Essential vs. Non-Essential Construction During COVID-19

Construction during COVID-19

Retail stores and other commercial businesses have adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic as possible. Social distancing governs how we live, work, shop, and play. We’re living in a strange time now.

There’s been much discussion about essential and non-essential services in the United States. How we do business in the construction industry is greatly altered.

“Essential” construction industry projects are prioritized and may resume quickly. “Non-essential” construction projects may be on hold another month. Or longer.

Essential Construction

San Francisco has defined essential vs. non-essential construction for in-the-works projects. There are 8 categories of essential construction projects that may continue working if they follow social distancing requirements:

  1. Affordable housing/income restricted residential units’ development
  2. Construction necessary to safeguard existing construction sites
  3. Construction/repairs for Essential Businesses’ properties
  4. Critical, non-commercial services projects involving homeless, economically disadvantaged, special-needs, and/or elderly
  5. Healthcare projects directly related to COVID-19 response
  6. Projects directly involved with maintenance, operation, or repair of Essential Infrastructure.
  7. Public works projects
  8. Shelters/temporary housing (not including hotels/motels)

The Gray Areas

Companies must follow state-and-local-government-specific construction guidelines. In most areas, non-essential projects are on hold. “New parts of a non-essential infrastructure project” may not be started. However, if your project falls under the non-essential category, there are situations in which you might be able to complete work.

For example:

  • Completion is permissible if the work needed to shut down the project is equal to/more than completing the project.
  • If a housing project has a defined percentage of affordable housing, construction may continue.
  • New housing starts must meet a “critical need.”
  • Residential renovations may continue if the continuance is necessary for safety/functionality.
  • Residential work on vacant properties may proceed if the work will make the property habitable. Construction can be completed to guarantee usable:
    • Bathrooms
    • Ceiling/walls paint (for sanitation to prevent mold/vermin infestations)
    • Electricity
    • HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
    • Kitchens
    • Plumbing
  • Roof installation can continue for weather protection.
  • You’ve got 3 walls built. You can build the fourth wall so the structure “stands secure.”

Site-Specific Health and Safety

By now you have developed your company’s site-specific health and safety plan, based on COVID-19 Construction Field Safety Guidelines. Record-keeping is critical: You will need to be able to track employee movements and note potential exposure events.

Be prepared. Soonyou’ll need to work harder…and smarter.

Construction Monitor’s success depends on your success. And the success stories for 2020 will be the construction industry-related businesses that used construction data to gain insight and develop marketing strategies. Call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor to learn more.

What Does COVID-19 Mean for the Construction Industry?

construction industry

By April 10, 2020, the Associated General Contractors of America revealed more than half of the construction firms in the United States had stopped work and 40 percent had laid-off employees, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 74 percent are seeking loans using the new Paycheck Protection Program.

In one week’s time, the number of canceled projects more than doubled. Shortages, including personal protection (masks) and construction materials, were reported; a small percentage of contractors reported equipment shortages.

“The construction industry is ready to rebuild our economy,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr, “But that can’t happen without strong federal support and investments.”

EPC Contracts Will – or Won’t – Protect Construction Firms

Projects that aren’t being abandoned will need to return to the table for renegotiations, but not quite yet. No one is able to predict when our country will return to nearly normal.

All bets are off regarding future market shifts. No one can recall dealing with anything like this. Ever. Every industry in the world has felt the impact of COVID-19.

Most project developers feel as if we’ve gone far beyond standard “force majeure” language in construction contract terms. “Contractors will likely re-think whether traditional exclusions for relief are acceptable,” said law firm White & Case.

EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) projects have been scuttled due to government-imposed regulations. Cities, state, and federal shelter-in-place requirements may impact force majeure unless there are changes in law; specifically, changes in the language of some laws. Contracts between construction firms and developers and stakeholders/investors will come under close scrutiny.

Recovery is Guaranteed

We’re Americans. We always come together in times like this and we will come back better for it. Try to avoid hard-and-fast business decisions based on economic advisories. However…

After examining the numbers – coronavirus and economic trends – here are what equity analyst Preston Caldwell and CFA Karen Andersen suggest:

  • Restrictions will begin lifting in June 2020.
  • Social distancing measures will return as the virus resurfaces throughout the year.
  • The dire predictions regarding long-term economic disruption are incorrect.
  • Fiscal stimulus should prevent a collapse in demand.

“Overall, we still expect a modest long-run economic impact, with GDP down 0.9%,” said the researchers. “In our view, a COVID-19 recession doesn’t fit the mold of a 2008-style recession with longer-lasting economic impact.”

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Use this time to prepare for a construction industry economic upswing. And stay connected with us. Construction Monitor is the construction industry source for applied building permit information. Call 800-925-6085 or contact us today.

