Thursday, 27 January 2011

Wo-Built’s Site Supervision Is Really Construction Management

Construction Manager, Job Is Never Done, by Wo-Built Inc.Photo-collage: Less Glamorous Work for a Construction Manager
Rain? Construction Manager's Job Is Never Done!
2011 © Wo-Built Inc.
As managing contractors for design and build projects, especially for home additions, custom homes and commercial renovations we provide the site supervision. The importance of site management is not to be underestimated for the success of the project and requires a substantial time commitment in large scale projects. Our lead project manager, Elida Huignard, often spends countless hours to troubleshoot and co-ordinate different trades and materials on site.

Often we are asked what site supervision entails and why it is so important. Here are some key abilities we are looking for in our site managers.

Project Management Ability: Any construction site that has a number of trades involved needs project management to bring the project in on time, budget and with good quality.
It is the site supervisor’s responsibility to record, document and manage the initial scope, negotiate any changes and implement the scope by arranging for the trades and materials. A construction site manager is also responsible for enforcing the site safety and for providing the continuity in the project. It is also requires an enormous amount of commitment to the project. The position of the site supervisor is not a 9-5 job, in effect the site supervisor is on call 24/7.

Building Knowledge: In addition to the managerial skills a supervisor needs to know how the building is constructed, to have a good grasp of the building codes and is competent in resolving technical details. In our project, to add a second and third floor we had to connect a new timber structure and the existing structure to a steel frame. The assembly was shown in detailed drawings by the architect, but due to site conditions we had to make changes. As a site supervisor Elida had to think of a way to resolve the problem, obtain the engineer’s agreement, explain the changes to the trades and ensure that it was done properly. Read more about this project in our article The Little Bungalow That Grew Up into an Elegant Palace.

It may be necessary to have different supervisors for the main construction and the fine finishing. The finishing stage requires a good eye for design nuances and this skill is different from knowing the structural, environmental and building envelope’s technical aspects.

People Skills: Broad back, patience and a sense of humour. It has been said that the easy part of the building project are the technical requirements, the difficult part is the human factor. This portion of supervision is the unpredictable one, the most emotional and sometimes frustrating, sometimes funny but always the one which can make or break a project.

People skills are the real art, and a supervisor has to be a diplomat, an enforcer and a leader at the same time. Good communication skills for both the client and the trades are important. In an interview with College Foundation of North Carolina Elida mentions a key ingredient for successful site management: "I like the interaction with all kinds of different people. I have to deal with project engineers, the bricklayers, the plumbers - all the trades."

With all the skills required and the tasks expected, construction site supervision is really construction management. It ensures that the projects run smoothly, safely, have continuity and come to a successful conclusion. But not all the tasks of the construction manager are glamorous, it ranges from sweeping debris if no-one else is available to money negotiations with the client. With all of the above construction site management skills a well-run building project is like a modern dance performance – it looks effortless even when dealing with the unexpected. At Wo-Built we are committed to support our construction managers and make their complicated work possible.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

On a Construction Site Expect the Unexpected: Potty Story

potty story: on construction site expect the unexpected, by wobuiltCollage: You Would Never Guess - Smell, Inconvenience and Expense
2011 @

Credit: MS Office ClipArt MC900030301

On a construction site
you have to expect the unexpected
and sometimes the bizarre.
Normally we don’t tell "potty stories".

OK, it is the slow season and I guess we are getting the winter blaahs. And I am suffering from writer’s block. I cannot think of anything interesting to write about the subject I love best, design and build of home additions and extensions.

So, here is a "you can only shake you head" story. On one occasion on one of our sites we disconnected an existing toilet and stored it away from the drain but still in the washroom for later re-installation. It was very obvious that there was no water or drain connection. Or so we thought. Some time later we noticed this awful smell emanating from the direction of said toilet. Further investigation found that someone left an offering to the "dunny" deities in the non-working toilet, "forgot" to tell us about it and left us to deal with the "sh*t". Why this person couldn’t use the working toilet on another floor is a mystery.

