Keep Your Crew, Subs, and Clients Safe

With the onset of COVID-19, remote working has suddenly become the norm for millions of people. As economies begin to open, several companies have confirmed that employees will still be able to continue remote working and that may be the new normal for many organizations. But not everyone can work from home.  

During the lockdown, there was a spotlight on those frontline and essential workers who provided necessary services while many hands-on sectors saw a complete shutdown of operations. It’s hard to build your client’s dream home when you can’t get your hands on supplies you need, and you must stay six feet apart. The good news is that technology presents a unique opportunity for custom home builders, remodelers, and contractors returning to work. 

While the pandemic’s long-term impact on the global workforce remains to be seen, digital technology can still play a pivotal role in helping the residential construction industry get back on its feet. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s Industry Digitization Index, the construction sector is routinely one of the world’s least digitized. 

When you look at a typical construction project, the challenges for digital are understandable: 

  • They involve many independent subcontractors, trade partners, and vendors with little-to-no incentive to use a new tool 
  • Budgets for new technology are often small or non-existent 
  • Projects vary in scope, so it can be hard to develop repeatable or scalable processes 
  • Most of the building process happens on the job site, not the office, which makes it hard to use software if it’s only developed for an office environment   

But these shouldn’t be reasons to completely write technology off, especially now when the health and safety of your crew, subcontractors, and clients is a top priority. Remote collaboration tools can help builders get back to work and get projects moving again. The key is to look for software developed specifically for builders with features to support the processes you already have in place for budgetingbid managementschedulingselectionschange orders, and accounting.  

Here are some of the ways builders are using construction management software to safely run their business: 

Photos and weekly progress reports 

Part of the excitement of building a dream home is getting to see it materialize from the ground up. Your clients may no longer feel comfortable visiting the job site and you want to keep them offsite as much as possible to guarantee the safety of both them and your crew. 

A construction management tool enables you to share progress photos and weekly reports with clients, so they still get to see their home taking shape. The weekly report will also notify them of any scheduling changes they need to be aware of as well as change orders that require their attention, so they’re in the loop throughout the entire process.  

Daily logs 

You need to know what’s happening at the job site, which is where daily logs come in. Track who is supposed to be at the site on any given day and see what they accomplished. Know when deliveries arrive on site so you can have someone there to sign for them and ensure the safety of your crew and the delivery driver. 

You can also keep notes about projects, so things don’t fall through the cracks. This is a best practice to consider if you’re dealing with scheduling conflicts or vendor changes. If you have new crew members or subcontractors coming on to the project, they can catch up on progress quickly and know exactly where to start.  

Virtual communication 

Effective communication is critical during the building process and it’s even more important with physical distancing measures in place. You can text, call, or email, but with separate conversations happening across a variety of platforms, something is bound to get missed.  

A construction project management tool can centralize your conversations in one easy-to-use application that’s accessible from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Easily search and find information you need instead of sifting through your inbox, tag people to ask questions and confirm project details, and ensure everyone stays up to date even if they’re not on the job site.  

Document storage 

Stop passing paper around and centralize your documents in one place with a construction management solution. In the field or behind your desk, you and your team will have access to view and upload all job-related files from wherever you are. You can control permission on which documents you want to share with clients and subcontractors. Everyone has access to the information they need without having to physically pass documents from one person to the next. 

Adjusting to the new normal 

As you adjust your processes to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in a project, it might be time to look at how a construction project management app like BuildTools can help you tackle the new normal and grow your business beyond what you could do with pen and paper or spreadsheets.  

Visit the ECI blog for more information, tips, and best practices on adjusting to the new normal. 

Don’t miss anything from BuildTools! Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. 

How Builders Can Thrive In the New Normal

As residential construction ramps up again and many builders, remodelers, and contractors return to work, construction site health is a top priority. Clear municipal and federal guidelines have been implemented to ensure safety on job sites, including best practices like washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer, sneezing and coughing into your sleeve, and not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. But there are also more stringent physical distancing measures in place that are harder to work around.  

