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How to Avoid Risks in Home Renovation Projects

Automated Trackers - SAM - Construction Management and Scheduling Software

Home renovations are one of the biggest revenue-earners for builders in the US. However, if we look at it from the perspective of a client, few undertakings are as expensive or as stressful. In short, a positive cash-earner can easily turn into your biggest nightmare.Home renovations are construction projects that are governed by complicated contracts and complex relationships.

As a contractor and builder, you are responsible for coordinating the work of dozens of subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers. At times, the services of architects, engineers, interior designers and other consultants will also have to be coordinated seamlessly. For a home renovation project to turn into a success, so many things have to go right. And it also goes without saying that all types of risk need to be managed and limited. So today, we’re listing down some tips on how you can mitigate the risks involved in home renovation projects.

1. Understand the Types of Risks Involved

The first and most common type of risk that you have to watch out for is Financial Risk. This type of risk involves going over-budget or being pressed to do so much with a very limited budget. Take note that budget overruns are often brought about by poor planning, improper coordination, and inaccurate pricing.  So what’s the end result when you fail in budget planning? For one thing, you will have endless arguments with the client, you may have to cut corners, or worse, you will have to shell out money from your own pocket just to deliver what has been promised.

In addition to budget risks, there are also risks when it comes to time and scheduling. This involves over-promising and under-delivering. Home renovations often have a limited time frame. In fact, it’s often rushed! Scheduling problems are brought about by poor coordination. The thing with scheduling problems is that it literally costs money. This might delay payments from the client and at the same time, steal valuable time that you may have otherwise spent on other, more lucrative, work. Remember, as the contractor and builder, cost control and proper scheduling should be part of your core skills.

2. Assemble a Killer Construction Team

You can assess the prowess and experience of a leader by analyzing the type of team that he or she assembles. When doing home renovation projects, it’s essential to create the right mix of experience, size and value. Every project has its unique requirements and specific obstacles (budget, design, existing architecture, client preferences etc.) so you really have to allot some serious thought process into creating the best team for each job. Assess whether or not you have the necessary manpower and equipment for each task. If not, figure out to whom you should outsource what you lack.

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3. Define Your Build Strategy

The construction industry is highly fragmented and as a builder, you have to seamlessly integrate both the product sellers and the service providers. You also have to clearly set a timeline for every single task that will be done for a renovation. From consultation meetings to purchase dates, follow-ups to specific build milestones, all of these have to be laid out even before the project officially begins. Don’t forget to take into consideration, the specific characteristics and living arrangements of your client. (Will you have the entire place all to yourselves or does the renovation involve just isolating a certain part of the house?)

4. Be Professional in Monitoring the Construction Process

This is where you really have to dive into the details. Are the workers up to par with your standards? Is excellent craftsmanship being implemented? Are you compliant with all permits and regulations? Is the budget on track? Are all parties involved being updated with the status of the build? Maybe it’s time to go digital and use a construction scheduling software such as SAM – The Superintendent’s Automated Manager? Paper calendars and lists can only go so far. If you’re handling several builds at a time, you need to amp it up with the right technology. Click here to know more about SAM and how it helps builders in managing several projects at a single time.

Remember that as your business grows, your projects will get more and more complicated. But there lies the excitement of being a builder. So whether it’s a home renovation or a build from scratch project, you need to be on your toes and work your very best. After all, you’re building not just houses, but actual homes. 

Time Management Tips that Actually Work

Business-owners are always on the lookout for hacks on how  to reach bigger sales and exceed expectations. But the truth is, most of it will boil down to how well you manage your time. This is especially true for us builders. So today, let’s brush up on how to best manage our limited, and ever-so-valuable time.

Here are 7 simple tricks that will actually give tremendous impact on both your work and personal life.

Automated Trackers - SAM - Construction Management and Scheduling Software

1. Record your activities for a week

For one week, record all of your activities, thoughts, and discussions. Do this religiously so you can have sufficient data to analyze. This activity will help you to find patterns and see exactly where your precious time is going. When are you most productive? How much time are you spending on doing actual work? Which activities should you be spending less time on?

2. Allot a designated time for activities that are important to your success

For example, if some quiet alone time is when you tend to have your best ideas, then set an appointment with yourself and assign a schedule to it. Treat it like a high-priority meeting. The same goes for conversations, or some book-reading time. You have to identify these seemingly mundane, yet highly important activities.

3. Dedicate 50% of your time to “real” work

Make sure that at least 50% of your time is dedicated and spent on the activities that produce the most results. Again, it’s all about setting a plan and being dedicated to it. Assigning a specific number to it will help you to imagine your goal and make it concrete.

4. Schedule interruptions

To avoid burnout, schedule time for interruptions too. For example, after 1 hour of serious work, allot 10 minutes for a short social media or coffee break. You can also allot time for phone calls or text messages.

5. Start your day right

First impressions usually last. The same goes for your day. It pays to start it on solid footing. You can do this by dedicating the first 30 minutes of your waking day to planning. What is your agenda for the day? What are your priorities today? Where are you supposed to be? Who are you supposed to be meeting with? Use your first waking moments to get some clarity and direction.

