General Liability Insurance For Contractors – 4 Tips to Avoid Coverage Surprises

General liability insurance is one of the first types of policies you will need if you are starting a new business. At Clinard Insurance we are seeing many new small business startups.  Starting your own company is popular these days with the layoffs we are seeing in our economy. The best choice is often to pursue something that you love doing and so we are seeing lots of people starting new businesses around their building skills. But just because you love to build things doesn’t mean you know the best way to protect yourself and your company from lawsuits.

Here are some tips for pitfalls that you should avoid when buying general liability insurance.

 

Choosing the right agent. The first place people generally go for their business insurance is the insurance agency that handles their home and auto insurance. In some cases this will work out well. But the risk is that your current agent may be licensed to sell you general liability insurance on your new company while really possessing very little experience in evaluating the hazards and risks of your specific type of company. I would suggest that you go out there and look for an agent that specializes in insuring other small businesses like yours. Ask your competitors who they used. At Clinard Insurance we have a niche specialty in small contractors and we speak their language and understand their needs. If your agent doesn’t specialize in your business, I suggest you find one who does.

 

Claims Made or Occurrence Policy Type: Construction claims made policies became popular in the mid 1980’s and have been around ever since. The promise of these policies were lower rates, but at what long-term damage? In some instances there is no cost savings. Claims made polices for a contractor are the worst possible policy you can buy. Let me explain: Claims made policies allow you to make claim on your policy only during the year they are in force. Contractors have claims down the road, not always just in the same year as the project is built!  Also, if you want to leave that company and go to another company, you will have to purchase additional insurance to cover you for the next 10 years… that’s right, 10 years! Why? Because the law allows customers to file a lawsuit for construction problems for up to 10 years after the project was completed.

 

An Example:

You build a new room addition, everything goes well and you and your customer are very happy with the final outcome… 4 years later your customer calls you and says that the roof is leaking and water came in the house and ruined his new $25,000 grand piano. He expects you to repair the roof, the drywall, wallpaper, carpets and, of course, replace the grand piano….

A claims made policy will not allow you file a claim 4 years later unless you stayed with that same company the whole time. If you intend to change companies after you have had a claims made policy, you must make a decision. If you want to have protection for any claims that have not occurred yet, but will in the future, you will have to purchase “tail” coverage. This coverage will extend the time in which you can file a claim. And tail coverage is not cheap. 

If you decide not to buy the “tail” you will not be able to report a claim against the claims made policy. And to make matters worse, some companies do not offer the 10 year extension.

So…. When your claims made policy comes up for renewal, you must decide:

  • Do I leave the company and pay the additional insurance for coverage for the next 10 years, or go without protection.
  • Do I stay with the same company? Their prices on the new year may stay the same or go up sharply.
  • Do I switch to another company who has better rates and coverages?

This limits the marketplace available to you, and makes it harder to accept a better bid from another insurance company. Claims made policies may work in other industries, but for Contractors they are a disaster. Take time after reading this report to see if your current policy is either an occurrence form or a claims made form…..

 

Insurance Company Rating It is up to you to do the due diligence and ask your agent about the financial health of the company from whom you are buying your general liability insurance. As the previous tip implied, sometimes the claims may be very much delayed and you need to know that your company can pay a claim for you 10 years from now. Use only A rated or higher insurance companies to protect your business.

 

Exclusions, Understand Them Clearly   Be sure to take the time to ask your agent about the policy exclusions and what they may mean for you. Here are some exclusions that contractors should consider when purchasing a general liability insurance policy:

Pesticide, Herbicide and Fungicide Exclusion, Employment Practices Liability Exclusion, X.C.U exclusion, Contractors Warranty Exclusion, Professional Liability Exclusion, Asbestos, Independent Contractors. If you don’t know exactly what these mean for you on your policy, contact your agent and get the help you need to understand it clearly. This may change the way you run your business.

 

Subcontractors   Be sure that you understand just how your policy treats subcontractors. Are you covered if they have no insurance or not enough for the loss?  How much coverage should you require of your subcontractors? How often should you obtain certificates of insurance? How can you be sure that the certificate of insurance is legitimate. (I have seen fraudulent certs for sale on eBay before). If you are not clear about the answers to these questions vis-à-vis your business and your general liability policy, you should call your agent right away and get the answers you need to sleep well at night.

