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.

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.

OSHA Updates Vaccination Policy for Construction Industry

COVID-19 vaccine construction workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended construction industry project managers and team leaders encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) suggested onsite vaccination clinics, paid-time-off incentives, and other promotions to increase the number of vaccinated construction workers.

To clarify, the general consensus is an employer can require the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. Michigan and Indiana currently have bills preventing this, but there’s been no action taken.

OSHA 29 CFR 1904 said if an employer required the vaccination as a condition of employment and an employee suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccine, the event should be recorded. Documenting adverse reactions to the vaccine on OSHA 300 logs was required.

Then OSHA said never mind.

OSHA said it felt the Form 300 requirement disincentivized employers’ vaccination encouragement efforts. The May 21 updated guidance is in effect through May 2022.

Employers must record work-related injuries and illnesses if they involve:

  • Days off work
  • Death
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Restricted work or transfer to another job
  • Significant injury

While allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine have been rare, many people suffer flu-like symptoms shortly after their vaccinations. Those flu-like reactions can be debilitating enough that the “days off work” stipulation would be applicable.

Construction industry employers were concerned that by recording adverse vaccination reactions (days off work due to flu-like symptoms), enough red flags would be raised that could increase their workers’ comp costs. The logs may have tripped a wire that would increase onsite OSHA inspections. And the “dings” on their OSHA records might have affected bidding opportunities.

Partnering Can Overcome Challenges

Working through the pandemic fallout and encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations remains challenging.

Another challenge faced by the construction industry is we’re still slow to adopt technology. Robotics, drones, 3D architecture – when you’re juggling expenses, upgrades are often low on the list of priorities.

Construction Monitor LLC has an affordable technology that shows a measurable ROI (return on investment). Our information is U.S.-related, but our customers include global investors. To learn more about our technology tools and strategic partnerships, contact us today.

Construction Business Misconceptions

construction business

“They” say that those of us in the construction business are slow to accept change. We’re slow to develop and implement new business practices. We believe what “they” say is a misconception about our industry.

The pandemic has forced our country to reassess the architectural design and construction of hospitals, schools, offices, and any commercial business where employees and customers interact face-to-face. Another misconception concerns prefabrication.

Prefab, Modular Transforms Construction Business

Offsite prefabrication and modular construction are going to transform our industry. But many of us are nervous about risks and have misconceptions about the effectiveness of offsite prefabrication.

Here are two common misconceptions:

1. Cookie-Cutters Can’t Be Customized

“…Prefab and modular interior construction are the exact opposite of cookie-cutter,” says Construction Dive. You don’t order a room or house from a catalog. One project executive said it’s a highly customizable solution. Everything – materials, colors, and more – are customized. And the finished product is often more durable and sustainable than traditional materials.

2. Prefab and Modular Expensive; Look ‘Cheap’

The misconception that prefabricated housing is unattractive, poor quality, and looks cheap is debunked. Now, the misconception is it’s so expensive it isn’t an affordable option for most.

When you do the math and factor-in time savings, less labor, fewer do-overs, and the versatility of prefab and modular construction, the savings are visible and viable:

  • Complexities requiring different materials, electrical components, or mechanical elements are easier, not more difficult
  • Less need for onsite labor
  • Modular elements can be introduced at any phase during the project
  • Prefab can save more than 20% on construction costs
  • Timelines can be reduced by 20%-50%

Contact Construction Monitor

By the time you access the building permit data to find one piece of information, sort it into location- and market-specific analysis, pull it into a readable format, well, by that time, you could have received that one piece of information and much, much more from our technology pros.

You have better things to do. This is all we do, and we’re good at it. Contact Construction Monitor with questions.

Multistate Construction Industry Companies and COVID

multistate construction industry

The Great Lakes State’s increases in coronavirus cases put even greater pressure on construction industry companies. Calculating exposure risks, vaccine policies – the logistics continue to be difficult. Multistate construction companies are facing “a moving target,” says construction industry writer Katie Clarey. Coronavirus liability laws are inconsistent and vary across state borders.

