Biden’s Budget Boosts Construction Industry

construction industry

On Friday, May 28, 2021, President Biden released his 2022 FY budget. It calls for $6+ trillion in spending that “reimagines how – and for whom – the economy works,” says Vox reporter Cameron Peters. Infrastructure spending and education are focal points.

“Trickle-down economics has never worked,” said Biden. “The best way to grow our economy is not from the top down but from the bottom up and the middle out.”

For the most part, Biden’s ambitious plan benefits our construction industry. But a 13% cut to the Army Corps of Engineers is coming under some scrutiny. But Veterans Affairs would see a 22% increase.

Rebuild Illinois Serves as Construction Industry Flagship

Also in May 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a $45 billion bill that is among the largest capital programs in the construction industry this year and the largest ever in Illinois. It’s also the first program that is multimodal. “Every aspect and mode of transportation in every part of Illinois will be touched by it,” says the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT).

The plan may create approximately 540,000 jobs. IDOT is also renewing efforts to revitalize the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program in hopes of attracting more small businesses to the projects.

The project’s funding breakdown includes:

  • $25.3B – Roads, bridges
  • $4.6B – Mass transit
  • $1B – Rail
  • $679M – Miscellaneous transportation
  • $558M – Aeronautics
  • $492M – Create
  • $312M – Grade crossing protection
  • $150M – Ports

The total is $33.2 billion.

Making a Good Year Better

Hopefully, it’s truly been a happier new year for you. Your Construction Monitor subscription can make it better. Our basic, free information includes:

Most of us are “control freaks.” That’s how we got started in business in the first place. Control freaks say, “I don’t have time” a lot.

Sign on for a one-week free trial to access our subscriber information. If you don’t have time, someone in your organization is eager to grow your business. Look at your team closely to find that person. Then contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Business One Year Post-Pandemic

construction industry

Of the key economic indicators for our country, housing starts are a leading indicator. Housing starts are sensitive to mortgage rates, which are affected by interest rates, so they represent about 4% of annual gross domestic product (GDP). The industry itself and your construction business are considered economic activities.

What’s Changed, Unchanged In 1 Year: Construction Business

The pandemic has had a lasting impact on how we live, socialize, and work. But we’re nothing if not adaptable. What has changed the construction industry since 2020?

  • Architectural design – This may be the most lasting change we’ll see. Commercial construction has altered itself to accommodate safety for traditional gathering spaces. Plan on better air filtration systems and adaptable, modular construction that limits contact.
  • Education – Online classes are zooming (bad pun intended) but there’s no replacement for hands-on training in a hands-on industry. Safer classroom layouts and mask-wearing have helped as well as virtual testing with remote proctoring.
  • Safety – The virus added “new considerations” to safety protocol, says the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER). We added masks as ongoing PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • Scheduling – Staggered shifts to accommodate fewer onsite employees have proven beneficial.

The shortage of skilled workers (“talent”) in the construction business hasn’t changed. One of the factors was the exodus of Baby Boomers from the workforce. And now, Gen-Xers (born between 1965-1979/80) are approaching retirement. The pandemic only exacerbated our worker shortage.

The average age of a craft professional
is between 48-52 years old.
Jonathan Arnholz

You need to consider employment incentives and marketing strategies to attract and retain talent to your construction business:

  • Create a positive workplace culture.
  • Develop a formal mentorship program.
  • Foster teamwork; camaraderie.
  • Include employees in the decision-making process.

Involving employees in company business is another strategy that makes sense. Every time you say, “I don’t have time…,” delegate that responsibility to an employee.

You don’t have time to sort building permit data and we do. But if analyzing that data for business development is also a time challenge, consider employee options. Because construction is an essential industry and critical to our economy, keeping it healthy just makes sense. The process begins with you.

Contact Construction Monitor for ideas.

Gen Z as Construction Business Employees

construction business employees

We lost out on Gen X skilled trades and we’re partly to blame. “Our culture has been taught and is passing on a poor perception of trades,” said ConstructEd.

If perception is the problem, then perception is the fix. It’s time to promote what we do as valuable and exciting. Let’s change the way the construction business is seen by the Gen Z (1995-2015) workforce.

If you’re a construction business employer or recruiter, you need to know: What will appeal to this new workforce?

Attracting Skilled Gen Zers to Your Construction Business

It’s never too early to attract young people to skilled trades opportunities. Randi Bakalar, Doosan Bobcat North America

The average 4-year degree graduate has $40,000 or more in student loans and limited opportunities. In contrast, a 2-year skilled trades program often includes internships, paid on-the-job training, and employment is abundant.

