How the Landscape Affects Your Office Building Construction

Erecting an office building from an empty lot takes a lot of land preparation and specialized equipment. To install a foundation, the site needs to be level. Putting in lower levels or digging trenches means getting through tree roots and rocks. Then, after the building goes up, controlling rainwater is important to protecting the structure. With time, landscaping architects and slab experts can provide solutions for these problems, but only if you catch them in advance.

Uneven soil impedes foundation builds

Your office needs solid ground and a sturdy base. Without these basic needs, the building can crack, shift, or collapse. The first thing builders need is an even surface to put the foundation. To get flat ground, all trees, weeds, rocks, and gravel need removing. Groundwater tables help engineers determine if foundation piles or bracing are necessary. Soil testing by boring dirt samples to see the composition of the earth layers helps the construction team find out what is beneath the surface before construction begins. 

Rocky ground is tough for laying cables

Knowing how deep the rock layer goes and whether the dirt is sandy or clay-like helps construction teams know which equipment to use for digging trenches for underground cables. For large rock issues, a rock boring hire might be necessary to drill the boulders. Once in smaller pieces, regular construction equipment can remove the material and ship it off the site. Having an inspection done before buying the land for development can help prevent this and other costs, so be discerning in your choice of land. Not all empty lots are created equal for building.

Tree roots are plumbing disasters

Your office needs restrooms and plumbing you can count on to deliver water and remove sewage properly. When building on a site with a lot of trees or overgrowth, roots will pose issues. Proactive removal of roots is one way builders can ensure that your pipes last. Existing buildings need a regular inspection to find problems before they become disasters. Make sure that you are aware of where the plumbing lines are laid even after the construction is long over so that you can prevent trees from being planted too close to them.

Proper grading is necessary to prevent slab problems

Whether you have a new office or work from an old building, rain is a problem. Keeping the foundation dry is important to preventing problems with settling and cracking. Historic sites must meet specific local and state regulations. Complying with these codes is easier when a proactive rainwater removal system is in place. Gutters, sloped landscaping, and ground stabilizing treatments help keep the soil even and prevent water from sitting against basements and foundations. 

Even if you plan to bulldoze the lot, the landscape of your construction site will affect the building long-term if not properly addressed. Working with the climate and utilizing the right equipment to start off with is important. While not all elements of the landscape can be altered permanently (such as climate or the property surrounding yours,) regular inspections can help you head off problems before they become costly.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

How to Decrease Costly Down Time During Construction Projects

Downtime during a construction project can have a big impact on both worker productivity and your ability to meet project deadlines. Any amount of downtime will can build up over time, and oftentimes downtime in one area will cause more in another. Although downtime on the job is inevitable at some point, it is a good idea to learn a few strategies you can use to prevent wasted work hours. Below, you will find a few tips for keeping your machines and operations running as effectively as possible. 

Rotate Workers

A lot of downtime can come from the physical needs of your workers. Long hours of working can be exhausting. Not only does this result in your employees requiring breaks, but their productivity can slow down as they become more tired leading up to those breaks. One way you can mitigate this is to rotate your employees. Set up shifts so that, when one set of workers are tiring and need a break, the set can rotate in and take over. Even just rotating tasks so that some can do restful activities, such as supervising and directing operations, in between more physically demanding activities can help keep your team fresh and efficient. Talk to your workers about their rest needs and work patterns to create a schedule that will work best for everyone.

Engage in Preventative Maintenance

Your workers aren’t the only ones affected by long work hours. Your machines will also need breaks and checkups to ensure that they are working efficiently. Machines work long and hard to bring your construction ideas to life, and maintaining them regularly can help you avoid the cost of full repairs and needless downtime later. Develop a preventative maintenance plan that includes things like inspections and selective repair work. Consider getting a guaranteed cost agreement for the life of the machines as well. If you have engines or motors that are frequently worked close to overheating, consider ways to rotate equipment so that each will suffer less strain and wear over time.

