Posts in Uncategorized

Exploring Construction Management Software

May 1st, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Construction Management Software is designed to control a project’s cost, schedule, and quality. The main benefits are improved accountability, financial visibility, and improved collaboration.
We recognize there are dozens of viable solutions available, and it would be too big an undertaking to attempt to highlight them all here. We have therefore selected five popular solutions as a place to begin your due diligence.

Software Options & Features
BuilderTrend includes an integral customer relationship management (CRM) system, bid requests, and project proposals. Project management tools include scheduling, budgeting, and timesheets while customer management tools include change order and selection management, warranty requests, and payment processing. This software also exports to solutions such as QuickBooks and Xero.

Houzz Pro’s key features include project management, as well as lead management with client dashboards. In addition, the solution includes an integrated online payment system, mood boards for projects, and white labeling for communications. The software provides construction professionals the tools to manage clients and track progress for any project, from estimation to execution.

CoConstruct is a construction project management software that offers custom home builders and remodelers a set of tools for managing projects, financials, and clients. It allows users to synchronize data from estimates, specifications, selections, bids, change orders, and budgets with QuickBooks on their desktop or online. Builders can also manage their projects in the field using the mobile app.

Striven is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution with features for accounting, inventory management, human resources, customer relationship management (CRM), and project management. The solution also contains business management tools including a company hub, calendar integration, an internal newsfeed with social media integration, dynamic feedback tools, external action triggers, dashboard customization, a resource navigator, and custom reporting. It also has tools for field service management, surveying, business analytics, and supports integrations with Google, Microsoft, Authorize.Net, Yodlee, and ShipStation.

Contractor Foreman is the most affordable all-in-one solution for small and medium trade and general contractors starting at $49 a month for the entire company. Rated as a Top App and Best Value, it easily integrates with QuickBooks. You can use it on the phone, tablet, or computer. The solution integrates timecards, estimates, online payments, daily Logs, and scheduling.

Final Thoughts
No matter which software solution you choose, you will want to ensure the solution can integrate and transfer data between four critical applications:

  • Takeoff is a pre-sale process in which the estimator measures construction plans to determine the number of materials and labor required for a job.
  • Estimating used to calculate the costs for the material and labor takeoff, and then produce detailed bid proposals from those estimates.
  • Bid management used by a contractor to solicit bids from subcontractors and suppliers before submitting a job quote to a building owner.
  • Accounting helps firms manage their job costing, core accounting, fixed asset accounting, and payroll.

For more information on how LA Creed is having a positive impact on the construction community visit https://creedla.com.

What is Green Construction?

April 1st, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Green construction is defined as both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.

The seven essential components of Green Construction include:

  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Water Efficiency
  • Environmentally Preferable Building Materials and Specifications
  • Waste Reduction
  • Toxics Reduction
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Smart Growth and Sustainable Development

There are several ongoing 2022 projects with positive and significant environmental impacts:

The Grand

This mixed-use development spans three city blocks and employs a broad range of professionals to construct shopping, eating, and entertainment venues including a grocery store, a 20-story hotel, and a 39-story apartment building.

The Grand meets LEED-Silver certification or higher for implementing practical and measurable green building strategies. The Grand’s commitment to sustainability includes transit-oriented development and density; outdoor water reduction; optimal energy performance that achieves more than 20% energy savings; green materials selection; indoor environmental quality, as well and provisions for more than 75 EV charging stations.

West Edge

The West Edge project includes space for retail, dining, and fitness options, in addition to luxury apartments, landscaped terraces, and 200,000 square feet of office space on under half an acre. In the interest of furthering a car-free lifestyle, the West Edge is located next to public transit. The office building is registered to be LEED and WireScore Certified and is pursuing WELL Core & Shell Certification.

WELL Core and Shell Certified projects integrate fundamental WELL Building StandardTM (WELL) features into the base building design and operation.

The Metro Purple Extension

This massive transit project plans to open various sections in 2023, 2025, and 2027. According to LA Metro, this multibillion-dollar project is more complex than anything LA Metro Rail has constructed in its history due to the challenges of dense urban neighborhoods and extreme geological conditions. As one of LA’s busiest areas, the Westside is the region’s second-largest job center. The Metro Purple (D Line) Extension Transit Project, is nearer to connecting busy areas and improving travel for everyone who lives, works, and plays in LA County.

On-site compliance monitoring of construction activities during the day, night, and weekend work hours has taken place continuously throughout construction to monitor noise, work hours, traffic control, pedestrian access, and haul routes. Monitors filed regular daily reports and issued violations to assist contractors in avoiding non-compliance issues. Environmental compliance monitoring has helped to minimize impacts and ensure mitigation measures have been upheld throughout the project’s construction phase.