Connect. Let’s begin cultivating high school students at job fairs and with presentations that showcase construction industry jobs. Emphasis should be on:

  • Advancement – Career growth is important to this age group. The construction industry offers a proliferation of leadership and management opportunities.
  • Benefits – A potential 6-figure income that doesn’t include student loan payoffs is enticing, but Gen Zers may care more about job satisfaction and good work/life balance. Emphasize the well-rounded advantages of construction business employment.
  • Technology – Texting is a viable form of communication for this age group. Gen Zers are technology-savvy and when you encourage technology solutions for your company, you’ll be seen as a better employer.

You Can End the Skilled Trades Shortage

Many advanced countries don’t value 60-hour/week office jobs as much as we do. What good is earning more money if your sedentary desk job is going to impact your quality of life? That’s something Gen Z workers care about and upon which the construction industry should capitalize. Our work is rewarding and promotes a healthier lifestyle.

“Promotion” is the key to ending the skilled trades shortage. Shamelessly advertise your company as an industry leader; tell the world about your technological innovations, successful employees, and employment advantages.

As the Gen Zers might say, “Put yourself out there.” It’s the first step toward connecting with talented workers.

When you want to connect with business opportunities, put Construction Monitor to work. Call us for more information.

Construction Industry Partners with Technology to Overcome Challenges

construction industry technology

We’re facing a lot of challenges. But for our labor-driven construction industry, the shortage of talent is having the biggest impact. We need user-friendly technology solutions and we need them now.

Machine-Control Technology: The Construction Industry Partner

Excavation is one of the most complex aspects of project work for the construction industry. Becoming an excavation professional takes many years of experience. That makes it perfect for machine-control technology.

Leica Geosystems says 32% of construction industry contractors cite machine control for minimizing pandemic issues on project sites last year. Today, 47% of our contractors are using machine control technology.

Machine-Control Apps Increase Work Turnaround By 30%

Machine control is…the use of integrated on-machine sensors and/or geospatial technology including lasers and positioning satellites…This technology can be divided into two basic categories: guidance/indicate-only systems, and automatic systems.CASE News

Using semi-automatic technology, a machine-controlled excavator offers:

  • 30% faster work using a grading app
  • Bucket height auto-adjustment
  • Cross-cut surface protection
  • Easy engagement
  • Rotation-controlled cross-cut (combines the auto bucket and auto-tilt to match target surface regardless of bucket rotation)
  • Smart slope detection

Productivity goes up because it’s faster and less stressful,” says one user. “Because the operator doesn’t have to focus as much attention on keeping the bucket on the grade (there is) less fatigue at the end of the day.”

Cellphones, Tablets Work Smarter So You Don’t Work Harder

Construction industry contractors are also learning more about modeling solutions and drone technology to estimate and track project progress. AGTEK says its goal is to make data import and export to machines easier no matter what you’re working with. CAD files and other formats can be sent as a completed GPS model to a machine.

Powerful, Effective Information 

When you partner with technology, you can overcome many construction industry challenges. But software apps can only do so much.

It’s the same way with building permit information. We can customize the data for your U.S. region. We can provide construction competitors and startup statistics. We’ve got analyses for historical trends.

You’ve got to utilize that technology to develop your business. We can tell you how. For U.S. building permit data, call 800-925-6085 (international 435-586-1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Safety: Talking the Talk

construction safety

Maybe the most important aspect of promoting construction safety on the jobsite is encouraging proactivity. The construction industry was primarily (and still is) developed and staffed by men. And real men keep their mouths shut, right?

Wrong. It’s time to say something when you see a potential safety hazard. If a co-worker is doing something dangerous, it’s your business. Construction safety is everybody’s business.

Seven Tips for Construction Safety Toolbox Talks

Toolbox talks are informal gatherings at which construction safety is the main topic. The leader should ensure the atmosphere is such that workers feel comfortable enough to comment or ask questions.

Here are seven tips for leading construction safety toolbox talks:

  1. Choose a Good Location – Find a quiet, low-traffic area onsite.
  2. Don’t Forget Health – Health isn’t an oh-by-the-way topic. It has a significant outcome on safety. Perhaps alternate health-and-safety topics; every other gathering, make health the focal point.
  3. Keep It Short/Simple – Your timeframe goal is 15 minutes. If it runs longer because attendees have questions and issues, allow time for those that need it and let others feel free to return to work. Stay on-topic – construction safety. Don’t use the time for other information or issues.
  4. Reinforce a Safety Culture – Encourage workers to express ideas for and concerns about jobsite safety. And if they see a red flag, speak up. On a construction worksite, silence isn’t golden. It can be deadly, in fact.
  5. Strive for Relevance – If scaffolding work is scheduled for that day, talk about safety measures for working heights.
  6. Take Attendance – Make note of attendees and document attendance.
  7. Use Visuals – If possible, adding visual media adds impact to your message.

