How the Construction Industry Will Improve Under Donald Trump

Whenever a presidential election occurs, various industries anxiously wait to see the results and how they will affect their businesses. During a candidate’s campaign, it’s difficult to know exactly what their plans are for many industries, because they do not often have comprehensive plans. The construction industry often relies on the will of the federal government to determine whether they’ll succeed or stagnate at their current level. With the support of the federal government, construction companies have more chances to build and more job opportunities. Luckily, as of now, many believe President Trump’s administration will lead to improvements for those in the construction industry.

Initial uncertainty

Many construction companies initially avoided planning large projects or making concrete future plans due to the intense uncertainty surrounding the election in the fall. It was unclear which candidate would win and what regulations might be imposed on the industry, particularly from a Democratic administration. There was also plenty of economic uncertainty when the DOW plunged as the election results came in, but that has turned around, with it now closing at record highs since the results of the election were announced and the economy has stabilized.

Wants to boost American jobs

President Trump has been incredibly vocal about his support for increasing the amount of jobs available to American workers. We’ve already seen some companies stop sending jobs to other countries, and it’s likely more businesses will follow suit. The administration has also expressed a desire to use domestic companies, which likely means more opportunities for private businesses to take on jobs for federal projects.

Looks to improve infrastructure

One of the ways President Trump can increase jobs for the construction sector is through his desire to improve infrastructure in the United States. In his acceptance speech, he stated he wants to construct more, ““highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals”. These projects will inevitably lead to domestic construction companies receiving jobs throughout the country.

Plans on utilizing domestic energy

A Trump presidency promises support for the domestic fossil fuel industry, as he has officially greenlighted pipelines and wishes to improve the gathering and transportation of domestic energies. Building pipelines and other ways to transport fuels will lead to many opportunities for the construction industry.

Has connections to construction

President Trump understands the importance of the construction industry; as a big-name in real estate, he has to rely on construction to build his hotels and other projects. It seems likely that he’ll be a huge supporter of real estate, which will help out the construction industry as building homes and other structures increases throughout the next few years.

Drones & the Construction Industry

Used for quick delivery, exploring, and sky-high selfies, drones are making their way into the construction industry and slowly cementing themselves as a staple. These high-flying aircraft are making it easier to keep construction sites safe and complete jobs efficiently and on time, all from the touch of a tablet. Also known as UAV — or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — learn more about how drones are completely reinventing the way we look at construction.

  1. They act as your eye in the sky.
    • Drones allow construction project managers to see an aerial view of their construction sites in ways that were never before possible. The entire site is now able to be surveyed at once, and the best part? The foremen, safety team, and architects can all view the site from a remote location without actually having to be there.
  2. They revolutionized job site photography.
    • Before there were drones, if you wanted to be able to take an aerial photograph of your job site in order to plan and document the construction process, you needed to hire a helicopter or other similar aircraft which was usually way too costly and impossible, logistically, due to FAA airspace restrictions. Drones, however, are able to acquire 97 million data points across a 46 acre job site in just 15 minutes, saving companies money, time, and resources.
  3. They allow for better land surveying.
    • While before, land surveying had to be done on foot or at least from the ground level, drones are making it easier than ever to collect topographic data from construction sites. At any construction site, it’s going to cost quite a bit to have earth movers come in and help level the area; drones are allowing construction firms to save money by better estimating and planning ahead of excavation.
  4. They (mostly) eliminate human error.
    • While there is some room for fallibility in terms of programming incorrectly, drones are largely eliminate the concern for human miscalculation and error. When they’re set to survey a site or potential construction area, the flight pattern of the UAV is programmed ahead of time and set into motion with a few swipes of your finger.

As a relatively new implementation into everyday use, it will be amazing to see how drones are helping our lives in the years to come.

Construction Site Safety Tips

Construction sites are areas of high potential for injury. There are many cogs in motion all at once to keep the project moving, and if proper precautions aren’t taken, workers can be seriously injured or even killed on site. Keep your site safe with these tips to guard your workers against workplace injury.

  • Wear proper gear at all times.

