Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard ‘I’m too busy’ in my 30 years in the AEC Industry, I would be a very rich woman. Very rich!
According to AIA Best Practices “Quality Control: Managing the Top 5 Risks”
“No matter how desirable a program of in-house loss prevention might be, such a program will not function if it imposes unrealistic burdens or unobtainable goals. It must, therefore, be implemented with little or no increase in general overhead expenses.”
This original article was published by Schinnerer & Co. in 1973. Since that time, the five areas within architecture practice that most frequently give rise to claims have remained the same.
Seriously? 45 YEARS and we still haven’t found a way to knock these items off the list. Why? Because we are too busy! Sorry, sounds like an excuse (and a poor one) to me.
In my humble opinion, we have to make the time. We can’t afford not to. In the long run we make it up tenfold in the often challenging construction phase of the project.
In my experience, most design contracts are front loaded. Most of the fees are received by the design team by the end of construction documents. The construction phase portion of the fee (typically 20% to 25%) is spread over the length of the construction period. This can be a long time to break up a very small portion of the fee. Most design firms can’t financially survive unless they have projects in design at the same time they have projects in construction. There is just not enough money coming in during construction to pay the bills.
Anyone in this business who has been around for a while will know this. Yet, we continue to operate in way that expose us to this risk. Why? I will go out on a limb with this one and say it is because it is easier to do what we have always done rather than find new methods. Change is hard, it takes work and nobody has time to learn to do it a different way. At least that is the excuse I hear.
If you haven’t read a blog from me before, you should know I have worked for a general contractor, an MEP engineering firm and now for an architecture firm. The short story is that I have seen these issues from multiple viewpoints.
Some of my personal observations on these items of risk:
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
As I stated on the Young Architect podcast with Michael Riscica back in October, “Let’s Fix Construction is not about Cherise and I; it’s about the industry. It’s about taking good pieces of knowledge and information and sharing it with the world.”
Over the last eighteen months, we have done our absolute best to bring our voices, as well as two dozen additional contributors from across the AEC industry, and provide an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
We continue to look to add to our collective voice on this blog and our podcast and encourage you to share your voice. We offer a platform, an audience and a desire to share your knowledge with others. This outlet is free, and we encourage you to speak out and let your view be known. Please visit the submit page on our website to learn more.
Another AEC-based website offering knowledge sharing is Construction Marketing Ideas (CMI), which shares free information and resources for architectural, engineering and construction businesses. Mark Buckshon, the founder of CMI, set out to learn everything he could about marketing for AEC and share it with the rest of the industry.
Annually, CMI holds a competition for the Best Construction Blog of the year. In Let’s Fix Construction’s first year, we were nominated (you can read our profile from 2017 on the CMI blog here) and we’re very happy to announce that as we celebrate our 18-month anniversary, we are once again nominated in 2018, among a field of 17 industry bloggers. From now until Saturday, March 31st you can vote for your favorite AEC industry bloggers.
We are truly honored to be nominated among many other industry voices and well-respected blogs and encourage you to read all of them out for a wealth of education and knowledge, including one of Let’s Fix Construction’s most frequent and esteemed contributors, Mr. Sheldon Wolfe, whose 'Constructive Thoughts' is also nominated.
Please consider taking the time to vote for ‘Let’s Fix Construction’ and ‘Constructive Thoughts’ on the CMI website (as you can select one or more blogs on the ballot, but can only vote once), which you may do here: http://constructionmarketingideas.com/best-construction-blog-2018-voting-booth/
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
Eighteen months ago, a random conversation on a Tuesday afternoon between Cherise Lakeside and myself went like this:
Me: "Seemingly few are committed to speak their mind or try to fix the broken system that is construction. You do a damn fine job of breaking that mold and trying to help this industry."
Cherise: "Thank you. The key, I think, is speaking your mind in a productive and positive way with some solutions in hand. Everyone just wants to be negative and bitch about things. I try to only stir the pots that need stirring."
Me: "You are so right. A problem is everyone acts like their own island and the destination rescue is each their own issue and not working together on being rescued. I pretty much just 'Survivored' the construction industry."
Cherise: "Ha, ha! Exactly. We need to pull people out of their comfort zones and make them open their eyes. This is way too much of a "me" society as it is."
Me: "So, perhaps a member from each seat at the table who can feature their respective perception and potential solutions. We can register a domain like letsfixconstruction.com"
That's the truth. I have the actual conversation and those are exact quotes.
It struck me this past Friday, February 16th, that Let's Fix Construction was a year & a half old. If you had told me eighteen months ago what the last 550 days were going to be like, I would have laughed out loud.