For more information on how Creed LA is having a positive impact on your community, visit https://creedla.com

Remote Worksites

March 1st, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

While construction is a sector most people don’t associate with remote work, companies that adapt and thrive in this new home-based work environment will not only be successful today, but will have prepared their workforces for the better.

The construction industry is a late start to the application of remote work, but it is finding creative tools to allow many of the tasks traditionally done on-site in construction projects to be done remotely. Many of these new approaches do more than find the efficiency and cost reductions of remote work but offer increased value.

The most dramatic change is the use of remote imaging to replace onsite visits and to document everything from construction progress, to working conditions, to schedule, to safety practices.
The use of 360-degree cameras and drones allows virtual replicas of worksites to be tracked through time allowing management and inspection from remote locations. Digital recording with 360-degree images to create digital replicas of the job site can enable project managers, inspectors, and clients to digitally tour a job and track the progress of a construction project without having to visit the site.

Not only does digital recording allow remote observation; it can track and document progress over time and identify areas of delay.

It offers documented proof of completed work, including in concealed spaces, and can expedite the payment process. It also allows collaboration in project review among parties involved in the project who may be a great distance from the project. At the simplest level, it documents work completed and expedites payment processing. At its most elegant it provides multi-project management of human and equipment resources for substantial gains in efficiency. One survey reported that 44% of respondents ranked better site capture through 360° images, 3D laser scanning, and other tools as the most impactful trend in construction technology in 2021.

Construction management tools have emerged to allow remote functioning. Online, real-time communication tools allow project managers to hold virtual on-site meetings with workers and resolve issues as they arise. Real-time virtual meetings can include an array of those involved in a project without regard to their location or travel time to the site. Advanced project management software assures that team members are making decisions based on the same data and integrates automated site reports with plans and project schedules to anticipate and avoid delays. It allows communication between administration functions and on-site workers for inventory management, accounting, and payroll. Digital time tracking is both more effective and less intrusive.

While 360-degree cameras and drones have created remote work opportunities for project managers, inspectors, and others, the actual construction work is enhanced by a dramatic increase in modular construction. It offers a significant improvement in construction schedules. According to the Modular Building Institute, 35% of construction timelines are reduced by more than a month. There is a major reduction in construction waste and a 65% reduction in total project costs. The use of prefab components in building achieves efficient, high-quality construction along with greater worker safety. Modular construction offers a stable work location for many construction workers and saves on the travel to distant and changing work sites.

Using remote work site approaches the construction industry can become more attractive to young people choosing a career in offering stable, safe, technology-driven jobs with salaries fueled to match the required increases in technical skills and knowledge. Remote work is the wave of the future, and the construction industry is on the way forward.

Construction and Supply Chain Shortages

February 1st, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

As we enter 2022, it’s clear that the California construction industry continues to face pandemic recovery challenges due to a confluence of rising material costs, worker shortages, and supply chain disruptions. In a recent NAHB study, an astonishing 87% of respondents reported a shortage of windows and doors while 90% reported a shortage of plywood. These material shortages, among others, inevitably lead to delayed projects and increased costs.

Worker Shortage

As we have previously reported, California construction has suffered and continues to suffer a worker shortage due to multiple aspects of Covid-19. However, it’s not only the construction industry that has been affected. The worker shortage has cut a broad swath through the rest of the economy contributing to supply chain disruption. Manufacturing plants, in general, have been operating with fewer employees and sometimes shorter hours, reducing production. Freight trucking companies have reported a shortage of qualified drivers, an increase in fuel prices, and at times a lack of working vehicles, forcing them to lease trucks to make deliveries – resulting in higher costs and fewer supply shipments.

Rising Costs

Material scarcity due to disruption in the supply system has fostered sometimes astronomical cost increases in a wide range of construction materials. Lumber and steel prices, for example, are at the highest level in years, although steel is still cheaper than lumber. Between April and August 2020, lumber prices shot up by about 130%. The increase is significant for builders as well as home buyers, as framing lumber comprises approximately 20% of the material cost of home construction.
Unfortunately, the lumber supply has been affected by more than Covid-related disruptions. About 83% of our imported lumber comes from British Columbia which has been severely impacted by proliferating pine beetles as well as torrential rains and flooding in 2021. As of November, weekly lumber shipments from Vancouver had fallen by at least 30%, adding to the ‘scarcity cost.’
Other notable increases in building supplies include steadily rising prices for gypsum and concrete. Semi-conductors have been unavailable, resulting in a shortage of appliances.