Most construction sites call for workers to wear certain protective clothing or gear while on the job. Construction helmets are usually required to be near areas where work is being done, steel-toed boots are a must for working with building materials, and thick gloves are great for protecting your hands against splinters and other rough materials. If you’re working on a site where there is a lot of large equipment that is being moved regularly, you also want to make sure to wear bright, visible clothing that will allow you to stand out and be easily seen by machine operators.

  • Double check everything.

There’s an adage in life that says “measure twice, cut once” and the phrase is born out of carpentry for a reason; if you double check your projections, predictions, math, and measurements before you make a cut in your materials. It will save you time by eliminating the need to cut again if you measured too large, and it saves on materials in case you measured too small the first time and need to use a new piece of material altogether. Giving your work a second glance can save everyone a hassle in the long run.

  • Communicate effectively and often.

On any site, there are often a lot of large parts moving all at once, so it’s important for everyone to be aware of what’s going on around them. Make everyone aware of new changes when they’re implemented, and make sure everyone has been trained in proper safety procedures. Keep a packet you’ve prepared to brief any visitors to the site of proper safety procedures and precautions they need to follow during their stay on hand as well. The communication doesn’t start when the ground is first broken though; before anything is ever constructed, communication is occurring as contracts are being signed, plans are being drawn, and land is being surveyed.

  • Stay organized.

A messy job site is a dangerous job site, so you want to keep everything in tip-top shape to best ensure your employees’ safety. If you leave sheet metal, nails, or potentially dangerous tools and materials laying around unregulated, you’re increasing the risk that someone is going to be harmed by them. Keep your materials in check and make sure all equipment is stored properly when not in use.

How to Stop Construction Site Theft

how to stop construction site theft

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If you read my previous blog about construction site theft, you’ll know that it’s a huge problem affecting the industry and costing it upwards of 5 billion dollars of loss each year. If you’ve ever experienced theft at one of your job sites, you know how devastating it can be and how much it can delay the progress of your project. Protect yourself against theft and keep your construction site secure with these tips for combating job site thievery.

Document it. 

Take photos of your construction site and equipment so you can quickly identify if something has gone missing or if it’s been stolen. Keep records of all of your equipment and make sure that the serial numbers are visible to any potential thieves so they know your equipment is on record.

Make your equipment immovable.

When you aren’t at the site using your equipment, make it as difficult as possible for someone to move the equipment from the site. Never leave the keys in the machines; always keep them locked away, and to make it more difficult, remove batteries and any electric starting systems when the machines are left unattended.

Make the equipment your own.

Develop a color scheme to use for your business and repaint all of your equipment to be easily identifiable with your brand. You can also work up a design to recreate on your equipment; anything that will make the tools and machines unique to your company will make it less tempting to steal and more easy to track down if stolen.

Keep a watchful eye.

The more visible and surveyed your job site, the less tempting of a target it will be for thieves. Install security cameras around the construction area and keep the site well lit so any trespassers or thieves will be easy to spot. You can also keep an eye on your construction equipment by installing GPS systems to track the location of expensive, high-end machines.

Reduce the number of entrances to your site.

Stealing large construction equipment is much easier when there are multiple ways through which the thieves can enter and exit the scene. Ideally, your construction site should only have one entrance through which your workers can enter and exit the job site, and you can install security cameras to monitor the opening and keep track of who’s coming and going.

Keep track of everything.

A disorganized work site is a site where it’s easy to commit theft and also get away with it. If you aren’t sure where your equipment is, where you left your tools, or who is coming and going from the site, a long time could pass between the theft and when you realize something is missing. Keeping a detailed list of inventory and a tight track on when people are entering and leaving the site can help ensure that nothing is unaccounted for and give you peace of mind having everything in order.

Construction Site Theft

construction site theft

Rome wasn’t built in a day and, unfortunately, neither are modern day houses. According to a 2014 Survey of Construction from the United States Census Bureau, the average completion time for a single family home — from start to finish — is 7 months. That’s a total of 5,040 hours that your house is being built, during which time (given 40 hours of work a week) approximately 1,120 hours is actually devoted to the construction of the building. That leaves a whopping 3,920 hours during the construction process when the soon-to-be home is being left unguarded and unobserved, allowing for plenty of time and opportunity for less-than-savory characters to sneak onto the sites, take what they want, and leave before anyone’s the wiser.

