Category Archives: Construction Technology

Are You Investing Enough Time into Professional Development?

Do you blink your eyes and the day is done? Do you often go weeks or even months without taking a day or two to see what’s new? This is a common problem for anyone who runs a small business. It is so easy to get wrapped up in daily tasks that you forget about professional development. However, investing this effort is the best way to avoid becoming obsolete and have a better guarantee of knowing what’s on the horizon. Here’s what you should be doing, and how to know if you’re putting in enough time.

Join Professional Organizations
Starting and running a business is a highly independent endeavor, but it helps to have assistance from professional organizations related to your field. Joining organizations may carry monthly or annual dues, so you’ll want to be selective. But if you pick one or two and participate, you may find a lot of opportunities you might not otherwise have had. For example, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) features chapters all across the United States, with two in California. They offer training and networking opportunities, as well as discounts with partner businesses.

Attend Construction Conferences
Taking a few days off from projects to travel and attend a construction conference may seem like a lot of work. Really, it’s an investment in your business. When you sign up for a construction conference, you get access to the latest tools and tips from industry experts. You might be hesitant to adopt new technology immediately, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it out. This is one of the best chances you’ll get to have a few days focused on what is new and interesting in your field. You may return with a lot of good ideas to implement and a few new contacts in your area.

Take Education/Training Classes
By the time you have invested the time it takes to qualify for a contractor license, you might think that you already know everything you need to do. Of course, then you blink and realize that all the technology has changed and there are a bunch of new building practices you’ve never heard of, much less used. Taking periodic training classes helps you keep your skills fresh and build on top of your experience over time. It can even help you prepare to add another specialty to your license, which could expand the services you can offer. Sending your employees to training when appropriate can also help ensure that they provide better work for you.

Maintain/Expand Your Licensing
Part of professional development involves keeping your licenses active. Contractor licenses in California need to be renewed every two years to remain active. Without an active license, you can still renew but it’s a more complicated process. You’ll get a notice that your license is about to expire 60 days before it runs out. If this feels like a ton of time, you should know that it isn’t. Take this opportunity to think about what you want to be doing with your business, and how you can best get it. This is a good time to think about adding classifications or changing them, if you’re working your way into a field that feels better for you.

Make Time for Professional Development
With all these tasks on your plate, it might seem like you have hardly any time for paid projects. In fact, you can find a balance that keeps you progressing without compromising on the work that pays the bills. Set aside a day or two each month toward meeting these obligations. When you can anticipate the winter slow season approaching, plan for longer training sessions or attending conferences. This helps you get a bigger bang for your buck and make sure that even periods without as much paid work are productive toward your bottom line.

Professional development is easy to forget, but it keeps your business running into the future. To build a foundation of a business that you can operate successfully for years, contact CSLS today!

How Your Contracting Business Can Use Technology Without Letting It Eat Your Lunch

It’s a fear that people have had for centuries. Develop a piece of technology that replaces a skilled worker, and soon it starts replacing skilled workers. This is why industries like construction tend to be so hesitant to adopt innovations. But staying stuck in the 19th Century or even the 20th Century isn’t the best way to go, either. Here’s a few ways you can incorporate technology into your business with less worry that it will render your services obsolete.

Why Is the Construction Industry Averse to Technology?
Most of the technological devices you use to do things used to be done by someone manually. You might not complain too much if you are able to use gasoline and an engine to power a vehicle instead of horses. The horses may not be upset by this, either. But if it’s a professional doing the work that can now be done by a machine, that’s where people tend to worry. Innovations in building practices, as well as technological developments, require fewer workers at the jobsite to accomplish bigger projects. In short, people tend to fear adopting technology if they think it might make their own positions unnecessary.

What Counts as Technology, Anyway?
If you ask people from different generations what counts as technology, you might get widely differing answers. Many people tend to look at tools that existed when they were young as just tools, while everything that came after is technology. In truth, everything from a hammer to your smartphone qualifies as technology. The tools you use nowadays might be far more advanced than your predecessors building in the 19th Century, but they’re still tools. If it makes your job faster, safer and more accurate, it’s worth considering.