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9 Things You Can Learn from Construction Spending

construction spending

Data – information – is available to everyone. Even if you feel confident you know your business, its goals, and your industry, it’s difficult to know which information sources can deliver usable facts and figures. Construction data, including building permits information, is pertinent to our companies as well as our industry. But there’s another source of information you should investigate: construction spending.

Construction Data; Construction Spending Statistics

“Construction spending” measures the amount of investment in new construction. U.S. public and private sector new-construction spending information is used for economic forecasts and financial decision-making. The Census Bureau studies the construction value-in-place (VIP) every month.

Construction spending estimates include costs of:

  • Architectural and engineering work
  • Contractors’ profits
  • Interest and taxes
  • Labor and materials
  • Overhead/miscellaneous

FYI: Construction Spending 2020-2026

Construction spending data has led to good construction forecasts for this year and beyond. However, doubts surrounding steel and other building material costs continue to be driven by tariff and supply uncertainties.

How You Can Use Construction Spending Information

If you think you’re a “small-time” company, then don’t bother evaluating U.S. construction data, including spending. And forget about following the global construction industry. That’s one way to guarantee your growth and profits remain small.

The only limitations you have are the business decisions you make. Here are two things you need to know:

  1. Timely, relevant construction industry information pertinent to where you work (your geography) is critical to your business.
  2. Global and national trends impact your local business.

Construction spending data can give you the information you need to:

  1. Assess monthly fixed costs (rent, salaries, utilities, etc.) vs. comparable businesses
  2. Improve your budget and money management, which:
    • Keeps costs in-line with projections
    • Leads to better decision-making for profit
    • Captures a more realistic idea of revenue potential
  3. Compare industry trends with local economic projections and building permit data
  4. Determine if your rates are competitive and reasonable
  5. Develop a concise business plan
  6. Evaluate direct cost expenses (project-related labor, materials, subcontractors)
  7. Evaluate industry trends
  8. Identify cash flow variances based on time of year and competition
  9. Reinforce planning/financial goals (and adjust when necessary)

Our Success Depends on Yours

Construction Monitor believes data-driven decisions are shaping the global market for every industry, including construction. Our mission is to provide construction analytics and information you need for success. Call 800-925-6085 (International callers 435-586-1205) or contact Construction Monitor to learn more.

Can Building Permits Help You Sell More Windows and Doors?

can building permits help you sell more windows and doors

Projected sales of windows and doors are trending positive through the end of 2021 and likely beyond. According to industry forecasts, the market will see increases of at least 4.5% this year and next. The increase will include products ranging from lower-priced, hollow-core doors and vinyl windows up through to the more expensive high-end solid doors and dual-pane, energy-efficient windows. The only question seems to be: how can you effectively identify opportunities to take advantage of this growth in a targeted area?

Setting Your Sights on Building Permits

The marketing edge you need is found in the permits. Building permits can be a gold mine of information about home construction and renovations, which also include installation of new windows and doors. Instead of a scattershot approach to vaguely-defined prospects, vital data harvested from building permits drives a more sharply-focused marketing strategy to reach out to the right customers at the right time.

A simple one-to-one replacement of an existing window or door without any alterations typically doesn’t require a building permit. However, resizing an existing opening—common when upgrading windows—or cutting an all-new opening to accommodate a new window or exterior door triggers the building permit requirement in most municipalities. Additional facts appearing in the floor plan accompanying the permit application typically include the number, type and size of windows and doors. The estimated valuation included in permit applications also gives you a snapshot of typical prevailing budgets in a given area.

Connecting The Dots

Armed with relevant information from permits, you’re also able to discern specific product demand, such as particular materials or desired features, empowering you to adjust your marketing focus to emphasize these products.  Permit data helps extrapolate from particular products or services to related options that might be in demand, too. For example, permit data indicating a trend in installation of high-efficiency HVAC systems or upgrading home insulation might indicate an up-and-coming opportunity for marketing energy-saving windows or doors as well.  

Fine-tune your efforts to identify expanding markets and product trends with specialized data from building permits. Contact Construction Monitor for more details now.

Construction Data Will Strengthen Building Materials Industry

building materials industry

The first quarter of 2020 is seeing many industry ups and downs; that’s not unusual. Despite a very healthy economic trend nationally, there’s still an edge of uncertainty.

What has been somewhat anticipated for the construction industry is real: Standard & Poor reports U.S. housing starts are flat. Homeowner renovations are doing well but expected to slow between 1%-3%.

