Author Archives: CSOA

7 Best Flooring Installation Tools

Flooring Installation Tools (Blog Cover)

Looking for the best flooring installation tools? Being able to get the job done efficiently and to the highest standards of quality as a flooring installation contractor is contingent on having the right arsenal of tools. Flooring is a specialized trade and as such, requires specialized tools. Whether you are a neophyte flooring installer just cutting your teeth in the trade or a seasoned contractor looking for the latest and greatest tools we have a list for you. We polled our very own community of professional flooring contractors to find out which tools they can’t go without, which they recommend for beginners and which flooring installation tools modern flooring contractors should have.

1) Pinless Wood Moisture Meters

You may have used pin meters in the past and are aware of the complications they present. First, they create holes in the wood. Secondly, they only measure as far as you are able to sink them into the wood. And of course, if the insulation on the pins is peeling or damaged, you will get inaccurate readings. But pinless meters use electromagnetic signals to penetrate into the wood and bring back a moisture content reading. Our experts advise that you also purchase a calibrator platform along with your pinless meter to keep it accurate.

2) Circular Saws

This is a tool that came up too many times to count when we asked our members “what flooring installation tools are absolutely essential?” Circular saws can be big and heavy, but having one on the job is a must. They allow you to cut lengths of hardwood, oriented strand board, tile and even masonry perfectly straight each time and allow you to do so quickly. Circular saws also allow you to cut panels at an angle for corner or specialty pieces.

3) A Good Trowel

Note the distinction here: a good trowel. The basic function of a trowel is to tamp down adhesive onto the subfloor evenly. But a good trowel will be one suited to your specific needs. Our experts suggest making sure that the trowel handle feels comfortable in your hands as you will be using it quite a bit. You will also need one with notches that suit your job. Quarter-inch V notches are advised for wood flooring adhesive. You will also want a trowel with a large plate. Somewhere around 11 inches is advisable.

4) The Right Finishing Material

Wood filler and wood putty are usually lumped together because they perform the same job but it is important to distinguish between them. Wood putty can only be used on oil-based flooring finishes. Wood filler is water-based so it dries very quickly. Naturally, the finish you are using will dictate which material you will have to use. In any case, it is advised to have a variety on hand to meet the needs of your customers and to be able to match the color of the finish as closely as possible.

5 ) Spacer Blocks

These little pieces of equipment often mentioned when we asked our members “what tool is essential but may be overlooked by beginners?” Spacer blocks are used to allocate space between the wall or baseboards and the flooring material. They make it much easier to leave the correct amount of room for hardwood expansion and contraction during installation.

6) Feather Boards

This is a very simple piece of equipment but it is essential to safety and can help you make smoother cuts when using a table saw. A feather board is used to push the flooring material into the table saw so you don’t have to risk getting your hands too close to the blade. They are also helpful for creating cleaner edges so you waste less wood material.

7) Concrete Relative Humidity Testers

This tool is very similar to the pinless meters that started our list, but they are used to test relative humidity and moisture content in concrete slabs. You need this kind of tester when you install floor coverings to measure moisture content. Too much moisture content can cause the adhesive to fail or warp over time. Concrete relative humidity testers with situ probes are recommended. 

We hope that you found our list of the 7 best flooring installation tools helpful. Please note that while there are a number of other essential flooring tools, this list focuses only on the installation aspect of the trade. For more information or to become a member, contact us here at Contractors Society of America

Should Contractors Advertise on Nextdoor?

Nextdoor Advertising (Blog Cover)

As a contractor, should you be advertising on Nextdoor? That question can be phrased in a different way: “Is local advertising important to your contracting business? The answer then becomes an emphatic, yes! Local advertising is absolutely critical to your contracting business because contracting is a local profession. The people in your city need to know about your company and your services. Take the following statistic into consideration: over 30% of all Google searches performed have local intent. That’s quite a revelation for those interested in online promotion.

But what is local intent? Local intent refers to searches that specify an area in direct proximity to the searcher. For example, “plumbers near me” is an example of a search with local intent. But what does any of this have to do with Nextdoor? In today’s post, we are going to show you why you need to utilize Nextdoor advertising in 2020.

What is Nextdoor?

At its heart, Nextdoor is a social media platform. But it isn’t like your Facebooks and your Twitters. It is a locally-focused social media network on which, members need to be verified as to their home address. Once someone verifies that they actually live in the area they claim to, they have access to a wealth of neighborhood resources such as message boards, community news, local business directories, and more.

But one of the most useful features of Nextdoor is the Local Recommendations page wherein real members of the community can review and highlight their favorite local businesses. There is also a forum on which members of the neighborhood can ask other members for recommendations for virtually any kind of service…including reliable contractors.

Why is Nextdoor Important for Advertising?

Nextdoor is very stringent with their verification process. They make it virtually impossible for people who don’t live in your area to infiltrate their online community. That means that all your advertising efforts on Nextdoor will go to the right people. 

The problem with careless ad campaigns is that money gets wasted on targeting the wrong market. The reason why Nexdoor advertising is so important for contractors is that all of your advertising dollars will be spent targeting people in your area. But you may be asking yourself a very important question at this point…

How Popular is Nextdoor?

Advertising on a platform that no one uses is pointless. But the numbers about Nextdoor don’t lie. According to App Annie, Nextdoor was the 9th most downloaded lifestyle app on Apple devices in 2019. To put that figure into a more tangible form, Vanity Fair reports that about 10 million people are active members of Nextdoor as of May 2020.

