Using BIM, VDC to Improve Construction Bidding and Planning

BIM = Business information modeling
VDC = Virtual design and construction

Construction Bidding and Planning

Seven years ago, we in the construction industry pondered the pros and cons of BIM software. BIM was new-to-us at that point but the concept – and the term – was introduced in 1992. Today there’s no doubt there are many advantages to business information modeling and the software that drives it.

VDC followed in 2001 by the CIFE (Center for Integrated Facility Engineering at Stanford University of California). The institution strives to lead the world in academic research for architectural engineering virtual design and construction.

A Competitive Edge in Construction Bidding

“Construction has one of the most costly and time-consuming bidding processes of any industry, owing to the high complexity of projects,” said marketing pro Tyler Riddell. With BIM and VDC, bidders can include a visual, integrated model that includes product and material information.

Your bids will leave no doubt as to the level of organizational efficiency and collaborative abilities of your teams. Your accuracy in estimating costs will also improve, and that usually means greater profits.

Minimize Poor Construction Planning

BIM uses data and 3D modeling to strengthen design concepts for one or more construction project segments. We use it to portray how finished physical objects will appear.

VDC complements BIM. This application incorporates the BIM models into a start-to-finish project presentation. This application “gives each team member access to updated, real-time project information,” says the design software company ALLPLAN, “while optimizing engineering and construction.”

Trying to envision a finished project was difficult for many stakeholders, no matter how accurate the 1- or 2-D drawings and architectural presentations are. VDC can be used to reveal every phase of a construction project.

The software data factors-in:

  • Constructability
  • Costs
  • Staging
  • Turnaround times

BIM and VDC can reduce the issues associated with poor construction planning:

  • Everyone on the project team is able to “see” the end result and each person can speak to the design concepts confidently.
  • It proves the project is doable as-planned.
  • Labor costs can be reduced because you save time taking the design to a deliverable plus it helps you determine what and when labor is needed.
  • Material costs can be reduced because you’ve pre-planned and identified types and layouts. You’ll know when/what to order, staging required, and shipping times.

Ignoring the business management and development tools you have available can be more costly than you realize. Construction Monitor data can help you increase business. Get more information today.

Tips To Minimize Construction Business Hurricane Losses

construction business

If you’re not a boat captain or crew, you probably don’t pay attention to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) announcements until May. That’s when NOAA issues its hurricane season prediction for the year.

Apparently, the 2021 storm season will not be as cruel as 2020. But it will be very active. Again. The prediction is a 60% chance of an above-normal hurricane season.

Following a catastrophic hurricane, there’s a construction business surge from demands for damage repairs. There’s also inflated materials and labor costs.

Construction Business Damage Control: Be Prepared

If you have projects in U.S. coastal regions, now’s the time to review insurance policies. Some policies do not cover earthquake, flood, or hurricane damage.

Then, check with your contractors and subcontractors to confirm their insurance coverage. Next, review your open contracts to review the wording about weather-related delays.

Technology has made hurricane tracking much more accurate. When the first storm warning is issued, you’ll have a good idea of how much time you have to initiate hurricane protocols (the ones you developed before a weather-related disaster).

Here are some tasks to protect your jobsite against the threat of hurricane damage:

  • Assign a “storm leader” to coordinate crew assignments.
  • Document the project’s condition and work status by making a video/photographic record of the job site and surrounding properties.
  • Focus on reducing the storm’s impact; close structural openings, minimize flood risks from groundwater/rainfall, etc.
  • Protect materials and equipment that cannot be moved with netting, banding, anchoring screws, or other materials.

Returning to Work Safely Post-Storm 

Review OSHA’s Hurricane eMatrix guide for post-storm actions. The information will provide employee safety recommendations for returning to work.

  1. Inspect the jobsite.
  2. Determine the damage.
  3. Videotape/photograph the scene.
  4. Notify insurance and owner(s) before making repairs or initiating cleanup.
  5. Communicate who is responsible for repairs and cleanup.
  6. Check the structural integrity of buildings, formwork, scaffolding, etc. and secure/reinforce if needed. 
  7. Remove standing water.
  8. Before re-powering, check all electrical connections, junction boxes, and grounding. Pay attention to extension cords’ condition/placement.
  9. Document all storm-related damage, delays, and losses. Request subcontractors do the same.

