The construction industry is dynamic, fast-paced, and challenging. You’ll need to stay on your game to succeed as a business owner. Construction contracting generally involves working with clients to complete construction projects and sometimes as a sub-contractor helping to fill a smaller niche within a larger job. As such, you may have limited control over Read more
The construction industry is dynamic, fast-paced, and challenging. You’ll need to stay on your game to succeed as a business owner. Construction contracting generally involves working with clients to complete construction projects and sometimes as a sub-contractor helping to fill a smaller niche within a larger job.
As such, you may have limited control over the final scope of the project and how much money you stand to make. Without the right coverage in place, this could leave your business vulnerable. Contracting is a risky business, which is why contractors need protection.
1. Have the Right Insurance in Place
Contractors need to get the right insurance coverage in place before they start working on a project. Without insurance, your business will pay for damages and injuries during work. Make sure you have general liability insurance that covers your business’s operations.
If you are involved in building a new home, you’ll want construction insurance. Homeowners’ insurance will not cover any contractors working on your property. If you own heavy equipment, get the proper insurance for it.
You should also have workers’ compensation insurance and surety bond insurance. This coverage ensures ethical business practices and compliance with building codes. You’ll want to find an insurance company that specializes in contractor insurance.
2. Stay Current on Training and Education
You should seek out training and education opportunities that will help you to improve your business. Don’t just focus on traditional education, but also on staying up to date on the latest technology and best practices.
You can do this by joining industry trade associations. These associations will help you stay connected with other contractors and the latest information; you should also consider taking classes and attending workshops. There are many training and education opportunities available to help build your skills.
Check with your state’s licensing board to see if they offer any training programs. Training and education opportunities can help you improve your time management skills, paperwork processes, and client communication skills.
3. Run a Background Check on Potential Employees
Workers play a critical role in the success of your contracting business. You must maintain a safe work environment; it starts with hiring the best possible employees. You can screen potential employees by conducting a background check.
It will help you gauge an applicant’s character and potential risk to your business. It can also help you avoid hiring somebody who has questionable work history. Make sure to conduct thorough and accurate background checks.
Background check services are available to help you with this process. Also, talk to your insurance company about any coverage they offer for hiring employees. Some insurance companies will provide coverage against negligent hiring.
4. Maintain a Strong Payment System
Contractors rely on getting paid for their work. A strong payment system is essential to keeping cash flowing smoothly. You should have a payment system in place before you start working on a project. Some contractors prefer a payment system that is a percentage of the project’s cost.
Other contractors prefer a fixed-price system. Before you choose a payment method, you need to consider how much experience and expertise you have working on that particular type of project. You should work with your client to establish a payment plan.
You should also create a payment plan that is realistic for your business. Take into account how much work is left to be completed, any costs involved in the project, your employees’ time, and other expenses.
5. Utilize Technology to Stay Protected
Protecting your data, equipment and employees goes beyond a strong payment system. Contractors can use technology to stay protected. Make sure to have a data backup system that protects your information during a disaster.
Modern contracting involves technology, so make sure all your hardware and software are up to date. It includes computers, software, cell phones, and other devices used in your business.
It will help decrease frustration and provide a better experience for your clients. Also, using technology in construction has made it much easier for contractors to stay in contact with their clients.
Much has changed in the construction industry over the years. Technology, insurance, and training are just a few examples. Fortunately, all of these changes have the same underlying theme; better protection for all parties involved. As a contractor, it is important to stay protected and keep up-to-date on industry trends to ensure the longevity of your business.
Introduction Construction equipment is a vital component of any construction project. It helps to perform tasks necessary for construction projects, such as moving materials, preparing the soil, and building. You might already know that it’s essential to choose the right equipment when purchasing a new piece of construction equipment. But have you ever thought about Read more
Construction equipment is a vital component of any construction project. It helps to perform tasks necessary for construction projects, such as moving materials, preparing the soil, and building. You might already know that it’s essential to choose the right equipment when purchasing a new piece of construction equipment.
But have you ever thought about buying used construction equipment? There are many advantages to buying used over new, including reduced costs, lower operating costs, and increased resale value. This article will share some of the key factors you should consider when purchasing used construction equipment.