There are also 260,000 active neighborhoods on Nextdoor and growing. That is a lot of people using Nextdoor every day. There is no question about Nextdoor’s popularity and its viability as an advertising platform, but what else does it have to offer?

Nextdoor Reviews

Nextdoor allows its verified users to leave reviews of local businesses. And local reviews carry a lot of weight with consumers. According to a PR Newswire report, a colossal 97% of consumers will read reviews of a local business before making a purchasing decision. And according to Bright Local, 91% of the all-important millennial market trust online reviews as much as a word of mouth recommendations. And all the more if those reviews come from someone in their neighborhood.

And if you are worried about how active users are on Nextdoor in terms of giving recommendations, Business Wire reports that as of 2017, there were more than 17 million unique, user-generated local recommendations made. And the community has only become more active since then. 

The Big Caveat with Nextdoor

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of advertising on Nextdoor but these benefits come with a sizeable caveat: you have to have the money. If you are a local contractor you will be required to spend a minimum of $15,000 per month in advertising billings with Nextdoor. 

The reason for this is that most local business cannot generate the ad revenue that a social media platform as large as Nextdoor would need to cover costs. It is kind of ironic then that a locally focused network, by and large, cannot be sustained with the ad revenue of small local businesses.

The Bottom Line

The good news is that you don’t have to necessarily advertise in the traditional sense on Nextdoor to get seen by locals. By simply claiming your business on Nextdoor, you can put your business in front of the eyes of the people in your community. And if you treat your customers right and offer quality service, you will earn more recommendations and positive reviews. 

For more information on how you can advertise your business, contact us here at Contractor’s Society of America

Can I Repair Asphalt Roads During Cold Weather?

Can I Repair Asphalt Roads During Cold Weather?

You might wonder “can I repair asphalt roads during cold weather?” Whether you are a paving contractor just getting into the game or simply a concerned homeowner, you may have asked yourself at one point or another, “Can you patch asphalt in the winter?” In fact, as a contractor, this is an extremely important question. After all, you may want to shy away from a trade that you can’t work in when the temperature drops – especially if you live in the Northern climates. 

So right off the bat, to allay your fears and concerns, we here at Contractor’s Society of America want to say yes, you can repair asphalt roads during cold weather. But there are a few caveats that go along with this answer. Like many aspects of the trades, answers aren’t always as simple as “yes” or “no.” To help you better understand Winter asphalt repair and the questions that surround it, we have drawn from the vast pool of knowledge of our own members here at Contractor’s Society of America.

Can Winter Weather Damage Roads?

It’s important to first understand why asphalt roads and driveways seem to incur the most damage during the winter months. The science behind this phenomenon is actually very simple, actually. It has to do with the freezing and thawing cycles of winter. As precipitation ramps up during the winter months and rain soaks asphalt surfaces, the low temperatures freeze the rain. When water freezes, it expands. This expansion is what makes asphalt uneven and cracks it.

The problem gets worse when the frozen water thaws and re-freezes in the same spot. When the expansion and contraction process is allowed to occur multiple times in the same area of pavement, the damage gets worse.

And even when asphalt is able to avoid cracking due to freezing and thawing, the low winter temperatures can make it brittle. At that point, all that is needed to create a pothole or crack is a heavy vehicle to drive over it. 

Asphalt damage in the winter months is almost unavoidable but there is good news; asphalt damage can be repaired as soon as it occurs – even in the winter months.

Hot Mix and Cold Mix

“Can I repair asphalt roads during cold weather?” Yes and no. You can make patches and fix individual potholes in roads and driveways during cold weather. But if you are trying to repave an entire road in winter, good luck. To understand how you can repair asphalt damage in cold weather you need to understand the difference between cold mix and hot mix asphalt.

Hot mix asphalt has been around for ages. How mix is what is used to pave and repave entire roads because quite simply, it can be paved. As the name suggests, hot mix is transported and applied hot. Then, it Is paved over to a smooth finish. But when you try to apply hot mix in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will not bond properly.

Cold mix was introduced in 1995 and revolutionized the paving industry. Cold mix performs well in cold temperatures but it cannot be paved. It is usually used straight out of the bag or container and tamped down with hand tools. Because of this, it is ideal for spot asphalt repairs in the winter but not for paving entire roads.

So you can make individual spot repairs of potholes and cracks during cold weather so long as you use cold mix asphalt.

Other Caveats

As you may have guessed by now, there are certain circumstances that would allow you to use hot mix asphalt (and therefore perform entire paving and re-paving jobs) in the winter. Hot mix asphalt will still adhere and pave correctly so long as the ambient temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit and rising. So if you do plan to do some repairs in January, you will have to plan the day very carefully. Not all the days in winter will be freezing cold but you have to make sure the day you plan your repairs is set to be 55 degrees or above for at least half the day. As such, the best time to start these projects will be just before noon.

Ask a Professional

You may have other questions about asphalt paving, such as how to clean asphalt, and other tips. While research is always helpful, sometimes you need the help of a professional to make the right call. Here at Contractor’s Society of America, we have the expertise and a brimming directory of professional contractors. We can help you answer any question and complete any project. Contact us today. CSOA aims to provide contractors with the most relevant and up to date information in the industry.

