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IDEVICES DIMMER SWITCH ROUNDS OUT SMART HOME COLLECTION

Builder

The new dimmer is fully compatible with all major voice platforms.

The iDevices Dimmer Switch, shown alongside the smartphone app control.
Courtesy iDevicesThe iDevices Dimmer Switch, shown alongside the smartphone app control.

The August 16th launch of the iDevices Dimmer Switch marks the first new product launch for iDevices since its recent acquisition by HubbellIncorportated.

The Dimmer Switch is the only hub-less smart switch on the market that’s compatible with all three major smart home assistants – Siri, Alexa, and the Google Assistant. Its sleek, minimalist design fits easily into existing rocker faceplates and integrates into existing lighting systems like a traditional wall switch, with single pole, 3- and 4-way setups available. Dimmer Switch users can control their whole home lighting setup via smartphone app, and select a variety of colors for the dimmer switch’s built-in LED night light.

“The iDevices Dimmer Switch enhances our extensive line of premium smart home solutions and brings us closer to our goal of creating products that seamlessly integrate into the walls of any home,” says Chris Allen, iDevices President. “With Hubbell’s long history in the electrical industry, and our expertise in the IoT marketplace, we have the combined strength to continue our evolution towards flexible, ‘invisible’ products that fit any home, new or old. The iDevices Dimmer Switch is one of many innovations to come, forever changing the smart home as we know it.”

The iDevices Dimmer Switch retails for $99.95, and is compatible with iOS devices with iOS 8.1+ and Android™ 4.3+ devices via Bluetooth. The entire iDevices smart home solutions platform, which includes the iDevices Wall Switch, Wall Outlet, and Thermostat, is now available both for retail and wholesale purchasing, with expanded options and services available for home builders and professional installers. https://idevicesinc.com/pro

Mary SalmonsenMARY SALMONSEN

Mary Salmonsen is a recent graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. As an assistant editor with Hanley Wood’s Residential Construction Group, she covers demographics, local markets, and finance for Builder and Multifamily Executive magazines.

Turn Your Client’s Garage Into a Savvy Storage Space

Consider these organization ideas on the walls, floors, and ceilings

Your clients need more storage space in the garage, so what are some of the best options? Before you can even begin to use the garage as storage, it’s best to ensure the space is a safe place for your client’s belongings.


Storage ideas can range from very simple to complex. Whether it’s toys, tools, or recreational equipment, with proper planning and some creativity, you can transform a client’s garage into a functional storage space where every item has its place.

Making the Garage Storage Ready
The garage usually collects clutter, so recommend a good cleaning to remove unwanted items and any rubbish taking up valuable garage space. It’s easier to estimate the amount of available space and make plans when the garage is clear of clutter.

Is the garage safe for storage? It is an extension of the home, so it’s not always as warm and dry as the rest of the house. Check for leaks that may allow moisture in and ruin items in the garage.

Winterizing the garage is also a good suggestion for homeowners. The garage may be colder or hotter than the rest of the home. This means making sure there is adequate insulation and the garage door is working properly. Another suggestion may be adding heat or temperature control, so clients can use as desired.

Once it’s determined there’s no leaks or other possible catastrophes, you can recommend some remodeling ideas to give the clients the storage solutions they need.

Simple Storage Ideas
Suggest to your clients using all available space gives them ample storage. Some simple storage ideas utilize the walls, floor, and ceiling space.

Walls
Hooks, shelves, and cabinetry make excellent solutions for using available wall space. Hooks are versatile because they allow homeowners to hang up all sorts of items. Whether it’s a bicycle, gardening tool, or ladder, hooks provide endless options.


Floors
Benches that double as storage boxes are a great idea to increase storage for a client’s garage. You can custom build the benches to match the client’s needs. Whether it’s just to store miscellaneous items, like gardening or automotive accessories, adjustments to the bench can help meet their needs.

Ceilings
Utilizing overhead space greatly increases the overall storage space for clients. You can build an overhead rack out of PVC pipe or other materials to store items overhead. There’s also the option of buying overhead racks to stow away bulky items, like totes and bins.

A more creative idea is building sliding storage overhead with bins that easily slide in and out to add or take items as the client needs them.

