Category: Podcast

Project Loss Insurance: Heard of It?

Executive Summary There exists an insurance product to mitigate the risk associated with catastrophic failure of a construction company. It’s called Project Loss Insurance. Tell me more about this insurance.   Project Loss Insurance (PLI) is a product that covers financial loss to a contractor for losses associated with: Bad estimates […]

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 […]

Utes and Bunds: Working in New Zealand

Executive Summary Civil construction is the same, but different, in New Zealand. Some terms and methods which vary from American civil construction follow. Give me a little bit about New Zealand? New Zealand is a country with about 5,000,000 people in it. This is roughly the population of Alabama in […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Using a Static Indirect Bid Item in your Bids

Executive Summary Create a static bid item in all of your bids to serve as a checklist for indirect costs – both jobsite and corporate indirects! The bid items in a job. Whether you make up the bid items in your proposal, or the client gives them to you, or […]

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 […]

The Leonard Curves: Another Tool in Labor Loss Quantification

Executive Summary Charles Leonard performed a study which resulted in the Leonard Curves. These curves may be a helpful tool to quantify your labor productivity loss due to cumulative impacts on your project. The Deeper Dive Revay and Associates Limited out of Canada wrote a great comparison article between the […]

Jet Grout in Five Minutes

Executive Summary Jet grout has been, and continues to be, a successful means of ground improvement. It can serve many purposes – two of the most common are structural support and groundwater control. Definition of Jet Grout Jet grout is a method of ground improvement wherein a drilling machine injects […]

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 […]

Contingency Doesn’t Exist When Low Bid Wins

Executive Summary When an owner determines the method of award is that the low bid wins, they shouldn’t expect contingency in a contractor’s bid. Here’s what they should expect. What is Contingency? If you go to google.com and type in “definition of contingency” you get this: [QR] A provision for […]

Bucketing – the Proper Claim Accounting Method

Executive Summary The categorization of costs incurred in a changed condition scenario is critical in dispute resolution. Account for costs by issue and sub-issue by creating buckets of costs. Do it early! Here Come the Extra Costs When you (the contractor) experience a change, whether you have notified the owner […]

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, […]

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 https://conta.cc/39bylFM

Delay Types – Top 4 List

Executive Summary Contractors experience all sorts of delays. This article covers what, arguably, may be the four most common types: inexcusable, excusable, compensable, and concurrent. Where do I Start with a Delay Analysis? Projects can be delayed for multiple reasons and the first question that must be asked to assign […]

Starting a Construction Business: a 5-Minute “How To”

Executive Summary Starting a construction business has its unique requirements. These plus the norms will get you up and running at your new construction business. Step 1. Do You Know What You’re Doing? This is the first question to ask yourself as you are getting ready to enter, as my […]

Foundations: Shallow vs Deep – What’s the Difference?

Executive Summary Our nation’s infrastructure bears on many types of foundations. Generally speaking, they can be classified into two different types: shallow or deep foundations. What’s a foundation? Loads on structures are created by all sorts of sources. Just the pure weight of the structure, or people walking in or […]

Financial Protection for the General Contractor & Owner: Two Ways

Executive Summary When making regular payments throughout the lifespan of a construction project, there are two main ways a general contractor or owner can achieve a significant level of financial protection: the joint check and/or the lien release. The Payment Process Most construction projects pay on a monthly basis. Payments […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Mistaken Taboo: Project Overhead

Executive summary. Field overhead carries different names with different contractors and owners. Discussed here is what field overhead is, and why it’s important for owners to understand. Project estimation. When a construction project is estimated, a good estimate will be one that captures all costs related to a project. These costs include, […]

The #1 Driver of a Construction Claim

Executive Summary A construction claim is a dispute in the Work as it was contemplated in the original construction documents. However, a large percentage of what drives a claim is not the Contract. It’s the people. It’s personalities. The Spark Losing money. That’s what drives contractors to spar with an […]

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 […]

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: […]

Laos: Infrastructure / Means & Methods

Executive Summary. You’re probably reading this from America or Canada. Ever wonder what the infrastructure and construction means and methods are like in a smaller less developed country like Laos? [For those who haven’t tapped into Google yet to find out where Laos is, it’s a landlocked country adjacent to […]

Earthwork: What’s a Cubic Yard?

Executive Summary A cubic yard is not a cubic yard when it comes to earthwork estimating and field operations. Know the difference to best estimate productions and to negotiate pricing in the field.  Estimating Earthwork Let’s say you’re at your daughter’s soccer game and you’ve been asked to excavate a […]

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 […]

Is One RFI One Too Many?

Executive Summary. How many RFIs (requests for information) are too many on a construction project? Is it time, is it possible, to tie the number of RFIs on a job to the cost impact suffered by a contractor? What is an RFI? “RFI” is an acronym standing for Request for […]

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, […]

Why be an Engineer: It’s the Mornings

Executive Summary:  A recent article by the American Bar Association caught my eye. It was entitled “When is it okay for a lawyer to lie?” I could probably end the article right here.  I’ll keep going. [QR] Contemplating a law career.  Yup, I get it, you know someone who watched television like the rest […]

The Internal Pre-Con: Top 10

Contractors usually are mandated to attend a pre-construction meeting with the Owner. There’s no reason not to also have an internal pre-construction meeting.

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.

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.

Inventory Tracking: A Money Saver

Executive Summary Construction companies have inventories that should be managed to improve efficiency and, in turn, improve the bottom line. Consider a mobile solution or at least one that gets away from the clipboard. How it was. My parents ran a small and successful construction company which provided well for […]

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 […]

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 – […]

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: […]