Construction Business is Our Business

The marketing professionals at Construction Monitor want to share construction business-related information. But our business is encouraging you to develop your business. No company is too small to have a marketing plan.

Ask us about ways to develop business leads using building permit information. And stay safe this hurricane season.

Condo Collapse Could Have Been Avoided

condo collapse

Three more bodies were found July 5 after the demolition of the Champlain Towers South multifamily structure in Surfside, FL. As of that day, there were still 118 bodies missing in the rubble of the condo collapse.

Documents released by the town of Surfside revealed a 2018 engineering report warned of major structural damage at the condo. The condominium was built in 1981 atop what had once been marshlands and had been sinking 2 millimeters/year since 1990.

The condo association was planning to address the building’s issues. One construction company CEO told a Construction Dive reporter that “deferred maintenance” among condo associations is a common problem.

Law and Local Government Officials’ Lack of Enforcement Contributed to Condo Collapse

The demolition was initiated at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, July 4 using what engineers called “energetic felling.” The process used small but strategically placed explosives that allowed gravity to bring the building down safely.

Here are the pivotal points cited by The New York Times:

  • Champlain Towers South faced tumultuous years before the collapse.
  • Lax enforcement let South Florida towers skirt inspections for years.
  • One housing unit, Crestview Towers’ inspection was 9 years overdue. It was evacuated and the next day, another Miami-area condominium unit’s residents were told to leave and take valuables with them.
  • The company hired to take down the damaged Surfside building is known for the Seattle Kingdome implosion.
  • The remaining structure at the Surfside condo has been demolished.

Miami Beach had over 500 buildings due for 40-year recertification, and after the June 24 condo collapse, the city completed every inspection within a week. However, “Miami Beach isn’t going to assume…its building inspections and recertification processes are being done in the right way,” said Miami Mayor Dan Gelber.

Safety Can Never Be Compromised

When 6 condo collapse firefighter/rescue workers tested positive for coronavirus, it was not known if the workers had been vaccinated. Vaccination against COVID-19 is another safety precaution we shouldn’t ignore.

The investigation into the condo collapse will likely take years. There’s little doubt that several fails contributed to the disaster. But the families and residents of the Surfside Beach community may never recover from the heartbreak of that day.

For more information about construction business leads in your area, contact Construction Monitor today.

Materials Tracking for Construction Firms

construction materials

Construction firms using software for materials tracking have a competitive edge. And during the pandemic, one company managed supply chain challenges in such a way it increased productivity.

New York City’s HAP Construction shares steps to protect against contract loopholes for a more successful project lifecycle.

9 Steps Construction Firms Can Use

The construction company said these logistics were implemented during the pandemic, but they are strategies that will prove effective every year.

1. Before the project start date, make a list of all materials to be purchased:

  • Doors
  • Finishes
  • Fixtures
  • Flooring
  • Kitchen supplies/appliances
  • Lighting

Sort the list to give an exact location of where items will be used.

2. Order all needed materials as soon as possible. Purchasing items earlier allows you to avoid future price increases due to supply shortages.

3. Materials are shipped offsite for storage. Designate a logistics manager to:

  • Oversee all vendor purchase orders
  • Receive/log materials deliveries

This enables more oversight and materials control. It also allows project managers to reduce subcontractor surcharges.

4. Using architectural drawings, create a building map that designates where specific materials will be needed and when.

5. Following every materials delivery, the logistics manager should inventory items to ensure the correct quantities were delivered and materials are undamaged. The logistics manager then updates the master list, showing the materials are stored and ready for jobsite delivery.

6. All items in storage should be sorted according to building site locations. Perform a second check to ensure everything is accounted for and undamaged.

7. Label all boxes/materials with an individual QR (quick response) code. When pieces are ready for delivery to the construction site, the workers onsite can easily see where every piece of material or equipment needs to be.

8. When possible, all materials for each task should be delivered together. This reduces the number of deliveries and the number of trucks in traffic which lowers gas emissions.

