By Dustin Rohrbach

As the U.S. economy continues to grow, there are signs that a skilled labor shortage in the construction industry may threaten projected growth and the ongoing recovery. In recent months, many reports have shown that construction hiring is up, but the majority of those jobs are for general laborers. Construction has changed in that it requires more skilled workers than in the past.  The toughest sector of the workforce for construction and developer employers to staff is the skilled trades – the welders, electricians, etc. The main reason for this lack of skilled workers is the gap between the skills that employers need and available workers possess. It also touches on the fact that American high schools have moved their emphasis to prepping young people for universities rather than vocational schools. For the past couple of generations, the focus has been to go to college to obtain a degree to guarantee a brighter future with a better, non-blue collar job. We started focusing on academic instruction, but left behind the notion of work-force education. However, in a two-year school that costs less, the average work-force student can graduate with skills to gain direct employment. The need is great and will have a direct effect on construction plans around the country in the coming years.

The Effects on Our Economy                                                                                                             

Large projects are in the works in nearly every metropolitan area and most will require skilled workers to bring them to completion. Without accomplished personnel, construction firms will offer slower schedules for vital projects, slowing the speed of economic development. As these commercial projects slow down, the jobs that follow will also be delayed. Shorthanded firms may be hesitant to bid on new projects understanding they lack the manpower to complete the work on schedule. With fewer bidders competing for work, owners are likely to spend more for the projects. As construction projects become more expensive, additional financing or a reduced scope will play into the final outcome.

The Solution?                                                                                                                               

New career and technical school programs are critical to solving the shortages. This would come in the form of increased support of career education as well as modifications to legislation regarding vocational education program funding.   But more immediately:

  • Hire construction partners that employ skilled workers year round. Some firms hire for need and don’t always have access to skilled workers.
  • Select general contractors that employ regular training for their workforce to keep skills up-to-date and cross-train workers.
  • Support the efforts to increase career/technical education. This could mean getting involved with national organizations or even reaching out to a local vocational school.

Don’t get bogged down by the challenges presented with the labor shortage. The construction industry has always weathered labor issues and this one will be no different. These jobs pay well, will be available for years to come and will draw a new generation of talented employees to our profession.

Dustin Rohrbach (left) is vice president in charge of the Columbus office of Danis Building Construction.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com. 

By David Nour

In the January issue of Construction Today, Anne Edwards-Cotter challenged our industry to reach out to young people and introduce them to careers in construction. I submit the place to begin is to understand them as customers before approaching them as future employees. Understand the Millennial Mindset Millennials don’t buy — or buy in — like previous generations did. For that reason we must deeply understand the Millennial mindset. Your survival depends on catering to the next generation, whose buying experience is driven by three factors:

  1. Brand affinity: Facts and attributes they discover in the news and social media.
  2. Marketing campaigns: Advertising, marketing, and sponsorships that reinforce the brand affinity.
  3. Value proposition: Pain relievers or gain creators deliverED through products and services.

Millennials are technology-dependent. They expect realtime access 24/7. They are accustomed to to customizING their experiences and purchases. Millennials are asking: Is your offering designed around how I roll? Are you accessible? Will you simplify my life? Your future depends on optimizing your construction-industry business to meet Millennials’ expectations.

The Customer Journey Is an Infinite Loop

Fundamentally, customers pass through six stages in an infinite loop. First comes awareness, typically through recommendations, and some sort of online search. That leads to discovery, resulting in a list of options. Then buyers go through evaluation: Given who I am, my past experiences, my current circumstances, my future aspirations, which of these options is best? This journey leads to a purchase, which in turn leads to usage. As purchasers use the solution, they also come back to evaluation. Either, “that failed, try again,” or “Okay, what do I need next to enhance my experience?” Like the infinity symbol, they keep tracing a loop leading to purchase, followed by a loop leading to wanting more, with  the evaluation at the center of the journey. If and when all this goes well, then buyers share those positive sentiments with others. And that is the key to igniting passion for the construction industry in the Millennial generation.

