Infrastructure Planning for Townships

November 6, 2018

Commercial Construction

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Comprehensive and well-coordinated Infrastructure planning is a prerequisite in developing a new town or housing estate and is carried out in tandem with the master town planning and well in advance of any physical developments. It serves to establish the full infrastructure requirements and guide their timely implementation thereby ensuring quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the infrastructure provisions for the proposed development.

Specific functional modes of Infrastructure can be listed as Streets, roads, water supply and water resources, waste water management, sewage treatment plants, solid-waste treatment and disposal, electric power generation and transmission, telecommunications and hazardous waste management etc.

Infrastructure planning can be conceived as a multi-stage process. Each of these stages varies in duration. The greater the time spent on project preparation and structuring, the more likely it is that the project can be implemented smoothly and in a cost-effective manner. Hasty project preparation often leads to rework of documents, leads to false or missing information, and leads to project delays.

The planning process must to take into the local context. More specifically;

• Local needs should be satisfied.
• The project should comply with the existing institutional and legal frameworks
• The project should align with political objectives and ideology
• The project should be technically and economically feasible

Various stages of planning are listed below:

a) Preliminary Feasibility Study

The preliminary feasibility stage of the project establishes the need for the project. Existing information as well as field visits are conducted to substantiate the need for a project. This phase also determines the kinds of detailed studies that need to be undertaken.

b) Detail Study and Project Structuring

This stage is most time consuming. During this stage various technical studies like Geotechnical, land surveys are taken up. Economic market study, Environmental compatibility, Environmental Impact Assessment, Socio-economic Cost Benefit Analysis, Financial Analysis.

c) Detailed Project Report (DPR)

At the conclusion of the above stage, a Detailed Project Report (DPR) is also prepared with detailed technical specifications Financial Engineering and Structuring must also be done during this stage. Lenders, Terms of Loan (Tenors and Rates of Interest), mix of debt and equity, and user charges can all be modelled to determine the financial viability of the project. For Private participation in infrastructure, the private sector may be tasked with many of these studies.

d) Contracting and Procurement

Once the DPR is prepared, the project can be contracted out. Expressions of Interest are sought, Requests for Proposals are sought. Pre-bid conferences are held to clarify terms of the project. Proposals are evaluated and a successful bidder is selected for execution. In the case of Private Provision of Infrastructure, a winning bidder is selected based on their ability both to build and operate the infrastructure.

e) Construction

The successful bidder then proceeds with the construction of the project. Material, manpower and productivity risks must be managed in this phase. Once the project has been built and commissioned, operations can commence and the infrastructure service can be availed by the citizens.

f) Operations and Maintenance

An Operations and Maintenance Contract can be given to a separate party. Maintenance Parameters can be fixed well in advance. Technical Maintenance and quality issues, Revenue generation issues and Administrative risks must be considered in this phase.

Editor’s Note: Masters has been involved with several township developments these include Batanagar Township at Kolkata, IQ City at Durgapur. In addition we have executed large-scale developments such as L&T Phoenix SEZ at Hyderabad, Godrej Prakriti at Kolkata and Godrej Anandam at Nagpur and Riverdale at Pune all of which had considerable infrastructure requirements.

Tips for New Residential Construction

November 6, 2018

Commercial Construction

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The process to entitle lots can take more than five years and is expensive. The cost of parcel maps for five lots or less is $100,000. Tract maps for more than five lots can cost more than $500,000. The number of lots and the potential size are determined by biology, health-department regulations, slope, and the zoning and general plan. Included in the cost are engineering, processing, and regulatory fees and various reports and studies.

Reports and studies include conditions of approval costs, storm-water treatment, anthropology and archeology, soils, biology, noise, and traffic. When a map is approved and recorded, there are additional fees that include, but are not limited to the following:
• Potential greenhouse gas studies
• Retention and drainage basins
• On- and off-site mitigation land
• School fees
• Parks and recreation fees
• Physical secondary access
• Fire fees
• Annual bonding fees.

Politics comes into play when obtaining the required approvals from county boards, city councils, and planning commissions. The level of public opposition or support affects hearings completion. They can be completed in as little as four months, or take years and cost over a million dollars. Property owners have three courses of action to take into consideration.