Alternate Materials

To minimize project delays, builders are sourcing alternate materials. Substitutions for everything from pipes to wood paneling can increase costs and complicate construction, which may still be a better option than delaying a project waiting for supplies. In a desperate and creative frenzy, builders have sourced everything from concrete planks, alternate insulating materials, cross-laminated timber, and bendable concrete to complete their projects.

Check out Creed LA’s mission today!

Los Angeles Construction Projects 2022

December 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Despite environmental challenges and the ongoing pandemic, 2021 has been a modestly good year for construction in Los Angeles, with reported growth of nearly 3%. Construction companies and workers have benefited from an increase in the residential arena and more than half a dozen large infrastructure projects related to the Metro system and freeway. For example, in anticipation of the 2022 Super Bowl, the massive SoFi Stadium opened this year and hosted its first game in September.

This coming year promises more growth and job opportunities with major construction projects that will reshape Los Angeles. According to the Commercial PropertyExecutive, these are some of the top projects to be aware of in 2022:

The Grand

With an anticipated completion date of 2022, this $1 billion mixed-use development spans three city blocks. The project employs a broad range of professionals to construct shopping, eating, and entertainment venues and a grocery store, a 20-story hotel, and a 39-story apartment building.

The LAX Landside Access Modernization Program

Part of the $14.3 billion Capital Improvement Program, this ongoing project encompasses an automated people mover, a car rental location, and two Intermodal Transportation facilities, as well as roadway improvements designed to facilitate access to Los Angeles International Airport. Different elements of the project will open in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

West Edge

Designed on the “village center” model, this project includes space for retail, dining, and fitness options as well as luxury apartments, landscaped terraces, and 200,000 square feet of office space on less than half an acre. Over 120 of the housing units are designated for affordable housing. In the interest of promoting a car-free lifestyle, the West Edge is located next to public transit.

The Metro Purple Extension

This massive transit project expects to open various sections in 2023, 2025, and 2027. According to LA Metro, this multibillion-dollar project is more complex than anything LA Metro Rail has constructed in its history due to the challenges of dense urban neighborhoods and extreme geological conditions.

Ergonomics for Construction Workers

November 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

One of the pervasive and debilitating physical risks for California construction workers is repetitive motion injuries, sprains, and strains, otherwise known as MSDs or Musculoskeletal Disorders. Unfortunately, the nature of construction work makes it nearly inevitable that a high percentage of workers will suffer from tendonitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or some other form of MSD. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly 40% of all construction injuries fall into the category of Musculoskeletal Disorders.

These injuries are costly for both employers and workers. According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, employee compensation for MSD injuries topped $50 billion in 2009. Without question, mitigating these injuries needs to be a top priority for the construction industry.

The best and possibly the most common-sense solution to preventing MSD injuries is ergonomics. Simply put, applying ergonomics in construction means making sure that the human body can meet the demands of the workplace – in other words, fitting the job to the worker. For managers, this means ensuring that tools, equipment, and job assignments are well designed and fit the physical capabilities of their employees.

Some of the most common construction tasks that cause pain include:

  • Roofing
  • Hammering
  • Installing carpet
  • Drilling overhead
  • Lifting sheetrock
  • Lifting mason bricks

In these instances and any other jobs that cause physical pain, OSHA suggests performing an ergonomic job analysis to determine what job element is putting the worker at risk of an MSD injury. Most often, the motions causing the worker harm include repetitive movements, pushing or pulling, lifting something heavy, bending the neck or back, or reaching overhead.

Other risk factors that can cause MSD injuries include extreme temperatures, awkward postures, excessive force, vibration, and poor work organization.

No one solution will solve every workplace injury risk. However, construction companies can make a good start by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as better tools and materials. In addition, work methods, work organization, and MSD training programs should be reviewed, revised, and upgraded as necessary.

Green Roofs in California–the Final Option?

October 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

As early as the 1980’s, California’s Department of Energy conducted ‘cool roof’ studies of reflective rooftop coatings designed to decrease heat absorption and lower energy costs. The results showed significant energy savings of 7-15%. At the same time, researchers discovered that vegetated or ‘green roofs’ could save energy and reduce the overall air temperature in urban areas.

Fast forward to 2001–cool roof technology (including foam roofs, BUR systems, modified bitumen, and single-ply membranes as well as reflective coatings) became the standard in California to help deal with the massive demands for energy that often resulted in rolling blackouts. Solar panels were emerging at this time as a viable energy-saving option.

