Getting the Inside Scoop on Which Construction Projects to Bid On

If you want to bid less, but earn more, finding the right construction projects to bid on is half the battle. By searching building permits and other local construction data, you can uncover more ideal projects while avoiding potential problem clients.

Play to Your Strengths

Instead of considering any project that comes your way, take the initiative to seek out projects where your unique skill set will be valued. A would-be client is far more likely to pay attention to a bid from a company offering expertise in the exact services they need. If you’re a general contractor specializing in light commercial construction, searching local commercial building permits can lead you toward potential clients. From here, you can narrow your search to specific building types, such as retail stores or medical offices, to find the right construction projects to bid on. If you’re a high-end building materials supplier, remodeling permits are a good source of potential clients looking for products to upgrade their interiors.

Check for Signs of Trouble

Using building permits to find potential clients can help you weed out the troublesome ones before you waste any time on them. If the same residential property developer has already let one or more building permits expire for their current project, it could mean they’re having trouble finding the right contractor. A little further investigation can tell you why that is and whether or not the project is worth pursuing. If the project requires specialist skills or materials you’re an expert in, you could be a shoo-in for the job. On the other hand, it could mean the developer is having financing problems or they have a bad reputation and you’re better off avoiding the project.

Building permits also help you find out if the project will require methods or materials you’re unfamiliar with, if regulations might make it difficult to actually complete the project or if the work will require more effort than it’s worth.

For help finding valuable construction projects to bid on, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Hiring Subcontractors

The skill and reliability of your subcontractors can make the difference between a profitable, trouble-free job and a major headache. By knowing how to hire good subcontractors, you can ensure you get more of the former.

How to Hire Good SubcontractorsSpotting Quality Subcontractors

Don’t rely on internet searches to find subcontractors. While that may be the fastest way to find specific types of tradespeople in your area, websites tell you little about what it’s like to work with those individuals.

Instead, tap into the construction community for references. If you need a drywall installer or a plumber, ask drywall suppliers and plumbing wholesalers if they can recommend someone. If you see construction work or renovations underway, introduce yourself to the person in charge to find out who’s doing the work and how it’s going. It’s also worth contacting your former clients to find out if they can recommend subcontractors.

Aim to collect at least three names for each trade to encourage competitive bids, and avoid depending on one subcontractor who may not always be available. Establish a pre-qualification process to speed up hiring for future projects.

Controlling Your Costs

Before you invite bids, develop a clear scope of work. This helps you avoid receiving widely divergent bids. Even so, never assume the bids you receive cover the same scope. Read each bid carefully so you know exactly what the subcontractor is offering. For instance, one bid might be cheaper than others because it doesn’t include the cost of clean up.

Low bids can be tempting, but realizing when something sounds too good to be true is an important part of knowing how to hire good subcontractors. Some subcontractors keep their bids low by cutting corners and using low-quality material, while others bid low, but find ways to raise the price later.

Be wary of subcontractors who expect a large deposit. Anything more than 10 percent upfront is worth questioning. Also, avoid those who won’t provide everything, including guarantees and payment schedules, in writing.

For more tips on how to hire good subcontractors, contact Construction Monitor.

The Evolution of Cement Use in Construction

cement use in constructionCement is such a ubiquitous building material that we tend to take its current form for granted. Yet cement use in construction has a history dating back thousands of years, and in that time the material has undergone numerous changes and improvements. Today, cement continues to evolve for the better.

The Origins of Modern Cement

Cement was produced in many ancient societies using locally available natural materials. Egyptians used gypsum, while the Greeks and Romans blended limestone with sand to make their cement. The Romans eventually discovered they could change the properties of their cement by adding other materials. One of these materials was volcanic ash known as pozzolana. The addition of this ash created a cement that could set under water, making it useful for building harbors. In fact, concrete made from this cement resists salt water better than today’s concrete.

The most common cement used today, Portland cement, came from a different source. Portland cement evolved from the cements used in Britain in the mid-19th century.

The Future of Cement Use in Construction

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a way to make Portland-cement concrete both more durable and more eco-friendly.

The conventional cement formula uses between 1.2 to 2.2 parts of calcium for every 1 part of silica, but 1.7 parts of calcium is the standard. MIT researchers found that decreasing the calcium content to 1.5 doubles the resulting concrete’s resistance to cracks.

Better yet, switching to a cement formula that uses 1.5 parts calcium could reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that come from cement production by up to 60 percent. That’s no small improvement, considering the cement industry alone is responsible for some 5 to 10 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide production.

A more durable cement also means less concrete will be needed to repair and replace damaged structures, further reducing cement production’s environmental impact. Although this new formula performs well in the laboratory, it remains to be tested in real-world applications.

To stay on top of recent developments in cement use in construction, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Construction to Begin on Block 75, Part of the Burnside Bridgehead Project

Construction is underway on a new mixed-use building in Portland, Oregon’s Burnside Bridgehead area.

residential constructionThe building, known as Block 75, is going up at the corner of Northeast Davis Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The Block 75 building will include 75 residential units, expected to rent at market rates. There will also be 32,000 square feet of office space and other work areas. At the street level, the building will have almost 10,000 square feet available for restaurants and retail stores. An underground parking facility will be able to accommodate 42 vehicles.

The Block 75 project is expected to qualify for financial incentives under Portland’s Transit Oriented Development program. This program, part of the Portland Metro system, provides financial incentives designed to encourage mixed-use projects served by mass transit.

Developers include Beam Development, Urban Development + Partners, and Works Partnership Architecture.

Block 75 is one of several new construction projects that are revitalizing the Burnside Bridgehead site, which has seen several delays and a significant drop-off in construction activity. This latest addition to Portland construction was inaugurated with a formal groundbreaking ceremony in late January.

