Project Accounting Software Best Practices When Developing Residential Estates

If you’re involved with construction for a Residential Estate then these “best practices” for using your Project Accounting Software will help your client with their dealings with their financiers as well as simplifying your project manager’s work.

However before you look at your software, it’s best to have a clear idea of the processes involved when undertaking a broad-acre conversion to a residential housing estate.

The Big Picture

To start with you know that the financier backing your developer client is not going to take on the all of the Risk involved with constructing the total number of homes that can fit on the broad-acreage. They will aim to minimise their risk by staging the development.

So the the broad-acreage will be conceptually divided into several Development Stages. The first stage release will commence with the construction of a display village consisting of one of each house type. This enables their sales team to walk prospective clients through a completed home and to estimate the cost of changes to the basic design on a client by client basis.

After sufficient sales are made in Stage 1 the developer will release another Stage downstream and in the process build a new display village and sell off the first display homes you constructed.

This provides a positive cash flow for the developer as they progress through building the remaining stages and in doing so lessens the risk for the financier.

Now we understand the big picture, we have to determine how best to manage this Contract using our project accounting software.

One Project or Many Projects?

You may think it a good idea to set up each home as a project but there are disadvantages to this simplistic approach – particularly in terms of reporting.

It would be best if the whole Estate was defined as a single Project and then as you undertake construction you define each house, being the Scope of Works, as a Stage within that project in your project accounting software. The use here of the term “Stage” should not be confused with the “Staged releases” of land within the estate.

Better Client Reporting

One benefit of this approach is that it makes it easier to produce the reporting that your client the developer needs to provide to their Financiers to convince them that their risks are being managed properly. This is because you can produce “big picture” plus” drilled down” reporting as required.

Management Focus

The Stages approach also helps your project managers focus on the construction as they can see all the information about an individual house and follow it right through the system. In effect you have a “sub-cost report” for just a single house.

Managing Subcontractors

When a new house is required to be constructed, then you would add a new Stage and then allocate your tradespeople to work on it. The scheduling process will easily identify the extra details.

If we examine the Subcontractor Payment Claims process then each tradesman has an original contract for work on other stages (homes) so if they win another stage (home) then it will just be another amendment to their contract. You can then pay the subcontractor by stage and in the process make tracking and controlling the processes easier.

Complementary Projects

Depending upon how you contract with the developer you may in fact be establishing two projects – not one – for the entire estate. This would be the case if you decided to use a Complementary Project approach.

This approach enables you to manage the construction project on an “open book” basis, with the developer taking the risk and some portion of the work charged at agreed rates. You would take a small risk for the preliminary items but have an agreed rate of recovery for selected services such as project management on an hourly basis.

To do this in your construction accounting software you would establish one project as open book with the client, where the budgets equal the agreed target prices of the client. In this project, the income is equal to the expenses so there is no profit. But you link this project with a second project which invoices the first project for the value of contracted services at the agreed rates.

Payment Options

The next point to consider is how to pay subcontractors and suppliers in the first project so that it doesn’t effect your cash-flow.

Ideally the client should setup a trust account and you pay contractors out of this account based upon a client approved payment list. However some developers may insist upon greater control of the “purse strings”. In this case you could still control all the subcontractor claims paperwork within your construction accounting software and at the end of each Pay-run send the direct deposits data file to your client so the developer can pay off this file using their own bank.

So the developer controls the “purse strings” but your project managers manage the job without you assuming the financial risk.

The practices should enable you to make better use of your project accounting software when your constructing for a Residential Estate Developer.


Why Build A House Using Steel House Framing?

Many people have heard of steel house frames but don’t know what the benefits of steel house framing are to make a determination if it is right for them. There are many advantages and solutions to some of the building problems that builders, homeowners and contractors have that can be solved by using steel framing.

Cost is the primary concern for any builder and homeowner and the cost directly influences the decision to build a home. What many people are unaware of is that steel framing is more cost effective than using wood framing allowing more to be built with less money.

One of the greatest benefits of steel house framing is the strength of steel, damage by moisture and heat or warping is never an issue or concern with steel frames. A steel frame home or building will hold up against the elements all year round and pests such as termites will not be a problem compared with wood frame homes and buildings.