Embracing Construction Careers

What do Millennials need to know, feel, or experience to embrace construction careers? The answer rests on the buying experience. You have to create experiences that lead to brand affinity: “Hey, this is a really cool, look at the stuff I can do in construction!” Market with on-site recruiting trips to high schools, and informal or formal mentoring programs. Design a value proposition that reflects the pain relievers or gain creators of tomorrow’s job seekers. These three factors give Millennials a new lens to perceive what they could accomplish, a glimpse into how construction could fit their career aspirations. Our challenge is fundamentally to sell individuals on great careers in the construction industry; to succeed we must understand our buyers. When we prepare for Millennials as customers we’ll find it much easier to develop them as our future workforce.

Takeaways

1. Optimize your construction industry company for Millennials as customers before approaching them as future employees.

2. The customer journey is an infinite loop of awareness, discovery, evaluation, purchase, usage, and again, evaluation. Create outstanding loops to ignite Millennials’ passion for the construction industry.

3. Millennials will more readily buy into construction careers when the brand, marketing, and value proposition of the industry meets their mindset.

David Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® —the quantifiable value of business relationships. He is the author of several books including the best selling "Relationship Economics— Revised" (Wiley), "ConnectAbility" (McGraw-Hill), "The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital" (Praeger) and "Return on Impact — Leadership Strategies for the age of Connected Relationships" (ASAE). Learn more at www.NourGroup.com. David may be reached at dnour@nourgroup.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.  

By Alexander Ruggie

Sustainability is now a buzzword in conversations from Washington hallways to unfinished ones in new construction projects around the country. The drive to build a home which can live as a standalone energy efficient, grid-negative unit is becoming very attractive to builders, because one step down the road will be a savvy homeowner that doesn’t want to pay the power, gas, or water company anything at all. For potential homeowners today, the concept of purchasing a home that is already grid neutral is a huge plus because it saves them from the costs of making it so further down the road. Technology that already exists today can help residents who live in water deprived areas such as the Southwestern United States. This technology is being implemented in new home building projects which saves not only water but also money for homeowners, cities, states, and the federal government alike.

Water Catchment Systems

Water catchment systems are not new technology by any means, but they are being employed with zeal today that has not been seen since homes were made of hardened sunbaked clay bricks. A water catchment system can range in size depending upon a homeowner’s needs, but they typically range from a barrel to a subterranean swimming pool. These systems are great not only for storing rainwater, but they are also amazingly efficient when used in conjunction with a water recycling system too.

Water Recycling Systems 

Recycling of gray water is a critical step in alleviating the water woes of places like the Southwestern United States because they make existing water supplies last longer by using the water more than once. Much of the water that is used by homeowners is actually for watering lawns and cleaning dishes and one’s self rather than for drinking. With a water recycling system, the water that is essentially clean after you use a shower or other activity would then be captured before it went to the sewer, so that it can be treated and saved for future use. One of these potential future uses is irrigation.

Xeriscaping 

Landscaping is undergoing an industry shift as homes are built with stone yards and desert-friendly plants in what is now being termed xeriscaping. This essentially amounts to putting drought tolerant and naturally occurring flora in yards rather than grass and water hogging plants and trees. When used in combination with water-efficient drip landscaping technology, a xeriscaped yard can give homeowners a huge return on their earth friendly investment and that is getting the attention of builders who want to capture this eco-conscious demographic. All told, there are even more water efficient technologies than listed in this article, and day-by-day they are growing not only in popularity with homeowners, but also builders trying to reach this market as well. With droughts around the world verging on the status of apocalyptic, both homeowners and builders alike are taking these new technologies to heart and to the bank.

Alexander Ruggie is the public relations director for 911 Restoration, a home restoration company that specializes in disaster recovery and water damage solutions. Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

By James White 

The number of states with prevailing wage laws could soon shrink if corporate-political bureaucrats have their ways. Currently, there are 32 states with prevailing construction wage laws, which require that construction workers be paid at standardized hourly wages on public works projects. Along the West Coast and throughout much of the Northeast, Midwest, and Great Plains of Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska — where companies like Butler Machinery have employed construction workers for many years —prevailing wage laws ensure that workers receive well-deserved pay for the work they bring to each project. Unfortunately, wages laws are being attacked regularly across the country and it’s become a battle between corporatists and skilled public workers.

