Search Results for: work day

Don’t Be Afraid of a Little Manual Work: It’s Ok

Executive Summary In a world now so heavily reliant upon computers, many construction professionals try to automate the entire process, of whatever they may be working on. Some things will still have to be manual, and that’s ok. The Problem The problem here is that I watch many people in […]

Day Labeling: Insult Your Client with Simplicity

Executive Summary Construction contracts are almost always measured in some sort of day: a working day or a calendar day. In analysis and project communication, kill the doubt for the reader and always define the type of day in every use of the word “day”. What’s a Work Day? A […]

Bid Day: You Better Honor Your Bid, Mr. Subcontractor

Executive Summary As a general contractor you can rely on your subcontractor’s bid on bid day as a binding agreement. But not in all states. Read on to learn about protection granted by the Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel.  Call Your Attorney  I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know what […]

An Hour’s not an Hour, and it’s Certainly not a Day

Executive Summary There are differences in an hour: a manhour, a crewhour, a 50-minute hour. And an hour’s not a day, so there is another calculation for a manday. Here is a quick explanation of these estimating terms. Definitions There are several ways to estimate the cost of construction work. […]

Legal Word of the Day: Contemporaneous

Executive Summary In a construction matter, the quality of evidence can be as important as the evidence itself. Using contemporaneous information can be invaluable in your legal matter against an opposing party. What is this word, contemporaneous? In layman’s terms it means recording information as it happens. A note recorded […]

Do Something Awkward Every Day

Executive Summary: As a manager, it may be often that you run into a situation in which you must do something outside of your comfort zone. Mitigate stress and make this exercise easier for you by practicing uncomfortable and awkward situations every day. The problem. As a manager of one […]

Incentive Clauses: Do they Work?

Executive Summary: Engineers have wondered if incentive clauses are a benefit to Owners in producing a timely, or accelerated, contract completion. My experience has been that it is of great benefit to the Owner because of the aggressive nature of project completion by the Contractor. What is an incentive clause? There […]

Giving Workers a Voice Makes Jobsites Safer

Executive Summary As a project site safety manager, if all you had to do was “safety” all day, your job would be easy. But as a safety professional, much of your time is spent convincing project managers, superintendents and executive management of the value is spending money on safety to improve […]

Construction Contract Review Basics

Executive Summary:  Each day we hand contracts down to our subs or we are signing contracts down from Owners or General Contractors.  Know some of the basics of what to look for here. What is and when will I ever use a Contract?  A contract is a laying out of […]

SJCC Toolbox Terms & Glossary

Listen to our podcast for new terms and check out our glossary below. Click on a term to find articles that reference that term. Glossary of Terms A Aggregate – Coarse material such as sand, gravel, or other crushed rock. Often used as a substrate or base course. Artics – […]

Debt: You Need It

Executive Summary Debt, at least in the American construction business, is helpful when it comes to growth. Here’s a couple reasons why. What is debt? When money is borrowed and then must be paid back, that money which must be paid back is called debt. On your business financials this […]

Bluebeam Revu Review

Executive Summary Bluebeam Revu is a tool that’s been around for several years now to aid in the manipulation of pdf documents – hear a little bit about it here and why I insist on using it. My commission when you buy it. Uh yeah, there’s not one. Just trying […]

Keep the Excavator Digging – It Drives the Cost

By Christopher Swetz, SJ Construction Consulting, LLC Executive Summary Properly planning and monitoring the work can result in a safer and more profitable activity. Here’s one way to do it in utility installation. Dig Baby Dig! In underground utility excavation, the critical driver of both productivity and the overall cost […]

Estimating: Theoretical versus Production History

Executive Summary Many approaches exist for estimating – two of them being a theoretical approach versus a production history approach. One is based on what you think, the other on what you know. These terms may not be familiar to you, but the difference in execution may be. What is […]

Inside the Contractor’s Mind: Bidding, Change Orders, & Claims

Executive Summary Scott Jennings and Patrick Mullen gave a very frank presentation on what runs through the contractor’s mind in his/her creation of a bid, formulation of a change order, and preparation of a claim. Both cost and time. What’s covered in this presentation? This presentation presents reality. Without very […]

Lose the Guilt – Mark it Up!