1. Entitlement and sale of the property ‘as is’ – This option brings the lowest price, but costs the least and requires the shortest time for property disposal. Under rare circumstances, the land is worth more when it is unentitled.
2. Enter into a long-term agreement – The agreement is made with a home builder who incurs the expenses of processing a tract map. This option is the most utilized. The process could take up to five years. The buyer is required to release nonrefundable deposits periodically to the seller after approving their contingencies. Escrow closing typically occurs after tentative or final map approval.
3. The owner incurs the entitlement costs – Much of the process is like option two. The difference is the owner has full control of the mapping process and bears all expenses.

The ramifications of each choice should be weighed carefully before making a decision. Owners, who have chosen not to seek advice, have made the decision to process a map and found out later the number of lots was not financially feasible. A competent engineer can determine the optimal number of lots that can be obtained and approved. Smart growth design principals call for buildings with a variety of materials, texture, and color and individuality; well-defined open space; a building and street relationship; mixed uses; and high-density development. Contractors, who specialize in residential subdivisions, can give realistic cost estimations.

The process of entitling residential property to higher densities is costly, complex, and cumbersome. Many factors must be taken into consideration. The leading concerns that communities have about increased density are the quality of life and increased costs.

There is a need for new affordable housing to reduce recent overpayment and overcrowding. There is also a need for high-density housing that supports economic recovery, accommodates new workers and their loved ones, and economizes the costs of infrastructure. It is quite a balancing act. Open spaces need to be conserved and the distance between new jobs and new homes reduced.

10 Benefits of Commercial Landscape Maintenance

November 6, 2018

Commercial Construction

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It is a known fact that a well-preserved and maintained landscape adds to the aesthetic appeal and value of your brand and enhances the overall image of your business. On the contrary, a poorly maintained landscape repels customers and there is a high possibility that they won’t even enter your interior space. First impression is the last impression, after all.

An adequately maintained commercial landscape attracts customers towards your business and marks a professional impression in their minds. From small enterprises to large corporates, manufacturing plans to clubs-all gain huge benefits from commercial landscape maintenance.

Below are the top 10 benefits enterprises can achieve through commercial landscape maintenance:

1. Building an eco-friendly environment

A green environment is a clean environment and it makes your clients breathe fresh air helping them realize the importance you give to your workplace environment. It adds to your professional image in the eyes of the client and makes you their first choice for doing business.

2. Making your Commercial Landscape highly Attractive

Often while travelling you see big lush green beautifully maintained offices, don’t your eyes stick to? That’s what a well-maintained landscape does, it makes you want to visit the office and see what the inside environment is like.

3. Helps in establishing your Brand and building a Clean Image

Your business is what your clients perceive of it. A commercial landscape with well-preserved plants and trees all around leave a lasting impression on your clients and makes them feel that you pay attention to every minute detail in your workplace, from professional work to professional space.

4. Enhanced Employee Productivity

An enterprise is only as good as its employees. Your employees work hard for you every day but even they need a fresh and healthy environment for their lunch breaks and between work walks. A clean environment refreshes your employees multiple times during the day, increases their productivity and boosts their performance.

5. Adds to your Business Value and Attracts more Clients

A beautiful commercial landscape architecture adds diversity to your business and makes you stand out from your competitors. It attracts more clients towards your business and increases your market demand.

6. Maintains Standardization

When your commercial landscape complies with the established design standards, it helps you to doing business effectively and avoids uncomfortable encounters with business-district communities.

7. Physical and Psychological Advantages

Numerous researches have proved that interaction with trees, grass and other plants helps humans get rid of their work stress and instills refreshed productivity in them.

8. Economic Advantages

As per the reports of the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association, a beautifully maintained commercial landscape leads to a 14% increase in the resale value of the property.

9. Increases Safety, Lowers Crime Risk and Saves Money

Well-maintained commercial landscape reduces the risk of employee injury from stumbling over debris. With properly trimmed bushes and trees, and nicely cut grass, your commercial space can keep away thieves and criminals as they realize that your property is regularly maintained and employees are always alert.

