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What is a Master Schedule and Why You Need One

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In a properly managed construction project, a master schedule is where all of smaller projects come together. Reality is, even when they seem unrelated, every single project in a construction job needs to work in unison to deliver a quality project on time and on budget. Especially if you’ve been in the industry for a while or you think it’s a small, simple project, developing a master schedule might seem like an unnecessary bore, but trust me that at the end, you’ll be glad you did.

The Benefits

We’ll cut right to the chase: if you don’t have a decent master schedule, you run a huge risk of ruining your project. You should know from the very beginning that things are going to get delayed, broken, expensive… The master schedule helps you break down the bigger picture into smaller phases and identify things that you might not have noticed until you ran into them mid-project.

Another benefit is that it helps you manage everyone’s expectations. When every single detail of the project is delineated, everyone on the team will know what to expect and can be held accountable if they’re not pulling their own weight. Every task will be done with a purpose and with a deadline in mind.

What to Include?

Here’s a list of all the things you should include:

  • A pre-construction meeting – Get all the stakeholders together and share the project overview. This includes scope, goals, timeline, suppliers, materials, equipment and contracts. Cover all your bases to avoid surprises later.
  • Coordinating staffing – Who’s going to manage the relationship with the contractor and suppliers? Who reports to whom?
  • Site safety – Discuss all the safety measures that you will set in place. Do not forget about signs, roping, and fences.
  • Pre-construction investigations – Investigate all you need to know about building permits and construction laws in your jurisdiction and how to select the professionals and workers who will be involved in the project.
  • A list of all the tools, materials, equipment, and labor that will be necessary to complete the project.
  • Landscaping – Review the design, phases, and people taking care of it.
  • Cost estimates of every phase.
  • Priorities – Which projects are more important? When are they going to be completed?
  • Emergency procedures – How are you going to keep your workers safe? What happens if there’s a fire, a gas leak, an explosion, a site accident, a scuffle? Who’s the designated person to deal with these issues?
  • Closeout process – Who’s inspecting the premises? Who’s checking the punch list? Finishing a project takes a lot more than just saying: “We’re done here!”

Are You Missing Anything?

While having a well-drafted master schedule should help the project run as smoothly as possible, you have to be realistic and be prepared: In construction, always expect the unexpected. So roll up your sleeves and let’s get down to business.

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5 Construction Trends to Watch for in 2018

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From sustainable design to the latest in technology, here are a few of the biggest trends in the construction industry in 2018.

Green and Sustainable Design

As more people get on the recycling, reusing, and rethinking bandwagon, clients will start expecting contractors to implement sustainable practices as well.

The cost of building using sustainable practices and materials finally went down. Solar, wind, geothermal and other sustainable approaches have come a long way. Requests for green and sustainable elements will increase as clients recognize the savings these investments will yield down the road.

Offsite and/or Hybrid Construction

Less than a decade ago, most construction projects were modular or onsite. Nowadays, hybrid projects are very common. As contractors partner with prefab companies to save on cost and increase efficiency, more and more are including offsite construction elements into their plans.

Suppliers are also looking to the future with the offsite construction segment in mind. Until recently, many had not created product lines specifically for offsite. Now, suppliers are creating special lines for this market to help streamline operations.

Technology

Those firms that were early to incorporate technology into their daily operations are already reaping the benefits. Construction technology is making great strides to resolve some of the industry’s major problems, such as productivity, safety and labor shortages.

Drones, robots and autonomous equipment are slowly replacing skilled workers to reduce safety hazards and handle monotonous, repetitive tasks. Project management, billing and customer service processes are also transforming thanks to digital apps that streamline processes and allow for greater efficiency.

VR and AR

Virtual and augmented reality are already being used in construction sites.

Virtual reality goes far beyond providing a virtual walk-through to show clients what their investment will look like. VR is also used to train construction workers on how to handle heavy equipment through realistic simulation. Workers will be able to operate machinery with effective communication and collaboration. Safety hazards can be quickly explained to everyone involved without being exposed to risks, thereby reducing accidents on site.