Fast forward again to 2021—green roof technology, which had lagged behind standard cool roof tech, has emerged forcefully as our best current roofing option to conserve energy and combat soaring urban temperatures. While solar panels are popular as an energy-saving measure, they lack the atmosphere cooling ability of green roofs.

Though the U.S. is slow to the party, green roofs have been widely and effectively used in Europe for over 40 years. The advantages are many.

Green roofs–

  • provide a renewable energy-efficient resource
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • absorb stormwater
  • boost efficiency of rooftop mechanical equipment by reducing air temperature
  • filter air, improving the quality
  • reduce the heat trapped in urban settings (urban heat island effect)
  • improve sound absorption on top floors of the building
  • return $2 in benefits for every $1 spent

There are two main reasons we have been slow to adopt green roof technology–cost and complexity of installation. According to a recent study by the University of Michigan, a 21,000 sq. ft. green roof cost roughly $100,000 more than a conventional roof–a substantial upfront cost for property owners. At the same time, the study reported that the green roof would reduce energy needs sufficiently to save $200,000 over its lifetime. Note that loans through the PACE program offer long-term, fixed-rate loans for properly assessed clean energy financing in 21 states.

In broad terms, green roofs are defined as vegetation planted over a waterproofing system on a flat or nearly flat roof. A green roof is considered either extensive (less than 6” deep and less than 35 lbs./sq. ft when soil is saturated) or intensive (6” or deeper, roughly 50-300 lbs./sq ft when soil is saturated).

Installers must take into account the weight load on the roof and the reliability of the waterproofing system, as after construction, leaks are notoriously difficult to pinpoint. The intensive green roofs typically found on urban buildings require expertly installed irrigation and drainage systems.

Intensive green roofs are complex, painstaking to install, and typically consist of these eight layers in order:

  • a variety of vegetation
  • a growing medium
  • a filter membrane
  • a drainage layer
  • a waterproof/root repellant roofing membrane support
  • thermal insulation
  • vapor control
  • structural roof support.

Increasingly, major cities are establishing policies to promote green roofs. In 2017, San Francisco led all major cities in implementing a mandate requiring green roofs on 15-30% of new construction. Today, California cities from Berkeley and Bakersfield to Los Angeles and San Francisco are promoting urban green roofs.

Environmental Sustainability in Construction

September 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

The need for sustainable action in all aspects of life is nowhere more significant than in California for a variety of reasons. California ranks second in the emission of greenhouse gases. Most of the state’s population lives along potential earthquake fault lines. The current drought affecting many areas of the state is considered by many to be an effect of climate change brought on by human activity. The nation’s second-largest city, Los Angeles, uses far distant and vulnerable water sources such that climate change can put its very existence at risk. Growth in the agricultural industry competes for available water so that the economic impact of climate change threatens a vital industry. The state continues to increase its population. The effect on the environment of additional residents, homes, and businesses combine to make sustainable environmental efforts crucial in every aspect of human activity.

Nowhere is this drive to sustainable living more critical than in the construction industry. Government has lead the way with legislation such as CalGreen, which sets home energy targets for residences and homes and sets a date by which all newly constructed residences must be net- zero and a decade later date by which all new non-residential buildings must meet this standard.

It also requires that LEED Silver compliance be achieved for new or remodeled buildings. Individual cities in the state have set even more stringent requirements as they confront the need for a sustainable environment.

Sustainable construction has several goals:

  • Conserving energy
  • Improving the health of occupants
  • Achieving a reduction in maintenance or replacement costs
  • More flexible design

Construction companies have modified many aspects of their work with new products that meet green standards with design requirements before them. The selection of building materials has changed from finding the cheapest items to a broader consideration. In selecting materials, these factors are now considered:

  • Energy-efficient – builds with materials that use the least possible energy to function.
  • Conserve water – systems, and materials which lessen the use of water.
  • Resource efficiency – seeks to choose recycled, natural, and plentiful materials made with an energy-efficient manufacturing system, locally sourced, and longer life expectancy.
  • Indoor air quality – uses materials that are non-toxic to humans, emit no or few chemical emissions, are less likely to be affected by moisture, low maintenance.
  • Affordability – considers the total cost of construction with sustainable products compared to the same construction with conventional ones.

Sustainable construction is beyond standards and the selection of environmentally friendly materials. The construction firms that create buildings to these standards with these materials also create a sustainable environment. Several practices work toward this goal.