Now the issue with this situation is that you are dealing with biological hazardous waste and you have to get experts involved, the ones who come in with the suits, the masks and you hope..... an unmarked vehicle. Quite often these experts also deal with crime scene clean up and may advertise this on their vehicles. Nothing will excite the neighbourhood more than seeing a vehicle with "crime scene clean-up" written on the side.

Anyway, we did not envy them their work. It took several hours of gagging by the experts to dispose, clean, disinfect, sanitize and air freshen the site. I guess this was the best $500+++ spend for a long time. But if I ever find out who the culprit was I will…!!!!

On a construction site you have to expect the unexpected and sometimes the bizarre. No amount of supervision, foresight, rules, processes, signs, sign-offs and people acceptance of those can prevent all the human foolishness. It can only help to minimize them. Hence any incident which becomes humorous in hindsight is still bad, but bearable.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build
Wo-Built Inc: Design + Build Construction Company: Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator
by Janice Bell Biological Hazards on Construction Sites
By Geoffrey St. Marie, eHow Contributor
updated: November 18, 2010 Ontario Ministry of Labour: Construction
Here you will find a wealth of construction safety information — and links to more resources.
Revised: September 2010 Ontario Ministry of Labour: Health and Safety
Safe At Work Ontario is the Ministry of Labour strategy to protect workers’ health and safety on the job.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Using LinkedIn as Our Social Media Tool

linkedin: ask questions,find experts & answers with wo-built, wobuilt

Collage: LinkedIn Answers
Ask a Question - Answer Questions: wobuilt q&a
Credit: LinkedIn

Martina Ernst @ LinkedIn
CEO - Design & Build General Contractor - Renovations with a Woman's Touch
Toronto, Canada Area
Connections - 122 connections
Industry - Construction
Websites - Company Website + Blog

Everyone in the business world knows that LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 80 million professionals using this social networking platform to exchange information, ideas and opportunities. LinkedIn Answers is a great place to connect with other professionals to share business knowledge and expertise. Here are a few of my latest answers to the questions on the LinkedIn Answers:

"new years resolutions" Are annual goals too long of a timeframe? would having semi-annual resolutions be a better idea?
Asked by Issamar G. The Entrepreneur's Best Friend at Monetized Intellect Consulting
in Business Development, Career Management
Martina E. @ wobuilt answer:
Actually I have found that you need five year resolutions/goals or longer as well to steer your company in an overall direction. Sometimes ideas and initiatives will take a couple of years to come to fruition. A long-term goal needs to be divided into smaller time frame goals and strategies, which might be yearly or semi-annual goals, or even monthly ones. They have to be reviewed and evaluated on a predetermined frequency to make sure that they are still on track or need to adjusted. We get so wrapped up in day to day activities that we loose focus of the bigger picture.

Does a pop up make you more likely to sign up for a newsletter when you visit a website or does it irritate you? I am curious as to what your habits tend to be...
Asked by Lisa L.: Social Media Specialist - Teaching you how to grow your business via online connections and engagement
in Lead Generation
Martina E. @ wobuilt answer:
I find pop-ups very irritating and they have never enticed me to sign up for or buy anything. Generally I do not sign up for newsletters, mailing lists etc since I am inundated with e-mails I do not want in the first place. I hardly read the newsletters from people i know due to lack of time. Therefore what would entice me to give out my contact info? Usually only if there is something I need right at that moment and I usually only want a one time answer, not a longstanding flow of information. Maybe active social media campaigns would be better lead generators than mailing lists.

I'm doing a little survey for a bunch of my friends. If you're self employed and sell a service - what are your PROVEN tips for getting gigs?
Asked by Isabella M.: Co-Organizer at MentalHealthCamp
in Business Development
Martina E. @ wobuilt answer:
It depends on what your service is, what your client profile is, if your service local or covers a wider area. However, regardless of the above it is important to have a web presence. A website more static, general information, a blog, tweets, facebook etc for more dynamic timely information are a minimum nowadays. However maintaining a successful web presence will require persistence.

