HeadshotTara Callinan • 

Electrical contractor blog image

Electrical contractor software is taking the contracting industry by storm. Between now and 2021, Construction Dive reports, almost 75 percent of all contractors — including electrical contractors — will adopt construction software to improve jobsite productivity. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, the adoption of such technology will “prompt a significant transformation in the way projects are built.” Adopting electrical contractor software like Fieldwire will empower electricians to go paperless in the field, and, in turn, improve jobsite productivity.

Fieldwire is one of the best apps for electrical contractors, but don’t just take our word for it. ABCO Electrical, DC Electric, and Blue Mountain Electric are three U.S. based electrical contractors already using Fieldwire to simplify jobsite processes. As a result, they’re saving time and money on electrical projects and operating far more efficiently — both in the office and in the field.

ABCO Electrical use electrical contractor software to be 100% paperless

Just imagine how your day would run if you could eliminate paper plans onsite. You wouldn’t need to carry around bulky physical files, walk back to the trailer just to update a plan, or spend money printing revised drawing sets. Sounds great, right? The best electrical contractor software eliminates these processes entirely and empowers workers to go paperless in the field — syncing all relevant files and drawings they need to the mobile device in their pocket. Using Fieldwire’s blueprint app, contractors at ABCO Electrical Construction & Design can view all of their plans on any mobile device, even when they’re working offline. ABCO’s project manager, Sam Carlson, saves his team even more time onsite by organizing electrical drawings into project-specific folders for easy navigation in the field; important information they previously had to search for in binders full of paper. Now, all information relating to a project – plans, resources, submittals – is stored in Fieldwire for everyone to access. All detail, section, and elevation callouts are automatically activated on plans, allowing electrical contractors to easily navigate between drawing sets. Carlson said:

“We have senior site staff who once wouldn’t even take their iPhone onsite, and those are the guys who are now advocates for the platform.”

Sam Carlson, Project Manager at ABCO Electrical

Once the team realized they could use electrical apps to view their plans on an iPad or iPhone, instead of flipping through hundreds of physical files, the adoption of electrical contractor software was immediate.

Blake ABCO Fieldwire Plan Viewing and Mark-ups on iPad 500px wide

DC Electric saves 2+ hours per person each day

It’s clear that ditching paper plans will save you time and money onsite, but what about all of those other paper forms electricians and electrical contractors still carry around? Think daily reports, safety audit forms, QA/QC inspection checklists, RFIs, timesheets, and T&M forms. Can they be digitized and accessible on mobile as well? The answer is yes. Fieldwire’s electrical contractor software is pre-loaded with six types of construction forms, meaning electrical contractors can fill-out forms and reports from any location and on any device. Fieldwire also offers a custom form builder which allows electrical contractors to customize pre-existing forms to suit the way they already operate or build their own construction form entirely from scratch; a process that’s saved DC Electric 10-15 hours per person each week.

Prior to using Fieldwire, DC Electric spent 25 percent of their day manually building forms and filling out paper reports. Thanks to efficient electrical contractor software, this process now takes just a few minutes. Electrical contractors and electricians in the field can instantly log daily reports — site details, weather conditions, schedule delays, materials used — from their mobile device. Once the report is submitted from the field, the office manager is notified in real-time and can approve the form in the click of a button. As a result, the business manager at DC Electric, Steven Clements, said:

“We’re saving 2-3 hours per day for each person on Fieldwire. The ability to have custom forms built into Fieldwire has allowed us to get closer to our goal of becoming a completely paperless office.”

Steven Clements, Business Manager at DC Electric

Using Fieldwire’s custom form builder, DC Electric contractors are able to build and submit digital forms from the same platform they’re already using to manage plans, punch lists, and tasks each day.

Blue Mountain Electric assigns tasks in seconds

For productivity to remain high onsite, electrical contractors must be equipped with the tools they need to communicate tasks in real-time. When there is a delay in information, production often slows down, and projects run over schedule. In fact, McKinsey & Company estimate that large construction projects typically run 80 percent over budget and take 20 percent longer to complete than originally scheduled. Using electrical contractor scheduling software that keeps contractors focused on their tasks — for any given day, week, or month — will help reduce that number significantly and keep production moving. Electrical scheduling software doesn’t have to be complicated either, sometimes all it takes is a simple ‘@’ symbol.

