Sarasota, Fla. - Submitted by Suffolk Construction Co.
Miami Airport Skytrain and Regional Commuter Facility, Miami - Submitted by Miami-Dade Aviation Dept.

FMI Sees Positive Signs in Nonresidential Construction in Second Quarter

The FMI Nonresidential Construction Index moved up 1.4 points to 58.7 for the second quarter, registering in positive territory for the last five quarters.

However, the survey for the third quarter is under way, and FMI expects the NRCI will backslide. Among the many economic pressures that cause this renewed concern are the effects of natural and political disasters just beginning to hit the economy. For an executive summary of the report, click here.

FMI also reported it expects nonresidential construction to drop another 2 percent over 2010 levels to $343.2 billion for 2011, which is close to 2005 (construction-put-in-place) levels. Nonbuilding construction will grow by 3 percent, FMI said. Overall, the market continues to struggle to recover, but, despite the uncertainties, FMI noted that 2011 will be the bottom of the slide and markets will improve for 2012.

NAHB Releases New Economic Index That Tracks Improving Housing Markets

The National Association of Home Builders has launched a new monthly economic indicator—the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index, which tracks housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health.

The new economic index reveals metropolitan areas that have shown improvement for at least six months in three key economic areas—housing permits, employment and housing prices.

"Housing conditions are local, and do not always reflect the national picture. NAHB created this new index to shine a light on those housing markets across the country that have stabilized and have begun to show signs of recovery," the organization said.

"By examining key indicators of home prices, employment and housing permits data, we are using a comprehensive, but conservative method in determining which markets are improving," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Last year at this time, there was not a single market that showed improvement using these criteria, and now we can point to 12 examples of growth."

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac, and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. A metro area must see improvement in all three areas for at least six months following their respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate the list of improving markets.

Visit for additional data and tables.

Construction Backlog Up 10 Percent in Second Quarter

The Construction Backlog Indicator, released in mid-August by the Associated Builders and Contractors, increased 10 percent in the second quarter of 2011 to an average of 8.1 months.

The backlog was up from 7.3 months the previous quarter. The CBI is 12 percent higher than one year ago. CBI is a forward-looking indicator that measures the amount of construction work under contract to be completed in the future.

"While the increase in construction backlog appears to be good news at first glance, taking a broader look reveals that the rise in the nation’s construction activity may be a reflection of the economic momentum that existed several months ago, but is now beginning to weaken," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

"The nation’s economic recovery has remained fragile since June 2009 and any observed recovery in construction volumes has been tentative," Basu said. "The events of the last few weeks have had a negative impact on both the overall economy and the nation’s construction sector, with business leaders generally seeking to reduce exposure to risk and investment volatility.

"More specifically, the U.S. economy continues to be pummeled with a sea of constraining factors ranging from rising gas and food prices, to Washington’s stalemate on lowering the nation’s deficit, the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, Europe’s growing financial crisis and the U.S. financial market turmoil," said Basu.

"None of this is good news for construction contractors or others hoping for a far ranging, more aggressive economic rebound. Though average construction backlog has been on the ascent in recent months, future surveys are likely to reflect a reversal of the trend and may lead to a chill in the nation’s building recovery," Basu said.

Click here for regional and industry highlights and analyses, as well as highlights and analysis by company size.

Banks Bad C&D Loans

ProSales' latest survey of dealers found 60% of respondents said it's harder for their customers to get bank loans this year than last. Here's a big reason why: Banks already hold huge volumes of past-due C&D loans. The actual volumes vary, but the percentages of loans past due are typically three to four times higher than for any other category of real estate lending.

Wells Fargo's Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary- September 23, 2011

-     Housing starts fell 5.0 percent month-over-month to a 571,000-unit annualized pace, as both single and multi-family starts declined.

.     Permits for new resdential projects increased for the third time in four months, however, rising to a 620,000-unit pace.

-     Existing home sales rose 7.7 percent in August, lifting the annualized rate of sales to more than 5 million for the first time since April.

.     All four regions reported increased sales, but cash-only and distressed properties still comprised a substantial share of purchases.

-     The Federal Reserve announced it will sell $400 billion of short-term Treasury assets already in its portfolio and use the proceeds to purchase longer-dated Treasuries.

