By: Allen Anderson / September 26, 2015

Keeping a project on-track is a significant challenge that all contractors face. However, there a number of things you can implement into your daily on-site processes that will increase efficiencies and help meet major project milestones. Take these 4 items into account when tackling your next job.

Proper Planning

As with all types of projects, planning is an essential foundational element to success. There is no exception when it comes to construction projects. There are countless factors that go into a project, and effective and efficient planning allows you to maximize productivity. The lack of a plan from initial inception can result in unmanageable chaos, wasted materials, and excessive rework, ultimately leading to negative profits.

Here are a few questions to keep in mind that will help you lucratively craft a foolproof plan:
• What is the end goal?
• What are the processes we will use to achieve our goal?
• Who will tackle each step of the project?
• Do we have the necessary machinery, tools and materials?
• Do we have the correct amounts of machinery, tools and materials?
• What is the project timeline?

Material Availability

Without the proper materials, tools and machinery for a job, you have nothing to work with. There are a countless number of materials that go into a single project, making it critical to outline what materials the project requires, as well as the specific amounts of each material you will need before the project starts. Ordering materials online beforehand is an easy way to ensure everything is ready and in stock.

If you lack the necessary tools from the beginning, there will be a lot of wasted time due to finding the right materials at the supplier’s shops, downtime from waiting in long checkout lines, and travel time to and from the job site to restock. All of these scenarios can be avoided with initial planning and preparation.

Housekeeping

Housekeeping is an obvious, yet often overlooked item when it comes to construction projects. It is very easy for materials to be misplaced and strewn about, especially by the end of a long day on the job, making the jobsite a complete disaster for getting to work the next morning. Ensuring everything is stored properly at the end of every day helps keep the site clean and orderly. Materials will be in their proper place and all tools will be accounted for, ensuring maximum productivity. Not only does decreasing clutter increase productivity, it also promotes on-site safety, in turn reducing the risk of accidents. It is no secret that construction sites can be hazardous. Taking measures to reduce those risks is paramount.

Technologies

It is evident that technology is slowly transforming the way every industry operates, and the construction industry is no exception. As of late, contractors have slowly started to incorporate the use of technologies in their every day processes. Between project management apps, online estimator tools and construction management software, the increased efficiencies technologies can provide are significant. These different technologies streamline every process and act as a catalyst to achieving project goals through improved communication, quality and profitability.

At the end of the day, you will only regret not having these processes in place. Proper planning helps increase project efficiencies in every way, from ensuring you have the proper amount of materials, to scheduling labor and equipment, all the way down to the bottom line. Work together as a team to get all your ducks in a row before you hit the ground running.

By: Allen Anderson / September 18, 2015

There are many factors that must be considered when determining what products are going to be utilized on a project. However, most of this consideration for contractors goes into choosing what building materials you are going to use to ensure the “big picture” gets completed. This often leaves contractors without the little, but necessary, tools that will make their job much easier and will ensure that their project is executed on schedule. You don’t want to be in the midst of a project wishing you had been more prepared because you had overlooked these little (but important) items. Here are 5 overlooked products a contractor should utilize to save time on a project:

1. Spiked Shoes

The benefits of spiked shoes are instrumental to a construction project. With spiked shoes designed for walking on and in applied material during the application process, you don’t need to work harder to stay safe, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. A great option is the Midwest Rake Flexible Spiked Shoe. It’s among the “safest” options out there. Due to the unique snap-lock buckle system, you can easily strap them on to existing work boots. Shoes are available with two different lengths of spikes depending on what materials you are working with on the project.

2. Stretch Wrap

Stretch wrap is another item that can be quite beneficial on a project, but is often overlooked. Not only can stretch wrap save you time, it can prevent some major headaches when transporting materials for your project. Stretch wrap will hold materials tightly together and prevent them from shifting (and damaging) during transport. Therefore, you won’t have to spend as much time rearranging your items during transport or spend extra time later trying to replace damaged materials. It is great for attaching mirror and glass to truck racks, for example. An option to keep in mind is this Gauge Stretch Wrap.

3. Bucket Scraper

A bucket scraper will save you time and money by reducing the hours spent cleaning your construction buckets for future use. It is also an essential tool to have in order to make sure you can utilize every bit of your sealant material. We personally recommend the Albion Bucket Scraper.

4. Follow Plate

A follow plate will save you a significant amount of time when trying to get your material into the barrel of your caulking gun. All you have to do is place the follow plate on top of your bucket, screw the barrel of the caulking gun into the hole, fill the barrel, and then disengage it from the follow plate and reseal your bucket until you need more. Super simple, and zero mess involved. The Albion Follow Plates are a great option for your next caulking project.

5. Shims

Shims are a fantastic tool that can be utilized to ensure the proper spacing and alignment for projects such as window and door installations. They will save you time on your project due to their simplicity, as well as guaranteeing precision without having to spend the extra time usually required by some of the other measurement options out there. We are partial to the Econ-O-Shims because they come in color-coded thicknesses, and are plastic so they will not rust, rot, stain, or leach.

There you have it. These are 5 time-saving products that we find are often overlooked by contractors. Next time you’re preparing for a project, make sure you have the little tools that you’ll need to execute the overall plan. You’ll be pleased with the time you save and the ease these items will bring to your next endeavor.

