The Realities of Construction Business

construction business

We’re common-sense people in a down-to-earth industry. Nothing is more “real” than working with your hands. But instead of using hands-on building tools, we need to embrace hands-on building device technology. The realities of your construction business are going to be driven by AR and VR.

AR and VR in Construction Business Projects

AR is augmented reality and VR is virtual reality. These terms are used with other types of realities, and here are the differences:

  • AR – Augmented reality uses the camera on your smartphone to add digital elements to a live view.
  • MR – Mixed reality combines AR and VR.
  • VR – Virtual reality takes you out of the physical world and into a simulated environment where you can ride a dragon or swim with sharks.
  • XR – Extended reality covers all the technologies that provide information, real-world or virtual.

These technologies will never take the place of solid architectural designs and quality workmanship. But their value-added can make a huge difference in how we operate.

Real-World Uses: AR and VR

Here are 3 examples of using AR and VR to transform difficult-to-imagine construction business designs and visions.

  1. Communication – Construction business poor communication is cited too often as the cause of project failures. “But miscommunication can launch a project into a tailspin,” says Unity Technologies. With about $177.5 billion spent every year fixing construction mistakes, any opportunity for improvement is welcome.
    A meeting can use AR and VR to take everyone to the site. Everyone can see and understand how what you’re explaining will be realized in real life. Project team members can collaborate to solve potential problems they see rather than imagine. One meeting attendee said, “Watching team members tweak the design and take notes on it in real-time was incredible.”
  2. Designs – When a design company hit a “wall” trying to explain how its skyscraper could enhance – not ruin – a skyline view, the company used AR. They created a prototype using 3D modeling and geolocating. They took the client on virtual walks to show how the building would look when completed.
  3. Training – Finding talent is challenging enough. Training and retaining workers is a whole different ballgame. AR and VR can give onboarding workers real-jobsite experiences in a safe, controlled environment. They can learn about construction business hazards and how to manage risk.

We share technology every week with construction businesses throughout the U.S. and globally. Call 800.925.6085 (International/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor. Our goal is to increase your business. What’s your goal?

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*Construction Monitor does not endorse nor recommend any software brand (except ours) for construction technology applications.

Construction Firms’ Concrete Contractors Go Digital

concrete contractors

A survey revealed 89% of construction firms and specialty trades use building information modeling (BIM). Concrete contractors have many incentives to adopt digital layouts:

  • Improves accuracy
  • Increases layout versatility
    • Easier placement of nonlinear shapes
  • Saves time
    • Easier multistream home office coordination
    • Simplified workflow

But the biggest incentive is ROI (return on investment). Construction firms say the “payback” is swift:

  • “Only need 1 person-layout.”
  • “Paid for itself in 2 jobs.”
  • “Paid for itself in 2 months.”
  • “Saves time on every project.”

Concrete Construction Firms Say “Goodbye Batter Boards, Plumb Bobs, Tapes, and Strings”

If the project is large, walking back-and-forth with strings is tedious and time-consuming. “And the further you stretch the strings, the less accurate your measurement becomes,” says one concrete professional. Using traditional layouts, your margin of error includes:

  • Calculating correct angles/degrees
  • Complex layouts – angles/arcs/curves
  • Difficult onsite weather conditions that move the tapes/strings
  • Keeping the tapes/strings steady
  • Verifying distances more than once

If your concrete construction firm hasn’t made the move to digital, you may soon find yourself unable to compete. One foundation specialist said with BIM software, “I’ve done as many as 4 layouts before noon, starting at 8:30 a.m…I couldn’t do that the old way.”

Teams’ Transition to Digital Easy

Our crews had no trouble adapting. I was pleased with how
quickly they picked it up.
Josh Hollingshead, Sobcun Concrete

Shortly after digital conversion, concrete crews are able to use:

  • Field-controller tablet computers
  • Optical instruments that more precisely measure horizontal/vertical angles and distance
  • Pole-mounted reflecting prisms
  • Software that provides a streamlined, intuitive approach to measurements and workflow
    • “Within minutes, we were ready to lay out the foundation.”