Tips to Give Clients
No matter what type of storage remodel the clients decides on, there are some tips you can give to help ensure their items are stored properly and safely.

  • Keep chemicals and toxic materials in a locked cabinet
  • Don’t store flammable items near heaters
  • Consider additional storage needs for the future
  • Label all boxes or bins correctly to avoid confusion
  • Always allow sufficient space for doors to open
  • Don’t cover any ventilation systems

With proper planning and measuring, you can come up with good storage solutions for any size garage your client has to work with. The garage is more than just a home for a car. It can be a workshop, a toyshop, or even a gardening center. These are things to keep in mind when deciding on solutions for differing homeowners.

Kacey Bradley

Kacey Bradley is the creator of lifestlye blog The Drifter Collective. Her work has also been featured on Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, and the Huffington Post.

SCHLAGE ANNOUNCES ANDROID COMPATIBILITY AND WI-FI ADAPTER FOR SMART DEADBOLT

Builder

With the Wi-Fi Adapter, users can access their Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt from anywhere in the world.

The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt in Matte Black, with Wi-Fi Adapter.
Courtesy SchlageThe Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt in Matte Black, with Wi-Fi Adapter.

Schlage has upgraded its existing Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt system with two new functionalities. Android smartphone users are now able to use the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt, and the newly-released Schlage Sense Wi-Fi Adapter allows both Android and Apple users to control their Schlage Sense from anywhere in the world through the Schlage Sense app.

The free Schlage Sense app allows both iOS and Android smartphone users to control their deadbolt and keypad access from their smartphone. Users can create and delete up to 30 unique access codes, schedule access codes for certain dates or times, and view past activity to see which codes have been used and when.

With the Wi-Fi Adapter plugged in and connected to a home Wi-Fi network, users can also check on the lock’s status from anywhere in the world, and will recieve push notifications when the lock is used.

The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt is available for $229 MSRP at select retailers. The keypad is offered in two styles – traditional-style Camelot and contemporary-style Century – and Matte Black, Satin Nickel and Aged Bronze finishes. The Wi-Fi Adapter retails separately for $69.99 MSRP. www.schlage.com

Mary SalmonsenMARY SALMONSEN

Mary Salmonsen is a recent graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. As an assistant editor with Hanley Wood’s Residential Construction Group, she covers demographics, local markets, and finance for Builder and Multifamily Executive magazines.

TECH BOOM: BABY BOOMERS AND TECHNOLOGY

As nearly 20% of America’s population reaches retirement age, there’s an increased need to consider the aging in place community when designing and building new homes. Find out how the baby boomer generation is transforming the housing landscape and what you can do to adapt.


With an estimated 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day in the U.S., the rate of the retirement population is projected to almost double by 2030.

Along with that immense growth, there will be a rising demand for homes that provide accessibility and comfort as baby boomers seek the ability to safely and independently remain in their current homes—a concept referred to as aging in place.

To better cater to this increasingly technology-savvy audience, here are some examples of technology you may want to consider implementing when designing for new home builds.

There’s No Place Like Home
While many people plan to relocate after retirement, there are those who prefer to live in their current homes indefinitely. In fact, according to one study, 63 percent of baby boomers never plan to move again.

In order for seniors to comfortably and conveniently age in place, however, they need access to a variety of assistive amenities and technology.

Some examples of those amenities include:

  • Safety-Conscious Features – Features such as shower seating and grab bars can help seniors unable to stand for an extended period of time, and can prevent falls while showering or navigating the bathroom.
  • Automatic Countertops/Shelving – Cabinets and countertops that can be opened and/or lowered automatically for easier access.
  • Smart Home Devices – Helps to provide quick and convenient control of the home environment. This includes motion-sensor lighting and automated temperature control systems.
  • Advanced Security Features – Doorbell cameras and surveillance equipment can help provide extra security and peace of mind.

With growing environmental concerns, baby boomers are also becoming more interested in home designs that promote energy and resource efficiency.