 

As you can see buying general liability insurance is not a simple as calling your agent and asking for a quote. You need an experienced professional that understands the policy forms and your business. At Clinard Insurance we specialize in helping small contractors navigate the dangerous waters of the insurance world. If we can help you further, or if you would like more information about Clinard Insurance Group, please visit our web site.

Three Basic Sales Tips for Property Developers

Investing in real estate business is a great risk for any businessman because it can affect anyone’s financial status for the rest of their lives. A huge amount of money is at stake, and there is a very little room for errors. Wise decision-making and full on determination are the keys to success in this kind of business endeavor.

As real estate or property developers, one must be able to communicate his ideas and express his creativity through project proposals and presentations. A good property portfolio can provide a stable structure for gaining the clients’ trusts and may be beneficial for the company itself for the years to come.

To be a successful property developer, here are some basic sales tips on how to maximize your opportunity in the property development category.

Find the Right Location

The most important thing to consider in every property development is the location. You have to remember that the best location is where you can make tons of profit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in areas with the nicest postcodes. The ability to buy properties in the worst possible locations and turning them into impressive locality can make any real estate developer successful in this field. A good property developer should possess a keen eye in spotting highly profitable locations to develop.

Provide an Impressive Portfolio

It really pays to be creative. Every real estate or property developer should have a presentable and informative project portfolio that will showcase the company’s mission and vision in a particular location. The portfolio should communicate the ideas and the proposed future appearance of the property to be developed. One way to express creativity in presenting the company’s project proposals is by using 3D rendering and architectural models.

The use of today’s technology, especially 3D rendering, is an ideal way of marketing the proposed future buildings and properties that are yet to be constructed. Having realistic models of the properties being developed can give the clients a clear basis for the calculation of their budgets.

Do Some Research

As with all risky business endeavors, property development could make you rich and famous or could put you in debt for the rest of your life. You have to make things right the first time. A very capital-intensive business such as property development needs thorough study and research. If you want to invest on unusual property locations, you must be willing to take bigger risks. Taking bigger risks could mean greater profit.

Tips to Choose a Commercial Landscape Maintenance Services Provider

People who own commercial property spend a considerable amount of time in beautifying their landscapes. If you own a resort or hotel, then beautifying it to a great extent helps in creating a great impression among visitors.

Here are some useful tips which you can follow to select a reliable commercial landscape maintenance services company:

Be sure that the contractor offers the services which you need

One common misconception that many commercial property owners tend to have is that all commercial landscape companies offer the same type of services. However, this is not true. Therefore, you need to acquire a list of services that the company offers. Compare it with your individual needs. The usual services offered by these companies includes snow & ice management, landscape enhancement, irrigation and lighting, landscape construction, landscape design and landscape maintenance.

Landscape maintenance involves weeding, mowing, edging, trimming, pruning, turf and ornamental programs and seasonal color. In case of landscape construction, contractors plant, perform hydro seeding, installation of turfs, retain walls, installation of water features, drainage, erosion control and outdoor amenity installation. Landscape design involves site evaluation and plans to create or enhance focal points of outdoor areas. It also includes community master planning and amnesty designs such as outdoor kitchens, dog parks, patios, fire pits and fire pits.

Contractors who handle irrigation and lighting handle repair, installation, maintenance and suggestions for efficient water usage. The snow and ice management services offers involves plowing, ice melt application and clearing of sidewalks. The landscape enhancement services offered by contractors includes redesigning of focal points or addition of non-contracted items like planters, baskets, removal and trimming of trees and seasonal color displays.

Find out whether they employ sustainable practices or not

Do you need a company which can offer you with services and ensures that your landscape becomes sustainable? If you do, then you are certainly taking a wise decision. Making landscapes energy and saving water are environment conscious decisions and will make a significant impact on your budget and environment.

The landscaping company which you opt for needs to pay attention to the sustainability factor. The materials they use and their water management projects at your site should take into consideration the sustainability factor.