Construction site thievery is a problem costing the industry now as much as 5 billion dollars in loss each year. While construction site theft is by no means a new problem, it is becoming increasingly problematic. After years of a housing standstill, the construction industry in America entered a building boom near the beginning of 2016. This boom — on top of the ever-increasing cost of building materials like lumber, copper, and cement — has lead to the amount of construction site thievery to skyrocket, as well. The thieves are also stealing more than just building materials; bathtubs, appliances, doors, windows, and HVAC units have all been snatched from construction sites. People are even going as far as to steal high-priced construction equipment right from the job sites, and, to make matters worse, once these materials and equipment are stolen, it’s incredibly difficult for law enforcement to trace or track down the items.

This problem is one adding fuel to the fire of an even bigger problem; in America right now there is a construction worker shortage currently restricting the growth that could be seen with the construction boom. This problem is exacerbated by construction site theft because stolen materials need to be replaced and this takes time away from the construction process. Since there is a shortage of skilled craftsmen, ones working on a project interrupted by theft are likely to take their skills elsewhere where the pay is more constant and the work more steady.

Loss of materials and supplies at building sites can also prove dangerous for construction workers themselves. Because of the high cost of materials, some contractors are buying cheaper, shoddier tools to cut their losses. However, these inexpensive tools aren’t lasting as long as their well-made counterparts and can lead to an increase of workplace injuries and cause even further delays, costing a lot of money in the long run.

Stay tuned for how you can stop construction site theft in my next blog!

How Drywall is Made

how drywall is made

Unless your home is older than 1916, there’s a decent chance that your walls and ceiling are comprised of drywall, a gypsum-based board that insulates your home and acts as a fireproofing agent in the event of a home fire. While it’s one of many points in the homebuilding process, it is a crucial step in helping ensure that your home is cozy and safe for the ones you love. While you may not think much about it, a lot went into creating the drywall that we trust and use today.

Drywall was created as an alternative to plaster in the homebuilding process to help cut down on installation times. Plaster is laid on wet and requires someone with special skills and training to be able to install effectively and beautifully, but drywall can be installed in as little as a few days and is simple enough to put up that you can do it yourself with little difficulty.

What we call “drywall” is a hard, thin board of the mineral gypsum pressed between two thick sheets of paper. Gypsum is a fairly common mineral and the most commonly occurring sulfate mineral in nature. Typically found in thick beds housed in sedimentary rock— the most popular being the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico —  it builds up in deposits due to areas of highly mineralized water like lake and seawater, hot springs, and areas of volcanic activity. Since gypsum is water soluble, it settles into veins when the water evaporates, leaving behind white deposits of gypsum, often discolored to grey or pink due to impurities.

After the gypsum has been mined and extracted, it’s taken to factories across the globe where it’s blended with additives and mixed into a paste; the additives used include starch, plasticizer, and fiberglass to help it reduce mildew growth and protect against fires. The paste is then spread between two thick sheets of paper and dried.

Despite it’s name, drywall actually contains a surprising amount of water. The water found within the gypsum board is in crystalline form, allowing the board to remain dry and firm at room temperature. The benefit of having crystalline water molecules comes when you need it most; if the drywall heats up, the crystalline water molecules start destabilizing and vaporizing as temperatures reach the boiling point of water. As the water molecules vaporize, they draw heat away from the drywall, keeping it cool and helping it protect the structure behind it.

Construction’s Digitalization

 

construction's digitalizationBy its very nature, construction is a hands-on industry, and aside from updated equipment and building materials, not much has really changed in terms of The tangible process of building infrastructure is one that simply can’t be simply handed over to ever-developing technologies — or can it?

In recent years, the construction industry has gradually begun to turn its sights towards new technology. Fully automated parts are now a norm for some construction equipment, and recently there has become a shift towards digitized technologies. So what new technologies are slowly becoming a part of the construction industry?

While the big-name car companies all race to produce the first driverless vehicles to be driven on the roads, a similar — though much less urgent — process is occurring with construction vehicles. Another new construction technology that’s creeping over the horizon is autonomous construction equipment, a step towards making working conditions safer and more efficient. One of the major obstacles standing in the way of this autonomy is the unpredictability of construction sites. While other motorized equipment, like the machines used in farming, would only need to be able to tackle repetitive projects, construction sites often have unpredictable conditions with changes in landscape and terrain that would make it difficult for a fully-automated machine to properly navigate.

