HeadshotTara Callinan

Residential home builders need a single source of truth; reliable software that connects each player and helps them adapt to change — especially in a field of this size! According to the U.S. Census and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, contractors are building more homes than ever; in fact, 1.2 million new homes broke ground in September. While this is great for the economy and exciting for builders, there is one looming concern: the increase in construction costs and availability of labor. Last year, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) the cost and availability of labor remained the number one concern for builders, who are embracing technology to meet housing demands and enable craftspeople to do more with less. In this post and related free webinar, we explore how Level Homes is innovating to keep up with demand.

Being more efficient in the field has helped residential construction companies, like Level Homes in Baton Rogue, operate successfully amid affordability concerns, new home prices are at an all-time high, 27% above 2005 after adjusting for inflation. Using Fieldwire’s platform and mobile construction app, Level Homes can conduct digital QA/QC and inspections on-the-fly, collaborate with trades and specialty contractors and communicate on-site in real-time. In part due to the efficiencies gained with Fieldwire, Level Homes will complete almost 300 new homes by the end of 2018, and they say they’re prepared to do it all again next year.

2018-10-23 Level Homes Blog Post Stats Graphic

To see how Level Homes boosts productivity with residential construction software, please register for our free webinar on November 14. In the meantime, here are four key tips for residential construction companies, with examples from Level Homes, on how to work smarter, faster, and save time and money on projects.

Connect your dispersed teams

When it comes to building a home, there are many players to consider: the concrete sub, electrician, plumber, tiler, carpenter, painter. . . The list goes on. Keeping all of these people on the same page is critical to the success of your project. If one player makes a mistake or causes a delay, the whole team fails, and the game runs overtime at a significant cost. That’s why it’s important to use field management software that connects all of your trades in one place with a single residential construction communication platform. With Fieldwire, construction managers at Level Homes no longer need to be on-site at all times to communicate with trade technicians.

“If you’ve got a technician already in that development, then you can relay that task to them and they can complete it that day. It can minimize travel time and they can easily resolve issues when they’re at the development instead of going back-and-forth.”

Phil Hughes, Quality Control Manager at Level Homes.

Beyond communication, a field construction app that automatically updates blueprints whenever a change is made ensures each tradesperson works from the right set of drawings. Furthermore, being able to communicate from the field in real-time with contractors in the office helps projects progress quickly — shaving hours off your building process and moving homeowners into their new houses on-time.

Conduct punch on mobile

As you know, the sooner a residential construction punch list reaches zero, the sooner your client moves into their home. That’s why it’s important to have an efficient residential punch process and one that can be conducted on-the-fly. We’ve seen many residential home contractors use their smartphone or tablet onsite to dramatically reduce time spent on punch. Contractors at Level Homes, for example, use Fieldwire tasks on their iPhones to pin a deficiency directly to a plan, add relevant context or photos, and assign it to the right contractor in the field. Then, as building progresses, all communication related to this issue is linked back to the task, which prevents important information from falling through the cracks. Even more, Level Homes creates a template for each type of common deficiencies and duplicate the templates across locations that need a QA/QC review — ultimately boosting productivity and delivering homes on schedule.

“There’s a big push before the customer is going to walk in and see their home for the first time at the completed phase. Having that ability to get so many tasks done in a short period of time has changed the way Level Homes approaches that final push.”

Phil Hughes, Quality Control Manager at Level Homes.

Go paperless on the job site

Paper blueprints or plans are not only bulky and expensive to produce, but keeping track of incremental changes from multiple sources — including the architect and the engineers on the project — is a big headache. To avoid this problem entirely, Level Homes rarely enter a job site with a residential architectural paper plan at all, or with a pen, notepad, or spreadsheet. The only tool they need to operate efficiently in the field is located in their pocket. From any smartphone or tablet, they can add markups, annotations, and attachments to floor plans, and collaborate more effectively with contractors — even when they’re working offline!

This level of collaboration, achieved with Fieldwire, translates into significant cost and time savings for Level Homes. Money is no longer wasted on printing revised drawing sets, and lengthy email threads or phone calls are no longer needed to get missing information or the latest plans. Everyone can focus entirely on their operational mission, which increases the general productivity.

“We’re not walking into a house anymore with a notepad. I do my QC’s on my iPhone. We’re not paperless, but we’re moving in that direction.”

Phil Hughes, Quality Control Manager at Level Homes.

Communicate in real-time

It’s not enough to use a residential construction app to manage your plans or punch lists. As a home builder, you must also find a way to communicate and collaborate in real-time across not just a single job site, but many different sites, simultaneously. In contrast to high-rise construction, where a team often works on a single building at a time, in residential construction, you might be working on dozens of different houses in a new subdivision, all at once.

To help with the communication challenges that ensue, Level Homes use Fieldwire tasks to communicate in real-time with trades or vendors instead of sending an email or making a call. This ensures everyone is always on the same page when it comes to the status of a certain issue, and no work gets delayed by costly miscommunication. With real-time alerts and instant messaging, construction managers can finally focus on the work they need to do; coordinating projects, delegating tasks, and, ultimately, driving productivity. And with all communication being stored in one place, Level Homes can see who is doing what and when, to not only understand the building process but to hold all contractors accountable for their work.

“Since we’ve started using Fieldwire, it’s holding ourselves, trades, and vendors more accountable, our variance cost has gone down significantly.”

Emma Moore, Construction Coordinator at Level Homes.

Documenting all work in one, easy to view place has saved Level Homes a great deal of trouble, but more importantly, it has saved them time and money. Please join Fieldwire and Level Homes on November 14 for a free webinar on Building the Future of Residential Home Construction. To learn how to operate smarter and faster today, using any device in the field, read our full coverage on Level Homes’ success.

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