Why Should Workers Learn to Use Construction Technology?
If you’ve already been working in the industry or even your chosen field for several years, you might wonder why you should change your processes at all. It’s a matter of remaining relevant. Think of something you use every day off the jobsite, like a smartphone. Clients and construction professionals in their 20s and 30s may be far more comfortable using their phones to communicate or fill out a quick estimate to provide concrete information in real-time. Pros who still need to go back to the office to fill out a form and mail it might be hours or even days behind. Even if you don’t choose to take in all the technology, it’s important to know what it is and how you might use it.

How Can Contracting Businesses Test Out New Technology?
There are so many tools out there for you to try that you might not ever get through them all. The Internet of Things is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives, so it’s not surprising that it has made it into construction. When you go to a construction conference, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to browse the floor. Many businesses producing tools for construction will demonstrate their latest products or let you try them out. This will help you determine which ones are right for your business.

How Quickly Should Contractors Adopt Technology?
Being willing to adopt technology doesn’t mean you have to incorporate every innovation the moment it comes out. That’s unrealistic if not impossible. Instead, keep an eye on the fastest-growing technological areas as they relate to construction. These include:

  • 3-D modeling/printing
  • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Automation

Be careful about your purchases, especially if they commit you to using a proprietary system. This might limit your options if you decide to pursue something else. It’s easy to start with tools that work on devices you already own, like your smartphone or computer. Once you get more comfortable with the offerings in one area, you may have an easier time making a choice about other products.

Developing an understanding of construction technology is one way that your contracting business can meet the needs of construction in a new decade. To begin building your contracting career, visit CSLS today!

Work Lighting Ideas for Your Contracting Business

No matter where you work in construction, the right lighting is key. Light makes the difference between being able to see what you are doing and performing the job safely, or making costly and dangerous mistakes. There is a wide variety of lighting options you can use, from permanent light sources overhead to adjustable task lighting and wearables. Here’s how you can make an educated choice to meet your needs.

OSHA Work Lighting Requirements for Construction
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets requirements for the amount of lighting you have to have a particular space. It is measured in foot-candles. Simply put, you need one lumen per square foot to have one foot-candle. In most areas of the construction site, you’ll be required to have 3-5 foot-candles. This includes warehouses and shafts. For a plant or manufacturing area, you need 10. By comparison, an office or first aid station needs 30 foot-candles.

The average incandescent 60-watt light bulb has 800 lumens. To meet the requirements of a plant that requires 10 foot-candles, you’d need 10 lumens per square foot. For an area that is 1,000 square feet, you’d need 13 regular light bulbs. This might not be sufficient, but it is OSHA’s requirement for that particular kind of work. You can always add more on an as-needed basis.

Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent or LED
The type of bulb you choose depends on a few factors. Incandescent bulbs are getting progressively harder to find, particularly as a result of phasing out by manufacturers. Since halogen is a type of incandescent lighting, you’ve probably noticed that those are much less common as well. You may be able to use incandescent bulbs while you still have them, but find it difficult to replace them. They tend to cost the least to purchase, but they use more energy and burn out faster.

Essentially, you’ve got to pick between compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED). CFL bulbs were one of the first alternatives to incandescent light and they’re still pretty easy to buy. They use less energy and last longer than incandescent, but they pale in comparison to LEDs. LEDs last even longer and don’t present the same kind of hazard in waste disposal, since they don’t contain mercury. Now that LEDs are mainstream, they have significantly dropped in price. And since they use so little energy, they run very well off batteries.

Flexible Lighting Options
Of course, you can use the standard lighting options that you might have in any warehouse. Lighting on the construction site requires flexibility, however. Choosing battery-operated products gives you the ability to run them regardless of the power accessibility on the site, with no cords to trip over. Adjustable task lighting helps you point the light in the precise direction, with the ability to move it at will. For lighting larger spaces, you can consider light towers or balloon lighting to provide better illumination, especially at night.

