Sunday, March 19, 2017

Building the greatest non-wall structure between the United States and Mexico (Continued from the March 13, 2017 posting)

Following this initial post on March 13, 2017 on March 14, 2017 we received an e-mail from Kevin Quealy, a reporter from the New York Times because our company was among the 647 listed in the “Interested Vendor List” of the Design-Build structure for the design and build of a prototype wall structure in the vicinity of the United States border and Mexico.

His e-mail asked if we were willing to share a “sketch or design advice of any kind to the customs and border protection” because he thought “readers will be interested to see how different companies envisioned this structure, particularly since aesthetics will factor into the final decision.”

As a courtesy we telephoned Mr. Quealy mentioning that we had no sketches but we had posted some design advice on our web site’s blog at http://constructionplace.blogspot.in/

Here are the visions of the two Options we posted on our web site Blog on March 13, 2017:

Option 1

Envision the following:

A concrete wall (30 foot high x approximately 2 foot thick with equally spaced buttress supports topped with spike like components traversing a variety of terrains, ranging from major urban areas to uninhabitable deserts;

Optionally, tower like structures or poles for cameras and other surveillance equipment are on or adjacent to the wall and spaced at strategic distances and locations;

An occasional drone is hovering overhead;

The wall is covered with graffiti, rust stains from metal fasteners or wall mounted components, light fixtures and/or exposed reinforcing steel;

Cracks and spalling concrete caused from earth quake tremors and common stress are observed;

Debris and garbage from wind and humanity is seen at the base of either side of the wall;

Occasional homeless shelters are observed next to the wall;

As needed draining systems are placed to prevent erosion and flooding; and
Sensor devices for detecting/locating tunneling activities because as the wall footings/foundations get deeper the tunnels are deeper thus making them more difficult to discover.

This option includes a mix of a continuous wall structure with limited or no visibility and technology while serving as a barrier

Graphic artist Sketches of this option are welcome for our next or future blog posting(s).  

Option 2

Envision the following:

A variety of strategically located open fence like systems/structures or boundary lines (the border line) traversing a variety of terrains, ranging from major urban areas to uninhabitable deserts;

Tower like structures or poles for cameras and other surveillance equipment are placed along the border line at strategic locations and distances;


An occasional drone is hovering overhead;

High tech equipped mobile homes with DHS (Department of Homeland Security) logos are flying American flags can be seen at strategic locations and distances along the border; and

If and when deemed appropriate both American and Mexican security officers will be seen periodically sharing the Motor homes for surveillance and patrolling activities in their respective areas.

This option includes a joint task force mobile security system with a mix of open vision fencing systems, mobile vehicles, and technology while promoting a good neighbor relationship.

Graphic artist Sketches of this option are welcome for our next or future blog posting(s).  

Ironically, on March 16, 2017 Wall Street Journal stories by Dan Frisch; and Dan Frisch and Laura Meckler respectively titled “Ranchers have their own Ideas on Border Wall” and “Wall Debates Shrinking Problem” expressed ideas mostly comprising “a mix of structures and technology”.  

The stories included thoughts from ranchers along the United States and Mexico border such as “I don’t care what they build.  They’ll climb over it or they’ll go under it” and “No matter what they build on the border, it isn’t going to stop the traffic”.

And weeks ago we read in a local newspaper about another contractor on the “Interested Vendor list” who believes the Design-Build Border Wall structure will not solve the expressed Illegal Immigration and drug trafficking problem(s) from Mexico but he will still bid on the project because he wants the work.  

We would like the work also but as Construction Managers with General Building Contractor licenses in California and Hawaii we feel obligated to tell our clients (1) when we believe their proposed project will have little or no impact on solving their problem; and (2) when we can offer other project scope options for consideration.

Therefore, we think readers would be more interested in seeing design advice that will solve the expressed problem including designs that are aesthetically pleasing.

Here is our definition of Design found in the publication “Construction Management Make Easy” See Glossary

DESIGN
A graphical representation consisting of plan views, interior and exterior elevations, sections, and other drawings and details to depict the goal or purpose for a building or other structure.