The building materials industry will see solid strength in some companies no matter what S&P predicts for 2020. Flying-By-The-Seat-Of-Our-Pants, Inc. will have to smarten-up quickly because when times are tough, the tough look to marketing and advertising for survival. This decade’s building materials sales are going to be driven by construction data.

Why We’re Seeing a Slowdown

Tariffs on Chinese imports continue to be the elephant in the room, and negotiators are considering rollbacks. But an increase in tariffs could definitely hit us where we live.

The cement industry is dealing with CO2 emission cuts, primarily in Europe but we know that what impacts the construction industry “over there” is a good predictor of what’s going to happen here. The good news for concrete materials is many states are increasing funding for aging roadway repairs.

Millennials are becoming more conservative about premium building materials (floors, interior design in baths/kitchens) and are opting for mid-range materials instead. 

John McManus in the January 6, 2020 issue of Builder magazine says building materials supplies are being influenced by “L” words:

  • Labor
  • Laws/regulations
  • Lending
  • Lots
  • Lumber/materials

How Applied Construction Data Builds Your Business

Before you begin tightening your belt and laying off employees, know that 2020-2021 will be a year for 1.5% growth in our industry. Any growth is good for business. That’s simply less growth than we’ve seen recently. 

You can use this slowdown to play catch-up or use this time to cultivate your marketing and sales strategy. Request:

  • Area-specific commercial, residential, solar construction leads
  • Detailed statistics
  • Geographic building permit data
  • Project reports
  • Real-time construction leads

…by calling 800-925-6085 or contact a data professional at Construction Monitor.

You have building materials, and we do too. Let us help you build your business this year and beyond.

How to Learn About Construction Trends in Your Area

Construction Trends

Learn to spot construction trends before your competition and you’ll gain access to pools of potential clients eager to get in on the next big trend. Construction data makes it easy to identify emerging trends by showing you exactly how your target market’s demands change over time.

Track Building Permit Data

An increase in building permits issued for a certain type of project is a clear sign demand for this project is trending upward. If you see bathroom remodels are starting to overtake kitchen remodels, that tells you not only what skills your would-be customers might be looking for in a general contractor, but also what kind of cabinets, countertops, and floor coverings will interest them. As a roofing contractor, you might notice the demand for roof replacements is down, but more homeowners are building additions, so you can adjust the focus of your marketing accordingly.

With access to in-depth building permit data, you’ll see not only what types of projects are gaining popularity but also which aspects of those projects are changing. Even if the popularity of kitchen remodeling is holding steady, you might discover the average value of those projects is rising. That could mean homeowners will be increasingly interested in luxury products.

Examine Data on Leading Construction Firms

Paying attention to what the most successful construction companies in your area are doing can lead you toward profitable trends. Data on these companies can tell you what types of residential and commercial projects they’re focusing on, how much these projects are worth on average, and where the work is happening.

Looking over the data on the biggest local company might show you they’re shifting their efforts toward commercial office spaces. If all three of the local top companies are making that move, you’re probably onto a trend. As a building materials supplier, you can get in on the trend by preparing to stock more material suited to office construction and targeting your marketing towards the needs of commercial builders.

For more on using construction data to spot profitable trends, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Using Construction Trends to Improve Marketing Strategy

Improve Marketing Strategy

Even if you think you know your target market inside and out, their needs and wants will change over time. By staying on top of those changes and adapting your marketing strategy accordingly, you’ll be better able to profit from market demands.

Construction Trends

Local building permit data is an invaluable information source on trending construction projects and what types of projects are waning in popularity. Knowing that apartments and other multifamily housing projects are more common in your area than other types of commercial construction is a powerful insight that can lead you toward profitable target markets, which are fundamental to any marketing strategy.

Building permit data also helps you refine your choices of target markets. If you specialize in remodels, it’s useful to know whether bathroom or kitchen remodels are more popular or whether a marketing campaign to promote your attic finishing services is worth the time and money it takes to run one. 

Trends in what property developers and homeowners want can guide your choice of a marketing mix and your messages. If you notice a growing interest in smart home technology, you might decide to publish more website content showing how your products fit into a modern, high-tech home.

Social Trends

Keeping up with trends outside the construction industry lets you better anticipate your buyers’ overall needs in a way that grabs their attention. If you sell light fixtures and discover a work-at-home trend, you might develop a line of lighting products well suited to home offices and promote it on remote worker information blogs.

Tendencies in building permit applications can reveal social trends, too. An increase in cabin construction could tell you people in your area are interested in getting back to nature or finding simple ways to relax. You can use that information to create marketing material that shows how your products help meet those lifestyle goals. If you sell windows and doors, you might create a campaign focused on large windows for those who want more natural lighting.

For more tips on using trends to inform your market strategy, contact Construction Monitor.