A planned landscape architecture takes into account the design for minimal heat during the warmest months and can help you save huge amounts on your electricity bills.

10. Greenery increases Privacy

Properly grafted plants and trees help you keep the dirt, dust and pollution away from your premises and maintain your privacy. It allows for better utilization of workplace, which can include car parking, fountains, etc.

Amidst several architects in India, Morphogenesis is the pioneer architecture company which has designed state-of-the-art commercial landscapes and helped corporates and various other enterprises achieve maximum returns from their landscape investments.

7 Ways Construction Firms Can Hire and Retain Quality Tradesmen

November 6, 2018

Commercial Construction

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Whether you are a construction recruitment agency or a construction firm itself looking to hire the best of talent industry has to offer, here are a few important tips to help you in this quest.

Hire in the off season:

Conventional wisdom has it that you must never go grocery shopping while you are hungry. You tend to buy whatever you get at the earliest and that’s almost never a good bargain. The same is true for hiring tradesmen when you need them.

So the best time to look for a tradesman is when you don’t require one. It will help you scan wide range of talents, be more selective, and acquire the kind of worker you exactly want. As an added piece of advice, aim for the off-season when many construction workers are out of work and you might get a bargain.

Pay the market rate:

When you pay peanuts, you get only monkey! Firms who pay below-market wages not only have the least-qualified and least-productive employees, but they are also the ones always in need of new workers. Why? Because competitive tradesmen will leave you the moment they get more lucrative opportunities. Do I need to tell you what a dent it makes to overall productivity?

Provide a safe work environment:

Don’t underestimate the value of a safe and healthy workplace in retaining workforce. Too many workers falling sick on site might force others to look for a safer option. A major accident on site and the resultant bad press might turn away potential hires.

Develop a great work culture:

There is something more than a good salary a qualified and talented tradesman look forward to. Bonuses, paid leaves, company outings, work-life balance, and retirement programs are some of the perks that entice the best of talents. The more people want to work for your company, the easier it will be to attract (and retain) quality people.

Invest in your workforce:

I haven’t met a tradesman who doesn’t like adding on new skills or getting a pat on the back for a job well done. So it’s a good idea to invest in your workforce. When you provide them a chance to learn, grow and develop they can help your company do the same. Training improves the efficiency of the workers and quality of the output. This is also a great way to identify the people with potential to take on bigger roles within the company.

Be in step with time and technology:

Embracing technology not only makes the company more efficient and productive but it also attracts younger and tech-savvy workforce. You can also publicize it as your USP to entice people buying your product or services.

Character can pay more dividend than the skill-set of a hire:

Characters can’t be built, skills can be. People with character can make the most of the training you give them. Such workers are more likely to stick with you in bad times as compared to those with only skills and potential.

What Are the Benefits of Using Wood-Plastic Composite?

November 6, 2018

Construction Industry

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Wood-plastic composite (WPC) is a type of material that blends thermoplastic and wood fiber to create a very durable option for construction projects. It is an extremely versatile material that can provide a wide range of uses, such as doors, windows, fences, decking and flooring. Let’s take a look at a few of the most pleasing qualities of this material:

Water-resistant

The ability to blend thermoplastic and wood fiber makes it highly water-resistant. This means it is useful for outdoor applications. It is particularly useful as a construction material for decking and fencing, as well as tables or benches that will be used outside.

Low-maintenance

The high strength and durability of this material means that it easily stands up to outside weather conditions and needs very little care. It is less attractive to bugs than 100% timber, so needs less time to maintain. Also, for an outside product like wall cladding, this material can maintain its like-new appearance for a lot longer than painted timber, so this will also reduce the maintenance work.

Long life span

Wood-plastic composite has a very long life span. It can easily cope with most weather conditions, including bright sunshine, wind and rainfall. The long life span makes it a really good choice for outdoor fencing. This material will last significantly longer than a timber based fence which will naturally start to break down after 8-10 years.

Slip resistant

The slip resistant quality of this material makes it a practical choice for many different uses. It makes a very reliable option to install floor decking around an outside pool. Also, it is just as good to use for normal patio decking.