Blue Mountain Electric use Fieldwire’s electrical contractor software to easily track work and assign tasks from the field. They use the ‘@’ symbol — a Fieldwire-specific shortcut to quickly assign tasks — to notify a contractor in real-time that they have work to complete for the project to stay on track. The company’s vice president, Nathan Howat, often uses the ‘@’ sign to immediately tag and notify an electrical contractor who needs to fix an outage. He said:

“Once the outage is completed, I can verify the task. This makes tracking outages so much easier. It’s a huge advantage for taking care of every task.”

Nathan Howat, Vice President at Blue Mountain Electric

Fieldwire’s contractor management software is used on more than 300,000 projects worldwide — not only for mobile plan viewing and simple task management, but for scheduling, inspections, reporting, and more! To learn more about Fieldwire’s free electrical contractor software and to see how it can benefit you, please request a demo today and start working towards a paperless jobsite.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

Construction daily reports

While filling out a construction daily report can be tedious and time-consuming, it’s also inescapable and extremely important. What is a daily report? Fieldwire defines a construction daily report as a record of field notes, including work completed, weather conditions, and materials delivered or used onsite. Daily reporting keeps the project management team — including the owner and general contractor — informed and aware of project progress. More importantly, daily reports can save key stakeholders a lot of time and money when the information contained in them is used to resolve litigation disputes.

Despite being perceived as time-consuming and tedious, construction daily work reports should not take more than a few minutes to complete. Field management software, like Fieldwire, which empowers workers to operate with ease onsite, allows specialty contractors to submit a construction daily report from any mobile device. In just a few minutes, daily reports can be generated from any location in the field — significantly reducing office hours and eliminating the need for emails or calls just to communicate project progress. Reduce wasted time in construction with efficient communication and reporting software!

Fieldwire construction daily reports

In a nutshell, Fieldwire daily reports are designed for jobsite workers and office teams to document work in a convenient and straightforward manner. Using the Fieldwire platform and customizable construction daily report templates, a project manager or superintendent in the office can assign a daily report to a foreperson or specialty contractor in the field. They receive a notification in real-time on their phone or tablet to complete a daily field log and submit it. From within the Fieldwire construction management app, the contractor can instantly fill out a construction daily report to include important information, such as:

  • Weather conditions, which can be input manually or automatically generated based on the project’s location.
  • Information about schedule delays, conditions, accidents, and equipment or materials used.
  • A log of work that was undertaken, including who did it, the time it took them, and any other additional notes. This information can also be reported in a time and materials (T&M) form, also supported in Fieldwire.
  • Attachments such as photos and files that support the work log.

Daily reports ipad 2

Process daily reports with ease

Once all information for a daily report is supplied by the contractor, they can instantly notify the team in the office by clicking ‘submit’ within the Fieldwire construction forms app. The office team can generate a PDF report and send it to various stakeholders in just a few minutes — so no more hours wasted at the end of the day manually compiling lengthy reports!

“Forms are a game-changer for us. We’re already using daily reports, and we’re excited to see the power of forms added onto Fieldwire’s existing plan viewing and task management capabilities.”

Curtis Brundidge, Director of VDC, Carroll Daniel Construction

Daily reporting best practices

When choosing a construction daily report app, check that it supports these four daily reporting best practices to ensure construction projects progress smoothly:

  1. Automatically dated and organized reports. Trying to locate a daily report from days, weeks, or months ago is going to be extremely painful if you don’t have an organized history of reports. Just including the date on each report isn’t enough; you also need a searchable index in a single daily reports online database.
  2. Weather conditions. An accurate log of weather conditions can help jobsite teams explain construction delays and/or future defects, and should be automatically included based on location. If, for example, heavy rain impacts a general contractor’s trenching and shoring schedule, team members can look back at their daily reports and validate the necessary steps to get back on track.
  3. Clearly defined work completed. For key stakeholders to understand what progress is being made each day, workers must list all tasks completed (plus how long it took them to do each one) in a daily work log. This way, craftspeople in the field take ownership for their work and the owner’s office teams have a sense of project progress without physically being onsite.
  4. Detailed documentation. Before submitting your construction dailies, make sure you have included enough information — including files and project photos. This eliminates unnecessary questions being asked post-submission.