In fact, many builders are starting to apply water-saving features in their building plans, including:

  • Low-flow shower heads
  • Composting toilets
  • Smart sprinklers and irrigation controls
  • Gray water gathering/recycling devices

Final Thoughts

According to one report, “Older homeowners will continue to dominate the remodeling market, as they make investments to age in place safely and comfortably. Expenditures by homeowners age 55 and over are expected to grow by nearly 33 percent by 2025, accounting for more than three-quarters of total gains over the decade. The share of market spending by homeowners age 55 and over is projected to reach 56 percent by 2025, up from only 31 percent in 2005.”

With this new wave of baby boomers entering the new home and remodeling market, the ability to provide niche specialties that focus on convenience, safety and energy conservation will only help to grow and transform the housing market.

SIDING, PAINT, ROOFING, WALLBOARD JOIN LUMBER AS INPUT INFLATION DRIVERS

BUILDER

As 2018 budget season arrives, it’s time to both model in and do something about cost escalation on building products and materials.

Constraints on the supply of newly-built homes and communities is not letting up, nor is it likely to.

The biggest obstacle from the perspective of builders, as we’ve noted here, is land. It’s hard to find, too expensive, and takes too long to entitle and permit. What’s more, to some degree, the successful pace of sales in new communities across many geographies over the past couple of years served to make the issue worse. Solid sell-through and absorption on currently open communities forces a camel through the eye of a needle, as all builders need to restock “stores” that will sell out with new neighborhoods for next Spring and 2019, and 2020.

Labor’s been and will be a cause celebre, and squeezes between the need to deliver and the accessibility of skilled trade crews along a give-or-take continuum of weather hiccups and other unforeseen delays can and do impact costs. A lot. It’s been widely noted that shortages of roofers, framers, and other skilled workers chronically impede predictability on timing and price through the project cycle.

Less noted, but maybe of equal importance in the labor capacity equation, is a shortage of project superintendent-level skilled associates. This relatively young, profoundly important contributor to construction cycle management took a massive hit during the downturn, and it’s the availability of this type of worker–one you can’t train up in a day–that is not only holding back the ability to add new projects, but also impacts the efficiency and operational effectiveness and quality of some of the newer subdivisions actively selling now. This is a real-time cost-inflation driver, and it’s one that makes builder firms themselves part of the labor capacity challenge.

When it comes to material input costs, lumber prices have hogged headlines. They’re tied in with politics and trade wars since a lot of lumber comes into the U.S. from Canada, and predictability on both supply and price is volatile.


Still, material input cost inflation doesn’t stop there. As Ivy Zelman and her analysis team at Zelman & Associates note in the latest The Z Report, pressures on land, labor, and materials have converged, driving construction cost inflation to a level it hasn’t seen since May of 2014, 38 months.

The Z Report’s latest August 11 issue notes that, while labor and lumber rank as factors private home builders regard as most “problematic” in driving cost inflation, other variables have crept into the picture. (You can access a free trial of this twice-monthly package of exclusive data and analysis by clicking here).


Unfortunately for builders, costs are rising elsewhere as well, with our indices for the other 12 categories all higher on a year-to-date basis, led by siding, paint, wallboard and roofing.

Of course, a business environment of upward pressure on costs impacts both present cash-flow and operating cost management as well as forward financial modeling that needs to mitigate risk to margins.

As Zelman experts note, builders have been more than able to absorb input cost inflation in their pricing up to now, but what happens when–not if–interest rates bump up a couple hundred basis points? There may not be all that price elasticity that we’ve seen underlying demand to date.

Other things to think about in light of a input cost inflation era are about both business model and operations management. On the business model front, obviously deeper, more expansive, and more concentrated area market scale yields local clout that may offset some of the upward pressure on material input costs. That works not simply at any given snapshot of a moment, but across time as well, since a “smoothing” of demand through each time increment can expose opportunities to take cost out of the supply chain.

So, scale–real, not hypothetical–is one counter-force to material cost inflation.

Another, related but separate mitigator is operational excellence, which harmonizes the take-down of resources with the ability to create value with them in the speediest possible duration.