There are a number of questions which you will need to ask the contractor before hiring their services. Ask them where do they buy their plant materials and supplies from. Enquire whether they use native plants or not. Ask them about what changes can be done to help you save your money. Also ask whether the company can suggest any organic programs which are applicable in case of your property. Find out whether they recycle yard waste such as leave, fallen branches and clippings or not. Enquire about the programs which they offer to make lighting and irrigation more efficient.

Research the credentials of the company

You can save yourself from a considerable amount of headaches by performing some research before selecting a contractor. Check the website of the company, ask for references and also get in touch with your business associates. If you have a few questions looming in your mind, you can contact the contractor directly.

When you fix an appointment, ask whether the company holds any certification or license for the work they perform. Enquire whether they can offer any documentation or not. Ask about the affiliations and industrial qualifications of the company. If they claim that they are insured then ask them to provide you with insurance documentation. Also ask them whether they have the manpower and equipment to handle your project or not.

Ordering Concrete? Tips to Build It Right

Whether your concrete need is as small as needed for fixing cracks and holes in the wall, building a patio, paving, pathway, or as large as a construction of a high-storey commercial building, the first step to begin is by ordering the exact volume of concrete needed. It comes as the next point that how the ordered concrete should be delivered to your work site. While most projects are measured in square feet, when you place an order for concrete, it is done in cubic yards. Measure the dimensions of the site to determine the right volume of concrete needed.

First you need to multiply the length of the project by width, then multiply the resultant figure by depth (meaning thickness), and divide it by 27 to learn the amount of concrete needed in ‘cubic yards’ unit. Finding it difficult to calculate on own? There are many websites featuring online concrete calculator. Or you can always contact your local concrete supplier company so that a concrete specialist can visit the site in person and help you determine the right amount of concrete mix needed for your project; this approach will help you avoid under-ordering and over-ordering scenarios. Many concrete suppliers offer on-site assistance right from determining the needed volume, onsite concrete mixing and application to refurbishment of the concrete structures. Now when you know how much concrete you will need, the very next step is to decide how to get the job done. Concrete as we all know is a blend of Portland cement, sand, gravel and water. Other aggregates can be added by the supplier company depending on your project specifications.

Why Choose Ready Mix Concrete For All Your Construction Needs

Now, before sharing the 12 time-tested tips to succeed in your construction project, it is worth mentioning here that ordering ready mix concrete London is far better than mixing concrete onsite. Even if you pay a bit more ready mix which is also called ready to lay concrete, it’s pool of advantages such as no need of storage space, instant application, faster construction, reduced need of workforce, top-quality and sustainability make it a smarter alternative. Moreover, the concrete supplier companies are catering to any small and large size order of ready mix concrete. So, both DIY residents and contractors can leverage from its many benefits. Simply put, ready to use concrete reduces the work on site, improves the quality and finish of work, and fast-track the project accomplishing.

Top 8 Tips To Prevent Failure In Your Construction Project

  • Don’t order less than what you need
  • Cover concrete using plastic or damp fabric to avoid cracks
  • Add colour and additive straighten; or you can reduce curing period
  • Concrete mix may need reinforcement of steel bars, wire mesh, etc. to boost strength; consult a concrete specialist to learn more.
  • For DIY project, use safety wear to protect eyes, nose and skin from any harmful effects
  • Adding more amount of Portland cement can increase the strength of the concrete mix
  • If you will need concrete during Christmas or in holiday season, check if the supplier you choose are open during the festive season or not; if yes, it is recommended to schedule delivery in advance. Planning advance will avoid extra charges and all hassles.
  • If you will need concrete pumps to transport concrete mix on the site, plan ahead and hire concrete pumps while ordering the mix

Hope these tips will help you order concrete mix the right way!

Tips When Hiring Building Contractors Or Construction Companies!

In this article you will discover a number of the most essential things to seek out when appointing Building Contractors or Construction Companies.

Construction is a very specialized subject so you must be sure that you employ skilled and authorized contractors for your house or project.

Certainly one of the imperative factors when trying to hire a building contractor is to check them out scrupulously. The very first thing you need to verify is that they are approved and accurately insured within your state or country.

You’ll need to make several calls but it surely can save you numerous of head-aches down the road. Moreover request the contractor that you finally choose, to give you an insurance certificate.

