(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Roof, 6.Close, 7.MEP, 8.Finish)

With the site cleared for the next step in the foundation’s construction, a stem wall is needed to support the floor framing. Stem walls make it possible to raise the floor level for storm cellars, basements, or mechanical crawl space.

A raised foundation also changes the profile of a building, reducing potential moisture penetration, mold and mildew, insects and insecticide contamination, and makes it easier to add or modify the house as mechanical requirements change over time. See the website for the Southern Forest Products Association.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

The stem walls and piers could be built using cast-in-place concrete with rigid or insulated forms. Cast concrete walls have the advantage of being a strong monolithic structure in wet or difficult soil and are required by code for earthquake engineering, heavy loads, and some soil, ground water, or site conditions

Checking the footing
The foundation walls for this building are constructed with standard concrete masonry units (CMU). The concrete blocks are laid using common tools and reinforced with horizontal and vertical steel that is embedded in grout to form an integrated structural system.

Before beginning the wall’s construction, the site is cleared for safety, string lines are replaced on the batter board, and the foundation is checked for compliance with the construction documents prior to finalizing preparations for the work. Verification of existing conditions is especially important when the masonry contractor is not the builder who installed the concrete footing.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

The workpoint is used to check the elevation of the footings and mark the corners of the foundation walls, verifying the string line intersections (see Part 10 Foundation Footings).

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

The foundation stem walls extend from the top of the concrete footing up to the bottom of the sill plates that support the structural framing. That means the elevation of the footings is directly related to the reference height of the stem walls and the corresponding elevation for the floor, wall, and roof framing.

Staging the Masonry
To prevent future conflict, some builders require each subcontractor to sign off on an existing installation prior to allowing them to move material and equipment onto the jobsite and start their work. This makes subsequent specialists solely responsible for each step in every phase of the construction.

 

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Staging for the masons includes lifting pallets of masonry into the excavation and setting up a mixer along with grout/mortar and sand as required. Access to water is of course critical and power may be necessary for cutting tools and rebar bending equipment. Erosion control and safety concerns for the workers are also important.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

As you’ll see in the next post, the walls for this building are designed using standard block sizes and masonry dimensions to minimize cutting and fitting. This means all horizontal and vertical dimensions are specified in eight inch (8”) increments.

(To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

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(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Roof, 6.Close, 7.MEP, 8.Finish)

Once the concrete is in place, the site should be cleared of tools, equipment, and any debris that accumulated during the pour. Fencing, barriers, and safety controls should be replaced where they’ve been removed and the batter boards and workpoint checked for damage.

Strip the formwork
It’s also important to remove the formwork as soon as possible, but only as quickly as the weather will allow. In general, stripping immediately makes it easier to remove and clean the forms and allows the concrete to cure evenly. Waiting too long can weaken the concrete because of uneven curing and make it difficult to reuse the forms.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Unless it’s extremely cold, a chemical reaction occurs that prevents the concrete from freezing, but the footing’s surfaces can also dry out if it cures too quickly. This makes timing critical and it takes experience to know when it’s best to strip the forms.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Hands-on builders consider the weather and feel the warmth of the concrete before making a judgment as to the best way to protect the concrete as it cures.

A Different Approach
All of this can be avoided with an interesting innovation in concrete formwork. Of course, it takes a long time in the construction industry to change established methods, but some innovations suggest a particularly logical approach to conventional practice.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Fabric forms use tensile membranes instead of rigid members. Concrete is contained by the geometry of the fabric, forming structural curves as pure tensile elements and ideal parabolic shapes for foundation footings.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

The fabric also adapts to uneven ground and uses far less material to hold the wet concrete in place. The permeable material also allows the concrete to cure evenly with a smooth finish, reducing labor, transportation, and storage. Better yet, stripping is reduced to stakes, spreaders, and runners that are easily removed and reused in the framing as blocking.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Trying something new depends on the type and volume of work, design of the foundations, and interests of the builders who might want to give an idea like this a try. For more information, see installation diagrams and videos at www.fab-form.com and an association website at www.fabricforming.org.