Color choices

This material can easily be colored at the manufacturing stage to make it available in a wide range of colors. This coloring effect is permanent and will last a lot longer than applying a coat of paint to a timber fence or cladding.

Are there any negatives?

In addition to the many benefits of using the wood-plastic composite, there are also a few negatives. Since this is still a relatively new material, the cost is still a little higher than comparable materials, such as plain timber which can make a more cost-effective option for many projects. When it comes to certain projects, such as outdoor furniture, the material may not give the desired look because it lacks the natural wood texture. Also, it isn’t practical to use in an environment that constantly has to endure extreme temperatures.

How Popular Is Prefabricated Housing?

November 6, 2018

Construction Industry

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Unlike in the world of human interactions, popularity is equated with quality in the world of technology. The AEC industry is firmly supported by the technological advances of our age, and prefabricated housing is becoming increasingly popular. The emergence of prefabricated or modular construction in the housing industry is an affordable and reliable solution to the challenge of quality housing worldwide. Prefabricated housing, sometimes known as prefab homes, prefabs or modular homes, are manufactured off site in sections, from just bathrooms to entire floors, that can be transported, placed or assembled to form housing units. Prefabricated housing can be independent dwelling units for individual families (houses) or single units which have been stacked on top of each other to form multi-storey housing or apartment blocks. How useful prefabrication is in the housing sector, why it is so and who can deliver services key to accurate prefabrication design are some of the things we will explore.

So, what are prefabricated buildings?

Prefab buildings can be built from components (such as panels), modules (in the case of entire modular homes, houses on wheels) or sections (parts of manufactured homes) constructed off site and transferred to the site when they are ready to be installed. A team of technical experts attach the different services to the building layout. These can include double-storey homes and customised homes. Modular or prefabricated homes can be created in sections and then transported on site to be put together as part of the construction process or installed. Whole rooms, such as bathroom pods or kitchens, can be created in a factory setting as prefabricated units. Steel frames can be erected on site to ‘slot’ in the prefabricated units or entire concrete foundations can be laid into the ground in readiness for the new home to arrive. Financing, construction and appraisals of these homes are carried out in the same way as for regular homes. Prefabricated houses can also be assembled on production assembly lines, which are transferred in complete sections or floors to the site, where these complete home units are connected floor by floor and then also connected to the location’s main water supply, sewage system and electrical lines.

How are they constructed?

They are usually constructed in factories that are some distance away from the actual housing site, indeed they could be in a different country. These purpose-designed factories effectively consist of assembly line environments, where different elements and trades come together at different stages of the assembly line to add the various components to the building. Starting with floors, walls and ceilings, the structure moves along for internal fixtures and MEP elements such as piping, plumbing, boilers, bathrooms and entire kitchen fittings, before being moved across to finishing areas such as glazing, doors, electrical fittings and even bathroom tiling. Once the house is assembled, it passes through final QA checks before being handed over to logistics teams for transport to its permanent site.

Plumbing and electrical lines are connected to the city’s water and electrical connections and the prefabricated sections are sealed. Prefabricated homes can have a number of rooms and be of different designs. These homes can be set on a permanent foundation, blending in seamlessly with other regularly constructed homes. Repairs on the homes are conducted by the real estate company involved in its sale.

During the settling-in time period, a prefabricated home ‘settles’ in to the location, after which some cracking of the drywall could occur. Appliances that were incorrectly installed can be repaired by changing the wiring or plumbing, and the ventilation, heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems can be properly installed by a set-up crew.

One of the driving forces behind a successfully assembled and reliably functioning prefabricated home is the effectiveness of its design. Increasingly, architects, engineers, contractors and trade contractors use BIM (Building Information Modelling) construction drawings at some point as part of DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly). DfMA is a design process that groups the design for manufacture, or the ease with which parts will be made for a product, with the design for assembly, which refers to the ease with which parts will be assembled. DfMA helps the design team reduce manufacturing and assembly costs by identifying, analysing and removing waste and inefficiency from a product’s design. DfMA modelling and drawing is fast becoming synonymous with design for prefabrication.