Make sure that the construction company you intend to appoint has a website, this demonstrates that this company is professional and serious about what they do. A website may also permit you to acquire additional information about those building contractors, what they can do and the work they have done in the past.

You will also be able to examine the credentials of the management of this company. This adds credibility and shows that you will be dealing with professionals.

Prior to you signing a contract, ask the contractor how they hire their sub-contractors. Do they bid out the jobs, have they got insurance and licensing information on them, how do they pay their sub-contractors?

One thing you need to request from your contractor is release of lien from all of the sub-contractors that shall be on your work site.

This will preclude you from a potential fiasco later as we now and then, hear about building contractors that get paid from you or your financial organization and then fail to pay their subcontractors.

Subsequently what transpires would be the subcontractors liens your house for the amount they may be owed and you could possibly wind up paying twice for services.

Construction companies could also be checked by contacting the Business Bureau in your area or country.

You’re able to ask if there had been several complaints or official measures taken against the builder from the past.

In addition, try to check for a record of poor debts and/or preceding bankruptcy.

Be acquainted with constructions that the contractor has lately completed or projects in development and try to go and see that specific construction site.

Contractors may possibly even voluntarily provide you with the details of their best satisfied clients as recommendations, but furthermore ask about the completed work/constructions from earlier years.

Prior to signing the agreement, read it precisely . Just be sure you understand it and the whole set of conditions are comprehensible to you.

The building plans have to include all that you really want affirmed in the bid. This can allow it to be a suitably written agreement and can request awareness to definite details of the expectations.

Tips for Managing Construction Cleanup and Debris

Construction sites generate a lot of debris and waste, most of which is hazardous to human health. Some of this waste is generated directly as a result of construction activities while others are created indirectly. The non-hazardous waste materials on construction sites can range from bricks, rubble, wood, concrete, insulation and wiring waste, nails and rebar, etc. The hazardous waste often consists of lead, asbestos, plasterboard, etc. While construction site clean-up can be done meticulously, materials such as plasterboard release toxic gases, such as hydrogen sulfide, when they are broken down in landfills.

The non-hazardous construction site debris also poses a problem for construction site clean-up because of the lack of space for their disposal. Landfills are filling up at a very fast rate and many are closing down because of reaching their full capacity. It is important to manage and control wastage in order to make construction site clean-up easier for all concerned. There are many ways in which you can do this, which include recycling and reusing.

Recycling construction site debris can help reduce landfill waste. Some of the waste that can be recycled are aluminium, wood, concrete, corrugated cardboard, asphalt, and specific metals. Cleaning up in a recycling project takes place at the job site by segregating the waste according to specific categories such as concrete, metal, or wood, and sending them to the recycling site. Sometimes, recycling can be done on the site of the construction itself. There are instances where all the wastes with recycling potential is collected from the site and segregated later at the recycling facility.

An important way to clean up construction site debris is by reusing them, especially materials left over from a demolition project, such as door frames, doors, window frames, fixtures, etc. Before clean-up itself, these materials must be identified so as not to be disposed of by mistake.

There are different protocols for cleaning up different types of debris on a construction site. To start with, debris can be categorized into some broad areas, which are solid wastes, hazardous wastes, petroleum products, pesticides and fertilizers, detergents, etc. It is important that all employees are aware of best practices for waste management on site and adhere to these.

Areas and containers used for storage must be inspected for any leaks, spills, or other malfunctions. Workers must be properly trained in handling and disposal and must be aware of how to protect themselves when doing so.

When cleaning up different types of waste, it is important to know what to do and what not to do. For example, when cleaning up solid wastes, it must not be dumped where it can drain away to a water body or where there will be runoff from areas at a higher altitude. Hazardous materials are best disposed of with the label on them intact, and following manufacturer’s instructions. The same applies for petroleum and pesticides and fertilizers. Detergents should not be dumped into the system for storm drainage but to a sanitary sewer. Keeping these points in mind can help to successfully manage construction site cleanup optimally.

Tips for New Residential Construction

The process to entitle lots can take more than five years and is expensive. The cost of parcel maps for five lots or less is $100,000. Tract maps for more than five lots can cost more than $500,000. The number of lots and the potential size are determined by biology, health-department regulations, slope, and the zoning and general plan. Included in the cost are engineering, processing, and regulatory fees and various reports and studies.

