Perfect Storms

September 19th, 2010 by admin

A “perfect storm” is what happens when unrelated events converge to result in something great. Or awful, as the case may be, but this is about the great.

Smart Construction Software LLC makes software for construction companies. Smart Construction Software is the result of a perfect storm that developed over the entire span of my life. Or even before that.

My father grew up in a Finnish community in Vancouver Washington. His father was a builder, so my father grew up building, and built his first house when he was 17.  I grew up doing construction too, and seeing first hand where that would get me, I was inspired to go to college and learn to program computers!

So I became a computer programmer and went to work for businesses designing and developing software to make the business more efficient, organized, and profitable. Over a period of about 20 years I worked for a for a number of different companies in a wide variety of industries. While the business environments varied from one to another, the basic theme was the same: design procedures to improve operations, and develop tools to automate those procedures. I had found my niche. I loved my work, and I was good at it.

Then my wife and I bought a house that needed major remodeling before we could move in. And so gathered the clouds of the perfect storm that brought us Smart Contractor.

My contractor was great, as contractors go, but… how can I say this… A 20 year veteran business organization and management analyst oversees a typical 1990’s construction contractor operation… Lets just say that I observed a lot of issues with potential for improvement in the way of organization and documentation.

OK, I’ll be blunt… My contractor was a very nice and easy going guy, but the whole thing drove me nuts. Nothing was documented, or if it was, the numbers involved were “rough” and constantly changing. I had no idea what the schedule was, what to expect when, or whether we were on track for completion in time for our impending move in date. Every time I received a request for payment, it was more than I expected, and lacked any documentation. It was like I had to re-negotiate the contract with every invoice – after the fact.

I came to understand first-hand why so many people have told me that, after having been through it once, they would never do a custom home construction or remodel project again.

And this is understandable. Major purchases are stressful for everyone. Even when what you’re purchasing is intact, standing in front of you where you can see it and touch it. Like a car.

But even more stressful is a major purchase – the largest purchase of your life – for something that’s not there yet. And you’re putting that investment in the hands of who?A contractor? A guy in a ball cap who gives you no schedule for completion, no documentation of what it will cost, or why it costs more than expected.

So I did some research to find affordable, usable software for small construction contractors that might help solve some of these issues, and I was surprised to find very little. There were programs that did bits and pieces, but the only things out there that came close to doing everything that’s needed cost tens of thousands of dollars.

A perfect storm; the convergence of my life’s two careers. I grew up doing construction into my twenties, so I new a lot about it. Then I built a career designing computer software for businesses. Then I came back to construction and found a monumental opportunity.

So I talked to my contractor about the idea of designing and developing software, and he said “How soon can you have it ready?”

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