Thursday, April 30, 2009

Never Try and Demolish a Building I Built!!

I began in the construction industry by building homes. In my first job, the builder I worked for did most everything wrong, which included putting cinder block walls below grade against unstable soil...the result...basement walls that cracked and/or failed completely. So, when I went out on my own, I filled many of the foundation walls with pea-gravel concrete. There was really no reason to fill this wall with concrete, except I guess we over ordered.
So.....RC's superintendent, Phil Samples, is seen here on a very difficult task sawing thru the wall. It was a tough two days, but the job got done! (All to make way for a very cool sliding door).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Native Stone Wall Being Installed

This project involves capturing a few hundred square feet in the lower level (aka basement) to create an in home office. So....a large sliding door is about to be installed in the wall to the left. We dug into the hill side and then we are retaining the embankment with a native stone wall.

This wall is being installed by Steve Burdette, who interestingly worked on this house and installed the other native stone work some 20+ years ago. He's a real craftsman and RC Construction is lucky to have him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ICE (In Case of Emergency)

I'm helping revise Bailey & Glasser's Employee Handbook. We are working with Robinson McElwee on this project and I borrow the following, which just seems to make great practical sense and I thought my readers might find it useful too. (Photo borrowed from mahardhika).

I.C.E” Number
For those persons who have personal cellular phones, the Firm suggests that you create an entry in your address book captioned “ICE.” First responders are now trained to look for this entry on your cell phone in the event you are injured and someone needs to be notified. The “ICE” entry stands for “In Case of Emergency” and you should insert the phone number and contact information for the person who you would want contacted if you are unable to do so yourself.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reflections of the Cycling Symposium

This weekend, as the president of the West Virginia Cycling Foundation, I helped lead a meeting of about 75 movers and shakers involved in cycling throughout the State. Friday evening, we enjoyed a dinner at the governor’s mansion. Senator Dan Foster kicked off the evening with his reflections of the health impact of a healthy life style…the personal impact on the individual and the financial impact on all citizens.

He was followed by Secretary of Transportation Paul Mattox who committed to help the State become much more cycling friendly and we were treated to an inspiring visit by Andy Clarke, the president of the League of American Cyclists

On Saturday, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work. Symposium Champion Kim Broughton kicked off the meeting and set the stage for the day. Jeff Miller, president of The Alliance for Biking and Walking followed and shared the national perspective and his numerous experiences with other States. We broke out into task teams and discussed many topics….like:

Economic Impact of Cycling (which is major)
Legislation (Upon which we could improve…see the three foot rule…see allowing cycling on the shoulder)
Lobbying….hey…this is a great investment so show me the money
Education….safe cycling skills for riders and drivers
Access for kids and adults….more connectivity.
The trend to put cycling and pedestrian activities under the same tent
Mapping projects…so you know where to go and what to expect
The many forms of cycling….as in replacing a car to go to the store…as in mountain biking….as in children cycling…as in racing…as in family time on a rail to trail....and so much more.

And then we talked about how to create success.

I’m not sure exactly what will happen next….except to say I think we are on the path that will one day lead West Virginia from being the 50th on the League’s List:

Bottom 5
46. North Dakota
47. Mississippi
48. Alabama
49. Georgia
50. West Virginia

To the cracking the top 5! Look out Minnesota…we’re on the way.
Top 5
1. Washington
2. Wisconsin
3. Arizona
4. Oregon
5. Minnesota

Stay in touch through my BLOG ( or following me on Twitter (@davidpray).



Thursday, April 16, 2009

And Ground is Broken!

The job fires up in a big way on April 27, but I elected to sneak in a few "little" pieces of work prior to the offical kickoff. Gerald "Bubby" Haynes and his Dad put in a strong day's work on Monday with a combination of a small excavator and a skid steer loader on tracks. Beating the rain, they excavavated the lower level which exposes a wall into which a slaiding glass door will soon be installed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

To Bid or Not to Bid...that is the Question

A construction project is a compilation of a long list of various items...primarily products and services...i.e. labor and material(s). I've written a lot about the materials piece which amounts to making an informed choice (choice of the product within the context of the whole budget) on a product before construction begins.

So...I've purchased new engineered flooring (about 3 months ago as it was really on sale), bookshelf speakers, fabricated millwork, light fixtures, windows sliding doors and more.

In almost every case, I've been rewarded by competing the purchase. As an example, I went to a company that has supplied a lot of product on various projects throughout my career...assuming of course that I would be rewarded on my own house. Just to keep the record straight, I solicited pricing from a friend of mine (Lewis Weisberg) at State Electric and they proceeded to blow the doors off the competitors not only with pricing...thanks!!!...but also with service...i.e. answering my repetitive questions. I saved the owner (me!) about $1,500 on a $3,000 purchase.

More on all of this as we go on......but line item bidding....such as I would administer as an owner's representative (or be sure the construction manager was doing) is generally worth the time and effort.