 (To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.


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(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Roof, 6.Close, 7.MEP, 8.Finish)

As soon as the rebar and the forms are ready, most building permits will require official approval before concrete can be placed. A code compliance inspector is then scheduled by the builder to visit the site, check the forms and rebar against the permit drawings, and authorize concrete placement with a stamp or signature.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Unless the foundation is unusually complicated, most inspectors will only take a cursory look at the formwork, spot check some rebar, and sign off without comment, after all most foundations are pretty much the same. But problems occur if the rebar is dirty, rusty, or oily, or the formwork somehow affects public property. Rarely is the inspector concerned about the foundation’s design or engineering, that’s a given.

PrePour Checklist
Good builders use a checklist to make sure the foundation is ready for inspection and anticipate any possible delay. Concerns include a final check of the formwork for gaps, weaknesses, or missing hardware, cleaning the forms and reinforcing, checking the position of sleeves and brackets, and making sure required insulation, expansion joints, and vapor barriers are installed.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Prior to ordering concrete, it’s important to make sure all the necessary tools and equipment are on site and ready to use. This includes shovels, water, vibrators, spreaders and trowels. High density lighting might also be required on short winter days, especially if there’s any possibility of a delay.

In addition, a safety officer should be assigned to check the weather, designate safe zones, truck routing and staging, mark power lines, check all equipment, and secure the wash down area. The entire site is then cleared of unnecessary tools, trash, and personnel.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Placing the Concrete
Once the concrete has been scheduled, a biodegradable release agent is applied to the forms to prevent bonding. A concrete pump makes it much easier to move concrete around the site, reducing risk and the number of laborers required for the work, as well as making it easier to spread and vibrate the material once in place.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

The number of concrete trucks depends on the volume of material required, the supplier, and jobsite conditions. For large projects, more than one truck will mean staging the work according to volume calculations and site conditions in order to control joints, minimize waste, and prevent potential contamination from excess concrete runoff.

 (To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Roof, 6.Close, 7.MEP, 8.Finish)

Specialty contractors use reusable forms for their foundations, but for most small projects almost any skilled carpenter can quickly layout and assemble the formwork for a foundation footing. In this example, the footing formwork is assembled with standard lumber that will be reused in the floor and wall framing illustrated later in Phase 4.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Pier work
If soil conditions are right, the footings can also be cut directly into the soil as shown for the pier footing on the excavated shelf in the illustration above.

Forms for the rest of the pier footings are prefabricated on site so that they can be centered on the string line intersections marking the column locations, or positioned with a tape measure from the perimeter formwork. The center of the pier footing is the center of the column load coming from above.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Bridging is used to locate and suspend the concrete reinforcing (rebar) across the top of the open earthen formwork, or from the sides of the prefabricated forms. For heavily reinforced foundations, some contractors prefer to use light weight plastic “chairs” to hold the rebar up off the floor of the excavation (See Craig’s Concrete Specialties).

The size and location of the reinforcing varies with soil conditions and the weight to be distributed over the undisturbed surface of the excavation.

Quality control
It’s important to check the location and elevations of the footings for accuracy, as well as test soil density to make sure it meets the original engineering specifications. Loose or disturbed soil will sink or compress under the weight of the building.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Depending on building type and local conditions, some building departments will require certification for the location of the footing, along with penetration test results verifying soil density before authorizing concrete placement.

The workpoint is again the primary reference to check the layout and vertical elevations of the footings. It’s easy to see how a level and accurate excavation minimizes unforeseen material and labor costs for all future construction.

Continuous reinforcing
Standard lengths for rebar are 20 feet, with diameters measured according to increments of 1/8”. In other words, a #4 bar is 4/8” and a #5 bar 5/8”. This means the rebar must be cut and bent in the field to fit in the formwork using a hydraulic tool (similar to this one supplied by Southern Tool).