Manage the Details

Any large or small construction project will have a plethora of logistics attached to it in addition to the physical labor. However, your project managers and workers don’t always have access to all of the relevant information they need while they are on the project site. If they are unclear on points such as local building codes, work schedules, or subcontractors in the area, then it can be time consuming to try and coordinate with those who do have that information. Construction management services, however, can help you and your employees keep track of all operations and relevant information through phones, tablets, and laptops. This ensures that all necessary information is readily available to all relevant parties. Missed calls, emails, and elusive or vague calendars will no longer have the power to slow down your project completion rate when you have the proper management and tracking solutions. 

Consider the Weather

One of the biggest factors influencing downtime for construction is complications with the weather. Whether it’s rain, snow, wind, or even blistering heat, certain steps cannot be completed in extreme conditions. Make sure that you are keeping careful track of weather trends when scheduling project completion dates. Take steps to prepare for potential delays from the weather by getting what needs proper conditions done first. Ensure you have the right equipment, such as tarps, canopies, heaters, and dehumidifiers to help mitigate the effect of the weather on your work. Also, find ways to make even downtime productive by taking the opportunity to run equipment checks indoors, assemble necessary equipment and parts, organize paperwork, and create action plans for when the weather lets up.

Downtime is an inevitable part of any construction project, but not all of it is necessary. By taking precautionary measures, planning carefully, and orchestrating your tasks and operations effectively, you can greatly reduce wasted time and increase project completion speeds. The tips outlined above are just a few of the ways you can lessen the negative financial impact of downtime on your business.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

4 Strategies to Improve the Culture of Your Construction Company

Construction companies are vital to society. People live, work, and play in buildings that are almost as varied as the human race. Because of the pivotal role buildings play in everyday life, it is paramount that those who erect these structures share the same foundational agendas. The culture of any construction company is instrumental in determining how well a project is perceived and executed. Here are four strategies to improve the culture of almost any construction company.

Invest in the Workforce

Employees are the best asset when it comes to construction. The more one invests in them, the more productive one’s company will become. A well-trained, highly-skilled workforce can increase efficiency. Investments in training and education allow for people to focus on tasks required of them and reduce time spent correcting mistakes on the job. Lastly, a smart, disciplined workforce can be trusted to complete the toughest of tasks, while ensuring quality results and a safe working environment.

Be Transparent and Honest

Corporate culture originates at the highest levels. Being open and honest with employees is one of the best ways to gain trust; allowing them to reciprocate the same fosters a relationship that can lead to heightened worker satisfaction and higher productivity. Workers tend to have in-depth, experience-based knowledge in specific areas that, when called upon, can help shed light on issues and processes that may need improvement.

Compensate and Reward

Recognizing hard work and dedication may be the most immediate way to upgrade the culture of a construction company. This can come in the form or pay raises, bonuses, vacation days, or paid time off. Insurance packages that charge reasonable rates are also a great way to honor an employee’s contributions. An attendance policy that promotes a healthy work-life balance will help to reduce the dreaded production killers of tardiness and absenteeism.

Prioritize Safety Over Success

Construction workers perform some of the most dangerous work in our society, sometimes putting their lives on the line at the highest altitudes, the lowest depths, and the harshest environments our world has to offer. Promoting worker safety demonstrates to your employees that they are cared for. Secure harnessing, scaffolding, protective equipment, and signage in work zones are visual indicators that safety comes first. Empowering workers to call out safety concerns also serves to increase vigilance throughout the construction project. 

Implementing these four strategies to improve a construction company’s culture will help advance the civil engineering industry. Employees will trust the business’s mission, embody its values, and promote its accomplishments. Company culture should be taken seriously, as a positive one will help attract talented, hard-working people, and extend business as far as the I-beams can stretch.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Expanding Your Business? Top Considerations When Designing Your New Building

If you are looking to build a new business location, then the process can often be nerve wrecking. Keeping some key points in mind may help the project go more smoothly, but remember that there will always be hiccups along the way. Here are some pointers to take into consideration to make the process of building a new physical location for your business goes smoother.

