Contributor Guidelines

We’re drilling down to the root of all things construction

And looking for content that is both interesting and beneficial to readers

We Look For Articles, and Text/Video or Text/Photos Combinations

That Tell Real Construction Stories

Each Type of story listed below includes an example you can see by clicking on the arrow at the side, or the dots at the bottom.

You Have a Story About How a New Technology Tool Changed a Construction Project

Maybe it’s an app.

Or, a full-blown software package.

It could be a piece of hardware, or a device.

Or maybe it’s new technology that extends or improves existing equipment or tools.

Whatever it is, it changed the outcome of a project and you’re ready to name names, you have results you can share, and you have people lined up who will say a few words for the story (and not mind if their words get published here).

You’ve got photos, or video, and you’ve got enough text to explain how this new tech made a difference on a construction project. All in all, you’ve got a great story to tell that is as interesting to the readers of this blog, as it is to you.

Hit a side arrow, or a dot down below, to see an example of the kind of text we’re talking about.

Project Faces Two Strikes, But Still Manages a Home Run

When the folks at Urban Designers imagined demolition and reconstruction of a downtown building, they were initially stumped about sequencing the phases. They faced crucial overlaps between the foundation work and tie-ins to existing utilities. The timeframes just didn’t match up or work out to meet the owner’s project timelines. They were off by almost a month. But, one contractor had an answer.

Tech To The Rescue

Kaena Construction had faced a similar challenge before and had already come up with an answer. Their people used a software product called Compressario that applied algorithms to scheduling. The program calculated hundreds of scenarios based on the available dates for demolition and utilities connections, and applied results to the expected project completion. What it found was a very small change to several activities would make the difference by delivering the project within just a week of the owner’s desired completion date.

Ooops, Yet Another Challenge

Kaena’s people got the project and put the plan in motion. But, a few things had changed since bidding, not the least of which was a move by city officials to start upgrades to utilities in the area. Suddenly, utilities connections were in jeopardy and once again threatening the project’s completion date. Kaena’s team reimagined various scenarios on activity completion dates and then fed new data to Compressario. This time, a major change to foundation phases delivered the project within five days of the owner’s desires. It also meant the team could build out the rear of the building in record time, saving budget money for some much needed lighting upgrades that would reduce the building’s operating costs.

Two Wins

Maurice Flappingtarp, Kaena’s project manager on the project, said that before using Compressario he had to massage the schedule for weeks, and then cross his fingers on similar complexing scheduling dilemmas. Now, he said, not only is he more confident about project outcomes but company bids are more successful too.

Readability Score: Passive Sentences – 0%; Reading Grade Level – 10th; Human Interest – 42% (Highly Interesting)

(This is a fictional story using fictional company names, a fictional person quoted, and fictional product name to illustrate one way to develop stories about new construction technologies.)

You Want to Tell People About a Construction Project

Maybe it’s getting started.

Maybe it’s underway.

Or maybe it’s finished.

  • You’ve got photos or video showing people who work/ed on the project doing what they do.
  • You’ve got some words explaining the project.
  • You’ve got some perceptions/insights from project participants telling the what, why, and how of the project
  • When you look at all that you’ve got about the project, you think it would make a story that people in construction would sit up and take notice of.

Hit a side arrow, or a dot down below, to see an example of the kind of text we’re talking about.

Cropper Sandwiches New Hotel Between a Rock and a Drop Off

It was a cold, rainy morning when Miles Dwerryhouse, superintendent for Cropper Construction, noticed a definite drop in activity outside his job trailer window. Dwerryhouse knew the signs well — the end of another project. As he stared at the clean lines of the completed hotel, his mind went back in time to the very beginnings.

It was going to be a tough one he remembered thinking, as he surveyed the tight building lot. Not a square yard to spare, a rock cliff at the rear and a drop off on the front. Plus, he was in new territory, unfamiliar with the subs and vendors. Erik Cropper, the project manager, had confided in him earlier that he almost wished he hadn’t bid it. But, the project would offer some valuable experience, and help make a name for the company in handling projects of that type. All in all they were both as excited, as they were apprehensive.

To kick it off right, Dwerryhouse took the better part of a week meeting with suppliers and subs, making sure everyone had adequate plans and an early schedule to review. Then, the team hashed out the conflicts and sticking points on the way to a workable schedule. Cropper spent a lot of time with the corporate architects fielding incoming questions from the team so everyone understood not just the specs, but the spirit and intent of the design. Dwerryhouse spent two days before the site work began, notifying nearby residences and businesses about the project, and about a few times when noise and vibrations would be unavoidable, but brief.

The day site work started, the first order of business was stabilizing the rock face. A crew dangled from ropes, meticulously chipping out loose stones and removing rocks that weren’t solid. Day three saw crews setting concrete barriers at the base while others used a pile driver to set steel supports for architectural webbing. From that point on, the project’s tone was set for smooth sailing, mostly.

In talking about it when it was all over, Dwerryhouse said the greatest challenge was accommodating all the participants on such a small property. For example, if everyone came to work in their own vehicle, there wouldn’t have been room to build. So, early on, he and the crew leaders worked out a schedule to bus workers in from a nearby park and ride. He said they also had to arrange container storage offsite for the trades to use because they were buying materials in bulk, and there wan’t enough room for on site storage. In thinking back, Dwerryhouse says he’s pleased with how it all worked out, and feels pride about overseeing the construction of such a unique hotel.