Daily reports ipad 1

Completing a construction daily report doesn’t have to be tedious and time-consuming. Accurate daily reporting is essential for the success of any project. For more information on Fieldwire construction daily reports, read this overview or watch this video online. Daily reports are just one of six form types offered by Fieldwire’s construction forms app.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

The construction labor shortage has become a more significant issue for the construction industry with each passing year. By the end of December 2018, the construction industry’s unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent compared to 3.9 percent in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While this problem has required the field to search for solutions — such as better construction management software — it has also left the industry reeling for answers. Why aren’t more millennials or Generation Z pursuing careers in construction such as becoming a specialty contractor or general contractor?

One reason is most certainly due to the stigma attached to construction trade schools. The increased pressure to pursue a bachelor’s or even master’s degree has made institutional paths the norm for young professionals, and the myths associated with construction trade schools have decreased attendance.

Here are three myths often linked to trade schools — especially trade schools for construction management — and a few reasons why they are not correct.

debunking trade school myths

1. “Trade schools won’t get you hired”

The goal of any certificate, license, or degree is to secure a job at the end of the process, preferably one that will launch you into your desired career field. One myth attached to construction trade school certificates is that they do not lead to many job offers. However, this is especially untrue for those attending trade school to learn a skill associated with the construction industry.

According to BLS data, the unemployment rate for the construction industry (private wage and salary workers) in November 2018 was 3.9 percent, close to the national average of 3.7 percent (the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years). The financial crisis of 2007 increased unemployment in construction and many workers did not return as the economy slowly made its way back.

However, many of those who continued working in construction now anticipate leaving the industry. In fact, more than 40 percent of construction workers are fast approaching their retirement. This is emphasized in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, which shows there were 278,000 construction job openings in September 2018 compared to 179,000 in September 2017 — more than 55 percent increase year over year.

Therefore, while the construction industry’s unemployment is slightly higher than the national average, this likely will not be the case for much longer. The labor shortage in construction is already widely reported, and the need to fill those spots will only become direr. Increased attendance to trade school for construction management will train a new group of workers to fill these much-needed spots, and it will do so with a generation known for being technologically savvy.

2. “Financial security can only be achieved with a college degree”

Perhaps the most popular myth is that trade schools do not pay off. Yes, the end goal of any education is to secure a good job and a comfortable wage. But this can certainly be achieved for a more reasonable price at a trade school for construction management.

According to the BLS Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers report, for the third quarter of 2018, the median weekly earnings for United States workers were $887 — or $46,100 annually. Comparatively, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) released its 2018 Construction Craft Salary Survey Results showing that general contractors can earn as much as $92,523 yearly - almost double the nation’s median. The survey also showed that specialty contractors can make as much as $71,067 yearly.

In contrast, new college graduates will make an average of $50,400 annually, according to a study by consulting firm Korn Ferry which analyzed 310,000 entry-level positions from nearly 1,000 organizations across the U.S. In addition to that starting salary, there’s something else college students often receive when they graduate — significant student loan debt.

According to Student Loan Hero, the average student loan debt for a college graduate in 2017 was $39,400 — almost 80 percent of their starting salary. The organization also estimates that the average debt for obtaining a Master of Education is $50,900 and $58,500 for a Master of Arts!

3. “Trade jobs will soon be replaced with robots”

Who wants to spend time and money training for a career that might not exist in a few years? It is not a secret that Silicon Valley’s attempt to “disrupt” industries with automation has reduced employment in some fields. However, the construction industry is a complex and dynamic environment that’s much harder to automate than, for example, manufacturing and is avoiding this trend using construction management software such as Fieldwire, which aims to empower blue collar workers instead of replacing them. As Brad Bartholomew, co-owner of Bartholomew Heating and Cooling, said: “Skilled trades are very important, well paying, very well-respected jobs that can’t be moved out of the country or replaced by technology. These are jobs that are going to exist; that need to exist. We need this kind of work.”

