Construction Management :: The Construction Management Pro

So You Want to Remodel Your Kitchen

June 15, 2013

You have been thinking about remodeling your kitchen. So you have gone on line and looked at cabinets, hardware, sinks, faucets and now believe you are ready to negotiate with a contractor. You know what you want and how much it will cost you for materials. So, all you want is the contractor to provide the labor to install it, right!  Well not so fast.

A good contractor is not only an installer, but can solve problems as they arise. A good contractor is a manager of the entire construction process, design consultant, plan reviewer, purchasing agent, material expediter, project manager and trouble shooter. In order to get the best project, we ask questions that will help us meet your needs. By listening carefully we can take the work you have done online and meld it together to create a unified design and construction process.

While our clients are most often concerned with the style and look of what is to be installed, we must also consider HOW it is to be installed. Only experience and expertise can look at what currently exists and make assessments of how the new materials will be coordinated seamlessly into the renovation. This is often a problem with older homes. The materials used 30 – 40 years ago are often of different dimensions compared to what is used today. Walls are not plumb or square, floors are not level. Making these adjustments add not only to the material cost but add time to the project as well.  These must be considered in the total cost of the project.  And then there are the hidden costs: do outlets need to be adjusted, do electrical connections need to be modified, will the new plumbing fixtures fit in existing fixtures etc.

A remodeling project, especially in an older home, may be more of a renovation project. Not only are you installing new materials, you must also ensure that it matches up with the existing materials. Remember the old saying “You get what you pay for.” It takes experience, expertise and dedication to detail to ensure that the final product has the fit and finish consistent with the excellence you deserve.

For more information, check out our new website:

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Considering Remodeling Your Kitchen?

June 15, 2013

The first step in problem solving is Problem Identification. So, last week we asked you to focus on what is wrong with your kitchen. In this installment we will look at one of the most difficult things to address in kitchen remodleing:

Step 2.           Assess the kitchen layout. Does it work for how you want to use it?

A myriad of non-cooking activities such as watching TV, entertaining, homework and talking on the telephone have been a “but of course” comment for many families when it comes to what is done in the kitchen. Have you ever asked the kitchen designer did they cook? Does your kitchen match your life style? Do you entertain a lot and need the capacity to serve a lot of people. Do you need to cook for a lot of people? Do you like folks to hang out while you cook? Maybe you have kids that like to help out so you want a separate prep space (and sink) for them or whoever is that second cook in the kitchen. Multiple cooks mean multiple work triangles or at least minimize their conflicts. Design and color are wonderful, but if they don’t enhance the cooking experience, then we can never have a truly GREAT kitchen.

So what is a “Work Triangle” and why does it matter? The concept for the kitchen work triangle was developed in the 1940s,  The kitchen was looked at as a space where only cooking took place. The kitchen work triangle connects the three main work areas in the kitchen — the sink, the range, and the refrigerator. As a general guideline, the distance between these areas determine the effeciency and the amount of energy you expend in the kitchen. The total of all three sides of the triangle should be between 13 feet and 26 feet. If the distance is too small, the kitchen will feel cramped, too large and you spend a lot of energy going from station to station.

Today, more activities are done in the kitchen, so this concept has changed. In addition to the big three, you may have a clean up area, food prep, serving, computer/homework areas as well. If there are more than one person that cooks, then you have to envision how they will work together in the same space while reducing conflicts and improving flow in and around the space.

Adequate prep space is often forgotten because it’s not explicitly thought about. It’s a good idea to have one prep space near the sink and one near the stove. Put utensils, pots and spices near the stove for easy cooking — it’ll save additional steps. Your clean up space should be near your dish and tableware storage, or maybe you want them near your serving area. In kitchen design, there are no hard and fast rules, it’s how you want and use the space.

While all this is good, do you have the space for making these changes? Do you have the infastructure to support it (plumbing and electric), will the appliances fit, are there structural walls that make it difficult to optimize your design concepts. Now you know why I say this is the most difficult thing to address.

For more information on kitchen design, see our new website:

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Do You Have an Out Dated Kitchen?

June 8, 2013

We at TCAI, LLC have created a Home Improvement Construction company, Flamingo Construction, LLC specializng in upgrading and renovating kitchens.  Our mission is to convert your existing kitchen to meet your needs and lifestyle. Kitchens are the heart and soul of the home. Let us give you the kitchen you envision. Whether it’s changing the layout, cabinets, counter tops, sinks, faucets, flooring or hardware.

In this blog we will discuss and review the many options that will modernize and convert your kitchen into a state of the art cooking and eating area for you and your home.

A Great kitchen is all about a well-planned space that makes the cooking experience a completely interactive and enjoyable one between family and friends.

Step 1. Identify what’s WRONG with the Kitchen

Your first step in considering remodeling your kitchen should be to identify what’s wrong with your kitchen. Now that may sound obvious, but you would be surprised as to how many people start with style and color and never address why they hate their kitchen!! We want you to identify the biggest problem you have with your kitchen. That might be the lack of counter space, storage for food, pots or utensils. Maybe the layout just doesn’t work for your lifestyle or the way you cook.

