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AEC Hackathon Recap (June 27-28, 2015) June 29, 2015

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry, Construction Industry - Software.
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Update: (July 6, 2015) You can now watch the presentations on the AECHackathon YouTube Channel

Since most of my readers are not on Twitter,  I’ve decided to share the tweets which are jam-packed with emerging technologies in the construction, architecture and engineering sector.  I’ve cherry picked the cream of the crop to keep and put them in the order they occurred to make it easier for you to get a taste of what you missed at the AEC Hackathon and what the value of Twitter is (when you can’t be there in person).  Enjoy!

These Tweets were ramping us up for the start:
People arriving at the AEC Hackathon in LA
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Starting up, teams at work and when the next AEC Hackathon is taking place:
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Presentations Begin:
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And the Winners Are:

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For active links to all these posts, go to live #AEChackathon feed, @AEChackathon Tweets, the AEC Hackathon YouTube Channel or their website 

Now you might realize why Twitter is one of my favorite sources for learning and keeping abreast of emerging technologies.  To read all my construction and tech tweets on Twitter please follow me or just tune in (no Twitter account necessary)

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Arizona Contracting Sales Tax Flow Charts for 2015 March 17, 2015

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry.
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If you’re in construction and perform work in Arizona, the first few months of 2015 have been confusing when it comes to sales tax (know as Transaction Privilege Tax). The recent changes signed into law a few weeks ago by our governor is supposed to ease the burdens on reporting and clarify the rules for the contracting community. After attending a few presentations on the subject by the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) and the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) it is abundantly clear that the construction industry needs help in understanding what is required.

Many professional organizations are sponsoring lunch and learns, all day courses and everything in between. It was nice to stumble onto a resource handout that will ease some of the burden. As a tech geek, flow charts and decision trees clarify not only the best decision, but how you arrived at your choice. The flow charts below will guide you to the correct choice whether your construction project should be treated as a Prime Contract, Maintenance, Repair, Replacement or Alteration (MRRA), or your Contract is Exempt and sales tax is collected at material purchase or tracked by the purchaser and self reported. Thanks go out to BeachFleischman PC for creating these flow charts for both commercial and residential construction contracts.

AZ 2015 Commercial Sales Tax Flow ChartArizona 2015 Residential Construction Sales Tax Flow Chart effective January 1 2015

File these with each project as a supporting document (in case of an audit from the Arizona Department of Revenue) and circle the Yes/No answers you used. Don’t forget to fill in the date in whichever grey box you end up in.  To request a copy of these flow charts, please Email Me Your Contact Info

For advice on any tax interpretations, talk with your Certified Public Accountant or get connected with the CFMA to find a CPA that focuses on construction.

Data Center Cooling is a Hot Topic April 11, 2014

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry, Construction Industry Hardware.
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Having recently toured the Phoenix NAP data center, the invitation to Arizona IT Women’s Network Luncheon on April 8, 2014 caught my eye with the Data Center Cooling topic, something that contractors building these facilities would be interested in.
Data Center Cooling Technologies

With guest speakers, Adam Green and Travis Becker of SEGI (segisalespros.com), we learned that cooling costs typically account for 38% of the energy consumption in a data center. Heat Loads and Hot Spots are the culprits so control of the air flow is critical for energy efficiency. They explained the advantages and disadvantages of hot air vs cool air containment and that both methods can reduce cooling power consumption by about 50%. More can be saved using a Vertical Exhaust Duct System (VEDS), a CPI passive cooling method used to remove 30kw heat loads. Imagine turning off half of your air handlers and you can extrapolate what your project owner’s savings can be. The VEDS system can be designed into a building or retrofitted afterwards. If you design ahead, you won’t have the extra expense of unnecessary air handlers as your Mechanical Contracting Design professional can attest.

Women in IT at ASU SkySongIt was good to meet other women in IT from the City of Chandler, APS, Amkor Technology, MDI Group, Vistx, Wesco, Berk-Tek Leviton and Enterprise Network Solutions. The Arizona IT Women’s Network meets monthly for lunch at ASU Skysong in Scottsdale. Gigabit Passive Optical Networks, Distributed Antenna Systems and Data Center Infrastructure Management Solutions are planned as topics through July. If you would be interested in attending let me know and I’ll send you an invite.

