FYI: Public Construction Projects

construction projects

Construction projects are either public or private. Most of us work on private construction projects, but with the potential for mega-opportunities in the public sector, you may be considering bidding on one or more.

Ownership Matters

Within the public sector, projects are either federal or state. “State” projects can be commissioned by any state-funded entity and/or:

  • City
  • County
  • Government board
  • Municipality
  • Public school board

State construction is basically any government-funded construction project that isn’t federally funded, says Scott Wolfe, Jr. But it’s not actually about where the money comes from. Federal monies are integrated into state monies anyway.

It’s important to know who “owns” public construction projects. On private jobs, if you aren’t paid you can file a mechanics lien. On public projects, the general contractor posts a payment bond for security. If payment isn’t forthcoming, you make a bond claim to recover the money.

Different Sector, Different Rules

The labor laws will be different and depend on the project type. The subcontracting rules will be different. What you don’t know about public construction projects can hurt your profit margin.

  • Applications – Apply asap. Qualifications must be researched to apply and more qualifications must be reviewed by the state and/or federal entities.
  • Bonding – Some contractors might confuse a surety bond with insurance since brokers usually provide both. But the surety bond application process is more rigorous and requires “a level of financial and operational detail” from contractors, says CEO Andy Thome.
  • Compliance – There are many more levels of compliance rules that are standard with government contracts.
  • Control – Private sector construction projects have completion goals, and as long as you’re in compliance with agreement terms, the owner isn’t concerned with details. That’s not true with public construction projects. Contractors are often surprised to discover the government is very serious about how the work was performed.
  • Language – Government contracts use different terminology and legalese. Some of the clauses are incorporated by reference-only, says Construction Dive. “It really takes an expert to review them properly.”
  • Public Bids – Public contract bids are public. Everything – your information, pricing – is out there. If you lowball your bid and discover you’ve made a mistake, you own it. Experienced public-work contractors understand workarounds using government change order requests, but a newcomer may not be familiar with the process.

Construction Monitor is a lead-generation website for construction projects, not a “bidding” website. Still, we’ve been included among the top construction bidding websites by virtue of information-sharing. We want our information to benefit companies like yours.

Contact us to learn more.

Women in Construction Making a Positive Difference

women in construction

There are 9.9 million men working in the construction industry. There are 1.1 million women in construction. In addition to the disparity of employment, there’s also a difference in the roles men and women in construction have.

Most men in construction have jobs in:

  • Construction labor
  • Extraction
  • Finance
  • Maintenance
  • Transportation

Women in construction are usually in administrative or office positions.

8 Women in Construction

The irony of the old jingle, “You’ve come a long way, baby” isn’t wasted on most women. Nobody should put “baby” in a corner or even in a corner office if she’d be happier and productive on a construction site.

These women in construction are making a positive difference that can raise the bar high enough to break the glass ceiling for others:

  1. Angela Cotie is a project executive at Gilbane Building Company and chairman of the board for Houston’s Architecture, Construction & Engineering mentoring program. She is also a founding member of AGC of Houston’s Women in Construction.
  2. Kaitlin Frank is a superintendent at Dome Construction in San Francisco. She develops training content for construction field workers and co-founded eMOD, a safety construction app.
  3. Karen Alba is team lead for a University Health System project in San Antonio, Texas. She leads networking programs for minority-owned businesses and mentors women on the jobsite.
  4. Kathleen Culhane is president of Nontraditional Employment for Women, a pre-apprenticeship union construction program. She’s increased New York City’s women in union construction apprenticeships to 12%.
  5. Kerri Smith is vice president of Baker Concrete Construction. AGC recently awarded her team the Eagle and Young Professionals Awards for a Miami cruise line terminal project. All team members on the project were under 35 years old.
  6. Lori Dunn-Guion is a project engineer and currently president of Swinerton Foundation, a nonprofit workforce development organization. She also is one of the founders of the Tony Williamson Memorial Scholarship for Cypress Mandela Training Center. The scholarship awards $1,200 plus a three-month training paid internship to individuals pursuing careers in construction.
  7. Meirav Oren is the founder of Versatile Natures, an Israeli-based company that uses sensors to collect construction project site data and information. Versatile was the first construction technology firm to be named Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.
  8. Wendy Ho mentors women in construction and she’s a key player on public-sector construction projects in New York City. She also manages public-sector construction projects for AKRF, an environmental engineering firm. Wendy currently leads a $1.45 billion project; the largest resiliency initiative in NYC’s history.