Not only can buying used construction equipment save you money on new machine purchases, but it also helps to reduce your carbon footprint and improve the environment because less machinery is being manufactured and transported from other parts of the world. For these reasons, along with many others listed below, now may be an ideal time for people to buy a piece or two of their own!
Things you should consider before buying used construction equipment
1. Consider Your Specific Requirements
When you consider buying used construction equipment, the first thing that needs to be done is to understand exactly what type of projects your company performs. This will help narrow down which pieces of equipment have a better fit with your business and make it much easier for you to find the right pieces of equipment.
The more specific your business requirements, the more likely it is that you can find a better fit between what you are looking for and precisely what used construction equipment is available. For trade professionals, this will help you to narrow down what types of machines are needed for your industry.
2. Evaluate the Service History
Once you know what type of equipment your company needs and how specific the requirements are for it, then consider evaluating the service history. This is a very important factor when purchasing used construction equipment as most machines have varying amounts of hours on them.
The older or more utilized some piece of machinery may be, there will obviously be less wear and tear on it which means that if anything does break down in use, you will not need to replace any equipment immediately.
3. Inspect Important Systems
When you buy a house, you check every aspect, such as the window size, wall colors, or the type of flooring, which is made of polished concrete or hardwood. Similarly, before purchasing used construction equipment it is important to do a thorough inspection of the machine in order to ensure that everything will function properly and efficiently.
If something doesn’t work correctly, then this means that your company might need more than one piece of machinery or could even be forced into buying new machines due to a lack of functionality.
It’s because all these factors are so important that most companies like yours would want a closer look at each individual piece before making any final decisions.
4. Consider Operating Hours
Construction equipment that is used frequently can be a great asset to your company in the long run, but if it’s not something you actually need then perhaps this isn’t the best option for you.
If however, most of your operations revolve around heavy-duty machinery such as cranes or excavators, then these machines will require much more maintenance time than those which are less intensive on labor and materials.
In addition to using up resources like fuel oil, these powerful machines will also require frequent repairs and replacements which can often be very costly.
For trade professionals, this can often mean that the longer you own a piece of machinery, the more money it will cost to run. Because of these factors, construction equipment which is used on a regular basis is much more likely to be sold during your first year in operation.
5. Know the Warning Signs
Despite the fact that construction machinery does not need to be taken care of as carefully and diligently as other types of machines, it is still important for you to know what signs can help you determine whether or not a purchase would actually benefit your company.
If there are any loud noises coming from the machine all day long then this might mean something’s wrong. While this may seem like nothing more than normal everyday wear and tear, but in terms of purchasing used equipment, this is a major red flag you should look out for.
6. Choose a Reputable Manufacturer
When you’re buying used construction equipment, make sure that the manufacturer of the unit is reputable. Many companies will not be honest about their machines as well as any problems they may have had with them in order to get rid of them at a reduced price.
This can lead to serious safety issues for both your employees and customers alike which could result in reputations being damaged for years or even decades after the fact.
7. Purchase Through Trusted Dealer
Products used in construction are subject to specific codes and regulations that govern their use. For example, when building a house, it’s essential to use the proper materials, or you could potentially risk giving your customer unsafe products which could harm them.
To avoid these types of problems, we recommend purchasing from a trusted dealer rather than doing an internet search for the best prices. It is essential to buy construction trade professional equipment from the manufacturer or a trusted dealer if you are looking for an affordable and reliable option.
The advantages of buying through an authorized dealer include renting the equipment for a discounted price, having access to service and parts that are readily available, and being confident in the quality of their products.
8. Check the Fluids
The most common problem with used construction equipment is there’s a leak. You must determine how much of the fluid leaks and where it leaked from. You should also note when this happened so you can avoid future problems like that in the first place by ensuring your used machines are maintained properly or replaced if possible.
Some fluids will dry up over time, but some cannot be flushed out to prevent leaking at other places for example transmission lines or bearings, etc. Look for grease on the drive shafts. Many machines do not come with it from the factory, so you know how well maintained your machine is and if there are problems of any kind before it gets to you or yourself.
Many trade professionals recommend using an oil additive and have found that it has greatly improved their machines. If you can’t find a used machine with the fluids intact, they recommend having them flushed out to ensure no leaks are occurring in the first place or from there on out.
