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 INDUSTRIAL 1By Eric Miller

Judging by the number of lenders looking to extend credit to construction companies in the current market, you might think the industry is at or near the top of a cyclical peak. Of course, those in the trade know that is not necessarily the case. Last year’s bottom-barrel oil prices brought the energy industry lower and took related sectors along with it. In addition, some say China pushed steel prices lower to sell its excess supply to global markets, hurting domestic producers. And sluggish growth in overseas economies contributed to cool demand for construction equipment. 

 COMMERCIAL 1By Rebecca Stone

Increasingly, today’s resort visitors are arriving in multi-generational groups. This is a trend that’s affecting how resorts are being planned, constructed and retrofitted. As families more frequently travel with grandparents, parents and children in tow, designers and developers are inspired to consider each generation’s interests and make a point of developing resorts with spaces that target different age groups while still allowing families to spend their vacation time together. Appealing to these diverse groups is a critical part of capturing the biggest return on investment in the current resort construction market. Currently, this trend is creating demand for larger “legacy properties” – a vacation home that serves everyone and will remain in the family for multiple generations.

 OVERTIME 1Overtime rules will impact the construction industry.

By Mary Beth Saylor

In 2014, President Obama issued a memorandum to the Department of Labor (DOL) to update and modernize the regulations governing the exemption of executive, administrative and professional (EAP) employees from the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or Act). The primary reasons for the change? Salary levels in the prior regulations were fixed, and there was not a mechanism for keeping them commensurate with the appropriate percentile of average wages today and into the future. Additionally, the change is expected to help accomplish one of the President's goals of ensuring workers are compensated fairly for their work.

 RECRUITING 1The secrets to effective recruitment may be right under your nose.

By Kim Shepherd and Thomas Brennan 

Every industry faces unique recruiting challenges, but one thing just about every company has in common in today's market is that talent wars are fierce. Unemployment is low and business is expanding, which means candidates have choices. In the construction industry, you can add to that the cyclical nature of the business and the fact that it is harder to create loyalty among hourly workers than among white-collar employees.

 NYNJ 1by Ed Beaulieu

On a job site, there’s nothing cozy about a confined space. In fact, they can be downright dangerous.

Which is why the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued new rules designed to protect construction workers inside of storm water drains, bins, crawl spaces, water mains, attics, pits, air conditioning ducts, sewers, manholes, and other confined spaces. Per specific OSHA guidelines, these spaces a) are not intended for continuous employee occupancy, b) are large enough for a worker to enter, but c) offer only limited means of entering and exiting.  

 INSTITUTIONAL 1By Niklas Moeller

In recent years, improvements in construction materials, as well as quieter office and mechanical equipment, have greatly reduced the ambient – or background – sound level in the majority of facilities. This leaves office employees to try to work in ‘pin-drop’ conditions in which they can easily hear conversations and noises.

When using a sound masking system to address this issue, it is vital to ensure the engineered sound it distributes is not only effective, but as unobtrusive as possible. Unlike ‘white noise’ or ‘pink noise’ – terms often, but mistakenly, used in this context – sound masking follows a non-linear curve specifically designed to balance acoustic control and occupant comfort. A successful implementation involves achieving both goals in equal measure.

 CIVIL 1By Zach Webber

In a construction environment mired with increasing competition and risk, some firms are using a tool that can both increase margins and mitigate risk. Joint ventures allow firms to “partner” to bid on and complete larger jobs for which a single firm may not have the necessary experience or risk profile. This pooling of assets and resources can create positive synergies by allowing smaller firms to compete in a larger competitive landscape. For a joint venture arrangement to be successful, each firm under the arrangement must realize that trust and communication are key issues, and that playing a “bully” role in the negotiation process could have large negative implications later in the process. Positive synergy cannot be obtained if one of the firms feels like it is not getting the benefits it needs from the venture.

Investing in a joint venture with another contractor can be a very attractive method to take on larger, more profitable jobs while effectively managing risk. A joint venture is organized as a separate entity and can either be created to bid on a singular project or to function with an indefinite life. For the contractor, investing in a joint venture has certain advantages and disadvantages.

 RESIDENTIAL 1By Timothy Quinn

When it comes to construction contracts, many companies and their attorneys assume it’s a good idea to slip in extra provisions, just for good measure.

But a recent case decided by the Pennsylvania Superior Court should remind everyone that adding multiple provisions to a contract regarding the same issue doesn’t necessarily afford greater protection.

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