McGraw-Hill: Arizona Construction Economic Outlook Highlights January 9, 2014

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry.
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Employment Rates Nov 2013

Today’s Dodge 2014 Construction Outlook drew 150+ people from the Arizona Builders Alliance, Construction Financial Management Association and the Construction Specifications Institute . The presenter, Cliff Brewis, Senior Director Operations at McGraw-Hill delivered an uplifting economic message for most of the Arizona Construction Industry.

While the unemployment rates for Arizona remain high, their forecast is for unquestionable improvement of 25.5% for 2014. Almost every construction market sector should expect positive growth with Health, Hotel and Single family homes leading the way. Construction Forecast for Arizona Education SectorWhile the education market is growing it is primarily in research facilities rather than higher education or public school districts. The only sluggish markets forecasted with negative growth are highway and multi-residential.

The 2013 construction numbers totaled $10,363,555 and are expected to reach $13,010,293 in 2014. While this remains well off the highs of 2006 with over $24 million the forecast brought smiles to the audience with a promise of recovery in Arizona dramatically outpacing the United States as a whole. Sunny days are here again!

Bluebeam Revu Idea: The Ultimate HomeBuilder As-Built December 3, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in Bluebeam Revu, Construction Industry, Construction Industry - Software.
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Once you’ve completed building your customers dream home you hand over the keys and all the documentation.  Warranties, specifications, owner’s manuals, etc – it’s a stack of paper that may need it’s own filing cabinet.  What if you delighted your home owner with an interactive As-built with the appliances, fixtures and all their documentation embedded on the plans?  The ultimate as-built would deliver a remarkable experience.

PDFs embedded on Home Plans using Bluebeam Revu

PDF icons open up underlying documentation for each appliance or fixture

In the above example the PDF icon is shown with the attachment markup function.

This is easy to create using the Attachment option on the Markups Tab

Once you select the file and click to where you want it embedded on your plan set, you can open the Properties Tab on the Markup and change the ICON to PDF, Show File Name, paperclip, Tag, Graph, Attachment “push pin”, etc.  You could also include a Legend to explain what each symbol/icon represents (warranty, spec, photo, energy efficiency, etc).

Interactive As-Builts make the documentation make sense to everyone.  his is also great in the commercial space where a facilities manager might need to review maintenance instructions, etc.

To share these embedded PDFs on the planset with your homeowner, remember to flatten the document markups before sharing so the hyperlinks work using other PDF programs.  Remember it is likely that your homeowner will use a PDF reader that isn’t Bluebeam.  

Tip:  You can add other Icons to the Icon choices like a camera to symbolize embedded photos.

What do you do to make your as-builts pop?  Please share your ideas in the comments with our readers.

CFMA 2013 Annual Conference: What’s In It for Me? April 26, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in construction accounting software, Construction Industry, Construction Industry - Software.
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CFMA conference attendees plan their next moveEach year the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) gathers the best speakers, trending topics and resources together at their annual conference and exhibition.  This year is no exception as many will make the trek to San Diego to reconnect with friends, accumulate needed CPE credits and have fun.  For many CFMA members they have yet to experience all the hoopla and it’s because they don’t have a compelling reason to attend.  They ask themselves “What’s in it for me?” and fail to make the case to themselves or their employers.  Let’s change that now.

The 2013 CFMA conference is going to be EPIC.  Much like coffee shops that jumpstart creativity and innovation, the conference offers many of the same benefits.  To quote Fast Company in their article “Why you should work from a coffee shop, even when you have an office“,

A change of environment stimulates creativity. Even in the most awesome of offices we can fall into a routine, and a routine is the enemy of creativity. Changing your environment, even just for a day, brings new types of input and stimulation, which in turn stimulates creativity and inspiration.

