Who - and What - You Don't Want to Leave Out of Your Kitchen Remodel

Who - and What - You Don't Want to Leave Out of Your Kitchen Remodel Don’t leave this mass undertaking to fate! Do your due diligence with both people and technology before getting started. Your kitchen island, pot filler and second sink may come in very handy in your new kitchen but, before you even get started on your remodel, there are a few important things to consider first. Don’t leave these five people and things out of your project planning! 1. A Certified Kitchen Planner and/or Interior Designer To help you think of the things you might otherwise take for granted, such as kitchen workflow, hire an expert. The sink, stove and refrigerator typically create a work triangle but perhaps you have other ideas in mind or your layout is unique. A pro can help! The fine...

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BUILDING WITH TRANSPARENCY

BUILDING WITH TRANSPARENCY: HOW OUR CONSTRUCTION SOFTWARE SAVES TIME, MONEY & HEARTACHE Why is transparency important on the jobsite? Who benefits from it? And, how can you more easily offer it? trans·par·ent /transˈperənt/ adjective having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easily perceived. Let’s take a look at why thoughts, feelings and motives that are easily perceived all have an important role in construction management. We’re referring to transparency on the job, a dem...

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Change Is Hard

CHANGE IS HARD: FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT Why is change so hard? Explore the psychology behind change resistance before you implement your next bright idea on the job site. In our last blog, we talked about low-cost construction technology changes that were also easy to implement. But, we may have gotten ahead of ourselves! You and your team of home builders have to first be open to new ideas and technologies before your crew and staff will adopt them. Nobody likes change but especially not those of us in the design-build industry. We like our coffee black (and the coffee pot at work will do, thank-you-very-much), we like our trusty pickup truck and we like to keep life simple. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” is something we tell ourselves when we know damn well there’s a better way. So is adopting a better way the problem or is it our resistance to change that’s the real problem? We are going through some changes of our own...

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Simple Technology + Tablet Giveaway

SIMPLE TECHNOLOGY + TABLET GIVEAWAY Low cost construction technology worth embracing on your job sites. See below for details on our tablet giveaway. You want to rock your design/build project but you are being pulled in one hundred directions. The adoption of technology is a necessary evil - evil because you don’t necessarily have the time to scope out the options and implement them. There’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, the Internet of...

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On the road with SimpleBuild

I’ve been involved in the construction trades for over 30 years. Whether as a tradesman or later in life as a IT person supporting and educating builders on project management software (The SimpleBuild) or consulting in regards to schedules and implementation of a full service system. Offering builder’s access to myself 24 / 7 to insure no one is left without an answer when they need one. That said I’ve come to the point that I would like more of my time to travel and start the My Notification Service awareness program. I will still be available for onsite activities such as consulting, training and full implementation of the SimpleBuild system. Over the past 3.5 years I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with every SBG client whether i...

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ReStore & Deconstruction / Habitat for Humanity

ReStore & Deconstruction / Habitat for Humanity    Last week I wrote about the amazing job performed by the Habitat for Humanity’s (H4H) building team. This week I would like to focus on another of the H4H ventures, the ReStore’s. ReStore’s are places where folks can donate any “gently” used items. These items are then sold and the profits benefit the H4H efforts. The Wake county group has seen significant growth over the past few years through the guidance of Mitch Rhodes the V.P of Operations. We had the opportunity to meet with Mitch to explain the SimpleBuild Construction Project Management System. In our meeting we discovered the unique challenges which a group such as H4H presents. In addition of our ability to solve their Scheduling issues we are also in the position to offer a solution to their warehouse and accounting needs as well...

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Miracle which is Habitat for Humanity

The Miracle which is Habitat for Humanity   This week we’re in Raleigh NC for the Habitat for Humanity of Wake's (H4H) Builder Blitz, which will produce 250 homes in one week across the nation. This is undoubtedly one of the most daunting tasks that I have witnessed in the building industry. The coordination can only be described as “Controlled Chaos”. Having multiple subcontractors along with dozens of volunteers on the job site is not an easy situation for any Superintendent. Building an entire house in 25 hours is impressive, building several at one time in a few days is an outright miracle. Our hats are off to those that participate, stimulate, and manage these Blitz’s. These efforts are essential in providing decent affordable housing for those that would normally not qualify to become a home owner. Habitat for Humanity has been in existence since the 1960’s ...

