Category: Learning Aid

Trench Talk: Clem Conceicao, Crane Operator

Trench Talk: Clem Conceicao, Crane Operator Executive Summary. Listen to my discussion with Mr. Clem Conceicao, long time operator of friction cranes, tower cranes, and squirt booms in Hawaii. Running a crane, or any piece of equipment. Being an operator of any piece of equipment carries an obligation of safety […]

How to Start a Professional Construction Company

How to Start a Professional Construction Company Executive Summary. If you’ve ever wanted to start your own construction company, here’s the process. What do you want to do? First thing to do is figure out what you want to do. Heavy/civil, window installation, frame houses, industrial coatings – what? This […]

What’s the Difference Between Unit Price and Lump Sum Bids?

What’s the Difference Between Unit Price and Lump Sum Bids? Executive Summary. Prices in construction bids are usually received in one of two ways: unit prices or lump sum. Here we discuss differences and pros and cons of collecting construction bids via these two methods. Two ways. Pricing for construction […]

The Low Bid Model – Time to Go?

The Low Bid Model – Time to Go? Executive Summary. Although great in concept, the low bid model of construction proposal award is severely flawed. Here’s a quick evaluation of the two primary evaluation methods used by Owners in the award of construction projects. You evaluate which is best for […]

Utility Drawings 101: The Plan and Profile

Utility Drawings 101: The Plan and Profile Executive Summary. Learn the basics of how to read a utility plan and profile. One thing is consistent: no drawings are the same. You’ll learn enough here to talk intelligently. Utilities as a component of the site plan. Drawings used to construct the […]

Subsurface Disclaimers Don’t Hold – Travelers v. U.S.

Subsurface Disclaimers Don’t Hold – Travelers v. U.S. Executive Summary. The age old issue of whether or not the geotechnical information in, or associated with, the bid package can be relied upon has been in and out of courtrooms across the country. Perhaps the federal case which is the most […]

Parkinson’s Law – Hoping to Quantify Pacing

Parkinson’s Law – Hoping to Quantify Pacing Executive Summary. Parkinson’s Law states that “…work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” (Parkinson, C. N., The Economist, November, 1955) It explains worker behavior, but may not support well now an Owner’s quantitative offense to Contractor-induced conscious project […]

The Preparatory Meeting: Priceless

The Preparatory Meeting: Priceless Executive Summary. Federal construction work usually requires three phases of quality control within the work: the preparatory, initial, and follow-up phases. If you, as a contractor or owner, do not want to try incorporating all three just try one. Try the preparatory phase.The Feds and the […]

Legal Jargon and Process 101

Legal Jargon and Process 101 Executive Summary. Being in management, middle or upper, will likely land you close to a courtroom. At least you will be exposed to the legal process. Here are some of the basics from a non-lawyer. What sort of events would expose me to legal jargon? […]

Bonds and Bonding Capacity 101

Bonds and Bonding Capacity 101 Executive Summary. If you’ve ever wondered how bonding capacity is earned and calculated, it may be a bit fuzzier than you think. But it does rely on numbers. Read on for the basics. What is bonding? You’ve heard people say “The job is bonded.” or […]

Construction is Broken – Give me the Onsite EOR

Construction is Broken – Give me the Onsite EOR Executive Summary. Contractors are told to build projects in record time without having complete information. It’s not fair to the Engineer, the Contractor, the Owner, or the Taxpayer. There’s an easy fix which will get the project most of the way […]

The Importance of As-Builts

The Importance of As-Builts Executive Summary. As-builts are critical to future projects and can save Owners thousands or millions of dollars. As-builts can also save lives. Do them and do them contemporaneously (which means as you go, not after the fact). What are as-builts? As-builts are drawing set(s), either paper […]

University Cooperative Education – the Real Deal!

University Cooperative Education – the Real Deal! Executive Summary. Most resume readers consider professional experience, as an engineer or construction professional, as starting upon graduation. In a cooperative education program, it’s starts during college. What is cooperative education? Cooperative education (or co-op) is time spent during your college education out […]

Water in the Hole! What’s it Mean?

Water in the Hole! What’s it Mean? Executive Summary. Water in an excavation can tell a story. It can provide valuable information if you watch it carefully. Here are some things to look for in that trench.Why do I care about water? Just so you know – as an aside […]

Smartsheet™ – A Contractor’s Dream

Smartsheet™ – A Contractor’s Dream Executive Summary. It’s like Excel™, but not Excel™. It’s a great fit for logging: submittals, RFIs, letter, potential change orders, et cetera. Read on for a quick review of this not-so-heard-of product in our industry. Recommended! What is Smartsheet™? Smartsheet™ is a NYSE-traded cloud-based software […]

Pipe Encasement Flotation – Archimedes was the Man!

Pipe Encasement Flotation – Archimedes was the Man! Executive Summary. Ever prepped to pour a concrete encasement and lost sleep over whether or not it would float during the pour? Learn here how easy it is to calculate that buoyancy force. Archimedes was the man. Archimedes was a Greek mathematician […]

Owners Loosen Your Grip!

Owners Loosen Your Grip! Executive Summary. COVID and inflation in 2020, 2021, and 2022 have created challenging and unpredictable times for contractors. Owners should consider loosening contract provisions during this interim for the good of their projects. I’m tired of hearing of these unique times. Seems ever since the Great […]

Reading Rebar Drawings 101

Reading Rebar Drawings 101 Executive Summary. Rebar drawings take on their own lingo. Here are some basics to get you through understanding what you see on paper and then what you will then see in the field. What is rebar? Rebar is short for reinforcing bar. It is the component […]

Great Ways to Die: The Potential Energy Edition

Great Ways to Die: The Potential Energy Edition Executive Summary. The construction site is fraught with danger. Avoid these hazards to get home to your family tonight – in one piece. Literally. This is the potential energy edition. What a terrible article title. Yup, agreed. It’s a bit sick, right? […]

I Wrote a Children’s Book Because I Could

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes Executive Summary.  Nothing better than getting your kids interested in what you do for a living by reading to them to sleep at night about the glorious business of asphalt milling!  Then fill it back in with asphalt!  Good times!  Try reading fun rhymes to […]

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 […]

Tech Tricks for Computer Efficiency

Practice implementing these tech habits into your daily routine and you’ll become more efficient at your computer & other tech devices! Laptop / Desktop Tech Use a Mouse If you don’t already: Use. A. Mouse. Even with a laptop. While the mouse is technically the slowest part of the computer, […]

Pipeline Podcast: Best of 2020

Here’s a look back as we’ve had some great topics in 2020 for new and experienced contractors, engineers, estimators, and owners. Related Articles

What is Section Modulus, S?

Executive Summary:  One of the most basic properties of a beam is its section modulus. How does the section modulus, S, come into play in structural design?  And, why should I care? What is a beam?  Keeping it simple here, a beam is a horizontal member supported at two ends.  When you stand in the […]

Conversion of Inches to Feet (in decimals)

Imperial vs. Metric Length in the United States is still primarily measured using inches and feet – inches add up to feet add up to yards add up to miles. These are called Imperial units. The vastly more common way on the planet of measuring distance is by using the metric system – […]

No good deed goes unpunished

Proverb #1: No good deed goes unpunished. I’ve got a couple of these proverbs up my sleeve when it comes to construction. This one I normally share with the newbies to the biz, but I find that those that have been around awhile benefit from it too. Where’s this applicable? I usually […]

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 – […]