What's the worth of a "Like" for your business?
Asked by Hanan G.: Managing Director, 2creativ - a Digital Marketing Agency
in Business Development
Martina E. @ wobuilt answer:
Hi Hanan, I generally agree with Erica's answer and her blog since I believe that clicking the "like" button takes the least effort and that at this point one does not have a relationship with the reader. I also agree that the quantity of likes are meaningless and give a faulty sense of popularity.

However, I consider likes a start to a relationship as they are first points of contact. The content of a post stood out enough that the person reading it noticed it and thought enough of it to press the like button. It is up to me then to develop the relationship by answering the "like" and start a conversation, after all there seem to be some common ground for a conversation. Similar to other forms of contact they need to be acknowledged and maybe something unexpected might be the outcome.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Thinking about Renovation? 10 Vital Things You Need to Know: Workshop February 22

flyer: Wo-Built home design workshop how-to plan renovation, 10 vital things to know before starting renovationFlyer: Wo-Built Inc. Home Design Workshop February 22, 2011
10 Vital Things You Need to Know before Starting a Renovation

As we mentioned before, we are going to continue our workshop series in 2011 in our new office in the Corso Italia area.
Wo-Built Inc. Invites You
to Our Next Home Design Workshop

10 Vital Things You Need to Know
before Starting a Renovation

When: Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
Time: 7 – 9 pm

Location: 1287 St Clair Ave West, #3, Toronto, ON M6E 1B8
(St Clair Ave West and Greenlawn – Corso Italia)

We will explore the different stages of renovation, any pitfalls you may encounter and you will receive any general and specific advice you may need.

Bring photos of your spaces (interiors and exteriors) and take measurements of your house.

You should attend the workshop if you are thinking of or planning a renovation that may involve trades, permits, designers and engineers or is bigger than you want to handle by yourself.

Contact (416) 402 2679 to reserve your seat
or e-mail

See you there!

Wo-Built's Home Design Workshop at the Wise Daughters Crafts Market, April 1, 2009Photo: Wo-Built's Home Design Workshop at the Wise Daughters Crafts Market
First Session: Solving problem spaces:: April 1, 2009
2011 © Wo-Built Inc.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Start Planning Your Home Renovation: Renovate Your House – Rediscover Your Home!

Renovate Your House – Rediscover Your Home, by wo-built Renovate Your House – Rediscover Your Home!
2011 @

2010 - Year of Achievement
2010 was a challenging year for many businesses, but somehow, it still became a year of achievement for Wo-Built Inc. and we did find things to celebrate. We moved to a bigger and better office space (with windows!) in a wonderful neighbourhood, we were creators of WoBinna & Friends our anime, and we finished some exciting home addition projects just to name a few of our achievements.

2011 – Year of Expansion
We have some great ideas for 2011: more WoBinna, new services, lighting design, more mentoring initiatives, and more innovative green design projects including a modern greenhouse, green roof or a geothermal development. We are going to redesign our Dream House Assessment process and put it on our website. We are going to start our design workshops again as we have this lovely office in the Corso Italia area - great shops, great restaurants, check it out.

As the festivities of the Christmas season wind down and we say good-bye to the old year, we start to look forward to what 2011 will bring us. We'd like to remind you that now is a good time to start planning that home renovation that you have been thinking of. You may have been putting your Christmas decorations away and thought it might be a good time to refresh your home by renovating a kitchen for instance, or you may have already been thinking of a bigger renovation or addition to increase the space in your home before all the festivities began.

With spring around the corner, now is an ideal time to start planning. At Wo-Built Inc. as a boutique design and build firm, we have many innovative design ideas to create your dream space, and we know about the upcoming trends for this year. We can also help you with the planning of your project, as well as making your dream a reality.

Wo-Built would like to extend our best wishes for the New Year and we look forward to helping you achieve the home of your dreams in this New Year. Make this the year that your dream home becomes a reality! We'd love to help.

Wo-Built's Team
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

10 Renovation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them: Lecture

renovation mistakes - how to avoid them, collage, by Olga Goubar, wobuiltCollage: WoBinna: "Home-Renovation-Pitfalls-How to avoid-Cool-Check it out!?
2011 @

For those who want find out about renovation mistakes and how to avoid them, we found an interesting lecture on the subject.

