The Effects that Asbestos has on the Construction Industry

Until the 1980s, asbestos heavily contaminated the construction industry. Nearly all of the industry’s sub sectors – including the roofing, flooring, plumbing and painting industries – were rich with asbestos exposure threats. Thousands of construction materials contained asbestos.

The most common included:
•    Wallboard
•    Attic insulation
•    Tiles
•    Cement
•    Adhesives

When construction workers crumbled, pulverized, cut or otherwise damaged these asbestos-containing products, they released asbestos into the air. This placed workers at risk for a number of asbestos-related cancer, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
A workers’ likelihood of developing these diseases depends on the extent of their exposure. Construction workers such as insulators or pipe fitters who were exposed to high quantities of asbestos for long periods of time have the highest chance of developing an asbestos-related disease. However, any worker with a history of exposure has an elevated risk for these illnesses.
OSHA’s current asbestos regulations have reduced the asbestos exposure threat for construction industry employees, but by the time the regulations were in place, countless workers had already inhaled or ingested the fibers. As a result, construction workers who were in the industry before the 1980s are now facing a high risk for asbestos-related diseases.
Current Risks
In a 1988 survey of 3.6 million buildings, the Environmental Protection Agency found that 733,000 contained friable asbestos. Both public and commercial buildings (including Federal buildings) contained these hazardous asbestos materials.
The survey did not list the number of buildings that contained non-friable asbestos. Although non-friable asbestos is not a health threat when left alone, construction workers can easily disturb such material during renovations. Unless an inspection company has tested a material and determined that it is free of asbestos, construction workers should treat it as though it poses an asbestos exposure threat.
Under current regulations, construction companies must put workers who encounter asbestos through accredited asbestos training classes. These classes outline the proper methods of identifying, handling and disposing of asbestos-containing materials. Following these methods can help reduce the risk of asbestos exposure on a construction site.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center and the Mesothelioma Outreach Blog. One of her focuses is living with cancer.

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Hot Water Options for Your Home

Todd Rothstein of Great Falls Construction takes you on a walk through of the installation of a new domestic hot water system. He also has discussion with Tom Lavin of Portland Winnelson and Gordon Atkinson of Gaco Plumbing on options for hot water in the home.

If you are interested in a plumbing project or installing a unit that will help you to increase your energy efficiency, please contact us at

You may also like: Tank-less Heaters for Greener Homes

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First Quarter Construction Trends 2012

Many people have asked us about the current state of the construction market in Maine, so we decided to write up a blog post about what building trends we’ve been seeing in the first quarter of 2012.

On the residential construction side of our business, there is a growing need for affordable housing projects throughout New England. As a corollary to the urban density trend, we have seen a large spike in multifamily building certifications. These projects are very important to the Maine economy for contractors, suppliers, and the residents who are fortunate to inhabit these new buildings. So far this year, we’ve been apart of several multifamily housing projects valued between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000.

In the commercial construction industry, we have seen an increase in retail and commercial fit ups over the last 12-18 months as the economy has become more stable. We expect this trend to continue and are gearing up for several new commercial projects.

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8 Questions to ask your general contractor – before you hire them!

If you are like most people who are looking for a general contractor, you might have a hard time deciding who to hire. Here are 8 questions you should always ask to help determine if the company or contractor can meet your project needs:

  • Do you specialize in a type of construction work (commercial or residential)?
  • Do you provide a detailed cost estimate to create a price quote or bid for your projects?
  • Do you have sub contractor relationships for all divisions of the project?
  • Do you have a portfolio of similar work?
  • Can you supply customer references and sub contractor references upon request?
  • Do you include project management supervision during the project?
  • What is your typical warranty policy for your workmanship?
  • Are you certified as a Lead Smart Renovator (dealing with properties older then 1977)?

Do you have questions about hiring a general contractor? Call us for a consultation. 

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Welcome Mike Delcourt to the Great Falls Construction Team!

Great Falls is proud to announce the newest member of our team this week. Mike Delcourt will be joining our team as a field carpenter to support our multiple renovations and fit up projects throughout New England.

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Great Falls Construction awarded contract with DeLorme to help repair World’s Largest Globe

We are excited to announce that this month, Great Falls Construction is working with DeLorme in Yarmouth, Maine, to repair the axis of Eartha, the world’s largest revolving/rotating globe.

Eartha the globe measures 41.5 feet in diameter and is made of a light weight aluminum. It revolves on a special cantilever arm and rotates on an axis with a 23.5 degree tilt—just like the earth. Eartha has been delighting visitors to DeLorme’s corporate headquarters for 14 years and the mechanical axis is now in need of repair. Here’s where we come in…

Great Falls Construction is working with DeLorme to assemble custom staging so that the globe can be lifted off the axis and repairs can be made. The DeLorme team will manage the repairs so that the globe can become fully operational again.  In addition to the axis repairs, Delorme also plans to upgrade the globe’s skin panels to better replicate the earth’s terrain. As Maine natives, the DeLorme globe holds a special place in our hearts. We’ve had a blast working with them and are excited to see the globe back in action.   Have you visited the DeLorme globe? We’d love to hear about it. Share your story in the comments!

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Project Update: Amistad Offices at 66 State Street in Portland, Maine

Amistad offices in Portland, Maine

The Amistad offices occupied two floors of the building.  On the main floor we supplied and installed new chair railmoldings inside the existing cafeteria space, built new shelving to an existing closet, removed an old storage room and converted it into usable common space, and re-wired the existing light fixtures in the great room. On the lower floor we remodeled an underutilized office space and converted it into two secured walk in storage closets with a pair of sliding pocket doors each.

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