With the benefits of strength that steel frames provide more variety of room styles and shapes become available as well as opportunities to have greater open floor plans and spaces, also by taking advantage of the strength of steel you won’t need load bearing walls that are required in the typical home that uses wood framing.

Green homes are becoming more popular with people and governments and going green has become a major concern across the world, and the benefits of steel house framing is that it is good for the environment. By using steel framing in homes and commercial buildings fewer trees will be chopped down thus people can contribute in a positive way to help stave of deforestation.

Steel frames are much easier to work with because there are pre-fitted pieces and pre-made kits available which can remove the task of drilling almost completely, this can save builders much time with their projects allowing more to be done in less amount of time. For some builder that have multiple houses under construction at the same time using steel frames instead of wood frames eliminates the worry of inclement weather damage or environmental exposure to their wood frames.

These are just a few of the benefits of steel house framing over using the conventional wood frames in home and other construction projects. Whether you’re a homeowner or a builder you will spend less time, money and get a stronger product that last much longer by using steel frames.


My First Woodwork Project – Building a Shed

My first woodwork project was a wooden storage shed. I needed to get my lawnmower and other garden tools out of the garage so that I could use it for parking my wife’s car. I had no idea how to build one, but soon after pricing them at the local hardware store, I decided I could build one for a lot less than buying one.

First I needed a plan for my shed, so I scoured the hardware store, and found that the books they had only had 1 or 2 plans each, and none that were appealing. I went to local library, and found some books from the 1950?s and 1960?s on woodworking, but the projects they had were kind of dated. They didn’t really match the style I was looking for in my backyard. So, I turned to the internet. I found tons of sites offering me all kinds of different sheds. Some were made of plastic, others of steel or aluminum, and even some made of wood. Again I was back to buying something for more money than I thought I could build it for. I wanted a project, that I (a beginner) could complete, without the high cost of buying a shed.

Then I found it. Or rather, my neighbor Jim did. A site that had thousands of woodworking projects to choose from. I signed up and got access to shed bases (I learned I needed one of these as well), Amish sheds, garden sheds, storage sheds, workshops, and decks. The selection is amazing. The plans were easy to follow and gave a complete shopping list for each woodwork project. All I had to do was print it out and go to the hardware store.

My first weekend was spent in gathering my materials, and getting organized. On the following weekend, I invited my neighbor Jim and his brother over to help me raise a shed. On Sunday, we finished and I made some BBQ ribs to repay my friends for their help. Anyway, that was the beginning of my love affair with woodworking.

Are you someone who enjoys working with wood? If yes, then I have great news for you. I have discovered a site that can give you instant access to over 12,000 shed plans and other great woodworking projects. It has everything from birdhouses and porch swings, to decks and wooden storage sheds to help you make your house an inviting home.


Finding The Right Style Flooring For Your Home

One of the most important parts of designing or redecorating a home is fitting the right flooring. The right decision can ensure your house transforms into a beautiful and cosy place in which to live. However, it can often be difficult to decide on the flooring that is right for your home.

Wood is currently the most popular home flooring material for various reasons. It enhances the decor of any room, is ecologically friendly and provides warmth and a timeless beauty that increases in value as the years move on. If you decide to fit wood flooring, consider each of the three types of wood flooring available to you.

Types of wood flooring:

1. Solid wood flooring.

These are wood planks or blocks (parquet) that are cut from logs and dried in a kiln to a moisture level of between 8% and 12%. They are then machine cut into various lengths, widths and grades and are later processed at the factory with wax or lacquer. Solid wood flooring is usually left unfinished for the installer to finish when fitting on site.

2. Engineered flooring.

This type of wood flooring is a hardwood veneer placed atop a cross plywood base. Engineered flooring comes in various thicknesses ranging from 10mm to 21mm. They have several benefits over solid wood, including ease of installation.

3. Laminate flooring.

This flooring is a photograph of a wood grain that is then laminated atop a wooden composite base. It is not real wood; however it does have many advantages over the other floor types. Laminate floor is durable, not sensitive to moisture and the easiest to install. The photo grain is also so good that you would not easily know it is not real wood.