As a way to look back on these first months of Let's Fix Construction, we're going to take the next week to share and revisit every article that we've posted along the way, starting at number one. We'll be sharing these posts on social media. Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
We've gained dozens of contributors, thousands of readers and now listeners, thanks to the Let's Fix Construction podcast, and didn't want to lose sight at what we started with and shared in the last year and a half.
As always, if you would like to share your knowledge and contribute a forward-thinking concept to a construction-related issue, dispel a myth or just provide a solution for a better built environment, please contact us and let us know.
And without further ado, our very first post on the Let's Fix Construction blog, written by yours truly, 'The Fifth C of CSI: Collaboration'
Contributed by Marvin Kemp
At CONSTRUCT 2014 in Baltimore, I gave a presentation called "Building A Highly Collaborative Team." At CONSTRUCT 2017 in Providence, I gave a similar presentation called "Symbiosis: The Importance of Collaboration between the Owner, Architect and Contractor." (Editor's Note: This session was teased in this Let's Fix Construction post from August 29, 2017 here)
Both presentations were based on my experiences in construction over the past 20 years and focused on three projects from the past 15 years. In those presentations, I offered 7 strategies for increasing collaboration on construction projects as examples of real world ideas to help the attendees in their jobs. While space won't allow me to give all the background to the stories like I did in the presentations, I think these are still good strategies for anyone involved in team projects, whether in construction or not.
Strategy 1 - It's Sometimes Okay to Work Around Obstinate Team Members
We've all seen them: the one team member who is obstinate or obstructionist and unwilling to compromise. The person who will say the sky is red when the rest of the team says its blue. That's okay. Some people welcome negativity and thrive in that environment. It does not have to bring the whole team down. Work around that person by improving communication with the rest of the team and doing your best to avoid unprofessional situations. As the team gels and everyone does their job and holds each other accountable, the obstinate member will be revealed for the obstructionist which will make the team's success shine more brightly.
Strategy 2 - Communicate More, Email Less
Nearly everyone in our society carries a smartphone in their pocket. The operative part of that title is "phone." Yes, it is a powerful computer that can facilitate messaging in multiple formats - text, email and social media - but it is a phone. All of those other message formats are one-directional: the sender messages someone who can choose to reply or not. Telephones are truly two-way communication, so use it and embrace it. Face to face, two-way communication will always be superior to one-directional email or texting. However, we can't always answer our phones. When you receive someone's outgoing voicemail message, leave a message. Don't rely on them to look at their phone and see that you called in the caller ID. And when you receive a voicemail, return the call. It sounds simple, but many of us simply don't do it. We say we're too busy or we'll get to it tomorrow. Have some common courtesy to return the call, even if it is to say, "can we talk more tomorrow? Your communication with the team members will increase exponentially.
Contributed by Thad Goodman
This month's post deals with Attitude. Having the right one makes all the difference.
The year was 1999. The company I worked for was involved in a 73-million-dollar capital improvement project.
My position dictated that I would have a part in it, but not until we were past the early stages and in construction.
The initial project team had taken on a theme…
Failure is NOT an option."
I was a little skeptical of the name at first, as it seemed like a negative connotation.
Shouldn't the mantra have been "WE CAN DO IT!" or "THIS WILL BE GREAT!"?
Then I sat in on my first project meeting.
The task presented looked like an insurmountable obstacle.
It was daunting just to go over it in detail.
The lead on the project wrapped up his overview.
The room was quiet, everyone letting the scope of the problem sink in.
Then one of the project managers in the back of the room said
Well, Failure is not an Option, so if we start with..."
The rest of the sentence is not important to this story, but his mindset and the reaction of the team is.
When he said these words, the rest of the project team silently, confidently, nodded their heads.
There was no doubt from anyone in the room they would succeed.
And they did.
The project was completed on time with minimal apparent struggles to be seen from those outside the team.
Construction is destructive by its very nature. Construction is not an exact science. Every site is different. We disrupt the Earth. We alter wind patterns as we impede them with large blocks of cement and sticks erected in its path. We change the flow of water and harness electricity to fit our desires. We test gravity with overhangs, cantilevers and roof lines. We should expect nature to fight back, and it does. We challenge time and manpower constantly to get these structures erected and inhabited safely and prepared for the owner’s purpose.
It can be a new year, a new project, a new job or just a new day.
One important way to fix construction is to have the right attitude.
Let's Fix Construction is nominated for Best Construction Blog from Construction Marketing Ideas AGAIN.
Please VOTE here.
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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