How Canada’s builders are reimagining preconstruction

October 3, 2019 BuildingConnected

Curious where the Canadian construction industry is headed? Meet three builders that are embracing innovation in preconstruction to prepare for the future.

How CANA Construction manages preconstruction in a dynamic market.

CANA Construction, a Calgary-based general contractor that’s been building in Alberta since 1942, knows a thing or two about juggling several challenging projects at once. With a diverse project portfolio — from residential to infrastructure to civil works — the estimating team at CANA has optimized their preconstruction process to address both shifting project needs and an evolving construction environment.

The result? Smoother communication with subcontractors and trade partners — and dozens of hours saved on every project. As part of their efforts to streamline preconstruction, CANA started using BuildingConnected in 2018. “It’s night and day being able to more seamlessly manage the project, the trades, and the information from owners,” says Cora Sutton, Estimator.

Project information used to live in several disconnected systems. Now, everything is in one place. Plus, it’s far easier to manage multiple projects at once, as CANA’s estimators often do with Alberta’s recent push to process more natural resources in-province. This has created another challenge: projects far from Calgary are outside the work areas of some city subcontractors.

That’s where BC Pro (the paid version of BuildingConnected) comes into play, with search capabilities that allow CANA’s team to find subcontractors in any location.

“If you’re doing a job outside of your regular city, the trades can show where they’re able to bid — so you can see who’s willing to do work in that area instead of chasing down people.”

All of this is part of CANA’s larger effort to upgrade their software systems, something builders across Canada are increasingly focused on. Blaine Kalk, CANA’s Senior Estimator, has developed a keen eye for usability, as bad software can create more problems than it solves. “The old software we used to use was a headache. Just having good software is the relief of a headache,” he says.

Although choosing software is exciting, it should be done carefully. While it’s high time for Canada’s builders to go digital, it’s also important they choose the right tools when doing so — especially when it comes to preconstruction.

How Chandos Construction improved communication across geographic boundaries.

Chandos Construction is an award-winning, 100% employee-owned general contractor that is at the forefront of innovation, using the latest technology and new methods of contract delivery. With offices in Vancouver, Colona, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa, Chandos Construction needed a centralized platform to improve its tendering process and communication.

“Our tendering process was a hodgepodge of faxing and emailing based on old lists that we would collect through Outlook,” says Fraser Etherington, Civil Estimator.

To move from a paper-based system to digital construction organization, Chandos Construction turned to BuildingConnected, but the estimating team needed approval from executives first.

“Getting buy-in on BuildingConnected wasn’t hard. We did a trial version with our various offices and actually tried to break the software. We couldn’t break it. It did everything we wanted it to do,” says Randy Dupree, Director of Estimating Solutions. BuildingConnected enabled Chandos Construction to have a centralized database of subcontractor lists that are clean, neat, and organized by trade scope.

Chandos Construction was also able to solve one of its main challenges: improving communication and maintaining subcontractor relationships in a rapidly evolving industry.

“Having an online platform that can be accessed by all of our employees takes the trouble out of communication and record keeping, and it allows information sharing instantly across geographic boundaries,” says David Barber, Estimating Manager.

Dupree had one thing to say to general contractors that aren’t using BuildingConnected: “It’s an excellent product, it will streamline your process, and it’s well worth the investment.”

Why Chisholm Industries ditched their whiteboard for an online bid board.

Already facing a growing shortage of trade workers in Canada, some general contractors worry they may jeopardize their well-established relationships with subcontractors by asking them to bid online. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Take Chisholm Industries, a mechanical contractor in Calgary. In the city’s tough market, the team must work as quickly and efficiently as possible to win the best projects. Like many subs, Chisholm Industries used to manually transfer their bid information from emails to spreadsheets to whiteboards. Now, they manage their bids online.

“When we receive bid invites from GCs, we just forward them to BuildingConnected. The projects are all on our online bid board, and it helps us be so much more efficient,” says Larsen, Mechanical Estimator. “We save hours every week just by bidding online. The switch to BuildingConnected was a no-brainer.”

BuildingConnected was built for Canada.

It’s been an honor to come to know the Canadian construction community over these last few years. Now more than ever, BuildingConnected is invested in
the success of Canadian builders.

With our office in Toronto and a fast-growing Canadian team, we are excited to partner with commercial builders across Canada to streamline preconstruction, mitigate risk, and above all, build relationships.

Interested in learning more about BuildingConnected? Request a demo.

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