For additional ideas, check out our new web site:

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FREE FEMA Residential Coastal Construction Class

May 19, 2013


FEMA Building Science, the FEMA New Jersey Field Office, the New Jersey DCA and Rutgers is offering a FREE course in Best Practices in Flood and Wind Mitigation for engineers, architects, contractors, builders and local officials. The course will be offered in three locations:

June 6, 2013 8:00 am -5:00 pm

Holiday Inn at Hasbrouck Heights
283 Route 17 South, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604

(201) 288-9600


June 20, 2013 8:00 am -5:00 pm

Ocean County Training Center
200 Volunteer Way, Waretown, NJ 08758

(609) 242-8450 


June 25, 2013 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Monmouth County Fire Academy
1027 Highway 33 East, Freehold, NJ 07728

(732) 683-8857


To register for classes email:

For more detailed information go to:

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Now Available: Stronger NJ Business Grant program

May 2, 2013

Now Available: Stronger NJ Business Grant program 

Source: New Jersey Builder’s Association

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is accepting applications for the Stronger NJ Business Grant program. This program provides up to $50,000 per impacted location and up to $250,000 per entity to eligible small businesses and non-profit organizations which sustained a minimum of $5,000 in physical damage from Superstorm Sandy.

Governor Chris Christie has tasked the NJEDA to administer $460 million of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to support the recovery of storm-impacted businesses. Of this total, $260 million will fund the Stronger NJ Business Grant program.

For more information regarding the Stronger NJ Business Grant program, including eligibility information and application instructions, please visit:

The NJEDA Office of Recovery Superstorm Sandy hotline is also open at 1-855-SANDY-BZ to answer any questions you may have regarding the program and application process.

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Origins of the Threshold

October 19, 2012

Did you ever wonder were some building component names come from? Well I have. Here is the answer to one of them.

In the 1500s floors were principally dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt floors. Hence the saying “dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet. So, to combat that problem, they spread straw (also know as thresh) on the floor to help with their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. This was soon know as a “thresh-hold.”

Home Depot carries more than 700 different thresholds! You can find them made of wood, metal, plastic, composite materials, marble, bamboo or just about any material. They are mostly used to assist in closing the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor as well as acting as a transition from one floor type to another (think hallways to bathrooms). Check your exterior thresholds as they are a primary area for not only heat loss, but an inviting avenue for unwanted pest to invade your home or property.

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Personal Liability for Contractor’s Officer

May 3, 2012

Never shy about expanding exposure to lawsuits, the New Jersey Supreme Court has decided that a company’s officers and employees can be personally liable for a corporations’s technical violations of a law. While the decision interprets the New Jersey Consume Fraud Act (CFA), one part of that analysis could pave the way for further undercutting the limited liability advantages of corporations and LLC’s.

Corporate officers and employees have always been personally liable for their negligence or other “torts” caused during employment. But, some laws also impose liability without fault. Under the CFA regulations involved in this case, home remodeling contracts and product substitutions must be in writing. Here, a contractor had orally contracted to build a pool’s retaining wall and may have substituted a different type of fill for the specified variety without written approval. Later, the wall bulged and cracked. A jury found the contractor at fault for CFA violations and the wall deficiencies, while the court imposed triple damages and counsel fees under the CFA.

The Supreme Court decided that the contractor was automatically liable under the CFA because there was no written contract. The Court then decided that the individuals who engaged in the making of the oral contract could be personally liable regardless whether they caused the actual harm. As the Court stated, a company officer could be liable for the damage if the failure to use a written contract was part of the business’s course of conduct. Allen v. and A Bros., Inc., A-30-10.

Lots of laws will impose liability without fault. For example, a contractor can be liable for another party’s attorneys fees expended to discharge a construction lien if the lien filing was not based on a written contract. Courts could use this decision’s reasoning to assign those costs to the person who signs the lien even if the signer did not know of this written contract requirement. Or perhaps this decision will be limited to the CFA and “public interest” laws? The Court left the details for the future, so more lawsuits will follow.


Richard m. Baron

The Law Firm of Richard M. Baron

300-3 Route 17 South, Ste. 6

Lodi, NJ 07644



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Solar Training Opportunites in Philadelphia

November 28, 2011

Federation of Neighborhood Centers Logo

The Federation of Neighborhood Centers has a new solar training program that is now enrolling.  The rough draft of the brochure is attached.  Please pass this on to anyone at JEVS who may have someone in their program who could benefit from this.  We are currently enrolling for a class that will be held Dec 5 – 9.  Infinite Solar is conducting the training for us. 


 -         2 or more years experience in construction, carpentry, electrical, remodeling, roofing or HVAC (doesn’t have to be 2 continuous years)

-         Basic electrical knowledge

-         Some familiarity with equations, fractions, algebra          

No cost for training for those who qualify and are accepted. 

 Here is the link to our page on our FNC website about the program.  There is a link at the bottom of the webpage for the brochure.