The construction of building materials has also become an automated process as most construction materials are created uniformly in factories. These advancements in digital technology don’t just have the ability to design and construct the building components; they may soon be able to erect the buildings themselves. Construction Robotics, a company based in New York, has created a Semi-Automated Mason, or SAM100 for short. SAM needs humans to give it instructions and adjust its levels, but it has the ability to pick up bricks, apply mortar to the bricks, and lay them in just about 9 seconds, a significant reduction in the average 30 seconds that it takes a human to do the same task.

Digital technologies even have the potential to assist in the building process before construction on projects even begins. Companies are beginning to use drones to survey large portions of land and collect data over wide areas which can not only help the company save money but could potentially increase construction site safety by being able to identify problems that may not be seen from ground level. Two companies, Skycatch and Propeller Aero, have each been developing new ways for drone to assist with construction. Skycatch, a San-Francisco-based company, is currently selling software for drones that creates aerial maps of construction sites for iPhones; Propeller Aero, an Australian company, provides a service that will collect drone images and videos of possible construction sites and compare them to potential work plans to help identify areas that may be problematic.

These new technologies offer a vision of the future where the construction process can be expedited and decisions can be made far in advance to offer a safer, more efficient building process.

The Nationwide Construction Worker Shortage

construction worker shortage

After the United Kingdom’s Brexit announcement, there was a boon in the American real estate market. Foreign investors began to pull their investments from Britain’s real estate market and invest in more stable American property. As a result, more buildings are under construction and more development projects are underway than have been in the past decade. While this is a great turnaround to see, it’s also raising some problems for the industry.

When the housing market collapsed in 2008, an estimated 30% of construction workers nationwide were forced to seek work outside of their field. The housing market collapse rendered already existing houses difficult to sell, reducing — if not eliminating — the need to build new ones and sending construction workers into a panic about finding work. The demand to build new houses just wasn’t there.

Now, eight years later, the problem has reversed. As the construction industry begins to construct new projects, where there was once a surplus of construction workers, there is now a deficit. The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that, in the U.S., there are about 200,000 construction jobs that are currently unfilled — an 81% jump in the past two years. These shortages are industry wide with 69% of firms reporting difficulties in filling their hourly positions, 38% having difficulty in filling salaried positions, 33% having difficulty filling salaried office positions, and 15% reporting difficulty filling hourly office positions. The construction worker shortage doesn’t stop there. There is also a deficit of craft workers, with construction companies also experiencing a difficult time trying to fill electrician, plumber, carpenter, concrete worker, and roofer positions as well.

These shortages aren’t going away any time soon. In the decade from 2014-2024, the United States Department of Labor expects the demand for skilled masonry workers to increase by 15%, the demand for electricians to grow 14%, the demand for roofers to grow by 13%, the demand for plumbers to grow 14%, and the demand for carpenters to grow 6%.

As the labor demand gets stronger, the labor shortage is becoming more and more problematic. With not enough workers to satisfy the need, companies are raising wages and increasing their offered benefits in the hopes of attracting new workers and retaining old ones. Many private companies have reported being forced to give employees raises on the spot to keep from losing them. And as the labor costs rise, so does the cost of building; on average, the construction cost for a single-family home has risen by 13.7% since 2007.

The rising costs of home building is being accentuated by an ever-increasing demand for homes that are newly constructed. However, with the lack of labor, many contractors are hesitant to sign contracts as they may not have the labor force to complete the job within the time requirements which can lead to lawsuits, fines, and hundreds of thousands of dollars lost. This shortage is one that needs to be resolved soon, but likely won’t see a solution for several years to come.

The History of Drywall

drywall

Building a house today requires much more than it used to when the country was first being settled; no longer will logs and clay simply do the trick. Houses today are much more insulated and architecturally sound than they used to be thanks to a number of contributing factors, one of which was the invention and implementation of drywall in the home.