AR enhances what we see with the aid of data and information. It facilitates providing accurate measurements and material details, as well as reducing errors. Design conflicts that aren’t identified in BIM (Building Information Modeling) can be quickly seen and resolved based on the client’s specification.

3D Printing

3D printing can be used to create building components or even print an entire building. Although it was once regarded as expensive and time-consuming, recent advances have made 3D printing an accessible option for the construction industry.

The pros of this trend abound: from faster and more exact creation of complex items to lower labor costs and producing less waste. It also allows for construction in extreme or dangerous environments that aren’t suitable for a human workforce.

It’s a very exciting time to be in the construction industry. As these trends mature in the next few years, we’ll start seeing some of the stuff that we once thought were only possible in sci-fi movies pop up in our cities. But as I’ve stated before, we must be careful to merge tradition with innovation, moving the industry forward while maintaining reputable quality standards.

 

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Why Construction Is Booming In Florida

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Article after article boasts construction as the prime example of an industry recovering after the 2008 recession. And within this impressive feat, Florida leads the pack on construction job growth. Only in 2016, Florida had the highest job growth of any state, with 22,300 jobs added during the year according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

So what makes our state so special? As the construction industry continues to lead the pack on post-recession recovery – especially in Florida where the recession hit pretty hard – here are a few important trends that are helping restore the sunshine in our local industry.

Mixed-Use Projects

From our very own Tampa Bay to West Palm Beach to Miami, our sunny state is flourishing with impressive transformations of neglected areas into urban and cosmopolitan mixed-use developments. Mixed-use developments blend residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or entertainment uses, physically and functionally integrating all of these components and connecting them with strong pedestrian access. Basically, a walkable city within a city.

Our very own Water Street Tampa, West Palm Beach’s Old City Hall and the Miami Worldcenter project are giving a much-needed facelift to central areas and injecting billions of dollars to our local market.

Condo And Multi-Family Housing BOOM

What do millennials and baby boomers have in common? Florida. Fueled by retirees’ desire to simplify their lives by eliminating single-family home upkeep, one of the strongest millennial growth trends in the country and their tendency to rent vs. own property, condo and multi-family housing in Florida have experienced a boom in the last few years. Let’s thank our retirees and young professionals for this one.

Private Non-Residential Construction

To continue serving the revolving door of tourists and expanding residents, many private non-residential spaces are looking to update their look. There’s also a need to keep patrons walking through their doors in the age of online shopping and delivery services.

In fact, according to a study published in January 2018, the private non-residential construction segment has grown faster in Florida than at the national level. Lead by the retail and restaurant sectors, many buildings that have been around for a long time are modernizing and streamlining their operations to be more effective, efficient, and sustainable.

Increased Healthcare And Educational Demands

Florida’s increasing population and growing economy demand ongoing development in many other areas of the construction industry, such as healthcare and education. According to Buildings.com, the market segment consensus growth forecast predicts a 7.8% increase in healthcare facilities and a 5.8% increase in educational institutions in 2018.

To satisfy the demand for more schools and training facilities that new communities produce, Florida recently invested $1.5 billion in the construction of state schools. There are also private educational institutions investing in the state, such as Nova Southeastern University’s new multi-million-dollar Clearwater campus, that is set to begin construction this year.

These are good times to do what we do, my friend. If you’re considering building or remodeling your commercial property in the Tampa Bay area, the time to act is now. Contact us today and let’s get your project started.

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Are Zoning Laws Restrictive or Necessary Regulations?

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If you are planning a commercial construction project, you probably know that understanding zoning laws is essential. In Tampa and all American cities, zoning laws govern the use of land and regulate the development of real estate. Zoning laws are used to control and direct the development of property within city borders.