5 Asphalt Cleaning Tips for Contractors (2020 Update)

Asphalt Cleaning Tips for Contractors (Blog Cover)

If you are a paving contractor then you have probably heard the following question more than once: how do I keep my asphalt surfaces clean? You’ve probably been asked this by friends, neighbors, family members, and of course your customers. And as a contractor, you also know that there is no singular answer to this question. Asphalt stains are not universal. They come in all types and degrees of absorption. So there is no one answer that you can give to someone that will do the trick.

But here at Contractor’s Society of America, we pooled information from our members to compile a list of asphalt cleaning tips that you can utilize in your work and that you can share with people who ask you. There are lots of ways to deal with asphalt stains and some will work better in some instances than others. Check out our list of asphalt cleaning tips for 2020.

1 – Stop the Stain Before it Sets

If you have the opportunity, be proactive. As soon as you notice a spill on your asphalt surface try to soak it up before it absorbs into the asphalt. You can do this with a few different types of materials such as sawdust, shredded paper, baking soda, or kitty litter. For most contractors in the field, sawdust is probably the most plentiful and readily available absorbent you can find for free. Keep a supply of it in your truck just in case a spill occurs. If and when one does, spread the absorbent over the stain and let it sit for at least a few hours. This will give the absorbent time to soak up the stain before it can set into the asphalt. Then, sweep the absorbent material away. This method will not likely totally prevent a stain, but it will definitely make one less prominent.

2 – Pressure Washers

This tip is a bit controversial. You may get people who ask you “should I pressure wash my asphalt driveway?” and the answer seems to vary from contractor to contractor. Some contractors will say yes you should while others would say no you shouldn’t. So we want to clear this one up once and for all. Pressure washers can be a helpful tool for cleaning asphalt but only when used in the right circumstances and in the right sequence. That’s because in some cases, using a power washer at the outset of the cleaning can actually drive stains deeper. You should use pressure washers, but only before you have treated the stain with some sort of solvent, detergent or cleanser. Speaking of which…

3 – Use Cleaning Agents

One of the most effective ways to deal with asphalt blemishes in 2020 is still good old-fashioned elbow grease. A stiff-bristled broom or brush will be your best ally in the fight against asphalt stains. But you still need to pair it with a cleaning agent. One of the most effective methods we heard from our contractors is powdered laundry detergent. Sprinkle a liberal amount of powdered laundry detergent on the affected area and let it sit for 10-20 minutes. Then you can go to work with your stiff-bristled brush or broom, scrubbing at the stain. Another effective cleaning agent we heard about was a mixture of 1 part laundry detergent, 3 parts water, and one part bleach. Mix this concoction well and be very careful not to overdo the bleach. Create this mixture outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Then, work the mixture into the asphalt surface with your broom or brush.

4 – Commercial Degreasers

Tip number 4 is a great response to the question “how do you clean oil off asphalt?” Commercial degreasers are very effective for getting rid of oil stains in particular. That’s because there is a science behind them. The molecules in commercial degreasers essentially work to dislodge the oil from the water, making it easier to simply rinse away. One end of the molecule binds to the oil while the other end bonds to the water, effectively separating them. Commercial degreasers only need to be applied to the oil stain, allowed to sit for a while, and then simply rinsed away. 

5 – Pressure Washers

We’ve come full circle. The last of our asphalt cleaning tips for 2020 is to use pressure washers. Again, you should only use a pressure washer after you have pre-treated the stain and scrubbed it by hand with a stiff-bristled brush or broom. Once the stain has been unsettled or lifted a bit, then there is no risk that the pressure washer will blast it pack into the porous asphalt. A pressure washer will get all the broken up stain components out of the pores of the asphalt and wash them away. Our contractors recommended using an angled, slow sweeping motion when pressure washing. This will ensure that most of the stain is lifted out of the pores rather than just pounding it into them with a directly overhead angle. Basically, you don’t want to spray at a perpendicular angle with the surface but rather with more of a 45-degree angle with the surface.

Final Thoughts 

And of course, before any asphalt cleaning job, whether you are a contractor or a weekend warrior, you should completely clear the surface of the asphalt of loose debris. This should be done with a broom or a garden hose. Again, you may be tempted to just blast the debris away with a power washer and be done with it but this is not advisable. If you are going to use any water to clean the area, make sure it comes from a low powered garden hose.

We hope you have found our updated asphalt cleaning tips useful and insightful. It is always best to have a professional maintain your paved surfaces so get in touch with us here at Contractor’s Society of America to get professional help!

Why Contractor Safety is so Important in the Workplace

Contractor Safety Blog Cover

It should go without saying that contractor safety is important at all times. But seemingly menial considerations are being swept under the rug these days. This fact is demonstrated by the following statistic: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are roughly 150,000 job site injuries that occur every year. So, as you can see, we are not the safety-conscious workforce that many people believe us to be. 

And while most contractors take the necessary safety precautions for themselves and their crews, there are certain things that you simply cannot anticipate. Evens still, there are a minority of contractors that actually don’t make safety a top priority. And here at Contractors Society of America, we consider it our duty to inform the contractors of this nation and bring to the forefront of their minds the top industry issues of the day. We offer a plethora of resources that are geared towards helping contracting business in the United States run more effectively, win more bids, do better work and stay safer.

So with today’s post, we thought we would reiterate why contractor safety is so important in the workplace. Contractor safety goes well beyond keeping your crew healthy and active; it’s about maintaining a profitable business as well. Take a look at just a few of the reasons why contractor safety is important in the workplace.

