Why Construction Cost Data Accuracy Matters

It’s safe to say that cost overruns in construction projects have become an industry-wide status quo. In fact, according to a study from KPMG, just 31% of all projects came within 10% of the budget in the past 3 years. –Grace Ellis, Digital Builder Blog

Cost overruns don’t have to be an acceptable loss. With the right construction cost data, many mistakes can be avoided and budgets could be more accurate.

Construction Cost Data Minimizes Loss: Causes of Overruns

It’s never “just one thing” that throws the construction process into a cost overrun. It’s a lot of minor mistakes, usually in the initial stages of the lifecycle, according to construction information management company Gordian.

Project managers anticipate costs; they plan and submit budgets based on projected expenses. Then the bids come in. The market has taken a downturn, materials have become scarce… For whatever reasons, the bids are higher than anticipated.

That’s the beginning of what will become cost overruns. Accurate construction cost data is necessary for estimating expenses. Yes, it’s a software solution. But it can improve and even fast-track planning, reduce mistakes, and minimize waste that can lead to overruns.

In addition to poor cost estimating, overruns occur because of:

  • Administration errors
  • Last-minute project scope changes
  • Not hiring the right subcontractors/team
  • Not planning for change orders
  • Poor site management
  • Uncoordinated schedules
  • Unrealistic designs

“Many contractors and owners believe…the best solution for bad administration is to simply increase the size of the administration team,” says Autodesk. “…increasing the number of people in administration could lead to collaboration failures that will almost certainly involve a cost overrun. Instead of adding more to your admin team, equip them with the right tools.”

Software Solutions Delivered Ready-To-Read

Building permit information is construction data available to the public. But it’s a lot of information and it takes a great deal of time to sort through and find what you need.

Construction Monitor was one of the first companies to generate customized data analytics from building permit information. Our subscribers want to study their competitors and develop their target market. They are creating marketing strategies that will generate leads. Those leads can lead to greater profits.

Subscribe today.

If you have questions, Live Chat or contact Construction Monitor.

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Please note:
Construction Monitor does not endorse nor recommend any software (except our own).

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.

Construction Business Project Delays and Responsibility

construction business projects

If you’ve bid on and won a project, it’s assumed you understand the risks, including delayed delivery of materials and equipment. As the pandemic proved, you can’t always factor delay risks into a bid. But you can’t bid without some guarantee that you can deliver the project on time and within budget. Contract-wise, you’ve assumed responsibility.

The Devil’s in the (Contract Details) For Construction Business Projects

A 2020 report on worldwide Construction Claims states the global average value of a construction delay dispute to be a staggering US$30.7 million… The report also indicates that the average dispute took 15 months to reconcile.Plan Academy

Types of delays affecting your contract:

  • Concurrent delays – Two or more parties involved
  • Critical delays – Impact project delivery date
  • Excusable delays – Outside of the contractor’s control
    • Compensable excusable delays – Caused by the owner or the owner’s team. The contractor may receive more time and financial compensation.
    • Noncompensible excusable delays – Beyond anyone’s control (Force majeure)
  • Non-critical delays – Little to no impact
  • Non-excusable delays – Occurred as a result of something the contractor should have been able to control

Most contracts state the contractor has an amount of time to report a delay. This time should be used to mitigate the delay; seek alternative materials or suppliers. Construction business contractors are legally required to try to mitigate every delay.

Quinn Murphy, an attorney with Sandberg Phoenix in St. Louis, said anyone claiming delays due to the pandemic, “….particularly those who entered into a contract after it became widespread in March 2020, will have to prove that the delay was directly related to the pandemic.”

If you signed a contract for the construction business after the pandemic was firmly in place, you may have a hard time claiming delays due to COVID-19. “They’re going to have a really hard time alleging the pandemic is an excuse,” Murphy concluded.

Need-to-Know Information

Never sign a contract for a large project without legal support. But you can’t bid on and win contracts if you don’t know your demographics. Contact Construction Monitor with questions about business leads for your company.

Construction Industry Remains Union-Strong

construction industry

The February 2020 unemployment rate was low: 3.5%. But by December, it was 6.7%. In tough economic times, most of us will take work when and where we can get it.

Less pay for more work thrives during chaos. Despite the pandemic layoffs, 2020 union membership remained strong in the construction industry.

