The Living Building: The New Green Building Challenge

With energy-efficient and sustainable construction maintaining a significant place in the current construction industry, new initiatives that support green building continue to emerge. Net-zero buildings, for example—those buildings that create as much energy as they use—have become increasingly popular among energy-conscious and environmentally aware contractors and clients. A new initiative, the Living Building, has the potential to take the concepts of green building even further.

green buildingThe Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge (LBC), promoted by the International Living Future Institute, is a carefully controlled building certification that can be applied to structures that meet extremely strict standards of sustainability, energy efficiency and green construction. The LBC standards are so stringent that fewer than 10 LBC-certified buildings exist as of March 2016, according to reporter Kim Slowey on the Construction Dive website. Another 20 buildings are in the precertification stage.

LBC standards increase the sustainability factor to a level that turns a building into an almost natural part of its surrounding environment. The standard “calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture,” according to the Living Building Challenge website.

A certified building must meet standards in seven distinct areas, known as “petals,” Slowey reported. These comprise Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Both net positive water and energy are required, as is a healthy indoor environment. The standard requires car-free living, access to nature, and careful consideration of the beauty and spirit of a structure.

Although LBC certification is a considerable challenge, meeting it gives environmentally aware builders and occupants the opportunity to take a large-scale, positive step toward confronting what they see as some of the biggest threats to the planet’s future.

LBC certification could also provide practical benefits and economic returns in cities that are aggressively pursuing sustainability and environmentally conscious construction, Slowey noted.

Construction Monitor helps modern construction professionals understand the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. Contact us today for more information on green building trends and what living buildings are going to mean for the future of sustainable, energy-efficient construction.

Tips for Hiring and Keeping the Best Construction Employees

When the construction industry expands, the demand for skilled employees naturally goes up. Unfortunately for many companies, there are only so many employees available, especially in some of the more specialized areas of the building trades. As companies face this shortage of qualified employees, they must come up with ways to attract, hire and retain the workers they need. Here are some construction employment tips that can help you navigate these difficult personnel issues.

  • construction employmentTend to the basics: Good salaries, appealing benefits, vacation time, insurance, a safe workplace—all of these are considered basic by many employees. If a company appears to be holding back on these benefits, employees are going to be less willing to work for that company. Experts and specialists are especially likely to avoid working for a company that skimps on the basics.
  • Give employees autonomy: Employees like to be free to make their own decisions and control their daily activities. When you have employees you can trust, or when you hire professionals, give them the freedom and autonomy that makes them happy and energizes them to put forth their best effort. Younger workers, especially, need a degree of autonomy, according to reporter Emily Peiffer in an article on the Construction Dive website.
  • Provide opportunities to learn and improve skills: Make sure your employees have multiple opportunities to learn more about their own trades, along with chances to expand their knowledge into other areas. Give them access to training sessions, formal classes and direct experience or apprenticeships with older workers who have high-level knowledge and skills.
  • Explain why: Help employees attain a greater sense of purpose beyond the simplest one of “building a building.” Give your employees a real sense of why they are working on a particular project and what the building will be used for once it is finished.

Construction Monitor provides critical advice for today’s construction professionals, including data on housing starts, construction leads, and suggestions for best practices. Contact us today for more information on trends in construction employment and for ways to hire and keep the employees you need to keep your business viable.

New Report: Construction Material Costs Continue to Slide

Prices for construction materials continued to decrease in the early part of 2016, although industry experts expect those prices to start moving upward in early spring and later.

construction material costsFebruary 2016 marked the eighth consecutive month of material price decreases, according to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a major industry trade group.

Construction input prices were down 0.6 percent in February 2016, marking a 3.7 percent decrease since February 2015, the ABC reported. Nonresidential inputs showed a 0.7 percent decrease from January 2016 and a 3.8 percent decline since February 2015, according to the ABC.

The ABC’s findings were reached following an analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index released on March 15, 2016.