Summer 2021 may prove to be a banner season for the construction industry. Right now, we have the fourth-highest unemployment rate, but look for that to change this summer. 

Our priority at Construction Monitor is to provide information you can use. Time management, efficiency, business development – those are topics we can speak to. Contact us for more information you can use.

And as you head into what may be one of the busiest seasons in recent history, make construction safety a topic you can speak to.

OSHA Updates Vaccination Policy for Construction Industry

COVID-19 vaccine construction workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended construction industry project managers and team leaders encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) suggested onsite vaccination clinics, paid-time-off incentives, and other promotions to increase the number of vaccinated construction workers.

To clarify, the general consensus is an employer can require the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. Michigan and Indiana currently have bills preventing this, but there’s been no action taken.

OSHA 29 CFR 1904 said if an employer required the vaccination as a condition of employment and an employee suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccine, the event should be recorded. Documenting adverse reactions to the vaccine on OSHA 300 logs was required.

Then OSHA said never mind.

OSHA said it felt the Form 300 requirement disincentivized employers’ vaccination encouragement efforts. The May 21 updated guidance is in effect through May 2022.

Employers must record work-related injuries and illnesses if they involve:

  • Days off work
  • Death
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Restricted work or transfer to another job
  • Significant injury

While allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine have been rare, many people suffer flu-like symptoms shortly after their vaccinations. Those flu-like reactions can be debilitating enough that the “days off work” stipulation would be applicable.

Construction industry employers were concerned that by recording adverse vaccination reactions (days off work due to flu-like symptoms), enough red flags would be raised that could increase their workers’ comp costs. The logs may have tripped a wire that would increase onsite OSHA inspections. And the “dings” on their OSHA records might have affected bidding opportunities.

Partnering Can Overcome Challenges

Working through the pandemic fallout and encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations remains challenging.

Another challenge faced by the construction industry is we’re still slow to adopt technology. Robotics, drones, 3D architecture – when you’re juggling expenses, upgrades are often low on the list of priorities.

Construction Monitor LLC has an affordable technology that shows a measurable ROI (return on investment). Our information is U.S.-related, but our customers include global investors. To learn more about our technology tools and strategic partnerships, contact us today.

Construction Business Misconceptions

construction business

“They” say that those of us in the construction business are slow to accept change. We’re slow to develop and implement new business practices. We believe what “they” say is a misconception about our industry.

The pandemic has forced our country to reassess the architectural design and construction of hospitals, schools, offices, and any commercial business where employees and customers interact face-to-face. Another misconception concerns prefabrication.

Prefab, Modular Transforms Construction Business

Offsite prefabrication and modular construction are going to transform our industry. But many of us are nervous about risks and have misconceptions about the effectiveness of offsite prefabrication.

Here are two common misconceptions:

1. Cookie-Cutters Can’t Be Customized

“…Prefab and modular interior construction are the exact opposite of cookie-cutter,” says Construction Dive. You don’t order a room or house from a catalog. One project executive said it’s a highly customizable solution. Everything – materials, colors, and more – are customized. And the finished product is often more durable and sustainable than traditional materials.

2. Prefab and Modular Expensive; Look ‘Cheap’

The misconception that prefabricated housing is unattractive, poor quality, and looks cheap is debunked. Now, the misconception is it’s so expensive it isn’t an affordable option for most.

When you do the math and factor-in time savings, less labor, fewer do-overs, and the versatility of prefab and modular construction, the savings are visible and viable:

  • Complexities requiring different materials, electrical components, or mechanical elements are easier, not more difficult
  • Less need for onsite labor
  • Modular elements can be introduced at any phase during the project
  • Prefab can save more than 20% on construction costs
  • Timelines can be reduced by 20%-50%

Contact Construction Monitor

By the time you access the building permit data to find one piece of information, sort it into location- and market-specific analysis, pull it into a readable format, well, by that time, you could have received that one piece of information and much, much more from our technology pros.

You have better things to do. This is all we do, and we’re good at it. Contact Construction Monitor with questions.

Construction Business Project Delays and Responsibility

construction business projects

If you’ve bid on and won a project, it’s assumed you understand the risks, including delayed delivery of materials and equipment. As the pandemic proved, you can’t always factor delay risks into a bid. But you can’t bid without some guarantee that you can deliver the project on time and within budget. Contract-wise, you’ve assumed responsibility.

