Construction Nightmares

In honor of Halloween, I thought my readers might enjoy a good scare!

The internet abounds with terrifying pictures of construction projects gone terribly wrong. However, with most things on the internet they are good for a laugh, but who knows how accurate they actually are!

This picture and many more like it are on

Well during my hunt for scary construction stories I came across a local home inspector.  Check out Foundation 2 Rooftop, Inc. For some real pictures of construction nightmares! And feel free to share your real life construction nightmares with us!

Construction Mix-Up

You hear about the doctor performing surgery on the wrong limb. I guess that can happen in other professions also. In Florida there was a vacation home built on the wrong lot. You would think at some point in time in the long process of construction, with the sheer amount of people involved from surveyors to contractors to inspectors, that someone would have said “Hey, wait a minute!” According to the article even the owner visited the construction site several times. And it was a vacation rental for six months before someone noticed. Here is the article.


Oh By The Way… I am interested to hear your construction “mix-up” stories to share.



Great For Construction – A Bit Excessive For Estimating

Construction work is physically demanding. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have something hold your tools for you and all you have to do is move it around? Well Lockheed Martin has developed an exoskeleton to do just that, hold your tools so you don’t have to.



One of the major problems that I see is the extra bulk that it adds to the person. When I was working in the field I know that I had to be careful when I just had my tool belt on. I could not imagine what it would be like with the exoskeleton. You would need wide open spaces to be efficient and not the confines of a ship. What do you think about it?

Oh By The Way… Here is the link.

Specs, Lost in Translation

Justin Short:

I enjoyed this blog from Liz O’Sullivan and I hope you do too!

Originally posted on Comments From a Spec Writer:

Do you ever see funny notes in completed construction drawings? I’ve seen notes on CDs out to bid that said things like “Match Lakeview storefront” (when Lakeview must have been an old project), and “Complete sill detail” (pointing to an incomplete sill detail). These notes simply make no sense to the people using the drawings (the contractor and subs). But you and I know that what happened is that a brand new architecture school grad was given sheets of drawings that were marked up in red, and she just incorporated the redlines verbatim as if they were drawing notes to add, instead of instructions to the person picking up redlines, and then her work never got checked before issuing.

You and I know what happened with those redlines because we made the same mistakes when we were intern architects, and later, we saw the same sort of thing…

View original 665 more words

More On Green Construction

A reader passed this on to me in regards to my green building certification blog. She jokingly wondered what kind of renewal process these landmark buildings would need to go through.

Ten Global Landmarks You Didn’t Know Were Green

By Rob Jones

  1. The Empire State Building – New York City, NY
  2. Transamerica Pyramid – San Francisco CA
  3. The Staples Center – Los Angeles CA
  4. VANOC 2010 Winter Olympic Headquarters – Vancouver, BC Canada
  5. Canary Wharf Tower – London, England
  6. HSBC Bank Headquarters Tower – Mexico City, Mexico
  7. Commerzbank Tower – Frankfurt, Germany
  8. National Library – Singapore
  9. Harvard University – Boston MA
  10. Shanghai Tower – Shanghai , China

You can find the blog in its entirety here.

Oh By The Way… This list is from December 31, 2009, so if anyone has an updated list I would love to know! Or we can make our own list. I am nominating The Sky Tower – Bucharest, Romania and the “Old Jewelers Building”, now the Environmental Law and Policy Center – Chicago, IL.

Another Oh By The Way… Here is another green architecture blog I wrote in April 2013.

Another Look At The Quest For Information

I thought you might enjoy a second look at this blog  Don Short wrote in June 2011. Let me know your thoughts. – Justin

When evaluating an estimate, it is important to get to the right source level of the information.  This involves drilling into the various levels of information.  It does not involve just accepting that the bottom line of two estimates may be very close.  It is finding the differences and eliminating them as differences.  The elimination process may cause the estimated costs to go up or down.

 In resolving the difference in costs the first step is to look at the overall total and the division totals.  The big differences should be resolved first.  The small differences will need to be resolved and not ignored just because they are small.

When evaluating an estimate, without the benefit of having a second estimate as the evaluation tool, a slightly different procedure can be followed.  It still involves drilling deep into the details of the estimate.  When this is the case, questions need to be asked on how the quantities were developed.  A satisfactory answer will include the review of the takeoff process and sheets.

The next part would be to evaluate the labor and material costs.  Questions such as how the labor rates were determined and what is the crew mix are important.  Do reviews of the hours used in the estimate to see how these compare to historical productivities.  Material prices can be verified in a similar manner.

By going through an evaluation, with or without the benefit of a second estimate,  reasonable determinations can be made as to the validity of the estimate being reviewed.

Oh, By the Way… Another key criterion is evaluating the skill sets of the personnel preparing the estimate.  In general, the more experience in estimating, the higher the confidence level.  However, there are exceptions to this!

Green Building Certification

On October 10th the DOE put out a notice about green building certification. One of the highlights that I found most interesting was the re-certification of the buildings to make sure that they are still being managed in an efficient manner. Below is more information from the US DOE.