Nighttime Lighting Considerations
When you’re working at night, especially during the short days of winter, you need to pay close attention to your lighting needs. In this case, you may go much further than OSHA’s minimum, with a variety of lighting options that can be turned on and off as needed. Keep in mind that in dark places, you need to light more than just the work area. Install lighting on the path to and from the work area. Identify possible hazards between your vehicle and your work area and add a light there, as well. Check the batteries and plugs during the day so that you can ensure they will not run out or disconnect and leave you in the dark.

Safe construction work requires proper lighting. Making the right choices can protect your eyesight and make sure that you are able to do the job correctly. To start your construction career, visit CSLS today!

Is Your Mobile Service Meeting Your Contracting Business Obligations?

These days, mobile coverage is everything. Although you may still be wandering around the jobsite asking a client if they can hear you now, you’re also probably using your coverage as a mobile hotspot. It might be the only communication device you have for your contracting business. This means that your mobile service is much more important than it might have been even a few years ago. Here’s how you can evaluate whether you are getting what you need from your mobile provider.

The last thing you want is for your mobile coverage to cut out at the office or in most jobsites. This is why coverage is going to be one of the first things you look at. The trouble is that it’s hard to evaluate coverage from the various mobile providers until you’re running on that network. There are points where the signal from one cell tower gets too weak, and your phone isn’t connecting to another one. This creates a coverage dead zone where you might have little or no coverage at all. Figure out where you will be working most often, and make sure that your mobile provider has good coverage there, at least.

Bandwidth and Reception
Coverage primarily relates to where you can use your phone’s service. Reception determines what quality of service you get while you’re there. This might feel like one and the same, but it isn’t. One mobile provider might have thorough coverage in the area but then give you slow network speeds or bad reception. If you can, it might be worth bringing friends or associates with different providers to see who’s got the best ability to stream video at the jobsite. If yours seems to be arriving late to everything, you might need to consider switching.

Each mobile provider offers a variety of plans, especially for businesses. Once you start a business, you might get options that you wouldn’t have heard about as an individual consumer. Evaluate what you need, like talk, text and data. Keep in mind that you might not need all of these. If you’re never going to talk on the business line, data may be enough. Compare plans online to see which one is going to be best for you. Don’t pick a cheap service just because it costs the least, because it might not give you the features you need. If you will open more than one line, see if you can get any discounts for it.

Other Services
Besides the actual coverage, mobile providers often offer a variety of services you may or may not want. For example, if you’re going to be using your phone as a mobile hotspot to connect your computer or tablet and transmit important documents, added security may be a worthwhile feature. If you’ve got a need to travel outside the country for business, having the ability to do so seamlessly makes life easier. Even having a plan to provide devices like smartphones for your team is an important consideration. Some providers bundle equipment and plans for businesses so that you can save money over buying them separately.

Wi-Fi Hotspots
Beyond using your mobile phone service for communicating with employees and clients, you may need it as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Construction sites aren’t always known as the most connected places, which means that you probably need extra support from your mobile service or other methods. Obviously, using your phone to seamlessly connect a device to the Internet is usually the easiest. If your mobile provider simply can’t get you the level of connection you need, you might need to consider something more formal like a portable Wi-Fi system. These typically require something permanent to connect, like a landline or a cable.

Mobile service is probably going to be one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the daily running of your business. Choosing the right provider makes all the difference. To start building your own contracting business, contact CSLS today!

Contractors State License Services hosts Open House statewide in recognition of Earth Day and Green Construction


 Contractors State License Services hosts Open House statewide in recognition of Earth Day and Green Construction.

 Contractors State License Services (CSLS) will be hosting an open house at all school locations throughout California on April 29th, 2011 in recognition of Earth Day and Green Construction.  A variety of speakers and vendors offering construction related information; green products and construction business services are scheduled at 20 plus locations throughout the state. CSLS and strategic partners are working together to educate Contractors and Construction workers on available services and products that can help them take advantage of value-added green offerings that they can integrate into their construction business. “Green construction starts with getting your contractor’s license so assisting students and graduates to get connected in this growing part of the industry is a wonderful opportunity for Contractors”, says David Mizener, CSLS CEO.