Zoning 101

Zoning was first introduced in the United States in the city of Los Angeles in 1908, though some others suggest the birth of zoning occurred in New York in 1916. Nonetheless, with urban planning theory and legal limitations evolving, new zoning codes have developed over the years. The various approaches to zoning can be broken into four general categories:

  • Euclidean: Named after the town of Euclid, Ohio, Euclidean is the most prevalent in the US although it has been highly criticised for its lack of flexibility. The main characteristic of Euclidean zoning is that land is divided into specified geographic districts and dimensional standards.
  • Performance: It sets review parameters for development projects. It also provides the flexibility and accountability that the Euclidean approach lacks. However, it has not been broadly adopted in the country.
  • Incentive: It is meant to provide a reward scale to encourage development in specific areas. It creates a considerable degree of flexibility but can be complicated to manage.
  • Form-based codes: Respond to the physical structure of a city in order to provide a more flexible environment.

What Do Zoning Laws Regulate?

Zoning laws may regulate specific terms and conditions related to the type of building allowed, limitations on accessory buildings, the location of utility lines, the size and stories of buildings, and the number of rooms a building can have.

Additional restrictions may include:

  • the frontage of a lot
  • front, rear, and side yard requirements
  • the number of buildings on a parcel
  • the minimum field area
  • off-street parking  
  • the number of dwelling units that are allowed within a particular area

Zoning regulations can also define what types of housing are required and if specific features of the property must be retained (due to its cultural or historical importance).

Criticism

Many detractors believe that zoning laws are a restriction on a property owner’s property rights, striping them from their right to use their land. Together with potential property right infringements, zoning has also been condemned as a means to encourage social and economic segregation. These exclusionary zoning measures maintain high housing costs through various land-use regulations, such as maximum density requirements.

Another issue with excessively harsh zoning laws is that it may increase traveling distances, consequently intensifying pollution and congestion. For example, a dweller of a residential-only area would need a make long trips to get to a supermarket or to an office building.

It is vital for property owners, or those contemplating a commercial real estate transaction, to be familiar with the zoning laws impacting their property. Contact us today to discuss any questions you might have about zoning laws for your commercial project.

Before AutoCAD

Let’s Talk About CAD

Before AutoCAD

It’s been a long time since hand drawing and lying on the floor with rules and set squares were normal operating procedure in the construction industry. Thanks to the rapid evolution of tools and technology in building processes, we are now equipped to build better, safer, and faster and at a lower cost than in the past.

In just ten years, the impact of technology on the construction sector has forever transformed the industry. Let’s talk about one of the most instrumental technological advantages, CAD.

Construction-Aided Design

Computer-aided design (commonly known as CAD) is a must nowadays. It is so immersed in our daily tasks that engineers and architects cannot conceive life without it. It refers to the possibility of using computer software to help in the creation, adjustment, and optimization of a part or a compilation of parts. It allows higher precision, simpler and more accurate design iterations, and comprehensive documentation for the part and project management.

These systems can generate and design information faster and more accurately and can implement changes with more ease than traditional drafting. Construction work can begin at an earlier stage since the design is more swiftly developed. The savings in time-related design costs are also significant: one experienced CAD technician can produce four drawings in the same time it takes an engineer at a drafting table to deliver just one.

The benefits of CAD in the construction industry have already been meaningful in several respects:

  • simple and accurate automation and process modeling;
  • reduced interferences;
  • improved communication to ensure that the precise component is available at the construction site when needed;
  • highly accurate dimensional analysis and mathematical scalability using vector graphic technology;
  • better feedback to the design cycle on the impact of constructability enhancements;
  • greater interactivity between different materials and properties.

CAD and IoT

As we discussed in one of our latest posts, the Internet of Things (IoT) is greatly impacting the construction industry.

But how is IoT linked to construction-aided design? By importing data such as stresses and temperatures to the 3D CAD model, updating boundary conditions, for example, engineers are able to obtain more accurate simulations. Models become the physical product’s digital twin, an exact replica of the real-world design.