Attacks on Wage Laws Across the Country

At one time, all but eight states had prevailing wage laws in place, but that all changed at the close of the 1970s as red state legislatures, starting in Florida, began rolling back these protective laws — at the request of corporate backers and at the expense of workers. Since that time, prevailing wage requirements have been stripped away in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Utah. The most recent attack occurred March 6, 2015, in Nevada, where Gov. Brian Sandoval rubber-stamped a bill that nullifies the state's prevailing wage laws at construction projects. In Wisconsin, GOP legislators have proposed a bill that would dispense with prevailing wage laws statewide. Over in Indiana, the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee recently voted to roll back its state's Common Construction Wage Law. In Connecticut, construction workers are being bombarded by bureaucratic attempts to cut prevailing wage laws. This year alone, 23 bills have been brought before the floors of the House and Senate that seek to change legal requirements for construction site contractors, including one bill that aims to kill the prevailing wage. The prevailing wage has also been under attack in West Virginia, where legislatures considered dispensing the law entirely, but instead have reassigned wage-calculation duties to state economists and workforce entities. The state is also considering a threshold where projects would need to exceed $500,000 for the prevailing wage to apply. Wage laws face a more entangled status in Missouri, where the Select Committee on Labor and Industrial relations is considering a bill forwarded by the House Workforce Standards and Development Committee. The bill would retain prevailing wages in St. Louis and nine other meccas, but leave the rest of the state down to hourly wages as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Supporting Prevailing Wage Laws

In Michigan, two bills aimed at stripping prevailing wages are cruising for a bruising at the hands of Governor Rick Snyder, a firm supporter of worker's wages. Pushed by corporate cronies at both levels of state Congress, Bills 4001-4003 and 1-3 are respectively raining over the House Commerce and Trade Committee and the Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee. The sun has shone brightest in Kentucky, where the House Labor and Industry Committee has shot down two bills aimed at stripping prevailing wage protections. Set to undermine wages on school construction projects, SB 9 was slaughtered in February, while an indiscriminate statewide assault on fair earnings was defeated last year. Workers throughout Kentucky are rejoicing. Supporters of prevailing wage reason that such laws ensure that workers are paid optimal wages in return for immaculate work on construction projects. Opponents claim that such laws make construction projects too costly and undermine competitiveness between contracting firms. Time will tell how wage laws ultimately swing in teetering red states, whether in favor of skilled public workers or supply-side corporatists.

James White is an experienced home improvement blogger and construction worker. His writing has appeared in many publications, including EHS Today, Constructonomics, and Building Blok. He is involved in promoting the ideas of sustainable building and construction safety. And, when he's not saving the planet through his blogging, White revels in exploring the latest developments in the construction and manufacturing industries, its history, its advancements, and where we will be tomorrow.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

By Eric Halsey

As a construction contractor, you have to deal with clients eager to get to the actual construction. With worries about cost overruns, and timetables at the forefront of their minds, far too many clients fail to fully consider the importance of understanding what kind of contract they’re getting into. That creates headaches for both you and them down the road when small misunderstandings turn into big problems. It’s vital that both you and your clients go through each of the pre-construction steps thoroughly, so that you understand what is a bid bond in construction, and that you’re ready if your bid is accepted. Do all of this and you’ll be building the kind of productive and trusting client relationships that translate into great projects. There are many types of construction contracts, but two broad categories that are important to be familiar with are: the single contract and the multiple prime contract.

  • Single contracts are the simplest option. It’s a basic agreement between a single owner or corporation and a single contractor (called the prime contractor). The single contractor is ultimately responsible for the entire job, even if they hire sub-contractors to conduct part of the work. This contract is helpful for its simplicity, especially in terms of who’s responsible for the work done.
  • Multiple Prime Contracts are more complex. They’re generally reserved for bigger multi-phase projects, like hospitals or building complexes. Here, there are multiple prime contractors who are each responsible for their individual projects within the larger project. With the complexity of the project, dividing up the legal responsibilities simply makes more sense. This is particularly true when one set of work may not interact at all with another set, meaning there’s no reason to give oversight and responsibility to one contractor for both.

Once you’ve got a contract written up with all the cost estimates, details of the work to be done, etc., it’s time to read it thoroughly. It’s critical for demonstrating professionalism and avoiding mistakes and misunderstandings.

Double Check Your Contract Bonds

Your contract bonds are a crucial reason to square everything away with the contract. As you’re creating your bid proposal and then your contract, you need to be considering your bonding requirements. Bear in mind that the requirements are not universal — they change with every job. Your company should already have a contractor license bond, but Bid and performance bonds are based on the scope of the project. What’s important is to stay on top of your bonding requirements and make sure you’re always complying. Otherwise you’re putting your company at legal risk. You’ll submit all your bonds with your final proposal, along with material samples and whatever else the contract requires. Then, you’re ready to get started!

