Premier contractors operate on principles that produce sustainable value, consistent quality and high return on investment.  Many lesser-quality contractors skirt the law, limit compensation and eliminate benefits, safety and training programs in order to hit the low cost bid.  How do construction leaders communicate their superior value so owners and developers can avoid the risks and hidden costs associated with second-rate contractors?

Often low price wins the job, but does it deliver best value and return on investment?

Employment jumps in February; "Momentum" looks positive for building, power projects

Nonfarm payroll employment in February increased by 235,000, seasonally adjusted, from January and by 2,350,000 (1.6%) year-over-year (y/y), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The unemployment rate dipped to 4.7% from 4.8% in January. Construction employment (6,881,000) increased by 58,000 from the upwardly revised January total to the highest level since November 2008 and rose by 219,000 (3.3%) y/y. The monthly increase was the largest since March 2007 and probably reflected exceptionally mild weather in much of the U.S. in February. There was an increase of 15,100—the largest for February since 1996—in heavy and civil engineering construction employment, which is likely more affected than building or specialty trade contractors by winter weather. Average hourly earnings in construction increased 2.7% y/y to $28.48, or 9.2% higher than the average for all private-sector employees ($26.09, a y/y gain of 2.8%).   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: March 6-10, 2017

Hi there. The Chamberlin Man here.

Value engineering is the buzz in the construction biz. The game is to be smarter, faster, safer and offer a better product. Do more than one at the same time and you’re “winning,” as the kids these days say.

I’m not knocking it. Applying a little ingenuity to deliver a better solution, save money or be most efficient is fantastic. Value is what everyone is after. But, what is it that makes one company better than another at providing value? At Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing, I think we have a pretty darn good secret sauce. Let me give you a taste.   Read more » about Value Engineering: Who Cares?

The Houston Chronicle published an article recently about our undocumented workforce, primarily in the construction industry, and it deserves an immediate response.

The author laid it out very well. The undocumented workforce is and has been providing cheap labor for over three decades and they would be sorely missed if deportations continue without an immigration reform bill.

But there seems to be a misunderstanding about the root of the problem. It’s not just that so many are in this nation without documentation. It’s that they have never been employees. The way most people employ them – including homebuilders who have very few if any skilled craftsmen on payroll – is as independent subcontractors.

Read more » about Getting to the Root of the Immigration Challenge

The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) hosted a town hall on Friday for leaders in the education and construction industries to learn about and discuss ways in which they can partner to bring workforce opportunities to students and build the construction craft workforce of the future.  The UpSkill Houston Town Hall: Build Your Facilities and Build Your Community was held in the GHP’s beautiful new space in Partnership Tower, where regional superintendents, college and university chancellors, and construction contractor executives and owners enjoyed a light lunch while listening to the program before offering their own comments and questions to the panel at the end.

Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, kicked off the program by welcoming the group.   Read more » about GHP Hosts Forum to Discuss Partnership Between Business and Education to Build Construction Workforce

Millennium Tower in San Francisco is still leaning. We called it the Leaning Tower of San Francisco in an earlier post when we explained that the tower, completed in 2011, has sunk about 16 inches after six years, two times the amount expected over the 50 year life of the project. It is leaning 2 inches.

It is built over landfill, and in an apparent effort to reduce development costs, the piers under the building do not reach bedrock. Additionally, an adjacent transit station being developed has been accused of contributing, if not causing, Millennium tower to lean.    Read more » about Leaning Tower Gains Lawsuit

The following article originally appeared in the February 2017 newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation.  Reprinted with permission.

Milestone events, like our acquisition by FMI, prompt a period of reflection and optimism.  You look to the past for conclusions and lessons; you look to the future with expectations and possibilities.  While I was in this period of pondering, I heard Tim Cook, Apple’s highly respected CEO, on the Charlie Rose Show.  Responding to the question about Apple’s continuing ability to innovate, he said, “We will always do it. Steve [Jobs] put innovation in our corporate DNA.”

That interchange made me think harder and deeper as I looked to the past.  For the past 33 years, from a very privileged perch, I have been observing commercial construction contractors in the Greater Houston Area.  This period per statistics and records has been the most volatile in history.  Adapting to frequent, often extreme, changes has been imperative for those companies that survived and prospered.   Read more » about Leadership and Lifelong Learning – Lessons from the Past; Keys to the Future

Hi there. The Chamberlin Man here.

Well, here we are. We’ve made another full lap around the sun. Welcome to 2017! It’s hard for an old guy like me from another generation to believe we’ve made it this far.

It’s also hard for me to believe how far technology has come. I just got my copy of the Winter Chamberlin News and read all about Electronic Leak Detection, or as the cool cats in the know call it, “ELD.” Let me tell you friends, if you’re curious about ELD methods, efficiencies and limitations, this story serves up some great insights. Take a look to get a pulse on ELD and see if it’s right for your next project.

The newsletter also features a project of which the Chamberlin team is particularly proud, the Hallmark Senior Living Community in Houston. Because the work was taking place while folks were home, this restoration project included a series of precautions and extra communications ensuring residents weren’t disrupted in the least.   Read more » about My, How Far We’ve Come!

President Donald Trump's proposed border wall isn't just highly controversial. Now that he’s been elected and has begun the process of fulfilling campaign promises, it is also becoming more apparent the project is a logistical nightmare for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a lack of enough skilled workers to build what would be one of the largest public infrastructure projects in history.

Bloomberg News puts a fine point on it:

A labor shortage has left few hands to build houses and factories in the region, where wages have already been rising and projects delayed. Now, the president’s plan for “immediate construction of a border wall” will force the government to find legal builders for a project that could employ thousands if not tens of thousands.   Read more » about Labor Shortage Could Force Trump’s Hand on Legal Status for Thousands

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