Think About the Materials

Although you will most likely be working with a construction company to get your new location built, you should keep in mind the supplies that are used. Do you want to use recycled or eco-friendly materials? Will there be chemicals for construction and roofing used? Talk to your construction project manager and discuss your wishes. In the case of chemicals, for example, ask which specific chemicals will be used. If needed, talked to a supplier like Seidler Chemical that they might be using to get that chemical. The same goes for other types of materials that may be used.

Choose the Best Location

You need to work with a real estate professional to choose the best location for your business. Keep local zoning laws in mind when choosing your location. If your business requires foot traffic, then think about building in a location where your business will be seen by those looking for those types of businesses. For example, if you are looking to sell used cars, then think about locating near other car lots as customers are more likely to head there when looking. On the other hand, if your business relies on trucks or trains to move merchandise, then you may want to consider building your business near interstates or the railroad depot.

Think About Design Elements

There are several design elements that you will want to consider when building a new location. Consider elements that will make your location attractive to customers who are coming to see you. Think about how much room your staff needs to work efficiently. Ask yourself how your product will flow into and out of your location. Likewise, consider how customers will flow through your building so that you can keep them safe while making shopping in your new location efficient.

Handle Finances

You will need the money to be able to build a new physical location, so it is important to get everything down on paper. After you have completed all your calculations, then go see a commercial lender if needed. They may also need a copy of your business plan and the last several years of business books. You may also want to see if there are any grants or low-interest government loans available to help you in the process. Keep great records of who you contacted and what they said.

Following these helpful guidelines will help you get the project done quickly. It will often save you money. Building a custom-made business often leaves a great impression on your customers helping to increase your return-on-investment.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

Everything You Need To Know About Shipping

For any commercial business one of the main things which you will want to think about doing is sorting out your shipping method. When you start a small business, shipping may not be the first thing which comes to mind, however, after a few months, you won’t be able to handle simply packaging every item yourself to send off through the post.

Logistics and shipping can make up a very large part of your business, and therefore you need to understand as much as you can about local and interstate transport services for your business. Today we are going to take a look at the basics of shipping and teach you about what to do when shipping your items to your customers.

Rates and methods

When you start looking into the shipping products for your business you will need to take a look at the prices of your items, the shipping prices and the methods you will use for shipping. For example if you are a company who sells small items you can get away with using regular postal methods to deliver your items, however, if you are selling larger products you may need to use a large truck or van for the job. Your rates will likely depend on the type of item you want to ship as well as the weight of the item.

Weights

The heavier your item is, the more it will cost to sell to your customers. This will, of course, determine the cost of your shipping to your customers because the weight will increase the price of shipping by a hefty amount. This is why you will often see very expensive shipping on items like kitchens or furniture.

Type of packaging

You can usually order free packaging from large shipping firms if you decide to use them for all of your product shipping. If not, you will want to decide whether to use plastic bags or boxes to ship your items. This will, of course, depend on the size and the type of product you are selling.

Offer free shipping

If you want to get in your customer’s good side and make them want to continue buying from you, you can offer free shipping to any order over a certain price. This is a strategy which companies like Amazon use successfully all the time, and it stops you from abandoning your shopping basket halfway through an order. If you ordered $15 worth of items and you needed $20 to get free shipping, you are likely to carry on shopping to see if you can find an extra item.

Charge a fixed rate

Most companies use the method of charging one fixed shipping rate no matter what the cost or weight, and a lot of the time this works out as a great method for you to use. For example, if you are a homeware retailer and you charge the same money whether someone buys a kettle or a fridge, it can make a big difference to your customer and they will be more likely to stay shopping with you in the future.