9. Schedule jobsite deliveries after regular hours if possible. This frees hoists for workers that need them during the day. After-hours delivery also lets delivery crews get in and out quicker.

The time savings are measurable But it’s also morale-building when project workers and subcontractors can find the materials they need quickly and in the right spot. 

Logistics for better business organization are what construction firms value. Construction Monitor takes building permit information and customizes it, making it easier, faster to use. Contact us to learn how our data can transform your marketing strategy.

June 2021 Construction Data

2021 construction data

While Construction Monitor provides construction data customized for your business, our friends at Construction Dive regularly provide construction industry “metrics that matter.” The June information they shared comes from several sources and they centralize that data for the rest of us.

Here’s the June 2021 recap:

  • Architecture billings – (Any score over 50 indicates growth.) 58.5 in May up from 57.9; design contracts 63.2 up from 61.7.
  • Construction backlog – Rose in May 2021 to eight months; 0.1 months higher than April 2021 and May 2020.
  • Construction confidence – Rose in May 2020-June 2, 2021, 0.1 months higher than April 2021 and May 2020.
  • Construction jobs – Employment was down by 20,000 in May 2021 with 17,000 non-specialty contractor job losses. Construction has regained 888,000 of the 1.1 million jobs lost in March/April 2020.
  • Construction Spending – Total construction spending January-April 2021 = $452.3 billion, 5.8 percent (±1.0%) above 2020.
    • Educational – $84.8 billion, 0.5% (±1.8%) below March estimate
    • Highway – $99.8 billion, 0.6% (±5.6%) above March estimate
    • Nonresidential – $451.4 billion in April, 0.5% (±0.7%) below March estimate
    • Private – $1,180.7 billion, 0.4% (±0.7%) above March estimate
    • Public – $343.5 billion, 0.6% (±0.6%) below March estimate
    • Residential – $729.2 billion in April, 1.0% (±.03%) above March estimate
  • Construction starts – May 2021 construction starts declined by 1% to $902.8 (seasonally adjusted annual rate)

Condensed Construction Information You Need

Construction data for industry spending, hiring, starts, and billing is available to you, online and free. The information from this blog was gathered from more than six sources. But Construction Dive encapsulates it into one easy-to-read overview.

That’s what Construction Monitor does. The same construction data from building permit information we pull every week is available to you. But sorting it into relevant, usable information is time-consuming.

Have you ever put a price tag on your time? Let’s say you are “worth” $75/hour. It’s safe to say it takes 6-8 hours to refine building permit data into actionable information for your business. Construction Monitor will encapsulate it into one easy-to-read overview. Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly – what you need when you need it.

Call or contact us to learn more.

Biden’s Budget Boosts Construction Industry

construction industry

On Friday, May 28, 2021, President Biden released his 2022 FY budget. It calls for $6+ trillion in spending that “reimagines how – and for whom – the economy works,” says Vox reporter Cameron Peters. Infrastructure spending and education are focal points.

“Trickle-down economics has never worked,” said Biden. “The best way to grow our economy is not from the top down but from the bottom up and the middle out.”

For the most part, Biden’s ambitious plan benefits our construction industry. But a 13% cut to the Army Corps of Engineers is coming under some scrutiny. But Veterans Affairs would see a 22% increase.

Rebuild Illinois Serves as Construction Industry Flagship

Also in May 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a $45 billion bill that is among the largest capital programs in the construction industry this year and the largest ever in Illinois. It’s also the first program that is multimodal. “Every aspect and mode of transportation in every part of Illinois will be touched by it,” says the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT).

The plan may create approximately 540,000 jobs. IDOT is also renewing efforts to revitalize the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program in hopes of attracting more small businesses to the projects.

The project’s funding breakdown includes:

  • $25.3B – Roads, bridges
  • $4.6B – Mass transit
  • $1B – Rail
  • $679M – Miscellaneous transportation
  • $558M – Aeronautics
  • $492M – Create
  • $312M – Grade crossing protection
  • $150M – Ports

The total is $33.2 billion.

Making a Good Year Better

Hopefully, it’s truly been a happier new year for you. Your Construction Monitor subscription can make it better. Our basic, free information includes:

Most of us are “control freaks.” That’s how we got started in business in the first place. Control freaks say, “I don’t have time” a lot.