Eric Halsey is a historian by training and disposition who’s been interested in U.S. small businesses since working at the House Committee on Small Business in 2006. Coming from a family with a history of working on industry policy, he has a particular interest in the Surety Bonding and Construction Industries and Professional Certification; he loves sharing his knowledge of the industry for JW Surety Bonds, the top provider of contract bonds in the nation.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 

By Todd Goldmeyer

You’re a hardworking construction professional with a busy schedule and a truck chocked full of expensive equipment. Your time is valuable, but you know the importance of streamlining your day so that you can be as efficient as possible. Fortunately, there are now a wide variety of effective and industry-specific vehicle upfit packages available that can help you increase your productivity.

Benefits of Upfits There are several ways an upfit package can benefit you and your business:

  • Organization – Have you ever been in this situation? You’re working hard and realize you need a specific tool to complete a job. You race to your vehicle and find yourself confronted with that unorganized pile of tools. To find the tool you need, you have to wade through the mess. You do ultimately find what you need, but think about how much time you just wasted! With a specialized upfit package, you can eliminate time wasted due to lack of organization. Upfits can include drawers, shelving and toolboxes that will keep your equipment exactly where you want it.
  • Increased safety – Not only does storing your tools loose disrupt efficient organization, it can also be dangerous. When you’re driving through heavy city traffic, quick stops are frequent, and having unsecured, heavy equipment can cause unnecessary injury to both your tools and you. An upfit can help to keep your tools securely stored in the back of your work vehicle. You can ensure additional safety by investing in upfit partitions, which keep the storage space and cab of your van safely separated.
  • Increased savings – Your tools are some of your most valuable investments. In the construction industry, the equipment you use to get the job done costs a lot of money and it needs to be properly protected to avoid damage. Upfit packages not only keep your tools safe, they also help eliminate the loss of money due to being slowed down by disorganization.

Upfit Products

What goes into an upfit is up to you! Some of the most common products that are featured in upfits for construction professionals include:

  • Ladder racks – Ladder racks keep those bulky ladders safe and secure on the roof of your vehicle during transportation. Various types of ladder racks are available including basic utility racks, lockable racks and drop-down ladder racks.
  • Partitions – Like mentioned above, partitions form a barrier between the cab area of a vehicle and the cargo area to prevent injury from airborne equipment. Partitions also help to improve climate control in the cab and also provide a great space for organizational accessories.
  • Shelving and drawers – Van shelving allows construction professionals to store their expensive equipment off the floor and in designated spaces throughout the vehicle. Van storage helps to keep the vehicle clean and organized, which improves efficiency.

Todd Goldmeyer is the marketing manager at Adrian Steel Company. To learn more about how an upfit for your work truck or van can increase organization for your construction business, contact Adrian Steel.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

By Matthew Debbage

In the construction industry, it’s important to know who you’re working with up front.  From developers to construction management firms to subcontractors, evaluating the financial stability of potential business partners will protect your investment and resources down the road. Because, let’s face it — if you don’t get paid, you can’t un-build a building. At construction management firms, executives use credit reports to determine whether a client will pay its bills on time, or at all. Purchasing and estimating departments use credit reports to prequalify subcontractors. The contents of a credit report can indicate whether the sub will stay in business throughout the duration of the job and can perform as expected. The lifecycle of a construction project depends upon regular, reliable payments every 30 days, as well as final payment upon completion. Regular pay enhances the chances a subcontractor can maintain the required manpower on the project and purchase the necessary material to complete the job.  Subcontractors may ask to see the construction management firm’s contract with the owner before signing on to verify payment stipulations and also may use credit reports to determine if the firm regularly pays its subs on time and in full.

Here’s what a credit report will tell you about who you’re doing business with:

Days Beyond Terms – A look at how quickly the company pays its bills after the due date, and whether or not there has been any change to its payment history.

Credit Score – Understand the chance that a potential business partner will fall behind in paying you.

Officer Details & Group Structure – Who’s running the business, who they’re connected to, and if they’re connected to other companies. Can help you determine if the people behind the business that you are investigating are who they say they are.

