David Laney is a general contractor with over twenty-seven years’ experience working in the construction industry. He spent twenty-one years working for a large general contractor focusing on commercial work. He left the corporate world and has spent the last six years running his own business. He still focuses on commercial work, but does a large amount of residential work as well.
When asked what his most important tools are, surprisingly his answer was his smartphone and laptop. I then asked, not your building equipment? He responded “While having good equipment is certainly important, so much of construction is based on good communication the smart phone and laptop have become a mainstay that you cannot effectively function without. Those are the tools that are becoming more important each year. With the onset of email, text, and social media the avenues in communication have certainly grown over the years. So that makes my smartphone and laptop just as important as any of our construction tools or equipment.”
What is the most important form of communication in your industry?
“Both verbal and written communication is very important to the success of my projects. However, without good written communication you can sometimes jeopardize a projects success.” He further elaborated that successfully completing a job requires effective written communication beginning with the initial contract all the way to the finished project. He explained that every project comes with many challenges and changes that consist of many details. If those details are not followed through with exactly then the finished project will not be a success.
What are your major forms of communication with the people associated with your projects?
“Obviously, nowadays the most common form of communication is done electronically by either email or text. An enormous amount of information is exchanged through these methods. However, with clients and owners, there is usually a written contract agreement. This is still done the old-fashioned way by putting a pen to paper. With everyone there is verbal communication by way of the phone but this communication oftentimes still has to be followed up with written communication. For example, many details of the job will change throughout the building process. So with my subcontractors all of those changes must be made in writing in a clear, concise format so that nothing gets lost in translation.”
Do you also communicate a lot verbally?
“Sure, the day is filled with numerous telephone conversations and face to face meetings on jobsites. We discuss things such as scheduling, coordinating, ordering materials, etc. However, many things still need to be followed up in writing so there is a record of what was discussed and what needs and expectations are from those verbal conversations.”
What do you think about the importance of written communication?
“In my industry I think it’s the most important form of communication. In construction there is an enormous amount of detail, coordination, and moving parts of a project. In can be virtually impossible for everyone to remember in detail the discussions that take place throughout the day. Written communication serves as a record of documentation of many things and putting something in writing is the best way to have a clear understanding by all parties. Written documents are also a vital requirement for my protection in the event of a legal matter.”
Did you realize that there was this much communication involved in construction?
“Initially no. But it did not take very long to realize how much communication is required to build a project. Additionally, I have seen time and again the importance of written communication. It may take more time to put things in writing but the dividends it pays can sometimes be immeasurable. Of course, there are many days that I would certainly rather be working with my tools than working with my smartphone and laptop.”