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Crossbars are installed to keep the formwork rigid and suspend the rebar. The steel reinforcing is tied to keep it away from the sides of the formwork and up off the ground. Again, chairs or similar spacers may be easier for some builders to install.

Clearances from the ground and sides of the formwork are necessary to protect the rebar and distribute the loads on the foundation once the concrete has cured.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

The rebar must also be continuous at all intersections and around corners because any gap or break in the length may result in settlement cracking once the footing is under load.

Special attention is also required at any step or change in the footing elevation. Concrete stem walls are formed to fit this step, but for a masonry stem wall, the step should be located so that it fits standard masonry dimensions.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

As you’ll see in a later phase, the stem walls require embedded vertical J-bars to tie reinforcing within the wall to the footing after the concrete is ready for the next step in the foundation’s construction.

 (To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

insitebuilders.com
www.insitebuilders.com

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Part 10: Foundation; Footings

December 17, 2013

(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Roof, 6.Close, 7.MEP, 8.Finish)

The string lines are a quick reference and good enough for most projects, but experienced builders will use a transit level to cross check the layout of the foundation formwork based on vertical and horizontal distances and triangulated offsets from the workpoint.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

In dense urban areas and zero lot line developments, a licensed surveyor is required to certify the location and depth of the foundation as a condition of the building permit. Zero lot lines occur when zoning restrictions allow construction right up to the property line.

Concrete Formwork
For some buildings, concrete is placed directly into a trench cut into the soil using the string lines as a reference. This method is commonly used for the perimeters and bearing walls of a slab or monolithic foundation.

For buildings supported by piers and continuous stem or basement foundation walls, spread footings are used to distribute the weight of the building to undisturbed soil.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

General contractors hire subcontractors who specialize in foundations to install these footings. As masons or concrete workers, they clamp together reuseable forms, place the rebar and concrete, then disassemble the forms for their next job as soon as the concrete begins to set.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

In contrast, hands-on builders assemble the footing formwork using standard lumber, setting aside the material for reuse in other parts of the building as blocking or non structural framing once the forms are stripped and cleaned.

The depth and size of the footing depends on the weight and total load of the building. Dimensions will vary with soil bearing capacity, moisture content, and in some regions the soil frost line.

Bearing capacity and soil

Because the footing is designed to distribute the bearing load from a column or stem wall above, it is offset so that the footing itself is centered on that load. In other words, the center of the wall or column above sits over the center of the footing (see the wall section in the previous post)

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Centering the load in this way means the width of the footing extends out from both sides of the wall above. This means the outer portion of the footing extends beyond the face of the finished wall.

Foundation Phase – Insitebuilders

Technically, the footing might cross a setback line, but since it is below ground, it is most often ignored by building officials. However, when the footing lies against a zero lot line with no setback, the spread footing must be engineered so that the entire foundation remains within the property boundaries.

 (To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.
How a House is Built - insitebuilders.com

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(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Roof, 6.Close, 7.MEP, 8.Finish)

Startup activities begin with risk assessment and safety planning for each phase of the construction, once the workpoint and work and storage areas are determined on the SUP.

Construction Health and Safety Plan
Skilled managers anticipate potential hazards by assessing risks for each phase of the construction. A safety plan is then drawn to identify challenging actions during the construction process, utility locations, potential hazards, environmental impact, and the location of field tests to determine soil conditions.

Preconstruction Planning - Insitebuilders

On a large project, a safety plan manager is appointed to continually review operational risks, maintain safe practices, assess environmental impacts, and keep everyone on the jobsite aware of the importance of regulating health and safety.

Preconstruction Planning - Insitebuilders

Written safety plans are usually required by construction insurance carriers and are important to document pre-emptive planning in the event of an injury, subsequent law suit, and worker’s comp claims against the contractor and owners.