Executive Summary Contractors deserve to be profitable. It’s necessary for business survival. A perceived exorbitant markup should not be fretted over. Mark it up! The “disclaimer”. Profit is markup is fee here. Be advised this article assumes that profit and markup and fee are one in the same. There is […]

Blind and Dumb: Meeting Attendees

Executive Summary An effective meeting is one wherein the attendees are “with” the facilitator the entire time and can and do follow along. Here are some suggested tactics. “Musts” for an effective meeting. Have an agenda. Make it simple. If you need to hold someone accountable for the events or […]

Trained or Untrained? Being Claim-Ready

Executive Summary Contractors that deal with tough projects, tough clients, and/or tough contracts need to be in a mindset of always being claim-ready. Here’s the start to being trained and claim-ready. When you say “claim”-ready, you mean? A “claim” in this context is really meant to mean impact, or change […]

The Calibration Period: Plan for Patience

Executive Summary New business relationships do not come free of humps and bumps. Work through these challenges to develop lifelong partners. The need for others. Whether you are a business owner looking for employees, or a front-line manager looking to get a project built, you cannot do it all on […]

Delay Letter: A Template & How to Write One

Executive Summary As a contractor, the notification of delay is critical. Here are the important ingredients to a delay letter. Why do I need one? Say you’re on a project and you are losing time – you are delayed. If it’s your fault, you better catch up. If it’s someone […]

Your Equipment Rates: Where to Start

Executive Summary Whether in an estimate setup or change order negotiation scenario, if you do not know your equipment rates, start with a baseline cost. You know your equipment rates? You own ten, one hundred, or even a thousand or more pieces of rolling stock. Do you know what they […]

Engine Failure Makes Engineers Great: Redundancy

Executive Summary On February 20, 2021 a Boeing 777 airplane lost an engine during flight over Colorado.  The engine failure was catastrophic and could have resulted in hundreds of deaths.  The plane landed safely back in Denver.  This failure highlights the greatness of engineers. Here’s a link to the story […]

What a College Degree Says

Executive Summary A college degree sometimes seems overrated as it isn’t necessarily a measure of intelligence, nor a guarantee of success. A pigskin on the wall says more than “I know engineering” or “I know business”. It says, “I can finish things.” What is a College Degree? A Bachelor of […]

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid

Executive Summary There’s power in simplicity. Harness the power to more efficiently communicate in-house and with your clients. What’s in a Task? Each day we all show up to work and have to accomplish a task. There are usually two main components of a task: the speed at which it […]

Incidental: What’s in a Word?

Executive Summary The word “incidental” is common to the construction industry and it can be damning if you’re not careful. Understand what you’re committing to when you enter that unit price in the bid proposal when it requires “all incidental costs be included”. What is this word, incidental? Incidental, included, […]

Toolbox Tech on the Connected Jobsite

With the growing amount of technology being developed and used in the world and on construction sites today. It may seem daunting to start grasping and using these ideas out in the field. Below is a growing list of terms and recommendations related to construction technology and connected jobsites. Connected […]

Pre-Bid Questioning to the Owner or Yourself

Executive Summary Many challenges in a project can be flushed out in the pre-bid phase with clear and concise questioning to the Owner. Consider these questions as a part of your bidding procedure. The Bidding Procedure The procedure’s quite simple: there’s an advertisement phase, an estimating phase, and then the […]

Please Cough – The One Thing to Do This Week

Executive Summary Caring about your employees is human and it’s good for business. Combine the two to create solid and long-lasting relationships plus a healthy business. Send your employees to the doctor. Regularly. I’m in construction, why do I care? You care about your employees and co-workers because you’re human. […]

Setting the Bid Unit Price: 2 Main Reasons for Unbalancing

Executive Summary Setting of bid prices on a unit price bid can have significant effects on the financial performance of a project. Set your unit prices in your proposals to have positive impact. Be strategic. Balanced Bid PricesA balanced bid price is when each of the bid items shares equally […]

Top 6 Ingredients of a Letter

Executive Summary Letters in the construction industry, during the course of a project, usually are reserved for contentious issues or to satisfy notification requirements. Here are six of the most important and common ingredients in these letters. Why do we Write Letters?  Emails are commonplace these days, but writing a […]

Fire! Run to It, Not From It!

Executive Summary Construction often times does not go per plan. These unexpected variances in the plan can make or break a job. How you treat these “fires” can define your effectiveness as a manager. What could go wrong? In construction there’s dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of things, that […]

Contract Mapping: A Valuable Tool in Your Toolbox

Executive Summary Contract interpretation can be difficult for a construction professional. Contracts are comprised of thousands of words and hundreds of paragraphs. Consider “contract mapping” to help quickly guide you through a contract. Give me numbers, not words. Most construction professionals are technically minded and/or visually geared. This is to […]

Shhh, You’re being Recorded – and Two Other Tips

Executive Summary Just three random important things for contractors that didn’t make up an article all on their own: the legality of audio recording, running one man short, the golden rule of bid forms. What’s this article about? It’s about being a smart contractor in the easiest of ways. Learn […]

Quantifying the Loss in Labor Productivity: the MCAA Factors

Executive Summary There are very few “court-accepted” ways a contractor can quantify his or her loss as a result of labor productivity, or lack thereof. MCAA’s (Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Inc.) document PD 2 Factors Affecting Labor Productivity is one of the most widely used methods in practice. See […]

Cash v. Accrual Accounting – Whatchu Talkin’ About Willis?