Build Your Construction Business Marketing on the Right Foundation

To be effective, your marketing needs clear direction rooted in a strong foundation. That foundation is your brand, the unique identity of your construction business. By defining your brand, you’ll gain a better understanding of your target market and what it takes to win their business.

Develop Your Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is the way your company is placed in the market and in your clients’ minds. It’s the differentiating factor that lets you stand out from the crowd. Start by defining which construction category you’re in, who you’re targeting, and what benefits you deliver and want to highlight.

Then take a look at how each of your main competitors have positioned their brands. Data on the top local construction companies can help by showing you whose brand position is really working for them. You’ll learn what to do and what to avoid.

Using that knowledge, look for what sets your company apart and develop a distinct value position that includes compelling logical and emotional benefits. If you sell building materials, are you the company that specializes in durable, low-maintenance materials for industrial facilities or the one that can always find the perfect materials to complement your area’s historical homes?

Define Your Brand Image

Your brand image is how your clients think of your company beyond knowing what products and services you offer. It’s built on the assumptions and associations they maker after interacting with your company. When you know the brand image you’re aiming for, you can focus your marketing efforts on creating associations that support that image.

Take the hip, free-spirited general contractors who specialize in home office additions for young professionals versus the prudent, tradition-oriented contractors who build home additions for growing families. Both offer essentially the same services, but their images are very different and their marketing will be, too.

Building permit data can help you spot trends and gaps in the market to craft a brand image that will appeal to a profitable customer base.

For more tips on perfecting your construction business marketing, contact Construction Monitor.

10 Million Permits!

On July 3rd, 1989, David Mineer Sr. collected a building permit from the Utah County building permit office, and Construction Monitor was born.  28 years later Construction Monitor has a data collection network spanning 1,899 jurisdictions throughout the United States and provides the most real time building permit information in the country.  Construction Monitor now has thousands of clients relying on that accurate and up-to-date weekly information to grow their revenue and help make crucial business decisions.  On May 9th, 2017, Construction Monitor entered the 10 millionth permit into its database.

The 10 millionth permit was collected from Richmond, Virginia.  It is a commercial remodel permit with a valuation of $1,095,000 that was issued on April 21st, 2017.  Subscribers to Construction Monitor; such as companies in the drywall, flooring, security, and solar industries, will be able to use that permit as a potential opportunity to generate bids and create more revenue.  Since 1989, Construction Monitor has created over 10 million of those types of opportunities for its clients.

Building permits are valuable as both sales leads and statistical information because they are required on every construction project from a small residential remodel up to a commercial high-rise.  With multiple ways to contact most individuals related to millions of construction projects, Construction Monitor clients have been able to identify and capture opportunities that they had only because they watched permits through Construction Monitor.

To learn more about Construction Monitor and how it has helped thousands of companies throughout the United States, visit us at ww.constructionmonitor.com

What’s Trending in Landscape Architecture

landscapingModern homeowners continue to demonstrate a growing interest in making the best possible use of all available space, which is reflected by current landscape architecture trends. Information from a survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), cited on the website ProRemodeler, gives an accurate view of where homeowners currently stand on both practical and decorative elements of landscape architecture.

The ASLA survey indicated that many homeowners are interested in landscape architecture features that are sustainable and good for the local environment. These include:

  • Low-maintenance landscaping: Landscaping that requires less maintenance decreases resource usage. Water, electricity and fuel for maintenance equipment can be more easily conserved.
  • Reduced lawn area: Smaller lawns require less care, which contributes to sustainability.
  • Solar-powered lights: Solar-powered lights offer excellent sources of illumination without the need to use electricity. These lights can absorb enough solar energy during the day to allow them to work reliably at night.
  • Compost bins: Composting bins are popular sustainability choices for households that want to put their waste to a practical use.

Concern over water resources and water availability drives a tendency to install landscape features that provide ways to conserve and manage rainwater and wastewater.

  • Rainwater/graywater harvesting: Water conservation and sustainability gets a tremendous boost with landscape architecture features that allow the collection and use of rainwater and graywater.
  • Permeable paving: Permeable paving allows rainwater to more easily penetrate the paving material and enter the ground below. This reduces irrigation demand by allowing more water to enter the ground. It also helps control stormwater runoff by allowing rain to penetrate the paving instead of flowing off it.
  • Drought-tolerant plants: Native and adapted drought-tolerant plants offer landscaping that requires less water. This means that demands on existing water supplies will be lower and that architectural plants can survive with less watering during droughts or periods of low rainfall.

Construction Monitor serves the construction industry with the latest data on trends and developments, including housing starts. Contact us today for more information on landscape architecture trends and how you can incorporate them into your company’s offerings.