  • Managing construction debris to recycle wherever possible
  • Conserving energy during construction on lighting and equipment operations
  • Recycling food packaging, wrapping materials from construction materials
  • Cutting materials to maximize use and minimize waste
  • Reuse existing materials wherever possible
  • Managing water on-site to reduce waste
  • Choosing green materials preferentially

With the increasing focus on sustainable construction, there has been a substantial increase in

the demand for construction workers trained in this approach. As the size of the industry grows, so will its workforce. According to a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) survey reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than a million construction workers worked in this industry sector. That number is expected to more than triple in the coming years.

Many training programs have been developed to support skilled workers in this field, and it provides a bright future for career options.

Climate Change and California Construction Workers

August 3rd, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Climate change and extreme weather have a well-documented overall impact on multiple aspects of human health and well-being. However, the construction industry and its workers (along with farmworkers) face greater exposure to these hazards than most population segments.

The most recent heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest sent the construction industry a shocking wake-up call on the dangers of extreme heat. With temperatures soaring to 130 degrees in Death Valley, it’s undeniable that now more than ever, rising temperatures create workplace safety issues for construction workers. Between 1992 and 2017 alone, more than 70,000 U.S. workers suffered heat stress injuries. At least 815 died. It stands to reason that with temperatures continuing to rise, deaths and heat stress injuries will also increase.

Without adequate hydration and paid, mandatory breaks in cooler areas, workers are at risk for conditions such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and exacerbation of existing chronic diseases. Studies have shown that prolonged dehydration may lead to chronic kidney disease. Furthermore, working in high heat conditions reduces cognitive function, which increases the risk of injury.

Fortunately, California is a national leader in protecting workers from occupational heat illness and injury. State regulations include training and planning and require water, shade, and cool-off breaks for outdoor workers.

At this time, OSHA has established no clear national standards concerning working conditions in extreme heat environments. However, Democrats in the house and senate have introduced a bill requiring OSHA to create and enforce heat safety standards, including access to water, limitations on time working in the heat, paid breaks in cool areas, and emergency response for heat-related illness.

Climate change continues to present challenges that are redefining the entire construction industry. While the primary consideration must be protecting workers from extreme temperatures, contractors and developers must also contend with wildfires, floods, droughts, and sudden violent storms that negatively affect project costs and timelines. Damage and delay due to extreme weather cost the construction industry over a billion dollars annually.

A greater understanding of the risks posed by climate change, as well as thoughtfully constructed contingency plans, will help mitigate the impact of extreme weather on construction projects. For instance, contractors may need to hone their management skills by compressing or expanding work schedules to keep projects safely on track. Managers will need to closely assess their exposure to equipment damage from strong winds or floods and plan to ensure all equipment is secured both on and off-site.

California Construction Suffers Widespread Labor Shortage

July 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

California’s economy is on track for soaring growth post-Covid-19. The construction industry alone is looking at the need for tens of thousands of new homes to satisfy the current demand. Due to this backlog of projects, construction companies are facing an unprecedented shortage of qualified workers.

According to a recent study for Smart Cities Prevail (a pro-union nonprofit), California needs 200,000 more construction workers to meet the housing goals set by Governor Newsom. It’s important to note that the shortage reported in this study refers to professional union labor that offers good benefits and pays a good wage.

Why is there a shortage?

A huge number of construction workers lost their jobs during the recession and the pandemic. Many found employment in other industries, which has contributed to the 200,000 worker loss that the California construction industry has suffered since 2006.

Reportedly, the prevailing union wage can account for 15 to 30 percent of a project’s cost. In order to keep costs low and meet projected budgets, a number of contractors and developers have turned to cheaper, non-union labor. The result is that many building industry professionals are leaving construction for better paying careers in other industries.

Another factor contributing to the labor shortage is, ironically enough, the high cost of housing in California. Construction companies have found it cheaper to bring contractors in from out of state and pay for their short-term housing than to use local contractors who by necessity charge more due to the cost of California housing.

However, some factors leading to the dearth of professional construction workers were in play well before the recent issues of Covid-19, the recession, and the high cost of housing. For many years, the trades were a family tradition. Skills and professional pride were handed down from one generation to the next.

Today, many young people are encouraged by both family and high school guidance counselors to pursue a college track of studies rather than pursue a career in the trades.

Where are we now?

At this point, employers are beginning to recognize that one way to solve the labor shortage is to be willing to pay workers higher wages. Some have been quoted as saying they will pay “whatever it takes” for qualified professionals. This is the best of news for California’s union construction workers, and ultimately for the industry as a whole.

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