Column and Beam

A blog for design and construction professionals.

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Is Anyone Listening? Your Virtual Assistant is.

Virtual assistant are flooding the marketplace.  There is Amazon’s Alexa, the Amazon Echo, and Echo Dot.  There is also Google Home/Google, Siri, Cortana and Samsung’s Bixby.   Last week, we learned that Amazon and Microsoft have been working together to make Alexa and Cortana communicate with each other because they recognize the future importance of virtual assistants.

Voice-assisted technology makes life easier.  For example, Google Home can control thermostats, appliances, lights and security systems.  You could leave your office and command that all lights turn off and the temperature change.  Alexa can play music during the work day, accessing Prime, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Tunein.  Google Home can perform research through a Google search.  By using these devices, however, you are exposed to privacy risks because they are listening for voice data and transmitting it to third parties.

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Subcontractors and Suppliers – Why Should You Send a Notice of Furnishing of Labor/Materials on Your Next Project?

On large construction projects, it is common for significant labor or materials to be supplied by lower-tier subcontractors and material suppliers – that is, entities who do not contract with the general or prime contractor, but instead contract directly with a subcontractor.  Without a direct contractual relationship, the prime contractor may not know the identity of all lower-tier subcontractors or suppliers.  As a result, the prime contractor may lack sufficient information to ensure that lower-tier subcontractors or suppliers have been paid before releasing payment to its subcontractor.  The prime contractor may first learn the identity of lower-tier subcontractors or suppliers when they contact the prime contractor claiming that they have not been paid for their labor or materials or when they file a mechanic’s lien or payment bond claim.

However, remote subcontractors and suppliers may avoid this situation by sending a Notice of Furnishing Labor or Materials to the general contractor before supplying labor or materials.  This provides notice to the prime contractor of the identity of lower-tier subcontractors and may help subcontractors get paid. 

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What You Need to Know About Wearables

Wearable technology was once limited to athletes and medical practices, but in recent years, it has become almost ubiquitous for both personal and professional use.  Sales of wearable devices generated $3.5 billion in 2014, and that amount is expected to quadruple by 2019.  Wearable technology has massive potential for the construction industry, but before you implement it, carefully consider the potential risks.

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Protect Your Business – Steps to Avoid Personal Liability

Architects, engineers and other construction professionals, like all business owners, create business entities, like corporations and limited liability companies, to operate their businesses and to shield themselves from personal liability.  The liability shield is a primary benefit of establishing a business entity, because it protects the business owner and the officers and directors of a corporation from personal liability for acts of the company.  However, merely forming a corporation is not necessarily sufficient to avoid personal liability, since it is possible to “pierce the corporate veil” if a business does not maintain a separate identity from its owners or related entities. 

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4 Emerging Technologies That Can Benefit Your Firm

It is an exciting time for design and construction professionals.  In the last few years, innovations in technology have emerged that are rapidly changing the way that you work, and will continue to shape the industry for future projects.  Here are a few of these emerging tools and how they can benefit your business.

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