Startup Utilities for the Construction

Once setbacks and work areas have been generally identified, utilities are located and marked for connection.  Power is needed immediately to construct formwork and falsework to reinforce existing structures. Water is necessary to keep workers hydrated, dust control, and equipment wash-off.

Preconstruction Planning - Insitebuilders

Special concerns include overhead power lines, underground utilities, soil contamination and containment, water and erosion, and natural drainage patterns during construction.

Preconstruction Planning - Insitebuilders

Field Testing
Soil tests determine bearing capacity and moisture content. Tests look for clay that could push up on the foundation and utility lines, as well as sandy soils that could shift or sink under the weight of backfill or the building.

Preconstruction Planning - Insitebuilders

These tests are important to construction planning because they disclose potential problems not only with the foundation for the building, but for slump and sluff factors that may require shoring for utility trenches and the walls of the building excavation.

Preconstruction Planning - Insitebuilders

(To be continued…)

Preconstruction Planning - Insitebuilders

—————————

The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

Preconstruction Planning - Insitebuilders

As most in this business already know — either as students or teachers — the challenge to construction (and design) education at the college or university level is finding the time in a curriculum to cover the basics of hands-on construction.

There are electives and workshops of course, usually taught by energetic but technically inexperienced professors, where students gain some understanding of construction technology, but with so much to learn, the rigors of hands-on assembly are lost to more mundane and largely predictable academic subjects.

Insitebuilders - How a House is Built

How a House is Put Together

As a result, it remains for most constructors (and a few designers) to find out for themselves how buildings actually go together. A lucky few find sympathetic mentors or leaders with the patience to pass on the things that they cannot believe weren’t already taught in school — but most entry level professionals wind up picking things up in snatches and glimpses while being paid to do some other narrowly defined task.

At the same time, few construction managers (and fewer designers) have any desire to get down and dirty and actually “work” on a jobsite. Especially to devote the years it takes to appreciate what it’s like to actually build a building efficiently.

It stands to reason though, if one is expected to manage (or design) a technical process, it is only logical to have a deep understanding of how buildings actually go together – if for no other reason than to be able to anticipate the scope of the work, resolve problems in the field, and continually consider cost effective alternatives.

Insitebuilders - How a House is Built

Construction is Color Blind

An important premise to understanding hands-on construction is the fact that to builders, anything that can be imagined can be built — as long as someone is willing to pay for the time, materials, and resources necessary to build and maintain the finished product. On the other hand, construction both expands and restricts the possibilities of a design. And it’s only when design and construction work together that the resulting effort is efficient, purposeful, and sensitive to the needs of our shared environment.

The goal in this series of articles is to therefore bring about some understanding of hands-on construction methods. The objective is to demonstrate the basics without fear of confusing an aesthetic of color and form with the nuts and bolts of a technical process that deals strictly in black and white.

Insitebuilders - How a House is Built

Click to Zoom

Except for scattered notes and comments, almost all of the material to be presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models,” including a few of the book’s illustrations, captioned text, videos, and models.

These articles will cover eight distinct phases of the construction of a simple house, beginning with how the house is actually located on the lot, then to excavation, foundations, framing, roofing, close-in, and MEP installations. Sidebars include a buzzword index, construction safety, and tips and tricks about the process.

Insitebuilders - How a House is Built

SketchUp will of course be the construction modeler, giving you some idea of how we use construction models in our books and business. As most who read our books already know, none of this comes easy, so click the images to zoom, and feel free to interact with the information.

(To be continued…)

Some might think social media is only good for constructors (and designers) with nothing better to do than shift through the self-promoting babble found in the constant banter of marketing information on Facebook or MySpace. But they have it wrong.

Insitebuilders - Twitter Use

For many project managers, social media is a way to see both the big picture of what’s happening in the industry and eavesdrop on what their competitors are doing. In practice, they are able to mine public information by reading posts and searching keywords to build competitive strategies in an ever changing construction industry.

