Category Archives: Construction

How to Manage Construction Vendors for Ideal Results

Manage Construction Vendors (Cover)

How you manage construction vendors says a lot about your business. The manner you choose, communicate with, and work alongside your vendors could mean the difference between project success and complete chaos. It can also affect how customers view (and review) your business. 

And the bigger your business is, the more vendors you are likely to have. We have seen contractors struggle to manage multiple vendors across different projects. Today, we want to share some of the best tips that we have seen work well for contractors regarding managing construction vendors. 

Instead of dealing with delayed projects and angry clients, please read Contractor’s Society of America‘s guide on managing construction vendors.

Establish A Strong Line of Communication from the Start

First things first: when selecting material suppliers, you should establish a strong line of communication. But it’s not only about providing your contact information and even alternate contact information (although those things are important to do). It is also essential to establish what your goals are for the partnership. When onboarding a new vendor, make sure they understand the scope of the projects you typically face.

Onboarding should also entail discussions about how the vendor intends to deliver reports should a client require them. And if you want your vendor to use the same project management platform as your company, be sure to provide them with all the information they need.

Also, be sure to define your expectations clearly. Tell any potential vendor how often you would like status reports and the method(s) you prefer to receive them. 

Evaluate the Performance of your Vendors

Taking inventory of how your vendor is performing is crucial for the overall success of your company. Some contractors assume that their suppliers are doing an excellent job if projects are getting done on time. But improved performance is usually attainable in one way or another. So you need to gather specific information on your vendors and review it regularly. 

  • Ask your Crew – A great source of information on how your vendors are performing is your crew. Ask them what they think of the vendor if supplies are making it to the job site on time, what condition the supplies are in when they arrive, and their interactions with the suppliers. 
  • Evaluate Safety Issues – When evaluating your vendors’ performance, be sure to compare the way they operate to your safety procedures. Are they following the safety protocols you set forth when you hired them? If not, you could be risking dangerous accidents and potential lawsuits. 
  • Flexibility – Have you had to change a supply order? If so, how willing to accommodate were your vendors. The fact is you will need to make changes (delivery location, method, materials, etc.) from time to time, and your vendor needs to be able to adapt.

Document Performance

Keep notes or official reports on how your vendor is performing throughout your professional relationship. This point is especially important when a vendor makes a mistake. Nobody intends to mess up, but it happens from time to time. When it does, it’s important to document certain aspects of the failure. 

For one thing, you need to identify which vendor made a mistake if you work with multiple suppliers. It also helps determine the impact of the error i.e., missed deadlines, injury, or lost clients. Documenting the vendor’s reaction and explanation of any incidents is also essential. And when something doesn’t go right, don’t assume that it was the vendor’s fault. Take an unbiased look at any incidents so you can determine whether the responsibility lies with your company or the vendor. 

Collect Financial Data

Chances are, vendor costs are a big part of your company’s budget. To make sure you are getting the best value for your money as possible, gather and evaluate critical data such as:

  1. 1) Itemized Materials – Itemize the materials that your vendor supplies to make cost analysis easier.
  2. 2) Pricing Breakdown – Request that your vendor breaks down in detail the prices for items and services
  3. 3) Discount Information – Be sure to calculate any discounts you may be receiving for large orders. And make sure you are receiving any applicable discounts as well.

Helpful Resources for Contractors

Good help is undoubtedly hard to find. But here at Contractors Society of America, we do our utmost to provide your contracting business with the resources it needs to succeed. Help with construction vendor management is just the beginning. We have a wealth of resources specifically for contractors, including industry studies, networking opportunities, and more. Grow your business and become a member today. 

How to Tell if a Wall is Load Bearing (2020)

How To Tell if a Wall is Load Bearing (Blog Cover)

When people inquire about how to tell if a wall is load bearing, they often overlook several important factors. At Contractors Society of America, we don’t like to cut corners. Instead, we like to provide accurate and up-to-date information that helps individuals succeed in their ventures throughout the United States and abroad. We believe that knowledge should be shared to empower people like you to learn and grow in your profession or to perform DIY tasks in your home or commercial property.

So what’s the deal with these walls, anyway? A load bearing wall will handle the floor weight or roofing system of the property. Walls that do not bear loads hold only its own material. These walls are known most commonly as partition walls. Whenever a renovation takes place, the contractor or DIYer must determine whether their wall is in fact load bearing. Removing a load bearing wall mandates that structural integrity must be replaced and accounted for. If not, your entire property will collapse.