Automated Trackers - SAM - Construction Management and Scheduling Software

6. Learn to say NO

Interruptions are all around us. So if you really want to get things done, you have to learn when to say NO. Block out social media if you’re on “work mode”.  All of those notifications can drive anyone crazy. Just because your phone is lighting up, doesn’t mean that there’s an urgent response needed. Don’t be so quick to answer every single call and text. You don’t have to be online for instant messaging apps 24×7.  Instead, allot some time at the end of your day for replying to all non-important messages. You can talk about weekend golf plans later.

7. You can’t do everything yourself

No matter how much we try, it’s impossible to get everything done by yourself. You have to delegate tasks because it’s necessary for scaling. Much like in basketball, in order to get a championship trophy, you must work as a team.

And as builders, we usually want to have as many projects as we can at any given time. This means managing several people, and organizing hundreds of tasks for each build. You won’t be able to do it alone. The success of your projects will depend on how well you can organize your timelines, tasks, and people.

This is where SAM comes in. SAM- the Superintendent’s Automated Manager is the go-to scheduler of professional builders in the US. Using SAM, you can say goodbye to messy paper and pen schedules, and go completely digital. Get schedule reports in one click. Update tasks and have everyone up to speed instantly. You can also synchronize it with your existing software. Don’t make your job harder than it has to be. Check out SAM today and test it out for FREE.

Why Construction Fails to Keep Up with Other Industries

We’ve seen industries jump leaps and bounds in terms of profit, scale and growth. However, the construction industry seems to be on a slower progress compared to others. Why is that? Why are we lagging behind? Let’s dive in. Apart from labor shortages, increasing regulations and problems in lot availability, there is one issue that leaves the entire construction industry behind the dust of other fast-growing industries. That issue is productivity. 

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Brendan Bechtel, President and COO of global construction giant Bechtel, said that “stagnant productivity levels in construction” are one of the things that haunt him at night. According to a recent World Economic Forum study, productivity gains in the construction industry have been “meager” when compared with the advancements of other industries in the last 50 years. The study further states that the lack of significant productivity advancements is costing the industry billions of dollars each year.

The study said that reducing construction costs by even just 1% through productivity improvements would save the construction industry approximately $100 billion each year. That’s a serious amount of cash! However, the study also pointed out that another challenge in productivity is the “fractured” aspects of construction. It said that these fractured and segmented operational processes would in fact, negate whatever benefits would be brought about by new technological advancements.

The Lack of Collaboration and Cooperative Efforts

Experts say that one of the key reasons on why productivity in construction is declining, is the inherently combative nature of construction today. The functions and goals of architects, engineers and contractors often clash, and most of the time, they are separate entities that don’t work with each other right at the get-go. For example, your house will be designed by your chosen architect, checked by a different engineer, built by a separate company- which often has people that they just contracted as well. All of these individuals have to claw their way into getting heard, and for their ideas not to get junked. Instead of a smooth relationship, what you have are adversaries that try to out-win each other. It’s a highly individualistic environment. It’s a system that is not at all designed for effectiveness nor efficiency. Collaboration is forced when it should be the norm.

Intimidated by Technology

Another hurdle to work efficiency is the aversion of construction veterans to technology. A lot of seasoned professionals (Construction Managers, Site Inspectors, Supervisors, etc.) are not proficient in using desktops, laptops, mobile tablets, and smartphones. These are the people with the most impact to project efficiency. The ones who are directly out in the field.
It’s a known fact that a lot of the advancements in productivity these days are brought about by new technology, whether it be for communication, collaboration, or documentation. But unfortunately, what we have is an industry that is slow to change, slow to trust, and slow to adapt. And if your critical personnel are not up to date, and hesitant to changing how things get done, you can expect that growth and speed will indeed be stunted.


Get Comfortable, Get Mobile

The time for easing your way into technology has passed. What the industry needs is to radically integrate tech into your everyday processes. Have a serious talk with your key people and educate them about how construction programs, mobile apps, and even social media can make their jobs easier. Let them see how it would lessen their headaches and speed up their build-times. We can’t stay dinosaurs in the information age. In order for construction to keep up, we have to shake things up.

Start today! Click here to learn about how SAM- the Superintendent’s Automated Manager can make mobile collaboration and task management much easier. There’s nothing to lose, and plenty to gain!

6 Benefits of Building Modular Homes

Another building trend that has caught up in the past few years is Modular Homes. But before anything else, let’s do a quick review of what a modular building is. Modular buildings comprise of individual sections, called “modules” which are fited together in a pre-planned order. Think of them like modern lego pieces that snap into place. These modules are fabricated off-site in a manufacturing plant, built according to the exact specifications in which they will be assembled. Once the modules are ready, they are individually transported to the construction site, and then fitted together step by step.