Prices slid downward in eight key areas, the ABC noted. These include:

  • Crude petroleum
  • Unprocessed energy material
  • Fabricated structural metal
  • Steel mill products
  • Plumbing fixtures and fittings
  • Nonferrous wire and cable
  • Iron and steel
  • Softwood lumber.

In contrast, only three areas experienced increases in February 2016.

  • Prepared asphalt and tar/roofing and siding products
  • Concrete products
  • Natural gas

Anirban Basu, the ABC’s chief economist, found that global financial issues, such as weakness in the commodity markets, lackluster economic growth in the United States and abroad, and strengthening of the U.S. dollar contributed to the cost declines.

The price decreases are not expected to last throughout the year, however. The ABC expects prices to rebound beginning in March 2016 or later. Upticks in prices are not expected to be substantial, however, noted reporter Emily Peiffer, writing on the Construction Dive website.

Peiffer also reported that declining construction material costs have harmed the U.S. energy sector and the regional and local economies that rely on it. Even a modest increase in prices in March or later is expected to help give those economies a boost, Peiffer noted.

Construction Monitor is the industry’s top source for construction leads and news and information on topics that affect building projects throughout the United States. Contact us today for more information on changes in construction material costs and how you can take best advantage of the recent decreases in material prices.

4 Ways to Turn Construction Leads into Buyers

The complexities and costs involved in construction mean lead generation in the construction business doesn’t always bring you quick sales. To make sales happen, you need to give your leads solid reasons to become buyers.

  1. lead generation in the construction businessWin Their Trust – Any company can claim to be the most reliable or innovative, so without proof, your words mean little to your prospective clients. Instead of talking about your firm, demonstrate your expertise. Prepare a portfolio with photos taken by an architectural photographer. Collect honest testimonials and detailed reviews in an easy-to-read format. Put your prospects in touch with some of your past clients so they can find out for themselves what working with your firm is like.
  2. Keep in Touch – Your prospects need time to review their options. During that time, make the effort to keep your prospects aware of your firm without pressing for a decision. Once you have a lead’s contact information, occasionally call or send an email to check in and see if you can help with anything. Passing along useful information is another way to stay connected.
  3. Stand Out From Your Competitors – Get clear on what makes your firm different from others in your area and highlight those differences to your prospects. Feature them on your website, in your brochures and fact sheets, and in your portfolio. You might emphasis your experience in a certain market, such as home remodeling, your dedication to environmentally sustainable construction or the additional support you provide to help clients define and achieve their goals.
  4. Strengthen Your Online Presence – Provide website content that’s genuinely useful and engaging. Post articles and videos that guide your clients in making decisions and introduce them to recent innovations. Then branch out into social media. A well-developed social media presence is not only an effective method of lead generation in the construction business, but it can also help you convert leads. The way you engage with your followers tells your prospects something about what they can expect working with you.

For more tip on profitable lead generation in the construction business, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Economists Forecast Another Good Year for Housing

When the housing market improves, construction employment picks up along with it. In terms of both new homes built and new hires, 2016 is shaping up to be even better than last year.

construction employmentSingle Family Homes Driving the Market

In February, housing starts rose 5.2 percent to their highest point in five months. For the year as a whole, housing starts are expected to increase by 12 percent. Spending on residential construction has also seen steady growth from 2011 and is expected to grow throughout 2016.

Despite the slump the single-family home market has been in recently, the outlook for this market is especially promising this year. The market grew by 7.2 percent in February and experts suggest the growth rate of the single-family home market will begin catching up with the multifamily market. Improvements in the job market are a major factor in this recovery.

The multi-family home market is still expanding, but at a slower pace. For 2016, a 5 percent increase is expected. Falling apartment vacancy rates show demand for rental units is still growing. Even so, experts predict this market’s recovery is nearly complete and the rate of growth will slow in the near future.

On the down side, applications for building permits fell by 3.1 percent in February. This is following a slight dip in December and no change in January. Because fewer applications for building permits signals less construction work in the future, this could mean a slowdown is ahead.

More Jobs for Skilled Workers

The outlook for the construction employment job market also bright. 71 percent of construction firms plan to take on new workers this year, according to a survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America. Of those, 8 percent plan to increase their headcount by 26 percent or more.