Custom projects involve a lot of people and moving parts, and a job site can be a high-traffic area with project managers, subcontractors, and clients coming and going on a regular basis. The onset of COVID-19 meant a near shutdown for many builders. Projects were put on pause and construction sites remained largely empty for much of March and April.  

The latest stats from several research groups show a positive upward trend. Demand for new homes is 25% above pre-pandemic levels, even when seasonally adjusted (Source: Redfin). Despite the slow down in supply of new homes, the demand keeps increasing as local economies reopen and buyers come out in full force. The Meyers Research New Home Pending Sales Index (PSI) showed that pending new home sales continued the rebound that started in mid-April and posted a 16.7% month-over-month increase in May. 

These are all good signs for custom builders and remodelers, but if COVID-19 has made anything clear about how the residential construction industry approaches technology, it’s that managing projects the old-fashioned way isn’t going to cut it. On the best of days, managing custom projects can be chaotic and overwhelming. You’ve got to manage budgets, schedules, selections, subcontractors, and clients.  

Throw a global pandemic in the mix, and it’s clear that not all builders have what they need to manage their business remotely or quickly adjust to sudden changes on projects. Technology has enabled many builders to weather the storm successfully while those managing operations with manual, pen-and-paper processes may have been left behind.  

Let’s look at the top five ways that technology can help custom builders and remodelers adapt and navigate the new normal: 

1. Keep projects on track as schedules change 

As local economies open, it’s important to keep in mind that everything isn’t back to normal yet. Things could easily change depending on public health and safety guidelines, which would mean quickly adjusting your schedules to reflect new milestones, timelines, and projected completion dates. Luckily, a construction project management tool like BuildTools with robust, easy-to-use scheduling can help you make those changes quickly and communicate them to the right people. 

2. Understand your financials 

One of the hardest things to manage during a project is money coming in and going out. Selections, bids, change orders, purchase orders—all these can have a huge impact on your budget. During slow periods and ramp-ups, it’s important that you know what your project budgets are and how much money you have on hand to manage your operations. Software like BuildTools provides financial information at a glance, so you know what you’re working with. It also integrates with QuickBooks® and Xero® so you can avoid the mistakes that come with double entries and manual data input.  

3. Adjust selections and approve change orders  

As vendors and suppliers run into issues with fulfillment due to COVID-19, you may have to adjust selections to keep your projects on track. New tile or flooring doesn’t mean your clients can’t have their dream home, but it’s important to communicate these changes quickly and get change orders approved to ensure updates are communicated to everyone involved, your budget is accurate, and your subs have what they need to get the job done. BuildTools comes with selections and change order modules that automatically adjust your budget and enable you to communicate updates to subs quickly to avoid costly errors.  

4. Safely communicate progress with clients 

Having to stay six feet apart can really put a damper on the custom-building process for your clients. They can’t necessarily stop by the job site to see progress in person, but you can keep them involved every step of the way with photos and weekly progress reports. The weekly reports include more than just photos, though. It includes everything that was completed that week as well as new and updated change orders that might require their attention, so your clients are up to date on the work being done without ever having to step on the job site.  

5. Virtual communication with your team and subs 

The best way to keep your crew and subs safe is to leverage virtual communication. Businesses across all industries are investing in remote working tools to help their teams communicate and the residential construction sector is no different. Say goodbye to separate conversations across phone, text, and email. BuildTools centralizes all communications in a unified inbox. You can see every message from anyone involved in a project and easily respond from within the app. You can keep your distance without losing sight of the project with construction project management.  

Rise to the challenge with BuildTools 

Your business doesn’t have to be put on hold because of COVID-19. With the right project management tool behind you, you can safely adapt to the new normal and continue doing what you love—building.  

Visit the ECI blog for more information, tips, and best practices on adjusting to the new normal. 

Don’t miss anything from BuildTools! Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop.