Is Wintertime Building More Expensive?

It used to be said, “If you can’t get the roof on by the first snowfall, wait until spring”, but not anymore. There are now many new products and technologies that allow builders to work all year long. New expanded lighting systems compensate for the shorter daylight hours. Portable heaters and lighter, warmer clothing allows builders to move easier in colder temperatures. But be prepared to get out your wallet. Staying warm can be expensive.

One advantage may be that you get faster service because builders aren’t as busy, but the disadvantages can add up:

Snow Removal – Find a reputable company that will keep the construction job site and all accesses clear so your crew can keep going and your materials can be delivered.  It may cost a few more dollars for reliability but you will be glad you did it. Be sure you build additional time for snowstorms into your time estimates.

Heating Expenses – Temporary heaters are not only expensive to buy, but expensive to run.  And you not only need to keep your crew warm, but some of the building materials also need more care.  Shingles turn brittle and become hard to handle in the cold, plus they may not seal as well. Ground heaters and blankets may be necessary for concrete work.

Lighting Expense – Shorter daylight hours either cut building time from the workday or require the expense of additional lighting.

In times when the country is leaner, these additional costs can be offset by reduced labor expenses because skilled workmen may not be as busy and can be more easily obtained. Also, building materials are very often less expensive in low demand times like the winter. However, these are things you can’t always count on, so…

… be sure to build additional wintertime expenses and time into your bid. They can add up, dramatically biting into the profit margin. And you don’t want to have to go back to your client asking for more money to cover the added costs. For more tips to think about when building your construction bids, consider taking an online course on Construction Estimating and Bidding.

The wintertime is also a great time to get your builders or contractors license continued education out of the way. There are bound to be a snow day or two throughout the season, so having online courses ready and waiting for those times when you need something to do is a prudent move.

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Michigan is Cracking Down on Real Estate Wannabes

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If you’re out there selling real estate without a license, the State of Michigan is coming after you! The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is partnering with Attorney General Bill Schuette to ramp up efforts to hold unlicensed real estate practitioners accountable.

There has been a rise in unlicensed real estate activity

For the past several months, Michigan Realtors ® has been heading up discussions with both LARA and the Attorney General to promote an initiative to deal with this increase.  They are taking a strong stance to keep consumers safe by promoting the Consumer Complaint/Inquiry System making it easy for individuals to file complaints online via a Consumer Complaint Online Form or by calling a Toll Free Consumer Hotline (877-765-8388).

Please be aware when filing a complaint or inquiry that they become public records when submitted to the Attorney General’s office and they may be subject to disclosure to anyone who asks for them.  For complete rules on filing complaints and inquiries, along with a mail-in complaint/inquiry form, CLICK HERE.

For those who would like to get licensed, the Real Estate Training Institute is a great source for taking the State Approved salesperson prelicensure education, as well as broker prelicensure and real estate continued education for real estate professionals who are already licensed.

 

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Minnesota 2015 Building Code Now in Effect

As of January 24th, the State of Minnesota is now using the 2015 Residential Building Code.  A lawsuit filed by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities attempting to delay the new building codes from being released was not successful because the Minnesota Court of Appeals did not file the court order.

 

The Minnesota residential building contractor licensing exam will not reflect the 2015 building codes until June, 2015.

 

The Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry informed us that the residential building contractor (RBC) licensing exam will not reflect the 2015 building codes until June, 2015.  The exam will continue to be based on the 2007 Minnesota Residential Code Book until that time.

 

The following chapters of the 2015 Minnesota Building Code became enforced for all residential builders and re-modelers:

  •  1300 Minnesota Building Code Administration
  •  1303 Minnesota Provisions to the State Building Code, except radon
  •  1307 Minnesota Elevator and Related Devices Code
  •  1309 Minnesota Residential Code
  •  1311 Minnesota Conservation Code for Existing Buildings
  •  1341 Minnesota Accessibility Code
  •  1346 Minnesota Mechanical and Fuel Gas Codes

     

NOTE:  1303 Radon provisions and 1322 Residential Energy Code are scheduled to take effect on February 14, 2015.

 

In Minnesota, anyone who contracts directly with a homeowner to provide building construction services in more than one skill must be licensed as a building contractor or re-modeler.  All licensed Minnesota builders and re-modelers are required to complete 14 hours of continued education for every two year licensing cycle in order to maintain their license.  This education must include at least one hour of Energy Code.  The current licensing cycle ends March 31, 2015.

 

 

For the fastest and most economical way to complete this education, visit www.licensetobuild.com or give the friendly staff a call at 1-800-727-7104.

Subscribe to our Blog and Follow us on Twitter @ConEdTraining to receive periodic updates on licensing information changes and deadlines, as well as exclusive discounts.

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4 Common Errors in Construction Estimating

 

4 Common Errors in Construction Estimating and Their Solutions.
by: Josh Francis Instructor/Product Manager at Certified Training Institute

 

Construction estimating and bidding is one of, if not the, most important factors for contractors to consider when taking on a new project. As a contractor we are constantly playing the balancing act when estimating and bidding jobs. Here are a few of the most common errors in estimating, and ways to make sure you win the work while staying profitable.

 

1)      Estimating Labor Costs: Since labor is not based on a fixed rate, it is more difficult to estimate than the cost of materials and subs. Many contractors take a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess) of how many days it will take their crew to do the work. I know contractors who make a good profit doing this, but the method is just as likely to produce a loss. A better way to estimate labor costs is to develop productivity rates for work your crew performs. I know what you are thinking, “time card data is impossible to measure because no two days are alike for a carpenter”. Check out this simple method for Developing Labor Productivity Rates by Bob Kovacs.

 

2)      Improperly Priced Materials and Supplies: Making sure that the project’s materials and supplies are correctly described as to kind, quality, size, and dimensions is extremely important for estimating effectively. There are three main ways contractors protect themselves from this pit-fall.

  • Working cost plus: meaning the customer pays the cost of materials and labor, plus a fixed amount or a percentage of the cost as profit.
  • Padding the estimate: this may work, but it can lead to higher bids and a loss of jobs.
  • Or you can do a real-time analysis of material costs before turning in your bid, and build an escalation clause.

 

An escalation clause in your contract simply states that if certain things happen and the cost of materials or labor go up, you as the contractor will not be stuck and the customer will be responsible. What goes into that clause is up to you, but for some good information visit Managing Material Costs with an Escalation Clause by Quenda Behler Story.

 

3)      Failure to use a checklist: Overlooking items when doing an estimate, or omitting items that are considered minor can kill a profitable job. MAKE A CHECKLIST! I cannot say it enough. It does not have to be a spreadsheet (though a spreadsheet can simplify the process), but just a simple checklist that you work through on every job will help you stay organized and remember those detail items throughout the project from breaking ground to finishing work.

 

4)      Failure to review building codes, permits, and inspections: Cost estimates and bids on construction projects are subject to local, state, and federal building codes, permits, and inspections. A great way to make sure you are including all of these factors into your bid is by contacting your local building official. Code can be interpreted in different ways depending on the official, so discussing the job in detail (especially if you are working in a new jurisdiction) can really help you estimate time and cost before you turn in your bid.

 

For more information on construction estimating and bidding go to Certified Training Institute. There are great courses on Estimating and Bidding for Success.

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