By: Allen Anderson / September 10, 2015


Every 2-7 years, El Niño disturbs the global climate. For reasons only partially understood, warmer than normal ocean water rises to the surface of the Pacific Ocean, West of South America. El Niño is predicted to start this winter and typically lasts from 9 months to 6 years. Different parts of the world are affected in different ways, most of which is the global fishing industry. In North America, El Niño means more rain and snow in the Southwest, and warmer drier weather in the North.

What is El Niño?

Officially known as El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, occurs when the colder, nutrient rich waters are too deep for fish. As a result, the global fish population decreases. Due to increased levels or decreased levels of precipitation on land, landslides, flooding and other construction nightmares are a common place. In the United States however, mostly precipitation is affected.

El Niño brings more precipitation and cooler temperatures to areas like California and the rest of the Southwestern US. This presents an issue, because the normal climate in this area is typically dry. While areas reliant on ski tourism can expect a boom in business, other areas can be prone to mudslides and flooding. Overall, the sudden climate change presents a number of threats and opportunities each contractor should be aware of.

Threats: California

California and its Southern cities are famous for their hot and sunny climate. This means that the state usually enjoys year-round construction. However, there is potential for millions of dollars worth of damage with the forecasted increase in precipitation brought by El Niño. The largest El Niño in 1997 was estimated to have over $25 million dollars of damages in the US alone.

Threats: Southwest U.S.A.

The Southwest as a region experiences colder temperatures and more precipitation. More snowpack is generated in the mountains, which leads to an increase in avalanches, mudslides, and floods. More snow and rainfall increases the potential for freeze-thaw to damage buildings. This makes weatherproofing even more important than usual. Despite the warnings associated with El Niño, the construction industry does directly benefit from it.

Benefits of El Niño to the American Construction Industry

Different areas of the U.S.A. experience different climates from El Niño. The Southwest’s increased rain and snowfall and their lower temperatures present a test for existing buildings. However, if any damage occurs, and this winter’s El Niño is predicted to be a big one, contractors will be needed to fix it. In the North, warmer than normal temperatures present construction companies with an opportunity to build during the winter months.

Preparing For Success

People are in need of contractors, in normal times and when structural damage(s) have occurred. Follow these tips to ensure that you and your team is ready for high demand of your products, and your expertise:

  1. Brush Up Your Sales Knowledge: with an increase in precipitation and cold, you should prioritize your selling around roofing systems. There will be high demand for weatherproofing and roofing products so make sure you know your products inside and out.

  2. Prepare Your Sales Team: El Niño has produced some massive storm systems in the past. Make sure you have a plan of action ready to be put in place for your sales team if certain opportunities or issues arise.

  3. Prepare Your Service and Maintenance Crew: make sure you have the proper tools and training to brave the weather, and have a plan for emergencies. Your service team needs proper training so they can respond to a service call as quickly and with as much efficiency as possible.

  4. Plan Your Deliveries and Inventory: distribution can be a nightmare during hazardous weather conditions. Make sure you have backup routes in place, and that you have a set plan for when items increase in demand.

  5. Make Sure Your Crew Knows What Is Coming: the best way for contractors to prepare for El Niño, is to inform and educate their team. When the weather starts to come down, your employees know and understand what to do.

Make sure you know your closest distribution center to plan accordingly for this winter, El Niño, and for the future.

Have questions? Want to know a product specific piece of info? Please contact us for questions, comments, or concerns!

By: Allen Anderson / September 2, 2015

As of late it appears that 3D printing is taking construction by storm and changing the industry as we know it. 3D printing is the creation of a 3D object from a digital file. So, what does this have to do with construction you say? Construction contractors around the world are starting to use 3D printing to build out model residential structures, including single-family homes and apartment buildings.

Last month Chinese company Zhuoda Group revolutionized 3D printing with the first 3D printed homes that can be assembled in less than 3 hours. Although these homes are not yet available to the masses, it shows how close 3D printing is to becoming a reality around the world.

The Process

How does 3D printing differ from current construction methods? 3D printing involves gigantic printers that use a special concrete that is thicker than normal concrete, which allows it to self-set. You start off with a 3D virtual design of the object you are “building”. From there a program converts the virtual design into a digital file that is then uploaded into the 3D printer. The actual object itself is then broken down into multiple layers, which the printer then morphs all of the layers together, creating a single object with no disconnects.

The Benefits

While the process seems complicated and resource heavy, it actually requires significantly less material and labor costs, creating a less expensive construction method that will hopefully help lower future housing and building. The 3D printers essentially do all of the work, requiring little human effort. Another benefit of 3D printing is faster and more accurate construction. The 3D printer automatically transfers the digital model into a physical one, leaving little room for error.

Reduced waste and environmentally friendliness are other great advantages of using 3D printing over other methods of construction. Most of the materials used during the construction process itself come from recycled products. Additionally, all of the extra materials left at the end can be recycled as well. Lastly, 3D printing reduces the hazardous health and safety risks that are involved with the construction industry. Contractors are constantly putting their lives on the line with dangerous construction projects. 3D printing eliminates these risks altogether.

The Future

Although it’s hard to believe, 3D printing is just getting started. There is a lot in store for the future of 3D printing and the possibilities are endless. A few of the ideas on the horizon for 3D printing include applying 3D printing to commercial structures, such as large office buildings as well as 3D printing on the moon. Foster + Partners, a high-profile architectural firm based out of London, is working with the European Space Agency to research the possibility of lunar homes. The development of that project will certainly be revolutionary.

While 3D construction has only been used on very small-scale projects thus far, it will start to gain more traction in the coming years. It’s hard to say right now if it will completely takeover as the number one construction technology. Only time will