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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New Homes Being Built: 3 Things You Can Learn

new homes being built

Single-family starter-home buyers are intimidated by price tags even though financing options and rates are at lows that haven’t been seen in a very long time. Is there a solution to the high costs of new home investment? Yes. You can learn more about new homes being built using construction data.

Starter Homes May Be Big Business

“Smaller homes, smaller lots, smaller price tags,” says a Northwest Minnesota Housing Cooperative in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. If you are involved in the construction industry, this is a trend you’ll want to watch. And what do smaller home developments need?

  • Apartment-sized furniture
  • Durable, easy-cleaning flooring for families
  • Handicap bars for seniors
  • Push lawnmowers
  • Stackable washer/dryer combos

…and everything from neighborhood drycleaning to community healthcare facilities.

We will always need commercial or residential housing. If you sell or service almost any product, your business can benefit from construction industry knowledge. You have a lot to learn, and building permits reports can deliver what you need to know.

3 New Home Factors That Can Impact Your Business

Some of the construction industry forecasts released March 18, 2020 went out the window March 19, 2020. Okay, it wasn’t really that bad, but all bets are off while we wait out the most virulent pandemic in global history.

If you reviewed statistical information quarterly or even monthly, now is the time to switch to weekly analysis because that’s how fast U.S. markets are changing right now. Here are 3 factors that may tilt the economic scales for 2020 new home construction:

  1. “Made in the USA” products and materials are going to be more in-demand than ever before. Many consumers feel recent shortages were a result of imported goods. 
  2. New home builds vs. renovationsFebruary forecasts were dynamic, but closing businesses to reduce crowds has led to conservative investing. An economically challenged population may favor remodeling over new-home purchases.
  3. Slow housing starts data – Expect home sales to fall as much as 35% this spring. That’s a sign you need to cultivate alliances with builders and architects now.
    Consider mass mailings because snail-mail is getting more attention than ever before. Use construction data to target your market.

There’s no such thing as TMI (too much information). Construction Monitor has information about new homes being built that can shape your marketing strategy for success. Call 800-925-6085 or contact us today.

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

Why Aren’t Millennials Choosing New Construction?

While you might be tempted to assume millennials‘ financial difficulties are what’s keeping them out of the housing market, you’d be missing half the story if you did. Personal preferences are also among the reasons some millennials may not choose to buy a new construction.

new constructionHow Millennials‘ Housing Preferences Differ

Burdensome student debt and poor job prospects have forced many millennials to delay home buying. When they are ready to buy, however, they’re faced with a lack of starter homes that fit their budgets.

Unlike previous generations, who typically started families in their early- to mid-twenties, millennials are holding off until their late twenties. In addition, more young people are opting to avoid marriage altogether. For many, this is a personal choice, not merely a consequence of financial insecurity. These singles have little incentive to move out of their tiny rented apartments and into family homes of their own.

Location preference is also a factor. Many millennials favor urban areas, preferring easy access to amenities and short commutes over the spacious homes and big backyards of the suburbs. When you consider the regulatory costs and other expenses of urban building, you can see why most builders construct a few large buildings rather than many small starter homes.

Your Options as a Construction Professional

Ultimately, the biggest roadblock keeping millennials out of the housing market may be the lack of affordable homes in the sizes and locations they prefer. Even those who are ready to buy may not find a new construction that meets their needs. Recently, only around 20 percent of newly built homes were entry-level properties, down from 30 percent before 2008.

The demand doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll profit by building these homes, though. In fact, current trends suggest you’re better off not doing so. Older millennials are now starting to make the traditional move to the suburbs, just at a later age than previous generations. In addition, rising rent prices in urban areas are likely to make suburban home ownership increasingly appealing.

For more information on the new construction home market, contact the construction leads experts at Construction Monitor today.

Get the Job: 3 Techniques for Bidding on a Construction Project Successfully

bidding on a construction projectGiven the resources invested in bidding on a construction project, your skill at choosing projects to pursue is a major factor in your success. A few simple techniques can help you identify and win the projects that will profit you most.