The digital twin deepens the understanding of how a product would perform in the physical world, providing insights on design, operation, and service. It is now possible to look at this digital model in CAD, sourcing information from all areas and see how the real-world data has an impact on your design, right on your screen.

Going one step further, it is also possible to visualize and interact with the model in a virtual setting by publishing the digital twin directly from CAD to an augmented reality (AR) environment.

As leaders in our industry, at Eclipse Building Corp. we know how to create that perfect balance between using technology to our advantage and respecting the quality craftsmanship brings to any project. If you have a renovation or construction project coming up, contact us to see how we can help.

 

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Merging Tradition and Innovation

 

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about the value of craftsmanship at Eclipse Building Corp. We’ve discussed the high cost of cutting corners and how modern construction principles are creating disposable homes. We’ve even highlighted a few of our favorite historical buildings in Tampa.

Although we value craftsmanship tremendously, we don’t want you to think we live in the land where time and technology stood still. Yes, there are some aspects of the profession that remain uniquely human. But the true beauty of modern construction is when you are able to marry quality craftsmanship with modern innovation.

Let’s face it, technology is transforming everything – including the construction industry. To resist the advantages that technology provides would be irresponsible. As contractors, we aim to provide the best value to our customers, and technology has a huge role in that. From using 3D technology in restoration processes to taking advantage of the latest project management apps to increase efficiency and effectiveness, technology plays a pivotal role in everything we do. It would be detrimental to business to insist on doing everything the old-school way.

From facilitating communication to sustainable building practices with ‘green’ technology, identifying new technologies and tools that can make the process better and implementing them is our priority.

Nevertheless, our goal is always to use the technology to serve us, not the other way around. We will never compromise quality for the latest gadget, or replace human interaction with an automated process. By using technology, we better connect teams and find ways to help the owners, subcontractors and design teams visualize the project, anticipate issues and make better-informed decisions.

Embracing changing technology, lean processes and new construction materials and techniques is important, but cannot deter from the value of the craft. In a time in which younger, tech-focused people are joining the workforce, we need to reinstate the value of craftsmanship and how to marry tradition with innovation without negating either.

Craftsmanship is a mindset. It is care and concern and pride in one’s work. Once you have people who are using their talents to cultivate their craft, equipping them with modern tools, equipment and training can only further develop the craft. At the end of the day, it’s all about also delivering the highest-quality building product to our clients.
From start to finish, we work intimately with clients through every phase of their projects to ensure the finished product is everything they imagine…and more. Contact us today to discuss how we can support you.

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The Many Types of Construction Delays

pexels-photo-404972 (1)As I wrote last week, construction deadlines and delays are two controversial topics for many involved in a construction project. For commercial clients, construction delays mean extra direct and indirect costs so we should do everything we can to understand them and try to avoid delays.

The best way to avoid construction delays is to have realistic and firm deadlines (for more on setting and meeting construction deadlines, check out last week’s blog post here.). Another way is to learn to identify different types of delays and how to address each one.

Excused Delays

Excused delays or force majeure from the French phrase meaning “major force”, are events or circumstances that could not be foreseen or predicted before the parties entered into the contract.  

When an excused delay occurs, deadlines get postponed. So there’s usually a lot of discussion on what qualifies as an excused delay. It doesn’t matter on which side of the table you sit; getting very specific about the criteria to qualify an excused delay, the terms and how they can impact – or not – the budget is good business sense.

Owner-Caused Delays

Anything that the owner changes, reveals itself after the project is underway, or due to another contractor not completing their part in time or making a mistake, can be considered an owner-caused delay.

Owner-caused delays can be tricky. What qualifies as an owner-caused delay is many times up for interpretation, so it’s best to discuss in detail before the project is underway. It’s also a good idea to lay out how different types of owner-caused delays could affect the timeline and budget of the project. This way you can avoid unpleasant conversations down the line when a rusty pipe needs to be replaced or the owner decides that the balcony in the design is more useful as a covered den.
Remember that no matter the type of construction delay, you should always stipulate in the contract that delayed contractors are required to give notice to their counterpart of any delay.  And set a deadline to communicate the delay. Failing to properly and timely give a delay notice will often waive the contractor’s right to postpone deadlines and increase the price.