Construction management software targeting the construction industry is helping workers — replacing older methods of communication to improve productivity and reduce busywork. Using software to automate redundant tasks enables craftspeople to focus on meaningful work and do that work for longer periods of time. Allowing robots — no fearing them — to perform physically demanding construction tasks could extend a workers career and attract more technically savvy people to the industry, especially those already attending a trade school for construction management.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

What is a punch list? A punch list (also called a snag list, deficiency list, or punch out list), according to the online Business Dictionary, is “a document listing work that does not conform to contract specifications, usually attached to a certificate of substantial completion.” Put simply, it is a list of to-do’s that need to be completed before a project can be considered finished.

Now that we’ve covered the punch list definition, it’s perhaps more important to understand how they’re used. Punch lists are commonly tackled towards the end of a project when deadlines and tight and workers are exhausted. Which, in turn, increases error and prolongs project turnover. Answering the question, “what is a punch list?” isn’t quite so simple, as there are multiple types of punch lists, and debate over which is the most effective. One punch list best practice is the ‘rolling punch list;’ a real-time log of punch list items that develops as deficiencies arise. According to Michael Clippinger, the National Director of Quality at JE Dunn, an ENR Contractor of the Year, “a rolling punch list is the most common approach toward achieving the ultimate zero-punch list goal.” A zero punch list indicates that there is no outstanding punch list work at the time of project completion. For this to occur, effective planning, project management, and transparent communication is required.

No matter whether you’re working from a rolling punch list or working towards a zero punch list goal, everyone — from the project owner to the various subcontractors — must understand their role and responsibilities in the punch list process. There are some typical punch list items, but there is no ‘general punch list best practice playbook’ for everyone to follow, but rather a set of punch list best practices for each unique team, that are briefly outlined below.

punch list graph

1. General Contractor: Create punch list items from the jobsite

When the general contractor starts a project, they should also start a punch list. It can become like a punch list checklist. Anytime they walk through a site and notice a defect, it should be documented immediately for future discussion with the owner and/or specialty contractors. Instead of waiting until the end of a project to communicate punch list items, the general contractor should produce punch list reports that are automatically sent to each specialty contractor on a given day, week, or month. Construction punch list software like Fieldwire makes the construction punch list process easy. From any device in the field, a general contractor can annotate site issues on the fly to create a project punch list and tag specific trades. They can generate a trade-specific punch list report or construction daily report in seconds and send it to each specialty contractor in just a few clicks. Repeating this process regularly will help general contractors reach project close out faster because the more punchlist items they tackle now, the less there is to do later.

For the punch list process to be effective, there must be clear and consistent communication between the general contractor, specialty contractors, and owner. It is the general contractor’s duty to communicate punch list progress to the owner and communicate punch list items with specialty contractors. General contractors should implement construction punch list software that allows them to generate punch lists on the fly for specialty contractors to see in real-time. This process is far more efficient than having to manually take notes during site walkthroughs, type them up, and attach them to an email for subcontractors back in the office.

2. Specialty Contractor: Prioritize what needs to be done

The specialty contractor must resolve punch list items on a construction punch list. It is their job to get in and do the actual work in an efficient manner to streamline project close out. Specialty contractors must ensure that the work they do complies with drawing specifications set by the architect or design team to avoid unnecessary rework or conflict. For this reason, subcontractors must clearly understand what to do — when, where, and why — to stay within contract scope and budget. In one study, Bent Flyvbjerg, an expert in project management at Oxford’s business school, said: “It is estimated that nine out of ten construction mega-projects run over budget.”

Additionally, a study by the Navigant Construction Forum states “average rework on projects can cost between 7.3% and 10.9% of total construction cost (when both direct and indirect costs are included) and can cause an increase in the schedule (project delay) of approximately 9.8% of the planned project time.” One of the major causes of rework in construction, according to Jim Rogers, is workers in the field not having the information they need to resolve a contractor punch list correctly the first time. He said: “Plan changes, updates, clarifications, and submittals that occur throughout the building phase of a project create a constant challenge in terms of ensuring that the latest information gets in the hands of the people that need it in a timely manner.” For subcontractors to have access to the information they need at all times, construction punch list software like Fieldwire should be used to bring jobsite data and teams together in one place. A punch list for construction projects doesn’t have to be a hassle.

