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 mor...

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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. ReSt...

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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 housi...

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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...

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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 dealershi...

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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 majority of my life I’m aware of what is and what is not acceptable building practices. The project next door was adding space to what was once a flat roof, for over a year now this group has not only taken valuable parking away from those that live and work in the area but, has created a dangerous zone to be anywhere near. How dangerous you ask?...

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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 t...

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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 affordab...

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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 ...

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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. What to do to instill compliance when your staff is stagnant and complacent in their work?  I like “reviews”, one on one sit downs and go over what needs to be accomplished with the understanding that we will continue to meet until full compliance is reached. Asking for a Daily report on a daily basis starts to drive home the need to get acquainted with the system which requires all parties to learn and grow with your new Project Management System. Requiring all developments in a project to be  Usually your instincts should let you know t he acceptance level of your staff to implement something new or if ...

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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 wanted to be trained and insisted on using the system for all the features offered. What happened is the secretary was not interested in using the system, for whatever reason and did not think it would matter. I guess she was not in on the decision and unaware of the advantages of implementing a PM system. The time an...

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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...

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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 t...

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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, I get the call "how do I find a good builder"? A great question, you would think that in this day and age there would be an independent listing of Home Builders with some type of comments or rating. Well as it turns out resources for this are limited to the following: visit your local HBA for homebuilder listing, word of mouth, google and recently a site called Hoodle. When you visit the NAHBA site to find your local office, you will find a wealth of listings but, no comments or review of their work. Depending on the HBA local you will be able to link to prospective builders websites where you can find samples and testimonials, this is not the case with all HBA's, with some you are lucky to find a phone number for a contractor to contact. Word of mouth, is not a...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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 m...

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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 ra...

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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 sa...

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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 of those that bought properties several years ago to build on or purchased tear down homes to remodel. Most of these firms are now out of business due to the lack of adequate financial planning and or backing. Today most are cautious to say the least, and banks that once supplied financing even more so.  A sure thing does not exist in the home building market, either there is an attractive location and activity in a given area or you're a pioneer and risk taker. The rewards for taking these risks can be greater than building with a buyer. However, the longer your built property sits empty the more likely your profit margin will decrease according...

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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...

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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 ...

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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 a...

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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. ...

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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 Cl...

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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,...

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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 f...

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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 on...

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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 g...

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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 pro...

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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 time and in most cases you are in short supply of that commodity. Today the fastest and most reliable form of communicating with your subs & suppliers is through email. In one email you can attach PO's, drawings, mill work schedules or anything else pertaining to the job in one quick click of the mouse. Having massive excel files depicting the temporary schedule of tasks or Gantt chart (Death of Gantt C...

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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...

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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 (ha...

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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 and features that e...

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