Buying used construction equipment can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By reading this blog post, you’ll learn how to evaluate a used piece of equipment before buying it and what things you should consider before making your purchase.
A well-loved piece of equipment can often prove to be the most reliable option, so if you are looking for a used construction machine that is used occasionally, then this would be an excellent way to go.
However, we recommend purchasing through a trusted dealer as they will have all of your needs covered and provide consistent quality products that come with warranties. If you are in the market for used construction equipment, we hope that this blog post will help guide you in the right direction!
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This edition of “They Said It” concentrates on prefabrication in construction of plumbing and hydronic systems. After attending numerous conventions and seminars over the course of the past six months, one topic resonated: prefab is the future of construction. We talked with industry experts from across the board—contractors and manufacturers—to share viewpoints on the benefits Read more
This edition of “They Said It” concentrates on prefabrication in construction of plumbing and hydronic systems. After attending numerous conventions and seminars over the course of the past six months, one topic resonated: prefab is the future of construction. We talked with industry experts from across the board—contractors and manufacturers—to share viewpoints on the benefits of prefabrication.
What are some of the major benefits of prefabrication?
Robert O’Brien, owner of Technical Heating Co. LLC, Mt. Sinai, NY.
Prefab speeds up installation time, shaves hours, and, quite often, a day from installation time. This is huge since all we do is replacements and not many homeowners want to spend a night or two without heat, particularly in the winter. We do in one day that others would take two days. Also, it is aesthetically pleasing, offers better serviceability. It has become a signature and a selling point.
Barry Campbell, vice president of marketing, Aquatherm
Prefabrication can save time and money on the jobsite, as well as help ensure consistent, high quality assembly. Prefabrication services allow a manufacturer to serve as an essential extension of a contractor’s team, easing the workload and helping a project meet its deadlines.
Time is money—and nowhere is that more evident than in today’s construction industry. Since plumbing and mechanical profit margins are tighter than ever, contractors need solutions that separate them from their competition. A good manufacturing partner that offers prefabrication services can add value and help make a contractor’s job easier.
By having systems prefabricated and shipped directly to the jobsite, the labor savings compared to onsite fabrication can be significant, as prefabricated parts can simply be moved into place and connected together to form a system. In addition, safety can be improved by removing the fabrication work from the jobsite and outsourcing it to the manufacturer. The prefabrication process can be as simple or as extensive as a customer and a project requires.
Aquatherm, for example, can take a simple hand drawing and turn it into an intricate digital design document. Or, the company’s extensive engineering expertise and fabrication skill can be extended as a service to help show a customer the best way of designing a mechanical system and providing complete fabrication drawings. The Aquatherm team brings an array of building information modeling (BIM) tools to the table, including a full Revit library and a team with the skills to use it.
Shane Fink, owner, Triple H Hydronics, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
One of the most overlooked benefits is having detailed layouts and extensive system planning done well before construction ever starts. Many systems today are designed “as you go” in a mechanical room, and there are many mistakes made in the haste of designing and building the system at the same time.
Another major benefit is time savings. We are able to help design and prefabricate the systems, sometimes before the building structure is even standing. By having a well-executed layout and design, we are able to cut time on site by more that 50%. Many times this saves money on temporary heating costs, as well.
Another great benefit is workmanship and attention to detail. When we are in a controlled environment with all of our tools at our fingertips and not in the elements—cold winters—we are able to take the time required to do an excellent job. In the field there are many pressures to “get it done” and use what you have, so sometimes that attention to detail can slip away.
One of my favorite benefits would be quality testing. In our shop, we are able to test every system before it leaves from the loading docks. We have to ability to hydro-test the systems @ 5 times working pressure, to ensure the systems are leak-free. We are also able to electrically test the systems for proper operation and pre-program settings to save time and money in the field.
For custom-built hydronic panels, for instance, take me through the process. Are you onsite consulting with the client? (Measurements, heat load calcs, etc.)
O’Brien: We make site visits to take measurements, size boiler, water heater and accessories. We take pics to facilitate panel construction, and most importantly, sell the job!
Campbell: Customers contact their Aquatherm representative to initiate the process, then the Aquatherm Design & Fabrication team works directly with the customer to obtain drawings and walks them through all the steps necessary to deliver final drawings for approval. The pieces are then meticulously created and shipped to the jobsite.