Executive Summary There are basic differences between cash and accrual accounting.  Here’s a quick review. What is Accounting? Sounds simple, right?  It’s just keeping track of money in a business. And money only does one of two things – it either goes in the bank account, or out of the […]

How to do a Job Cost Projection: Cutting through the Fog – Part 2

You can find Part 1 here. Let’s run through an example. Let’s do an example so you see some of the challenges. Let’s take one cost code in your budget – let’s look at roadway subgrade. Below we have the budget for this cost. You can see the cost code […]

How to do a Job Cost Projection: Cutting through the Fog – Part 1

Executive summary. An accurate job cost projection is vital to Company survival. And it’s not too complicated if you know the budget, the timing of your costs, and can do a little bit of estimating. It’s NOT about blindly relying on quantities completed! What’s a projection? It also carries different […]

Building the Future Scholarship

BUILDING THE FUTURE SCHOLARSHIP SJ Construction Consulting, LLC (SJCC) understands the value of keeping highly motivated, hard-working, ethical, and educated persons in the construction workforce. The Building the Future Scholarship aims to do just that. Whether these contributors to the construction industry are in the trades, engineering, or in management, the dedication to […]

Hawaii-Licensed RME (HAR §16-77-28)

HAWAII-LICENSED RME Construction contracting in Hawaii requires that contracting entities hold a license to practice, and that each entity have an RME (Responsible Managing Employee). To become an RME, one must qualify, apply, be approved, schedule, sit for, pass, and then be notified by the Contractor’s License Board of Active status. […]

Better the Devil You Know

Executive summary. Many folks make changes based on temporary pains. More often than not, better the devil you know that the devil you don’t.  The problem. It happens with a girlfriend, a new service provider, or a material supplier. You’ve been in this relationship for some time and the performance has been less than desired, […]

Estimating: It’s an Art and a Science

Executive summary. Construction estimating isn’t wholly about the numbers. It involves a “feel” in its execution. This is why many say estimating is an art and a science. What is estimating? An estimate is just that. An estimate. Not an exactimate. Getting low on bid day or successfully negotiating a job isn’t […]

Bond Premium and the Project Time Extension

Executive summary. Most traditional bond rates have two variables in their cost: the contract value and the time threshold. Do not forget to include both in time extension negotiations. What’s in a bond rate? The bond rate from your surety agent comes in two parts: (1) the cost as a […]

Video Conferencing Softwares: a Quick Review

Executive summary. Many video conferencing softwares are in existence. Which one suits you best? Which ones are easiest to use? Here’s one users’ opinion. What do these softwares do? The concept is simple: hold a “face-to-face” meeting with colleagues from anywhere across town or around the world. And it works. […]

Dear Owner, No Change Orders Thank You

Executive summary. Most Project Owners are convinced that Contractors thrive on change orders. The truth is that most would prefer to have none. Read below a sort of open letter to Owners. Speed. I feel the need, the need for speed [QR]. Mr. Owner, when I signed this contract, I […]

I Didn’t Ask for a Lamborghini

Executive summary. Extra work on a construction project must be delivered at fair and reasonable prices. Owners should know they have this right in their Contract, and Contractors should know the owners have this right too. Here comes the extra work. A new scope of work has been added to […]

Letters to the Owner Need to Tell, Not Ask

Executive summary. Most contractors use letters to communicate significant events in a project. Use letters to tell. Use RFIs to ask. Letters for when and for what. Generally speaking, during a construction project, letters are used by contractors to owners at significant or milestone-type events. Common reasons for letters include: […]

“Boosting” Job Profits on Equipment Purchase – on Paper

Executive summary. Whether in a bid situation or a change order negotiation, there is a way to boost your profit on paper by not “job costing” your equipment. Let’s talk depreciation. And whatever you do, make sure to talk to your CPA after reading this. It’s much more complicated than […]

But What Does It Smell Like?

Executive summary. Field experience is necessary to be a best of class construction and engineering professional. Can you or your employee relate to today’s article? Can you write your own article with similar anecdotes to these below? If you cannot, schedule some time in the field. I built this project. […]

Registration: Force Majeure & Differing Site Conditions – Notification and Response

FREE WEBINARForce Majeure & Differing Site Conditions – Notification and Response  Scott Jennings, P.E.SJ ConstructionConsulting, LLC sj@sjcivil.com808-271-5150 Scott I. Batterman, Esq.Clay Chapman IwamuraPulice & Nervell,Attorneys at Law sib@paclawteam.com808-535-8410 Location: Live Online WebinarDate: Thursday, March 26, 2020Time: 9:00 am to 11:00 am HST Scott Jennings, P.E. will facilitate a live 2-hour webinar […]

Project Parties – Who does what?