Another conference takeaway, also holds true and is taken from Wikipedia’s English coffee houses in the 17th and 18th century,

… with the intellectual and cultural history of the Age of Enlightenment: they were an alternate sphere for intellectual thought, supplementary to the university.

Yes, the CFMA conference will get you thinking differently,  spark new ideas and offer an open exchange or an “alternative sphere” of financial best practices and innovation.  Your CFMA conference experience promises to be much different than going to a stuffy AICPA course or attending your local university symposium.

A favorite place for idea exchanges are in the exhibitor hall where you can visit the technology, business and financial leaders in the construction industry.  You should be scouring the booths for new apps and more uses for the software products you use now or will use in the future.  I’m especially interested in the improvements and new product acquisitions that bring more mobility to the workforce.  FYI – there’s a LinkedIn Group you may be interested in joining “Construction Apps, Software and Technology” where there’s more discussion year round.   It’s not all about GAAP, as this conference delivers value for operations with solutions eliminating silos between project management, preconstruction, estimating and BIM too. Many firms bring their Chief Information Office or IT department looking specifically for answers to mobile device management, cloud computing, and managed services.

There are many opportunities for connecting with your peers, discussing your challenges and learning how others have solved these same problems.  Take advantage of all the social events as this is often where the magic happens.  You make more than LinkedIn connections, you make lifelong friendships while meeting the cream of the crop in construction finance.  Think of it this way, you may pay consultants $250+/hr for expert opinions and guidance.  The CFMA conference lunches, networking and social activities provide time for mini consultations with speakers, exhibitors, CPAs, and Insurance experts from across the country.  It’s also a good place to find possible “good fits” for joint venture projects.

Isn’t it time for your needed enlightenment? Don’t sit home while your competition gets rejuvenated, makes new connections, learns new approaches and sees the most innovative technologies being deployed by the leaders in the construction industry.  As for me I’ll be there networking, learning, teaching (did I mention I’m speaking Wednesday morning? – Taming the Email Monster) and sharing a few of the great moments of the conference live, as it happens on Twitter @carolhagen (with a brief recap inside the CFMA Connection cafe should you not be able to attend).

To encourage more members to attend CFMA’s 2013 Annual Conference and Exhibition I’m calling upon past attendees to share their experiences in the comments either on this blog or inside the CFMA Connection Cafe on the CFMA website (you’ll need to login to post there)  Will I see you there?

Mobility in Construction March 15, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
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While Construction Specialty Contractors  have an 87% mobility usage at the jobsite, General Contractors are embracing mobile access in the field operations at an astounding rate according to Erin Joyce at ENR’s FutureTech Conference:

Paul Eric Davis shared this from the conference: “What Owners Want from Tech for Lifecycle: collaboration, communication management, rapid response.”

It’s not just project owners that want this but so does the GC, Architect, Subcontractors and Suppliers.  We deliver this innovation to construction.  Join us on March 21st from Noon to 1pm (pacific), 3-4p (Eastern) for our free Webinar:

General Contractors: Best Practices for Streamlining Operations with Bluebeam Revu and see how collaboration is done in real-time.

NAWIC Block Kids: The Future of Construction February 21, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry.
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The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) has a wonderful program to nurture the future construction industry professional for children in 1st – 6th grade called Block Kids. The Greater Phoenix Chapter recently held their Block Kids competition at the Encanto Elecmentary School with over 50 young builders creatively assembling project models (done without BIM) using 100 building blocks, 1 sheet of construction paper, a piece of tin foil, a rock and a string. As a NAWIC member I was fortunate enough to participate in the judging along with my peers.
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The merits of the projects including the construction designer’s description of what they built and the reason why they built it. These stories involved alarms to keep out thieves, a rock representing the safe where all the cancer donations are stored in the basement of a hospital and a sophisticated system of protecting endangered species from humans and danger. Obviously all the children have vivid imaginations, but I can’t help but think how much of their personal experiences are reflected in their construction project stories.

Here are some of the moments captured during the Block Kids event:
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If you would like to participate by sponsoring this event next year in Phoenix, or in your city across America, please contact your local NAWIC chapter or www.nawic.org

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