Whichever flooring you choose, it is important to familiarise yourself with the methods used to fit them.

Fitting Methods:

Floating.

Floating is where the flooring is not fastened to the sub floor. This method is usually only ever used where a solid sub floor (such as concrete) is already in place. It is recommended to only use adhesive floor fitting foam to fit floating floors. It is never recommended to glue together floorboards and float them.

Mechanical fitting.

This is a popular method for fitting hardwood flooring. It involves using hand tools such as tape measure, carpenter’s square and hammer to nail or screw the floor onto existing floorboards, sub floor, joints or battens. There are different ways of completing the task with this method, including secret nailing where a nail gun is used to drive nails through the side of the tongue at angles of between 33 degrees and 45 degrees.

Gluing.

This method is suitable for fitting flooring on a solid sub floor. Always ensure that the sub floor is completely dry and free of dirt and solid particles. Install a continuous Damp Proof Membrane when using this method to ensure the floor remains dry.

Installation tips.

The key to successful installation is proper planning, preparation and execution. Ensure the relative humidity in the room where the floor is to be installed or even stored is between 50% and 65%. Too much humidity can damage the flooring and give poor results.

Also, check that the floor you get is kiln dried to the appropriate moisture content level: ideally 10%. The floor should also have been stored in temperature controlled conditions prior to your collection. This ensures the floor will require little if any acclimatisation before lying.

Finally, if you are installing the floor yourself, follow the manufacturer’s instructions fully to attain the desired results.


Kitchen Tile Flooring – Choosing That Right Kind of Flooring

Style your kitchen with the right tiles – this will help you make your kitchen look good – and also protect the floor of your house from damage. The kitchen is a room that requires extra protection for its floors because of the kind of work that the room is used for. There is the constant danger of stains and damages caused by heavy falling utensils and so on. Your floor tiling has to be durable and long-lasting and easy to clean.

The Kinds of Kitchen Tile Flooring Available in the Market Today

There are many kinds of kitchen tile flooring that you will find in the market today – different materials can be found at different price ranges – each of these materials have their own advantages and disadvantages. It is easy enough to read up on the different materials available and choose the perfect material for your kitchen tile flooring.

Glazed and Unglazed Tiles

Firstly, there are glazed and unglazed tiles; the glazed tiles can be cleaned very easily and do not stain as often as unglazed tiles. All you need to do is run a mop soaked in warm water with a mild detergent solution across them from time to time. The problem with glazed tiles is that they are very smooth and therefore can be quite slippery. This is dangerous, especially if the kitchen area is prone to water spillage or if there are young children in your home. To avoid this, you could choose unglazed tiles over glazed ones. Unglazed tiles will prevent the floor from being slippery and have an aesthetically pleasing textured surface. Then again, unglazed tiles will not be as durable as glazed ones – they will be relatively more prone to damage because they are not protected by that extra layer of glazing.

Different Kinds of Tiling Material

Natural materials for kitchen tile flooring include porcelain, quarry, pebble and stone. These ties are textures, rough and durable – and also, relatively more expensive. They offer a great authentic look to your kitchen and give it that extra classiness that you might be looking for. Porcelain and ceramic is easily chipped and damaged – and one needs to replace the tiles often. A good idea would be to use glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles for your kitchen tile flooring – although you would have to be careful on the smooth surface.

The other kind of material that you might want to use for your kitchen tile flooring is linoleum, vinyl, laminate or plank. These are manufactured in different styles – and each design makes them look like a different material from what they are – with stylized textural patterns like wood or stone or marble or mosaic. They are comfortable to walk on, easy to clean, difficult to slip on and convenient to use as kitchen tile flooring. However, they do not look as authentic or as stylish as natural materials, although they are available in different styles, colors and price ranges. They are usually much cheaper than the other kind of tiling – but they require immediate cleaning of spillage because they are not stain proof. The surfaces are easy enough to clean but stains are difficult to remove and the tiling can be dented by wear and use.

It is easy enough to find the right kind of kitchen tile flooring for your home once you have decided what advantage you prioritize over all others – look through the immense numbers of websites available online for kitchen tile flooring and choose the tiles that will suit your kitchen the best.