East or west, north or south, construction companies in the United States know they can trust Construction Monitor for the latest news and data on construction industry trends and developments. Contact us today for more information on Portland construction and how Oregon-based businesses may benefit.

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Denver Condo Construction May Increase if Challenge to Defects Law Passes

A strict Colorado law has restricted construction of condominiums in Denver for the past several years, but recent challenges to that law could result in a more favorable environment for builders and an increase in Denver construction.

Construction Industry Employment BoomsThe Colorado construction defects law of 2005 protects consumers from defects and shortcomings in construction projects. However, the law has created an environment in which litigation has become the preferred method of settling defects complaints, resulting in a reluctance on the part of builders and developers to create condominiums and townhouses in Denver.

Demographics in Denver reveal a large population of potential condominium buyers whose housing requirements aren’t being met. The city contains a growing population of millennials and first-time homebuyers. Older couples who are looking to downsize are also prime candidates for buying a condo or townhouse.

Currently, the law allows a homeowner’s association board, upon approval of a majority of members, to initiate litigation against a builder. Homeowners themselves do not have to approve or even agree with the litigation.

Attempts by state lawmakers to change the law or ease its reliance on litigation have been unsuccessful, in large part due to fears of reducing consumer protections. However, some cities, such as Lakewood, have passed local ordinances that soften the harshness of the law.

For example, the Lakewood ordinance gives contractors the opportunity to correct defects before any suits are filed, and homeowners associations must get approval from a majority of homeowners before litigation.

Similar action in Denver could serve to ease the stress of the building defects law and increase construction of condominiums and residential units there.

Construction industry professionals who need the latest and most accurate information on industry developments can turn to Construction Monitor for data on building permits, housing starts and important trends. Contact us today for more information on Denver construction and how the challenges to the Colorado construction defects law can improve the market for condominiums in that city.

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Rental Apartment Construction Booming Across the U.S. at a 27-Year High

Rental apartment construction in the U.S. has increased to a level not seen since 1987, according to new industry numbers reported in the Wall Street Journal. Multifamily apartment construction is at its highest level in some 27 years, with 330,000 multifamily apartment units under construction as of October 2014.

rental constructionThis indicates a boom in apartment construction, and it came despite the multifamily sector saw a 15.5 percent overall drop in October 2014.

Construction of multifamily housing options containing five units or more is at its highest level since 1989. The number of those units being produced for rental is at the highest level since records were first kept on the issue in 1974.

More than 93 percent of units in buildings with at least two units will be rental units.

The upsurge in apartment and rental unit construction continues a trend in urban residential construction that tends to concentrate more people into available spaces. The current trend outpaces the last notable housing boom in 2006. The notable difference today is that more units are being built as rentals.

Are you a construction industry professional looking for the latest information on construction trends, housing starts and building permit issuances? Construction Monitor provides comprehensive reports on these and other important industry topics. Contact us today for more information on recent developments in rental apartment construction and what they could mean for your company.

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Bidding on a Construction Project Goes Better When You Avoid These Pitfalls

Bidding on construction projects is a necessary but sometimes tedious and labor-intensive part of being a successful builder. Creating and submitting successful bids takes careful planning, a thorough understanding of the project being offered, and a comprehensive knowledge of what your company can accomplish.

Here are some of the pitfalls to avoid when bidding on a construction project.

  • construction biddingImprecise calculations: Successfully bidding on a construction project requires accurate figures and realistic accounting of costs, expenses and profits. Rule-of-thumb estimates may provide a good starting point, but the formal bid itself needs to contain detailed numbers and realistic financials. In most cases, it’s a good idea to use sophisticated financial software or bidding programs to handle the complex calculations. These programs will let you make changes and should automatically recalculate the bid. Be careful if you do make these types of changes; one small difference in a crucial area could throw off the numbers for the whole bid.
  • Inconsistent standards: Whether you’re doing all of your estimating and bidding in-house or you’re hiring other companies and estimators to help, you need to develop a consistent set of standards for developing and submitting bids. Multiple factors need to be taken into consideration, from the most basic services provided to specialized labor or equipment needed for the job. Bidding standards should also be formulated to allow close adherence to the requirements of the contract. This ensures that your bid completely meets the customer’s needs while ensuring you have the resources to do the job properly.
  • Impatience in bidding: If you’re too impatient when approaching bidding on a construction project, you could easily end up bidding too low or unnecessarily slashing your profits on the job. Give the estimating and bidding process the time it needs while also meeting all required deadlines for bid submission.

Construction Monitor helps construction industry managers, business owners and related professionals with the latest information on building permits, housing starts and industry trends. Contact us today for more information on bidding on a construction project and how to make your bids successful more often.

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American Cancer Society’s Newest Hope Lodge Slated for Construction in Salt Lake City

hope lodgeThe former address of an LDS meetinghouse at the corner of 100 South and 400 East in Salt Lake City is scheduled for new life as an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. These facilities offer a “home away from home” environment for cancer patients who must travel from faraway homes to seek treatment in one of Salt Lake City’s state-of-the-art cancer therapy units.   Continue reading American Cancer Society’s Newest Hope Lodge Slated for Construction in Salt Lake City

Construction of Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Nearing Completion

The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has been a big part of the Orlando construction scene since its groundbreaking in 2011, and it’s had plenty of ups and downs in that time. With construction now reaching an end, the center is scheduled for its grand open in November 2014. Continue reading Construction of Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Nearing Completion

Rats: The Unexpected Consequence of San Francisco Subway Construction

san francisco subway constructionLarge-scale construction projects can sometimes have unexpected consequences. In San Francisco, construction of a subway system in North Beach has caused a substantial upsurge in the number of rats seen on the streets and in residents’ homes. Continue reading Rats: The Unexpected Consequence of San Francisco Subway Construction