Reports and studies include conditions of approval costs, storm-water treatment, anthropology and archeology, soils, biology, noise, and traffic. When a map is approved and recorded, there are additional fees that include, but are not limited to the following:

• Potential greenhouse gas studies

• Retention and drainage basins

• On- and off-site mitigation land

• School fees

• Parks and recreation fees

• Physical secondary access

• Fire fees

• Annual bonding fees.

Politics comes into play when obtaining the required approvals from county boards, city councils, and planning commissions. The level of public opposition or support affects hearings completion. They can be completed in as little as four months, or take years and cost over a million dollars. Property owners have three courses of action to take into consideration.

1. Entitlement and sale of the property ‘as is’ – This option brings the lowest price, but costs the least and requires the shortest time for property disposal. Under rare circumstances, the land is worth more when it is unentitled.

2. Enter into a long-term agreement – The agreement is made with a home builder who incurs the expenses of processing a tract map. This option is the most utilized. The process could take up to five years. The buyer is required to release nonrefundable deposits periodically to the seller after approving their contingencies. Escrow closing typically occurs after tentative or final map approval.

3. The owner incurs the entitlement costs – Much of the process is like option two. The difference is the owner has full control of the mapping process and bears all expenses.

The ramifications of each choice should be weighed carefully before making a decision. Owners, who have chosen not to seek advice, have made the decision to process a map and found out later the number of lots was not financially feasible. A competent engineer can determine the optimal number of lots that can be obtained and approved. Smart growth design principals call for buildings with a variety of materials, texture, and color and individuality; well-defined open space; a building and street relationship; mixed uses; and high-density development. Contractors, who specialize in residential subdivisions, can give realistic cost estimations.

The process of entitling residential property to higher densities is costly, complex, and cumbersome. Many factors must be taken into consideration. The leading concerns that communities have about increased density are the quality of life and increased costs.

There is a need for new affordable housing to reduce recent overpayment and overcrowding. There is also a need for high-density housing that supports economic recovery, accommodates new workers and their loved ones, and economizes the costs of infrastructure. It is quite a balancing act. Open spaces need to be conserved and the distance between new jobs and new homes reduced.

Commercial Construction Tips – Is the Project Feasible?

Getting a construction project off the ground can be very tricky, as there is a lot that needs to be considered before you even lay the first brick. Making sure that the project is actually feasible in the first place is extremely important, and it should be the first thing that you do when you decide to start work.

So just how can you determine whether the project is actually feasible? Here are just a few tips to get you started.

Speak to an Accountant

Budget is always going to be one of the most important aspects of any construction project, as running out of money at a critical juncture could prove to be a fatal blow for what you have in mind.

When you have an idea of what you want to build and you have some plans drawn up you should talk to a qualified accountant who can help you set out a budget and determine what needs to be spent and where. It is at this point that you will be able to determine if the work is financially viable and if you can deliver it within your budget.

Speak to a Solicitor

There are numerous legalities that are involved in practically any type of building work, so it is important to make sure that you have all of them squared away before you begin working on the project.

Speak to a solicitor who specialises in property development and find out what permissions you need to get and which red tape you need to cut to get the project off the ground. Failure to do so could lead to you doing something illegal, which is grounds for having the entire project shut down.

Speak to an Architect

While you may be able to create your original plans without too much hassle, to really know what is going to have to be put into the project you are going to have to speak to an architect and get their expert opinion.

They will be able to tell you if what you have in mind is even physically possible and will also be able to suggest changes to the original plans to account for any issues that they see.

This is a massively important step, as you need somebody who is qualified in the field to not only sign off on the project and ensure it is feasible, but also to help you in the overall design.

Speak to Your Crew

The final step in determining if your project is feasible is talking to your building crew. You need to know that everybody that you have working for you is able to do the jobs that you need them to do.

If they can’t, you will need to have enough money in the budget to hire somebody who can. Having the right crew is tantamount to the project’s success, so skipping this step or simply assuming that everything you have planned is a risky move at best and tantamount to construction suicide at worst.