The Torino Modesta Inn, designed by Blanche and Associates, is a one-of-a kind business class hotel with a touch of glamor. Each room is juxtaposed to the next so they all have private views of the surrounding countryside, and ocean in the distance. The natural rock interior walls, waterfalls and covered stream meandering through the reception and dining areas brings the outside in, and adds to the tranquil interior design. The restaurant serves chef-inspired fare while the lounge features nightly entertainment.

(This is all fiction, including the names.)

Readability Index: Reading Grade Level – 9th; Passive Sentences – 7%; Human Interest – 49% (Highly Interesting)

You Want to Share How To Information

Maybe you have some tips and tricks that others can use to:

  • Improve scheduling

  • Make QC more consistent

  • Manage people better

  • Work more collaboratively

  • Improve relationships with project participants

  • Select better subs, equipment or materials

  • Find more work

  • Improve their marketing

  • Manage projects better

Hit a side arrow, or a dot down below, to see an example of the kind of text we’re talking about.

Use Better Estimates and Better Schedules to Tame Costs

If you want to tame rising costs then do it with better estimating and better scheduling. When you estimate, account for materials and labor costs increases by looking at the historical record and the current cost growth. Popular sources include the Engineering News Record Construction Cost Index, Building Costs Index and Materials Costs Index. Turner Construction Company publishes the Turner Building Cost Index and the Census Bureau puts out detailed Producer Price Indexes.

You can also follow some best practices to increase estimating accuracy and make project costs more predictable. First, make sure to have qualified and trained people doing the estimates. To make up for changes, incorporate a process where any scope revisions go through approvals. And, you should always assess estimate accuracy.

Other strategies to consider:

  • Factor in scope change so you have mapped out options in advance
  • Allow enough estimating time
  • Use 100% bid documents
  • Involve a cost consultant
  • Revise estimates as the scope changes

Strategies for better scheduling:

  • Carefully review the work breakdown structure to make sure you haven’t missed a step
  • Check for successor activities without predecessors
  • Check for inappropriate lead and lag times
  • Firm up third party dependencies so you have more certainty
  • Collaborate with all participants on the final schedule

Control labor costs by first employing high quality labor, and taking care of them:

  • Compensate adequately
  • Pay on time
  • Know your people, and their aspirations, and make sure they have ongoing training and the best tools you can afford
  • Help people understand their promotion path

Readability: Grade Level – 12th; Passive Sentences – 0%; Human Interest – 40% (Highly Interesting)

You Have a Product or Service You'd Like Construction People to Know About

This type of story is for all those things that aren't digital or computer technology. Maybe they use tech, or maybe they have tech aspects, but by themselves they aren't tech. They are:

  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Lighting
  • Hand Tools
  • Construction Services like estimating, planning or project management
  • Heavy Equipment
  • Temporary jobsite structures like job trailers and temporary storage
  • Building Modules
  • Prefabricated building components

Hit one of the side arrows, or one of the dots down below to see an example of the type of text we're looking for.

Marvalux Windows Defeat the Cold North Wind

Owner Gord Permelia knew his new warehouse would need some extra special attention when selecting glazing. Topping the list was of course, durability, but aesthetics were also important since he saw the warehouse as having multiple uses. He needed to please as many potential types of tenants as possible. 

The folks at Permelia's architects, Malandra Industrial, decided to enliven the east face of the building with casements to take advantage of morning light and the views to suburbia. But, the northern exposure was a special problem because of the vast flat land offering no wind breaks to the fierce northern cold. Here, they might have settled for no windows at all, but they had a better idea. They scheduled Marvalux triple pane clerestories set just below the top plate to allow plenty of light without massive heat loss.

Wilmert Construction's crew, the contractor on the job, had set clerestory windows many times, but the detailing in this case was unique. Each window would step down along the gable end, staying horizontal to the ground. Wilmert's folks created a pattern out of angle iron to use when laying out the framing that would support the windows.The technique worked wonders in keeping labor costs and material waste down. And, it sped up the process, beating the estimate by nearly a day.

Permelia says the windows are performing as expected and by using heavy shades on timers during the nighttime the installation is highly efficient. [The visual support for this type of article might include architectural drawings of not just the building and elevation, but maybe also of the special model the contractor used for installing the windows. Window details would also fit.]

What's above is all fiction, but yours shouldn't be.

Readability Grade: Reading Grade Level - 10th; Passive Sentences - 0%; Human Interest - 40% (Highly Interesting)

Please submit articles that are complete and accurate. We will edit accepted articles for active sentence and paragraph structure, efficiency with words, topical focus, SEO, subject matter, clarity, necessary fixes to grammar, spelling and punctuation, and readability. If the article requires too much editing, we won’t accept it. Construction Informer follows the Associated Press Style Guide for styling, and it makes publication quicker and easier if your articles use that style.

Readability

Readability is very important so we analyze each article with the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. Here are the writers guidelines readability goals:

  • Passive sentences of 10% or less
  • Reading grade level between 8th and 12th grades
  • Human interest of 35% or greater

We Don’t Publish

  • Previously published articles
  • Previously published infographics
  • Home improvement, or articles for homeowners
  • Machine-written articles
  • Advertisements parading as articles

About Links

If you write about something technical you should include links to the sources you used. We consider each outbound link on its own merits, and on how well it supports the article. Sometimes we remove links because they point to sources that aren’t closely related to this industry. In many cases we publish outbound links as “nofollow.”  When including links please do so from the perspective of offering additional information and/or to identify sources of information included in the article. We won’t publish links to  simply pass page rank.  We encourage a link to your professional writer’s page. Please also include a short bio at the end of the article.

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