MarielleMarielle Price • 

Fieldwire company photos

The first time I put on my hardhat and laced up my steel-toed boots, I was nervous and excited. I knew what to look for on a jobsite for potential safety issues, could kinda-sorta read a floorplan, and somewhat finagle a total station — in other words, I was a bit “dangerous” with knowledge.

Where it all began…

In my years working as an assistant project manager and field engineer, I learned so much. Despite having little exposure to construction before studying civil engineering, I was fascinated by the industry and its ability to touch all of our lives. I couldn’t believe all of the details, coordination, and craftsmanship that I’d been taking for granted for so long. Two fascinating things for me were the impact that construction has on the earth (and how small steps can greatly reduce environmental impact) and all of the different people involved, with different backgrounds, knowledge, and experience. While I loved the problem-solving aspect of engineering, I quickly realized I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk all day — calculating numbers without seeing the real impact of my work, so I made it my mission to “build things.”

Why building is the best part of construction

Today, I can still see my first project when I take the I-80 on my way to Tahoe from San Francisco or walk by one of my local projects in Mission Bay. I remember the areas that were the most difficult to coordinate, where the whole project team had frustrations, working late into the night to fix something. I know where my name is signed into the foundation, along with my team members. Most importantly, I see my project filled with life. To me, that’s the most rewarding thing about construction — seeing people benefit from your building, every day.

SF Public Safety Building

Why I “abandoned” my passion to build things for construction tech

I realized there were so many day-to-day tasks that I needed to do for “C.Y.A.” purposes, which in the end didn’t really help me build the building. Instead, those types of tasks prevented me from coordinating and maintaining forward momentum. I also saw robotics and machinery as a threat to the people in construction who I considered to be the backbone of the industry. I couldn’t imagine a world where talented foremen and journeymen were replaced by robots, all because of a mound of paperwork that pulled them away from doing their craft, making them less efficient. Rather, I saw (and still see) technology as a solution to all of our problems.

Instead of having to follow-up on emails or calls, translate information, or make sure everyone has the same 3-week lookahead or plan addendum, you can now leave those tasks for technology to handle. All you need to worry about is: what’s the progress on this job? What are the potential future obstacles? Technology gives us the tools we need to confidently answer those questions and make the right decisions. It allows us to take time to be proactive versus the reactive, constant fighting of fires.

“I saw (and still see) technology as a solution to all of our problems.”

Doing what I love, every day

At Fieldwire, I still get to work with fascinating people in the industry. Some days, I get to talk to a 40-year construction veteran and watch his face light up as he sees his daily reports compile automatically, allowing him to get home sooner. Other days, I speak to young field engineers who no longer need to send out that list of “hot unanswered RFIs” each week since the reminders are being done automatically. Instead of working on a handful of projects, I now get to touch thousands, worldwide. And, I get to do it all alongside a team of construction experts I truly admire. Like you, I can’t wait to see how construction technology like Fieldwire will continue to empower the field and get people back to doing their craft. Let’s fight off the robots, together, and get back to building a more sustainable future.

If you’re interested in switching to technology from construction yourself, I’d love to hear from you! Fieldwire is actively seeking people with industry backgrounds to join me on the Construction team (we also have open roles across all other teams). So, what are you waiting for? Apply and make the leap today.

Sarah causey kaSarah Causey • 

2019 08 15T04 32 53

To the displeasure of many architects and designers, major construction management apps like Procore and BIM 360 seem to be designed solely with a contractor in mind. They offer a wide range of functionalities, most of which a typical design firm will never use. And, to top it all off, this functionality comes with a hefty price tag.

Designers need concise, easy-to-use, and free architecture apps that speak to their side of the construction administration phase. Rather than a set of complex or disconnected tools, they need construction management software that unites dispersed teams and solves simple problems. That’s why, when RATIO, an interdisciplinary design firm with several office locations found Fieldwire, they couldn’t believe their luck; Fieldwire was built with designers and architects in mind.

RATIO consists of architects, interior designers, historic preservationists, landscape architects, urban designers, and urban planners. For years, this international, multidisciplinary practice had been seeking architecture software for their users that was intuitive, mobile-first, flexible, and affordable. A major reason why they selected Fieldwire over other architecture apps was its ability to adapt to the various ways in which each team operates at RATIO. For example, RATIO’s historic preservation team uses Fieldwire to document window assessments of some beautiful historical buildings they’re renovating into boutique hotels, the landscape team uses Fieldwire to produce condition assessments of sites, and RATIO’s interior designers use the app to punch furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) packages on large-scale workplace projects.

“Fieldwire has been an invaluable resource for documenting and tracking distinct historical features on our projects, which has saved us both valuable time and resources.”