Twitter is simple and spontaneous
In particular, the simplicity and off-handed comments found in apps like Twitter bring out unguarded exchanges that are telling when seen in the context of a stream of related tweets. This includes inadvertent security breaches by marketing staff and employees about current or pending projects.

Insitebuilders - Twitter Followings

You might think nothing substantive can be said in 140 characters, but add a consistent presence in a Twitter timeline along with links and pictures and these seemingly innocuous little posts begin to reflect not only a broad view of the industry, but a particular company’s way of thinking. As such, it doesn’t take long to read, recognize, and evaluate the collective thoughts found in the underlying messages that are exposed by this media.

This deeper understanding of a group’s thinking is in fact what makes Twitter valuable as a collaborative tool. In fact, any idea that Twitter is just for sending, sorting, and searching messages misses the power of this new media to visually direct a team’s collective consciousness toward a single minded focus.

Twitter as a management tool
The key to using Twitter as a management tool is to harness this interaction in a carefully controlled Twitter list or account. The objective is literally to crowd source the project from its inception, deeply embedding “buy-in” for team members as they are invited to join as followers. Important is that as followers, they are invited into the group and remain only as long as they add value to the team as a whole. In other words, their tweets become a measure of the value they bring to the collaborative efforts of the team as a whole.

Insitebuilders - Twitter Basics

In these exchanges, the concise nature of a tweet means project communications are no longer delayed or distorted by staged meetings, reports, proposals, or carefully rendered models. Instead spontaneous messages are sent immediately as part of a continuous flow of input, ideas, and second screen comments that shape the ongoing communications between active team members.

The value of Twitter is therefore the immediacy of the media itself. Participating in the conversation is like feeling the pulse of the entire project team, mashed together into a project long stream of consciousness that is visible in the flow of tweets, retweets, replies, hashtags, and comments, supplemented by photos, video, illustrations, and model images that carry their own perceptive insights.

SketchUp and Twitter
SketchUp adds to these interactions with site scans, photographs, videos, and illustrations from construction models that reinforce content with an immediate visual context for each tweet.

Insitebuilders - SketchUp Image Library

Collaboration begins between principals using site utilization models and overlays to establish scope, later in massing studies, simplified design models, and engineering as early images are gradually mixed by select followers with line item specific content from spreadsheets and schedules.

Like the tweets themselves, cumbersome documents are reduced to real time snapshots, visually gif-ifying content by clarifying collaborative exchanges from concept, through construction, and into facilities management.

Twitter apps are tools
The apps used to contribute and maintain this content are an ever changing collection of programs that were once used to send simple quick posts to a public forum, but have now advanced into sophisticated tools that incorporate multi-project administration. These include:

Insitebuilders - SMS Tweets

Short message service (SMS), still the fastest way to tweet images and video into a project account. Twitter uses short codes to sync text messages and images directly into an account from any cell phone with a camera.

Insitebuilders - Twitter App

Twitter also has an app that makes tweeting a little more complicated. The app has four icons: Home for your current timeline, Connect to track Interactions/Mentions, Discover as the search menu, and Me for settings and profiles. Click the New Tweet icon in the upper right corner to tweet and add a picture, video, or a library image.

Insitebuilders - TweetDeck
Tweetdeck works pretty much the same way as the Twitter app, except it categorizes tweets into separate timelines. Image attachments are currently limited to Library Photos and Take Photo, but no videos, which eliminates motion captures (except via YouTube). Names have been changed to Home, Me, Inbox, and Search as you swipe horizontally to access adjacent screens.