Construction Industry Unions Thrive Despite Pandemic

Construction industry union membership percentages dipped in 2019 but actually increased in 2020 to 12.7%. In 2019, nonunion wages for construction industry workers were 29% less than union members’ wages.

However, union wages decreased from $1,240/week in 2019 to $1,234/week in 2020. Nonunion members’ salaries went up, from $868/week to $920/week.

The Economic Policy Institute says the 2020 pandemic emphasized what unions have been trying to change for decades: U.S. labor law fails to protect working people. 

In spite of their critical role in providing necessary services, these (construction industry) workers have been working
without access to fundamental protections like personal
protective equipment or paid sick leave.
epi.org

Few take campaign promises seriously, but we can always hope. If the Biden presidency follows-through, the Build Back Better energy plan will add more union jobs this year.

Construction Monitor Increases Work Opportunities for Businesses Like Yours

You’d be surprised at the number of “unofficial” construction industry companies that use building permit data to make marketing decisions. A food truck owner can learn where job sites will be located in the spring and summer by studying building permit applications this week.

One savvy light fixtures salesperson looks for bathroom and kitchen remodeling permits. “If you’re getting a plumbing overhaul, replacing old lighting with modern, ‘smart’ adds an affordable feel-good factor to a renovation expense,” she says.

Construction industry companies use our data analytics to chase leads and build business. Learn more about how we can customize the information you need. Email, call 800-925-6085, or contact Construction Monitor.

Marijuana and Construction Contractor Business Employees

construction drug test

Marijuana legalization recently passed in six states. Others may follow. If not already, marijuana use may eventually become legal in your state. As a construction contractor business owner or manager, you’ll have to plan for it.

Sooner is better than later.

Marijuana Use Among Employees: What Are Your Contractor Business Responsibilities and Rights?

Medical marijuana prescriptions for approved conditions vary. Connecticut approves marijuana in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Colorado does not.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Meanwhile, none of these states is in-compliance with the federal law which says marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug; a controlled substance with no medical use, and a high potential for addiction.

Before You Request a Drug Test

You have the right to request and enforce employee drug testing. But you must know the laws of your state; if an employee tests positive for marijuana but the drug test itself is “illegal,” you may not be able to take action.

In some states, random drug screens are not legal. In other states, random drug testing is legal only if you can prove you had just cause.

If the employee:

  • Appears intoxicated at work
  • Holds a safety-sensitive position
  • Is returning to work after a drug rehabilitation program
  • Was involved in a work-related accident that resulted in injury/property damage

Some states have procedural requirements.

The employer must:

  • Administer the test in a way that maximizes privacy
  • Give the applicant/employee opportunity to challenge the results
  • Pay for some/all testing costs
  • Provide advance notice to applicant/employee
  • Use a state-certified lab

Some states (Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) have no restrictions for employment drug testing.

The only recourse an employee has to challenge the testing is to prove it was administered as a result of or led to:

  • Defamation
  • Discrimination – age, disability, gender, race
  • Invasion of privacy

Construction Monitor for Construction Data

Even the most basic statistics we offer can be valuable information to the right construction contractor business developer. If that’s you, we’d like to share ways to grow your business using our tools:

Contact Construction Monitor today.

Data and The Construction Industry

data construction industry

A “data warehouse” isn’t a large building with garage doors and a loading dock. A data warehouse is a construction industry company’s accumulated information. The data can originate from many sources and is used to drive management decisions.

Construction Industry Sees Data Center Boom

The construction industry may have been slow to embrace technology and big data, but we’re making up for it. Today, it’s not surprising that construction industry companies have so much technology that they need filing cabinets (“data warehouses”) in clouds.

What no one saw coming was the increased need for data centers. Data centers are real, on-the-ground buildings. And the construction industry is seeing a lot of new-build projects, thanks to the need for more data centers.

Construction industry writer Zachary Phillips says U.S. states are heavily competing to land projects for internet companies needing physical space to accommodate computer systems. The companies have names like “Amazon,” “Facebook,” and “Google.”

“…Northern Virginia has become known as ‘Data Center Alley’ because of the tech-focused companies that have flocked to the area,” says Phillips. Amazon has established a major presence (they call it a “cloud cluster”) in Fairfax and Loudon counties of Virginia and plans more development.