In other words, we design structures to depict a goal or purpose usually based on a promise that we have made to ourselves or others to solve a particular problem with a specific intent.

But sometimes we come up with more than one option to solve that particular problem. In such case it is prudent to choose the least expensive solution (Design) that satisfactorily produces the intent of the promise.

Comments, thoughts and/or other Options Welcome!

Clink on the below link to read about great border walls:


Monday, March 13, 2017

Building the greatest non-wall structure between the United States and Mexico


Problem:  Illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States via Illegal border crossings

Solution: Implement a great security system that discourages/prevents illegal border crossings and encourages legal immigration.

Option 1 – The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is currently soliciting for the Design and Build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico. The total length of this continental border structure would be approximately 3,201 kilometers or 1,989 miles long if completely built and traverse a variety of terrains, ranging from major urban areas to uninhabitable deserts.  As of January 26, 2017 the estimated cost to build this proposed wall is $15 to $20 Billion Dollars without the benefit of a design and construction documents.

Advantages: None that we can think of at the moment

Disadvantages: Limited visibility, high maintenance, unknown environmental and construction issues; and a perception of confinement and separation.

Option 2 – Build a joint task force mobile security system along the entire United States and Mexico Border using mobile homes, current fence deliberations by the United States Senate, and high tech surveillance equipment.  This option will divide our two countries with a secure open visible boundary line that traverses over a variety of terrains, ranging from major urban areas to uninhabitable deserts.  This option is currently estimated at $2 Billion dollars (see the Senate's estimate in item 2 below) plus our estimated costs for mobile homes at $100 million and high tech surveillance systems/equipment and training as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

Advantages: Optimal visibility, low maintenance, minimal environmental and construction issues while creating the perception of building good will and better friendships; and a security system that would be fair and beneficial to all concerned.

Disadvantages: None that we can think of at the moment

How it works:

1. Mobile home stations - Use mobile homes placed every 1 to 2 miles or as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. Mobile homes will be self-sufficient with water, propane, electrical generators, mobile devices, and surveillance equipment allowing the mobile homes to easily relocate at any time and without notice along their assigned boarder territory. 

Each mobile home will have the Department of Homeland Security seal applied to the home’s exterior. If and when deemed appropriate each mobile home will fly both American and Mexico flags. And it may be possible to have the mobile homes donated by American and/or Mexican companies in exchange for sponsoring privileges like logo placement on the mobile homes and/or other promotional benefits.  Some mobile home locations may be more permanent and as such may require concrete pads being constructed with more permanent utility connections.



2. Complete the current Border fence deliberations by the Senate (from Google Search)


The fence would have high tech sensors for detecting breaches and/or tunneling activities connected to their respective mobile home stations.

3. Homeland security personnel – One Homeland Security Officer from the United States will occupy each mobile home.  Optionally, if appropriate, one officer from Mexico will join and occupy a mobile home with the United States officer. Officer(s) will patrol their respective area using 3 wheel and 4 wheel drive vehicles.  And conduct border surveillance using surveillance systems/equipment in their mobile home stations and/or vehicles.

4.  Border Management and chain of command - The respective State/County Sharif’s Departments would oversee the border, mobile home stations, and personnel in their respective states (from west to east, are California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas).The Sharif’s offices would coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security.

Here is a brief design for gathering study for the aforementioned options:


Conclusion - Don’t build something that will deteriorate and/or be torn town over time or that inhibits a good neighbor relationship. Build something that will symbolize American ideals and mutually withstand meaningful humane political aspirations.  The message – “America is a Country of secure openly visible borders and it’s easier to come to America legally.”

How is this for a possible solution to solving the illegal immigration problem from Mexico that can be mutually beneficial and save the United States tax payers lots of money?



Friday, April 15, 2016

Improving the Construction Industry Through a More Positive and Healthier Life Style



We are always looking for ways of improving the Construction Industry because there are lots of team members.  Well here are two simple and fast ways of doing just that.

Good manners, positive attitudes, and staying healthy can help achieve and maintain outstanding project productivity and promote good working relationships with all team members.