Construction drawings, or shop drawings, graphically illustrate the details, data and specifications of a prefabricated design, contain information about the MEP (M&E) systems and include the details of prefabricated components. BIM technology is part of the larger virtual design and construction (VDC) process that helps find solutions to challenges faced by subcontractors and designers before building prefabricated components in the factory.

Advances in technology have made it possible and indeed preferable to outsource the delivery of BIM services such as modelling and drafting. Outsourced firms specialise in delivering drawings and models quickly, using the latest software, such as Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Navisworks and others, and by employing well-qualified experts. Modular construction drawings provided by these CAD drafting firms are typically accurate and error-free.

Prefabricated construction has reportedly been used in the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai and in the construction of the prestigious Sydney Opera House.

Advantages of Prefabrication

  • Faster completion of projects, therefore reducing costs
  • Diverse uses – can be used to create high-rises, single-storey construction, villas, townships, as well as to create ceiling slabs, terrace blocks, wall panels, columns, staircases, bathrooms, light fixtures, etc.
  • Customisation – unique property specifications can be accommodated easily, resulting in reduced expenses
  • Durability – prefabrication in the structural aspect of construction bolsters structural strength, sometimes helping to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters. Concrete panels are created with elements of high quality in a controlled factory environment and therefore last longer.
  • Well suited for certain sectors that have repetitive design elements, such as student housing, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, prisons, police stations and senior housing.
  • Increased and more efficient quality control in factory settings
  • Safer and less stressful working environment for labourers in a factory than on site, especially in crowded areas, as on-site dangers are eliminated for workers
  • Less on-site space is required to assembly components which have already been assembled off site
  • Less waste is generated during construction, since prefabricated component waste is disposed of at the factory and not transported to the site
  • Competitive edge – allows flexibility in design decisions till the nth moment
  • Saves space – housing can be built in cramped spaces in tight schedules and take up less space

Modular construction in the housing industry has expanded its scope for buyers and builders. Buyers have more options to choose from and builders have more build options for construction, changing the overall construction landscape. Projects see MEP contractors use an increasing number of modular construction plans during collaboration. Prefabricated construction is more affordable and more green, since such buildings are better sealed against drafts and there is improved quality control systems in factories, thus leading to improved insulation and better energy efficiency. This will ultimately benefit neighbourhoods and residential and commercial projects.

The various advantages of using prefabricated housing can only be enjoyed when the DfMA modelling and drawings are flawless. Since this demands considerable time and resources, an increasing number of Western firms are looking overseas for their prefabrication design services.

Benefits of Outsourcing Prefab Design Services

  • Cost reduction, since skilled labour and expenditure on resources overseas is significantly less expensive
  • Use of advanced tools and technologies, such as AutoCAD and Revit, by experienced and well-qualified human resources
  • Standardisation of drawings across projects, so that MEP installations and other services are made easier
  • 3D axonometric drawings of the entire construction project are generated, showing methods and means by which individual subcontractor components or systems can be placed in the project
  • Skilled draftsmen and other technical professionals work faster, maintain accuracy, provide complete audit trails with drawing references, approval records
  • Faster turnaround time, since overseas firms employ ready and dedicated teams of trained personnel capable of working to constantly changing specifications, helping to complete projects on schedule
  • Increased flexibility, as outsourcing allows Western firms to pick and choose services according to need. The flexibility thus generated helps expand the business.

Outsourcing prefabrication design services is thus an increasingly popular option, and this approach will save time, increase productivity, ensure higher safety levels and increase profits. Using Revit, AutoCAD and other software to create modular construction drawings and models helps provide high-quality prefabricated design support for Western firms in the industry.

Why Pipe Locating Is Important in Any Construction Project

November 6, 2018

Construction Industry

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Before starting any construction or excavation process, it is important to hire a company for pipe locating. Engaging these professionals will save you time and money and the central focus is avoiding possible damage to both, environment and workers.

In modern and urban cities, underground utilities create a complex and complicated network. Besides pipe location, it’s essential to perform locating of water, sewer, gas pipes and electrical, cable lines. Locating underground pipes is considered as a crucial part of any construction or excavation project for many reasons.

