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Letter From The President – There’s Something About Mary…

July 11th, 2012

Much of our success and enjoyment of our jobs here at Mountain Vista is a result of our remarkable team.  From time to time I would like to introduce them to you.  Today, meet Mary Birtas, our estimator.

Throughout her 12 years of estimating experience, Mary has won over $58M of successful bids. Born and raised in South Africa, she moved to Chicago in 1984, and on to Las Vegas in 2006. Being fluent in three languages; African, Greek, and English, she has a vast worldly experience and many interesting stories to capture your attention for hours!

Recent projects awarded to MVDI include: Clark County School District -HVAC Modernization at Administration Areas at Diskin, Edwards, & Smith Elementary Schools,  City of Las Vegas-E. Las Vegas Detention Center Energy Audit Improvements, and Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority-UFAS/Wheelchair Accessibility Compliance at Simmons Gardens. Mary’s most recent successful bid is the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority-UFAS/Wheelchair Accessibility Compliance at Jones Gardens.

We very much appreciate Mary and her dog Buddy as valued and appreciated members of the Mountain Vista Development, Inc. team!

Vicki King, president


Are You Leaking Money?

July 11th, 2012

Whether in the heat of summer or the cold of winter, insuring that your homes and offices are properly insulated is a key to saving energy.  The U. S. Department of Energy offers tips along these lines…

  • Test your home or office building for air tightness. On a windy day, carefully hold a lit incense stick or a smoke pen next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other places where air may leak. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weather stripping.
  • Caulk and weather strip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and sophist over cabinets.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
  • Inspect dirty spots in your insulation for air leaks and mold. Seal leaks with low-expansion spray foam made for this purpose and install house flashing if needed.
  • Look for dirty spots on your ceiling paint and carpet, which may indicate air leaks at interior wall/ceiling joints and wall/floor joists, and caulk them.
  • Use foam sealant on larger gaps around windows, baseboards, and other places where air may leak out.

HVAC’s Green Buddy VAV

July 11th, 2012

The summers in Las Vegas are challenging at best, and when you are trying to control temperatures and comfort in public spaces or offices, cost and ease of use become huge issues.

Variable air volume (VAV) diffusers offer technology that can control temperatures by providing individual room temperature control to any room or zone.  VAV diffusers have individual thermostats built in to maintain a set temperature, increase airflow and prevent over heating or cooling a space.

Sensors control the airflow making it seem like the unit follows the sun around a room or area.  Room temperatures can be maintained with the morning or afternoon sun, as well as when the sun goes down without constantly adjusting the thermostat.

VAVs also control the room temperature when body heat is present or not present in a space.  For example, say that you have a conference room in which you wish to maintain a 75-degree temp.  With standard diffusers, you set the temperature, but when activity in a room increases or decreases, so does the temperature.  With VAVs, once the temp is set, each diffuser’s individual thermostats maintain it.  If 30 people come into the room for a meeting, the diffuser will open to allow more airflow and maintain the temperature in the room.  When the meeting is over and the 30 people depart, the diffuser will close accordingly to maintain the set temperature of 75 degrees.

VAVs are perfect for individual offices, conference rooms, executive offices, or any other area in a building where individual comfort is important. Studies have shown that productivity gains of up to 18% can be achieved when employees are satisfied with the environment of their individual workspaces.

Energy savings is accomplished by varying the air volume to supply only the precise amount of conditioned air necessary to maintain comfort in a given room or area. Overheating and overcooling in the occupied space are eliminated. Most VAVs are constructed of lightweight aluminum, and can be easily installed.  If you are designing a new office space, it’s great to have them installed from the beginning.

These systems can cater to larger corporate headquarters or smaller buildings to offer you uncompromising indoor air quality control at an affordable cost.  If you’ve wondered how to control your energy impact and budget, we’d be happy to help you evaluate how a VAV diffuser system may help.

Flash Flood Clean-up & Safety

July 11th, 2012

The monsoon season is approaching here in southern Nevada.  Unexpected damage to your home or business is frustrating.  Rebuilding shouldn’t be.  Contact MVDI when you need to clean up and rebuild without delay.

Safety is key to avoiding more damage if flash flood waters invade your home or office.

  • Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don’t smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out.
  • Be sure the electricity is off before entering a flooded home or office.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.
  • Soaked carpeting and padding should be pulled up and discarded.
  • Watch your step.  After a flood, the ground and floors could be covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
  • The use of large fans can speed the drying process and curtail the development of mold.
  • If the water level got so high that appliances were soaked, unplug them until they can dry out. Some appliances, such as television sets, can shock you even after they have been unplugged. Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.


ADA Safety and Accessibility

June 7th, 2012

Most of us have heard about ADA, but may not know the ramifications of this act when considering commercial building or upgrading.  The Americans with Disability Act (www.ada.gov) was enacted by Congress to, among other things, allow access to persons with disabilities to all commercial facilities.

Sec. 12183 outlines “ New construction and alterations in public accommodations and commercial facilities.”

Owners will be in default if there is “a failure to design and construct facilities for first occupancy later than 30 months after July 26, 1990, that are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, except where an entity can demonstrate that it is structurally impracticable to meet the requirements of such subsection in accordance with standards set forth or incorporated by reference in regulations issued under this subchapter; and (2) with respect to a facility or part thereof that is altered by, on behalf of, or for the use of an establishment in a manner that affects or could affect the usability of the facility or part thereof, a failure to make alterations in such a manner that, to the maximum extent feasible, the altered portions of the facility are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs. Where the entity is undertaking an alteration that affects or could affect usability of or access to an area of the facility containing a primary function, the entity shall also make the alterations in such a manner that, to the maximum extent feasible, the path of travel to the altered area and the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities where such alterations to the path of travel or the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area are not disproportionate to the overall alterations in terms of cost and scope (as determined under criteria established by the Attorney General).