Whether it’s a detailed spool, large diameter elbows, or complex manifolds, Aquatherm offers a dedicated and experienced professional staff and a vast collection of high-tech design and heat fusion equipment to create it. The company also produces unitary spool fabrications that can help reduce a project’s bottom line.
Prefabrication with Aquatherm often is possible where it would not be with other materials, as Aquatherm pipe is considerably lighter than metal pipe. This results in an easier prefabrication process and simplified transportation to the jobsite.
A proper heat fusion connection results in a joint as strong as the pipe itself. Additionally, PP-R is incredibly sturdy, yet slightly flexible. So after Aquatherm prefabrication services has meticulously created a custom spool, it will be carefully shipped to a jobsite anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, typically resulting in significant material and/or labor savings. Often, the prefabbed pieces are simply flanged into place.
Aquatherm’s design coordination and fabrication process cab help ensure a smooth job. With an extensive list of past projects, Aquatherm’s fabrication services team will find a solution to fit any project’s needs. For more information, www.aquatherm.com.
Fink: Most of our clients have either worked with us for years, have been referred by another client or find us on social media. In most cases the process is the same. First we start with the blueprints. Our clients send over architectural drawings of the building proposed. We do a heat loss/heat gain calculation and start working with the client to determine their needs. This usually involves laying out zones for heating, determining domestic hot water consumption demands, ventilation requirements and other items such as snowmelt, heated towel bars, pools, spas, etc. Once we determine what the client requires, we complete a loop layout for all the floor heating so that they can be submitted with the heat loss calculations and building permit applications.
At this point an estimate is produced for the manufacture of the hydronic heating panel. Once the client has approved the estimate, we go to work on the design of the panel itself. The panel design has many considerations and we do our best to ensure a smooth installation. This design includes boiler/venting locations, condensate drain locations, floor or wall mounted boilers, which side of the pre-fabricated panel will the boilers be, will the panel be shipped in one piece, two or more. This helps us as we start to physically lay out the system on a work bench. At this time we have hand drawn boiler panel layout with the basic information. Pipe size, hardware etc. Now we can build the system. Most systems we can build in a few days. Some of the simple panels can be built in a day or less.
After the panel has been built and polished, we start the wiring and controls. This can sometimes range from a couple hours to a week or more, depending on the size and complexity of the system. After all the wiring is done and sensors are attached, we can test the panel. Testing is always done with two or more people present. This helps to ensure that the entire checklist is done correctly. If the tests all check out, the panel is dressed with any loose accessories, labeled and serial numbered and is ready for shipping. For more info on Triple H Hydronics, www.triplehhydronics.com.
With the introduction of super-efficient, variable speed, ECM-driven Delta-T circulators for residential use, I’ve taken a keen interest in selectively applying them for use in radiant heating applications. The results have exceeded my expectations. Bear with me just a bit and I’ll explain what I found out after several installations. As just a bit of Read more
With the introduction of super-efficient, variable speed, ECM-driven Delta-T circulators for residential use, I’ve taken a keen interest in selectively applying them for use in radiant heating applications. The results have exceeded my expectations. Bear with me just a bit and I’ll explain what I found out after several installations.
As just a bit of background, I’m . . .
But before I jump into the an explanation of my “study,” I’ll add that I’ve also been aware but haven’t yet tried to use non-ECM, variable Delta-T circs. I know they’re out there, but I’ve simply not tried them.
I’ve always appreciated and prefer Delta-T systems. And, by using a Delta-T circ with a super-efficient ECM motor, you get the best of both worlds – the best pumping strategy with greatest efficiency.
With a ΔT variable speed circulator, the pump varies its speed to maintain the designed-for ΔT. That means the Delta T will always be 20 degrees – or whatever you dial it in for (5 -50°) – even with heating load or outdoor temperature changes.
A circulator changing its speed based on ΔP, however – whether the ΔP is dialed in based on estimated system head loss or is automatically selected – will vary its speed to maintain a fixed system pressure differential. The system ΔT will fluctuate, often decreasing.