Top 10 Pitfalls of Home Renovation

When: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.

Bloor Gladstone Branch Public Library
1101 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1M7
South side of Bloor Street, 1/2 block east of Dufferin Street; TTC Dufferin subway stop.

Poor planning, contractor absenteeism and budget/schedule overruns are a few of the common mistakes that undermine renovation projects.
Louise Green, a renovation consultant and certified project manager will reveal the top 10 renovation mistakes and how to avoid them.

facebook: public event - Top 10 Pitfalls of Home Renovation

twitter: @ bloor_gladstone: Come to "Top 10 Pitfalls of Home Renovation" Thursday, January 20 from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Join Louise Green,...
2:45 PM Jan 4th via Facebook

Please take a look on a couple of Wo-Built's articles:

Professional Versus Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Renovations

The message here is that unless you know what you are doing and really enjoy puttering around with home repairs and renovation projects, a professional renovation team can save time, aggravation and costly mistakes. The cost may be higher but the payback can be substantial in the long run. Peace of mind for a job well done, and the time for personal interests may be well worth the price tag. I know what my choice will be for future projects.
by Lonya Miller, Writer, Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Why Customers Should Never Be Their Own General Contractors
Finally, naive customers are not aware of all the little details that go into finishing a job. The most common mistakes they make are not allowing enough offset from a sink backsplash to the faucets, so that your hands cannot get around them. Another common mistake is placing electrical boxes too close to doorways and then choosing wide casement which then has to have an ugly cutout to fit around them.
by Janice Bell, author of now famous Tales from the Renovation Track – the series of articles One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Using Twitter as Our Social Media Tool

wobuilt on twitter, @wobuilt screenshot@wobuilt on twitter: screenshot

If you're still considering using Twitter as a business tool, please check out one of our most fruitful day on Twitter:

National Building Code
What Is Coming Up In 2010 National Building Code - what we learned at the #Homebuilder & #Renovator Expo.

Find us on - Design & Build, Commercial, Residential Additions, #Toronto Construction Specialists

We have a lot 2 be proud of this year. We brought #WoBinna & Friends 2 life 2 connect to the younger generation. We finished two large #home #addition #projects this year. Hurray!!! Find them on our blog. We made a big step this year in our mission to help #women in #construction. One of our protegees was hired by another #building company. This was the year of change. We moved to a great neighbourhood (Corso Italia) into an office with windows. Great for creativity and #design. Our Achievement Lunch - Great food and company to celebrate our 4th year in #business. Looking forward to next year.

We have some great ideas for 2011. More WoBinna, New service: #Lighting design, More #mentoring initiatives, More innovative #green #design Another great idea for 2011. We are going to redesign our #DreamHouse Assessment process and put it on our website. BETA around March 2011. We will be more involved in the Corso Italia BIA in the New Year to promote the area. Great shops, great restaurants, check it out. As we have this lovely office we are going to start our #design workshops again. First workshop will be scheduled for February.

Wouldn't it be great 2 grow food in Toronto all year round in our back yards? Maybe a modern #greenhouse? Talk 2 us if u r interested. Still looking for our first #GreenRoof or #Geothermal project. Anyone interested? Contact us. We would love to talk to you.

Stay tuned for our upcoming mini posts on the lifestream aggregator, rss reader, and social bookmarking system twibs/wobuilt and follow @TwitterBusiness to keep up with the latest on how brands, businesses, schools, and community groups are using Twitter.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Happy Holidays! It's the 2011 Children's Book Of Celebration!

The Children's Book Of Celebration with wo-built's ad 2011, collage Olga Goubar, wobuiltCollage: "The Children's Book Of Celebration" 2011
Publication of Regional Maple Leaf Communications Inc.
Illustrations by Cecilia Camet
Request your FREE Books to Take Home

We are glad to announce that this great practical activity book for children of all ages is now in distribution. You can see our advertisement published on page 26. Look out for your FREE copy to take home or request your FREE book online:

The Children's Book Of Celebration is a joyous colouring, activity book highlighting the special events and holidays from around the world and includes learning games, crafts and puzzles for kids.

We hope you find it useful. Enjoy!