Latest Trends in Kitchen and Bath Remodeling

Kitchens and bathrooms are probably the most functional areas of any home. Keeping up with the remodeling trends for these important rooms will give any construction company an edge over its competitors. Here are a few of the kitchen and bath remodeling trends that are driving current home renovation.

  • Simplicity of design: A lot of work is done in kitchens, and a simple, clean design makes it easier to accomplish the cooking and cleaning required in this room. Roomy countertops, flat cabinets, and easily accessible shelves are among the features that make these types of kitchens attractive.
  • Wood: Wood is returning as an appealing design feature in both kitchens and baths. Wood cabinets, especially those made of dark wood or specialty woods, are being used in both kitchens and bathrooms. Newer processes that make wood sturdier and more resistant to the effects of moisture and heat allow wood to be used as an attractive wall covering in bathrooms.
  • Universal design: Design that favors the needs of aging residents is now and will continue to be a popular trend in kitchen and bath remodeling. As the generation of baby boomers continues to age, many will want to stay in their homes, which is known as aging in place. Kitchens and baths will need to be remodeled to accommodate physical restrictions such as limited mobility and reduced eyesight. Remodeling to accommodate wheelchairs is also likely to become more common.
  • Tranquil design: Both kitchens and bathrooms can be busy places, so a recent trend is designing these areas to be as tranquil and calming as possible. This is especially true in bathrooms where some time in a soothing bath can be restorative. Simple designs, muted colors, and practical placement of fixtures contribute to this trend.
  • Open and roomy atmosphere: Open spaces are popular in kitchens and baths, created by freestanding tubs, floating vanities, strategically placed kitchen islands, and open shelving.

Construction Monitor provides up-to-date information on construction trends and current practices. Contact us today for more information on kitchen and bath remodeling trends and what they may mean for your company’s future.

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.

Forecast of Trends in the Home Renovation Market

home renovation marketThe home renovation market can be a gold mine for contractors, but its cyclical nature means you need to keep track of the trends if you want to be ready when opportunities arise.

Sales of Existing Homes Set to Increase

The greatest demand for home renovations comes from buyers of existing homes. Not only do buyers want to remodel their homes to suit their preferences, but older homes often require repairs and upgrades.

In 2014, a sluggish economy and hard winter held back sales of existing homes, but the numbers are set to improve in 2015. With the economy and job prospects picking up, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts the rate of existing home sales should grow by around 7 percent.

Economic Conditions Encourage New Home Sales

News homes also drive the home renovation market and NAR analysis suggest the rate of new home sales could rise by 30 to 40 percent in 2015. Predictions of higher interest rates are helping to fuel this growth. In 2014, analysts predicted mortgage rates would hit 5 percent by the year’s end. Although they rose to only 3.87 percent, the Mortgage Bankers Association found applications for home loans nonetheless increased by 49 percent.

Many analysts still project mortgage rates of 5 percent or more by the end of 2015, which could motivate prospective home buyers to take advantage of relatively low mortgage rates.

As the economy picks up, so does demand for homes, causing prices to rise accordingly. In 2014, home prices rose by some 6.4 percent and the increase is predicted to continue. Rising home prices may encourage some to buy while they can, but decreased affordability could limit the growth in home sales.

The way buyers intend to use their new property is another factor for contractors to consider. The younger generation’s preference for metropolitan areas, where they can’t afford to buy property, has increased demand for rental homes. Rental home owners spend primarily on maintenance, but hesitate to invest in major renovations.

To keep up with trends in the home renovation market, contact us at Construction Monitor.


Albuquerque’s Winrock Mall Preps for Long-Awaited Redevelopment

winrock mallIt was 1959 when the University of New Mexico and Winthrop Rockefeller announced plans to develop a 500,000 square foot mall called Winrock—the first and for many years the largest shopping mall in New Mexico. Retail giants of the era including Montgomery Wards, S.S. Kresge Five & Ten, J.C. Penney, Hallmark Cards and Safeway soon became standout tenants. A Fox Cinema came in the 1960s, as well as the White Winrock Motor Hotel. In the decades since and like many malls, Winrock has lost some of its luster as a shopping destination of choice. However, its place in the minds and memories of Albuquerque residents endured. Continue reading Albuquerque’s Winrock Mall Preps for Long-Awaited Redevelopment

Oklahoma City Remodel Uncovers Historic Facade Dating Back to the 1920s

Oklahoma CityWhile uncovering a historic facade isn’t unheard of in Oklahoma City, finding two in one location is relatively rare. That’s exactly what happened to property developer Jonathan Russell, who’s renovating the neglected buildings on the corner of Walker Avenue and NW 23rd Street into The Rise shopping center. Continue reading Oklahoma City Remodel Uncovers Historic Facade Dating Back to the 1920s

What U.S. Homeowners Are Remodeling or Adding to Their Properties in 2014

U.S. homeownersIn home remodeling, the cost-value ratio expresses the relationship between the cost of a home upgrade and the estimated dollar amount it contributes to the home’s resale value.  Average cost-values are collected annually on 35 popular remodeling projects and replacements in more than 100 markets across the country. These numbers are a revealing metric that illustrate both consumer trends in home improvements and how these projects impact property value. Continue reading What U.S. Homeowners Are Remodeling or Adding to Their Properties in 2014