Getting women in construction out of the office should be a construction business’ goal. Diversity in leadership serves as an invaluable tool and it’s time for us to find ways to level the playing field.

Construction Monitor offers building and solar permit data tools for all U.S. states. Request a free one-week trial or contact us to learn more.

How We Can Build Schools To Accommodate Change

building schools

After 2020, some believe classroom learning is a thing of the past. For teachers and students struggling to adapt to virtual learning and online classrooms, returning to school was a relief. But we’re now realizing the structural design of our schools isn’t working the way it once did. We need to change the way we build schools.

Rethinking Ways To Build Schools

“Emerging solutions place an escalating priority on open learning spaces that are flexible and adaptable,” says New Millennium Building Systems.

“Steel joists combined with long-span steel deck systems, including roof deck and composite floor deck, are an ideal solution. This type of structural steel framing system provides long-lasting service and efficacy while enabling wide-open, visually appealing learning spaces.”
Smarter School Design and Construction

Our need to build schools differently is a necessity more than a trend. The pandemic created a need for open spaces and student distancing. But technology continues to impact how we teach and learn. The design concepts require more than installing sliding doors to make rooms smaller or larger.

  • Floors – Long-span floors maximize vertical space. Thinner flooring systems can maximize floor-to-ceiling space and enlarge the structural bay.
  • Roofs – Longer spanning; dovetail and deep-ribbed steel roof decks support open floor plans without support beams and columns.

School Construction News says in-person learning has too many advantages to discontinue. A hybrid classroom needs to be designed to accommodate hybrid learning – in-person and virtual. Possibly the most important change contractors will see are HVAC modifications and/or replacements. UV lighting that can kill the spread of bacteria is also up for consideration.

Learn More: Commercial Building Statistics

Construction Monitor’s commercial construction data includes information on school construction and renovation jobs. Within the “construction types” tab is an informative subcategory: contact information. That subcategory can provide opportunities and offer you several money-making directions. 

Contact Construction Monitor for area-specific information about commercial construction, residential building permits, solar, swimming pools, and more.

Sometimes Smaller Is Better

construction industry

For some of us, construction technology was the change we were born for. But the rest of us were dragged, kicking and screaming into software solutions and their subsequent upgrades. About the time we figure construction technology out, they change it again.

The FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) and its EDC-3 (Every Day Counts) initiative promotes construction technology. We need to facilitate “organizational buy-in” because there are fearful-of-change people at every level of our operations, from CEOs to benchwarmers.

InfoTech has managed construction technology software implementations for companies of every size. Their advice? “Think small.”

Efficient Project Management Begins with Small Steps

When introducing any type of construction technology to your team, avoid making grand assertions: “This is going to be huge! This will change everything!” When you present construction technology software as an improvement rather than a new way of doing something, you’ll generate greater acceptance and minimize concerns.

Other ways to introduce “new and improved” construction technology to your organization include:

  • Avoid large assembly-hall training sessions – Think small groups and small sessions. The effectiveness of your construction technology can get lost in a mass presentation where a percentage of attendees can wander away, mentally and physically.
  • Schedule a test drive – Rather than making a Big Announcement and declaring a date for Rollout (which can generate pressure on several levels), ask for volunteers to test a construction technology upgrade.
    This is beneficial because:
    • A “champion user” may surface, and that person can assume greater responsibilities for this construction technology.
    • It creates interest among other employees and excitement when it’s rolled out to everyone.
    • The test-drivers can become “trainers” for your new software.
    • You’ll discover problems in a small setting rather than risk a company-wide crisis.
    • You’ll get a preview of how your company groups will use the construction technology software. This prepares you for concerns and obstacles ahead of time.