You have plenty of software options. But nothing is set in stone (or concrete). Read. Ask questions. Learn what’s available and how much money it can save – or make – your company.

Construction Monitor has developed software that takes huge amounts of information and sorts it into easy-to-use, actionable information for your company, your locale. If you don’t use it, you lose it – business opportunities, that is.

Contact Construction Monitor marketing professionals today.

How Construction Business Managers Compete for Workers

construction business managers

Competing for construction business is something we know about. Most of us have a plan for winning bids and lowballing our competitors without compromising quality or safety. Did you ever think you’d be competing for workers?

Labor Shortage Crisis for Construction Business Industry

We lost out on Gen X skilled trades
and we’re partly to blame. –
David Mineer

The construction business is not the only industry struggling with finding and retaining talent. The current worker shortage has been called a national economic emergency. But the monthly turnover rate in other industries is almost half that of the construction industry.

It’s been a bit of a problem for quite some time: Construction industry worker numbers have been dwindling. Skilled trades have had a bad reputation as a low-income, uneducated career choice. It took us too long to respond to that issue.

It’s Not All About the Money

Paying more is the easiest and the hardest way to entice and retain talent, according to a Los Angeles construction company founder. But you must not appear as desperate as you actually are. And it’s getting even harder to pay those higher salaries.

The reservation wage, the lowest average wage Americans without college degrees will accept for new jobs, has increased by 26%
over the past year, to $29.56…
Construction Dive

One million construction workers lost their jobs to the 2020 pandemic, but only 80% are returning. To keep up with demand, AGC (Associated General Contractors) says we need to hire 430,000 workers in 2021 and a million more over the next two years.

New-age employees are interested less in money and more in companies that offer worker-friendly, human-centric company cultures. They want goal-oriented environments that have:

  • Bonuses/reward system
  • Career advancement
  • Career training
  • Collaborative project management approaches
  • Company culture of honesty and integrity
  • Flexible schedules
  • Pride in construction as a career

Construction Monitor’s customized business permit data isn’t all about the money either. (But we believe sharing leads that lead to more money for you is great, too.) We can help you develop marketing promotions and lead generation.

The power of information is yours. Ask our marketing pros how it can work for you by contacting Construction Monitor.

Construction Workers and Mental Health

construction workers and mental health

If you’re working on a rooftop or skyscraper scaffold, you are tethered. If you’re on the ground, you wear a hardhat. What protection is available when you suffer from depression on the job? Construction workers are more likely to die by suicide than a jobsite fall.

Everybody knew, but nobody would talk about it.
Michelle Walker, on growing up in a construction industry-town

Construction Workers and Suicide

The industry with the highest suicide rate is Mining, Quarrying/Oil and Gas Extraction. Construction ranks second. Construction remains male-dominated despite our efforts to diversify hiring, so the suicide rates are:

  • Females 9.4/100,000 workers
  • Males 45.3/100,000 workers

It’s not that we don’t want to deal with mental health issues; it’s more of a lack of awareness among managers, supervisors, and construction workers themselves. Because most companies are safety-conscious and actively promote safety awareness, it helps to classify mental health as a safety risk.

“When you look at it from risk management, you can create the business case…it can benefit the business and everybody in the business by paying attention to it,” said Michelle Walker of SSC Underground, an Arizona boring and excavation company.

Her company holds a training session on how to facilitate mental health conversations. It includes how to recognize suicide warning signs; information that is valuable at work and home.

The construction industry is adapting its culture to appeal to a new generation of workers. New-age employees seek human-centric workplaces. They want to work in a “culture of caring.”

What Can YOU Do?

We need to prioritize mental health wellness. You don’t have to be a CEO to initiate a committee to develop mental health awareness in the construction industry.

Post mental health resources on the jobsite. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. (Almost) everyone has a cellphone. If you can communicate by messaging, send the best mental health apps for 2021 to construction workers.

Other ways to promote mental health awareness and suicide prevention include:

  • Bracelets
  • Emails
  • Handouts
  • Hard hat stickers
  • Moments of silence to acknowledge construction workers that died by suicide
  • Quarterly toolbox talks
  • Speakers
  • Videos

Business permit data can be presorted for specific geographic areas, demographics, competitors, and more. We do the work; you put the information to work. Contact Construction Monitor today.