So why would you consider adding modular buildings in your portfolio? Here are a few benefits to consider:

1. Speed

Constructing modular buildings can actually reduce your “time to occupancy” by as much as 50%. The build process is much faster because the off-site fabrication of modules can be done simultaneously with the onsite excavation, foundation installation, and any other site infrastructure setup. Usually, upon delivery of the modules, they are immediately set on the foundation and seamed together with ease.

2. Resource and Energy Efficiency

Builders of modular units swear that this method is a lot more resource efficient compared to traditional construction. It reduces energy consumption during the building process itself (up to 67%) and at the same time, also reduces energy costs for its occupants. Modular homes are also known to be eco-friendly: usually incorporating solar panels, geothermal systems (instead of traditional HVAC systems) and so on.

There are even varieties of modular homes that can be disassembled and then transplanted into a new location. There’s also no such thing as demolitions when it comes to modular homes, they are simply dismantled and reassembled according to the liking of the new owners. Talk about going green!

3. Tax Benefits

Loans taken to build or buy modular homes are often tax deductible. Even modular building purchases made without loans are tax deductible. In addition to this, when building a modular home, if you install solar panels, solar water heaters, wind turbines or geothermal systems, you can write off 30 percent of the cost of each of these systems in your taxes.

4. Durability

When done right, modular buildings can be more durable than a conventional construction build. Screws are used instead of nails, and joints are reinforced with a special glue to maintain structural integrity during transport and after set-up. In addition to this, 20% more lumbar is used in the construction of a typical modular home, which adds to its stability. And to add to that, modular wall panels are often built with durable materials that require little maintenance apart from occasional surface cleaning. Unlike with typical walls, repainting and repairs are often not needed.

5. Flexibility

Conventional buildings can be difficult to extend. Modular homes on the other hand are easier to modify. Need an additional room? Want to extend the kids’ room? In dire need of a new workshop? With modular home construction, this can be done faster and in a much cheaper way.

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6. Healthier Build

Since most of the pre-fabrication process happens indoors in a climate-controlled environment, your men’s work is no longer affected by weather changes. This also means less problems with mold, mildew and on-site dust. Ergo, less respiratory problems. It’s also good for the environment since you are not contributing to outdoor trash and air pollution.

In the end, our goal remains the same- to provide great homes for our clients. What do you think? Are you ready to explore the concept of modular homes?

Here’s something to explore too! Regardless of what type of build you’re doing, whether it’s modular or traditional construction, project management will always be a big challenge, especially if you’re juggling several projects at once. To aid you in streamlining your build process, and to ensure that all deadlines are met (or even exceeded), we’re inviting you to try out SAM- the Superintendent’s Automated Manager. SAM is the scheduling software of choice by some of the country’s top builders and contractors today.

Click here to know more about how SAM can aid you in better project management.

You can even try it out for free! 

According to Building Professionals, Indoor Mobile Systems Increase Property Value

Did you know that there are roughly about 2 billion smartphone users in the world today? It just proves to show how much this technology has infiltrated our daily lives. The problem is that going indoors often affects our mobile signal. The result? Slower bandwidth. Slower internet. Stressed individuals.

It is therefore critical that residents, visitors and workers have access to strong and reliable network coverage even when they are indoors or inside buildings. Despite this high demand for seamless mobile usage and cellular coverage, only an estimated two percent of commercial buildings have dedicated technology to ensure strong and reliable mobile coverage and capacity indoors. Are you a part of this 2%?

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An Untapped Business Opportunity?

There is a high consumer need and it could be an untapped business opportunity.

CommScope recently had a survey of construction professionals including architects, building managers, facilities managers, and real estate managers. When it comes to the benefits of connectivity, the surveyed professionals asserted that indoor wireless coverage could increase a property’s value by 28% on average. This means that a $2.5M office structure could be worth $700,000 more with a dedicated indoor cellular system.

The respondents also stated that other benefits include a 77% increase in workforce productivity, a 39% increase in visitors, and an employee consensus that indoor wireless connectivity is considered an office “essential”.

Dr. Ispran Kandasamy, Global Leader, Building Solutions, CommScope, believes building professionals should take greater responsibility.

“People are obsessed with their mobile phones and see indoor wireless coverage as important as having access to water and electricity,” said Kandasamy. “The time has come for building professionals to step forward and take ownership for connecting their tenants to mobile networks.”

The question now for home builders is this, how are you addressing this pressing need? Are your employees comfortable with the wireless mobile network signal in your offices? Are they performing at their best possible state?

And more importantly, how will you be able to incorporate this knowledge in your next home projects? Should you find a way to ensure flawless connectivity, how can you earn more from this premium benefit?

Be Mobile and Collaborate Wherever You Are

Speaking of the importance of mobility, is your construction team still bounded by geography and office walls? Wouldn’t it be great to collaborate with your entire team no matter where you are? Well, you can do so with SAM- The Superintendent’s Automated Manager. SAM is the project management tool of choice by today’s top builders. With SAM, you can update your task lists and sync your build schedules in just a few clicks. Builders have long been using SAM to coordinate tasks and juggle up to 10 projects at once.

Click here for more information about this automated construction project scheduler.