Big Data Made Smaller

Construction Monitor takes an enormous amount of construction technology information and sorts it into small chunks. You don’t need to siphon through information for other regions or demographics. You tell us what you need to build your business and we’ll provide it; weekly, monthly, quarterly. Contact us for construction technology analyses made easy.

Falls Remain Biggest Challenge to Construction Safety

construction safety

One new technology is believed to go a long way to increase construction safety. A long way up, that is. Recently, two skyscraper building projects used enhanced cocoon robotic technology to make their projects safer and faster.

A “robot” that hydraulically scales the side of a high-rise building drops walkways for workers. As workers complete the steel framework for each level, the walkways provide stability and serve as a construction safety device. After several floors have been steel-structured, the machine retracts the walkways and begins its upward trek again, leaving new walkways for workers.

Cocoon Technology Rises to the Next Level

The Self-Climbing Kokoon® can climb two floors (27´) in four hours. As its name implies, it’s completely self-climbing and no operators or additional equipment is needed for operation. It has its own built-in generator.

“Self-Climbing Kokoon provides the highest level of protection on the market,” says Italian engineering firm Despe S.p.A.

Self-Climbing Kokoon was designed to:

  • Add 35 sq. ft. of additional usable space for a building with a 700´ perimeter (and 47 square feet of advertising space)
  • Enhance access to construction operations
  • Free up your crane for other work
  • Improve construction accuracy
  • Keep workers safe
  • Offer easy access to tools, equipment, and storage
  • Prevent objects from falling
  • Provide complete perimeter protection and perform steel erection operations inside a protective cocoon
  • Save time

In Dubai, a skyscraper project used this technology to make elevator installation work easier. The device drilled holes to set anchor bolts for the elevator guide rails and landing doors.

Marketing Management With Construction Monitor

The marketing professionals at Construction Monitor believe sharing any information that promotes construction safety is helpful. We want to also improve your company’s health. Ask us how to structure a marketing plan using our building permit data and technology tools.

Call 800-925-6085 (international 435-586-1205) or contact us for more information.

Construction Industry Encouraged to ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves!’

construction industry

Among U.S. workforces, the construction industry has the lowest rate of workers willing to be vaccinated. Something we should be asking ourselves is “Why?”

It’s demeaning to the construction industry when statistics indicate we are less-educated and therefore make uninformed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination. Many construction workers say they work outside; not in cramped offices where one sneeze can contaminate the air for 15 people in seconds.

We feel automatically protected from some diseases because we work in a healthier environment. That’s misinformation. One study revealed between March-May 2020 the highest numbers of deaths from COVID-19 occurred among construction industry workers.

Social media has spread misinformation faster than the pandemic itself. It’s our job to share fact-based, solid information with our co-workers and employees. That’s why United Contractors developed “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” a resource website for construction industry contractors and leaders.

How You Can Increase Vaccinations in the Construction Industry

A Construction Dive survey found 93% of construction industry employers aren’t offering incentives for the vaccination, but they are encouraging it.

As a contractor and employer, your encouragement can be pivotal. You can coordinate with other companies to coordinate an onsite project vaccination event. (Then make sure you and the team leads are seen first in line for the vaccine.)

Communicate vaccine information with your crew regularly. “Make vaccines a tailgate topic,” says VaccinateConstruction.com. Ensure unions are on board with in-the-field concerns about the vaccine and verify your policies are consistent with union agreements.

Go to https://vaccinateconstruction.com/contractor-covid-19-vaccination-resources to access resources. Some of the information is in English and Spanish and includes:

  • COVID-19 compliance for employers
  • COVID-19 vaccine facts
  • Myths vs. facts
  • Printable, key messages/materials
  • Sample employer newsletter
  • Sample letter to employees
  • Social media toolkit
  • Vaccination webinar
  • Vaccine presentation/slides and PowerPoint presentation

The Power of Information

Construction Monitor building permit data is fact-based, solid information, too. And it’s got powerful business-building potential when you know how to use it. Construction Monitor professionals can show you how. Call 800-925-6085 or contact us today.

4 Goals, Rules for JV Teams

construction business

We’re not talking junior varsity. We’re talking about joint ventures for construction business profits.