Predicting the location of the utilities can cause serious damage. This situation can occur when workers are guided by old historical records. However, these records may be outdated, leading the worker on wrong assumptions. To provide safety for the worker and the entire environment, new updated information should be obtained. When this type of information is collected, the excavation process can begin.

The professionals who determine the pipe location are using specialized sophisticated equipment, from Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), underground 3D imaging to CCTV inspections. Along with the latest modern technology, workers should have comprehensive experience and knowledge in utility locating. The least you want is to hire someone who does not have enough experience and does more damage to the utilities and more repair costs.

In the construction or excavation projects often any interruption or delay can happen even in the planning stage. Locating pipes underground can speed up the process by eliminating the chances of damage. By employing pipe location service, you will definitely prevent costly repairs and work disruption. All of this will lead to successfully and timely finishing the project.

If you want to reduce the risks associated with underground pipes, don’t forget that down there electrical or cable lines can also be found. They are more sensitive and cause more damage than underground pipes. The worker may be very careful and still hit one of them. As a result, this will bring a disruption in the electrical supply of many homes and businesses in the surrounding area.

You don’t want to feel sorry for not engaging this type of service. One thing is certain – the benefits that this type of locating brings are great. It is always better to invest in advance before any damage happens.

Contact the leading provider of detection services for government and industry clients. However, as homeowners ourselves, we understand the importance of using the best tools and technicians for your number one investment. They guarantee you will get what you paid for.

Modern Applications of Fiberglass Rebar

November 6, 2018

Construction Industry

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Despite leading research and studies, fiberglass rebar markets have seen slow growth. Since first being introduced in the USA in mid-nineties, it gained repute in North America when it was codified in the Canadian highway bridge standards. It started a chain reaction with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials or AASHTO creating and developing specifications for the usage of glass-fiber reinforced polymer. Even the U.S. Department of Transportation gave it thumbs up with its own design guidelines. As a consequence, there are more than 400 applications, namely bridges, with fiber rebars.

With civil engineering research and technological advancements, new approaches have led to the possibilities of manufacturing next generation of fiberglass composite rebars.

Hollow Rebar

Originally developed by engineering professors in the USA, hollow fiberglass rebar is a fairly new product which is soon to be commercialized. It is a hollow, as the name suggests, but continuously reinforced rod that has a supporting sleeve which is bond to the bar to give it extra support. The vinyl ester resin pultrudes the inner sleeve giving it unbeatable durability, stability, and longevity. The outer layering of the composition sleeve extends flexibility to it which can be reinforced with carbon, glass or other fibers. The inside layering sheath helps with management of loads. The carrying of huge loads is an essential factor that makes it unique and reliable which is provided to it with the inner continuous-glass sheath. For increased protection of the hollow bar, reinforced BMC sleeve serves well against installation damage, storage accidents, and rough handling while transporting while giving it resistance against microcracks and moisture attacks. Some of the tensile strength is attributed to the above normal and larger diameter range. In addition, hollow fiberglass rebar is increased in an application, the tensile strength expands and increases per unit. Also, the weight of the product has massive benefits being light and easily movable. As a building material, imagine the relief of workers who would be lifting seventy-five percent less burden as compared to steel. Delivery time of project can even be improved with fast mobilization and lesser efforts in installations.

Even speculated to be considered for use in fiber optics, the conduit for wiring or cabling whereby enabling voice and data transmission. Sensors can be housed in the hollow fiberglass rebar in case of monitoring structural integrity and health. Other possible applications can be climate control. Bridge and ship decks can be protected against freezing in severe temperatures by using heating fluids circulating in the inner layer. The world is eyeing more innovative ways to use this highly effective environmentally friendly creation of current engineering efforts and they may be on to something!

Thermoplastics

Scientists and companies alike are scrambling at the notable trend of developing fiber-reinforced products due to its mega-advantages. Major companies are reportedly in the race to grab a great portion of a market with their products as the world is becoming aware of the practical applications of this lightweight, strong, and durable material. So, to offset FRP rebar, much work is being conducted to come with a number of items with vast practical usage like thermoplastic tapes, windings, and even reinforced thermoplastics. As the modern world opens up to this revolutionary building material, much can be ascertained about the future and what it holds for fiberglass reinforcement and its infrastructural value.