Nearly every project encounters delays. The bigger and more complex the project, the better the odds for longer delays. Nevertheless, hiring a qualified and experienced contractor (such as Eclipse Building) can greatly help your chances of avoiding some delays.

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What You Should Know About Construction Deadlines

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Construction deadlines and delays are two controversial topics for many involved in a construction project. For a commercial client, not meeting deadlines can add up in additional costs. Storage costs, temporary office space rental, or just the time that they are not operating at full capacity can significantly impact their bottom line. Nobody wants that – not even your contractor.

To help everyone involved in the project align regarding deadlines, and to do our best to avoid potential delays, let’s discuss important terms you should know if you’re involved in a commercial construction project. In this blog post, I’ll go into details about the most important deadline and how to set – and meet – deadlines. Next week, I’ll write about different types of delays and how to manage them.

Substantial Completion – The Most Important Construction Deadline

There are many deadlines when it comes to commercial construction projects, but one you should fully understand is substantial completion. Substantial completion refers the point in which an owner can rent, sell, or work or live in the space. This deadline is also critical to satisfying third-party obligations such as local government requirements, availability of public incentives (e.g., tax credits or subsidies for a “green” building), or refinancing a construction loan before a permanent loan commitment expires.

How To Set A Deadline For A Construction Project

Sometimes confusion arises regarding the deadline for the project. This can happen because the deadline might have been left up to interpretation. For example, 20 days since the beginning of the project might mean 20 days since the contract was signed for the owner. But for the contractor, the clock might not have started ticking until all the materials were delivered to the site. Also, are those 20 business days or calendar days? You see my point…
To avoid any confusion and possible setbacks, you must identify the deadline. In detail. You can set a specific time and date (September 4, 2018, at 5 pm local time at the construction site). Or you can set a length of time that runs after a specified date or event. Be very specific about the event that starts the clock to avoid confusion. For either method of setting deadlines, make sure to check the day so that it doesn’t expire on weekends or holidays.

The Key To Meeting Construction Deadlines

Let’s be real. Sometimes delays cannot be avoided. Circumstances that are out of our reach, unforeseen projects, and changing requirements can all impact construction deadlines. But there are three things that help meeting construction deadlines.  

  • Planning – The more you take into account every single variable involved in the project, the more realistically you can forecast your deadline. Many times, poor planning or not leaving any wiggle room for unforeseen issues are the culprits to not meeting deadlines.
  • Communication – I cannot stress this enough. Construction projects are collaborative. There are many players and moving parts at all times. The more everyone knows about how the project is moving along, the better they can align to meet expectations.
  • Just do things right – Attention to detail and quality craftsmanship don’t only add to your project’s value, but also save you time and money. Make sure to hire a contractor with attention to detail to avoid having to go back to fix mediocre work.

When establishing construction deadlines, hiring a qualified and experienced team is crucial. A qualified contractor will not only support you in setting realistic expectations but will also deliver ‘first time right’ quality. Contact us today to discuss your next project.

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The High Cost of Cutting Corners

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When you’re ready to dive in with a construction project, you know that you have to operate on a fairly tight budget. That budget, however, is only one of several important considerations before you begin your project. Cutting corners on your construction project can lead to significant problems down the road – and will ultimately end up costing you more.

Here’s why you should favor quality over being frugal when planning a construction project.

High-quality Materials are Designed to Last

When you’re choosing between materials, the difference isn’t just cosmetic. High-quality materials are designed to stand the test of time – even in your busy commercial environment. If you cut corners and select cheap materials, you may find yourself needing to replace them several times faster. That means another round of construction costs as well as the cost of the new materials.