Together, everyone achieves more. Construction business owners are competitive, but the smart ones know when to team with another contractor. Some contractors have long-time ins with materials and service providers. Some have special expertise or have the number of employees needed to meet minority quotas. Partnering can make a project run more smoothly and cost-effectively.

There are no cookie-cutter joint ventures for construction business. But every joint venture agreement should target a specific project, not some vague, as-yet-unidentified opportunity.

1. Determine Who’s Bringing What to The Table

There’s money to be made when your joint venture is well-defined. The right joint venture can lead to above-average bidding accuracy when one partner knows the local market. Each party should understand the possible consequences of a joint venture, especially if one partner is depended on for financial support. If that’s you, don’t jeopardize future relationships with surety and bond providers.

2. Know State Legal Requirements

In Florida, even if all contractors in a joint venture are licensed, the joint venture itself must be independently licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, so make sure all partners and subcontractors qualify.

3. Size Matters

A small joint venture doesn’t require a large team of attorneys to oversee the contract. There are templates you can follow to save on legal fees; the attorney simply reviews the contract for accuracy.

But don’t cut corners on a big project. Attorney Carl Lothman says, “The larger and more complex the project, the more resources contractors should invest in putting together a comprehensive joint venture agreement.”

4. Agree On the Balance of Power Before You Sign

Don’t enter any joint venture without clearly defining decision-making responsibilities. And power. One attorney said he would always want his client involved in a 50/50 split of power but sometimes it isn’t possible. But even if the division of power is equal, there can be decision-making differences, so a provision for dispute resolution is equally important.

Dividing up the profits and responsibilities for covering losses must be outlined. And considerations for company cultures should be discussed.  The way you run your construction business is your way. Another company’s operations could be completely different but equally effective.

Construction Monitor: Your Partner for Profits

Do you know how building permit data can drive your business development and marketing department? Contact Construction Monitor today. We’ll share how it works.

Construction Business Miscommunication

construction communication

There is a big market for articles, studies, and how-tos about communication in the construction business. The reason is obvious: miscommunication is extremely costly to our industry. Fifty-two percent of construction business rework is caused by miscommunication. In 2018, that cost our industry $31.3 billion.

We’ve all felt the pain of miscommunication in the field and know that it’s led to rework, lost productivity, and coordination stress.Core

Statistics: Construction Business Issues in Communication

More than 30% of construction business professionals say the breakdown is not the failure to communicate but a failure to respond to communications.

What you need to know:

  • 22% – Emails read-rate
  • 82% – Text messages read within five minutes
  • 98% – SMS messages read-rate

Sending texts and SMS messages increases the likelihood your communication will be read. But what can you do to minimize the lack of response?

Ask for feedback, says Procore, and follow-up when your messages and other forms of communication are ignored. You may want to consider adding a “Please respond by…” to all texts and emails.

Onsite Meeting Information Processing Problems

As a contractor, watch for signs your workers are actually processing the information during onsite meetings. Lack of eye connection is the biggest giveaway. They “connect” with you at the beginning and the end of the meeting but disengage during the information-sharing portion. Project communication problems leading to reworks can be reduced if you know what to look for.

Here are six reasons why workers aren’t paying attention during onsite meetings:

  1. There is a personal problem.
  2. They are confused but don’t want to ask questions.
  3. They are preoccupied with pressure to quickly complete a task.
  4. They aren’t comfortable speaking about jobsite issues in front of others.
  5. They can’t hear over the jobsite background noise and are embarrassed to admit it.
  6. You don’t give them a chance to ask questions.

Construction Monitor Weekly Editions

Construction Monitor makes building permit data available to everyone. We can customize it to work for you and your construction business. Our customized weekly information targets your market development interests.

Call 800.925.6085 or contact Construction Monitor today.

Women in Construction Add Value to Our Industry

women in construction

It’s an old phrase but it really puts the HIS in history: “The good old boy network” or “club” enabled White men to keep financial development opportunities within their network. Any woman or person of color that wanted to join the club quickly discovered membership was exclusive, not inclusive.

Let’s make a better historical legacy for all of us.

Mentoring Builds Future of Women in Construction

With the competition for talent becoming increasingly demanding, women in construction can be the solution to our industry’s skillset-shortage.

These women are making history today by providing mentoring and networking opportunities for women in construction:

  • Antonya Williams is executive vice president at McCarthy Building Companies. She has mentored women in construction throughout her career and has served on the leadership committee for the McCarthy Partnership for Women (MPFW) as well as New Pathways for Youth, a mentorship program in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Cindy Frank became a carpenter in 1979 when women in construction were an anomaly. Frank is organizing Sisters in the Brotherhood, a division within the carpenters’ Local 945 in Missouri of which she serves as president.
  • Ellen Ward is a human resource manager at Joeris General Contractors. She is co-chairing the Building Capacity program/African American Community Fund and working on the HEB Supplier Diversity Construction Council.
  • Kathryn Hart co-founded the Building Women in Construction student organization at Virginia Tech University. She is a superintendent at Trinity Group Construction.
  • Kim Roy mentors women at HITT Contracting of Virginia, where she created a training and development program that includes development in business etiquette, emotional intelligence, ethics, and financial planning.
  • Lizan Gilbert mentors women engineering students at University of Texas. She’s a founding member of Women In Tunneling, a segment of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration. She currently works as a preconstruction executive for Guy F. Atkinson.
  • Pam Hummel has served women in construction as a mentor and leader for over 15 years. She assisted in founding CFMA (Construction Financial Management Association) Diversity & Inclusion Task Force of Orange County, CA. Pam is an executive vice president of Briq.
  • Sonya Walton is the economic inclusion vice president of Messer Construction Co., OH. Over the years, she’s taken the company’s Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program spend to $278 million by 2020.

Expand Programs: Include Skilled Women in Construction

It was 2016 when Construction Monitor noted the reduction of women in construction apprenticeship positions. We’ve seen a lot of improvement but the barriers that existed then are still in place today.

The change begins with you. Expand your current programs to include women in construction.

Is your marketing development hitting a wall? You can put technology to work for you. Building business leads begins with building permit information. Contact Construction Monitor for more information.

Construction Business: Bidding Badly

construction bidding

You can bid badly and win construction business that is bad for business. The construction business can be more a science than a crapshoot if you use technology tools.

Here are some tips for bidding badly:

  • Be ignorant about your equipment – Don’t keep records of maintenance; if you’ve got construction business machinery that’s due to fail, you’ll forget to pad the bid with rental equipment costs. Forget fuel and transporting your equipment to the project site expenses.
  • Bid fast – Put your bid together quickly without double-checking for mistakes.
  • Don’t pay attention to data – There are construction business software programs that factor-in employee turnover, injuries, and days off work but don’t bother with those numbers. Assume there will be no overtime.
  • Don’t seek clarifications before bidding – Making assumptions usually leads to disaster but you don’t want to look dumb. There’s likely a cut-off date for questions but don’t pay attention to it.
  • Don’t visit the project site – You’ll be unaware of conditions that affect the project, like accessibility and location.
  • Forget risks – Every project has risks, but don’t analyze the probability and potential for profit loss.
  • Make math errors – You’ve made math mistakes in the past but don’t ask someone to double-check the numbers this time. Avoid using software that does the math for you.
  • Make subcontractor assumptions – Assume your subcontractors can work for a certain price and are able to deliver what you want on-time and under-budget.
  • Miscalculate – Under- or over-estimate construction costs and the quantity of materials you need. Using square feet when you should have used square yards can definitely skew profits.
  • Never request competitive subcontractor bids – You’ve been working with your buddy’s construction business for 10 years.
  • Skip the pre-bid meeting – You’ll miss the opportunity to fully understand the job requirements. Someone else may ask questions and get the answers you needed before you won the bid.
  • Underestimate materials – Even though the material costs and supplies change almost weekly, lock yourself into costs that may be out-of-date.

Profitable bidding begins with you (And, yes, you need the right software program). Construction Monitor has the software data you need to grow your construction business.

Use it. Contact or email us to learn more.