How’s a reduced ΔT affect the system? Consider the impact on a modulating-condensing boiler. If the system is designed for a 20°F ΔT, but gets only a 12-15°F ΔT, the amount of run-time the boiler spends below the point of flue gas condensation will be affected.
If the boiler is supplying heat to radiators, and the boiler’s reset control is telling it to fire to a high limit of 142°F on a 20°F day, a ΔP circ programmed on an estimated system head loss may wind up sending 130°F water back to the boiler. That’s right at the condensing point, making the boiler work at, say, 86% AFUE.
But a circulator programmed to deliver a 20°F ΔT will send water back to the boiler at 122°F, creating more condensate, allowing a boiler to hum along at 89% AFUE.
For the jobs I’ve been doing lately, we opted to see how far and effectively the ECM ΔT circs could perform as a stand-alone system circulator, co-joined with zone valves to govern flow to any number of hydronic zones.
Having now designed and installed several oil-fired ΔT-based distribution systems initially Taco’s VT2218 circs, coupled with Zone Sentry zone valves, we’ve monitored and serviced them for close to two years now. They all live in variously-sized and aged single-family homes, from a 1,300 sq ft 50 year old house, to a 2,800 sq ft 10 year old home. All are identically-sized systems within our 7,000 degree-day New Hampshire zone.
There’s an on-going discussion within our trade community about AFUEs, particularly in what they do not measure related to system performance. “Idle time” or “stand-by” losses are logically presumed to be non-contributory and detractive. Focusing only on boiler AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) as an accurate depiction of system efficiency is flawed.
AFUE is only one of many indications of system performance. Most heating systems are affected by a wide range of variables. We also learn, by reading about how these tests are performed, that accuracy is very difficult to achieve, so we’ve done some research of our own. And, yes – inconsistency plagues even the best attempts to achieve accuracy; we confirmed it through our own field tests.
From our observations, there are five key elements contributing to total system energy efficiency:
- The boiler (heat engine) energy conversion efficiency or AFUE.
- The physical attributes of the specific boiler complimentary to system operation.
- Efficiently moving heated water to the zone distribution point(s).
- The effective matching of radiation elements to heating demand.
- The control algorithm(s) to match energy creation with varying system demands.
All of our initial efforts have been with oil-fired hydronic systems and is the focus of this writing. However, much of this effort – what we’ve learned – is applicable to other-fueled hydronic systems.
The ability to vary the output (energy creation rate) of heating equipment plays an important role. This has been achieved in gas-fired boilers by “modulating” combustion with sophisticated valving and controls. Typically they adjust from 20 to 100% of capacity – from “idle” to “full speed,” using an automotive analogy.
But there’s a challenge: direct modulation of oil-fired systems isn’t feasible under normal circumstances. A fixed (capacity) firing rate via pressurized, nozzle induced fuel atomization is the norm. The only option is to adjust the operating temperature of an oil-fired hydronic boiler with controls to meet heat demand. This is reasonably well managed with modern “cold-start” boiler aquastats, external temperature sensors, etc.
Referring back to our five (5) elements to total system efficiency, circulation is number three (3) on the list, but really is the foundation of any hydronic system improvement. Taco reports that their system “Delta-T” circulator-only swaps yield up to 15% fuel and 85% electrical usage reductions.
Unfortunately, we do not have the benefit of data recording equipment, so our observations are admittedly empirical; that is: based on and verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.
I’ll point out, though, that we have had the benefit of developing and operating our personal dual-fuel (oil-wood) hydronic system for the past 40 years that features a wholly convective inter-system loop (no circulator) and manually controllable convective zones.
No electricity; no problem. This experience reflects into our near-boiler piping configuration that optimizes hydronic convection, complimenting and idealizing Delta-T delivery. Ironically it typically reduces floor space, piping, valving, wiring and controls to maximize element no. 3 as well.
The implication in our AFUE boiler attribute argument (element no. 2) appears to be the benefits of a high-mass boiler as related to overall system operation. Our boiler-of-choice has been the Weil-McLain Ultra Oil with the Beckett NX Burner for the past ten years. (Only one “no heat” service call, a failed Honeywell Aquastat. W/M has since replaced it with the Hydrolevel 3250-Plus.) It also happens to be “The Heavyweight Champion” at over 600 lbs for a 3-Section, 100KBTUH, 87% Triple-Pass Boiler. A 30+ year economic life would not be unreasonable from our experience with this and other oil Weils.