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Schedules for Various Contractors

Schedules for Various Contractors   As with most remodelers I had a general idea of how my schedule should progress. The issues that separate remodeling from new home construction are the variables. When it came to scheduling I could not be as stringent as a new home builder. For the most part new construction is without hidden obstacles like those dealt with in remodeling. This is one of the reasons why those of us at The SimpleBuild insist on offering schedules and templates that accommodate both new home builders and remodelers. New home builders require Critical path schedules to insure that if there is an interruption in the schedule that all subsequent vendors and crews are notified regarding t...

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Motor Home Upgrade 101

Motor Home Upgrade 101   Well, we motored ourselves and our newly acquired Fleetwood motor home back to Illinois in one piece. As I look around this beast I now notice all the little things that were overlooked at the dealership. Still believing that I got a deal due to the extras that I deem necessary such as a 7000k watt generator which his rated quiet enough to run in a National park after hours. As a remodeler and carpenter I started on what I know best, flooring! Yep the previous owners were smokers and the carpet in the living room kept their scent alive....

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OHSA and Construction in the City

OSHA and Construction in the City   Living in the city is never boring and not without a story to be told. I’ve had he fortune or misfortune to have a construction site right outside my window. Now having been in construction for a majori...

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Warranties and Warranty Claims

Warranties and Tracking Warranty Claims   Where many builders offer various warranties on a new home, it’s the tracking and dispatching of the repair which is most important to the home owner. If this is a first home for this individual or family, ownership can overwhelm them. And it’s the handling and response of a warranty claim or issue that can help create another positive marketing ad for your firm and reputation. Odd how this seems to go, create a positive result and they remember you for a day. Create a negative result and they will never forget you. In order to create the positive result you will require the ability to assist the home owner is every way to relay the issue. Allowing them more than a brief text explanation, give them the capacity to display images that go beyond what words can explain. Then make it easy to assign a vendor or team member and relay all information provided by the home owner along with y...

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Reputation Built on Customer Service

Reputation Built on Customer Service   Last week I wrote about our obtaining a Motor Home for Simple Builds Onsite training and consulting. It started with a deposit and plans to fly out to Omaha, NE. Hopefully that was the last time I have to fly, at least domestically. I really dislike both airports and flying. As someone in the industry, I say service is the cornerstone to every successful business. I truly believe this. My experience this time around can show some comparisons to Custom home building. The MH I’m purchasing is used and I was fully prepared to be responsible for shaking out the bugs due to its age and affordable price. Like a home buyer I am extremely excited about taking ownership and be gone. But, like a quality builder they ran a full punch list on the entire functionality of the unit and would not release the uni...

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We have a Winner, OTR with SimpleBuild Group

After a year of research and many inquiries into a variety of motor homes, we have a Winner! After 14 months of hard searching, tire kicking, and trade shows, we’ve made our decision. The choice is not without many factors being taken into consideration, cost and reliability at the front. For those reasons we have picked out a 95’ Fleetwood Pace Arrow Star. Purchased used from a responsible dealership in Lincoln, NE LeachRV. A 33’  Class ...

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How to Insure Compliance

As many of you are aware I work with a wide variety of Homebuilders and Remodelers. The issues which arise while implementing a system also varies by the size and cohesiveness of the office & field personnel. ...

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Who's in charge?

While you were out...   I tend to write from experience or experiences and this is a troubling observation I’ve made. My team trains anywhere from 4 to 6 new builders each week, and we enjoy being busy for the most part. What we do object to and are troubled by, is our devoting time and energies to a builders office and nothing takes place afterwards. Recently I’ve been contacted by a new Project manager for a builder which had purchased a subscription months ago, had one employee go through the training and then did nothing. This PM want...

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Is Your HBA Working for You?