Up, Down, Boom, Bust, What’s Next With Lumber Prices?

construction lumber prices

When the price of lumber rose 300%, many of us wondered if that would be another new normal: pandemics and exorbitant lumber prices. It took Fortune eight charts to explain the skyrocketing lumber prices that recently fell to earth.

Lumber prices peaked at $1,515 per thousand board feet, then plummeted to $399 and rose to $630 in September 2021. You can see why there might be some confusion.

Riding the Wood Roller Coaster

By March 2021, monthly housing starts were at 1.7 million…all that building caused demand for framing lumber, OSB (oriented strand board), and plywood to soar. Lance Lambert, Realtor.com data journalist

Roller coaster enthusiasts say wooden roller coasters are a rough ride but always worth it. The lumber prices roller coaster ride has been equally rough.

Spring 2021 saw lowered interest rates and another housing market run. Available suburban houses were grabbed up by eager homebuyers that no longer had to commute to the city for work. The housing shortage led to an almost frenzied demand for new homes. And lumber.

With another pandemic looming, homeowners went on a home improvement spree. They began DIY (do-it-yourself) projects that required construction materials, like wood.

At the same time, and equally surprising, we were walloped with a severe worker shortage. Sawmills and lumberyards struggled to fill increased orders with a reduced workforce.

Managing Construction Projects: Be More Proactive

Something good may yet come from riding the wood roller coaster this year.

Granger Hassmann of Adolfson & Peterson Construction says uncertainties can force us to become more proactive. You can’t prepare for delays on the manufacturing side, so “considering different materials, systems, or manufacturers is crucial.”

It doesn’t matter what’s next with lumber prices if you’re proactively investigating materials options. Rather than waiting for anything, “You have to be more proactive,” said Hassman. A procurement cycle might have been 6-12 weeks. “Now it’s maybe a week. It’s just all about speed and management.”

If you’d like to be more proactive with business development, call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor. We customize data analytics to increase business – your business.

Construction Business Onsite Connectivity: What You Need

Construction Business Onsite Connectivity

By now you know that miscommunication – or complete lack of communication – is expensive in the construction business. Time truly is money in our industry, and if you’re spending too much time feeling disconnected from here-and-now on project jobsites, you’re not alone.

Real-Time Construction Business Tools

Real-time connectivity connects the reality of work-in-progress to the office. Yes, we’re talking about software. Again. But the difference between on-time and within-budget vs. rework and delays can be staggering sums of money. If software can make a difference (and it can), it’s worth a shot.

Jobsite connectivity software should include:

  • 3D building models
    • Optimize machine operation
    • Tracking productivity
    • Delivering as-built documentation
  • Data preparation for construction takeoff
  • Design changeability
  • Estimating earthwork/material quantities for bids
  • Remote jobsite monitoring/real-time progress-to-plan
  • Tracking – work completed/remaining

4 Benefits of Real-Time Connectivity

In addition to saving time, saving money, and losing that frustrating feeling that you’re spinning your wheels, connecting your solutions can include:

  1. Better construction business efficiency
  2. Enhanced jobsite visibility for managers, supervisors, and stakeholders
  3. On-time project delivery/fewer delays
  4. Real-time, onsite productivity information, field-to-office

Outcomes Should Justify Their Trust and Your Power

Technology connects us…unites us…amplifies our power. -Vivienne Harr

Your clients have entrusted you with their projects. Your construction business has the power to maximize profit potentials with the right software technology. Software for a “connected jobsite” should seamlessly integrate workflows while giving you the confidence you’re studying up-to-date information and visualizing real-time designs and models.

If a construction business software investment can maximize productivity and minimize your concerns, it’s worth it. Construction Monitor endorses all software that has the power to improve construction business quality and increase profits. Our company knows the presorted and customized data analytics we provide can win bids and generate leads for your construction business.

Ask us how.

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*Construction Monitor does not recommend nor endorse any brand of construction business software (except our own).