We at Mountain Vista pride ourselves on being experts on meetingADArequirements.  Contact us to help you insure your compliance.

Ask An Expert About: Code Compliance

June 7th, 2012

Homeowners have always liked the idea of adding, changing, updating, etc. in their home, and in our current economic situation in Nevada, more homeowners than ever are jumping into these projects.  What a lot of homeowners do not know is that before any structural change, addition or demolition, can occur, permitting is required.  The process involves applying for a permit to begin the work; getting inspections during and after completion, and then the issue of certificate of completion. 

It’s not as scary as it sounds, but failure to follow the procedure can cause unwanted grief and an outlay of cash for fines.

If one of these popular projects is in your future, see what is expected before you get started.

DemolitionNo structure in the City of Las Vegas (www.cityoflasvegas.gov) may be demolished or demolition started without first obtaining a demolition permit from the Building & Safety Department. There is an exception. A demolition permit is not required for partial demolition work performed in conjunction with remodeling, alteration, or repair of a structure for which plans have been reviewed and approved and a permit issued by the Building & Safety Department for the proposed work. A demolition permit may be required when the demolition exceeds 50% of the total project. This includes work that does and does not require a permit. Minor demolitions such as the removal of one wall will be handled by issuing a non-structural only demolition permit without plans. 

Residential Detached Storage Sheds, Tool Sheds, Playhouses:

First, the plans must comply with IBC setback or Zoning setback, whichever is more restrictive. If the structure has a floor area of 200 square feet or less and the walls do not exceed eight feet in height, construction plans are not required; however, PERMITS ARE REQUIRED. In addition, a dimensioned site plan must always be submitted to show location from property lines and other structures on the sites. Whenever electrical work is being done on a structure, an electrical plan and permit are always required. Whenever the structure contains plumbing or mechanical units, a full set of plans will be required regardless of the size of the structure.

Room Addition:  One of the most common considerations for homeowners is the addition of a room.  Here are some of the items required: Dimensioned Plot Plans, International Energy Conservation Code Calculations, dimensioned floor plans and details of adjacent areas, structural calculations and/or load path details, truss calculations, soils reports (for additions of 600 square feet or greater); complete sets of plans including: Architectural, Structural, Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical.

So you can see, getting that bit of extra space requires a lot of work before the real work can begin.  When you use a contractor to handle your remodeling needs, the permitting and code compliance becomes theirs, and you can just sit back and dream about the finished product.

Energy Savings

June 7th, 2012

The U. S. Department of Energy says that a large majority of us spend at least one day a week working from home – using a multitude of electronics.  Here are a few ideas to consider when updating your home office, or for that matter, your “office” office.  

  • Experts tell us that laptops use less energy than desk tops.  Get one. Even in an office, laptops are a positive alternative.
  • Selecting energy-efficient office equipment and turning off machines when they are not in use can result in significant energy savings. If the computer needs to be left on for some reason, set to sleep mode.
  • We all know about ENERGY STAR but don’t always look for appliances and electronics with that label.  An Energy Star-labeled computer can save 30%-65% energy than computers without this designation, depending on usage.
  • Use the low-power mode.  It saves energy and your computer will run cooler.  Computers are like little heaters in your office.  The more we can do to cool them off the better.
  • Use a power strip that can be turned off (or will turn off automatically) when not in use. 
  • Check out the power management settings on computers and monitors.  The right setting can save energy.

And finally, relative to all of our electronics and appliances, the Energy Department gives us this tip that may surprise you. “Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These vampire loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as DVD players, TVs, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.”

Message From The President – What get’s you up in the morning?

June 7th, 2012

People are often asked in interviews and conversations about their businesses, “what makes you get up in the morning?”  That’s such an easy answer for me – “striving to be the best we can be, and providing the best to our customers.”  We pride ourselves on meeting customers’ needs, and in addition to general contracting and construction management, we are happy to include all of the following in our services: Project Planning, Scheduling, Consulting, Design/Build, In-House Drawings, Expert Witness, ADA Compliance, Budgeting and Estimating, Safety Compliance, Commercial Tenant Improvements, Residential Remodels and Energy Upgrades.

We pride ourselves in exceeding your expectations, but not your budget.


Reduce Your “Paper” Footprint

May 2nd, 2012

Nearly every office, large or small, relies on large quantities of paper. Here are a few ways to reduce your “paper” footprint.  Not only are these tips eco-friendly, they offer cost savings as well.

Use both sides of paper: When making copies, set your machine to use both sides of paper and cut your consumption in half.

Shred and reuse unwanted paper: Instead of throwing away old documents, shred them and reuse them as packing material in shipments.

Reuse boxes: When you get shipments in, save your boxes so that you can use them again for shipments out.

Offer paper recycling: Put a paper recycling receptacle next to every printer, copier and fax machine so that employees can deposit unwanted paper in them.

Avoid color printing: Color printing generally uses more ink, so print in black and white when you can.

Workplace Safety – Avoiding Falls

May 2nd, 2012

The key to a happy and productive workplace is a safe workplace.  There are a multitude of potential risks in any office, factory or other workplace.  We’re focusing this month on injuries in the workplace.  Surprisingly, experts agree that the leading cause of injury in the workplace is falls.  And, the major cause of falls is improper lifting techniques.  Safety expert  Jennifer Chait offers these tips: “ Plan the lift.  Wear proper skid free shoes.  Bend your knees, tighten your stomach, and keep your back straight.  Get a good grip on the item you are lifting.  Lift smoothly, no twisting your body.”  Simple steps for a safer work environment.

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