Building a More Positive Life Style

Too often we either miscommunicate or offend others with words we use or wrong unintentional body language, gestures, expressions, and most of time it’s simply negative and poor behavior which leads to bad manners.

These behavioral failures tend to be especially true when extending complements, offering constructive criticism, and just every day life’s events. 

Try this simple 3 step game, the object being to accumulate lots of points by the end of each day. 

HERE IS HOW TO PLAY THE GAME:

              Step 1 - Using the “Sample Positive and Negative Behaviors” table below create and           memorize your own list;

              Step 2 – Using the honor system start each new day with zero “0” points; and

              Step 3 - Let your actions be your guide by awarding yourself plus points for every good         deed, action or positive behavior performed. And deducting minus points for every negative or self- serving action performed.

Sample Positive and Negative Behaviors

Positive and Good Behavior = Plus Points
Negative and Poor Behavior = Minus Points
Acting with good manners (+1)
Not acting with good manners (-1)
Greeting others with a smile (+1)
Not greeting others with a smile (-1)
Positive and future talking (+2)
Negative and past talking (-2)
Doing something special for a friend or family member (+5)
Being self-centered (-2)
Being on time (+2)
Being late (-2)
Hold a door open for someone (+1)
Don’t hold a door open for someone (-1)
Saying Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening to others (+1)
Not Saying Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening to others (-1)
Saying thank you (+1)
Not saying thank you (-1)
Giving or offering a senior citizen a seat on the bus (+2)
Not giving or offering a senior citizen a seat on the bus (-2)
Saving your litter for a garbage can (+2)
Littering (-2)

SCORING

Subtract any Minus Points from Plus Points.  For example:   +10 – 2= +8 points for the day

Have fun and try for lots of + Plus Points each day.

Building a More Healthier Life Style

Try avoiding the following for a couple of weeks to lose weight, inches and get healthier and happier which leads to improved self-esteem, a more positive attitude and happier and life style. Most important, eat three meals every day.

No Caffeinated Drinks
No Eating in Bed
No Frozen Foods
No Junk Foods
No snacks between meals
No sparkling sugar added drinks
No unnatural salt
No white flour
No white rice
No white sugar



If you can't avoid all of these try avoiding a few.

If you have more suggestions on improving the Construction Industry please tell us!



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Construction Web Site Hits Nail on the Head



Since 1999 Constructionplace.com  is still here and now creating new mobile solutions for our users and clients to achieve their ultimate goals!

In the September 8, 2000 issue of the San Francisco Business Times Brendan Doherty, Business Times Staff Writer published a column titled “Construction web sites don’t yet hit nail on head.”

We are amazed and pleased to say “We are still here” unlike most of the Construction web sites mentioned in the column it appears that only two remain online today, namely us “Constructionplace.com” and “Construction.com”.

The column says that for construction web sites the promise is large “it’s a place where there is not only lots of money but a lot of inefficiency”. 

Well, our most recent efficiency innovations include making our site a mobile web site with solutions for marketing, bidding, negotiating and referring property(s), Projects, and Resources.

Bidding and Negotiating

In minutes registered users can create and send RFP's  (Requests for Proposals) to other registered or non-registered users for competitive bidding.  The RFP can be sent to “closed” (private) lists of bidders or to the “open” (non-private) public including the option of sharing the RFP  on Facebook or Linked In.

And it even gets better because track-able  “Lets Negotiate”, “RFI’s” (Request for Information), and “Follow Up” features are built into the respective “RFP” and “Quick Bid” Action Centers.

If the RFP’s   “Deliver your Proposal using CPC Quick Bid” option is selected the bidder needs only to include the Base Bid amount in the auto-filled /editable bid form, preview the bid and if “It looks great.. Send it” back to the RFP creator.

Quick Bids can also be created in the absence of RFP’s.  In minutes registered users can create and send Bids for any project to other registered users or to contacts in their personal email client.

A "Bid Tabulator" is also available for comparing bids quickly and allowing the owner to negotiate with any or all bidders for selecting the right bidder for the project and getting the best value.