Executive summary.  The management structure of sizable projects usually involves four major parties:  the owner, the construction manager, the designer, and the contractor.  Here’s how project management is structured and what the parties’ responsibilities are in two common project delivery methods. Project conception.  Let’s take a sample project, say, a […]

Signing a Change Order: What to look for

Executive summary. Ensure that before you sign a change order, all of the necessary components of your negotiation are included. Here’s what to look for in a change order before you sign it. And don’t forget – you don’t have to sign it. What is a change order? It’s a […]

Notice: Writing the Letter

Executive summary. There’s almost nothing more important than notifying your client, in accordance with the Contract, of a time and/or cost impact. Learn how to do it here. What is “notice” and why is it so important? If you had a contractor working on your home and on the presumed […]

The Joint Venture Estimate: Setup is Key

Executive summary. Whether bidding a job together in one shared document, or running comparison estimates, the setup in a joint venture effort is critical to success. Consider establishing the following before starting your estimating effort. And, be consistent. Be consistent. Why setup is so critical. There’s nothing more important in […]

Optimizing the Contractor’s Professional Engineer

Executive summary. Do you often need a professional engineer to facilitate the construction at your projects? Here’s how to pick your engineer and to guarantee the quickest turnaround of the product you need. Needing a professional engineer. You have traffic control, concrete formwork, deep excavations, shored trenches, worker tie-offs, or […]

Takeoff: Beyond the Drawings

Executive Summary. Takeoff is a primary function in the estimation of construction costs. A good takeoff includes more than is plainly seen on the drawings. Here is discussed the definition and purpose of takeoff along with what makes a takeoff good. What is takeoff? Takeoff is the first step in […]

From Me to You: Things I’ve Learned as a Professional

Executive Summary. Advice for life in general, and professional life, is often gleaned by the sharing of lessons and anecdotes. Here are some lessons to apply to both home and work. My resume. I’m 49 years old. I’m not young anymore, but I’m not too old yet either. It could […]

Introduction to Contractor Estimating

Executive Summary.  The reader is introduced to the process of contractor estimating from initial project evaluation through the call for bond, the takeoff, the actual estimating of a civil project, an even the turn in of the bid. Bid Evaluation and call for bond.  Contractors consider many facets of a […]

Designing with Cost in Mind

Executive Summary.  Contractors are often brought into a project in the design phase to minimize cost.  Here are some guidelines on infrastructure project cost cutting measures from a Contractor’s viewpoint – it’s advice to a design team. How estimating is done.  In civil infrastructure work, most contractors use crew-based methods […]

The Lookahead Schedule and 90/60/30

Executive Summary.  Once the project starts, it is the Contractor’s project management team’s responsibility to update the client on a regular, usually weekly, basis.  This is done graphically using a lookahead schedule in bar chart format (also known as a Gantt Chart).  Here we discuss the contents and reliability of […]

Needed Software for a Contractor

Executive Summary. What are the “necessities” for software and apps for your construction business? Here’s a look at what’s out there – software and/or apps that are in use by successful firms to accomplish necessary functions in your business. What do I need? If you’re doing more than a million […]

Time, an Owner’s Achille’s Heel

Executive Summary. Discussed here, by a contractor, is arguably the #1 area of recommended improvement for infrastructure owners with fiduciary responsibility. The area in need of improvement: response time to construction issues. Where does time cost an owner money? The number one place time costs an owner money is in response time. […]

Microsoft Excel v. Microsoft Project v. Primavera P6

Executive Summary.  In the construction industry, there are three main tools used for scheduling.  Pros and cons of Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, and Primavera P6 are all briefly discussed. The Three Main Options.  I still see schedules done on paper in the industry, and it works too, but here we […]

Live Crew Cost Clicker

Executive Summary. Education of your staff or of your client can be effectively done using SJ Construction Consulting LLC’s (SJCC) Crew Cost Clicker. Don’t talk about the cost per hour of a crew, show it. Live.  The Clicker. Runjob Software partnered with SJCC to develop a simple, yet effective, visual […]

Construction Law Bible

Executive Summary If you work for a public works construction contractor or you do construction management on public works jobs, Administration of Government Contracts by John Cibinic, Jr. and Ralph C. Nash, Jr. is the bible for governmental law. A very brief background from a construction professional, not a lawyer, is […]

Davis-Bacon, OSHA, Jones Act, and Buy American

Executive Summary. A quick background on terms you hear every day in federal construction contracting: Davis-Bacon, OSHA, Jones Act, and Buy American. The terms. Each of the items in the title were introduced by the federal government. Here’s a quick background on each of them. Davis-Bacon Act – Senator James […]

