Technology

Ep.61: A Half Century in Construction with David Gerstel

There have been a lot of changes in the remodeling industry — technological advances, new products and materials, building requirements, the labor shortage. But some things remain the same — you’re still pouring foundations, shingling roofs, driving nails, and working with clients.

In this episode, David Gerstel talks about the changes he’s seen over the last 50 years in construction and remodeling with Tim and Steve. He talks about what he’s learned and how to prepare for the future.

David Gerstel of Kensington, CA, has been a builder for more than 40 years, and is the author of several respected books on construction company management, including the recently published Nail Your Numbers: A Path to Skilled Construction Estimating and Bidding. His construction operation emphasizes respect for, and profit sharing with, employees, bullet-proof construction,  efficiency in the field and the office, and rigorous control of overhead. David moved beyond bidding for free a few years after becoming a general contractor, and initiated a nationwide movement away from competitive bidding and toward working in collaboration with clients and designers through the use of what is variously known as cost-planning services, pre-construction consulting,  and other terms. David continues to build and write for the sheer joy and satisfaction of it. 

After leaving college, David wanted to work with his hands. He pursued carpentry, and loved working for himself. He has pioneered many of the business practices that have become standard in the industry. He talks about the changes he’s seen, and what has remained the same, including:

  • Building a company that can handle a downturn
  • Keeping overhead low and where to invest profits
  • How he got away from free estimates
  • The organic evolution of business and businesses
  • The developer model vs. the traditional model
  • The joyful way to build
  • The best changes he’s seen
  • Why the cost-planning model encourages collaboration
  • How construction is a predictable, beautiful story that unfolds
  • And more …

Including why he loves and hates nail guns, what tasks you should use them for, and why.

Ep.59: New Energy Opportunities with Jacob Corvidae

“Going green” has been a part of the remodeling and building industries for a while. But much of the eco-conscious activity has been reactive. There’s real movement now to be proactive, and that’s especially true in the energy industry. It’s undergoing a massive disruption — and that has big implications for remodelers and builders.

In this episode, Jacob Corvidae talks about what’s coming in the energy industry, and what it will mean for your business, with Tim and Steve.

Jacob is a principal in the Buildings Program at Rocky Mountain Institute, where he leads the Residential Energy+ initiative. After nearly two decades of work in sustainable community development in Michigan, he now works from RMI’s Boulder, CO, office. He’s also a co-author of The Carbon-Free City Handbook, and The Carbon-Free Regions Handbook, two guides to help local governments around the world take action faster, and reports to support contractors and builders.

Jacob’s focus is on practical methods to get to a cleaner, more prosperous energy future. The discussion ranges from macro to micro topics — from the global impacts to why residential gas stoves can cause asthma attacks. Find out what changes in energy production and infrastructure will mean to the building and remodeling industries, including:

  • What the dropping price of solar may mean for you
  • Changes in utility rates
  • How energy-efficient building will save, and possibly, earn money
  • Solar on homes as part of a community “farm”
  • The economics of clean energy
  • Infrastructure challenges and solutions
  • The rise of the all-electric house
  • Enforcement of energy-efficiency through local standards and codes
  • Staying ahead of the curve to become a local market leader
  • Educating your customers
  • The sales opportunities for you
  • Getting a strategy together
  • Reaching out to manufacturers
  • And more …

Including where to go for more information and education. To start, Jacob recommends his own organization and additional resources:

Ep.56: The Ins and Outs of Off-Site Construction with David Cooper

Remodelers and custom-home builders are used to being on a job site, building from the outside in, whatever the weather. Modular or prefab homes are built in a controlled factory environment, from the inside out, and have made strides in quality, architectural complexity, and production processes.

In this episode, David Cooper talks to Tim and Steve about modular homes, their history, what the future holds, and some of the misconceptions about prefab homes.

David is the managing director of Connecticut Valley Homes of East Lyme, CT, with design studios in Fairfield and Westerly, CT. David is an award-winning modular home expert. CVH has been in business for 40 years, building more than 1,600 custom homes, and specializes in teardowns, rebuilds, and coastal construction.

Modular home building is a growing industry, spurred by technology — especially AutoCAD — which allows modular builders to create custom homes. Modular builders can construct essentially the same homes as on-site and stick-built homes. They build to the same codes using the same materials, but the process is different. David says his company can have a homeowner move in 120 days (or less) from the time they put the house on the foundation, and he talks about other facets of off-site construction, including:

  • How they compete on quality
  • The five types of modular homes
  • Building in a controlled environment
  • Energy benefits of modular construction
  • Sustainable building processes
  • Having lower liability on site
  • What the building process looks like
  • Using robots to frame walls
  • Getting all the clients’ decisions up front
  • The differences in inspections
  • The ballet of coordination in the factory and on site
  • How the money works out
  • The beauty of no change orders
  • And more …

It’s an insightful look at another part of the home building business and the different production processes they use.
 

Super Early Bird Discount for The 2019 Production Conference Ends Friday, June 7th

PRODUCTION CONFERENCE ’19: BIGGER & BETTER!
After two outstanding years, we are excited to host the 3rd Annual Production Conference, held alongside the 2019 Remodelers Summit at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida. In addition to hosting the event in the same hotel as the Summit, we’ve made even easier to register for BOTH events at the same time!

 
 

Ep.50: Choosing Estimating Software with Jef Forward

Estimating accurately is critical to the success of any remodeling business. As you grow your business or hand off estimating to an employee, having the right system in place is paramount. It can feel like an overwhelming decision — there’s so much software available. The wrong decision will cost you lost revenue, but even worse — lost time.

Fortunately, there’s a simple strategy to help you navigate this very important decision.

In this episode, Jef Forward talks about estimating software with Tim and Steve. He’s worked with several estimating software packages and systems over the years, and shares what he’s learned.

Jef Forward is the founder — and co-owner with his wife Monica — of Forward Design Build Remodel in Ann Arbor, MI. For more than 20 years, Jef has performed every role within the company, including designer, laborer, carpenter, bookkeeper and estimator — you name it, he’s done it. Now with 24 employees, Jef has two full-time estimators.

Start your decision-making by looking at two factors — getting the estimate itself right and how the program’s output will be presented to someone other than the estimator — especially your clients. The first step is to not look at any software, Jef says. You can get distracted by all the bells and whistles of new programs and miss whether it will really work for you. He talks about the vetting process, what it can do for your estimating, and some of his favorite software choices, including:

  • How to create a Process & Needs document
  • Integrations with other programs
  • Deciding on must-haves and nice-to-haves
  • Mixing and matching vs. all-inclusive systems
  • Not looking for quick fixes
  • Evaluating and testing
  • Who to involve in making choices
  • The fine art of guessing
  • What to do by hand vs. what’s automatic
  • Slicing and dicing information
  • Client presentations and reports
  • And more …

Choosing the right estimating software for your company depends on many factors, but the work done up front will ensure you’re not saddled with a system that doesn’t fit. Taking the time and involving the team will help you make the right pick.

Tell Us More!

Do you have a suggestion for a topic or guest for an upcoming episode? Send Tim an email: tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

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