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After Andrew, industry lends a hand.

As residents of Florida last week assessed the damage left by Hurricane Andrew, within the construction community, there was talk of bulk-bidding reconstruction work and prefab designs so that consumers and businesses can get the best possible value.

Many donated supplies, expertise and time toward the cleanup efforts.

With insured losses estimated at more than $7 billion, it is believed that nearly 85,000 single-family homes and many other residences will have to be rebuilt.

Lester E. Rivelis, a partner with Lepatner, Block, Pawa, & Rivelis, who represents several large construction companies, suggested after speaking with them, that the insurance companies organize bulk-bidding for the reconstruction of homes so that kind of work would be of interest to the larger firms.

"They can deliver more value and the money would be spent at the place where the devastation occurred," he added.

Pre-Fab Housing

Homeowners are already complaining they cannot find a roofer. While no single contractor in the United States can handle the building of 50,000 to 80,000 homes, Rivelis said, the larger contractors could handle several thousand at a time, particularly if some are pre-fabricated, such as those being used for Israel.

Richard Geller, president of Tri-Tech Industries which is located in West Babylon, New York, is erecting prefabricated housing in Israel and is beginning a project in Larchmont, New York. "This is fast, low-cost housing, " he said, describing it as a four-story structure with four apartment units per floor ranging in size from 900 square feet to 1,100 square feet.

Overseas, he said, groups of potential home buyers are pooled to build an affordable housing community and would like to become involved on this kind of scale in Florida. "It would seem to be this sort of situation but who do you go to? Where do you help?," Geller asked. I guess everybody with any capability is looking in that direction. Everyone will be tripping over themselves."

Edward P. Weinman, president of Pate Edwards, a real estate resource company which works with consumers on a no charge basis to find contractors said he has already been contacted by restaurants in South Florida eager to rebuild. Weinman noted, however, that for homes, this would be "fast-track" building.

There is no question there is something to do if they pick themselves up and go down there with their men in a trailer," he said. If someone was to put a general contractor in the middle of the rubble, he added, they would have so much business they could keep going for years.


President Bush last week appealed to industry groups to assist in the clean-up and rebuilding effort at a meeting of the White House.

"As a follow-up, we are working with HUD Secretary Jack Kemp to identify federal housing initiatives," said Kent W. Colton, executive vice president of the National Association of Home Builders who attended the meeting.

While many of the nation's top construction and construction management firms already have or are planning to have representatives and workers in the area, officials warned not to "just go" without a contact with a licensed Florida construction company.

Timothy C. Roche, vice president of Galbreath Company/Florida, is on loan to the United Way, where his wife works as an executive. Speaking from the phone at a day care center he just set up in Homestead, Florida, at the Harris Field tent camp, Roche said they are doing whatever they can. He is involved primarily in facilitating and running volunteer work crews to clear the debris and prepare for the rebuilding.

Roche compared the destruction to someone taking Long Island and turning it upside down. He said, "The hammer of God hit every building over an 80-mile swath from the top of the Keys to south of the Miami airport."

Right now, the primary need is for hammers, nails, plywood and roofing material while other emergency relief groups are also requesting trailers of water and generators.

We need construction materials donated," Roche said, The Western side of the county is very poor and primarily agricultural and a lot of the people are uninsured." He said most of them will rebuild the homes themselves but need the supplies to do so.

The largest shopping mall that was severely damaged is Cutler Ridge, a super mall with 1.16 million square feet owned by the Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. in Youngstown, Ohio. The Sears & Roebuck there managed to keep its roof on, however, and is open.

Byron Hayes, senior vice president of the Florida Division of McDevitt Street Bovis, a sister company to Lehrer McGovern Bovis, is also in the trenches. His crew was finishing a condominium project that lost its glass and drywalls to Hurricane Andrew.

Hayes changed the crew's focus to helping local clients and their first job was to fix up the Sheraton Hotel on Brickell Boulevard. As soon as they did that, he recalled, its 400 rooms filled up with power company and telephone workers from all over the country.

"At this point we're just helping people and calling our contacts and offering our assistance on a humanitarian level," Hayes said. We're doing some legwork and a lot of people are willing to give their time and materials to get it done." When pressed, he admitted they have not been reimbursed for anything.

Hayes explained his task force team of subcontractors, architects and engineers are determining what facilities were damaged but not destroyed, and could be brought back on line. And then they get them back up and running.