Insitebuilders - HootSuite
HootSuite adds menu features to manage lists as categories of followers. It has a Compose menu for tweets, with images limited to Take Photo and Choose From Library, again no video, except through YouTube. Hootsuite’s menus also include Streams instead of Home, a Search function, Stats, and Contacts.

iNSITEBUILDERS - pOSTEROUS
Posterous is one of the most comprehensive of the Twitter apps. Instead of lists, Posterous uses Spaces to divide content. Each Space is actually a micro-blog/website where any member in the Space can contribute longer descriptive text along with a range of photos, videos, and illustrations. Text and images are posted through tweets, emails, or directly within the Posterous program.

In the end, each of these apps has its limitations, with some, like GroupTweets, fading with obsolescence and inattention. At the same time, to maintain the value of immediate and unguarded collaborative exchanges, a Twitter app should be simple and fast enough to serve its purpose as an immediately useable multimedia messaging tool.

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Multidimensional images extracted from piece-based construction models have found a new home in rapid project related communications. As part of a catalogue of 3D illustrations and process animations for an ongoing project, they are used to clarify and communicate ideas in immediate exchanges using shorter, almost haiku like Tweets that adapt to the growing complexity and speed of modern construction management methods.

BIM vs. SketchUp Construction Models

While BIM models may have a place in coordinating the production of 2D bid documents, they are way too cumbersome for real-time collaboration and are often quickly dated by changes and program upgrades – sometimes before a project is even finished.

Insitebuilders-Construction Model

On the other hand, SketchUp construction models are life-cycle models, generating 3D illustrations and videos available for use from concept to facilities management simply because they are built with an uncomplicated, intuitive, and freely available modeling program.

Insitebuilders - Construction Model

Builders who are able to anticipate benchmarks and key frames in their construction models use these images to coordinate critical phases in the production process. This includes clarifications, change orders, and RFIs during construction, but also field photos and videos that are now part of hourly, if not minute by minute, image transfers from the jobsite.

Mobility is the New Management Norm

Because 4G and wireless networks are now found on almost all jobsites, its become routine for a technically proficient project team to not only download files and communicate directly with team members anywhere in the world, but also to capture snapshots and video of project activity in real-time. Mobile apps send these images immediately from smart phones and other hand held devices via e-mail or direct messaging along with labels and comments, where they are archived for later searches.

blogg.attefall.se/foton/highest-crane-in-stockholm-grev-turegatan

However, while these apps are great for generating a continuous flow of instant communications, the information they carry is quickly buried in unsorted and remote data files after only a few days of jobsite activity. As a result, the latest challenge for project managers is to organize the increasing flow of graphic information into an information resource that works to inform team members.

Real-time communications

In response to this challenge, a variety of social networks are available to visually support project production. These include project specific blogs, webpages, collaborative Wikis, and sites like Linked In, MySpace, Tumblr, and Flickr.

At the same time, by definition these programs are social sites and not easily adapted to project management. For example, now antiquated project webpages that were once used to regularly post schedule and budget details along with other project information, are now confused by a range of different formats, broken links, and duplicated reports that make the web much too slow for real time interaction.

Blog130116/04-gabriellevoogt-projectmanagement.blogspot.com.jpg

Even Facebook, used by some companies for project communications, finds its pages tangled in tagged photos and follower comments after a few days on a scrolling timeline, leaving even the simplest single family residential project overwhelmed by the clunky Facebook interface and any Friends still bothering to follow its linear format.

Twitter as a Construction Model Management Tool

In practice, Twitter is the most promising new tool for continuous construction communications and process management. First, because it allows project managers to interact quickly with very short messages that by their very nature are limited to specific comments, leaving the image itself to relay the information.

In addition, the program is able to automatically organize comments, model images, field photos, and process videos according to phase, dates, and locations in ways that virtually stream visual information to the project team.

mediabistro.com/alltwitter/construction-companies-on-twitter_b16117

Twitter is also able to organize teams of followers into groups and lists, transferring comments, images, and links while sorting and categorizing exchanges into archives that can then be searched and accessed as an integral part of project documentation.

