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 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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 OP INSTITUIONALBy Clint Fawcett

The construction of educational facilities involves a variety of processes in order to be successful. One of the most important processes to all parties involved, especially the owner and contractor, is cost estimation. An effective way to garner cost estimates is through a system called continuous cost modeling, which delivers many benefits including the reduction of waste in the form of time, productivity and materials. Continuous cost modeling is especially crucial when budget plays a large role in the construction of a facility such as an educational building.

 OP INDUSTRIALBy HK Bain

Construction contractors and suppliers face a dilemma: how to manage jobs and company operations with maximum profitability in an industry fraught with roadblocks to efficiency including rising costs, remote job sites, regulatory issues and project delays. As this digital age brings advances to nearly every business sector, the construction industry has been slow to adopt new technologies. How might attachment to paper-based document management processes be contributing to lost productivity and higher overall job costs?

 OP RESIDENTIALBy David Worrell

Contractors around the country are worried. Regulatory changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) have been finalized and everyone is asking whether they now have to change the compensation of certain salaried employees.

The answer to this is yes and no. Like most regulation, there is plenty of wiggle room in the law to interpret it in different ways. But some comp plans will certainly have to be examined – the most obvious being salaried workers in the field, particularly crew chiefs and field supervisors.

The first thing to know is that the new regulations don’t take effect until Dec. 1, and the only real change to the rules is the increase in minimum salaries for exempt employees. Nonetheless, if all the talk about the FLSA has you looking over your payroll policies, this is a good opportunity to review your practices and be sure you are in within the law.

 OP NY NJ FOCUS

By Dr. David Berg

Overpriced healthcare is hurting American business and job creation. Insurance prices are continuing to skyrocket – and with no end in sight. With Obamacare, many construction companies are now required to offer healthcare to their employees, but high insurance rates are cutting dangerously into their profits and threatening the stability of even longstanding and established construction firms.

 OP COMMERCIALBy Lawrence Dudek

First, the good news  – there is significant new activity with respect to construction and projects are ramping up at a rapid pace. The bad news? The uptick in business can create special challenges for owners, who must be alert to potential signs of cash flow problems their general contractors and subcontractors may be having. 

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