On the Level: Estimators
My words like silent raindrops fell, echoing in the wells of silence. —Paul Simon
One of the unsung perks of a vibrant economy lies in the happy sound that it generates. You know—the hum and whirr of the
Bad Timing for Immigration Reform
Stan Marek takes the call while driving in Houston. It’s sunny and 78 this Tuesday in October. The cheery CEO of Marek Construction Companies loves to chat about immigration reform and has figured it all out.
Life Online in 2069
What’s in store for our digital lives in 50 years? A world far different from today, say soothsayers surveyed recently by Pew Research Center.
While our industry focuses on solid objects—structures ma
13 Changes to the Commercial Construction Bid Process That Should Happen Today
Last year I retired from the construction industry after 43-year-long journey that began in building materials, transitioned to residential construction, and then culminated with a quarter century as a commerc
Construction Spending Inches Higher in August but Declines Year-to-Date
Construction spending edged up 0.1 percent in August from July but declined from year-ago levels, with divergent trends in residential and nonresidential categories, according to an analysis on Oct. 1 by the A
Dodge Momentum Index Posts Gain in September
The Dodge Momentum Index moved 4.1 percent higher in September to 143.6 (2000=100) from the revised August reading of 137.9. The momentum index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the fi
Scope It Out!
As I’ve stated before, I’m something of a contracts fanatic. I think this stems from the many times as a project manager, some performance disagreement was put to rest with the GC manager admonishing “read you
Construction Contractors Lose Confidence in June
U.S. construction industry leaders are somewhat less confident about near-term prospects for nonresidential construction but remain reasonably upbeat, according to the June 2019 Construction Confidence Index r
Dodge Data & Analytics Appoints New Chief Economist
Dodge Data & Analytics announces the appointments of Richard Branch as chief economist and Kim Kennedy as the director of forecasting. Branch succeeds Robert Murray, Dodge’s longstanding chief economist and vi
Dodge Momentum Index Moves Lower in August
The Dodge Momentum Index dropped 1.3 percent from July to August to 137.8 (2000=100) from the revised August reading of 139.6. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the
EIFS Hero Project Awards: Call for Entries
EIMA announced the call for entries for the 2019 EIFS Hero Awards on Aug. 15.
Do you think you have an award-winning project? If so, here’s your chance to showcase it and tell the story of why EIFS is
Even More of my Favorite Things
Shout, shout, let it all out; these are the things I can do without…— Tears for Fears
It may have come creeping as a recent bout with insomnia. Or perhaps it surfaced as an increased thirst for copious gl
Hilti North America Announces Personnel Changes
Avi Kahn, region head and chief executive officer of Hilti North America, has been promoted to the Hilti Group Executive Board effective Jan. 1, 2020.
Over his 15-year career, Kahn has held various ro
Tom Dorsey to Lead Grabber Southeast Regional Sales Division
Grabber Construction Products announces Tom Dorsey has accepted the position of Southeast regional sales manager. Having experience with building products from flooring to acoustical ceilings, Dorsey brings va
Two National Gypsum Plants Achieve Safety Milestones
National Gypsum Company announces that two of its plants have earned the Lloyd H. Yeager Award, a safety honor given by the Gypsum Association to its member companies that achieve 1 million hours worked by ass
Book: “The Game of Sales”
Buck Buchanan, veteran of the EIFS and construction products industry, has written his second book.
“The Game of Sales” delves deeply into the business-to-business environment of sales reps and sales man
Construction Contractors Remain Confident as Summer Begins
U.S. construction industry leaders remained upbeat regarding nonresidential construction’s near-term prospects in May 2019, according to the Construction Confidence Index released July 18 by Associated Builder
Dodge Momentum Index Descends in July
The Dodge Momentum Index retreated 4.6 percent in July to 138.9 (2000=100), down from the revised June reading of 145.6. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first
Economic Outlook: Expansion Continues, but Vulnerabilities Pile Up
More than 10 years after the end of the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. economy is again making history by continuing its longest-ever expansion. Nevertheless, emerging weakne
June Construction Starts Climb 9 Percent
New construction starts in June advanced 9 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $832.7 billion, according to their latest research. The increase followed the 10 percent gain
June Construction Unemployment Rates Down in 40 States Year Over Year
In June, estimated not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 40 states and increased in 10 on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Stati
How do you choose and establish a relationship with the supplier who will stack the success-odds in your favor?
One can safely say that this is a relationship where experience speaks louder than just abou
Nonresidential Construction Employment Roughly Flat in July
The construction industry added 4,000 net new jobs in July, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released Aug. 2 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year basi
Vacation Blues Revisited
I know I need a small vacation, but it don’t look like rain … .—“Wichita Lineman,” by Jim Webb
Well, it’s that time of year again, and some things never change. My conspicuous failure to post an entry on
You better come back around to the sad old truth—the dirty low down …—from “The Weight” by Robbie Robertson
They say if you let a dog eat the scraps from under the table, it won’t be long before he’s afte
Surface Burning Characteristics Explained
Q: Can you explain the phrase “surface burning characteristics”?
A: This is a phrase that is used to define the relative fire performance of individual building products. The suitability of a specific bui
The Recession Wiped Out Only the Amateurs
Tim Titsworth likes to build relationships with architects. On most jobs, the president of Concord Drywall, Inc. in California, sets up a walk-through that he calls “an architect’s observation.”