Construction Industry Businesses Must Manage Liabilities

What are construction industry employers liable for in a pandemic? Even Congress isn’t quite sure.

That’s fine for your business in your state. But what happens when you have multistate projects? “It’s a potential nightmare…in terms of exposure,” Karl Lindegren of Fisher Phillips law firm said.

The solution is to appoint someone – preferably a legal professional – to follow new legislation and liability laws at state and federal levels. This person should also keep track of changing guidelines for project site safety.

If for no other reason, this shows you performed “due diligence” to keep workers safe. It doesn’t matter what the liability laws are; none of them will protect you if you disregard employee safety.

Protect Employees, Protect Yourself

One of the ways to show diligence is to utilize vaccine incentives for hesitant construction workers. Many multistate construction industry company owners also utilize Construction Monitor for local, state, and national business permits information.

You can choose from:

Construction Monitor provides key project data to help suppliers, subcontractors, building professionals, and general contractors to better target and reach new customers. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business.

Construction Industry and American Jobs Plan

construction industry

Certified public accountant Erin Roberts says President Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal (American Jobs Plan) won’t penalize most construction industry contractors. In fact, the cash infusion will benefit many. Because the majority of construction firms are “pass-through” (S corporations, sole proprietorships, partnerships) companies, they’re not subject to corporate taxes.

How Taxes May Impact Construction Industry Firms

Bipartisan support for the infrastructure initiative isn’t looking good (as of April 19, 2021). Republicans have issues with the proposal’s investments in electric cars and additional funding for disabled and eldercare. The GOP is examining another infrastructure plan that would cost about one-third of the current $2-trillion-plus proposal.

However, Biden referenced increasing taxes on individuals earning more than $400,000/year and that could impact pass-through construction industry companies. There has been no specific commitment to raising taxes on $400,000+ earners and it may become a negotiation point.

The Value-Added Trumps Higher Taxes

Biden’s American Jobs Plan may increase annual public spending on roads and bridges by 30%, according to Roberts. Even when spread-out over the years, it’s a significant amount of new spending for the construction industry.

The two U.S. political parties are about one-trillion dollars apart. Plus, the definition of the word “infrastructure” is up for debate. One Republican senator said only 30% of the plan “is actually infrastructure.”

Making Infrastructure History

Construction Monitor is a business that makes building permit information available to suppliers, subcontractors, and building industry professionals…This lead-generation service is available in all 50 US states, making Construction Monitor the nation’s largest provider of real-time building permit data.Wikipedia

The general attitude about the infrastructure plan is, “It’s about time.” However it plays out, it will make history.

Have you ever “googled” yourself? Don’t be embarrassed. Most of us have at some time. We googled ourselves and Construction Monitor is cited for insightful construction industry information:

  • 2011-2017 – Reported Californians were building more swimming pools than ever before despite the drought.
  • Post-2009 – Revealed insight on how homeowners were responding to depressed home values and lending restrictions
  • Pre-2020 – Solar power and green building trends reported

…This was relevant, actionable information that benefited companies like yours. Our construction industry analytics are only noteworthy when you use them to grow your business. In addition to creating a marketing strategy by studying what’s relevant today, you can apply historical data (because everything that goes around, comes around).

What’s the condition of your company infrastructure?

Contact Construction Monitor for a data plan that can drive your business further, faster.

FYI: Public Construction Projects

construction projects

Construction projects are either public or private. Most of us work on private construction projects, but with the potential for mega-opportunities in the public sector, you may be considering bidding on one or more.

Ownership Matters

Within the public sector, projects are either federal or state. “State” projects can be commissioned by any state-funded entity and/or:

  • City
  • County
  • Government board
  • Municipality
  • Public school board

State construction is basically any government-funded construction project that isn’t federally funded, says Scott Wolfe, Jr. But it’s not actually about where the money comes from. Federal monies are integrated into state monies anyway.

It’s important to know who “owns” public construction projects. On private jobs, if you aren’t paid you can file a mechanics lien. On public projects, the general contractor posts a payment bond for security. If payment isn’t forthcoming, you make a bond claim to recover the money.