While assisting our sales staff I have found that there is no uniformity in the presentation of HBA members from one local to the next. The well designed and laid out locals allow for home buyers to pruise through their member info and start the process of choosing a builder. These locals offer Company name, builder name, phone, email address and website address along with any HBA listed qualifications. The poorly administered HBA's offer nothing on their members and make it quite impossible for a qualified buyer to do any research on the builders who are members. As I see it these builders are being cheated, and not getting exposure to new business opportunities which is what the HBA is there for, expanding marketing efforts. If you as a builder find your HBA local to be less than what you expect, then call or visit your local and explain to them your expectations. Make your local work...

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What Dictates the Trend in Building

Late last year we signed up a Custom home builder in the Indianapolis area. He had a website but, that alone did not equate to a jump in business. When he added a transparent project management system which allows for unparalleled communication between all parties, builder, vendors & homebuyer, business spiked. In fact as of this morning he has several projects in...

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How to Choose a Custom Home Builder

Here it is Mid March and hopefully spring is on the way, somebody should remind Mother Nature. Anyway as more and more of my friends and associates get ready to have a custom home built, ...

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Time to Prepare, Winter is almost over.

Lets face it, building in the winter is time consuming and costly. What to do when the elements are working against you? Well, now would be a good time to start preparing for when the weather does break and building is back in full swing. Where to start? You could begin with listing out the weak elements in your building processes. Just where is it that you believe you and your firm can enhance the over all presence and performance? It may be slow going now, but spring is inevitable, the pace will pick up and now is the best time to tackle these issues. In which case might I suggest a solution that will remedy both issues. SimpleBuild, yep this inexpensive, easy to use system will enhance your online presence, show your clients transparency during the project, organize all of your documents, while keeping all involved abreast of what task they are scheduled to perform and by when. You will be hard pressed to fin...

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2014 Looks Like a Winner

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Invest In Your Business

The buzz word that sends me over the edge every time is, what is my ROI implementing your system. Return On Investment, does this mean nothing is purchased without a thorough investigation on whether there is a sufficient ROI?  As I ...

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Helping Illinois Tornado Victims

You guessed it, we are a Illinois business and we care deeply for the wellfare of our friends and neighbors downstate. As I write this blog our CoFounder/President Clay Miller is rounding up support for a food and clothing drive for those in the effected areas. Not seeing the devastation first hand we were unaware of the scope of work which needs to be done to get these folks back to some form of normality. However, talking with one of our builders in the Peoria area, Scott of Scott Lewis Homes said that close to 1000 homes need to be rebuilt or in need of major repairs. There is never a good time for an event such as a Tornado but, around the holidays seems to compound the impact. This is where the builder community can show their compassion and team like efforts to assist these folks in their time of need. Whether its a donation to the Red Cross or anyone of the other relief organizations, every little bit helps. Thank you in advance for your effort. T...

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Does Size Matter?

We've all heard it before "size does not matter" and in many instances this is true. Especially in the building trades, smaller can mean, more  hands on which can lead to greater attention to detail. This is the key many times in swaying a client your way, having the premise that your firms size offers a greater attention to the details and that makes you stand apart from the rest. Details start with the Prebuild or ...

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COMMITMENT

This is the anniversary of the 9/11 attach on the USA and I wanted to acknowledge those who have committed themselves to the cause. For those of us who have served, we understand the sacrifice and pray that others never have to repeat this cycle of events. No matter what branch you serve, your rank or job is, we salute you for your service and commitment. It takes great courage to put yourself before others and this is what I think makes America the greatest country ever! Recently we at the (SimpleBuild Group) were asked to demonstrate our system to a non-for profit group (OurBravest.org) that constructs specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded U.S. military...

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Small Operation BIG Results

I hear it all the time, "we are a small office and not interested". After hearing this I think, not interested in getting more done with the same staff? This sounds absurd to me, not interested in having a more productive office, not interested in adding another highly effective sales tool, or not interested in organizing all my Change Orders and billable Selections, which would allow us to realize every dollar earned on a project. All of these suggest to me, "...

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Custom vs Spec Home

Having never been a spec home vs a custom home builder, I had to rely on the perspective of others for this article. My main reason for not building a speculative home was purely profit driven. I have heard the horror stories ...