Low-Cost Contractors Often Leave Problems

You’ve received one estimate that’s significantly lower than all of the others, and you’re ready to jump on that contractor as soon as possible. Unfortunately, low-cost contractors don’t always provide you with the quality you need. Instead of falling into the trap, consider these potential problems:

  • Low-cost contractors may cut corners in construction – They may find ways to use cheaper materials or hire labor that lacks experience in the specific type of construction you’re doing. Worse, they may skip some safety regulations or use methods to accomplish their goals that aren’t recommended.
  • Low-cost estimates may be missing items – The contractor in question might have failed to notice some important aspects of your project or left off some details in the estimate – and that’s a cost that you’ll end up paying down the road.
  • You might have to kiss your timeline goodbye – Did you shut down your business to allow for construction? If so, you may end up shut down longer when you opt for a contractor who has less experience or who hasn’t made your project a top priority. Are you still moving customers through your location? Keep in mind that long-term construction may have customers heading elsewhere for their needs.
  • Low-cost contractors might not see all of the potential problems – There’s no discounting experience. Sometimes, there might be issues that an inexperienced or less qualified contractor will not catch before they become problems.

Working with an experienced contractor will give you peace of mind. They will take into consideration these potential issues so that when you open up a wall, work on electrical or plumbing, or any other place where a “surprise” might pop up, your budget has some wiggle room to take care of it.

I Know Someone Who Can Do That Cheap…

Your secretary’s brother-in-law has been trying to break into construction and he’s willing to give you a deal on your latest construction project. Someone over in accounting has a friend who can come in and do the work for a steal.

Unfortunately, these individuals often lack the construction experience necessary to handle your project – and the evidence will show in the less-than-professional results you’ll get when construction is finished. Sometimes, you’ll even end up with increased costs: not only will you pay them to do it, you’ll have to pay a professional to come in and fix it.

 

Ultimately, construction is an industry where you really get what you pay for. Cutting corners can lead to significant cost increases down the road. In other cases, costs will skyrocket immediately as you struggle to fix up the mess made by a contractor who didn’t know what they were doing.

Opting for a high-quality contractor will ensure you pay fairly for quality work. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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The Disposable Home

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A few months ago, the oldest house in Tampa was moved across town. Still standing at 176-year-old, the four-bedroom bungalow was located outside of Ybor City at 3210 E Eighth Ave. In February it was taken apart, moved and reassembled in its new home in Hyde Park’s National Historic District.

The question begs itself: How is it possible that this house can withstand almost two centuries, but modern homes fall apart at the first sight of a natural disaster?

In our constant race towards bigger, faster, cheaper, we might be leaving behind an important element: Better. When we explore how building principles have evolved over the years, we can see the toll industrialization has taken on what was once considered an important craft.

Nowadays, many builders focus on high-volume, cookie-cutter boxes to expand the suburbs and make a profit. The notion of a home being an intricate part of a family’s history, passed from generation to generation, is foreign to many American families. We know that the new homes we buy today will house us and our children until they are old enough to get their own. We know that we will have to replace the roof in our lifetime and that it will withstand several cosmetic changes to keep up with trends.

Durability is not a common denominator in most modern construction. While materials get lighter, processes quicker and everything more expensive, home builders will adhere to the standard of the applicable building codes. Sound good? Not so fast, because the fact that a house meets code requirements only means it is the worst house you can legally build.

At the end of the day, the industry builds fast to keep up with demand, battling a dwindling labor supply, making ends meet with a budget from which they can still turn a profit while construction costs increase at least 3% per year.

Although construction, like any other industry, has turned into a numbers game, there’s still something to be said about quality construction. One that withstands time and has enough historical, sentimental and architectural value to merit logistical planning with Tampa police, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Transportation and the city of Tampa to be able to move it across town.

In our quest for beauty and commodity, let’s not forget the merit of quality. If you’re looking for a skilled construction partner that cares about quality and craftsmanship,  let’s talk.