Customer Assurance

Having the faith of your customers can make or break your contracting business. In a report conducted by Marketing Charts, it was found that 8 in 10 consumers will patronize a business that they trust and that brand trust affects their patronage habits. One of the most effective ways to instill trust in the minds of your clients is by running a safe work site. No one wants to hire a company they think might cause an accident on the job. Likewise, the way a company treats its employees says a lot about trustworthiness in the mind of a customer. 

Therefore building trust through contractor safety is important to retaining customers, winning new bids and earning repeat business.

Compliance with Employee Safety

As a contractor, you will probably have to work in tandem with owner-employees at some point. We had an electrical contractor tell us a story about one such situation. This contractor company operates in the heart of California’s wine country. They were hired to run electricity about a mile and a half from the main facility to a field house. The client was a multi-national winery and it was a huge contract.

The job needed to be done in very short order and as such, the contractor’s employees were not briefed on the safety regulations of the winery. They were working side by side with winery employees who were wearing more safety gear and following stricter safety practices than that contracting team. This did not reflect well on the electrical contractor. Once the job was done, the winery did not work with the electrical contractor again even though the winery needed much more electrical work done.

The contractor lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in projects; all because he did not make sure his team was complying with company safety policies. This happens a lot with contractors. You will have to work in tandem with owner employees at some point and you will have to adhere to their regulations if you want to keep contracts.

Cost Control

When an owner undergoes a construction, renovation, or expansion project there is a lot that goes into cost calculation. One of those things is contractor safety. When an accident occurs on the worksite, the money to address it will not always come out of the pocket or from the insurance of the contractor. 

So when an owner s looking for a contracting company to help them complete their project, they will look at the safety record of the contractor to help them calculate costs. This is what is sometimes referred to as the cost of doing business. If your contracting company is perceived as “high risk,” even if an owner hires you, you may not make as much as you would on the project as if you were perceived as “low risk.”

Cost calculations take into account what is likely to happen throughout the course of the project since no one can tell the future. Therefore, the safety record of your contracting company could be the difference between a fatter bottom line and being paid pennies on the dollar for a project.

Maintaining A Quality Work Force

Finally, contractor safety is important to maintaining a skilled workforce that can go on to prevent worksite accidents. The truth is that it is already hard enough for contractors to keep a skilled and experienced work staff these days as interest in the trades is waning. In a recent study, 2,500 contractors were surveyed and 80% of them reported difficulty filling open skilled labor positions. 

There is already a shortage of experienced workers on the job market, so why take the risk of having one of yours injured and incapacitated? By ensuring safety for yourself and your team, you are ensuring continued quality. Your foremen will also be more experienced with safety regulations so keeping them healthy and on the job site will make every project they are a part of that much safer. In this sense, contractor safety perpetuates itself when it is maintained properly.

Your Safety is our Priority

And of course, contractor safety is important in the workplace because, well, it keeps you safe. The health, productivity, and prosperity of you, your crew, and your company is the greater good here. And we can help provide you with the resources you need as a contractor to maintain a high level of safety on the job site. 

Here at the Contractors Society of America, your safety and prosperity is our priority. Find out more about how we can help you today.

Is Finish Carpentry A Good Career?

Is Finish Carpentry a Good Career? (Cover)

Although a hampered economy may slow trade work, the trades are always among the first industries to come roaring back after a recession. But which trade is right for you? There are lots to choose from and the answer to the question ‘is finish carpentry a good career’ is typically a suggestive one. But in today’s post, we aim to help people decide for themselves if finish carpentry is right for them by presenting some key considerations and indisputable facts. But as always, you can find more information and resources regarding the trades here

One of the most attractive prospects that the trades have for young people is that these jobs never die. The trades are one of the safest bets in terms of job security. No matter what the economic climate is, people will always need structural repairs, plumbing repairs, electrical service, and other types of projects. Even in the current pandemic crisis, many trade jobs in many states like Washington have been deemed essential.

What is A Finish Carpenter?

A finish carpenter is one who specializes in the finishing touches of a structure construction project. Finish carpenters are typically hired to install molding, hang windows, drywall, hang doors, install stairs, install flooring, and other lighter-duty work. They essentially come in after most of the work is done and handle the more delicate aspects of a construction or remodeling job. Finish carpenters work in both the residential and commercial sectors. 

Why Would Anyone Want to Be A Finish Carpenter?

Finish carpentry tends to be less taxing on the body. In fact, a lot of tradesmen who have been in construction for a long time often shift to finish carpentry because it physically less demanding. If you are interested in the trades but aren’t too keen on doing a lot of dirty work, finish carpentry might appeal to you as well. Most finish carpentry jobs are done in cleaner environments and don’t require the presence of large crews.

There is also the potential for market growth. The job demand between 2016 and 2026 for all carpenters (including finish carpenters) is expected to increase by 8%. So there is also a job security factor at play here. 

What Can I Expect to Make as A Finish Carpenter?

The average annual earnings for all carpenters (including finish carpenters) hovers between $44,000 and $46,500. Of course, these are mean figures. They represent an income that is slightly below the national average. But the local market will be a major factor in how much you can expect to make every year as a finish carpenter. For example, the average annual income of a finish carpenter in New York is about $50, 600 while the average annual income of a finish carpenter in North Carolina is only about $37,000. 