Commercial Construction Tips – How to Come in Under Budget

If you are relatively new to the commercial construction business you might still have some things to learn. One of those things ought to be how to stay within your budget. If you do not have a plan for doing this it could become a constant and unnecessary battle for you. The key here is – having a plan in the first place. We are going to give you some ideas on what costs must be accounted for in your plan in order to determine what your individual project budget will be. Then you can proceed to plan how to meet that budget.

Unfortunately there are many common errors that occur when a commercial construction estimates their budget. The result is that quite often they do go over that budget. If you have a general concept of what those errors are you will know what to watch out for. Therefore, we will give you a list of what they are. In no particular order those factors are: price changes, omissions, unclear plans and specs, wrong assumptions, design changes, inadequate allowances, construction or design errors, cost-plus bids, hidden or concealed conditions, and design changes. This is some list! And this is only the list of known errors in budget estimations. It does not take into account all of the new issues that might crop up over time. But now you get a rough idea of all of the things that can go wrong. You and your leadership team may be able to come up with more possibilities right off the tops of your heads. Write them all down in your plan, and then proceed to discuss all of them in-depth.

Some things you will accomplish by dramatically reducing your budgetary errors are: to forge better relationships with your subcontractors, decrease the amount of time it takes your company to complete projects, and generally stay ahead of the ballgame. In addition to our list, we have some general tips for overall budgetary success. Our first tip is do not always accept the lowest bid. While you do want to keep your costs low, you also want to ensure you receive quality work. You will not necessarily get that from the sub-contractor that gives you the lowest bid. Do some investigating of your prospect before you go into business with them.

Our next suggestion is to always allow for any preventative measures; both from a safety standpoint involving any person who works on the project, and for things that could go wrong with that project. A lot of unplanned expense money on a project is paid out for medical care that is needed when people get injured on the job. Those injuries can be avoided if all safety guidelines and procedures are strictly adhered to. Additionally; when commercial construction companies fail to properly plan for anything that could go wrong on a project, that means more money will have to be shelled out to fix those things. This can be avoided if you allow for those kinds of expenses in your project budget to begin with. Remember the old Boy Scouts’ motto about always being prepared!!

Commercial Construction Tips – Facts About Construction Projects

Commercial construction is often an arbiter of changing economic conditions. Construction projects mean both an improving economy and a way to improve the economy of a given area. Read on to learn more interesting facts about it.

This type of construction helps public sector agencies as well as private firms. Big new schools in areas where people are moving give students a chance to learn in state of the art facilities. New office buildings bring jobs to the area, and the upward spiral continues. Not only do the buildings benefit the users, but the building process itself gives workers a solid job for several months, and the expenditures from the construction project go directly into the local economy.

The United States is second in the world in terms of this construction, regardless of where the company doing the building is headquartered. As much as 10% of all commercial construction takes place in the US, and New York is the city with the most commercial construction going on – $8.5 billion (that’s billion with a B) in 2013. A lot of the construction was for residential buildings. Following New York were Houston and Dallas. Those two cities spent $10 billion in 2013 on commercial projects.

One of the biggest trends in commercial construction is green building. Experts from the Environmental Protection Agency expect that by 2017 as much as 48% of new building will be done with green building materials. To put that in financial terms, it could mean as much as $145 billion dollars.

By 2018, 84% of residential construction companies plan to have at least some of their construction projects classified as green. To get an idea of just what kind of impact this has on the overall economy, consider that residential projects total as much as 5% of the current gross domestic product of the US. As more and more firms add green building to their plans, it might mean that as much as 18% of GDP will be based around green construction.

Big commercial office buildings are going green, too. LEED certification is becoming the main standard, and builders are up to 41% green as of 2012. Just how rapidly is this growing? Consider that only 2% of commercial construction, non-residential, projects were green in 2005. It’s no surprise that states like Hawaii and California are leading the way in LEED projects.

It’s not just the US that is interested in green construction, though. LEED certifications around the world are becoming more common. A study released earlier this year showed that as many as 69,000 LEED projects are going on globally in 150 different countries.

This construction is as important to the global economy as it has ever been, and the increases in such projects over the last few years signal a positive change after the worldwide recession of 2008-09 and the soft recovery that followed. With even more green projects being planned than ever before, commercial construction projects will also be kinder to the planet, meaning everyone will benefit for years to come.