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Natural Disasters bring out the Best

Lately I have written about Hurricane Sandy and the Tornado stricken areas around Moore Oklahoma. Now we have the fires which are engulfing the western portions of the US. Currently there are multiple fires in Colorado alone. Over 38,000 have been displaced from their homes and 400+ homes have been destroyed from the Black Forest, Royal Gorge, Big Meadows & LaVita fires. According to "...

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Does the Current Building Activity Equate to a Come Back?

It seems like everywhere you turn there is a building project going on or building material truck's crowding the highways. Some might think this is nothing more than an illusion but, building statistics show that home building is on the rise along with home prices. I believe the increased activity is driven by a couple of things, first there is the rebuilding of the east coast which has been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Then there is the remains of Oklahoma and other midwestern towns which have been leveled by a rash of Spring tornado's. Add in a depleting inventory of existing homes and you have a rebounding building market, one which has driven up lumber prices steadily over the past several weeks. Another indicator would be labor and from the numbers exhibited here it does not look a...

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How many Subcontractors are Enough?

It may not sound like an issue which needs to be addressed promptly, but your projects coming in on time and on budget may require you to rethink this. How do I know if ABC Construction is giving me the best value for my money? As I have pointed out in past posts you will have to find a balance of cost and performance and do this over and over till you have acquired a healthy list of qualified subs and suppliers. Some of the criteria I use to judge the viability of a sub; are their project tasks finished on time and on budget? What degree of Craftsmanship do they exhibit? Do they clean up after themselves? Are they OSHA compliant? What are their employee's like, are they friendly with other workers on the job?  If I go to a job site and note that each time a particular sub is on the job with different personnel I ask questions, new people are not always the most efficient nor are they apt to perform as well as estab...

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OK Oklahoma

Left with not much in the aftermath of a major Tornado, Oklahomans are set to take on a near impossible task, rebuilding again. The folks of Moore just like those of Barnesville, WI, have a daunting job ahead of them. First sifting through the scattered debris for any salvageable belongings, then removing the mess left behind. Of course this was not the first time this town has been targeted by massive storms and perhaps may not be the last. However, this may be the last one to take so many lives. I'm a firm believer in building codes; they insure safer, better-constructed structures. The new building codes for the Moore area include shelters to be constructed on each property. These codes will not stop the devastation of property but will restrict the loss of life. Buildings can be replaced, lives, not so much....

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Why a Paperless Office is more Efficient

This could pertain to most businesses of the day but especially the construction industry. Needing specs and other important documents NOW instead of sometime soon can be the difference between building on time and on budget or not. The cloud as it is called allows for all type of information to be made available instantaneously with the capability to forward this on to another’s email address or localized printer. Accurate data delivered when you need it is the key to a successful contracting business. Why most offices progress to a minimal paper office is two fold. One paper is volatile, is susceptible to fire, water damage, misfiling or just plain lost in the shuffle. The Cloud, allows for smaller transportable devices to communicate with others whether they are in the office or out in the field. What type of functions can be accommodated for? In the field we can look at renderings, drawings, pri...

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Need to get organized before you can start to grow

As I was beginning my career in the building trades I noted a few issues which drove me both crazy and lost me money. The big one was not having a corrected schedule for when my crew was to be on the job. If there was an event which delayed our phase/task on the job I needed to know earlier than the day of, with highly paid skilled workers, wasting an hour was a big deal not to mention what losing a ½ day’s of pay to have my crew show up and unable to start work. The GC would say,   “we called” and I would have no way to confirm that they did, which put the burden on my company’s shoulders. This was a situation which I was willing to address once I became a GC in the city of Chicago. I wanted to keep my subs happy to do business with me and organizing my project scheduling was paramount.  The old saying which is still true today, “time is money” and nobody likes to waste this commodit...

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Just How Important are Punch Lists?

           It does not matter if this was a complete custom built home or a single room addition or remodel, punch lists are inevitable. And how they are handled can make the difference between unhappy clients to one that will sing your praises to the masses. I call it "fit and finish"; it is in the details that separate an OK builder from the superstars. As a long time tile setter I can tell you that when I visit a space whether its commercial or a private home, I check out the detail of the tile work. I look at the layout, spacing, tile pattern (some tile is meant to be laid in a particular direction) and the grout finish. A competent PM must look at all the details from every aspect of the job; all phases need to be within their acceptance of quality.  With this need to list out in detail what items in the build which are unacceptable and forward that information on to the correct sub or supplier an a...

