The Winter 2013 edition of Construction Economics has been published by Gilbane Building Company, a global construction and facilities-related services firm. Ed Zarenski, an industry veteran who authored the report, writes: “Supported by overall positive growth trends in 2013 and 2014, I expect margins and overall escalation to climb more rapidly than we have seen in five years.” A company press release shares several additional highlights from the assessment, which is available for free.
Construction project managers are typically obsessed with time and deadlines. While setbacks are expected, some construction projects got so tangled up with time and resource problems that they stand out above the crowd. Which projects are on this dubious list? The Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project, known as the Big Dig, lasted some 16 years, nine years overdue. The final price tag: $14.6 billion. In all fairness, we must note that the discovery of sunken ships buried in the earth caused some of the delays.
Visuals are the big buzz as we head into 2014, and that’s good news for construction companies. Large, full-color project photos that show details can make a difference when bids and RFPs are being considered. Job candidates will be all over your site, too. Is your company website up-to-date? Are relevant new blog posts (without sales pitches) being published consistently?
Winter construction sites pose health and safety risks that can often be averted. With frigid temperatures and stinging wind chills, it may be time to call a safety meeting to review ways to stay safe when working outside. Double layer thermal socks in insulated boots and wraparound eye protection that preserves body heat are among the suggestions from John Meola, a safety consultant with Invincia Insurance Solutions.
The chief economist at Associated General Contractors, Ken Simonson, says he expects the U.S. construction workforce to grow by 300,000 jobs in 2014. Simonson attributes the anticipated increase to the housing market recovery and energy boom.
Productivity and profit margins will be key to sustained growth in the construction sector. That’s according to the 2013 Fourth Quarter Nonresidential Construction Index report. The research from FMI, a provider of management consulting and investment banking services to the engineering and construction industry, suggests that productivity continues to decrease. “The 48.6 score is at its lowest since the second quarter of 2008.” As Duane Craig writes on ConstructionInformer.com, construction firms that are making headway in the productivity arena say their progress is due to improved processes and new technologies.
From our file marked, “When in Rome…” comes this story about the construction of a Mormon temple in Philadelphia. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is forbidding caffeinated beverages, smoking, and foul language on the jobsite. LDS’ Continued Elder Robert Smith says the property is considered sacred ground. “We had a ground-breaking and a special prayer that made that happen, and we believe that we need to treat it with the same respect we would with one of our churches.” Workers who need a cup of joe or a smoke are able to indulge across the street.
Policymakers in Washington, DC are looking to break what they claim is a monopoly that’s held by the eco-friendly Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) building rating system. The Associated Press reports that several states have all but banned LEED from public contracts, making room for a new player in the market. “A new system known as Green Globes has emerged and marketed itself as a simpler, less expensive alternative,” explains reporter Gosnia Wozniaka. And lobbyists are involved in the discussions, too.
If your team thinks AutoCad, BIM 360 Glue, and AutoDesk Fabrication help improve productivity and add some fun to the job, gamification may bring new levels of enthusiasm. The trend is growing, according to Blake Mccammon, a blogger on Blogging4jobs.com. “Redesigning tasks that are considered mundane or repetitive allows employers to not only keep employees longer, but make the workplace more fun.” Mccammon’s post includes an infographic on the neurology of gaming.
How can you manage risk in industrial construction projects? While there’s no way to avoid accidents, pre-construction and financial threats are two of the areas that should be evaluated before a job begins. “We recommend managing risk in four stages – identification, assessment, mitigation and monitoring,” says Tricia Corcuera of DRAXware Solutions, a construction management software company. “These four strategies comprise the core of the process of risk management and can help minimize cost overruns, keep projects on-time, deliver exceptional project performance, prevent finger pointing, and protect the relationship between contractor and owner.” Corcuera adds that organizations that decide to “wing it” rarely experience positive outcomes.