The Devil’s in the (Contract Details) For Construction Business Projects

A 2020 report on worldwide Construction Claims states the global average value of a construction delay dispute to be a staggering US$30.7 million… The report also indicates that the average dispute took 15 months to reconcile.Plan Academy

Types of delays affecting your contract:

  • Concurrent delays – Two or more parties involved
  • Critical delays – Impact project delivery date
  • Excusable delays – Outside of the contractor’s control
    • Compensable excusable delays – Caused by the owner or the owner’s team. The contractor may receive more time and financial compensation.
    • Noncompensible excusable delays – Beyond anyone’s control (Force majeure)
  • Non-critical delays – Little to no impact
  • Non-excusable delays – Occurred as a result of something the contractor should have been able to control

Most contracts state the contractor has an amount of time to report a delay. This time should be used to mitigate the delay; seek alternative materials or suppliers. Construction business contractors are legally required to try to mitigate every delay.

Quinn Murphy, an attorney with Sandberg Phoenix in St. Louis, said anyone claiming delays due to the pandemic, “….particularly those who entered into a contract after it became widespread in March 2020, will have to prove that the delay was directly related to the pandemic.”

If you signed a contract for the construction business after the pandemic was firmly in place, you may have a hard time claiming delays due to COVID-19. “They’re going to have a really hard time alleging the pandemic is an excuse,” Murphy concluded.

Need-to-Know Information

Never sign a contract for a large project without legal support. But you can’t bid on and win contracts if you don’t know your demographics. Contact Construction Monitor with questions about business leads for your company.

Multistate Construction Industry Companies and COVID

multistate construction industry

The Great Lakes State’s increases in coronavirus cases put even greater pressure on construction industry companies. Calculating exposure risks, vaccine policies – the logistics continue to be difficult. Multistate construction companies are facing “a moving target,” says construction industry writer Katie Clarey. Coronavirus liability laws are inconsistent and vary across state borders.

Construction Industry Businesses Must Manage Liabilities

What are construction industry employers liable for in a pandemic? Even Congress isn’t quite sure.

That’s fine for your business in your state. But what happens when you have multistate projects? “It’s a potential nightmare…in terms of exposure,” Karl Lindegren of Fisher Phillips law firm said.

The solution is to appoint someone – preferably a legal professional – to follow new legislation and liability laws at state and federal levels. This person should also keep track of changing guidelines for project site safety.

If for no other reason, this shows you performed “due diligence” to keep workers safe. It doesn’t matter what the liability laws are; none of them will protect you if you disregard employee safety.

Protect Employees, Protect Yourself

One of the ways to show diligence is to utilize vaccine incentives for hesitant construction workers. Many multistate construction industry company owners also utilize Construction Monitor for local, state, and national business permits information.

You can choose from:

Construction Monitor provides key project data to help suppliers, subcontractors, building professionals, and general contractors to better target and reach new customers. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business.

Project Starter Software for Your Construction Business

construction business

You’ve received a Notice to Proceed. That means your project bid was accepted. Now what? Pype, Inc.* is a software-as-a-service provider and says Autodesk® is your construction business foundation for starting a new project.

5 Steps To Kickoff Construction Business Projects

You are excited and maybe a little bit nervous. Well, your client feels the same. Your first response to the Notice to Proceed can set the tone for your working relationship, start to finish. The client wants reassurance you were the right choice. And you want to quickly earn your client’s trust.

The eBook Strong Foundations outlines five steps you can follow for smoother project flow:

1. The Preconstruction Meeting

Schedule your preconstruction meeting for 1-2 days after receipt of the Notice to Proceed. This is your first step in managing expectations and defining project goals. If possible, give everyone a copy of the agenda. Then introduce everybody and mention key players that are absent.

2. Submittal Schedule

The submittals are your information documents for architects and design professionals. “Every piece of equipment, material types…details such as the exact color of paint need to be reviewed and approved via submittals,” says Autodesk.com.

3. Submittal Log

The submittal log is even more detailed than the submittal schedule and is an ongoing reference throughout the project lifecycle. It includes inspections and tests, QA/QC requirements, and more. Example columns are:

  • Notified subcontractor
  • Subcontractor response
  • Approved by GC
  • Submitted to design team
  • Returned:
    • Approved
    • Rejected
    • Revised

4. Submittal Review

Traditional spreadsheet submittals were breeding grounds for human error. Automation has made this process easier and more accurate. As soon as you develop submittals, move them on to the design team. Prioritize according to timelines or urgency.

5. Risk Mitigation

Best practices can prevent mistakes and minimize reworks. But risk mitigation software uses “cutting-edge algorithms” to scan specs and submittal requirements quickly. Based on industry best practices, the software can reveal missing pieces and unmet requirements.

Software That Creates Construction Business

Construction Monitor endorses all software applications that improve construction business quality and increase profits. Our company was one of the first to share software data based on building permits. We knew then – and we know now – the data analytics we generate can win bids and generate leads for your construction business.

Ask us how; we’re still excited about what our business can do for your construction business.
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*Construction Monitor does not recommend nor endorse any Brand of construction business software (except our own).