Along with apps like Tweetdeck, GroupTweets, and Posterous, Twitter becomes a short-form messaging tool, as a micro-blogger, with a growing potential to be at the heart of a real time network for team members.

www.tweetdeck.com/

TweetDeck is an old-time Twitter favorite that has been used by project managers to create groups and manage Twitter communications almost from the beginning of twitter-time. Now owned by Twitter, TweetDeck was one of the first project organizers to use a dashboard as a kind of dedicated webpage that allows users to receive and send tweets, view profiles, and photo attachments.

www.grouptweet.com/

GroupTweet is a simpler tweet organizer that works well for short term projects, especially for complex interior remodels like hospital or mechanical equipment installations, where it’s important to keep both users and suppliers informed of current project activity. GroupTweets uses a homepage as a group messaging board, helping team members to interact while making it easier for everyone to keep up with the production process.

posterous.com/

Posterous is probably Twitter’s best team management app (at least for now) because it has controls that correlate project information into separate galleries for specific groups of users. The app uses Posterous Spaces to make sharing and searching the images, photos, videos, comments, and ideas simpler and more intuitive for replies or retweets to non-members.

We’ll look at Twitter basics and these programs next.

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Mobile Construction Modeling

December 12, 2012

It’s hard to believe but the first commercially available email programs didn’t appear until the late 1980’s, and though the communication benefits of electronic messaging were clear by the mid 90’s, many construction companies didn’t use email until the very late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

2D Techs or Construction Managers
In fact, it took a new generation of project managers to introduce this simple technology to reluctant old-timers – and as most would admit, the fight goes on.

For example, now that cell phones and voice mail have become standards for project communications, some offices actually still take messages on hand written note pads, while senior managers without keyboard skills have assistants write memos and handle emails for them, finding computers intrusive, distracting, and perhaps a little frightening.

Insitebuilders-BIM Tweet

At the same time, according to a recent tweet from The Mortensen Company, more contractors now use BIM software than designers. Of course, it goes without saying that the average builder has no idea who Mortensen is, and though construction companies may claim to own some version of BIM software, complex 3D modeling is largely ignored for spreadsheets, print outs, and face to face fieldwork during actual construction.  Even at Mortensen’s.

BIM in the Real World
It’s no secret then that BIM software requires trained technicians, anchored to software and graphic workstations that require constant updates and attention. In practice, working with this kind of technology is simply not practical on most jobsites, especially when a rolled out set of printed 2d contract documents are the basis for the actual scope of the work.

Insitebuilders-BIM min

It’s also important to point out that design, including BIM and its 2D documents are only a very small part of the real world of construction management. Based on the value and cost of services, barely 10% of the entire process is design, permitting, and preconstruction, and of that, perhaps half of the effort falls into actual BIM production.

90% of Construction is Communications
Following the money, the focus should be on what is happening on the jobsite and finding ways to communicate more efficiently with the real world that surrounds it.

Insitebuilders - SketchUp Max

Especially considering that today, computer programs like SketchUp transfer files over the internet, send emails from menu selections, and automatically upload images, cost and schedule data, and daily reports to the cloud as a common way of storing, cataloging, and accessing construction information.

For a new generation of managers, communications between team members now occurs on PDAs (personal data assistants), immediately using smart phones to photo, scan, text, and tweet annotated images and video exported from SketchUp to coordinate project activities.

Mobility is the New Norm
The mobility of these new devices and their ability to access an unlimited combination of resources has become a fundamental part of a continuous and instantaneous flow of project communications.

Insitebuilders - Twitterize

All of which is broadcasted wirelessly via satellite, cells, or broadband routers, giving managers immediate access to project information, the web for searches and bookmarks, networking platforms like Linked In and Facebook for market and background information, and graphical tools like You-Tube, image reference libraries, and animations for process control.

Today, the challenge is to understand how to use these new technologies effectively for construction communications, waiting again for a new generation of builders to demonstrate their competitive value in the real world.

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