Watch Your Labor Investment

Bidding on a construction project is always a commitment of time and money, but it’s important to be alert for signs that a proposal process isn’t worth the effort. Watch out for highly labor-intensive proposals that require your technical staff to work out complex details specific to the project, such as LEED scorecards. If your marketing department can’t handle a proposal alone, you may be putting in too much effort.

Keep in mind the work you’ve put into the details doesn’t always go toward the finished project. Even if the client accepts your proposal, they may require changes.

When deciding whether or not to pursue a project like this, consider the potential opportunity costs. Tying up too many of your resources in one complex proposal can leave you unable to go after more profitable projects.

Consider PPP Projects Carefully

Public-private-partnerships, also known as PPP or P3, may appear lucrative, but the cost to pursue them is often excessive. Much of the cost comes from the need to hire an outside adviser who can conduct your due diligence in terms of legal issues. P3 projects are also rife with political intricacies that can complicate contract negotiations and cause delays. In addition, developing P3 estimates requires more documentation, such as the Operation and Maintenance Scope of Work documents.

Stay Flexible

The results of your go-no-go process shouldn’t be carved in stone. Stay open to new information about the client and the project, and update your go-no-go process documentation accordingly. You may find the client is difficult to work with, or that you’re bidding against an exceptionally strong competitor. That said, after you’ve finalized your go-no-go decision, it’s rarely beneficial to make major changes to your proposal.

For more tips on bidding on a construction project, contact us at Construction Monitor.

 

Implementing a Cost Management Plan in Your Next Build

cost management plan for construction projectsWith so many moving parts involved in every construction project, you’re almost guaranteed to see scope creep and cost overruns if you don’t maintain strict control. An effective cost management plan for construction projects helps you stay on budget and on schedule.

What a CM Can Do for You

A Configuration Management (CM) system gives you a way to accurately anticipate, approve, execute, and track all changes to your project. All relevant paper and electronic documents are added to the CM system to ensure no information is lost. More advanced CM software automatically analyzes data and alerts you to developing problems. Potential benefits include:

  • Reduced administrative costs
  • Less repetitive data-analysis work for your managers
  • Faster responses to Requests for Information (RFIs)
  • Faster processing of Change Orders

Best Practices for Implementing Your Next CM

A cost management plan for construction projects works best when it’s fully prepared before the project begins. Establishing baselines for scope, cost, and schedules from the beginning makes it easier to spot and prevent scope creep.

Define a schedule for the release of status reports to managers. These reports should detail the project’s present state and any changes that have occurred. Develop a change management plan that establishes a set of procedures for the consideration and approval of changes. Include a way to audit the success of each project and document any valuable information gleaned that can be put toward improving future projects.

Look for a CM software that offers Sentiment Analysis (SA). SA technology mines documents for specific words and determines if they’re used in a good, bad or neutral manner. It picks up on words that require attention, such as “delay,” and notifies managers in real time.

Data and text visualization capabilities also add value to your CM software. These analytical tools process live performance data streams to create charts, text clouds, timelines, and other visuals that let you review the status of your project at a glance.

To learn more about choosing a cost management plan for construction projects, contact us at Construction Monitor.

The Evolution of Cement Use in Construction

cement use in constructionCement is such a ubiquitous building material that we tend to take its current form for granted. Yet cement use in construction has a history dating back thousands of years, and in that time the material has undergone numerous changes and improvements. Today, cement continues to evolve for the better.

The Origins of Modern Cement

Cement was produced in many ancient societies using locally available natural materials. Egyptians used gypsum, while the Greeks and Romans blended limestone with sand to make their cement. The Romans eventually discovered they could change the properties of their cement by adding other materials. One of these materials was volcanic ash known as pozzolana. The addition of this ash created a cement that could set under water, making it useful for building harbors. In fact, concrete made from this cement resists salt water better than today’s concrete.

The most common cement used today, Portland cement, came from a different source. Portland cement evolved from the cements used in Britain in the mid-19th century.

The Future of Cement Use in Construction

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a way to make Portland-cement concrete both more durable and more eco-friendly.

The conventional cement formula uses between 1.2 to 2.2 parts of calcium for every 1 part of silica, but 1.7 parts of calcium is the standard. MIT researchers found that decreasing the calcium content to 1.5 doubles the resulting concrete’s resistance to cracks.