Carpenters in general however can earn up to 70,000 dollars per year if they are exceptionally skilled and service a robust market.

What Does it Take to Be A Finish Carpenter?

The main requirements you will need to cover to become a finish carpenter are 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of job training. All of this can be covered in a 3 to 4 year apprenticeship program. In most cases, exceptionally skilled carpenters who have been in the trade for years make the leap to finish carpentry naturally. 

But aside from qualifications and certifications, you need to have a firm grasp of math. Finish carpenters often follow he blue prints of a general contractor to complete a job. These plans need to be carried out to a tee since someone else came in and did most of the work that will dictate how you go about the work. 

Finish carpentry also requires a keen eye for detail. The best finish carpenters – the ones who earn the lion’s share of the work – will also place a high emphasis on craftsmanship as well. Remember, your job as a finish carpenter will be to put the last, crowning touches on a construction job. More often than not, finish carpentry is at least 50% cosmetic. And while there isn’t as much heavy lifting involved in finish carpentry as there is with regular carpentry, you will still have to be able to bend, stretch and work your body in physically exhaustive ways.

Final Considerations as a Career

So is finish carpentry a good career? Now that you have the important facts, you are more suited than anyone to answer that question for yourself. What may appeal to others may not appeal to you. Like so many things in life, the answer to this question is subjective.

But a lot of people gravitate towards finish carpentry because, at heart, they love the artistry of it. It is a great way to be expressive through trade even though you will be following a blueprint most of the time. It can save your body a lot of wear and tear too. If you would like more information on finish carpentry and other trades, become a member of the Contractors Society of America.

6 Construction Statistics to Consider in 2020

Construction Statistics Cover 2020

Looking for updated construction statistics?

The first quarter of 2020 is officially over and with its departure; we are privy to some statistics that every construction contractor needs to know. Staying abreast of the latest developments, trends, and helpful statistics is what we do here at Contractors’ Society of America. And we are excited to bring you this list of crucial construction statistics in 2020. 

The first quarter of 2020 was a doozy and it is certain to go down as one of the pivotal periods of the modern era. It has been very challenging for construction contracting businesses and has surely forced many of them to change the way they operate and fill open positions. 

But to help you make some sense of it all and keep you ahead of the curve we have curated some of the most relevant statistics for construction contractors. The entries on our list will cover a cross-section of topics that pertain to construction projects, staffing, and the state of the market. Also, please be aware that our list will feature entries from before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find lots more helpful content on our blog page which features articles geared towards keeping today’s contractors informed and their businesses competitive. 

1) Staffing 

The first important construction statistic that we have to discuss comes to us from Construction Dive. The Associated General Contractors of America recently conducted a survey of 2,500 contractors regarding their staffing prospects. 80% of the contractors who responded reported that they are finding it difficult to staff hourly positions in their crews while 56% of them cannot find enough candidates for salaried positions. This statistic is alarming because it points to a general shift away from interest in the construction trade. In order to compensate, savvy contractors have invested in in-house training. This allows them to take unskilled candidates and turn them into craft-workers. Other contractors have simply provided more hours to their existing crews as needed.

2) Women on the Job Site 

Our second statistic comes courtesy of the National Association of Women in Construction.  They inform us that only 9.9% of the construction workforce is made up of women. Construction has always been a predominantly male trade. But with so many other industries equalizing in terms of gender ratio, why is construction lagging behind so much? One reason is that construction work environments have not typically been welcoming to women. But this stat sort of goes hand-in-hand with our previous one. In order to salve the staffing crisis that the industry is now facing, contractors should make it a point to attract women into the trade. Making your company more inviting to women could open up a whole new market of skilled workers that can help compensate for the apparent lack of construction interest.

3) Single-Family Residential Construction is Still Profitable 

After our last recession was over, one of the industries that experienced an immediate boom was single-family home construction. This is evidenced by FMI’s figure that estimated the single-family construction branch of the industry was worth $282 billion dollars in 2018 – the era right after the recession. It is unclear what impact the COVID-19 impact will have on our economy but most experts predict another recession. But that $282 billion figure represented a 4% increase in the previous year – the era right before the recession. So no matter what comes of all this, it is likely that when the dust settles and the smoke clears, developers and investors will need a slew of single-family residences built. 

4) Construction and Technology 

Technology represents another arena in which the construction industry has underperformed. In a study conducted by Autodesk, we can see that only 18% of construction firms utilize modern technology like mobile apps to help manage their projects. In an era where so many things are uncertain, you would think that contractors would be looking to gain any edge they possibly could. And some have. Numerous surveyed contractors stated that they use cloud storage technology to assist with their administrative duties. But this is another way that contractors could be streamlining work, getting projects done faster, and helping more clients that many of them seem reluctant to adopt. 

5) Off-Site Construction Acceptance is Slow 

Prefab and modularization have changed the game for a lot of contractors. With these modern methods and products, they are able to get jobs done faster, easier, with leaner crews and at lower costs. But the interest in this type of construction seems one-sided. In an FMI study, it is apparent that owner organizations are reluctant to accept projects done in the modern off-site style. We read that only 38% of hiring owner organizations are highly accepting of off-site construction methods and a whopping 50% of them still prefer the traditional method of designing, bidding, and then construction. The issue is that many organizations are simply unaware of the advantages of this relatively modern approach. But no matter what the cause may be, it is obvious that owner organizations still want things done the old-fashioned way in 2020.