Sign on for a one-week free trial to access our subscriber information. If you don’t have time, someone in your organization is eager to grow your business. Look at your team closely to find that person. Then contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Business One Year Post-Pandemic

construction industry

Of the key economic indicators for our country, housing starts are a leading indicator. Housing starts are sensitive to mortgage rates, which are affected by interest rates, so they represent about 4% of annual gross domestic product (GDP). The industry itself and your construction business are considered economic activities.

What’s Changed, Unchanged In 1 Year: Construction Business

The pandemic has had a lasting impact on how we live, socialize, and work. But we’re nothing if not adaptable. What has changed the construction industry since 2020?

  • Architectural design – This may be the most lasting change we’ll see. Commercial construction has altered itself to accommodate safety for traditional gathering spaces. Plan on better air filtration systems and adaptable, modular construction that limits contact.
  • Education – Online classes are zooming (bad pun intended) but there’s no replacement for hands-on training in a hands-on industry. Safer classroom layouts and mask-wearing have helped as well as virtual testing with remote proctoring.
  • Safety – The virus added “new considerations” to safety protocol, says the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER). We added masks as ongoing PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • Scheduling – Staggered shifts to accommodate fewer onsite employees have proven beneficial.

The shortage of skilled workers (“talent”) in the construction business hasn’t changed. One of the factors was the exodus of Baby Boomers from the workforce. And now, Gen-Xers (born between 1965-1979/80) are approaching retirement. The pandemic only exacerbated our worker shortage.

The average age of a craft professional
is between 48-52 years old.
Jonathan Arnholz

You need to consider employment incentives and marketing strategies to attract and retain talent to your construction business:

  • Create a positive workplace culture.
  • Develop a formal mentorship program.
  • Foster teamwork; camaraderie.
  • Include employees in the decision-making process.

Involving employees in company business is another strategy that makes sense. Every time you say, “I don’t have time…,” delegate that responsibility to an employee.

You don’t have time to sort building permit data and we do. But if analyzing that data for business development is also a time challenge, consider employee options. Because construction is an essential industry and critical to our economy, keeping it healthy just makes sense. The process begins with you.

Contact Construction Monitor for ideas.

Gen Z as Construction Business Employees

construction business employees

We lost out on Gen X skilled trades and we’re partly to blame. “Our culture has been taught and is passing on a poor perception of trades,” said ConstructEd.

If perception is the problem, then perception is the fix. It’s time to promote what we do as valuable and exciting. Let’s change the way the construction business is seen by the Gen Z (1995-2015) workforce.

If you’re a construction business employer or recruiter, you need to know: What will appeal to this new workforce?

Attracting Skilled Gen Zers to Your Construction Business

It’s never too early to attract young people to skilled trades opportunities. Randi Bakalar, Doosan Bobcat North America

The average 4-year degree graduate has $40,000 or more in student loans and limited opportunities. In contrast, a 2-year skilled trades program often includes internships, paid on-the-job training, and employment is abundant.

Connect. Let’s begin cultivating high school students at job fairs and with presentations that showcase construction industry jobs. Emphasis should be on:

  • Advancement – Career growth is important to this age group. The construction industry offers a proliferation of leadership and management opportunities.
  • Benefits – A potential 6-figure income that doesn’t include student loan payoffs is enticing, but Gen Zers may care more about job satisfaction and good work/life balance. Emphasize the well-rounded advantages of construction business employment.
  • Technology – Texting is a viable form of communication for this age group. Gen Zers are technology-savvy and when you encourage technology solutions for your company, you’ll be seen as a better employer.

You Can End the Skilled Trades Shortage

Many advanced countries don’t value 60-hour/week office jobs as much as we do. What good is earning more money if your sedentary desk job is going to impact your quality of life? That’s something Gen Z workers care about and upon which the construction industry should capitalize. Our work is rewarding and promotes a healthier lifestyle.

“Promotion” is the key to ending the skilled trades shortage. Shamelessly advertise your company as an industry leader; tell the world about your technological innovations, successful employees, and employment advantages.