So far, they have worked primarily on hotels but are also assisting - on a volunteer basis - the local, state and Federal governments in the assessment of damages and determining what services they can provide.

Hayes said they are working with some of the insurance companies although most of the claims adjusters are focusing on the individual homeowners first. "There are a large majority that were destroyed and not insured," he noted. Those people are not going to get a check, so how are they are going to rebuild? Those are the people that are going to take their possessions and go but maybe the people living in tents on their own homesites will rebuild. "

Jay Shackford, vice president of pubic affairs of the National Association of Home Builders, which represents the builders of 80 percent of all homes built in the United States, warned contractors not to just "go down there. "

Contractors Need License

He said Florida has a very tough licensing law and efforts are underway to ease the process to secure temporary licensing and to allow contractors from other places to work with local builders.

The Builders Association of South Florida is coordinating these efforts as well as the donations of building supplies at (305)820-1655.

Shackford said that there was an initial surge of some "goldbrickers" buying chain saws and generators and selling them on the street corners, but "the Georgia Pacific's and the Goodyear's are not going to gouge people and raise the prices." Home Depot, he said, is already selling to people at cost and the materials in Orlando and further north are being diverted to the affected areas.

Matthew Stewart, assistant to the manager of the Jacksonville Housing and Urban Development field office, said contractors who want to assist are being asked to contact the Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville which is operating right now out of a mobile trailer. Call Kenneth Faulk at (904)232-2747.

Contractors offering water transportation and generators are in critical need, he said, but warned that all relief efforts must be coordinated and not to go down without contacting these agencies.

A government source list for contractors, technical assistance and volunteers is being established through a voice mail list at (800)955-1898.

In Atlanta, contractors may contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Assistance Division at (404)854-4302. All the numbers are being taxed to their limits so keep trying, Stewart added.

There are also teams working with the Dade County Housing and Urban Development assessing damage and they will be coordinating much of the redevelopment from that office.

Ede Graves, director of public relations for J.A. Jones located in Charleston, North Carolina, which is an affiliate of Crow Construction, said they have sent people down and have been working through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "The first contract they put out was for 10,000 port-a-potties," she laughed. "Primarily they are trying to do a temporary fix and the real work will start later."

Most of the contracts are being awarded by the Corps of Engineer offices in Mobile and Charleston, she said, adding that such facilities as water treatment plants will be high on the list.

Bruce Meltzer, president and chairman of General Building Products, located in Long Island, Haverstraw, and New Jersey, said he has had inquiries from general contractors both in Florida and those planning to go help, to set up a distribution facility and supply building materials for that market.

General makes and distributes prefab wood wall homes, interior mill work and kitchen cabinets, all items that are needed in Florida.

Meltzer said the one-family home in Florida is generally a cinderblock wall with a wood truss roof while his prefab is wood wall. The people in Florida tell me the television doesn't do the destruction justice," he said. Generally, 20 to 50 percent of the houses require reconstruction, he said, while there are many partially damaged homes.

Raymond steele, regional manager of Northeast for Allied Building Products, said Allied has already rented a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Miami just south of the airport. "We have at least three to four people there already and have ordered 40 trailer loads of building material that should be getting in there by [last] Friday," he said. Included in the trailers is plywood and roof shingles.

John J. "Jack" Mallone, Jr. president and CEO of EMJ Construction Consultants, which works with real estate lenders and investors around the country, said his Tampa office is in contact with some of the lenders. "We are doing surveys of buildings that were somewhat touched, while others are asking us to give an engineering opinion as to whether a building can be fixed up at the present moment," he said. "They tell me some of the buildings are virtually shot."

Many of these lenders have taken over from the developers or are life insurance companies that were the original mortgagee. Mallone said he wouldn't be surprised if some of the lenders began to bulk bid the work. For example, he said, in the Kendall area there are many lenders involved and might organize to do this.

Elizabeth Koeckert, director of business development for Levien-Rich, a construction management company. said they would be exploring the both the rebuilding and office space arenas.

Richard Keeler, a spokesman for Tishman Construction, said the company's Stud-Planck housing system, a trademarked method of building low-rise housing, could be put up quickly.
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Title Annotation:Hurricane Andrew in Florida; construction industry
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 9, 1992
Previous Article:2 firms relocate to 300 Park.
Next Article:Galbreath/Riverbank shake on merger.

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