Packaging

You will notice that these days many companies put their efforts into creating attractive packaging for their products. This can be anything from a cute logo to slapping your brand name all over the surface. From a marketing point of view, this can work out brilliantly because it not only makes the brand known to you and your family but also the postal workers and delivery drivers who come to bring you your items. It makes the brand more recognisable and ensures that they stay in your mind for longer.

Types of packaging

One of the decisions you will want to make when shipping your items is the type of packaging you’ll use to keep the items safe and sounds during transit. The most popular type of packaging to use is a box, however, this is not the only type of packaging you can use for your products. Many companies opt to use small bags lines with bubble wrap for their products. And this usually allows parcels to be delivered through the mailbox instead of worrying about missing your package and running to the depot to pick it up.

Keep it light

As you will know, the cost of packaging your items and shipping them off is based on the weight of the parcel. If you already have a large item to package, you will want to reduce your packaging costs as much as possible to stop you from having to pay extra. Try to cut down on fancy packaging and any extras which will make the parcel heavier than it needs to be. Remember to protect the parcel in transit, but other than that you can stay pretty lightweight to reduce your costs.

Tracking

If you are selling high ticket items and ones with a lot of value you may want to add a tracking service to your shipping policy to allow you to track your parcel and let the customer track it too. This will give you the peace of mind to know that it is well looked after, and it will allow the customer to have an estimate on what day and time their parcel may arrive.

Shipping is a huge part of your business and forms the beating heart of your strategy. It is crucial that you make sure you plan for the most efficient, cheap and quick shipping method you can for not only your business but for your customer too. A good shipping time and cost can make a big difference in your customer base and if they think it is better to go with you, they will. Take the time to research every type of packaging, every type of shipping and every company you can to ensure that you can provide the best possible service to your loyal customers. If you can provide a good service your customers will always come back to you.

Are You Contracting a Positive Career?

construction2Now is the time. While countless industries are in flux, leaving job prospects in question, the world of contracting is on the rise.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction manager jobs are projected to grow 16% from 2012 to 2022 and in 2012 alone; the median pay for these jobs was more than $82,000 a year.

This is great news for men and women trying to figure out if a career in contracting is right for them.

What Contractors Do

The role of a contractor can vary widely from specialty to specialty but there are a few key common responsibilities.

Contractors can expect to prepare budgets for projects, work out schedules, and handle the hiring process of subcontractors. They often collaborate with engineers and architects and need to be responsible for adherence to safety regulations.

What It Takes To Get Started:

Schooling

While not mandatory, many prospective contractors find it beneficial to get a formal education in the field.

This may take the form of a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or an associate’s degree.

Certifications

As the article, “Is Contractor School Difficult?” explains, an education is often necessary since the certification exams can be stressful and difficult.

Different states have different regulations and requirements when it comes to what exams contractors need to take for proper certification.

Even though many of these tests will allow you to retake them, it’s advantageous to be as prepped as possible the first time around in order to save time and ultimately, money.

Assisting or Interning

Contracting is one of these jobs that require some hands-on experience even for an entry level position.

Candidates will want to spend time on-site at projects either as an assistant or intern for an already established contractor or firm. This training period can last anywhere between several months to years.

Contractors should come out of this process confident that they can handle the responsibilities of the profession.

Finding Clients

With certification and training under their belt, contractors can expect the next step to be finding clients or joining an already established company.

Even though there is an increased need for labor in the construction and contracting industry, jobs don’t just fall into your lap. Contractors will need to be proactive, self-starters who understand the value of marketing their services.

Committing 24/7

To maintain a positive career in contracting, you’ll need to remember that this is a 24/7 gig.

Even the most meticulous scheduling and tight timelines can go awry when Mother Nature intervenes. Great contractors know that they may have to work unconventional hours in order to ensure a project gets completed.

Proper certification is necessary, but the personality trait of adaptability and ingenuity is equally important.

Going into 2016, the future of contracting looks bright and by following these steps to getting started, you can take advantage of these new opportunities.

About the Author: Kristin Livingstone covers business topics on the web.