Inquiry Records – Who else is searching for the company? If you find a large number of inquiries during a brief timeframe, it could be a sign that the company is in financial trouble or needs to over-extend credit in order to stay afloat.

Trade Payment Data – Company’s full trade line information, bank and lease agreements to see how much money they owe to other businesses.

Judgments & Legal Data – Will reveal if there have been any legal judgments, UCC filings, tax liens or bankruptcies against the business. Not being fully aware of the firm you are dealing with could result in substantial financial repercussions down the road.  There are now subscription-based credit monitoring services that can eliminate the high costs of purchasing individual reports. Paying a set fee per month is far more cost effective if, for example, a CM firm is looking up credit reports for 10 different subs in one month. While there is more to vetting a potential business partner than a credit report, it’s a financial tool that should be a part of every construction manager’s toolbox. Let’s all learn a lesson from Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green and be sure that our future business partners “Are who we thought they were!”

Matthew Debbage is the president of Creditsafe’s U.S. operations, overseeing the company’s expansion into the U.S. market. Creditsafe is the world’s most-used supplier of online company credit reports. Nearly 5,000 companies in the U.S. use its credit reports, ranging from small businesses to large, global concerns like Staples, Ryder and Nestle. Debbage, with more than 15 years of experience in market entry strategies, has successfully led the research, planning and launch of a number of operations in markets around the world, making companies more efficient and profitable.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

By Jenna Puckett

Construction projects are notorious for finishing over budget, past schedule and outside of the agreed scope. Let’s look at a few ways project management software can help overcome common hurdles that stand in the way of successful, on-time projects.

Improved Job Costing

All construction projects have one thing in common: they each begin with an estimate. Calculating a labor and materials estimate is complex, but the hard work doesn’t end there. That estimate turns into a budget, and throughout a project, all costs must be continually measured, recorded, and compared to the original budget. Job cost management is a critical component that ensures projects remain within budget. Good project management software will provide real-time material and labor data so you can easily identify and monitor job costs as they occur. Being able to track and react to problems immediately— rather than in hindsight— will keep your project from drifting into the red. Once a project is completed, you can use the data to estimate the cost of similar projects in the future. Accurate projections and increased budget visibility are win-wins for construction operations.

Streamlined Document Management

Proposals, blueprints, permits, change orders, and more - the paper mountain that a construction project can create sometimes rivals the actual structures being built. From RFIs to receipts, using multiple databases — or no database at all —  to store documents is problematic. Lack of electronic document management creates duplicate data entry, omitted information, and risk of misplacing critical papers. A single project management platform that stores all construction documents and paperwork enables easy information sharing and retrieval. Paper files can be scanned and uploaded as well, which helps keep important information for each job-site in one place. For example, if you keep your data in a cloud-based storage system, your colleagues can retrieve files in an instant and collaborate in real-time.

Transparent Timelines

Scheduling is the backbone of a successful project. It’s essential to have a project management system that can be tailored to your workflow and accommodate all the teams and suppliers involved. After your project is mapped out, a good system will allow you to save the schedule as a template, adjust it based on results, and reuse it for future projects. Two visual tools that help you plan and assess your project schedule are Gantt charts and Kanban boards. Gantt charts use a familiar timeline view to map major tasks and milestones, as well as indicate which tasks are interconnected or dependent. This chronological depiction offers a high level view of tasks, so you can monitor each initiative's progress and pinpoint bottlenecks. For a more granular view, use Kanban boards to delegate responsibilities linked to major goals and milestones. Construction managers can use these tools to monitor resources and deadlines, as well as stay informed of progress and anticipate any necessary schedule adjustments. Project management software helps automate tasks and creates a central location for up to date project information. This increases transparency, efficiency, and ultimately, project success. If your company is struggling to meet project goals and requirements, then it’s time to embrace technology that meets your business needs.

Jenna Puckett is a junior technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. She covers topics related to gamification, employee performance and other emerging tech trends. Connect with her on LinkedIn.  