Anne Schneider, Preservationist, RATIO

Architecture app for historic preservationists

The historic preservation studio at RATIO often has the fun job of inspecting historic buildings before any work can be done. As you’d imagine, they come across some real gems in the process and need to document them before anything can be removed from the site. Recently, their team completed a windows assessment at the Bottleworks District in Indianapolis, IN. The Fieldwire inspection app allowed RATIO preservationists to quickly identify and organize the historic age and condition of each window on the façade. A tedious task on paper, Fieldwire saved the team hours if not days in documentation. Now, this 90-year-old Art Deco-inspired Coca-Cola Bottling plant is being given new life as a boutique hotel.

2019 08 15T04 32 53 (1)

2019 08 15T04 32 53 (2)

Construction software for architects

Fieldwire is extremely reliable when it comes to referencing files in the field. The construction blueprint app eliminates long load times, plus sheets can be accessed offline, making navigation quick and easy. Fieldwire’s tasks help architects track issues as they arise onsite to swiftly communicate change with clients and contractors.

In addition to field reporting, RATIO architects use Fieldwire’s construction management software to document and record site conditions using photos in real-time. For example, jobsite teams can easily navigate through their various plans on mobile to locate a photo pin which identifies an issue or progress. Being able to attach an image to an exact location on a plan helps architects communicate exactly what’s happening without the need for emails or calls. With several architects working across RATIO’s five offices, this functionality allows all team members to reference existing site conditions remotely and at the same time, which is paramount to efficiency.

“I was told once by one of our clients that our field reports were the most detailed and coherent that he had ever seen. I attribute this to a great tool and support team.”

Ben Horn, Architect, RATIO

Fieldwire for interior designers

Inside the renovation of Cummins Inc.’s flagship office in Columbus, IN, RATIO’s interior design team used Fieldwire’s punch list app to develop punch lists of multiple FF&E packages. With over 5,000 pieces of furniture across five bid sets, it was crucial to be able to manage such a mass of data accurately and efficiently. Fieldwire-specific filters and tags used in the documentation process enabled the team to instantly generate punch list reports specific to each furniture dealership. It is difficult to quantify just how much time was saved by this process, but it is hard for the team to imagine managing such volume of data using pen and paper. It is clear that Fieldwire saves time on the jobsite and in the office, but more than that, the peace of mind this construction software provides designers is truly invaluable!

“Utilizing Fieldwire has created an intuitive, quick, and easy way for us to track every step of furniture installations, with the added benefit of collaborating in-house and sharing with other team members.”

Samantha Schonegg, Interior Designer, RATIO

As the use of Fieldwire becomes more prevalent across RATIO’s multiple studio locations and teams, it is clear that a continued molding of the application will occur. RATIO is working on developing template project setups for each discipline and use case. Standard checklists are beginning to form organically as users see the efficiency gained. RATIO is excited and energized to have finally found a field management app that works for everyone — contractors, owners, and designers! Try Fieldwire for free today.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

#16397 Sustainable construction

Sustainable construction management means far more than building environmentally-friendly structures. What is sustainable construction, then? It is the combination of sustainable construction practices and sustainable building materials in order to reduce waste and environmental impact. With construction and demolition materials — concrete, wood, asphalt — piling up quicker than they can be cleared, there is mounting pressure on the construction industry to recycle and repurpose waste. By 2025, the volume of construction waste generated each year is expected to double to 2.2 billion tons, according to Construction & Demolition Recycling. To reduce this number quickly and effectively, we should follow sustainable construction management methods and invest in sustainable construction materials and software.

To become more sustainable before your next project, follow these four steps for more sustainable construction managament and avoid the eight wastes in construction.

1. Use alternatives for sustainable construction materials

When it comes to reducing waste in construction, a quick solution is using an alternative to traditional concrete. Concrete accounts for half of all construction waste generated each year; more than 500 million tons worldwide! Green building materials like bamboo, recycled plastic, ferrock, and even hempcrete are all alternatives to using concrete and are four sustainable construction materials you can use on your next project.

Thoughtful selection of sustainable building materials should occur at the beginning of each project. Choosing to use 100 percent recycled plastic on projects is definitely worth the investment, as structures made from this sustainable material can last more than 50 years — up to 20 years more than traditional structures made with concrete or wood.

recycled building materials

While incorporating just one sustainable construction material into a building does not make it ‘the world’s greenest project’, it does go along way in reducing environmental impacts caused by construction. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) reports that the construction industry accounts for 40 percent of worldwide energy use, so it’s important that we play our own small part in creating a better, more sustainable future together.

Two companies already doing this are Bouygues Construction and Hoffmann Green Cement Technologies, who recently signed a technical and commercial collaboration contract to develop very low carbon concrete. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde have also produced high-quality concrete from waste ash, reducing annual landfill by 100,000 tons in the UK.

