“We have an advantage”: demand for alternative building materials increases

Construction companies, manufacturers, and other businesses that bid for jobs have seen the process become unpredictable as rising material costs expose them to potential losses and massive project delays.

However, companies that use non-traditional materials can have a leg up on the competition.

Take Haus of Reed, a Sparks-based custom furniture and interior store that specializes in hospitality, commercial and residential projects for customers in Nevada and beyond.

Owned by Tim and Randi Reed, the company manufactures interior items, such as a kitchen countertop or bathroom sink, using alternative materials such as fiberglass reinforced concrete (GFRC) that Tim Reed manufactures in his workshop.

Similar to chopped fiberglass, although much weaker, GFRC is used by combining a mixture of fine sand, cement, polymer, water resistant and alkali resistant glass fibers.

Reed said companies that install countertops made from materials like stone, quartz and marble, for example, are at the mercy of soaring material prices and interstate supply chain issues. -United and foreign suppliers.

“We have an advantage because we can manufacture the material,” Reed said of the GFRC. “Nothing comes from overseas, so we don’t have to worry about when they can unload everything. There are things we buy in advance, but most are pretty much here locally. So that’s an advantage of one of those materials we work with.

Randi Reed added, “We have the ability to create the same product from scratch without a huge difference in cost. “

Plus, she said, it also allows the company to have more control over project schedules and timelines, which many companies using traditional materials shipped across the ocean cannot. to do.

A look at the glass fiber reinforced concrete kitchen counter made by Haus of Reed, a custom furniture and interior store based in Sparks. Courtesy photo

“It’s still essential,” she continued. “Especially now it’s even more critical. Because the faster you get your product to market, the faster you make profits. When you build, that’s what these developers or builders look at as they lead these projects through their design process: “Can we even do that?” “

“The faster you can increase your schedule, the better off you are.”

To that end, the Reeds believe the pandemic-related impacts on material costs and supply chains could prompt more builders and developers to use alternative materials like GFRC.

“I think it’s going to force people to do it,” said Randi Reed. “They are sometimes not as expensive as people think. I think builders will be a little more educated and a little more open-minded to different materials or methodologies.


Jeff Frame, owner of Frame Architecture in Reno, sees more and more innovations in commercial and residential construction to save on material costs.

One trend involves companies making precast concrete insulated wall panels, which can be designed to be load-bearing to support floor and roof components. These energy efficient wall panels, Frame said, reduce the number of trades needed for this part of a project from four to one.

“From a sustainability standpoint, I think there is a strong case there because of using concrete and reducing the use of lumber, drywall and all. other finishes, ”said Frame. “In addition, there is a saving of time, which is, of course, a saving of dollars. “

For building exteriors, Frame said his company is also seeing increased demand for non-traditional finishing materials like fiber cement siding – made from cement, sand, water and cellulose fibers – as an alternative. with synthetic stucco.

“People want to use materials that they think are more durable,” he said. “What is the origin of the material? How does he get here? And how does it settle down? And what does that do for the building envelope?

“And I think a lot of people are asking more, ‘What can we do to do something different? “”

To this end, Frame said that a non-traditional material that presents many opportunities is hemp. Notably, the federal government recently approved the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s plan to regulate the Silver State hemp industry.

“There are many building materials that can be made from hemp,” Frame said, citing insulation and vapor barriers as examples. “Even the wood coverings, we could replace them and put in a certain percentage of hemp fiber. And it’s stronger and lighter.

“And it’s easy to grow and uses less water than other plant-based materials. People just have a hard time going beyond their standards.

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