Embedding Cost Control Culture into the Project Cycle

By Scott Jennings, P.E. This article was originally published in CFMA’s Building Profits April 2019 Sometimes financial situations can cause a contractor to fail. But these mishaps can likely be avoided.  Forecasting and managing the timely implementation and execution of cost controls can considerably impact effective bidding. In fact, cost […]

The Basics of Advanced Scheduling Terminology

Executive Summary. It’s important as a contractor, or even as an owner’s representative, to know a bit more than the basics of scheduling.  Familiarity of some of the terms is helpful regardless of what side of the table you’re on:  Contractor or Owner.  The terms.  When a project starts to […]

Timecard Collection – Like You’ve Never Heard

Executive Summary.  One of the top complaints of construction employers is the collection of completed timecards – in a timely manner that is.  Here is a suggestion for improvement you probably haven’t heard. What sort of timecard?  Although this phenomenon of untimely timecard collection happens to salaried employees who simply […]

Unit Conversion

Executive Summary Converting from one unit of measure to another is critical for any position of management in a construction company. Using the internet is one way of doing it but knowing the simple process of fraction multiplication and the value of the number “1” gets it done too. Unit […]

What’s BI? Do I need it?

Executive Summary: BI stands for business intelligence. It is the process by which information from all of your company’s different computer systems (estimating, job costing, accounting, operations, et cetera) is displayed on one screen. You may not needit, but you better understand it – it’s coming. What is BI?BI, or business intelligence, […]

Freight Terms Over Land

If you’ve ever seen a quote from a supplier, or you’ve taken delivery of a product on a jobsite, there’s always a term, or an acronym or two on the paperwork which may look foreign to you. Here’s some common freight lingo you should know…

Avoid Claims with a Pre-Bid Analysis

In a best case scenario, a construction claim will make the contractor financially whole again on the matter. In a worst case scenario, the contractor goes out of business. Most claims conclude somewhere in between with all parties unhappy.

Top 5 Excel Tips for Contractors

Executive Summary: Microsoft Excel is probably the most common tool in the construction industry. Most people use it daily. Here are five simple, everyday things to make you better with Microsoft Excel.  Right to the tips! To some this list will be elementary, to some it will be lifechanging! Feel free […]

Cost Codes: What, Why & How

Executive Summary:  Many construction companies run their operations with too little specificity; costs ought to be reviewed on an activity-by-activity basis.  Learn what, why and how to set up a good cost code structure.   The bid and execution.  Let’s use an example, say, Concrete Curb & Gutter.  Suppose this was a proposal item for our […]

HeavyBid Training

Click here to schedule HeavyBid training If you already have a class scheduled, please follow the instructions below to prepare for class. Thank you for signing up for HeavyBid training! In order to hit the ground running at the start of class, you will need to download and install the […]

The Construction Daily Report: Why & What

The importance of the daily report cannot be overstated. Knowing whyto write them and whatto put in the report is critical for defense of yourself, and offense against another party.

Training: Now I see the Value

The benefits of training can be great for numerous reasons. You’re making capitalinvestments, you should also treat your employeesas an asset worthy of investment too.

Choosing a Construction Consultant

Once the decision is made to engage a consultant, choosing the firm to assist you can be one of the biggest challenges. Consider asking key questions to flush out the quality and value of the service.

Engineers/Architects

We assist designers in any phase of a project to add construction expertise to the suite of services to owners.

Construction Claims Hierarchy

Construction claims are an unfortunate part of the construction process in today’s world. When you have a claim, know the order of hierarchy in your presentation of the data for maximum remuneration from the client.

Some Basic Analysis Techniques in Claim Preparation

Executive Summary: A claim is made because a contractor has lost money and/or time on a project. The method is chosen by the contractor to substantiate these costs can vary. Some popular methods of calculating cost are presented. What and why do I have a claim? In a perfect world, and […]

If I Told You, You Would Have Screwed Everything Up

My Story I’ve written a couple posts about my superintendent Mike. This one involves another one of my superintendents in the past named Jon. Jon and I were running a good sized job at a large, public transportation facility. Of course, the location of this facility shall remain nameless to […]

Balance Sheet – Knowing the Basics of Liabilities

Executive Summary: The balance sheet says a great deal about a company. If you’re a business owner you better know how to read your own, as well as that of your clients and subcontractors. This week we discuss the Liabilities section. Just the basics. My recent article introduced the balance […]

Importance of Timely Notification

I have not done the official research on what are the most common causes of success or failure in a construction claim, but I would bet that the quality of notification to your client is a leading indicator of success – or failure. I can tell you this with certainty: […]

Being a small construction business owner: tough, tough, tough

So, you want to start a construction business? Install tile, frame houses, lay pipe, move dirt, paint ceilings, wire fixtures, sweat pipe, hang drywall, tie rebar – one of these, right? Well, that’s the easy part. So is making money, right? After all, the economy’s healthy and we’re out of […]