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

By Robert Preville

Renting equipment is a routine practice in construction. As a matter of fact, it’s so routine it adds an estimated $25 billion per year to the economy. Typically, it’s the needs of the job that dictate the equipment requirement - at least that’s the approach most contractors take. Some contractors even choose to pass on certain project opportunities because they don’t think they’re properly equipped. What if contractors started thinking differently, proactively and creatively? What if instead of waiting for a need to arise before considering equipment rental as an option, contractors started thinking of how renting different types of equipment could create new demand and new customers for their businesses? Equipment rental can be so much more than a reactive requirement to fulfilling a specific need. Because you can rent virtually any piece of equipment that exists, you essentially have every piece of equipment you could ever need, for any job, already in your equipment inventory. Plus, the part of your inexhaustible inventory that is considered “rental” offers other advantages:

  • Rentals don’t require the large capital investment that buying and maintaining equipment does.
  • Renting enables access to equipment without putting a strain on cash flow.
  • Rentals don’t depreciate (at least not from the renter’s perspective).
  • Renting provides the flexibility to choose different models, sizes and capacities based on individual job specifications.
  • Renting eliminates outdated equipment and offers access to the latest models outfitted with the newest technologies.
  • Rental costs can frequently be passed on to end clients and even marked up for additional profit.

So, knowing that your inventory theoretically includes ALL equipment, ask yourself these proactive questions:

  • Have we turned down bids and jobs because we didn’t think we had the right equipment?
  • How could we expand our services, our customer base and the projects we take on simply by renting some equipment that we don’t currently own?
  • Have we ever looked through a catalog of equipment categories to generate creative ideas about how we could leverage certain equipment that we’ve never really considered before?
  • What are some lucrative project areas that we’ve never engaged in before that we could test out now by renting some equipment?

Obviously, renting is not always a better alternative than buying. However, I am certain that many construction companies and contractors underestimate and underutilize the power of equipment rental. I challenge readers to get creative and think of at least one way to expand your current construction services by renting a not-so-obvious piece of equipment.

Robert Preville is a serial entrepreneur and active angel investor via IMAF Cape Fear in Wilmington, N.C. He is the co-owner of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and the co-founder and CEO of KWIPPED, an online B2B equipment rental marketplace. Prior to KWIPPED, Preville founded and sold GlobalTestSupply.com, a world-class provider of test and measurement equipment that ranked #800 on the INC 5000 fastest growing companies list. Prior to that, he was the founding employee and Vice President of Sales for MFG.com, the leading online manufacturing marketplace and a portfolio company of Jeff Bezos's Bezos Expeditions.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 

By Robert Weitz

Before demolishing a wall, ceiling, or structure, a savvy contractor will order asbestos and lead testing to make sure that demolition won’t spread those toxins into the air. But what happens if you break through the surface and you uncover what looks like widespread mold?  What should you do? The answer is simple: STOP! Even if you’ve set up some type of protective barrier, such as a plastic containment area or even a temporary wall structure, you can’t keep mold spores from spreading.

A disturbed area of mold less than one square inch can generate millions of mold spores into the air. If you continue demolition, you potentially endanger the health of your employees and your client, and risk contaminating the entire structure. Airborne mold spores can cause individuals to cough, sneeze, or worse, and mold spores will exacerbate or can even lead to asthma or other serious respiratory conditions. Continuing demolition work when mold is suspected is a risk no contractor should take.

What to Do

At the first sign of what could be mold, stop demolition and call in a certified mold inspector to investigate. The inspector can identity the type of mold growing, tell you if the mold is toxic or allergen, measure the amount of mold in the air and recommend how a remediation company can eliminate the mold problem. (Note: hire two separate companies to perform the inspection and remediate the mold. There’s a clear conflict of interest when one company does both.)

Most likely, the mold inspector will recommend establishing proper containment and negative air pressure to reduce the chance that mold spores will migrate to unaffected areas of the worksite. The inspector also typically will recommend using biocides and antimicrobials to treat and seal any staining to help ensure everyone’s safety. Once the remediation firm removes the mold and cleans the area, ask your environmental testing firm to return for a final inspection and sampling. It typically takes fewer than seven to between 10 to 14 days to complete the initial inspection, remediation and final inspection.

Although the process may cause a slight delay in your project, the extra effort to use professionals protects you and all parties involved in the construction process. It’s never worthwhile to take shortcuts when health and safety are at stake.

Robert Weitz is a certified microbial investigator and principal at RTK Environmental Group, a leading environmental testing and consulting firm serving the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. For more than 25 years, Mr. Weitz has helped residential and commercial property owners address serious environmental hazards such as mold, lead, asbestos, water, soil, radon, and indoor air quality. 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

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