Construction Workers and COVID-19: Are We High-Risk?

COVID in the construction industry

If you work outside and are six feet away from others, are you at risk of contracting COVID-19? You wouldn’t think so. But the new-and-improved variant seems to be contagious if someone in another state sneezes.

Lack of consistent data is a problem. OSHA has logged every work-related COVID-19 case and fatalities but won’t release the 2020 data until November 2021.

Seeking COVID-19 numbers, Michigan grouped construction and manufacturing industries together. The result showed construction/manufacturing was the second largest workforce affected by COVID-19. But Illinois tracked construction separately from manufacturing and revealed there were 205 COVID-19 outbreaks within the manufacturing sector and only 10 in construction. Washington state showed higher COVID-19 rates among construction vs. other industries.

Massachusetts grouped manufacturing, construction, and distribution centers/warehouses together and found only nine infection clusters out of 7,100 statewide.

A construction project in Ohio vs. a jobsite in Texas – where you’re five times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 – plays a part in risk factors.

Yes, Construction Workers Are High-Risk

Construction workers smoke more than other workers, which means their resistance to respiratory illness is lower. And for every long-timer construction professional, there are several transient job-hoppers onsite. That means implementing consistent protective procedures to lessen the risk of contagion is more difficult.

The construction industry is an aging workforce, and the pandemic targets older people. The COVID-19 hospitalization rate for people ages 40-49 is three times higher than people 18-29.

No, Construction Workers Are Not High-Risk

When you factor in age, pre-existing medical conditions, and other risks, 62% of workers across every industry are at high risk for COVID-19. Sixty percent of construction workers are at higher risk. That means construction work employees are at a lower risk than employees in other occupations.

At-Risk or Not, We Must Do What We Can To Stay Safe

All we can do is to continue encouraging and maintaining healthy workplaces and project sites. Appoint a safety and health administrator at each jobsite and encourage management to develop flexible sick leave policies. For more information, check out the information and links on the CDC website.

Keep your business development opportunities healthy with building permit data analytics. Contact Construction Monitor to learn more.

The Construction Industry and Life Sciences Projects

When your 7th grader says she is studying “life sciences,” you might be puzzled by that term. It’s what we called “biology” in school. Life sciences is the study of living organisms:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Botany
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Zoology

…and more. It’s a sector of the medical research and development industry that is taking off like a rocket. Or as reporter Sebastian Obando puts it, “the life sciences gold rush.”

Construction Industry Projects for Science Studies Have Special Code Considerations

A life science construction project isn’t as cut-and-dried as an office or retail complex. There are building codes to follow defining how many chemicals are allowed in a laboratory structure. For research scientists, the more the better, so one of your jobs is to maximize the number of chemicals allowed.

Current building codes allow for more chemicals on ground and bottom floors. You can request design strategies that allow for more chemicals on upper floors.

The Devil’s in the Details

A commercial property’s ultimate use in the life sciences sector is critical. You need to know how much, what kind of, and where equipment will be located. Retrofitting and repurposing those empty office buildings to serve as life sciences space is the construction industry challenge. But it has its rewards: Demand is high and so are profits.

Typically, buildings that offer a 20-to-25-foot column-free span from the perimeter work well to provide lab bench areas with lab support and offices towards the interior core…generally steel will offer the most flexibility in a retrofit.Joseph Whalen, Suffolk New York 

Life science buildings require stronger weight-bearing infrastructures, specific floor-to-ceiling heights, and more to be converted from an office or retail space to a laboratory. With 2021 past the halfway mark, an anticipated $90 billion is anticipated to be invested in the life sciences sector.

You Can Watch It Happen or Make It Happen

Building permit information can be sorted into marketing leads for your company. Analyzing the data you receive from Construction Monitor is great. But taking action to increase profits is what we intended for you. It’s not rocket science (or life science) but if you aren’t sure how this works, just ask us. Contact Construction Monitor today.

Leadership Development Will Drive Our Construction Industry

construction industry

Technology has transformed the construction industry. But one thing that won’t change is the need for people-to-people communications and negotiations. “There will always be components of the building process which require excellent use of collaboration, conflict management, and critical thinking skills,” says human resources consultant Debbie Burkett.

The Construction Industry: We Have a Leadership Gap

Research has confirmed critical-thinking abilities and effective communication competencies (soft skills) cause workers at every level to outperform other employees. Think about that. If the construction industry selected its workforce from those with above-average soft skills, the impact on productivity and profits could be huge.

  • We will see a construction industry growth of 8.55 million by 2026.
  • 41% of the construction industry workforce will retire by 2031.
  • 55% of CEOs consider developing the next generation of leaders their biggest challenge
  • …But only 11% of HR divisions report having a strong base of employees that can fill leadership roles.

Those are the numbers but now what?

How do you put this information to work for your company? A billion-dollar corporation can afford to hire consultants and establish in-house leadership development programs. But what about you?

What you can do today:

You hear and see two words repeatedly as you study ways to improve your business: “Software” and “communication.” You can teach self-awareness. You can encourage integrity. Those are 2 critical skills leaders need. But communication is the skill we need to most nurture among our employees.

Even when you utilize the best project management software and everyone on your team is proficient, onsite conflicts and office-vs.-field communications can be a problem. No matter what size your organization, you can develop leadership skills specific to our construction industry. Communications and leadership development programs impact everything, including project safety, productivity, employee morale/turnover, and much, much more.

Employee development initiatives designed to improve competencies and change behavior without addressing and cultivating soft skills is like trying to use a hoist without a cable. It just doesn’t work that way. -Debbie Burkett, MHR, SHRM-SCP, PHR

Construction Monitor can’t exactly provide HR solutions, but we can provide marketing development tools. You can benefit from our leads-to-projects information. The increased profits can be funneled to leadership development.

Click to Chat or contact the marketing professionals at Construction Monitor to learn more.

Construction Industry Safety Means Following OSHA Guideline

construction industry safety

It’s that simple: Every time you look the other way when you spot a safety violation you’re putting your co-worker, the project, and the company at risk. Following an investigation into the deaths of two men, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) fined Atlantic Coast Utilities LLC/Advanced Utilities Inc., (predecessor company Shannon Construction Company, successor company Sterling Excavation LLC) and company owner Laurence Molony $1.35 million.

Construction industry journalist and Construction Dive associate editor Matthew Thibault attempted to learn more. He tried to contact the company and its owner but was told he called “a wrong number.”

The two employees, 27-year-old Jordy Alexander Castaneda Romera and 33-year-old Juan Carlos Figueroa Gutierrez were struck by a dump truck that pushed them into a 9-foot-deep trench…OSHA cited the contractor for 28 willful, repeat, serious, and other-than-serious violations, according to a Department of Labor press release. -Construction Dive

Owner Laurence Maloney had been previously investigated six times and received 14 citations prior to incident. OSHA told WBUR News of Boston Maloney “knowingly” disregarded safety guidelines. He also dodged fines by shutting down his businesses and re-opening under a new name.

The citations included:

  • Failure to conduct onsite hazards inspections
  • No employee training
  • No safety training to avoid work-related hazards,

In an August 18, 2021 Associated Press statement, Atlantic Coast Utilities LLC said:

The company will assess the actions taken by OSHA
…and will determine its next steps, including contesting any assertion of company error or negligence.
…This was a tragic accident and any attempt to portray it otherwise is both inaccurate and imprudent.

“Two hardworking people lost their lives because Atlantic Coast Utilities put its own profits over workers’ safety and health,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. Maloney’s prior fines totaled $81,242. He has paid $7,700. Atlantic Coast Utilities LLC is also under investigation for possible violation of the federal wage law.

Construction Industry Information

Construction Monitor promotes construction industry safety by sharing information. We consult viable resources of current construction industry trends/news and use our blog to share what we learn with you.

Our main goal as a company is to give you actionable information. Construction Monitor’s construction industry data analytics lead to…leads. You can develop a marketing strategy that includes direct mail and database-driven direct contact with potential clients.

Like any other news source, our weekly business permit editions tell you what, where, when, and how much. Contact us or send a message to learn why you need Construction Monitor data.