Lose the political correctness and go find that pipe stretcher

We all hear on the news about this over political correctness and how everyone’s become so sensitive. Well, get over it. Sometimes people get a laugh at your expense. It doesn’t have to be mean – good fun is good fun. The year: 1990. The contractor: Peter Kiewit. The job: […]

Engineering tip, steel erection: if it’s taut, it’s carrying load

I’ve got the fancy degrees on the wall. Even have myself a professional engineering license or two in a couple of states. I guess that makes me a smart guy. Well, I guess. Yes, it’s true that having the knowledge to work fancy mathematical equations is of value and necessity […]

Custom Programming

Construction businesses are dynamic and creating features that are personalized to a business’ unique needs are necessary to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace. The SJCC’s programming and development team specializes in custom programming that delivers exclusive functionality and cost-efficient performance to each distinct project we construct. From custom […]

Equipment – Buy, Rent, RTO, RPO, Lease – Which One???

Construction equipment is a necessary tool to perform many types of construction work. How to acquire the equipment has a significant effect on the financial aspect of a company. There are many options which should be considered when temporarily or permanently acquiring a piece of gear.

Top 10: Basic Business Etiquette

Executive Summary: Landing the work has enough challenges in meeting the scope, schedule, and cost requirements of the client. You’re defeating yourself if you can’t be polite and practice simple business etiquette. Low hanging fruit. If your client has been kind enough to consider doing business with you, don’t give […]

The Unilateral Change Order

  Executive Summary: The purpose of a change order is to add work to an existing contract. Ideally, this work is added with mutually agreeable terms in scope, time, and cost. These terms often cannot be agreed upon and contractors feel coerced into signing the document. Consider not signing the change order. Origination […]

Engineer, Architect, & Legal Support

We assist designers in any phase of a project to add construction expertise to the suite of services to owners.  Attorneys benefit from our knowledge of construction means and methods, engineering principles, and their integration with construction law. Engineers’ Estimates True contractor estimates. Not unit priced from a book, but […]

Credit Unions versus Banks

Executive Summary: A credit union is a viable option for many small businesses. Consider the advantages of a credit union over a traditional bank. What is a credit union? It’s “big bank lite”. It’s a bank with checking accounts and savings accounts, with mobile banking services, with internet access, tellers, […]

Contractor Tools

Here are some tools to use daily to make sure you get the job done right! Software We use and recommend the following software: Stack: Construction Takeoff There’s no better time to set your team up for bidding success. Say goodbye to inaccurate, time-consuming takeoff and estimating processes and hello […]

An RFI can Satisfy Notice Requirement, said the Feds

Executive Summary Possibly the leading cause of contractor claim denials – lack of proper notice – just got a little bit easier for contractors thanks to the U.S. Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals’ conclusion that a request for information (RFI) can satisfy a notice requirement under F.A.R. (Federal Acquisition […]

Unbalancing a Bid and Cash Flow

Executive Summary Cash flow is vital to a contractor’s survival.  Taking advantage of setting unit prices in a bid, and also knowing cash strangle points is imperative for business owners and project managers. Here’s a Video The first ten minutes of this video (presented by this article’s author) is a […]

Users of Your Financials: What They’re Looking At

Download PPT Download PDF Executive Summary: Some parties may require their own review of your financial reports before doing business with you. The two documents of interest to these parties are the income statement and the balance sheet. The major items they’re looking at are briefly discussed here and a […]

Build your Business into a Machine

Download PDF Executive Summary: Without solid processes and controls in place, too many decisions can be left in the hands of employees who approach things in very different ways. The end result is that executive management has no consistency in the data presented to them. Lockdown processes to establish consistency – […]

Divisional Separation: Pure Crap

Executive Summary: Companies lose money and affect reputation by divisive behavior between divisions. Work to make this better by improving morale, efficiency, and the bottom line. How it goes. You’re a member of a successful construction company. You work in the heavy/civil division building treatment plants. The boys and girls […]

I See Claims…

Download PDF Executive Summary: Construction is a litigious business. Often times the signs were right in front of you from day one. Pay attention and look for the behaviors of the parties that often indicate inevitable dispute and possibly a claim at the end of the job. See 20/20 today. […]

Dead is the Handshake

Executive Summary The “Steel Team” composed of fabricator and erector joined together to sue the owner and general contractor for failure to pay on changes. The “right” parties appeared to win, but they paid dearly. The Project and Players The project was the Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge – a 21-floor, […]

Why is the Accounting Department Telling Me How to Estimate?

