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30%, that’s the figure that keeps coming back to me, business is down 30% and competitive bids are 30% less than what they used to be. I even had firms we do business with in India essentially say, “I am not going down the rathole.” You have got to be creative to deal with it. It reminds of a an accounting professor in business school who extolled, “all costs are variable,” not really but you get the point. Renegotiate rents, bargain with your workforce, create partnerships to fill holes, man it stretches the imagination which is good, however there is no reality like payroll, and rent, and insurance, etc. There was a recent article in the Las Vegas Business Press, “From Boom to Bust,” that echoes these themes. One GC stated that, ‘Our revenue in 2010 will be slightly less than half of what it was in 2008.” Bidders on projects have multiplied by 3, and successful bids seemed to be 40% below 2008 highs.
“Cash flow is the king during a recession,” Perini Building Co. Vice Chairman Dick Rizzo said. “As the economy shrinks, prompt payment is important. In some cases, it’s the only source of income to subcontractors and vendors.” This statement brings me to my next point, when did we ever, and architecture firms I am looking at you, get to a point where this statement is the norm, ‘you get paid when we get paid.’ Holy $$$$. This is patently ridiculous. There was a good article in the Boston Business Journal that said free lancers and sub contractors are spending as much time tracking down payments and getting paid as they did on the actual project. So looking at that vice of lower winning bids and taking forever to get paid what’s a small business to do? You can whine about it, not much help, or try and figure it out. I don’t even say make lemonade from lemons, this is strictly survive than thrive. To the ‘you get paid when we get paid’ again who ever agreed to that, but if your on the short end of that scenario consider starting a relationship with a factor, otherwise known a receivable financing, different companies specialize for different industries and even by size of receivables but there is one out there for you. They will take 1-3 points monthly but nothing like cash flow. As for some of the advice you get such as put penalties in your contract, talk directly to payroll, etc. most them will stay with the partly line, and a lot replace contracts you may have put together with their own which certainly does not have any late payment penalties.
As for multiple bidders and reduced winning bids, know your costs, use BIM, be ready for hard bids. It’s telling that GCs are the early adopters to BIM, Revit and the like and embracing their 4D and 5D aspects.
Partner up, can you still offer the same level or service as you could in 2008? Can you offer more today? More companies may be more willing to work together. Like I tell my kids, ‘the answer is always no unless you ask.’
I am not an architect, nor do I play one on tv I simply have a small company that surveys buildings. While that may not qualify me to design one I have had the benefit of being in hundreds of buildings, surveyed them, see how they were put together, and they functioned with people in them, so with this little bit of information I feel qualified on commenting on architecture in general. And before I start I want to say that I believe architecture has the ability to transform and inspire like few other arts or disciplines because I can walk by a statue without noticing it (which I hope I don’t but were all in a hurry sometimes) but tougher still to ignore the building you are entering, or working in or even passing by, however, with that said I am unfortunately underwhelmed by most buildings I’ve been in or pass by, or have worked in. Too often we exist in a world that is value engineered, that is something has been designed to be produced as inexpensively as possible. I understand that, less expensively built; more people can afford to purchase; we all win, fine. Good in cars and televisions, unfortunate in buildings. We live in a center core, curtain wall efficiency that drains most of the fun, awe and art straight out of a building. And if you are trying to do something inexpensive, yet impressive this too can be a daunting task. But there are examples, artchitect turning shipping containers into homes comes to mind, like Adam Kalkin, Another is a home we surveyed designed by Carl Koch as part of community on Snake Hill. Now personally I thought it was fantastically ugly from the outside, looked like a box, seemed kind of cheap but as I entered the house, which still had all its original materials and finishes I was amazed how everything made sense, nothing wasted, coherent, took advantage of passive solar while providing lots of light and a great view, lines were simple, I was impressed but again this happens so seldom.
However, I have hope more and more architects are designing in 3D, even Architects who never once fired up CAD are embracing SketchUp as way to think and communicate in 3D. BIM allows design to happen digitally and with true BIM packages allows analysis and fabrication to build a building more cost effectively and real ROI metrics for making choices. Now this could be used for good rather than evil by providing hard bids on designs that were thought to cost prohibitive before, or proving new designs digitally and communicating them to developers and owners in 3D convinces them of their merit. What I hope is that ‘value engineering’ ceases to be a proxy for taking all the fun out out of a building but instead becomes part of the process that brings 3D digital design and BIM into reality and physical structures that continue to awe and inspire.
Public Beta Open in January : Capture as builts in Revit in the field: #Revit #BIM #asbuilt #laser #pplt
We will be opening up our beta to public testing in January and we are asking for volunteers. Our product PKNail allows a user to use a hand held laser, Disto D8, and measure and build Revit models in the field. The measurements are transmitted via bluetooth to a mobile workstation which allows the user to quickly and accurately captures a building geometry and features. On board intelligence allows users to determine wall thicknesses, wall angles, toggle accuracy, attach notes to objects and more.
PKNail was developed by field surveyors and software engineers to help the AEC Community quickly and accurately capture a building’s geometry in Revit. This tool used alone of in conjunction with HDLS (High Definition Laser Scanning) can let you start any project in BIM / Revit. Proven ROI in as little as one project, and speed gains from measuring to model of over 200%.
With the majority of construction projects happening in the built environment, and in cities like Boston almost 80% done in the built environment start them in BIM and help everyone downstream.
This a powerful tool in capturing as builts in Revit and beta testers will be eligible for a substantial discount when purchasing.
The AIA issued a document last year E202 to try and put a wrapper around BIM development and the expected amount of detail needed with each deliverable. The first question most of us ask or should ask our clients is, ‘what do you need it for?’ Not to be facetious, like when my kids ask me for my car keys (they are 11, 9, and 6) but what is the purpose of the model as it goes from a simple generic model for spatial planning/validation to a complete CD Set and fine tuning that scope and managing the deliverable is still more art than science.
To break it down quickly the AIA called out 3 Levels of Details, LOD 100, 200 and 300.
LOD 100 mostly to a model built for massing and it does not mention model elements.
LOD 200 is a model built with generic model elements. And dependent on the client and deliverable you may or may not give properties to these elements.
LOD 300 is a model built with specific assemblies to the model elements, so a wall is not generally seen as ‘generic wall’ but rather an assembly such as brick | furring| dry wall with their own properties and dimensions to make a whole and this can go on all the way through the model with all the element and again should be dependent on client needs.
For most purposes I am not sure where Level 100 comes in except in the conceptual stage and most of us are dealing with LOD 200 and LOD 300 Models. The way I like to approach it is everything is a LOD 200 Model, and then speak to the client and ask what the model is to be used for and which elements need to have details and which can be generic, they sign off and then everyone has a clear idea of scope and deliverable.
When we initially starting producing BIM models in ’06 we usually made the mistake of over delivering by making custom window families for most of our projects, now with so many window libraries out there it’s pretty easy to find a facsimile and even though a 1760 Inn does not have new Andersen Double Hung Divided Light Windows they worked fine based on the client needs which was for master planning, construction of a new building, and spatial validation.