6) The First 5 Years

The first five years of construction are the most crucial. As we read in this Fundera article, only 65% of new construction businesses make it past their second year. And only a dismal 35% make it through their 5th year. Getting started as a construction contractor can be extremely hard. It can be hard to find ways to get work when you just start out but if you do make it past 5 years, statistically, you have a great shot at sustained success.

Final Words

We hope you have found our list of construction statistics insightful. It is important to leverage construction statistics like these in order to traverse these uncertain times. Staying in the know now can make all the difference in the future. Use these construction statistics as a guide to understanding current trends for the sake of future success. 

How to Find Work as a Contractor: The Ultimate Guide

Want to know how to find work as a contractor? Contractors Society of America has developed The Ultimate Guide.

How To Find Work as a Contractor Blog Cover

Introduction

As a contractor, you most likely already have a considerable degree of gumption and bravery. Striking out on your own as a contractor is a major challenge, and some people simply aren’t cut out for it. We have known extremely skilled merchants in our time that should have started bidding on their own jobs and building a team under them years ago. But they never did because the prospect of drumming up their own work was simply too overwhelming for them. 

So if you have your contractor’s license and are actively looking for work, congratulations. You are already more courageous than many people can be. But now is when the hard work really starts. How do you even find work as a contractor? How do you make your workflow sustainable? How do you drum up new leads? These are scary questions but nonetheless, ones that can be answered. With a bit of due diligence, hustle, and tips, you will be able to find work as a contractor. 

If at any time you would like more information or resources to assist you in your efforts, simply get in touch with us here at the Contractors Society of America. We provide lots of industry resources for contractors of all kinds. 

Part I: Networking & Relationship-Building

1) Get to Know Local Businesses

If you do commercial work of any kind, you are going to want to get plugged into the local business community. Check around to see if your city has a business or professionals’ club you can join. These are usually low-obligation, casual organizations that gain members and meet once a month or so for networking events. 

We knew a contractor just starting out with his handyman business in a sleepy town in Northern California called Santa Rosa. His landlord was actually a real estate agent, and she invited him to join the local business owner’s club of which she herself was a long-standing member. Through her personal references and people he met through the club, this newbie contractor grew his business to 20 employees in just over a year.  

Business clubs like these are a great way to get know other business owners who may need your services as a contractor face to face. Being able to establish a rapport with potential customers and making your name prominent in their minds means that they are that much more likely to remember you when they need a contractor. Plus, if you do good work, you will already have a referral network that could grow your job rate exponentially.

2) Make yourself Available in Multiple Capacities

We know the glamour of the General Contractor title is alluring. But when you are just starting out, it can be hard to win bids against already established companies. You are probably starting out as the little guy in a sea of Goliath’s and you may miss out on a lot of bids in your early days. There is no shame in it – it happens to all of us. 

But that is why it is important to keep yourself open and available in your days as a neophyte general contractor. Do your best to win bids. Do your best to find out who you are bidding against. But when you don’t win bids as a general contractor; seek work as a subcontractor. 

When you lose a bid to another company, reach out to them and let them know that you are willing to help them on the project as a subcontractor. It may not be your ideal but when you are first striking out on your own, you may need all the income you can get. 

A mistake that many contractors make is not even considering doing work as a subcontractor. They don’t go the distance because they don’t make themselves available for paying work – even if it isn’t as a general contractor. Taking work as a subcontractor will help you supplement your income, get your name out there to clients and other contractors, and provide you with the opportunity to show people what you are capable of. It isn’t a demotion so try not to view it as one.

3) Understand (& Learn) Your Clientele

You can’t generate leads and win bids if you don’t know who your clientele is. Your client base will consist of anyone that would ever use your service. For example, if you are going into housing construction, one of your potential clients would be local land developers. If you are in commercial construction, it would be a good idea to get in touch with commercial realtors. If you offer handyman services, your client base could consist of property management companies.

The beautiful thing about being a contractor is that you have no shortage of clientele. But you should make a list of the types of commercial entities and private consumers who are most likely to need your services. This will help you focus your energies on the hottest leads and make the most efficient use of your time. 

4) Scout Prospective Clients

As a contractor, one of your prime objectives is to secure sales. This includes marketing and meeting with potential clients. But how do you find potential clients? One of the easiest ways to find potential clients is to use Google. Your search will depend on the kind of contractor service you offer. For instance, if you are a commercial electrician, you may do a search for “businesses near me.” If you are a remodeling contractor, you could do a search for “real estate offices near me.” All kinds of businesses large and small need electrical services and real estate agents are one of the leading customers for renovation contractors.

Your search will turn up a sizeable list of potential clients and all you have to do is jot their names, addresses, and phone numbers down. But that is not the end…

Part II: Getting Official Clients

1) Sell Yourself & Your Services to Clients

Again, as a contractor, much of your efforts will have to be devoted to securing clients. In many cases, that means pursuing and meeting with clients. Once you have a good list of potential clients in your area, take a day or two to go out and meet with them. Visit them at their place of business, make FaceTime with their secretaries and staff, leave your business card with them etc. If you can meet with them face-to-face, let them know how your services can help their business or improve their property. This may be out of your nature as a tradesman but remember that this is part of your job description now if you want to be a successful contractor.