2. Implement Just-In-Time production for more sustainable construction projects

Sustainable construction material management and demolition — such as with concrete, which happens to be the top contributor to construction waste — can also be improved with Just-In-Time (JIT) production. As the name suggests, and according to Lean Manufacturing Tools, JIT production is a sustainable construction management practice that calls for the production of what the customer wants, when they want it, and in the exact quantities requested. Instead of ordering large stocks of what you think the job may require, you only order exactly what you need, when the job requires it or the customer asks. This method eliminates waste for sustainable construction management by removing overproduction from the project lifecycle. As a result, the cost of storing excess material is kept to a bare minimum, free storage space is better utilized onsite, and fewer materials are dumped at the end of a job.

3. Integrate alternative sustainable construction methods

Similarly to how JIT production can improve sustainability by reducing waste, prefabricated (or prefab) construction materials and methods are highly sustainable. Also known as offsite construction, prefab construction is the practice of assembling parts of a structure in a manufacturing site and transporting them to a different location. Prefab construction is a more sustainable construction technique and is more efficient than traditional construction methods due to factory-based manufacturing and assembly processes and affordable running costs. In fact, it takes up to 67 percent less energy to manufacture a prefab building than it does to build a conventional structure, according to Clearview Modular Buildings. Which is why it’s becoming such a popular construction method.

By 2030, modular construction could account for a combined $130 billion of new real estate construction in the U.S. and Europe and lead to $22 billion in annual cost savings, according to this Bisnow article. Most importantly, when lifecycle costs are factored in, prefab buildings deliver a lifetime energy saving of up to 90 percent! Prefab structures are undoubtedly sustainable as they can be recycled time and time again; easily repurposed to reduce waste and environmental impact.

prefab building

4. Be more sustainable; ditch the paper blueprints, drawings, and specs

While a few reams of paper may not feel like a big waste when compared to a dump-truck filled with construction debris, it’s not just about the paper — it’s about reducing rework and other construction waste. Sustainable construction companies require construction management software to replace paper plans and files. Investing in sustainable construction technology that eliminates paper plans and files saves valuable time and money, not to mention the positive impact on the environment. For example, Graham Construction, a billion-dollar General Contractor in Canada, used Fieldwire’s sustainable construction management app and saved $35,000 in printing costs on a single project. Fieldwire automatically notifies Graham employees of updates in real-time to ensure everyone is always working from the right set of plans. This not only makes Graham more efficient onsite but far more sustainable because they’re reducing paper waste.

Without construction management software, wasteful mistakes are a lot more likely. For example, if a concrete subcontractor is not informed of a change and is consequently working from an outdated plan, he or she may perform a slab pour in the incorrect location; a costly mistake that increases construction and demolition waste and delays project progress.

Transitioning to a paperless construction company, being less wasteful of project materials, and experimenting with more sustainable construction methods is going to help you reduce waste — not only for the benefit of your company and customers but for the benefit of the environment. Take the first step towards construction sustainability and ditch the paper with Fieldwire; request your free demo today.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

nyc construction report

Industry survey highlights contractors remain optimistic despite facing significant challenges relating to regulations, labor conditions, environment, safety compliance, technology, cybersecurity, and insurance.

In order to take the pulse of today’s New York construction industry, the professionals of Grassi & Co. recently embarked on a three-month-long survey, conducted by an independent research firm, of contractors and industry leaders in the New York region, and the results are in.

The topics covered include labor conditions, the regulatory environment, safety compliance, technology, cybersecurity, and insurance – all issues that impact the profitability of the construction contractor’s business. Reflecting the responses of over 100 industry insiders, over 82% of the respondents were either general contractors (43%) or subcontractors (39%).

The survey focused on these most significant issues and trends, as identified by an advisory panel of industry experts including James Bifulco, Total Safety Consulting; Christine Cascio, Total Safety Consulting; Lou Colletti, Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA); Susan Hayes, Susan Hayes Enterprises; Hank Kita, Subcontractor Trade Association; Mark Kleinknecht, Kleinknecht Electric Co., Inc.; Denise Richardson, General Contractors Association; and Steven Schertz, Henegan Construction.

Among the many issues that are top-of-mind for contractors, including skilled labor shortages and general business conditions, the challenge of complying with regulatory oversight stood out. Regulatory compliance was cited by over 25% of the survey respondents as a top industry concern.

When respondents were asked about union trends in the construction industry by sector, 46% of industry professionals said that non-union and open shop work had greatly increased in the residential sector, and further indicated that the share of non-union and open shop in the residential sector was increasing, as well, but at a slower pace.

This trend was cited less frequently in the civil/infrastructure sector, with almost half seeing no change on projects in that sector. Over 87% of the survey respondents said they expect these current union vs. non-union and open shop trends to continue.

“This shift in share, between union and non-union contractors has broad implications for the competitive landscape,” said Carl Oliveri, construction practice leader at Grassi & Co.