Facebook is looking further north, toward the Chicago area to build an $800 million data center this year. This project should employ over 1,000 construction industry workers to complete the infrastructure requirements and new-build.

Google is checking out areas in California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington for data center construction.

Construction Monitor: The Source for U.S. Construction Industry Data

Construction Monitor…makes building permit information available to suppliers, subcontractors, and building industry professionals in the construction industry. Construction Monitor provides records of residential, commercial, swimming pool, and solar building permits in a searchable database.Wikipedia

Construction Monitor lead-generation service is available in 89 U.S. markets, making it the nation’s largest provider of real-time building permit data. We have information that can give you “the leading edge” in the construction industry market. Let us explain how to use it.

Call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor today.

Are You Offering the Right Services?

construction services

If 2020 were an appliance, it would be a Cuisinart®. Businesses have been processed and pulverized beyond recognition, and construction services are no exception.

“Survival of the fittest” was coined by British philosopher Herbert Spencer. We often believe the strongest survive, but that’s not always the case. Those most adaptable to change not only survive; they thrive.

Building permit data reflects construction trends here (your “neck of the woods”) and now (weekly updates). The information tells you which direction our industry is heading and is the first clue you need to adapt.

Using Building Permit Data to Expand Your Services

If you sell floor coverings and notice a lot of retail spaces
in the works, but your current product line has nothing
durable enough for commercial use… Chances
are you’re missing out on sales.
David Mineer, CEO

Maybe your marketing focus is on new-home builds. You cultivate that business because that’s what has worked for you for the last 10 years.

Building permit data shows you new home construction is down, but swimming pools and home renovations that cultivate lifestyle are up – way up in some areas. Families are staying home; workers are working from home. People want their homes to be more fun, more comforting.

Your first clue was in your Construction Monitor building permit data report. How fast you respond – adapt – is what sets your company apart from others. Building permit data has driven many companies to revamp their entire approach to business development.

Contact Construction Monitor: Then Be Prepared to Adapt

Home improvements have seen a whopping 140% growth this year. But that’s just one segment of the construction industry changes we’re seeing.

“Green” construction is critical. Improved working conditions to attract better talent is necessary. We’re using modular construction to speed-up project turnaround times. We’re adapting materials to overcome shortages.

Our construction industry is meeting challenges head-on.

If you’re not using analytics from building permit data, ask questions. Learn more. And be prepared to adapt your construction services to take you beyond business survival to profit. Call 800.925.6085 (International 435.586.1205) or contact us today.

Using Construction Technology in the Age of COVID-19

Construction Technology

Without discounting the pain the 2020 pandemic has caused for so many, it’s pretty safe to say most of us are sick of coronavirus. Still, some good things are emerging from these hard times.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to find safer and smarter ways of building homes and offices,” said the World Economic Forum in August 2020.

  • Big data and AI (artificial intelligence) during architectural design and construction process are rapidly transforming construction technology.
  • Digital technology is driving prefab housing. This creates highly sustainable, high-quality housing faster.

9 Focal Points for Post-COVID Construction Technology

Global management authority McKinsey doesn’t mince words when it says the construction industry has performed unsatisfactorily for quite some time. We’ve ignored ecosystem development, even though it accounts for 13% of global GDP (gross domestic products). “Time and costs overruns are the norm,” says a recent report.

The pandemic has accelerated changes we’ve been slow to adopt. Post-COVID-19 construction technology will focus on:

  1. Digitalization
  2. Industrial approaches
  3. Lower costs
  4. New materials
  5. New profit sources
  6. Offsite manufacturing
  7. Skills scarcity
  8. Specialization
  9. Sustainability

Ways We’re Improving Construction Technology

Building Information Modeling (BIM) became more widely used during the pandemic lockdown. We worked on our projects virtually because we weren’t able to work on them in-person. This encouraged more communication and more collaboration.

We’re using AI designs for testing on virtual platforms. We can make smarter, more knowledgeable decisions about costs, requirements, and commitments. We can make those decisions early-on, which speeds up the entire construction process.

Offsite manufacturing is meeting the challenges of less labor onsite due to social distancing. Onsite construction – before COVID-19 – was at best an “uncontrolled environment.” Construction technology can support a safer work environment by analyzing activities and anticipating required worker movements. We can adjust workflows to separate people or create workgroups and shifts to reduce risks.