.      The Fed also announced that starting in October it will reinvest maturing agency debt into agency mortgage-backed securities in the secondary market.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Architecture Billings Index Turns Positive after Four Straight Monthly Declines

Washington, D.C. – September 21, 2011 – On the heels of a period of weakness in design activity, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) took a sudden upturn in August. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the August ABI score was 51.4, following a very weak score of 45.1 in July. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 56.9, up sharply from a reading of 53.7 the previous month.

“Based on the poor economic conditions over the last several months, this turnaround in demand for design services is a surprise,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Many firms are still struggling, and continue to report that clients are having difficulty getting financing for viable projects, but it’s possible we’ve reached the bottom of the down cycle.”
Key August ABI highlights:
      • Regional averages: Midwest (49.0), South (47.4), West (47.4), Northeast (46.5),
      • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (50.9), institutional (48.5), commercial / industrial (46.0), multi-family residential (44.8)
      • Project inquiries index: 56.9
      The regional and sector breakdowns are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are raw numbers.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wells Fargo's Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary- September 16, 2011

- Retail sales were flat in August, as auto sales declined 0.3 percent following a 6.0 percent increase during July.

. This week’s retail sales report reinforced our view that consumer spending will remain constrained and grow at about a 1.5 percent annual pace through the end of this year.

- Consumer prices for the month of August rose more than expected, jumping 0.4 percent due to higher food and energy prices.

. Core inflation increased in August as strong demand for rental properties fueled higher prices, a trend we expect to continue.

- Industrial production was stronger than expected in August, rising 0.2 percent for the month due to increased automobile production.

- In light of this week’s information, we believe that GDP growth is tracking at around a 1.8 percent annual pace for the third quarter.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Delta Gypsum is Pleased to Provide You with Custom Drywall Stocking.

This job required 20 men passing up a truckload of drywall 8 flights of stairs on a Friday night after 5:00 PM.  Delta Gypsum has the resources and experience to meet your demands.
Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
-Vince Lombardi

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wells Fargos Monthly Economic Outlook - September, 2011

- Our outlook calls for moderate, subpar GDP growth of 1.5 percent during the second half of this year, reflecting modest gains in consumer spending, equipment and software spending, and improvements in residential and commercial remodeling.

- Headline CPI is expected to rise to 3.5 percent in the second half of 2011 and will likely limit growth in consumer spending, as real disposable income is expected to rise just one percent during that time.

- The Federal Reserve’s core personal consumption deflator will approach two percent by the end of the year, and while we believe the Fed will likely pursue modest policies to supply liquidity, we do not expect a third round of quantitative easing.

- Structural unemployment remains a key issue, as skills and job location continue to be significant barriers to filling new positions.

- Corporate profit growth is expected to moderate in the year ahead, reflecting the competitiveness of U.S. firms in a global environment, especially in value-added manufacturing, energy, and consumer products.

Wells Fargo's Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary- September 9, 2011

- While it was a fairly light week for economic data, speeches by President Barack Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke dominated headlines.

. The President outlined a plan that calls for payroll tax cuts and spending initiatives.

. Although the proposal could boost growth somewhat, we do not believe it fully addresses the core issues of weak consumer demand and structural unemployment.

. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech offered no new surprises, which puts greater weight on the two-day FOMC meeting scheduled in September.

- Economic data released during the week came in better than expected.

. The ISM non-manufacturing survey rose to a 53.1 in August from 52.7 in July.

. Driven by a surge in exports, the trade deficit narrowed sharply in July, falling from $51.5 billion in June to $44.8 billion.

- We continue to look for real GDP to increase at a 2.0 percent annual pace in the third quarter.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wells Fargo's Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary- September 2, 2011

- Nonfarm payrolls did not grow during August due to net job losses in the retail trade, manufacturing, construction, information services, and government sectors.

. Average hourly earnings and average weekly hours also declined in August, placing further downward pressure on consumer purchasing power.

- The unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent, as the household survey showed an increase of 331,000 in both jobs and the labor force during August.

- Personal spending rose 0.8 percent in July month-over-month, and the annualized 3-month moving average continued to grow at a 2.7 percent pace.

. Consumers had to dip into their savings to achieve this modest pace of spending, however, as the personal savings rate fell to 5.0 percent from 5.5 percent in July.

- Consumer confidence sank to 44.5 from 59.2 in July, the lowest reading since April 2009.

- The Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index for August declined to -11.4 from -2.0 during August, consistent with recent weakness in the Empire State and Philly Fed indexes.