Another challenging issue for contractors has been compliance with the MWBE (Minority/Women-Owned Business) requirements. Over half of the survey respondents (54%) said MWBE compliance was difficult or very difficult while only 13% said it was easy or very easy. Roughly, a third (34%) indicated that MWBE compliance was not a significant issue for their business.

On another compliance-related topic, survey respondents were also asked how NY Labor Law Sections 240 & 241 is impacting their profitability. While the consensus was generally negative, assessments on the scale of the impact varied considerably among industry professionals. For 42%, the negative impact on the bottom line was large, while 46% said the impact was negative or slightly negative. Only 12% said that there was no impact.

“NY & NYC regulations are becoming unbearable…I think a sensible tradeoff for having to provide so much OSHA training is that the contractors should be able to hold employees who have height-related injuries partially responsible for their negligence,” was just one of the many comments received.

Respondents were also asked how Local Law 196 (construction safety training) was impacting their businesses. Sixty-three percent said they were factoring compliance costs into their project bids. Safety training seemed to be a significant investment focus of compliance for respondents, with 60% saying that they were investing or planning to invest in safety training. Forty percent of firms were complying with Local Law 196 by hiring in-house safety personnel and 36% said they were engaging outside firms. Twenty-nine percent said they were investing or planning to invest in safety technology. Cybersecurity awareness was another key issue raised in the survey. With an ever-increasing reliance on data at the core of every construction business, around 45% of respondents strongly agreed or agree that construction projects are increasingly susceptible to cybercrimes and 76% said that the number of people with access to worksite data was a significant security concern. Sixty-two percent of respondents currently have an internal policy to protect data on laptops and mobile devices. Cybersecurity is an issue the professionals of Grassi & Co. continue to stress the importance of to their clients.

“We advise our clients to think beyond their four walls to ensure they have not only a physically safe job site, but also a cyber-safe job site,” said Oliveri.

Overall, 86% of those surveyed see revenues remaining the same or increasing, demonstrating optimism in the construction market. This growth comes despite the many challenges these companies face.

Download a copy of the report here.

About Grassi and Co.

Grassi and Co. is the 68th largest accounting firm in the U.S. and specializes in auditing, tax, technology and business consulting services. Headquartered in Jericho, NY, with additional offices in New York City, Long Island, White Plains, NY, and Park Ridge, NJ, as well as internationally through its association with Moore Stephens International. The construction sector is one of many verticals the firm specializes in and has earned respect and credibility within the industry. The firm has more than 40 years serving this dynamic and challenging sector. Grassi has one of the largest– if not the largest– Construction Practices nationwide, providing professional services to more than 300 clients across all segments of construction and contracting. This background gives the firm depth of knowledge and experience that allows Grassi to effectively work alongside construction and contractor clients, giving them marketplace information and awareness of trends they require to make smart and strategic business decisions.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

Aussie construction terms

Australian jargon used on residential construction sites is pretty tricky for most people to understand. But it’s important you know what’s being said onsite in order to stay productive and reduce risk. We’ve drawn inspiration from our previous blog post and put together this list of common Aussie construction terms used on residential construction projects for you to learn and carry with you.

15 Aussie construction terms

  • Acoustic batts: Sound-insulating material used for noise reduction that’s visually similar to standard thermal insulation batts found in the loft space of Australian homes.
  • Baluster: Also called spindle, a baluster is a small post, often in a series, used to support a handrail.
  • Bushfire Attack Level (BAL): Indicates the construction requirements for building within a medium threat bushfire-prone area.
  • Chippie: The Australian term for a Carpenter.
  • Dado: The lower portion of a wall in a room, near waist height, usually with a different or contrasting surface treatment.
  • Eaves: The lower portion and edge of a roof that overhangs the walls.

Eaves

  • Fall: Amount of slope on a block.
  • Gabled roof: A roof consisting of two sloping surfaces.
  • Gyprock: A trade name for plasterboard, used especially to form or line the inner walls of houses.
  • Laminate: Often refers to a cabinetry finish, where a layer of plastic is bonded to the particle-board type cabinet or benchtop.
  • Proof of Funds (P.O.F): Evidence furnished by the client to the builder that sufficient funds exist to pay the contract sum.
  • Root barrier: An engineer-designed method to protect a house slab from roots of nearby trees.
  • Scissor truss: A prefabricated boomerang-shaped frame, often made of timber, used to support a roof.
  • Smoko: Australian slang for a short break; for example, a cigarette or tea break.
  • Sparkie: The Australian term for an Electrician.

If you found this blog post helpful or simply want to understand more common construction terms, take a look at our Construction Terms 101 and 102 blog posts which further decode jobsite language. If you think we’ve missed a term that you want to be included, don’t hesitate to message us on Facebook or Twitter.

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