Face-to-face meetings are ideal since it allows your potential clients to put a face to the service you offer, which, in turn, makes you more memorable than an email or business card. But if you can’t get any FaceTime, emails and phone calls can’t hurt. Reach out to them by any means and let them know the service you provide and that you are ready to go to work for them.

2) Use Lead Generation Services

If you don’t have a lot of time to spare and you can afford it, lead generation services are extremely helpful for new contractors. The best lead generation services are well-established networks that connect owners, land developers, investors, and the like to contractors and subcontractors. 

Their databases are massive and millions of potential clients go to their website every day in search of all kinds of contracting and sub-contracting companies. While many of these lead generation services charge an annual fee and a small fee per each contract won, some of them offer free trial periods that you can use to get started. Keep in mind that there are commercial and residential lead generation services and those that are industry-specific so be discerning with which one you use. 

3) Optimize Your Web Presence

Even if you have just a basic website up for your contracting company, Search Engine Optimization is crucial for business in the modern world. There are tons of SEO guides that are readily available online for free and many of the practices to help your company appear in more Google searches are things that you can do right now. 

You can use Google Ads to find out which keywords are trending in your particular trade and utilize them in the content of your website. 

Pictures with good descriptive captions are another SEO tool that will help you rank higher on Google searches. If available, post a picture of your past work on your website so that Google will be able to find your site easier and pull it up when someone makes a search relevant to your company. 

Conclusion

Even as you start to win bids and work on more projects, you should still be in the hunting mindset. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from people you have worked for or are working for. Contact architects, mall management companies, construction management firms, and interior designers and let them know you are ready to work. 

Starting out as a contractor isn’t easy but if you aren’t afraid of hard work and venturing outside your established skill sets, you have a great shot.

The Best Power Tool Brands for Contractors (2020 Update)

Best Power Tool Brands for Contractors Graphic

Knowing the kind of tools you will need for a job is only half the battle. If you need to procure tools for yourself and your team, you have a lot to consider as a contractor. Reliability, durability, cord and cordless options are all important factors with power tools. And oftentimes, a company will stake its name on these specific factors.

Contractors Society of America has comprised a list of the best power tool brands based on the firsthand experiences of other contractors, brand reputation and of course, personal experience. The brands we have chosen here also represent versatility. In other words, these are the brands that have the most use across a broad range of contractor fields. Whether you are an HVAC contractor, a roofing contractor a remodeling contractor or any type of contractor of the like, you will surely find a use for the tools made by the following brands.

Keep in mind that in this list, we are focusing on the brands that make the best power tools for professional use. While many of these brands also emphasize consumer and DIY usability, we are going to be focusing on professional contractor use.

Milwaukee

If you have been a contractor in the last century, then you know the name Milwaukee. Milwaukee was established in 1924, and they are innovators when it comes to cordless power tools. In fact, they were the first power tool manufacturer to integrate rechargeable lithium-ion battery technology into their power tools. 

This is one of the things we like best about the Milwaukee brand. As a contractor, we don’t have to tell you how handy cordless power tools are. But reliability and charging are always an issue. Milwaukee power tools charge quickly, stay juiced for a long time and the batteries don’t burn themselves out as quickly as other of the best power tool brands. 

We personally loved the Milwaukee 2896-24 18V Combo kit which includes an M18 Fuel Sawzall. This sawzall is a beast. Whether you are cutting through vinyl fascia or the nails that secure them, this thing maintains its power via the innovative M18 Fuel power system that Milwaukee has garnered tons of industry praise for. The set comes with interchangeable spare batteries which is always helpful on the job site. 

Another great thing about Milwaukee power tools is that all of their modern products run off of one of four battery systems. So you can use the same battery for your Milwaukee hex impact driver as you do for your Milwaukee hammer drill.

Craftsman

Craftsman may not be the first name you think of when you think of the best power tool brands for contractors, but that is only because they have brands under them. Craftsman is actually part of the Stanley Black & Decker family of products so right off the bat, you know they are manufactured to strict standards of quality. 

But the main reason we included them in our best of the best power tool brands for contractors is that they manufacture perhaps the widest array of power tools, hand tools and outdoor equipment of any other brand; which means this brand is useful for a variety of contractors. 

For instance, did you know that Weedwacker is actually a Craftsman brand? It’s true. Weedwacker has become a general term for all kinds of string trimmers but the specific name is a registered trademark of Craftsman.

If you are a landscape contractor then you couldn’t do too much better in terms of a string trimmer than a Weedwacker from Craftsman. 

Aside from tool versatility, Craftsman has also become known for power versatility. They offer a generous line of corded, cordless, battery and gas-powered tools. So no matter what your preference is or what your line of work calls for as a contractor, Craftsman will more than likely have a set of tools you can get great use out of.

Ridgid

We couldn’t forget about our plumbing and HVAC contractors out there. That’s why we have included Ridgid in our list of the best power tool brands. Ridgid is known for reliability. The company was founded in 1923 and began specializing in quality hand tools like pipe wrenches. But in our personal experience, Ridgid makes some of the best drill kits and impact drivers we have ever used. 

They last a really long time and maintain consistent performance no matter how hard you work them. But let’s get down to brass tacks. The Ridgid brand will be your best friend especially if you are an HVAC or plumbing contractor. Their hand tools for these specific trades are world-renowned and although they offer just a limited line in terms of power tools, even they are a solid choice. 