For example, when a punch list item is assigned to a specialty contractor in the field, he or she will be notified in real-time. From a smartphone or tablet, they can open the punch list item on the Fieldwire app, see the exact location of it on a plan, the man-hours required, and a due date. As they work to resolve the punch list item, the subcontractor can send messages, photos, and videos to the general contractor using the Fieldwire app to communicate progress. This way, punch list items are resolved efficiently, everyone remains on the same page, and there is no need for back-and-forth emails between the various parties to communicate change.

3. Owner: Use the punch process to track progress

The construction project owner should be present for site walkthroughs at various stages of a project — not just at the end — so they’re aware of construction pace and progress. However, a best practice for punch is to use punch list software that fosters transparent communication should make owners feel like they know site conditions before even entering it. It is an owner-specific best practice to ask the general contractor a list of questions — such as this example punch list from Succeed with Contractors — during site walkthroughs that may spark additional punch list items. A few example punch list questions from the owner include: ‘Does every outlet work properly?’ or ‘Is there adequate paint coverage?’ If the answer is no, the general contractor will need to create a new punch list item(s) for trade contractors to address.

The importance of communication between the project owner and various stakeholders was emphasized in a BSI report which said:

“Defects in the UK construction industry, many of which were the result of inefficient communication, cost an estimated £20 billion (or US $25 billion) to correct every year.”

At the completion of a project, it is the owner who will sign off on a construction punch list and ensure all punch list items are resolved. Setting up permission levels in construction punch list software that gives the owner (and only the owner) the right to verify punch list items will help the project progress in a way that meets their demands, contract specifications, and original plans.

4. Architect: Verify that punch list items match final drawings

From project start to project finish, it is the architects, designers, and engineers duty to ensure all construction meets the approved, specified drawings and everything will work as intended. They must be included in final site walkthroughs to sign-off on punchlist items and confirm that the final product matches the original drawings. If the architect/designer/engineer notices something that’s ‘not to spec’ and not listed as a punch list item, he or she needs to consult with the owner to see if they had requested a change that had not been documented.

By continually checking in with the owner to align on expectations, the final walkthrough should be painless and very minor in nature. Engineering News writes:

“Only 25% of large construction projects surveyed in KPMG’s 2015 Global Construction report were completed on time and within budget.”

Creating and following a set of punch list best practices is critical for attaining zero punch-list status and finishing construction projects on-time. Punch list best practices — be it those outlined above or something you created on your own — also help with accurate walkthroughs, effortless reporting, and faster close out.

Other best practices for punch lists on a jobsite

Besides the role each group we covered plays in closing out a project, there are several other major use cases of punch lists on a jobsite. They include daily box meetings where the entire project team reviews what work they need to do that day, and universal quality control to maintain a common standard across the entire project. No one should be asking “what is a punch list?” Instead, the entire team should be on the same page, and clear as to their responsibilities and expectations.

Now that we know exactly what a punch list is, we can understand its importance and how it can become overwhelming on a big project. Luckily, Fieldwire’s punch list app adds both speed and structure to your closeout process as part of our field management platform.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

What is prefab construction? Look around your house or office. How many items came from a box? Maybe your desk, a couple of chairs, or that rickety stool no one can sit on.

Now, look where you’re standing. Have you ever wondered about the building you’re in, and whether it, too, came out of a box?

Also known as offsite construction, prefabricated (or prefab) construction is the practice of assembling parts of a structure in a manufacturing site, and transporting them to a different location. One prefab construction method is the idea of assembling building structures like furniture, also known as kit-of-parts construction. By using this prefab construction technique, building elements no longer need special on-site processing or handling; reducing the installation time, materials wasted, and risks of accidents. In the ever-evolving world of sustainable construction, prefabrication is helping to save time, waste, and the environment.

