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

BuildIT - a "no necktie" club

When we welcome new customers on board, and say “welcome to the club”, we are definitely not referring to a “necktie club”.

Ties and suits… this is probably not your happy place.  

Years ago, I was a technical representative for Weyerhaeuser, specifically with their engineered wood products division. Part of my responsibilities at the time was to host employees from truss companies and contract lumber yards in Denver, CO, entertaining them, and training them on using the company’s design software. Invariably, we would end up for dinner at the Trail Dust Steak House (now apparently defunct).

The deal at the Trail Dust was this… if you came in wearing a necktie (knowingly, or unknowingly), the staff would come over to your table, blaring horns and yelling, read you the riot act, then cut off your tie just below the knot… and nail it to the wall. There were 1000’s of ties – every wall was filled, but they always found room to nail one more!  

BuildIT customers would have enjoyed this restaurant… and would not have lost any articles of clothing!

When I started with Weyerhaeuser in the early 90’s, there was a dress code. Suit and tie, shiny shoes, white hardhat… and show up on job sites doing inspections on I joist framing, lunch and learns, and basically showing the customer why they were paying a premium for our products. Like the Amway business owners of yesteryear, the idea was first impressions – dress for success, and they’ll take you seriously. Later that decade, we lost the ties and started to dress more like the guys we were trying to help. We ditched the pretense, and became more relatable.

Those days are long behind me.

We here at BuildIT wear what we want, and if you ever get a chance to meet with us, we’ll be wearing jeans and a T-shirt… admittedly more colorful shirts than those grey ones donned by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

Our customers are generally small to mid-size construction businesses, so that is who we speak to. Most are “cut to the chase”, speak frankly, get-the-problem-solved-pronto kind of guys. They are not impressed by glitz and glamour (let’s face it, they’re after construction scheduling solutions, it’s hard to bling that topic up much!). And they certainly don’t have time to read some of the content that you’ll find on many construction software websites – that stuff is better suited to “hallway warriors”, C-level staff, companies with big multi-story office buildings… which represents a very small percentage of the construction industry.

Contrast that with BuildIT – what you read here is relevant to the majority of you who own, or work for small businesses. As this NAHB article states, over 80% of the residential construction industry in the US is comprised of self-employed independent contractors. And most small home building and specialty trade businesses (with paid employees) have revenues less than $1M. 

I can certainly refer you to other construction software companies and their blogs if you need more than a simple, focused construction scheduling system. If you get charged by terms like “best practices”, “best of breed”, “best in class”, “leveraging your investment in legacy software”, “enabling data migration”, “supporting mobile extensions”, "download our e-book" … well then, fill your boots.

Keep in mind though, your superintendents and sub trades have to use whatever system you choose… and if it’s way beyond them… too may bells and whistles, distractions, and language/terms they don’t use, the implementation will fail. The suits and ties may be happy, but the jeans and work boots field staff will be frustrated. Many large companies that have pulled the trigger on such systems are dropping them en masse for simpler, easily adoptable solutions like BuildIT.

And we’re quite happy to welcome them on board, and get them scheduling the easy way.

As a side note, the Trail Dust Steak House was also famous for its “bull shipper”, a 50-ounce Porterhouse steak…. If you ordered it, and ate the whole thing, you got it for free. Could be their patrons suffered too many heart attacks to keep the doors open. On one occasion, I watched one of my students eat one... he looked like he had never missed a meal, and his face was about as red as the steak... not a pretty sight. 

Lose the necktie, and join the club.

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

Oh Brother!

Technical challenges… will they ever end !?

So, I got myself the latest, greatest colour printer (won’t say what brand, but I’ve hinted at it). Followed the instructions to set it up on the home network, printed a test page, success. The next day… try to print something, and the printer message says it is offline. But it’s not. And so I rack it up to just another frustration of getting technology in my house to play well together.

Fast forward to something that should be equally easy and reliable. Apple TV. Works fine, we really enjoy it. But trying to get my iTunes music on my computer to connect to and play through our home theatre via the Apple TV box… quite another thing. It works for an hour or so… then says I need to turn “Home Sharing” on… but it is on, and the only way to get it to work is to turn it off, then turn it on again and sign in. Such a hassle! Makes sticking a physical CD in a CD player and pressing a physical button seem way easier, and less frustrating.

These are multi gazillion (my spell checker didn’t underline that, so I guess it’s a word) dollar companies behind these products. You’d think it would be as easy and reliable as flipping a light switch and expecting the lights to go on. But it’s never that easy. And with these large companies, who do you suppose you can get a hold of for help?

It’s in times like these that I’m thankful I’m not a full time tech support guy. I’m also thankful that BuildIT comes to the rescue even for simple things like trying to manage files. I know that instead of playing network support specialist, I can go to any computer connected to the Internet, log into my BuildIT account, find the file/document/photo, and deal with it on that workstation/device.

Fortunately there are workarounds to every situation. This holds true for BuildIT customers that may be experiencing some issue with our software. When something doesn’t quite work the way you want it to (likely due to a web browser setting), you can usually stick handle around it.

An example would be trying to upload files to your BuildIT account. If you are using the multi file uploader, you may need to install Java from a gazillion dollar company called Oracle. I deal with Java issues weekly, either on my end, or with my customers. From Java not being installed, to Java not being updated to the most recent version, or Java not being enabled in the web browser… the list goes on. An easy workaround… click your “preferences” link for your “files” tab, and turn off the multi file uploader. You can still use BuildIT’s single file uploader (something we wrote that doesn’t require Java, and works every time).

Problem solved.

I wish I could say the same about my printer, and my music !! 

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