Ridgid is also an affordable brand if you are shopping for power tools. If you are looking for a basic set of power tools that can be put to multiple uses, Ridgid is a great brand to choose.

Bosch

Bosch represents one of the oldest companies on our list. The company began in Germany all the way back in 1886. Bosch made our list for a number of reasons. The first of which has to do with the brand versatility. Bosch is known for making power tools for virtually every trade. If you are in residential construction, Bosch has specialized tools for you. If you are a plumbing contractor, Bosch makes a power tool you won’t be able to do without. If you are an electrician, you likely already have some Bosch tools in your arsenal.

We have personally worked with Bosch tools a great deal and on different job sites we have noticed one thing about Bosch power tools: they keep a charge for a very long time. We have seen crews complete multiple projects on a single charge. In particular, we really like the performance of the 18V Bosch drill set. It delivers 1,500 pounds of torque which is enough for metal workers and professional construction contractors alike. And the hammer and anvil system that they innovated for their impact drivers is one of the most impressive we have ever come across. Again, with just one charge, we were able to use this impact driver on multiple projects without losing any impact power. 

In our opinion, their 18V tool sets are the best. The reciprocating saws and hammer drills pack enough power to get a variety of jobs done and you don’t have to fumble around with chargers and batteries as much as you do with other power tool brands. 

Makita

If you prefer to use pneumatic tools in your line of work, then you are probably already well-acquainted with the Makita brand. Makita makes some of the best compressed-air powered tools in the industry. Their family of pneumatic nailers represent the acme of durability, precision, and power. 

The interesting thing is that Makita didn’t even start making power tools until the 50s. They make a wide variety of power tools and equipment which were designed for the job site (their industrial fans and radios are some of the best we have ever come across) which is one of the reasons we chose to include them on our list of the best power tool brands for contractors. 

The cordless line of 18V power tools from Makita, which features the incomparable brushless XDT impact driver, is the way to go if you are just getting started with Makita tools. They are never underpowered and provide long battery life that any type of contractor will appreciate. They are designed very well too. We know contractors that have owned a single Makita power tool for over a decade and still use it to this day. 

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Makita power tools is the consistency of quality throughout their product catalog. They make rotary hammers that are the top-choice for many construction contractors we know, power sanders that woodworkers get decades of use from and circular saws that are considered the best by many construction contractors. In short, they are versatile. Many types of contractors can benefit greatly from the consistent performance of a wide variety of Makita power tool. And that’s why we like this brand so much.

Honorable Mentions

There were a few other brands that we wanted to include in our list such as Ryobi, Black + Decker and Kobalt. But if we added any more brands to our list, we would have composed an overly-long blog. Instead, our succinct list features the best of the best. Hopefully we have shed some light on these worthy brands and maybe even helped you with your next purchase. Here at Contractors Society of America, we are always looking to provide helpful resources to our fellow contractors and tradesmen. Feel free to get in touch with us for more helpful information.

What COVID-19 Could Mean For Electricians

 

COVID-19 for Electricians Cover

As a skilled tradesman, COVID-19 has almost certainly impacted your business in some way.

But for many tradesmen, like electricians, your work is considered essential, and therefore; you can continue working even under stay-at-home orders in many cases.

So what is the responsibility of an electrical company and an electrician during these uncertain times?

Communicate Digitally

Your customers are going to want to know what the deal is. But you can’t answer every phone call since the volume has tripled, in many cases.

Instead, you want to make your stance on COVID-19 accessible online.

There are a few ways to do this:

Google My Business

Perhaps the easiest way to display information regarding coronavirus procedures is through your Google My Business listing. GMB has new features that allow you to specify whether you are remaining open during the crisis. You can also add Google Posts further detailing your points of emphasis.

Company Website

Your main website should have a notice that explains your COVID-19 procedure and whether your company is remaining open. As an electrician, it is likely that you are an essential worker and therefore should demonstrate that in your website notice. The notice should either appear at the very top of your site or should pop-up automatically to visitors so that they don’t miss it.

Exercise Precautions with Staff & Customers

Since the virus is contagious, the last thing you want is to spread it to one of your staff or especially to one of your customers. That’s why you should exercise every precaution before attempting to conduct a service. It starts with staff accountability and a strong message that any symptoms should be taken seriously, and that technician should stay home.

COVID-19 Notice

Follow The Guidelines

Make sure you follow CDC guidelines for coronavirus prevention. After all, you should not trust any non-reputable source to explain how to prevent the virus from spreading. There are lots of opportunists looking to profit off of fear, economic turmoil, and other anxieties spreading across the globe.

Show Leadership in Your Community

How you handle crisis goes a long way towards building your reputation for the future. Studies show that customers remember the performance of services during times of crisis more than in normal times. As an electrician, this means that prioritizing safety and also performance can go a long way.

Ease Customer Concerns

Customers aren’t going to want irresponsible workers coming in their homes during this time of great crisis. The best way to prove your safety is to demonstrate the precautions you are taking, in detail. Whether that is wearing gloves, masks, and other protective materials, to monitoring all staff members for even the slightest symptoms. Make sure your clients know you are taking this seriously.

Looking Toward The Future

Although the future is uncertain for many, running a business requires a bit of foresight. That means electricians are going to have to consider what their business will look like once the worst of the pandemic has ceased. Hopefully, for those members of the Contractors Society of America, they will be in great health, and thriving as leaders in their respective communities, including their digital ones.