 Interested potential trainees can call 215.989.3566 ext. 28 to reserve a spot at our info session (to be held on November 17th) or to get a call back with more information.  Those interested in the info session should call the number above and someone will return their call and provide the information about the event.

 Jerry Tapley

Chief Operating Officer

Federation of Neighborhood Centers

1528 Walnut Street, Suite 200

Philadelphia, PA  19102

215.989.3566 x 11

215.989.3568 – fax  

 Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”Voltaire


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Three Steps to Prepare for Irene

August 26, 2011

Someone once said, “Proper preparation prevents potential problems” or something like that. The point is that now is the time to take some basic steps to prepare for what Irene may bring and protect your real estate investment. As a real estate investor and construction manager here are a couple of things I suggest that you do right now.

1. Take pictures of all your properties inside and out. Don’t forget the roof, basement, windows and your neighbor’s property as well. This will make it easier for you to file a claim for damage as a result of the storm. The pictures of your neighbor’s property may allow you to demonstrate the location of windblown debris which causes most of the storm related property damage.

2. Locate and review your insurance policy(s). Make sure you know what is covered and what isn’t. If you have more than one policy, be sure you know which one covers what.

3. Secure your property. This may seem obvious, but again, windblown debris causes most of the damage. Be sure your landscaping and trees are trimmed and cleared of dead branches; windows are secured and protected.

Taking these three simple steps will put you in a better position to deal with the aftermath of what could be a disaster. While no one wants to see it, take a page out of the Boy Scout’s motto, “Be Prepared!”

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How To Hire A Contractor

May 24, 2011

Whether it’s a home repair, addition or renovation project; if you are remodeling your office or building an office building believe it or not, the process is the same.  It can be scary and stressful; especially if your job, reputation or relationship with your spouse is at stake. Control your stress by remembering a few key points when hiring a contractor for your next project.

Step 1: Ask around

Get recommendations from your friends, family and colleagues and then check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints and ratings. The bigger job, the more professional references you may want to get.  These would include speak with a building inspector who might give you some insights as to which contractors routinely meet code requirements, supply companies and trade associations . Depending on your need, you should check for licensing requirements of the potential contractors.

Step 2: phone interviews

After you’ve compiled your initial list, make a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them some questions relevant to your project. These might include:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?
  • Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?
  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
  • Who will be responsible for your project on a day to day basis?

 The answers to these questions speak to the company’s availability, reliability, internal accountability and how much attention they’ll be able to give your project.

 Step 3: Meet face to face

After you’ve spoken over the phone, make a “short list” of three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease.

Step 4: Ask for references

Ask the prospective contractor for a current job site and see if you agree with how the contractor works. Visit the job site! You can tell a lot about a contractor by how he works and how his team works. See if the job site is neat and safe and whether or not the workers seemed to be respectful of each other and with the owner’s property.

Step 5: Get bids

Now that your list should be much shorter than when you first started, it’s time to get the plans together. Good contractors will have a sense of your expectations and what you plan to spend. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost. Never accept just a lump sum bid. The project can be broken down several ways: by trade line items, cost of materials and labor are the most common. Some projects even want to see the contractor’s estimate for overhead and profit.  Generally materials account for 40 percent of the total cost; the rest covers overhead and the typical profit margin, which is 15 to 20 percent. Also, be sure to ask if the bid is fixed or is just an estimate. Pay close attention to what is not covered in the contract. Most contractors will list “Exclusions.” These may run from permit costs to handling toxic materials and sales tax. These exclusions could add considerably to the project cost.

Step 6: Payment schedule

This is where most owners run into trouble. While you can expect to put down about 5-10 percent at contract signing, don’t accept any contract that requires you to put down 1/3! The contractor should be paid upon work completion.  This is done by establishing a Schedule of Values. As each work item progresses, the contractor is paid. This keeps your payments in line with the work completed. Resist the contractor’s request for equal payments (either weekly or 25, 25, 25, 25 or 1/3, 1/3, 1/3). If you don’t  you could find yourself in a position where you have paid more money than work completed. If you then have a problem with the contractor, he has your money and leverage on what happens next. A check for the final 15 percent can be paid when you feel every item on the punch list has been completed.

Step 7: It’s not always about price

Be skeptical of lowball bids. This contractor is probably cutting corners or, worse, desperate for work. The most important factors in choosing a contractor are how well you and he communicate and his ability to deliver the project as promised.

Step 8: Get it in writing

A written contract will specify what is and what is not included in the Scope of Work, the schedule to complete the job and their associated costs, as well as the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Your state may have specific requirements for Home Improvement Contracts which speak to consumer protection issues.  For large projects, make sure they are reviewed by your attorney. Every contract should specify terms for termination.  Remember, a contract is only important when there is a dispute. When there is a dispute, the only thing that matters is what is in the contract.

Even if your project is small, hiring a contractor can be made easier if you keep a few simple tips in mind. If you are still uneasy about hiring a contractor, hire a construction professional to represent you. This could be an architect, if the project calls for one or a Construction Manager.  AT TCAI, we say “If you want it built right, You should be our Client.”

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