Referrals


For those Projects or Real Estate deals you can’t handle or if you know a good resource worthy of referring why not refer them to others.  Our Referral Program is for Profiting while helping others to profit and succeed" and "Never miss making money again for referring someone or something". You can even NEGOTIATE the Referral Fees with the Seller. Ask how to start your own referral business using this system.

Novice and Student Users 

 
Novice and Students will find that Constructionplace.com makes a unique learning platform because test projects can be created and showcased. And our Free Self Help section contains interactive forms and worksheets.  In addition we have couple of useful publications for purchase and download.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Never miss making money again for referring someone or something

“Profiting with referrals while helping others to profit and succeed” This is the concept behind the Referral Program on www.constructionplace.com  which includes a referral fee negotiating process. The Referral Program can be used by Sellers, Buyers, and Referrers.  Login to www.constructionplace.com and select My Referrals.



Referrals

A Referral is the action of mentioning someone or something to another party and is used frequently in the Real Estate industry for generating business associated with real estate transactions for a Referral Fee.

Real Estate agents, for various reasons, opt to refer buyers and sellers and/or their agents in exchange for a referral fee.   And some real estate agents prefer to simply refer and collect referral fees in lieu of getting involved with the actual Real Estate transactions because referring can become quite lucrative with limited liability.

Generally a referring buyer is known by the referring party either by past experience in a working relationship or personal knowledge. And in most cases hiring parties tend to feel more comfortable with Referrals because of the referral relationship with the referring party.  
However, I have not seen the referral process used outside of the Real Estate Industry.  I have referred buyers, sellers, resources, and clients over the years to others for various reasons (too busy, not my expertise, referral request, etc.) but it never occurred to me to request or collect a referral fee or profit in any way.
Here are a couple of suggestions when considering the Referral Process:
      1.       Don’t be timid and/or feel uncomfortable asking for a Referral Fee in exchange for referring someone, something, or bonafide opportunities to others because a referral provides value to the buyer by helping him/her succeed;
      2.       Think of a referral as giving a helping hand and be prepared to negotiate the referral fee;
      3.       Use and promote the referral process in industries outside of the Real Estate Industry; and
      4.       Helping others succeed and profit can be fun, profitable and personally rewarding.

The Referral Program on www.constructionplace.com makes initiating referrals fun and easy and it keeps a personal history of your Referral Transactions.

In addition to the Referrals consider Performance Reviews when hiring resources.
Performance Reviews
A Performance Review is a method by which the job performance of a resource is examined, evaluated and documented.  Here are a couple of ways Performance Reviews are created and presented:






Rating Services and Published Lists
Rating Services and Published Lists usually contain Third Party Performance Reviews.  The third party Rating Service or List Provider obtains the background information from a member resource and/or references provided by the member resource. But such references are questionable because who provides or uses poor or bad references for reporting performance?
Furthermore, to be meaningful third party reviews should be current (based on work recently completed or performed) and consist of candid information provided by hiring party(s).
And, rating services and lists usually require the resource to pay a membership fee which suggests that such rating or listing services are motivated to be somewhat bias and/or to lower their qualification standards to grow or maintain paying members.
Hiring Parties
Hiring parties provide First Hand Performance Reviews.  A first hand performance review usually contains a resources background information based on actual recently completed performance on a specific project(s) directly from the hiring party.  These reviews can take the form of a Letter of Reference prepared for the resource by the hiring party or a Performance Report generated from a list of questions answered directly by the hiring party.
www.constructionplace.com offers such a check list wherein the hiring party simply selects Yes or No from a list of performance related questions.  A Performance Review Report is available showing only the YES selections and the resources Overall Performance Rating, Quality of Work, Punctuality and Professionalism.
This type of review is also useful for resources wanting reviews because it is easy for the hiring party to complete the review questions and post the results for the resource.
The resource simply asks the hiring party to “please review my performance”.  Upon completing the review it is listed in the resources profile.  The resource has the option of displaying the reviews in a Professional Search on www.constructionplace.com .
While Performance Reviews and Lists are useful for finding resources they should not be used solely for hiring resources. One should continue with the due diligence (professional screening process) before hiring the resource.
 
