Monday, September 17, 2012

BuildSite Adds New Category: 99000 B.C. - Prehistoric Remains

Over the past year, we have seen increased demand around the country for categorizing unearthed prehistoric fossils on the job site.

Here at BuildSite, we are taking these requests seriously by creating a new MasterFormat category, 99000 B.C. - Prehistoric Remains* which will house "product" information on some common fossils that you may encounter on your next job.

These will include the following prehistoric animals:

Please continue to send us your requests, and help us to build the definitive product database for construction. We are here to make sure you have the information you need, no matter what you encounter on the job site.

*We have not yet contacted CSI about making this a permanent part of MasterFormat.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"No Transmittal, No Review"

David Stutzman's blog post "What Should I Look for During Submittal Review?" provided great insight into the mind of architects and specifiers - those on the receiving end of submittals. One point he stresses:

"The contractor's transmittal should list the applicable specification section number, title and paragraph number... as references for the submittal."

We agree that this is a best practice, as we demonstrate below in our model submittal coversheet, produced using BuildSite Submittals.

BuildSite Submittal
An electronic transmittal. BuildSite style.

Read David Stutzman's full post here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Manufacturers: Is your website costing you customers?

Many potential customers visit your website. How easy is it for them to find your products’ technical data sheets, guide specifications, or MSDS forms? Every minute that a potential customer spends on your website digging through arbitrarily separated files, misnamed documents, or technical information buried beneath marketing fluff, is a minute spent not working on their projects and pleasing their own clients. Every minute these customers spend frustrated with your website is an opportunity for a potential customer of yours to become a potential customer of someone else.

"Yeah, put it over there, next to all the other stock photos
 of guys making this exact same pose. Yeah. Perfect."
Customers want your product and they want it in five clicks or fewer. They are less interested in your stock photos of architects and engineers happily pointing off into the distance. (Does that really even happen?)

Put your site to the test. Here are some suggestions:
  1. Have a layman test your site. A friend, an industry outsider, or even your parents. Ask any of these people to find something without help from you. It should be easy enough for someone who has no idea what they are doing to be able to find something just by following simple website navigation.
  2. Think of your website as a place where you spend your own personal time. Would you accept this level of quality on the sites that you frequent? If Facebook or Amazon or Google had the interface that your website has, would you still visit them?
  3. Your website should provide people with what they want without them having to pick up a phone or thumb through a book. If they do need to call someone, your company’s contact information should be readily accessible.
To all architects, contractors, specifiers, or anyone else who has ever had to deal with a poorly designed manufacturer website, what are your biggest concerns or suggestions?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Construction Will Never Go Paperless

A lively discussion has been taking place in the Construction Professionals Forum on LinkedIn regarding the future of iPads in construction. The discussion thread titled "How Tablets Will Transform Construction" highlights many of the challenges our industry faces, not just in using iPads, but in going paperless.

In jest I have titled this blog post "Construction Will Never Go Paperless." But at times the challenges to an electronic system feel insurmountable: fragmented technologies, limited resources to invest in new technology, and, well, technophobia. Read on for excerpts from the discussion thread:
"[I]n regards to electronic submittals and shop drawings it seems like the first thing I see people doing is turning around and hitting print to have a hard copy to review."*
There is a tendency among construction industry professionals to be tactile. Often that means printing documents for review and annotation, even if they are received electronically. Also, drawings are printed on large pieces of paper for a reason. There is an incredible amount of information to take in at once. But just as maps are migrating online, technologies that digitalize drawings have the potential to provide more information than a 2-dimensional drawing can capture.
"[T]hese devices require deep pockets."*
Construction teams are not often granted big technology budgets. Despite the fact that technology will often provide immediate returns, teams don't feel they can justify the expense.
"I think [the iPad] has it's place and on a job site isn't one of them. There will be communications of private nature's going on... Thats the same as allowing staff to use their cell phones or pc's for personal usage..."*
To those who think tablets will lead contractors wasting time on the job doing personal tasks,
"They said they same thing about the Internet in the work place. We can receive emails in the field from suppliers or project managers we can troubleshoot electrified hardware that's failed... The money we save in one year alone pays for the four [tablets] that we purchased."  - Darren Patton, FDAI,CSI,CDT
Fortunately, there are voices in the industry that recognize the value of investing in technology and enabling better communication in the field.

But at times, it feels we as an industry have a long way to go...

*Quotes have been anonymized to protect the privacy of LinkedIn members. If you would like your quote attributed, please email mloftus[at] and I will be happy to credit the source!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Future of Construction Technology (According to FutureTech)

This week, Tom Sawyer of ENR published results of a technology survey among readers, Hot Tech Topics: ENR Readers Speak Up About Info Tech in Construction. So what is the future of construction technology according to FutureTech readers?

  • BIM
  • iPads and mobile
  • Collaborative tools
  • Cloud software

This will come as no surprise to many of us in the industry, but it is good to see momentum building behind these systems.

We do continue to face a very siloed industry with different firms employing different technology solutions. According to one subcontractor quoted in the article, Ray Chen of Faith Technologies, GC's are the ones who need to make the call for new technologies:
"As a subcontractor, it doesn't matter what I've implemented in my own company—I'm going to do what the GC wants me to do," he says. "If the GC isn't using a data-driven approach—and a lot of them aren't--Faith isn't going to, either."
But here's the good news. Whether it's the GC or the sub who makes the call to use collaborative tools, these systems add value far beyond the construction phase.
Ted Weidner, assistant vice chancellor for facilities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, notes, "[BIM] is a nice tool for architects and structural engineers so far, but its real value will be... when the facility is turned over to me after construction."
Read the full article.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Contractor Purchasing Forecast for 2012

This week, a new study on contractor purchasing behavior came out from management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting. You can read the full Building Contractor Behavior Survey, but here are some of our key take-aways:

  • Contractors are planning for growth in 2012.

  • Professional distributor channels will win more business. Big box retailers have done well with low prices over the past few years, but contractors have loyalty to the "pro channel." This shows that value-added services and personal relationships do make a difference.

  • Thirty percent of contractors are using social media more today than they were a year ago.

  • Contractors will continue to increase use of the Internet for product research, price comparisons, and purchasing.

  • Energy efficiency and sustainability continue to factor (in equal parts) into product choices for commercial contractors.

All this spells good news for construction manufacturers and their distributors who have been hard hit these past few years.

I leave you with this great take-home:
"Building products manufacturers have an opportunity to capitalize on growth by continuing to promote trusted brands, introducing product features that will command a premium and reevaluating how they reach their customers across traditional and online channels."
--Chris Kenney, Vice President and Head of L.E.K. Consulting's
North American Basic Industries Practice

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Word Cloud Reveals BuildSite is All About Submittals

Word clouds are a fun way to get a bird's-eye view of your website, blog, or Twitter feed. I recently ran a word cloud for the BuildSite News Blog using Wordle, and here is what I found:

Read about these topics and more on the BuildSite News Blog.

Not surprisingly, our biggest topics are electronic submittals and construction products. Phew, at least we are staying on message!