The IKEA-ization of buildings and parts is generating hype in the industry; with more and more owners adopting prefabricated construction methods. From McDonald’s shopfronts to residential bathrooms, prefab structures are popping up everywhere — including in Arizona, where six chicken aviaries were assembled by Texan construction company, Ag Installers. How did they do it? Here are four ways Ag Installers use Fieldwire’s construction management software for successful prefab projects:

1. Simple inventory management

Ag installers, based in Texas, is a construction company specializing in the installment of cage-free aviary systems. In 2015, they were contracted to do the aviary install work on the Lone Cactus Egg Farm in Bouse, Arizona. The owner, Rose Acre Farms (the second largest egg producer in the U.S.) wanted six barns built onsite to house a total of 2.4 million hens. The aviary system, however, which sits inside of the barn, was constructed in Italy and sent to Bouse in containers.

A total of 12 million partially prefabricated construction materials arrived onsite for Ag Installers to assemble; a process that could take double the amount of time if it weren’t partly-constructed offsite. In fact, prefab buildings go up 30% - 50% faster than traditional construction buildings, taking a project from conception to completion quickly and easily — reaching that coveted return on investment fast. With high-quality inventory management, prefab construction is almost as simple as building a bed frame — just with a few more parts.

Ag Installers working 2

2. Streamlined communication with the manufacturer

In prefab construction, inventory is everything. When dealing with such a high volume of inventory, it’s important to have a system in place that helps you manage everything — from scheduling to reporting — seamlessly. Hence why Ag Installers implemented Fieldwire — to help them track millions of parts and communicate with the manufacturer in China. Using Fieldwire, the Ag Installers team communicated in real-time and annotated all details about missing parts in one place. With so much inventory to keep track of across the site, a new employee was hired to solely track missing parts using Fieldwire’s construction task management app.

President of Ag Installers, Enrique Mendez, said having a platform which enables clear and transparent communication is critical for the success of prefab construction projects. He said: “When we can’t find a part we’re looking for, it gets logged as a Fieldwire task and added to the ‘missing parts’ category. The part number, a description, pictures, location, and the quantity we’re missing is also added. We assign the task to the manufacturer and leave it as ‘open’ until an order is placed. Then we ‘verify’ the task to communicate it has been resolved,” said Mendez.

“This really shortens the communication cycle because we no longer need to send email updates or keep track of lost parts in an Excel file.”

Enrique Mendez, President, Ag Installers

This, combined with the productivity gains associated with prefab construction methods, helps Ag Installers stay on schedule and budget. Waste is reduced because various parts of the aviary are manufactured to fit according to plan, and productivity increases with Fieldwire onsite. In fact, having the ability to track and report missing parts from any device in the field saves Ag Installers eight hours every week on their prefab projects.

3. Efficient and accurate site reporting

Fieldwire is used to communicate hundreds of missing parts in a detailed report to the general contractor and manufacturer. According to Greg Schonefeld, the CEO of Ag Installers, these weekly reports are 15-20 pages long but easily generated using Fieldwire. He says being able to forward a report rather than bombard a manufacturer with emails and spreadsheets every day is strengthening the relationship between all parties involved and saving everyone time and money onsite.

Ag Installers Report on Macbook

“If we don’t send our report to the general contractor, then we don’t get the parts we need, and if we don’t get the parts, we lose time and money.”

Greg Schonefeld, CEO, Ag Installers

4. Detailed documentation to avoid disputes

Working with individuals on prefab construction projects who are located in a different part of the world can become quite challenging without the right tools in place. If site issues or observations are not documented clearly, resolving disputes can become quite complicated, and in the words of Schonefeld, “a case of he said she said.”

Having all missing parts documented and accounted for in Fieldwire saved Ag Installers $82,000 on a single issue on one prefab project! Schonefeld said: “One of our customers sent us a bill and said we owed them $90,000 in damages and lost parts. We spent about two hours searching for information in Fieldwire and realized they had charged us $82,000 more than what we actually owed them.” Without Fieldwire as their source of truth, Ag Installers could have lost that money and damaged their reputation in the industry. As they put it themselves:

“We spend $15,000 a year on Fieldwire but the value we get is easily five times that.”

Greg Schonefeld, CEO, Ag Installers

Check out our customer story on Ag Installers to learn more about the value in using construction management software for prefabricated construction projects. Or request a demo of Fieldwire today!

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