At many of the Contractors State License Services school locations Green industry experts, speakers and vendors will participate including American Home Inspection Training (AHIT), Home Depot, HD Supply, Dunn-Edwards Paints, Global HVAC/Ruud, Lowes, Harbor Freight Tools, Jem Industrial Coatings, CBIA Insurance Services, Ewaste Recycler, Contractor Manager, Deep Blue Pool Service, Corp 911 and Solar Seminars.

For this event topics of discussion will cover Zero VOC Paint products, Green insulation, Energy Audit Training, Solar Installation, Sustainable building, Energy Tax Rebates for consumers, Energy efficient appliances, Tankless water heaters, Greenscaping including native landscaping, and much more.  CSLS will also present information on the recently required EPA-Renovation, Repair and Painting certification. Promotions, giveaways and special offers will also be part of this statewide event. Schedules and presenters vary by location. For details on individual school events interested contractors can contact the corporate offices at Contractor State License Services 800-331-4691.

  About CSLS ( @contractorslic  #Contractors#License

Contractors State License Services (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 25 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. In fact, 1 in 3 applicants to the California State Licensing Board (CSLB) have used CSLS to successfully pass the exam. Contractors State License Services offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including: General Engineering Contractor | General Building Contractor | Specialty Contractor | Insulation and Acoustical Contractor | Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor | Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor | Concrete Contractor | Drywall Contractor | Electrical Contractor | Elevator Contractor | Landscaping Contractor | Warm-Air Heating | Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. Contractors State License Services also provides CSLS Contractors with Business Development Services to assist in every aspect of sustaining a strong Construction Business. These include Bonds, Corporation Services, DBA’s, Application Processing, Fingerprint Services, Home Inspection training courses, BPI Energy Audit training courses, NAPCEP Solar PV Photovoltaic Installer training courses, Locksmithing training courses, and Insurance Services.


Constructech Shares How a Simple iPad Makes a World of Difference for Contractors

Interesting Article we found from Constructech that shares how a simple iPad can make a world of difference for Contractors operating in today’s fast paced environment. In fact, we are such a fan of technology to improve workflow for Contractors CSLS is giving away to 1 lucky winner an iPad. Visit our website to enter today!

Mobile Construction Management

When it comes to construction, most contractors tend to avoid carrying around all of the paperwork out in the field. Too much paperwork can lead to vital documents being misplaced or destroyed. There are a number of applications specifically designed to save contractors the trouble by giving them mobile access to essential paperwork.
One example is the new “Mobile PlanRoom” app from (BIL),, a division of Construction Connect Inc.,, Folsom, Calif., which is designed to be used on the iPad from Apple,, Cupertino, Calif. Using Mobile PlanRoom, construction professionals including engineers, contractors, and architects can access various construction documents including contracts, specifications, and drawings right on the iPad’s touchscreen.

“We know what it means to be shuttling back and forth between sites during a construction project and what a hassle it can be to access drawings, plans, and other information at the speed you really need to,” says Marcus Linden, president and chief operating officer, Construction Connect. “Apple’s iPad technology is an ideal workspace to view every document or image that relates to a project in a portable manner so that it is literally at your fingertips.”
Mobile PlanRoom allows users to upload construction documents to the Web via From there, other users can access the documents using an iPad or other various Internet-enabled devices.

Additionally, Mobile PlanRoom enables all project participants to share the data for a specific project without having to be at the same location. It also keeps contractors from having to send out large email files to various individuals involved in the same project.
According to Linden, when using and the Mobile PlanRoom app, contractors do not need to be concerned about outdated drawings for a specific project.
“With, the general contractor simply posts the most current drawings and invites all participants to the project, so everyone is literally on the same page,” says Linden.