Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
On July 26th, my company finished installing a flooring project that sparked a trilogy of blog posts, "Not Quite Ready Yet", "Project Compaction: Not Just for Soil" and (I thought) concluding with “It’s Just a Matter of Time” on July 29th.
This was a non-prevailing wage, privately funded project in one of the Boroughs of Manhattan where our standard credit terms were negotiated with us by the General Contractor. We typically request a 50% deposit at the time of the contract award, a 30% balance due on the day materials arrive on the project and then collect the 20% balance on the final day on site. On this particular project, they agreed to our 50% deposit, but asked to pay us down to 10% retainage within 30 days of completion. We reluctantly agreed and even though it was change ordered immediately, we didn’t insist on collecting additional money up front on the change order work. We eventually collected our 50% deposit on the base bid, despite it taking multiple payments to tally.
I won’t rehash many of the particulars that were outlined in my previous three posts, but this project did not go smoothly from award. We fought tooth and nail to have the space ready, then to have it solely to ourselves, to not have our in-place work damaged (by workers, inspectors or Acts of God) and then to complete within their requested window. The final brush stroke was on Friday, July 26th. I submitted all billing and paperwork in a timely fashion, and we did what many do to receive payment on a construction project: we waited.
At about a week before our Net 30 term approached, I started reminding the contractor that our money was due. We received immediate pushback from the GC that they had not been funded by the owner. Our response was easy: our payment terms were not paid when paid, as per your negotiation.
Back and forth we went. We waited. More back and forth. More waiting. As day 60 approached with no further money received, we decided to protect ourselves the best we could by filing a mechanic’s lien on the project.
Contributed by Nick Carrillo
(Editor's Note: October is Careers in Construction Month. Please feel free to delve into our previous posts, "Don't Just Look for Employees, Attract Them" and "Changing the Public's Perception")
We’ve done it, we’ve written enough articles to know that the construction industry is facing a workforce shortage, and that shortage isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The problem is very clearly identified.
If you ask older generations, the reason for our workforce shortage is the lack of desire to work in the trades from the younger generation(s). Or, to put it bluntly, the millennials don’t want to work hard and get dirty.
I can hear it now, “millennials are the ‘everybody gets a trophy’ generation and are entitled!” Those type of casual statements are broadly painting an entire generation as lazy and entitled based on the few. Does that mean that everyone born in the 60’s is a pot-smoking hippie? Or everyone in the 70’s is a disco party maniac? No, it doesn’t.
A quick Google search will show a list of the largest companies in the world run, or founded by, millennials. Facebook, The Honest Company, AirBnB, Lyft and many more companies that we all rely on and that undoubtedly take a lot of hard work to maintain.
Baby boomers may not be outright saying these younger generations are worthless and hopeless when they said, ‘lazy and entitled’. However, I’ve often heard the phrase, “How do we change the mindset of an entire generation?” Hearing it enough, without back story or explanation, it leads the audience to believe that the people being referenced are wrong, and the person saying it is right.
I know, after working so many years alongside baby boomers, the comments are not malicious. I know that when a frustrated owner, manager or supervisor makes these statements, they simply are trying to express the desired change in the way we communicate; a change in the way we perceive the information that one generation has to offer the other.
So, how do we change the mindset of an entire generation? YOU DON’T
Contributed by James Aiken
(Editor's Note: October is Careers in Construction Month, an annual month-long celebration of craft professionals and the career opportunities in the construction industry.)
You’ve probably heard by now about record low unemployment.
Simply posting a job description on a job board or in the newspaper doesn’t always cut it. Especially when you’re looking for a stable, long-term hire.
The reason is - firms are still using the standard recruiting strategy to pursue a market of candidates that is perpetually shrinking. . .
When unemployment is high, the job boards are poppin’. It seems like just about everyone is willing to check out new opportunities.
But what should firms do when that strategy doesn’t work anymore?
It’s simple - and treading lightly as to not get too political but...
“If you like your recruiting strategy, you can keep your recruiting strategy!”
Having an active candidate strategy works sometimes. There's no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
What isn’t being addressed (most of the time) is a passive candidate attraction strategy.
Firms want to hire associates who are high performers. Candidates who are happy, and successful in their current role. The disconnect is that they typically are not changing their recruiting process.
They simply forward the job description to these candidates.
Here’s the problem with that; happy people don’t move so easy.