As the Gen Zers might say, “Put yourself out there.” It’s the first step toward connecting with talented workers.

When you want to connect with business opportunities, put Construction Monitor to work. Call us for more information.

Construction Industry Partners with Technology to Overcome Challenges

construction industry technology

We’re facing a lot of challenges. But for our labor-driven construction industry, the shortage of talent is having the biggest impact. We need user-friendly technology solutions and we need them now.

Machine-Control Technology: The Construction Industry Partner

Excavation is one of the most complex aspects of project work for the construction industry. Becoming an excavation professional takes many years of experience. That makes it perfect for machine-control technology.

Leica Geosystems says 32% of construction industry contractors cite machine control for minimizing pandemic issues on project sites last year. Today, 47% of our contractors are using machine control technology.

Machine-Control Apps Increase Work Turnaround By 30%

Machine control is…the use of integrated on-machine sensors and/or geospatial technology including lasers and positioning satellites…This technology can be divided into two basic categories: guidance/indicate-only systems, and automatic systems.CASE News

Using semi-automatic technology, a machine-controlled excavator offers:

  • 30% faster work using a grading app
  • Bucket height auto-adjustment
  • Cross-cut surface protection
  • Easy engagement
  • Rotation-controlled cross-cut (combines the auto bucket and auto-tilt to match target surface regardless of bucket rotation)
  • Smart slope detection

Productivity goes up because it’s faster and less stressful,” says one user. “Because the operator doesn’t have to focus as much attention on keeping the bucket on the grade (there is) less fatigue at the end of the day.”

Cellphones, Tablets Work Smarter So You Don’t Work Harder

Construction industry contractors are also learning more about modeling solutions and drone technology to estimate and track project progress. AGTEK says its goal is to make data import and export to machines easier no matter what you’re working with. CAD files and other formats can be sent as a completed GPS model to a machine.

Powerful, Effective Information 

When you partner with technology, you can overcome many construction industry challenges. But software apps can only do so much.

It’s the same way with building permit information. We can customize the data for your U.S. region. We can provide construction competitors and startup statistics. We’ve got analyses for historical trends.

You’ve got to utilize that technology to develop your business. We can tell you how. For U.S. building permit data, call 800-925-6085 (international 435-586-1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Safety: Talking the Talk

construction safety

Maybe the most important aspect of promoting construction safety on the jobsite is encouraging proactivity. The construction industry was primarily (and still is) developed and staffed by men. And real men keep their mouths shut, right?

Wrong. It’s time to say something when you see a potential safety hazard. If a co-worker is doing something dangerous, it’s your business. Construction safety is everybody’s business.

Seven Tips for Construction Safety Toolbox Talks

Toolbox talks are informal gatherings at which construction safety is the main topic. The leader should ensure the atmosphere is such that workers feel comfortable enough to comment or ask questions.

Here are seven tips for leading construction safety toolbox talks:

  1. Choose a Good Location – Find a quiet, low-traffic area onsite.
  2. Don’t Forget Health – Health isn’t an oh-by-the-way topic. It has a significant outcome on safety. Perhaps alternate health-and-safety topics; every other gathering, make health the focal point.
  3. Keep It Short/Simple – Your timeframe goal is 15 minutes. If it runs longer because attendees have questions and issues, allow time for those that need it and let others feel free to return to work. Stay on-topic – construction safety. Don’t use the time for other information or issues.
  4. Reinforce a Safety Culture – Encourage workers to express ideas for and concerns about jobsite safety. And if they see a red flag, speak up. On a construction worksite, silence isn’t golden. It can be deadly, in fact.
  5. Strive for Relevance – If scaffolding work is scheduled for that day, talk about safety measures for working heights.
  6. Take Attendance – Make note of attendees and document attendance.
  7. Use Visuals – If possible, adding visual media adds impact to your message.

Summer 2021 may prove to be a banner season for the construction industry. Right now, we have the fourth-highest unemployment rate, but look for that to change this summer. 

Our priority at Construction Monitor is to provide information you can use. Time management, efficiency, business development – those are topics we can speak to. Contact us for more information you can use.

And as you head into what may be one of the busiest seasons in recent history, make construction safety a topic you can speak to.