App Graveyard - Keep your Distance

As of March 2017, there were an estimated 2.8 million apps for Android users (and 2.2 million in the Apple App store). Apps are everywhere, and they are being built and launched every day.

"There's an app for that" is part of our language today, so much so that even that phase is now trademarked by Apple.

The construction software space has been inundated with apps and specialized construction software that promises you the world in exchange for a one time purchase or monthly subscription. You'll never be able to test them all - you don't have enough time on the clock!  To winnow the field, you'll have to be very specific in your search, discover what they don't offer that is critical to you, and short list those apps/systems that best fit your needs.

Having been around since 2001, we've seen construction software companies rise and fall. Some were great systems with a decent user base and rich feature set, but still, they went by way of the dodo bird. And with their demise, a slew of builders, contractors and specialty trades were left scrambling to retool with a new system.

I recently went through a list of some construction websites that I had saved, and thought it would be good to see where they are now in their development, or whether they still had a pulse. It didn't take long to see that many are history.

While not an exhaustive list, here is a sampling:

  • www.hammerati.com
  • www.constructionprofitsystems.com (some videos still exist)
  • www.mytrades.ca
  • www.ebidroom.com
  • www.buildlinks.com (these guys started with $2.5M in funding back in the day, ouch!)
  • www.myct.com.au
You can search on each of these, and find some remnants online of what they were, what they promised, but the sites more or less are down... for good.

Other sites are dying on the vine. They still exist, but haven't been updated in years. 

  • www.constructionbusinessonline.com for example. No updates since 2014.

One "project management suite" in particular got my interest. We'll call it ABC software. The founder of ABC subscribed me to their list back in 2011 so I received all their marketing pieces about how their system was the best, and it would save me time and money, and do everything for the contractor.

While ABC's website is still up, the founder has moved on to another company (quick check on his Linkedin profile), their blog hasn't been touched since 2013 and their last Facebook post was early 2014. So... all those customers that were "running more productive and effective businesses using the [ABC] construction software suite" - where do they go for support, or who do they call when they can't access their data anymore?

I called one of their "customers" today and he confirmed my suspicions. It all started out great, but in the end, they couldn't reach anyone at the company, and finally were forced to move on to another software system.

Do you want to take that risk with your data? Your business? And quite frankly, your time which you never get back?

Three of our "veteran" customers who opt to subscribe annually and renewed this month for another year of service (a multi family home builder, factory built home manufacturer, and custom home builder) have been with BuildIT now for 14, 13, and 8 years respectively. They have been using and benefiting from BuildIT longer than most of our competitors have been in existence !!

So, when you are deciding on software, you should pay your respects at the App Graveyard before choosing to bet on Software X that just made its debut and hasn't got a track record yet. Then take BuildIT for a test drive and see why we're the rock solid choice.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

Scheduling for ALL types of contractors

I was reminded again today of how broad a reach BuildIT has in terms of our customer base.

While we do have residential builders and renovators using the system with success, we also cater to a variety of other contractors and specialty trades who come to us frustrated by the popular options out there that are overkill or not really applicable to their unique needs.

Once such contractor in Nevada is a fibre optic cable installer, who does work for some large organizations. What was important to them was real time sharing of scheduled tasks, progress, and related files... and they found the perfect fit in BuildIT.

In our customer's own words...

Our company has used BuildIT for the past couple years for managing job schedules and keeping our people, and our customers, on the same page. In particular, the Nevada Department of Transportation staff who we liaise with on several contracts have found BuildIT highly effective in providing visibility into where we are at daily on any given job. The site staff at Swinerton Renewable Energy we work with are able to see daily updates and related files via the BuildIT system right on their devices, which reduces the number of voice calls we field for progress updates.

Brandon Rather - Edge Communications Inc

If you're a contractor who is just after a better scheduling system, this may be your scheduler of choice. Give BuildIT a try. You'll save a bunch of $$ on your monthly subscription over the "competition", and you'll have just what you need to get the job done and keep your people on the same page.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

What does this button do?

I thought it would be a good idea to hire a professional. I could have done it myself, but since a company I consult for was awarded a contract by the local public library, I thought I could share the wealth, and perhaps learn a thing or two from a real contractor.

The objective: bolt down a park bench to a concrete pad. That meant drilling 4 holes into the concrete, installing concrete anchors, then bolting down the bench leg ends. Easy... you would think.


So I hired Jim (name not changed - there’s no way I’m protecting the innocent on this one!). Good guy, friend, hard worker, and besides, installing a bench is a lot easier with 2 people. I also used his truck, and his gas.

“Jim, have you ever drilled through concrete before?” I asked. I may as well have asked Jim if he had ever used a screw driver, or plumbed a wall. After insulting his intelligence, I told him he was hired. I also said I would take care of renting the hammer drill from the local tool rental shop in town. You need a hammer drill to drill into concrete.

Halfway to the library, I asked Jim if he had an extension cord - these hammer drills run on electricity you know.

Nope.

“Jim, this is your truck, and you are a contractor. I would think you’d have a few cords hiding under the bench seat at the back”. So we double backed home and I grabbed one of mine. Not off to a rock solid start.

We finally get to the library, and I tell Jim that I’ll mark the holes, but he is the guy with the pipes, so he can use the hammer drill. We’re only drilling down an inch, 4 holes, no big deal.

The first hole took a while.

The 2nd hole took even longer - something was amiss. I’m thinking the guy who gave me the drill bit is going to get an earful - the thing must be dull.

On the third hole, I noticed Jim putting all his weight on top of the drill... and he was beginning to sweat a bit. Being a contractor is quite the workout!

Suddenly a light bulb went on. Jim stopped. Looked at the drill. And noticed a button. Pretty sure the button had a picture of a hammer on it.

We had a good laugh… the 4th hole went in like a knife through butter.

Jim got a good ribbing, and he knows I’ll never forget!!

Just the other day he texted me this photo:

With the caption: Any idea what the little hammer symbol on this tool means?

It takes a big man to laugh at himself.


Got a construction fail story that beats this and can garner up some laughs? Send it to us, and we’ll throw it up on the wall!

Another funny story worth reading: Old Gus

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1