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How do I convince my Clients that I'm the right Builder for them?

Builders are always looking for a way to stand out from the crowd in a positive light. Where does it all start? A well designed website is a step in the right direction, having your builders portfolio online complete with photo's, testimonials, & awards or certifications. This should include all professional designations such as, CAPS (Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist), CGP (Certified Green Professional) or GMB (Grand Master Builder) any of these would enhance your stature as a qualified builder. There should be a history of how the business was started and why the principles are qualified to build and deliver a quality custom home. All affiliations should be noted such as NAHB (National association of Home Builders) or a member of one of the elite builder groups such as the HBA's Builder 20 Group. Involvement is one of the keys to demonstrate just how competent a builder you are and how confident you are in t...

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What Comprises a Managed Project? Part 1

  Not as easy as it sounds, many college grads working their way to Project Management jobs are not fully prepared for the task at hand. Only through a working involvement with seasoned PM's will they be able to learn the complete process and how to apply what they have learned to each new project the embark on. Just what is involved? First, general project management skills, Negotiation - specifically, Integrative Negotiation - is very important for dealing with suppliers and getting the in-house resources required when they are needed. Conflict resolution is another important skill, from resolving conflicts within your project team to managing conflict that arises during negotiation, this is a fundamental skill required for true project managers. And ultimately, problem solving skills are essential. They will not only improve negotiation and conflict r...

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Job site Errors eating away at Profits

For the ill equipped builder losing profits are an everyday occurrence. It may not be one change order or purchase which upsets the accounting on a project. The accumulative changes and purchases however do make a heavy impact on the projects bottom line. Does not matter how the contract is worded, change orders and purchases costing more than the allowance for user/owner approved items can and do impact the purchase price. And tracking all of these items is imperative in obtaining every dollar of profit to be derived. Over the years I have seen it all, CO's written up on scrap pieces of paper that may never make it to the project folder back at the office to paint swatch's with the buyers initials on the approved color. Not only the Change Order needs to be added to the total price of the project but, the invoice for materials and or labor involved need to be added to the job folder as well. Having all the CO's along with the sign off for each makes the final closing much...

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How can I effectively manage my Contractors

OK, so you have your bids and sold the project, whats next? Now you must make sure all of your suppliers and subcontractors are on the same page and understand just when and where they are needed. The days of calling up all the winning contractors and setting up a tentative schedule are long gone. Calls take t...

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Technology for Life & Business

To obtain and maintain clients today it will take more than a spiffy website. If you want to engage your prospects you will have to show that you and your staff are prepared. How can you do so? Technology! most likely you either have one of these smart devices for business and or personnel use. They are the tools of a new efficient business model which allows the office to go with you, anywhere. Yes, this is the era of doing more with less and the latest smart technology assists at every level. Smartphones today are such a big part of our lives, that forgetting your phone at home is usually t...

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Why we choose to provide Cloud based solutions

The old school of thought that software must be resident on local hard drives or in house servers is gone. Today no one wants to be weighed down by bulky laptops in order to enter or capture data. With the inception of the smart phone, ipad and other ultra portable devices we now have the capability to work with more freedom. This is why we have decided to launch our system over the cloud. Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet). The name comes from the common use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams. Cloud computing entrusts remote services with a user's data, software and computation. End users access cloud-based applications through a web browser or a light-weight desktop or mobile app while the business software and user's data are sto...

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The Simple Build Group from the Beginning

Ryan Windmiller and his family have been in the custom home building business for over 25 years. Over these years they have seen many trends in the field and in the office to improve on all aspects of a construction company’s operations. So when it became time to have a better handle on the project management side of the business, they started researching a few of the solutions available and tried several. The Simple Build Group was the brain child of Ryan Windmiller & Clay Miller. Ryan and other members of his Builder 20 Group had discussed the various systems, which they have used for project management. The consensus was that not one had enough of the required features to fulfill their needs adequately. So, with the assistance of several Full Time custom homebuilders, Ryan and Clay were able to work on a solution which provided all the liked functions ...

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