Executive Summary: Estimators know the construction work while the accountants know the financials. These two parties must work in harmony to benefit the company and their own livelihoods. This article recognizes the needs of both parties. The dilemma and end goal. Most firms beyond the “Mom and Pop” stage, have […]

Top 5 Uh-Oh Signs of a Client

Executive Summary: If you do not have a relationship with a client, or you are moving to a different management team within a familiar client, there can be some telltale warning signs. Listen to your client for some of the items listed below and beware. #5 The taped meeting. I […]

Top 5 Countdown: Things to Look for in Vendor Quotes

Executive Summary Each quote on bid day, whether from a subcontractor or a supplier, needs to be thoroughly reviewed before incorporating into the bid. Here’s a Top 5 countdown! #5 Math Errors Often times subs or suppliers will quote a certain quantity of an item and then a unit price. […]

In Choosing a Software – Best Advice is to Talk to a Friend

Executive Summary: There exists construction software to do nearly all functions in your construction company. Your best source of software advice: your friends in the industry. I’m drowning in choices. There exists software to “help” your construction company in many functions: Estimating Takeoff – two and three dimensional Accounting Job […]

Changes in the 2017 AIA A201/A101/A401 Documents

Executive Summary: Probably the most common construction contract documents in use in America are the AIA (American Institute of Architects) documents. The A101/A201 for Owner-General Contractor and the A401 for General Contractor-Subcontractor were both reissued in 2017. See some of the substantive changes here. What are the changes? I recently […]

The “All Zeroes One” Code Prevents Lost A/P Invoices

Executive Summary: A key component of job cost reporting is accurate posting of accounts payable (A/P). The time between receiving the invoice in the mail and posting it to your job cost reports can be fatal to a job, or a company. The answer is to not let the invoice out of the […]

An Alternative to Eichleay: HOOP!

Executive Summary Contractors delayed by the owner often want to be reimbursed ‘x’ dollars per ‘y’ days for the cost of home office overhead. Most contractors are used to using the Eichleay Formula to recoup this cost. There’s a new formula available from a case in Ohio: the HOOP Formula. […]

Getting Paid: Some Suggestions

Executive Summary The law* provides the rules of getting paid in construction. Sometimes contractors must use the law, other times there are other easier (less expensive and quicker) ways of getting paid. *I’m not a lawyer, so please make sure to consult with your attorney on any of your legal […]

Bidding out a Civil Construction Project: Part I

Letting, or bidding out, a civil construction project can be a challenge for an Owner. Questions inexperienced owners may have involved choosing an engineer, what sort of contract to use, how to collect bids from contractors, and finally how to manage the construction of the contract. In this two-part series, in Part […]

The Importance of Construction Cost Estimating for Civil Engineers

In episode 066 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, Anthony Fasano talks with Scott Jennings, P.E. principal of SJ Construction Consulting, LLC about the importance of cost estimating for civil engineers. Here are some of the questions asked of Scott: Can you walk us through the process of putting together a construction […]

Hawaii Case: A Subcontract is Valid and Binding Without a Signature

Executive Summary: Contractors too often allow their subcontractors to commence work without a fully executed subcontract. A contract between the two parties can be binding even without a signature. Learn from this June 2017 case in Hawaii how a contract can be formed without a signature. No signature required. Pacific […]

Fraud: Stop Thinking it won’t Happen to You

Executive Summary Fraud is a real risk to businesses and most do not realize they’ve become a victim until it’s too late. There are simple controls to put in place to help prevent it, or perhaps bring it to your attention. Learn preventative measures and examples of embezzlement techniques. “No, […]

Make Claim Preparedness the Standard, not the Exception

Executive Summary: More and more construction jobs year after year go to litigation – or at least go “legal” as I say, by requiring the services of a lawyer. Don’t make preparing for a claim a monstrous duty towards the end of the job, prepare as you go with good […]

Cut Out the Office Cancer for Better Office Health

Executive Summary A lot of offices have that one person or that one small clique that creates a negative atmosphere in the office. You and your office will be better off with this cancer removed. Cut it out. Bad Attitude This person or persons I’m referring to may exist in […]

Invoice Your Clients Clearly and by the Rules to get Paid Quickly

Executive Summary Invoices get paid untimely for numerous reasons. The reason for slow payment should never be because of you – the party billing. Keep billing simple and in accordance with the payer’s guidelines to get paid quicker. What is an invoice? An invoice is a document generated by you […]

The Power of Habit

Executive Summary: Although policies can be created overnight, getting them to function and last in your organization takes time. Read here about the value of persistence. Change is tough. We’re in the construction business and many of you reading this are doing it as a professional in America. Change for […]

Small Tools Tracking Software – Get It!