Here’s the solution: create a candidate acquisition process that specifically targets passive candidates.
Passive candidates take a bit more “warming up”.
Job boards are like speed dating. Everyone knows whats up and you can usually screen people out fairly quickly. Everyone is looking for volume.
Recruiting passive candidates is like (gasp) picking up an attractive person at a bar.
You wouldn’t walk up, introduce yourself, then immediately ask for a phone number, would you? Maybe some of you extra attractive people would - but it never worked for me!
We need to “warm up” the candidates.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
I feel extremely fortunate to live just next door to Burlington, Vermont, in a fantastic little town called Colchester. How next door? I live just six miles from Burlington's City Hall.
For those that have visited Burlington, you know just how special of a city it is. And for all of those that I've talked to that have never visited Burlington, they've heard what you've probably heard. It's beautiful, it's the home of Bernie and Ben and Jerry's and Phish, it's also very left-leaning and it's on the list to visit some day.
Little ol' Burlington, population 42,239 as of 2017, happens to be the first city in the nation to source all energy from renewable sources in 2014. And just two weeks ago, our Mayor, Miro Weinberger, announced a plan to make Burlington a net zero energy city by 2030. In doing so, he said “I know that many Burlingtonians believe, as I do, that we are in a climate emergency, and at the same time, that it can feel tough to know how to respond to the scale of this problem. With this roadmap in hand, we now have clear next steps for what we can do to respond at the local level to this global crisis." This roadmap includes four main pathways which include:
Burlington may be ahead of the curve when it comes to this difficult conversation and gameplan that is quickly becoming a global crisis. Climate emergency is a perfect term for what we are experiencing, not only at a local level, but also at a global level.
This global crisis is under more of a magnifying glass this week as we celebrate World Green Building Week, which is an annual campaign that motivates and empowers us all to deliver greener buildings.
The campaign in 2019 aims to raise greater awareness of the carbon emissions from all stages of a building’s lifecycle, and encourage new practices and new ways of thinking to work towards reducing carbon emissions from buildings.
Did you know buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions? 28% of these emissions come from the operational "in-use" phase – to heat, power and cool them, while 11% of these emissions are attributed to embodied carbon emissions, which refers to carbon that is released during the construction process and material manufacturing.
As part of this 10th annual World Green Building Week, the World Green Building Council has issued a bold new vision for how buildings and infrastructure around the world can reach 40% less embodied carbon emissions by 2030, and achieve 100% net zero emissions buildings by 2050.
Burlington may be a few years ahead of the curve, but still needs to hit that goal of 2030. As for you and your firm, what are you doing to ensure we’re building a better future?
Contributed by Liz O'Sullivan
Purchasing for construction projects isn’t like purchasing in our personal lives.
When we buy things in our personal lives, we go to a store, or go online, find exactly what we want, and buy it. Sometimes we ask someone else to get something for us. The very particular among us might attach a photo of exactly what we want when we send the email or text message request for the item.
On construction projects, the architect finds out from the owner the general idea of what is required, then the architect, through the drawings and specifications, tells the general contractor exactly what to provide. OK, so this is complicated, but it still makes sense.
What happens next is where it gets weird…
The bidding general contractors solicit bids from subcontractors and vendors, each of whom is a specialist in his or her area. These are the people who read the documents and actually provide what the drawings and specifications require, and the general contractor who is awarded the project coordinates all of that work. These bidders may submit bids on the specified items, or may submit substitution requests, requesting that different products be approved by the architect.
One time I was talking with a product rep at my CSI Chapter meeting about specifications for toilet partitions and lockers. The rep represents several different manufacturers. She currently has someone working with her who is new to the construction industry.
The new person looks at specifications for all projects that have just hit the street, to see if the specs include manufacturers they represent, or products that they might be able to meet the spec for, even if their manufacturers aren’t specifically listed. If their manufacturers aren’t listed, but they can meet the spec, the product rep will prepare a substitution request and submit it to the general contractor for him to submit to the architect, to see if they can get approved, and therefore be able to provide a bid.
The new employee described this process as “the strangest way to do business.” It is very odd, from a manufacturer’s or distributor’s point of view. The building owner, through the architect, asks for something specific, or maybe says “provide one of these three” or maybe says “provide this, or something equal.” Then the manufacturer, distributor, or subcontractor goes through a process which looks a bit like begging to be allowed to play, too.
This isn’t actually that strange when the documents are clear.
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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