The majority of firms reported difficulty finding skilled tradespeople, such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and drywall workers. This leads to delays that can stretch on for weeks if not months, slowing the industry as a whole.

For more in-depth information on construction employment, and the latest on construction leads, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Using Case Studies to Generate Leads

In the search for new customers, the company that does the most to solve customer problems and alleviate their “pain points” is the company that will likely get the most new business. Using case studies for lead generation in the construction business allows you to inform your leads on what you do and how you do it, as well as how your products and services will resolve their most important issues.

construction leadsWhat Are Case Studies?

A case study is a detailed account of an event, process, or subject relevant to a specific business. They often focus on how a problem was identified and how it was resolved. Case studies usually spend significant effort describing how the resolution applies to either a customer’s needs or a company’s offerings.

The Structure of Case Studies

Case studies are important tools you can use to tell your potential customers why and how your services can solve their problems. They are often written by professionals and can contain complex information intended to inform sophisticated audiences.

A general structure to use for case studies requires the first 10 percent of the document to be used establishing the client’s background.

Next, about 50 percent of the text should be used to describe, in depth, a very specific problem encountered by a client. This could be a problem that can be applicable in several situations, or it could be specific to a client you’re trying to attract.

The final 40 percent of the case study should describe, again in substantial detail, the solutions applied to the problem and how they resolved the issue. In a custom-written case study, this is where you will have the opportunity to highlight your company’s strengths and how they can help your potential customer.

Construction Monitor serves the construction industry and associated professionals with the most up-to-date information on housing starts, industry best practices and other information that can help a company grow. Contact us today for more information on lead generation in the construction business and how case studies can help you inform and attract potential customers.

Get More Work: Fresh Tips for Construction Marketing

The search for new customers will always be an integral part of every business, and construction is no exception. Even as the buildings go up on one project, it is essential that you keep working to bring in a new customer for the next project. Here are some effective construction marketing tips that can help you find leads and new customers.

  • construction leadsUse your network: If you already have a customer base, ask them for referrals to others who may need your services. Your happy customers will be very likely to refer you to their colleagues. Networking can also involve attending events, social and service club meetings, Chamber of Commerce gatherings, and other meetings. At these events, you can mingle with other business owners and like-minded persons, making acquaintances who may be able to help you in the future.
  • Advertise: Advertising is not dead, and for a construction firm, it can still be effective. For example, put signs on the perimeter fence around your construction site. These signs should include your company name and contact information. Invest in magnetic signage that can be applied to vehicles used for company business. Consider newspaper advertising, Yellow Pages advertising, and similar traditional venues, but carefully weigh the cost.
  • Use social media: Social media is everywhere, it seems, and its presence in the lives of your potential customers gives you a good way to reach new clients. Keep an active presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, with regular updates. Update your blog with fresh content regularly. Use your social media presence to give potential customers a way to interact with you directly.
  • Be newsworthy: If someone on your staff earns an accreditation or other credential, send a press release to your local newspaper. Participate in local events or charitable causes, such as food drives or Christmas toy collections. Promote the contributions you make to your community and local organizations.

Construction Monitor serves industry professionals with accurate, up-to-date information on construction leads, industry trends and business building techniques. Contact us today for more information on construction marketing and how to make your marketing more effective.

3 Benefits of Modular Construction

Modular construction is rapidly gaining popularity thanks to its ability to speed up the building process while also saving you money. Beyond these well-known benefits of modular construction, there are others you may not have considered.

modular constructionReduce Your Costs

The components of modular buildings are manufactured in a factory setting where the process can be streamlined for maximum efficiency. Workers have everything they need on hand, so they can perform their jobs faster. There’s less waste because excess material from one component can be reused for another. These factors make modular components less costly than similar structures built on site, saving you money overall.

Assembling modular building components requires less labor and equipment than constructing a traditional site-built structure. In particular, assembly requires less skilled labor, so the workers you do need will cost you less than a site-built construction project.