Come Tomorrow, Part 3
It ain’t necessarily so... —George and Ira Gershwin
I spent the last two months’ installments of “Estimator’s Edge” making a case for my notion that the forthcoming emergence of artificial intelligence wi
Consulting Sucks (Sometimes)
The gig economy is roaring right along, and that means consulting work is more popular than it’s ever been. And the truth is there are many great benefits to becoming a consultant. In fact, you may even be thi
Meet Nancy Brinkerhoff, AWCI’s First Female President
Pictured: Nancy Brinkerhoff with members of AWCI’s chapter in Northern California, the Wall And Ceiling Alliance
“Being the first woman president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industr
AWCI's 2019 Pinnacle Award Winner: Timothy J. Wies
Timothy Wies, president of T.J. Wies Contracting, Inc. in Lake St. Louis, Mo., was recognized for his unselfish commitment to his company, community and the wall and ceiling industry when he was presented with
Robotic Manufacturing Is Coming
Every day across the globe, about 200,000 people leave rural areas and move into cities, says World Economic Forum.
To support this growing urban population, Autodesk says contractors worldwide have t
The Safety Culture: Making or Breaking It
We know that in a company where safety is a given, the employees will feel both cared for and appreciated—and they will likely spread the word, too, making their friends easier to recruit.
We also kno
Come Tomorrow, Part 1
Shapes of things before my eyes just teach me to despise. —The Yardbirds
Much as I hate to, I am about to reverse myself on a position that I’ve expressed in this column a number of times. Whether in dead
The Truth about Architectural Bid Packages
Construction estimating is a great career (OK, being Meagan Markle is better), but I’d be lacking if I didn’t confess a complaint or two. No, it’s not the relentless, unforgiving deadlines, nor the paralyzing
Where Are the Exoskeletons?
In February, Morrison Utility Services in the United Kingdom began piloting a health and safety program that supplies exoskeletons to its contract workers.
“The benefits of this wearable technology,”
Computerized Estimating Systems
Just so we’re clear, computers are the bomb. I’m 61 now, but I took my first sip of computer Kool-Aid back in the late 1970s, and I’ve been guzzling ever since. I also (through no design of my own) wound up be
Here comes Johnny, gonna tell you the story; hand me down my walkin’ shoes… —“Walk of Life,” Dire Straits
There’s no denying the abounding enjoyment I get from a good walk. I can’t think of anything more
The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry’s annual convention at the end of April in Maryland will be the 25th AWCI convention I have attended. In that time, many traditions and events have stayed the s
What on Earth?
On Feb. 25, 2019, TheGuardian.com posted the article, “Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth.” The report was part of “Guardian concrete week,” a news bundle “[celebrating] the aesthetic and social
As life cycles on, another generation has arrived on the scene: Generation Z.
Gen Z’s oldest members are now 22. And they’re bold, entrepreneurial and technologically well equipped. Soon they’ll be on
Doing Submittals Right
Before retiring last year, I spent the previous quarter century as a senior estimator/project manager for a mid-size commercial general contractor in the Midwest. It was fast-paced, rewarding work, and one of
FMI Releases 2019 FMI Overview
FMI Corporation has released its “2019 FMI Overview,” featuring FMI’s latest forecast, the 2019 U.S. and Canada Construction Outlook. The publication offers comprehensive construction forecasts for a broad ran
Technology to the Rescue?
Construction technology continues to advance and almost daily offers contractors new tools to meet both long-term growth and efficiency goals—as artificial intelligence analytics, drone hardware-software combi
ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator Sinks Below Record Highs in Q3 2018
Associated Builders and Contractors reports that its Construction Backlog Indicator contracted to 9.04 months during the third quarter of 2018, down 8.4 percent from the second quarter and 4.3 percent lower th
Construction Input Prices Continue to Fall in December
Construction input prices declined 1.7 percent in December on a month-over-month basis yet are 3.5 percent higher than the same time last year, according to a new Associated Builders and Contractors analysis o
Control Joints in Stucco
Q: Can I use a generic cold-formed steel framing profile in a UL fire resistant design?
A: The quick answer to that question is, maybe. It depends on the UL design certification itself. The individual lis
Dodge Momentum Index Moves Lower in December
The Dodge Momentum Index fell 4.9 percent in December to 151.9 (2000=100) from the revised November reading of 159.7. The momentum index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or
The future’s not ours to see; que sera, sera… —Livingston and Evans, as performed by Doris Day
As one who enjoys reminiscing, and one who otherwise tries to live in the present, I am generally reluctant t
The Economy: Steady as She Goes?
Both Dodge Data and Analytics and Associated Builders and Contractors report great October 2018 figures for construction starts and unemployment, although ABC does point out that material prices continue to ri
Afterthoughts, Part 2
Get back to where you once belonged… —Lennon and McCartney
“We would certainly be receptive to a number that includes ornamental precast!”
I cannot begin to count the number of times a potential
Lateral Bracing in CFS Framing: Why?
Q: Can you explain the need for lateral bracing in cold-formed steel framing?
A: Lateral bracing is an important design consideration for both non-structural and structural applications of walls and parti
The High-Tech/High-Trust Balance
Technology does a lot but it can’t do everything. Sometimes we forget that. We can get so dependent on email and social media that we lose sight of what people really need from us—especially in business. Yes,