Different Sector, Different Rules

The labor laws will be different and depend on the project type. The subcontracting rules will be different. What you don’t know about public construction projects can hurt your profit margin.

  • Applications – Apply asap. Qualifications must be researched to apply and more qualifications must be reviewed by the state and/or federal entities.
  • Bonding – Some contractors might confuse a surety bond with insurance since brokers usually provide both. But the surety bond application process is more rigorous and requires “a level of financial and operational detail” from contractors, says CEO Andy Thome.
  • Compliance – There are many more levels of compliance rules that are standard with government contracts.
  • Control – Private sector construction projects have completion goals, and as long as you’re in compliance with agreement terms, the owner isn’t concerned with details. That’s not true with public construction projects. Contractors are often surprised to discover the government is very serious about how the work was performed.
  • Language – Government contracts use different terminology and legalese. Some of the clauses are incorporated by reference-only, says Construction Dive. “It really takes an expert to review them properly.”
  • Public Bids – Public contract bids are public. Everything – your information, pricing – is out there. If you lowball your bid and discover you’ve made a mistake, you own it. Experienced public-work contractors understand workarounds using government change order requests, but a newcomer may not be familiar with the process.

Construction Monitor is a lead-generation website for construction projects, not a “bidding” website. Still, we’ve been included among the top construction bidding websites by virtue of information-sharing. We want our information to benefit companies like yours.

Contact us to learn more.

Women in Construction Making a Positive Difference

women in construction

There are 9.9 million men working in the construction industry. There are 1.1 million women in construction. In addition to the disparity of employment, there’s also a difference in the roles men and women in construction have.

Most men in construction have jobs in:

  • Construction labor
  • Extraction
  • Finance
  • Maintenance
  • Transportation

Women in construction are usually in administrative or office positions.

8 Women in Construction

The irony of the old jingle, “You’ve come a long way, baby” isn’t wasted on most women. Nobody should put “baby” in a corner or even in a corner office if she’d be happier and productive on a construction site.

These women in construction are making a positive difference that can raise the bar high enough to break the glass ceiling for others:

  1. Angela Cotie is a project executive at Gilbane Building Company and chairman of the board for Houston’s Architecture, Construction & Engineering mentoring program. She is also a founding member of AGC of Houston’s Women in Construction.
  2. Kaitlin Frank is a superintendent at Dome Construction in San Francisco. She develops training content for construction field workers and co-founded eMOD, a safety construction app.
  3. Karen Alba is team lead for a University Health System project in San Antonio, Texas. She leads networking programs for minority-owned businesses and mentors women on the jobsite.
  4. Kathleen Culhane is president of Nontraditional Employment for Women, a pre-apprenticeship union construction program. She’s increased New York City’s women in union construction apprenticeships to 12%.
  5. Kerri Smith is vice president of Baker Concrete Construction. AGC recently awarded her team the Eagle and Young Professionals Awards for a Miami cruise line terminal project. All team members on the project were under 35 years old.
  6. Lori Dunn-Guion is a project engineer and currently president of Swinerton Foundation, a nonprofit workforce development organization. She also is one of the founders of the Tony Williamson Memorial Scholarship for Cypress Mandela Training Center. The scholarship awards $1,200 plus a three-month training paid internship to individuals pursuing careers in construction.
  7. Meirav Oren is the founder of Versatile Natures, an Israeli-based company that uses sensors to collect construction project site data and information. Versatile was the first construction technology firm to be named Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.
  8. Wendy Ho mentors women in construction and she’s a key player on public-sector construction projects in New York City. She also manages public-sector construction projects for AKRF, an environmental engineering firm. Wendy currently leads a $1.45 billion project; the largest resiliency initiative in NYC’s history.

Getting women in construction out of the office should be a construction business’ goal. Diversity in leadership serves as an invaluable tool and it’s time for us to find ways to level the playing field.

Construction Monitor offers building and solar permit data tools for all U.S. states. Request a free one-week trial or contact us to learn more.