Our observations are:
- Dramatically reduced burner cycling, extending boiler and component service lives. “This thing seldom runs” is the first customer observation “and is so quiet.” (Compared to their prior unit, obviously.)
- Multiple individual zones cycling between burner cycles, drawing from thermal mass storage (iron and water).
- Reduced average boiler operating temperatures.
- A pressure-fired burner seems to stabilize operation under particularly “cold-chimney” conditions, a frequent event in our “frosty north” external chimneys.
- “Cold-shocking” seems to be a non-issue considering 3250-Plus operation and system circulator fail-mode convection.
- The “close-coupled” HTP SuperStor Ultra acts as an integrated boiler protection device, being the closest path in fail-mode convection.
Our fourth element, radiation has become particularly accentuated both by our personal and Delta-T Beta System experiences. Our “Beta” Customer called in May to advise that his home was gradually cooling and noted the Viridian VT2218 was flashing and indicating an error code, but he had adequate DHW. Upon arrival all (3) Zone Sentry Lamps were ON (2 Heating & 1 DHW) and supply lines were at system temperature. After a few minutes the DHW Zone Lamp went out and remained so, indicating demand satisfaction. The main level above return was above ambient @ approx. 110/120°F. The second upper level was at ambient.
Note: We do not use a flow-check valve in our system circulator or beyond. The Zone Sentries directly control all heat demands.
This “Beta” is the 10 year old, 2800 sq. ft., well-constructed and insulated 2-storey residential home in our field profile. A failed steel-plate boiler was replaced with our High Mass Delta-T System. The main floor radiation is a single ¾”-piped series perimeter baseboard loop that we would have split-looped, given the option. The second upper level is likewise an up-and-return ¾”-piped perimeter loop. It has a full-height 20 ft + exterior chimney that exhibited sooty startups.
For reference the system was installed in late December, 2014 and a follow-up in early January noted the following:
- Exterior (daytime) temperature was 15°F.
- The UO-3 Boiler & Beckett NX cycled 4 minutes an hour total.
- The main zone demanded twice an hour.
- The upper zone demanded one and one-half per hour.
- There were no DHW demands in the total three hour observation period.
Taco was advised of their VT2218 failure and approved an immediate warrantee replacement. The defective unit was directly returned for autopsy and Taco determined a “fluke” electrical component failure. The experience nonetheless was a blessing in gaining some very useful field data. These and other field issue notes were passed on to Taco, and in particular startup and ramp-up issues reflected in the “BumbleBee” HEC-2 and the Viridian VT2218. Taco advises some of these are incorporated into the ramping profiles of their VT2218-HY1-FC1A-01, re-released on 9-1-2015.
Thus far we have seen no purpose in deviating from the default settings of neither the Hydrolevel 3250-Plus (on the Weil-McLain UO Boiler) nor the Taco VT2218 Circulator Logic in Delta-T Mode. Despite being only passively coupled, they seamlessly satisfy heating demands. There is obviously some damping effect from the high-mass boiler. We likewise utilize no external control logic or relays, simplifying wiring and diagnosis.
Physical radiation and configuration has been outside our scope of development, yet ultimately completes the heating “package”. If our concern is finite efficiency then radiation schemes beyond basic series and split loops must be addressed. Ultimately it’s the market’s call — the more finite the distribution and control, the greater the materials and labor consumption, and the system life-cycle operating costs.
Residential Delta-T Hydronic Distribution is not only an evolutionary but as we express a revolutionary process from our developmental experience. It will benefit any FHW system in degree, and thus not a question of if it will become generally appreciated and applied, but when. Adding thermal mass into the equation further enhances system performance in our humble opinion.
The “AFUE War” between boiler manufacturers and their installers has been substantially nullified with the addition of the enhanced fuel and electrical hydronic distribution efficiencies provided by Delta-T Technology. With Taco Engineering concurrence we will be claiming the most efficient heating system from combustion to distribution points on the market, as installed.
To employ our quip, “We are putting ‘Automatic Transmissions’ on Boilers.” When will our trade brothers follow?
Author: Paul D. Mercier, Sr. d-b-a Mercier Engineering