Because labor is one of the biggest and least predictable expenses in any construction project, reducing your dependence on skilled labor boosts your profits and makes budgeting easier.

Speed Up Your Construction Time

Completing a modular building takes up to 60 percent less time than completing a site-build structure. The design process is as much as 50 percent faster, in part due to less need for change orders.

The prefabricated components only need to be fit together, so weather conditions won’t cause construction delays. To further shorten your construction timeline, you can have the components completed at the factory while the building site is being prepared.

Improve Your Quality

During each step of manufacturing at the factory, modular building components undergo a quality control process. Any faults are corrected before the components leave the factory, greatly reducing the risk of problems with the completed building.

Flexibility is another of the valuable benefits of modular construction. Compared to site-built structures, modular buildings are relatively easy to take apart and move. They can be transported to another location and used for a different purpose, increasing the value the building owner receives from their investment.

To learn more about the benefits of modular construction, contact the construction leads experts at Construction Monitor.

3 Tips for Better Offline Marketing

Marketing your construction business is vital to keeping your company alive. In today’s business environment when you’re constantly being reminded of the importance of online marketing and lead building, it’s easy to forget that traditional offline marketing still works. Here are three tips you can use for better construction marketing offline—in the real world.

  1. construction leadsUse signage effectively: Have magnetic signs made up that can be applied to the sides of the vehicles used in your daily business activities. The signs should contain your company name and contact information, and perhaps a memorable graphic that illustrates your company. These signs can be easily applied or removed as needed. For dedicated company vehicles, you can have this information permanently applied. Don’t forget to place signs on the fence surrounding any current construction projects. These types of signs tell onlookers who is responsible for the project and helps build an association between your company and real-world construction activities.
  2. Apply some nontraditional advertising methods: Newspaper ads, Yellow Pages entries, and billboards can be effective, and you might want to consider them. There are, however, other ways to advertise that are not so common. For example, see if your local grocery store offers advertising space on the back of customer receipts or on shopping carts. Attend networking meetings of local social or service clubs, of Chambers of Commerce, or other organizations to develop business relationships with members who may need your services or know someone who does.
  3. Make yourself newsworthy: Your local newspaper and radio stations are always on the lookout for material they can use to fill their open spaces, so do something newsworthy. Sponsor a local Little League team or charitable event. Send out a press release when one of your employees attains a new credential or is promoted. Promote your contributions to schools, libraries, or other important local organizations.

Construction Monitor helps construction companies, contractors and other industry professionals build their businesses with the most recent data and advice. Contact us today for more information on construction marketing techniques, and how to apply these methods to bring in more construction leads.

Qualifying Construction Leads: Best Practices

Lead generation in the construction business, as in all businesses, is vital to the continued operation and growth of a company. Here are some best practices you can apply to your lead generation processes that will help you find and capture the most appropriate, and most profitable, projects for your company.

  • lead generation in the construction businessIdentify and use your best source of leads: Determine your best source of leads and use them more frequently. Do you get the most leads from advertising in local media? Do the most profitable leads come from referrals from satisfied customers? Are your best leads generated from a subscription service or lead-development company? You know your company and its business development processes better than anyone else, so use that knowledge to narrow down your lead generation field to potential customers who will be your best options.
  • Ask questions of potential leads: The more you know about a potential lead the better you’ll be at determining if you can provide what they’re looking for. When you are talking to potential leads, ask questions to get to know them and their needs. Encourage the lead to ask you questions, as well. The better the communication early on, the more likely it is that everyone will be happy with the deal.
  • Ask for referrals: When you’ve completed a project, ask your customer if they know of anyone else who could use your services. A happy customer will usually be glad to give you a referral, and new leads often appreciate hiring a company based on recommendations from a trusted source.
  • Don’t be afraid to decline leads: It may be hard to turn down business, but if you determine that your and your potential lead are not a good match, don’t be afraid to say no. Declining an inappropriate project will save everyone money, time, and hassle.

Construction Monitor gives companies the information they need to locate new business and find out important information about potential projects and partners. Contact us today for more information on lead generation in the construction business and how you can qualify your leads accurately and efficiently.