Installing Architectural Steel

Installing Architectural Steel Skins

Sheets of steel can be installed as a skin. CZ has traditionally used screws to install steel sheets. Since 2008, CZ has been using 3M VHB [very high bonding] double sided tape.

Reasons to specify tape construction:

– expresses the materiality without visual interruption of screws

– 7 step installation process, must be done correctly for overhead installation

– permanent install, it is very difficult to remove panels without ruining them

– panels are better supported/tend to lay flat, no dimpling/”oil-canning” caused by screws

– tape is viscoelastic, allows steel to expand/contract without weakening the bond

– tape separates the steel from the substrate and reduces vibration/dampens sound transfer

– interior panels can be hung by continuous tape to create an airtight construction

Reasons to specify screw installation:

– expresses the construction method, nothing is hidden

– simple installation [layout screw holes, drill, install]

– requires less skilled crew to install

– less expensive installation

– screws can be adjusted/shimmed if there are any irregularities in the installation

– panels are easily removed if there is a reason to access the framing/wall interiors

Merlin Ellis, AIA Architect

The Construction Zone, ltd.


Getting your home ready for fall/winter

While the rest of the United States is saddened that summer is ending, Arizonans look forward to cooler temperatures.  Time to dust off our bicycles, sweep the patio and ponder what to plant in the garden.

9 critical seasonal home maintenance tasks:

  1. change filters for HVAC unit.
  2. trim the vegetation and overgrowth  around the exterior of home.
  3. clean your gutters and drains
  4. inspect gas appliances / especially your pool heater and bbq
  5. adjust the watering schedule on your irrigation system
  6. test and replace batteries in Fire & Smoke Alarms.
  7. install window/door screens, repairing as needed.
  8. schedule seasonal pest control.
  9. inspect weather-stripping around doors and replace as needed

Williams Residence – Paradise Valley, AZ

Koliopoulos Residence – Phoenix, AZ

Stephan Residence – Great Falls, VA

Schulman Residence – Phoenix, AZ



Out of town work

It’s hard enough to build custom residential projects in your own town, but what happens when you step outside of your comfort zone?  When the economy tanked, Phoenix was one of the hardest hit markets.  Our business significantly declined through both a lack of available jobs and intensely fierce competition for the jobs that were available.

How did we cope?  In addition to stream lining our AZ process, we developed an out of state general contracting business model that allowed us to go where the work is and it is still our template to this day.  We networked with architects and clients that we had previously built for and reached out to new ones that we wanted to build for throughout the U.S.  Since 2008 CZ’s out of state work has involved (2) completed two houses, (2) that are nearly complete, (1) that is about to break ground and (4) on the boards (including work with Lake Flato Architects and Olson Kundig Architects).

9 Aspects about working out of town and travel.

1.      While climates and regions vary immensely, all houses still sit on the ground and the number one goal is always to keep any water out of the house.

2.      Know your soils; this is one of the biggest variables.  Clay, silt, and sand all behave differently, both good and bad.

3.      While good subcontractors are hard to find, they exist everywhere.  I call it searching for the ‘diamond in the rough’.  Once you’ve found them, you know it.

4.      Bad subcontractors are easy to find, they exist everywhere.  Once you’ve found them, you know it.

5.      Listen to your local subcontractors (the diamond in the rough).  They possess important knowledge that will make the project better.

6.      Have a back-up plan.  If we can’t source a product or subcontractor in the region we are working in, we fabricate and bring crews from AZ.  Usually for the same or even a better price.

7.      The building permit processes are widely varied.  In Fairfax Country (VA), a single family residence required (9) different permits with over (25) inspections.  In North Sioux City, SD, a single family residence required (0) permits and no inspections.  We delivered the same quality of construction for both houses.

8.      Fairfax County (VA) was touted to have one of the most difficult review and inspections processes in the country.  During the first inspection for concrete foundations, the inspector didn’t review the plans, didn’t inspect the work, and didn’t even get out of his car.  He passed us on the drive by.  Get to know your inspector.

9.      Enjoy your travels, our country is a diverse, rich, beautiful landscape.  In the past four years we have visited 12 new states.  We have seen a full Midwest farming season from snow on the ground to harvest, the Missouri River flood to epic proportions, New Orleans, southern hospitality, our Nation’s Capital in the spring, central California wine country.

for more detailed information about building in your area :

CZ Modern Home – Fairfax County, Virginia

Rendering of side porch by Lake|Flato Architects


Photo of side porch by Lake|Flato Architects

Rendering of Kitchen/Family Room by Lake|Flato Architects

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Rammed Earth

Nine quick facts:

1 earthen walls are typically 18” to 48” thick and designed for compression loads
2 contain a critical mix of appropriate soil, cement, water, and pigment
3 regional design considerations are key to a quality installation
4 ancient building technique revived into modern architecture
5 integration of other building systems greatly affects schedule and cost
6 color and texture varies according to soil selection and ramming techniques
7 labor intensive process with critical sequential consideration
8 sustainable building materials
9 needs annual maintenance to maintain aesthetic quality and durability

for more detailed information about rammed earth:


The Perch – Sedona, AZ

Photo Credit: Bill Timmerman

2009 Honor Award – Western Mountain Region AIA design competition