Also known as plasterboard, gypsum board, and wallboard, drywall was created as an alternative to the time-consuming plaster which takes much longer to dry, hence the name ‘drywall’. Plaster, which has been used since ancient times, is usually comprised of a combination of lime, sand, animal hair, and water. While this form of plaster was highly effective, research began to uncover a link between exposure to lime and illness and, coupled with a desire for more efficient building, eventually lead to the invention of drywall.

drywall

Unlike plaster which took a long time to dry, drywall takes little to no time to be ready to use.

Drywall was invented in 1916 by the U.S. Gypsum Company and is created by sandwiching a compressed layer of gypsum between two heavy sheets of paper. At first, drywall was available only as small, fireproof tiles, but it quickly became available for home use. The U.S. Gypsum Corporation marketed drywall as a cheaper alternative to plaster that could help protect the home and homeowner from urban fires which, at the time, would spread rapidly across buildings. Not only was drywall cheaper and fireproof, it also required little to no time to dry and could be put up in most kinds of weather. However, despite these selling points, Americans didn’t really care about drywall. They viewed it as a cheap fix and a shoddier alternative to traditional plastering. The U.S. Gypsum Corporation tried changing the name of the product to ‘Sheetrock’ to enhance its appeal to buyers, but Americans still weren’t interested.

It wasn’t until the 1940s that drywall sales began to take off, thanks to the twofold efforts of the baby boom and World War II. Between 1946 and 1960, more than 20 million new houses were constructed across the country to make room for the massive number of babies that were being born. The population was skyrocketing, and there weren’t enough houses in existence to keep up with the demand. Since drywall was a more efficient alternative to plaster that took much less time to dry, it quickly became a favorite among builders for fast production of houses. As World War II began, so increased the need for quicker, more efficient labor across the board. As the labor force of the country turned its focus on manufacturing for the war and men were sent overseas to join the fight, cheap, readily-available building materials were needed to counteract the shortage in labor and the cost of war. Since drywall required far less labor and could be quickly produced, it rapidly became a post-war building boom staple following the end of the war in 1945.

Drywall has since become the industry standard for home building and construction. It comes in all variety of sizes, and there are now application-specific types of drywall. There are types of drywall that are moisture resistant, fire resistant, abuse resistant, soundproof and mold resistant, allowing it to be used in virtually any area for any purpose. Drywall has been the industry standard for decades and, as it continues to improve, likely will be for decades more.

The Benefits of Giving Back as a Business Leader

lloydclaycomb-leadershipFor business leaders, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day functions of running a company. But, it’s important to take a break and find ways to reach outside the business in order to improve it, and to also help others. A great way for a business to help themselves, while helping another group at the same time, is through philanthropic work. Beyond the fact that it’s simply a good thing to do, there are a lot of benefits to your business that will come from giving back to the community.

Benefit #1 – Increased Employee Morale

By engaging in charity work and philanthropic events, your employees feel better about themselves and the business they work for. Knowing their employer supports philanthropic enterprises boosts employee morale, because they enjoy working for a company who they know cares about important causes. Another way to make your employees feel more positively is by providing them with volunteer opportunities within different organizations. They can help out those organizations and also possess the knowledge that they used their time to make a difference.

Benefit #2 – Positive Community Reputation

Giving back to the local community increases your business’s reputation with surrounding people. A great example of a company using this to their advantage is Facebook. There was initial concern when the company moved to their new headquarters to Menlo Park, but by donating to local schools and improving the surrounding community, Facebook put the locals’ fears at ease. By helping other businesses, non-profits, or the local schools, your business can build up a positive image with the local community that will encourage them to patronize your business and give you help.

Benefit #3 – Improves the Community

By giving back to the local community, your efforts will improve it. Besides locals having a favorable impression of your company, you can help improve their quality of life and also draw new residents to the community. Making the area a place people want to live, helps your business because bright minds will be drawn in, along with more people who can patronize your business. A better community will also benefit your employees and their families (and you, if you live near your company), which will increase productivity and general work quality.

Benefit #4 – New Connections

Philanthropy can also help you build new connections with other businesses or possible buyers. If you make donations to another business or group, whether in money, time, or products, they’ll be more likely to come to you for later needs or issues that your business could help solve. Another advantage is connecting with a large philanthropy, which often has successful business leaders on its board. This way, you’ll make connections with powerful business leaders who could possibly help your business down the road.