This is where disciplines builders acquire from experiences such as Fletcher Groves’ Builder Velocity Pipeline Workshopscome into play. The next such event is taking place Oct. 18-19, at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Here’s a rundown of key take-aways:

  • a strong, visual image of a homebuilding production system – its purpose, its size, its cost, and its capacity.
  • a simple, elegant, actionable understanding of how operating decisions drive business outcomes, and how the measures of operating performance connect to the business outcome measures of profitability and economic return.
  • an ordered manner of thinking and reasoning – a set of mental models – about the relationship and interaction of the dependent parts that comprise a homebuilding production system, providing a systemic approach to solving production problems and managing finite production capacity, and a blended approach to process and project portfolio management that addresses the unique attributes and parameters of homebuilding production.
  • a set of velocity accelerators – detailed information on tactics, techniques, and practices dealing with specific areas that affect production management, all of which contributes to less variation and waste, fewer errors, shorter schedules, reduced build/cycle times, increased production throughput, and controlled levels of construction work-in-process.

John McManusJOHN MCMANUS

John McManus is an award-winning editorial and digital content director for the Residential Group at Hanley Wood in Washington, DC. In addition to the Builder digital, print, and in-person editorial and programming portfolio, his accountability for the group includes strategic content direction for Affordable Housing FinanceAquatics InternationalBig Builder, Custom Home, the Journal of Light ConstructionMultifamily Executive, Pool & Spa News, Professional Deck Builder, ProSales, Remodeling, Replacement Contractor, and Tools of the Trade.

10 TOP-RATED CONSTRUCTION APPS

BUILDER

From estimates and bids to project management and drone photography, these mobile apps are worth a second look.


Courtesy JobFlex

Ten apps for the construction industry have been recognized as tops in their class.

From estimating and bids to project management, the 10 apps have received the 2017 Construction App Award from scheduling software maker TSheets. The award is based on a number of criteria, including how well the app solves a specific problem, its interface, and the quality of the app’s customer service. A full review of each app is available on TSheets’ website.

Here, awards organizers list each winner with some thoughts on why it’s a standout app:

Estimates and Bids: JobFLEX
This is the second year in a row that JobFLEX has won this category. We love the fact that you don’t have to be at all tech savvy to use the app. It also works with or without a cellular connection.

Safety: Red Cross First Aid
This gets great reviews in both the Apple App Store and Google Play and it’s easy to see why. The app is packed with info, it’s easy to navigate, everything’s available in Spanish and English, and it connects straight to 911.

Mapping: DroneDeploy
This is a new category for 2017, recognizing how many drones are buzzing around construction sites these days. We love how easy it is to create flight plans with this app and share maps with your other team members.

Project Management: e-Builder
This is a competitive category every year but e-Builder was our top choice for 2017 largely because of its no-fuss, simple layout. The interface is intuitive and the app really comes into its own when you have multiple projects on the go.

Mobile Tool: DEWALT Mobile Pro
The basic version of this app is free and it covers all of the essentials but what sets this app apart from all of the other construction calculators out there is the fact that you can buy job-specific add-ons, which are a lot cheaper than having to buy a ton of extra features you don’t need.

Photography: TrueLook
This is the second drone app to make the final 10 this year but this one is targeted at a very different market because you don’t need to own a drone to use it. if you’re considering using fly-through or time-lapse photography, TrueLook puts a national network of experienced drone pilots at your fingertips.

Task Management: Closeout
This is another very competitive category and Closeout is another newcomer this year. The way it handles reports straight from the construction site is where it really comes into its own. It’s well laid out and makes great use of photography.

BIM: Autodesk BIM 360
Autodesk has had a long time to perfect its software and you can see that in its BIM 360 app. It’s versatile, comprehensive, and comes highly recommended.

Logistics: GasBuddy
This app wasn’t built with the construction industry in mind but it’s ideal for it. If you’re on the road a lot between job sites, finding cheap gas is one of the easiest ways to save money and boost profit.

Reporting: Canvas
Canvas does what many construction apps were built for — getting rid of paper forms and tedious processes — and it does this really well. But what sets it apart from the others is its focus on great customer service. That’s a huge advantage these days.

Jennifer GoodmanJENNIFER GOODMAN

Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor at BUILDER and has 17 years of experience writing about the construction industry. She lives in the walkable urban neighborhood of Silver Spring, Md. Connect with her on Twitter at @Jenn4Builder.