Friday, August 21, 2009

13 Top Bathroom Remodel Trends

This is a great article for contractors and homeowners alike.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home-Energy Plan Spreads Out Costs

Why can't Massachusetts do this?

I know a contractor who has started a business doing energy audits and I am going to ask him to guest blog. Now we just need local loan programs to defray the costs of doing energy-saving retrofits. At the end of the day, the homeowner is saving money by improving the environment, the contractors are getting much-needed work, and everybody benefits.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Five Misconceptions About Home Energy Performance

I really like this post about the latest options in green products, because it points out that one should educate oneself before "jumping on the bandwagon" when choosing green materials.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two Articles on the Pros and Cons of LEED Certification

This is the last post on LEED for the day. I like the way these articles address both sides of the debate on LEED:

5 Ways To Protect Your Company From Green Litigation

Another colleague, Chris Cheatham, provides some great advice on ways to avoid legal issues in green construction:

Preserving Your Delay Claim

This is a good post about delay claims in construction projects.

Delay claims are very real, and unfortunately, in my experience, contractors sign contracts that prohibit delay claims without even realizing what they are signing.

I had a client who claimed that the foreman on his project was causing delays, and as a result, his men were forced to stay idle. He became so frustrated, he pulled his men and equipment from the site. Delay claims were forbidden in the contract. Disaster ensued.

So, first make sure you can even bring a claim for damages for delay.

Second, document the delay as it is happening and try to work things out with the General Contractor or Owner in order to limit the effects of the delay as much as possible. Be sure to negotiate a new schedule for completion if delays occur.

Third. Document your damages as a result of the delay, including extra overhead and rental fees as well as the opportunity costs of being prevented from starting or pursuing other jobs.

Delay damages are real and can literally put a company out of business. Sign your rights to pursue them away at your peril.

Leed versus Other Options

Stephen Del Percio, one of the attorneys I follow on Twitter, posted this article on possible alternatives to LEED certification, "Contractor Leads Attack Against Nashville’s LEED Legislation." I found this quote quite thought-provoking:

“This would allow an alternative that focuses on the performance of the building, not on the process of how you got to that performance,” Dominy told the Tennessean.

As I struggle with the constantly evolving world of green construction, that question keeps nagging at me. Will LEED be the only game in town five years from now? Should we all be jumping on the bandwagon to obtain our LEED credentials as new alternatives appear to be arising?

How "green" is green enough? At the end of the day, isn't performance really the most important issue? What about cost? In any construction project, there is always a cost-benefit analysis that goes on.

At a simple level, a couple of months ago I read an excellent post by a Massachusetts contractor, David West, about whether to replace old windows. His conclusion, at the end of the day, was that the cost of replacement windows could not be justified for the energy savings, and one could "tighten up" the windows with some simple fixes.

So, what are you going to do to keep up? Are you going to spend the money on LEED classes and the exam, or are you going to wait on the sidelines and see what prevails a few years from now?

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Importance of a Good Beginning and End to a Construction Project

[caption id="attachment_155" align="alignleft" width="200"]“Light At The End Of The Tunnel” by Sura Nualpradid from “Light At The End Of The Tunnel” by Sura Nualpradid from[/caption]
My husband, who is a very smart guy, made a very wise observation last week. He said, "It seems to me that most of the problems with construction projects occur when a job is first starting, or at the end." I thought about it and realized that he is absolutely right. A project can go along smoothly, but then problems occur at the end that leave everyone with a negative impression of the experience.
I think about my most recent client, who spent over one million dollars renovating his house. He and the contractor are in a dispute about the last $6000.00. I have not made a mistake with the zeros.
So, for contractors and construction companies, I offer the following advice:
1. Tell your clients at the beginning if you are finishing up another job. Let them know that you will be starting at a slower pace in order to do justice to the previous project. Promise them that you will afford them the same courtesy.
2. Reduce anxiety by letting your clients know how often you will be on site. If it's two days per week, show up two days/week.
3. At the end of a job, tell the owner that you will be tapering off in order to start the next job, but that you will complete the punch list by a certain date. Again reduce anxiety by committing to a certain amount of time on site and following through on that commitment. In addition, if the completion date needs to be extended, fess up and admit it rather than cutting corners and rushing through the finishing touches.
4. Make the client happy! It totally amazes me how short-sighted some builders can be. Your clients are your best source of referrals. You want them to be thrilled with the work you've done. Buy them a bottle of champagne when the project is finished. That's the last thing they will remember about you, and it will more than pay for itself in new work.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Selling Points for Residential LEED Certification

This story from the Salem News highlights the advantages of Residential Leed Certification:

There are many selling points that can be used by contractors to encourage homeowners to consider environmentally friendly green measures that can be used in new construction and renovation work.

I also know a BAGB (Builders Association of Greater Boston) member who started a business doing environmental assessments for homes. This is the wave of the future. The more you learn about it, the more you can use your knowledge of green construction in marketing your company and doing good work.

Issues to Look for to Identify Invalid Mechanic's Liens

Although not every issue raised in this article applies under Massachusetts law, this blog post points out many of the errors that can invalidate a mechanic's lien.

Building Information Modeling

This blog post talks about whether Building Information Modeling is the wave of the future. My understanding is that it is quite expensive and therefore a prohibitive expense for most companies, but as with most advances in technology, it could be the wave of the future.

What do you think?

Friday, August 07, 2009

When a Subcontractor Should Walk Away

See my guest post at my good friend Christopher Hill's blog: Construction Law Musings

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Remodeling Magazine's article on Energy Retrofitting.

Part of dealing with the difficult economy is considering whether it is time to focus on new areas of practice or developments in construction. This article by Leah Thayer suggests that retrofitting houses with energy efficient improvements can benefit both contractors and homeowners alike.

In fact, I recently met a contractor who had started a new business doing energy audits and making recommendations. I have said frequently that one way to deal with the recession is to take the time to learn a new skill or work on a new area for your business.

Energy saving measures seem full of opportunity. There are many rebates available for homeowners to implement them, so this can be a win-win for homeowner and contractor alike.