Construction Monitor: One of the Most Valued Construction Technology Sources in the United States

Every week we compile big data on thousands of U.S. residential, commercial, and solar construction projects nationwide. You can use our information to

  • Follow sales leads
  • Identify competitors, newcomers, and top contractors
  • Make better bids
  • Track construction statistics

Get a free sample edition for your area and contact Construction Monitor us to learn ways construction technology can increase your business.

Using Big Data in Construction to Predict a Contractor’s Next Move

big data in construction

Without competitors, there would be no need for strategy. – Keniche Ohmae

There’s nothing wrong with watching “the big boys” of construction and learning from their successes. Mentorship can take you to a better place, business-wise, and faster than you imagined.

Your competitors are the same-size companies bidding on the same jobs as you. You need big data in construction for predicting their next moves. You can imitate other construction contractors (but never copy). Your honesty, integrity, and work ethics should make your business a standalone.

Big data in construction can give you the information edge to strategize business development.

Big Data in Construction

In 2014, you may not have known what “big data” meant. Big data is using statistics to gain business insight. Using big data in construction is one way to get ahead of the competition.

Many in the industry are just learning the ins and outs of big data in construction. Some immediately began using analytics and business intelligence (BI) to better manage project bids, finances, and opportunities. Cautious companies chose to “wait and see.”

Data analytics for real-time leads is now an affordable – and necessary – way for contracting companies of every size to thrive.

The construction industry’s big data advantage is “the ability…to compare (profitability, days outstanding of accounts receivable, cash flow, and other financial metrics) against similar-sized contractors,” says Constructor magazine.

Your competitors are usually local. But track the progress and moves made by other companies in similar demographics. What do they know you don’t? Find out. Then examine their strategies to see if they are workable for your reality.

Construction Monitor: So Much Big Data, So Little Time

Using historical data, you can predict costs. But convert dollars-then to dollars-now, as cash values rise and fall in predictable patterns. Meanwhile, if it seems as if the world is spinning at warp speed, it is. Don’t waste more time spinning your wheels.

Contact Construction Monitor to learn more about other contractors. Then use that big data for business development.

Using Big Data for Construction Business Development

Construction Business Development

You hear terms like “actionable insights,” “business intelligence,” and “tools” but they’re not talking about screwdrivers, IQ, or 5-year plans. Big data is a reality impacting every segment of the construction industry.

When it comes to construction business development and management, what you don’t know can hurt you.

Construction Business Development: Managing Information

Let’s talk about one large construction project.

  • The project involves approximately:
    • 130 million emails
    • 55 million documents
    • 12 million workflows
  • 13% of construction teams’ working hours are spent looking for project data/information
  • 95.5% of all data captured goes unused
  • 30% of engineering/construction companies use software apps that don’t integrate with one another

Building a Better Toolbox

The “right tools” are what you need to manage big data, and more importantly, increase business opportunities. For many years, some construction industry-related organizations simply avoided the issue. (They may be out of business by now.)

But what are the right tools?

Your first task is to admit your current data is all over the place. Gather the information you have from various employees’ hard drives, blueprints, log sheets, PDFs, cloud storage, and even Rolodexes (Yes, some still use them.) and “integrate” the data into one location.

‘We’re Looking for It…’

If you could harness the time spent by various teams “looking for” information, you’d be able to corral the next decade. Follow the leaders in the construction industry and switch to:

  • BIM (building information modeling)
    • Collaboration
    • Automated workflows between employees and stakeholders
    • Supplier collaboration for transactions
  • Connected jobsites
  • Equipment locators/tracking
  • Geolocators
  • Materials movements
  • Prefabrication methods
  • Tracking sensors
  • Virtual reality
  • Wearables

The Best Business-Building Tool for Construction Business Development

Analytics software for your business depends on the size of your organization and growth trends. But knowledgeable business development for the construction industry depends on Construction Monitor. We analyze between 8,000-12,000 new building permits every week.

“I hear people say there aren’t many jobs,” said one Construction Monitor representative, “And I then retrieve real-time, local construction business development information in minutes.”

The jobs are there. 

We’re not “just selling” construction business development information. We’re selling the support and business-building tools that go with it. Contact Construction Monitor to learn more about construction business development for your company.