Some say this screening process takes too long but what is one or two days (that’s how long it should take to complete a professional screening process) if it: (1) can save lots of money (sometimes thousands or tens of thousands of dollars); (2) insure minimal or no schedule delays; (3) can produce good job performance, quality and workmanship; and (4) avoid needless worry, confrontations, and sometimes legal battles.
Here is a simple screening process named Subcontractor Hiring Guidelines which can be used for all types’ resources.

Comments Welcome!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Subcontractor Hiring Guidelines



Here are a few guidelines to follow when you're seeking a subcontractor.

An essential ingredient is finding subcontractors who can be flexible and innovative. In many cases it's important to do a construction project around an existing building or within an active office or business without disrupting the day-to-day operations. A good subcontractor is willing to work at off-hours or devise another way to circumvent the owner's ongoing work schedule.
Review the subcontractors experience to ensure the firm has done your kind of project before.  Sometimes a high-rise builder may not be a good choice for an upscale retail shopping center.  Likewise, a residential home builder subcontractor may not have the skills to tackle commercial construction work.

GATHERING SUBCONTRACTOR INFORMATION

Name
Name of Subcontractor

Federal or Social Security ID
This information is Optional because many companies or individuals do not welcome giving out this information until they actually have been awarded a contract. It this case, this information should be obtained immediately upon starting the project because it saves time at end of year for tax reporting purposes.

Areas of Expertise of Specialization
Helps define the professionals ‘qualifications for your specific project
State License Type
For license identification purposes                                
License Number
To insure that the contractor is properly licensed
License Expiration Date
To insure that the license is currently active and remains valid for the duration of your project
Phone Number AND Emergency Phone Number
General contact information and during construction in the event of an emergency
HTTP://
This URL is useful for obtaining more information about the company or professional
E-Mail Address
Contact information

Bondable
A contractor is bondable when a rated surety company has given the contractor a written statement of bond ability.  Before issuing such a statement the surety company conducts their own background check on the contractor before they make a commitment to provide a bond to the contractor.  When the surety company is satisfied that the contractor is a good risk the contractor becomes bondable.  Even though you may not require a bond for you project you may want to use this information for qualifying contractors. (See Bonding Rate Below)

Bonding Capacity                                                       
The bonding capacity is the dollar amount the bonding company is willing to guarantee for all bondable and non-bondable work the contractor has on hand based on the experience level and capabilities of the contractor. 

Example:  The bonding company determines that the construction company qualifies for a bonding capacity of $2,000,000.  The contractor has work on hand, contracts totaling $1,000,000 ($500,000 requiring bonds and $500,000 not requiring bonds).  In this example the contractor has a bond surplus of $1,000,000 for any future work requiring a bond and will be granted the bond.

Example:  The bonding company determines that the construction company qualifies for a bonding capacity of $2,000,000.  The contractor has work on hand, contracts totaling $1,000,000 not requiring bonds.  The contractor wants to bid on a new $2,000,000 project requiring a bond, which would increase his work on hand to $3,000,000.  In this example the contractor has a bond deficit of $1,000,000 and will not be granted the bond unless the bonding company reevaluates the contractor’s capabilities and agrees to increase the contractor’s Bonding Capacity.

  Tip!
If you are requiring a bond ask the contractor to invoice you for its direct cost.  You'll save a hefty mark-up because it is not necessary to include the bond cost in the contract schedule of values and incur the contractor’s markup.
Bonding Rate
When the contractor becomes bondable the amount the surety company charges the contractor for the bond is called the bonding rate.  This bonding rate is based on the risk factor the bonding company places on issuing the bond to the contractor. The higher the risks to the bonding company the higher the bonding rate.  And conversely, the lower the risks to the bonding company the lower the bonding rate.

The bonding rate is also a good guide for comparing contractors by looking at their bonding rates you can generally tell if the contractor has a good track record. 