Here at Contractors Society of America, we have a comprehensive directory of roofing, remodeling, and construction contractors. So for this article, we surveyed our own members. We asked them what their best tips were for telling whether or not a wall is load-bearing with the naked eye. But let’s start with the basics.

Why is Identifying a Load-Bearing Wall Important?

As you have probably already gathered, a load-bearing wall is any wall in a structure that helps transfer the weight of the roof or upper floors down to the foundation. They essentially hold the structure up. So you can’t go tearing down load-bearing walls willy-nilly. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • It’s Very Dangerous – If you tear out load-bearing walls during renovation or remodeling, the roof could start sagging and eventually fail. A sagging roof is more prone to leaks, water damage and puts undue stress on the rest of the structure. In extreme cases, the entire roofing system could collapse putting everyone inside the structure in harm’s way and causing thousands of dollars in damage. 
  • You Could Incur a Fine – In almost all states, a permit is required to tear out any load-bearing walls. So if you tear one out without getting a permit, you could risk a hefty fine from the local building authorities. How would they find out you ask? While it’s true that you could probably get away with tearing down a load-bearing wall without a permit in most cases, you better hope that you never have to sell your house. A building inspection will surely reveal the absence of necessary load-bearing walls which among other consequences, could flag local building authorities and result in fines.
  • It Damages your Home – Removing a load-bearing wall doesn’t just put stress on the rest of the structure; it can have aesthetic repercussions as well. Removing a load-bearing wall will usually damage the drywall and ceilings under the weight of the roof. The whole structure will have to contort to a certain degree which almost always results in cracked drywall and ceiling stucco.

The consequences of removing a load-bearing wall are far-reaching. Doing so can affect your ability to sell your home, your wallet and can put you and your family in danger. Now that you know why being able to identify a load-bearing wall is important, let’s get into how to tell if a wall is load bearing.

Tips for Identifying a Load Bearing Wall

Before we begin, it cannot be stressed enough that when you are in doubt, you need to call a professional. While there are certain ways to identify a load-bearing wall yourself, it is always advisable to seek the help of a professional to be on the safe side. With that caveat addressed, here are some helpful tips on how to tell if a wall is load bearing provided by our expert community of contractors:

  • Check the Floor Joists – If possible, take a look at the studs in the wall in question. If the wall is aligned parallel to the floor joists of the above floor, then that wall is probably not load-bearing. But if it is aligned at a perpendicular angle to the floor joists of the floor above (or the roof) then it is most likely a load-bearing wall. But, keep in mind that walls that run parallel to above floor joists can still be load-bearing. If you can see that the wall in question has an above wall situated on top of it, it is load-bearing.
  • Check for Structural Walls – Engineers, architects, and contractors usually refer to load-bearing walls as “structural walls.” And the best way to locate the structural walls in your building is to refer to the blueprints. If you have your blueprints handy, then you have access to the easiest way to tell if a wall is load-bearing. If a wall is marked with an “S” in your blueprints, that means the wall is load-bearing. “S” in this case stands for “structural.” If you don’t have your blueprints, you can request them from the contractor who built your home or from the county clerk. 
  • Check the Foundation – If you have access to your foundation (usually through an unfinished basement) take a look at where the I-beams or multi-board wood beams are situated. Structural walls are usually built on top of these beams.
  • Check the Ceiling – If you can, take a look at any weight supporting beams that run through it. These beams are installed to help bear the load of the roof or upper floors and structural walls are usually built underneath them. If the wall in question does not run under this beam, under a wall in an above floor or any type of post, it is most likely not a load-bearing wall.
  • Check for Knee Walls – If possible, have a look around in your attic. In particular, check to see where, if anywhere, the knee walls are installed. In most cases, load-bearing walls are built underneath knee walls in the attic. 

Last but not least, please be aware that if the wall in question is an exterior wall, it is almost certainly a load-bearing wall. So definitely don’t go knocking down any wall that shares a side with your front, side or backyard.  We hope that you have found our guide on how to tell of a wall is load bearing helpful. For more helpful tips or for professional assistance with your renovation project, contact CSOA today.

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.