Executive Summary Estimates vary on the financial loss suffered by contractors due to lost or stolen tools. Pick any number you want, it’s certainly worth a discussion at any value. The direct cost loss is most obvious, but consider also the inefficiencies suffered by crews not having the tools they […]

Including the Portion of Corporate Overhead in a Bid

Executive Summary:  Determining how to account for the portion of corporate overhead to be included in a bid is a calculation that every company makes a bit differently.  Learn the definition of corporate overhead and how it is included in a bid. What is corporate overhead? Corporate overhead is the cost […]

Choosing a Professional Services Provider

Executive Summary: There are many factors in determining who should provide your firm professional services. Read on to find that it’s more than just their technical ability. General: As a contractor, you need the following professional services on a regular basis: Legal Banking Accounting Insurance Engineering Some construction companies may […]

Balance Sheet – Knowing the Basics of Assets

Executive Summary: Knowing the basics of accounting is essential in business. Knowing the balance sheet will help you assess your own financial health as well as that of your clients or subcontractors. Here are some basics on the balance sheet and, specifically, the assets section. Just the basics. I entered as […]

Estimate Handoff – Estimators to Field Team

Executive Summary It’s great that your estimators just landed a new project, but your competitive advantage can be lost without a synchronized handoff to the field team. Make sure to have a formal meeting between the estimating and project management teams before the project starts. Estimator knows best. There is […]

Bid Unbalancing – How It’s Done To Increase Profit

Executive Summary Contractors unbalance unit prices in their bids to take advantage of anticipated quantity overruns and underruns. An intelligent unbalancing of the unit prices can result in higher profits. Of course, that’s the contractors’ goal. Review the example provided to see how it’s done. The Bid Proposal Let’s look […]

The Good and the Bad of Contracting

Executive Summary:  Contracting can be the most fantastic of businesses, but also one of the toughest.  Read about some of the things that make it the best and the worst of businesses. What makes contracting unique?  I think that everyone thinks their business is different from everyone else’s.  As I […]

Consistency Results in Predictability

Executive Summary:  Sustaining a business, and more so growing a business, relies heavily on consistency in business practices.  Start today with improving your company’s practices so that profitability can be maintained and even improved.  Better yet, let your consistent practices help you better predict the future. What is inconsistency?  In […]

Killer Clauses: No Damages for Delay

Executive Summary:  A presentation on March 8, 2017at the 98th Annual AGC Convention reviewed ten (10) “killer clauses” in contracts.  The “No Damages for Delay Clause” was #4; it is discussed, and proposed language to neutralize the clause is presented. What’s at stake.  A presentation prepared by Brian Perlberg (Senior […]

A Contractor’s Cash Flow: Acknowledgement and Improvement

Executive Summary:  Managing cash flow is imperative and it never hurts to see these challenges on paper.  This article reminds you as the owner, the chief financial officer, or as a member of the project management team of the challenge of staying cash positive. Cash is king.  If you’ve had […]

Best Way to Save Money is to Not Spend It

Executive Summary: When in a changed condition situation, the best way to minimize loss or to survive, depending on the case, is not to spend less, it’s to not spend at all. Take advantage of situations where you can spend zero. We’re going down. We’ve all been in a situation […]

Owner Paralysis – i.e. Vapor Lock

Executive Summary: When a tragic event happens, even the roughest and tumble executives can suffer from decisional paralysis. I don’t mean physical paralysis in your body, I mean the inability to make a decision. You’re not alone. Who you are. You are the father of two beautiful little girls, the […]

Safety: Communication, Communication, Communication

Executive Summary: To be successful in heavy/civil construction, it is imperative to have a rudimentary understanding of engineering concepts. However, more often than not the primary reason for a project failure is the human factor versus gross misunderstanding or misapplication of an engineering principle. One of my personal experiences was in a crane failure, […]

The $5 Casio: Your Best Tool

Executive Summary: With all of today’s fancy and complex tools available in the marketplace, nothing is more important than simple calculations (and common sense). Rely on simplicity and basic math to check your work. The Message: I travel the country frequently helping contractors. I help clients one-on-one in dirty old […]

Contractor Wins Acceleration Impact Cost and the Incentive Payment

Contractor Wins Acceleration Impact Cost AND the Incentive Payment (1995)1 Executive Summary: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) awarded a time sensitive bridge rehabilitation project to a contractor and, within the contract, provided a large daily incentive payment for early completion. PennDOT delayed the project and refused to pay the acceleration […]

Preconstruction Services

There are many parties associated with any construction project. Major parties include the contractor, the owner, the architect/engineer, the insurance carrier, and the surety. For a truly successful project, each of these parties must be successful. SJ Construction Consulting, LLC (SJCC) provides assistance to each of these parties from conceptual […]

Previous Episodes & Issue Archive

Previous Episodes Subscribe and listen to the Pipeline Podcast and check out back issues of the Pipeline Newsletter below. Click here for more past episodes. Issue Archive Click here for individual articles. 2021 Week 37: Another Contractor Claims Tool: ASCE 71-21 Identifying, Quantifying, And Proving Loss Of Productivity Week 32: […]