Example: Contractor A has a bonding rate of 1% (one per cent) whereas contractor B has a bonding rate of 3% (three per cent).  Contractor A has a greater experience level and capabilities than contractor B as viewed by the Bonding Company.  Also, contractor A's bond will cost you 2% less than contractor B's bond.  
Work on Hand
This is the total amount of work the contractor currently has under contract. 

REFERENCES

When qualifying Subcontractors it is good practice to obsttain at least three references, preferably from former clients and/or vendors or materials suppliers.  Subcontractors who pay bills on time demonstrate dependability and financial stability.

Remember, subcontractor’s can make or break your project so choose your subcontractor(s) carefully.

Tip!
Whenever practical, in your bidding documents, reserve the right to negotiate with any and all contractors because the lowest bidder is not necessarily the right contractor for the project.

Much of this material was taken from the new publication “Construction Like Sushi” ISBN 978-0-9668245-1-3 and available for download on www.propertyandprojects.com

Friday, May 3, 2013

New Contractor licensing Law puts Responsibility and Liability where it belongs



Construction Managers and Consultants take notice!

On January 1, 2013 California’s Assembly Bill AB 2237 went into effect which basically regulates those submitting bids and performing the actual work (a Contractor), rather than those overseeing or managing work (Construction Managers and Consultants).

The new law is intended to “clearly define when someone is a “Contractor” and discourage unscrupulous individuals from working under a fraudulently obtained owner-builder permit.”1

Apparently, there have been cases when individuals circumvent the contractor license law requirements by calling themselves a “Consultant” or “Construction Manager” but submit a bid to perform certain work, and then provide the labor and materials to perform that same work in exchange for a fee.  The problem is that these individuals may or may not have the proper insurance or bonds in force as required for “Contractors” thus leaving the property owner with all of the responsibility and liability for the work being performed.

Basically, a contractor’s license is not required unless one proposes to or undertakes to do the actual work or some part of it or if the total project cost is less than $500.00.  However, in California, registration with the EDD (Employment Development Department) is required when hiring employees to perform any work.

Here are a few tips and preventative measures for putting responsibility and liability where it belongs:

1.  Community associations, and owners of high rise buildings or common wall structures should advise and educate their entire association or occupants about how to screen and hire contractors because work performed, in only one unit in the building will/can affect the others.  i.e., defective workmanship; and use of inferior materials and/or equipment;

2.  Owner-Builders, Property Owners and Managers should understand that licensed “contractors” perform functions such as (1) proposing to undertake the actual work,  (2) providing and overseeing bids, (3) arranging and setting up work schedules, (4) maintaining oversight of projects, (5) satisfying the sufficiency of bids, plans and specifications and (6),  inspects the work performed by vendors/subcontractors to determine compliance with the plans, specifications and any other construction documents; whereas, “Consultants” and “Construction Managers” do not propose to or undertake the actual work or some part of it; nor do they satisfy the sufficiency of bids, plans and specifications; and

3.  Property Owners should get familiar with the overall process of planning projects, hiring resources, taking bids, and managing performance.
www.constructionplace.com offers free advice and learning systems to its users for under $100.00.  The system includes the new book titled “Construction like Sushi” featuring a four part system and optional interactive self calculating down loadable work sheets that can be modified and reused.  The four part system includes:

1. Planning Projects
2. Hiring Resources
3. Job Costing and Contracting Agreements
4. Managing work performance and payments

And the new Project Registry is a perfect tool for managing and archiving property and project information.

4.  Understand that:

a.  Professional roles that are associated with responsibility and liability when undertaking building construction and improvement projects include, but not limited to,  Agents, Community Managers, Construction Mangers, Consultants, Contractors, Owner-Builders, Owner Representatives, and Property Managers; and

b. Project types include, but are not limited to, Home Improvements, Home Improvement Goods and Services, and any building construction projects.

This information is based on the author’s interpretation of the California Contractor licensing law.  Therefore, everyone should consult their respective local and/or state Contractor license laws and be guided accordingly.

Definitions and Information sources:
EDD means California State Employment Development Department
1 Contractors State License Board, Press Release 12/31/2012

Comments welcome!