Better yet, switching to a cement formula that uses 1.5 parts calcium could reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that come from cement production by up to 60 percent. That’s no small improvement, considering the cement industry alone is responsible for some 5 to 10 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide production.

A more durable cement also means less concrete will be needed to repair and replace damaged structures, further reducing cement production’s environmental impact. Although this new formula performs well in the laboratory, it remains to be tested in real-world applications.

To stay on top of recent developments in cement use in construction, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Extended-Stay Hotel Chain Beginning Construction in a Few Alaska Markets

My Place Hotels, a popular extended-stay hotel chain based in Aberdeen, South Dakota, is making inroads into the Alaskan market with three new locations in Ketchikan, Anchorage, and Fairbanks. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2015, with expected completion dates by fall or winter 2015.

My Place Hotels
Source: Facebook.com/MyPlaceHotels

The Alaska construction is expected to begin on a lot on Ketchikan’s Tongass Avenue, across from the city’s post office and next to an Alaskan and Proud grocery store. When finished, the Ketchikan My Place Hotel will feature 64 rooms and is expected to employ at least 10 people.

Two other My Place Hotels are already in operation in Washington state.

The My Place Hotels franchise was cofounded by Ron Rivett, the cofounder of the well-known Super 8 Motel chain, and his grandson, Ryan Rivett, who serves as president and chief operations officer of My Place.

My Place Hotels operates on an economy model that provides comfortable, inexpensive extended-stay lodging for customers. Each room features a kitchenette, for example, but larger amenities such as swimming pools, exercise rooms or complementary breakfasts are excluded.

The hotels offer guests a laundry facility and Internet access. Pets are also allowed.

Planners and executives believe that the Ketchikan market will fully support the hotel. At base, the hotel will serve many of the tourists in the area. The nearby hospital is expected to bring in guests who are staying in the area because of a family member in the hospital.

Guests with connections to the industrial shipping industry are also expected to make use of the My Place Hotel. Vigor Alaska, a heavy industrial shipyard, is within walking distance of the hotel’s proposed site.

Construction Monitor offers up-to-date reporting on developments and trends in the construction industry, including housing starts, building permit issuances and new construction. Contact us today for more information on Alaska construction.

Protect Roofers From Deadly Falls With These Safety Precautions

Construction is widely recognized as a dangerous business. The tools, materials and conditions that construction professionals operate with and in can cause serious injuries and even death. Some simple precautions and adherence to safety regulations can reduce or eliminate much of the risk found in construction categories. Among these is roofing, a task that exposes workers to potential harm from falls. Here are some ways to protect roofers from deadly falls.

roofer
Source: iStock.com/sculpies

  • Identify risks before work starts  – Safety managers and related professionals should carefully assess the site and requirements before any roofing work begins. Remember that conditions on a roof can change quickly, whether from wind, rain, shifting materials or other factors. Take these into consideration as you plan for roof safety.
  • Use appropriate fall prevention equipment – Fall safety requires the use of fall prevention equipment appropriate to the setting. Safety devices could include fall-arrest systems, guardrails, ladders and other equipment. Make sure all components of these systems are working properly and are in compliance with OSHA regulations or other requirements.
  • Assess structural strength of roof surface – Make sure you know how strong the roof is and whether or not it will be able to safely hold the weight of one or more roofers, their equipment and roofing supplies. Take steps to make the roof stronger, if needed. Pay particular attention to safety around skylights or other openings in the roof.
  • Wear personal protective gear – In addition to fall prevention devices, roofers should wear appropriate clothing and gear. This can include sturdy work shoes with treads that provide good footing, knee pads or elbow pads to protect joints, and durable clothing to protect against cuts, scratches or other minor injuries.
  • Create clear work areas –Place equipment and supplies in areas where they won’t be an obstacle to roofers as they work. Make sure material is staged to prevent the possibility of tripping and falling over tools or supplies.

Construction Monitor reports on new developments and conditions in the construction industry. Contact us today for more information on safety for roofing professionals and for procedures to prevent roofing falls.