Defined by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), construction class descriptions are set in concrete. Builders, inspectors and appraisers abide by these ISO classifications in doing their respective jobs, as they carefully consider what materials are used in the construction of a building and just how much damage it may sustain in the event of a fire.
There are six ISO construction classifications – frame/combustible, joisted masonry, noncombustible, masonry noncombustible, modified fire resistive and fire resistive – and they lay out the specific materials which can be found in various forms of construction. Insurance premiums fluctuate between ISO classifications and, as a result of reduced risk, often it’s the structures built with pricier, non-combustible materials that may garner lower rates.
With recent breakthroughs in construction and building materials, planners might be able to have their buildings and keep their lower premiums, too.
Modular construction: This type of construction has been around for a while now. It consists of building parts of a residential house or commercial building in a warehouse away from the proposed landing spot, and then putting the pieces together on site. Not having to deal with poor weather can cut down on costs, and once the pieces are built, depending on the size of the structure, it can take as little as a day to put all of the pieces together. Another advantage is less material waste. Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages. One biggie is transportation. Prices rise dramatically depending on the distance between the warehouse and the site.
Predictive software: It’s big in baseball and other industries like banking, and now, the construction business is jumping on the big data bandwagon. Predictive software allows engineers to understand the exposure of the building across its life as well as any issues that could cause potential problems during construction. According to Raconteur.net, planners used predictive software to test the structural integrity of the arch rotation brackets on London’s Wembley Stadium. They were able to simulate the stresses on the brackets that control the arches above the stadium.
Self-healing concrete: Developed in Netherlands by Hendrik Jonker, a university professor, self-healing concrete was all over the news in 2015 as something that could have a positive and lasting impact on the construction business. Concrete is one of the most common materials used in construction, as is the problem of dealing with cracks that show up over time. Self-healing concrete includes a limestone-producing bacteria in the concrete mixture. The bacteria goes to work when it comes in contact with water. Thus begins the healing process. The price for self-healing concrete should be initially high, but could drop as it becomes more widely produced.
Nanomaterials: Enhanced structural strength and energy conservation are widely regarded as the greatest influences for nanomaterials in the construction business. Found in metals, polymers, composites and ceramics, nanomaterials begin life on a microscopic level before being turned into new products possessing great potential. Through the use of nanotechnology, scientists have developed stronger, energy-efficient materials that provide a boon to the building industry. One drawback to nanomaterials is the exposure of toxicities to humans and animals. Fortunately, scientists are working to lessen those problems.
Asset mapping: Keeping track of internal systems like lighting, heating and cooling, and security systems is where asset mapping comes into play. It can be applied to just one building or adjusted to account for several buildings in a township, city, State, etc. By mapping these assets using a software solution and recording their maintenance, assets can be monitored from anywhere and problems can be headed off before any damage is accrued.
With some of these breakthroughs already in place, and others a short time away, construction and building materials continue to evolve in a futuristic way that may help property owners and risk managers better understand and limit their risk exposure.