Energy Department Issues Green Building Certification System Final Rule to Support Increased Energy Measurement and Efficient Building Design


Supporting the Obama Administration’s goal to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment, the Energy Department is pursuing a suite of initiatives to strengthen federal energy management through increased focus on measurement of energy use in federal buildings and energy efficient building design.  Principal among the efforts is the Department’s issuance of a final rule that requires verified energy and water performance for new and retrofitted federal buildings that are certified by private sector green building certification systems.

The rule, which goes into effect Nov. 13, ensures that in cases where agencies choose to use green building certification systems to meet federal sustainability and energy standards, they must choose a system that verifies enhanced energy and water efficiency.  By requiring re-assessments at least every four years, the rule will ensure energy and water savings continue well beyond the initial building opening or retrofit.  System requirements for the verification of energy and water performance in new construction and major renovations will lead to reduced consumption through active energy and water management.

The considered use of green building rating systems advances federal high performance buildings by focusing on modernized, integrated building systems that minimize inefficiencies and waste and enhance cost-saving benefits.  DOE will provide a webinar discussing the rule’s requirements in November.

To further the Department’s sustainability and energy savings efforts, the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) recently updated its Federal Building Energy Use Benchmarking Guidance, which designates the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager as the sole benchmarking tool for federal agencies.  Complementing energy measurement efforts, the Department will soon release guidance for federal building metering that will help agencies prioritize buildings for metering as they undertake efforts to measure energy and water consumption to meet federal energy and water reduction goals.  Together, these efforts will bring increased focus to verification of energy performance and management in federal buildings.

Finally, the Energy Department issued today a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking seeking additional public comment on its proposed rule to phase in designs of new federal buildings and major renovations that significantly reduce consumption of non-renewable energy commodities.  The 60-day comment period closes Dec. 15, 2014.

The Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more on the FEMP website how the Energy Department enables federal agencies to meet energy-related goals.

Miles And Miles Of Blue Prints

When I started in the industry, physical drawings were the only thing that we used for the drawings. I would get the drawings shipped to me and we would ship them back once we were done with the project.

About 5 years ago, I saw a major shift in the documents. I would get more and more projects in the electronic format. I really enjoyed that shift. We were able to receive the drawings the same day that I talked to a client and when the project was done I did not have to overnight then the estimate.blueprintss

There is a definite savings in going paperless. To achieve the $25 million in savings that Michigan DOT is claiming, there has to be a significant amount of construction that is planned for the 2015 fiscal year.

The contractors that I have talked to are not seeing that work. If anyone has heard differently, let me know!

Oh By The Way… Here is a link to the article.


Drive-Thru Economics

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Recently a colleague shared with me his interesting economic indicator. Let’s call it the Fast Food Indicator.

He was on his way to a job site early one morning and swung through the drive thru of a local fast food restaurant. He ordered a breakfast combo and quickly got on his way. When he reached the job site he found that his order was incorrect. This actually put him in a good mood!

Here’s what he explained to me:

  • During the economic downturn, people were taking ANY job they could get – so you had many people working jobs that they were over qualified for, OR people were too afraid to leave a stable paying job to risk starting over in a new one.
  • When his order was incorrect his first thoughts were unskilled labor had returned to the work force, OR somebody was starting a new job! To him these both indicate economic growth!

So stop looking at the DOW Jones and news shows say – what are YOUR economic indicators?

A Lesson In How NOT To Do Business

Sure, we all want to make a buck, but we need to act with integrity. Some companies will charge for “extras” that used to be standard or constantly raise the rates and provide no additional service. Others will use Wi-Fi blocking as a way to get you to pay thousands of dollars for their internet access for a few days. What? Yep, here is the announcement from the FCC.


Hotel Operator Admits Employees Improperly Used Wi-Fi Monitoring System to Block Mobile Hotspots;

Agrees to Three-Year Compliance Plan

Washington, D.C. –Marriott International, Inc. and its subsidiary, Marriott Hotel Services, Inc., will pay $600,000 to resolve a Federal Communications Commission investigation into whether Marriott intentionally interfered with and disabled Wi-Fi networks established by consumers in the conference facilities of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, in violation of Section 333 of the Communications Act. The FCC Enforcement Bureau’s investigation revealed that Marriott employees had used containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system at the Gaylord Opryland to prevent individuals from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks, while at the same time charging consumers, small businesses, and exhibitors as much as $1,000 per device to access Marriott’s Wi-Fi network.

“Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether,” he added.

In March 2013, the Commission received a complaint from an individual who had attended a function at the Gaylord Opryland. The complainant alleged that the Gaylord Opryland was “jamming mobile hotspots so that you can’t use them in the convention space.” After conducting an investigation, the Enforcement Bureau found that employees of Marriott, which has managed the day-to-day operations of the Gaylord Opryland since 2012, had used features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system at the Gaylord Opryland to contain and/or de-authenticate guest-created Wi-Fi hotspot access points in the conference facilities. In some cases, employees sent de-authentication packets to the targeted access points, which would dissociate consumers’ devices from their own Wi-Fi hotspot access points and, thus, disrupt consumers’ current Wi-Fi transmissions and prevent future transmissions. At the same time that these employees engaged in these practices, Marriott charged conference exhibitors and other attendees anywhere from $250 to $1,000 per device to use the Gaylord Wi-Fi service in the conference facilities. (Continued)

As business owners, we owe it to our employees, our clients, and ourselves to conduct ourselves in an ethical way!


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