Building Construction Software - Making it Easy For Estimators to Produce Cost Projections

A building construction software program has become one of the most important tools in the construction profession. These programs have made it easier for estimators to produce cost projections; for architects to develop a building design; for contractors to plan for building codes and other legal concerns; and for the homeowner or building owner to get an idea of what the project would entail in terms of costs, time and compliance.

Types of software

A construction project is made up of various steps, so it is to be expected that software packages for this profession will be numerous and varied. One of the more widely-used types is the computer-aided design or CAD software that is used mostly by architects and engineers. These types of programs are used for creating building plans and drawings and allow the designer or architect to have a three-dimensional perception of the project at hand.

Software programs for estimating construction costs are another of the more commonly used packages in the building trade. Programs for estimating building costs allow the user to produce expense approximates, employee and equipment scheduling plans, contractor bids, project reports and other elements of the project that have something to do with costs. These software packages can be purchased, but there are also those that are available for free in the Internet. However, free programs are mainly basic in terms of functions and can only provide rough estimates.

There are also programs for accounting, which help in keeping tabs of the costs of the project and provide bookkeeping information; software for environment and energy compliance concerns; programs for project contracts; and software packages that guide the owner and the builder through building codes and legal issues associated with a construction project.

What to look for in a software program

For those who are not very familiar with using CAD or other building trade software packages, it is important to choose the ones that are easy to use and can provide information that is not too muddled with unnecessary jargon. In buying software for a building project, look for brands that provide specific information about costs, plans and designs. The various screens should also be easy to understand, which means that they provide detailed information in the simplest language possible. The steps that it would take for a software user to perform basic actions should also be considered - the fewer, the better.

Building construction software products have revolutionized the architecture and construction industry. Whether you're a home owner or a builder or an architect, getting yourself familiar with these modern tools will go a long way towards helping you have a successful building project or a well-designed, within-the-budget home.

How to Trade - Book Review - Jeremy Du Plessis, The Definitive Guide to Point and Figure

For the uninitiated, Point and Figure charting is the only charting method that analyzes price without the noise of time. The noise amplification of time in other forms of charting - Candlesticks, Heikin Ashi and OHLC is visually disruptive as you toggle between daily, minute, weekly and monthly charts.

This visual confusion is removed with Point and Figure charts. They are binary in their construction - either there is a buy/sell signal or buy/sell pattern or there is not. It is in this style of clear-cut clarity that Jeremy du Plessis writes his book.

Jeremy trained as an automotive engineer, then studied as an economist, but gave both up to become a Technical Analyst. He founded Indexia Research in 1983 and pioneered the firm's development of PC-based Technical Analysis. In 2002, he led the merger of Indexia with Updata plc, where he is currently the Head of Technical Analysis and software design. While most of the clients of Updata are institutional clients, namely European and US commercial and investment banks, the Point & Figure methods he teaches in the book are universal and relevant for retail trading purposes. He is a Fellow of the Society of Technical Analysts (FSTA) in the UK, and a member of the American Market Technicians Association (MTA). The MTA awarded him the designation of Chartered Market Technician (CMT).

The engineering precision coupled with the factual economic rationale forms the solid cornerstones of this almanac on P&F methods. With 456+ pages and over 300 charts in full color, the book is aptly sub-titled "A Comprehensive Guide to the Theory and Practical Use of the Point and Figure Charting Method."

Jeremy is the alternative and consummate "financial engineer". He avoids heavy economic jargon and Fundamental Analysis is dismissed early on in the book, referred to as the "F" word. What he needs to say is effectively captured in the way he visually communicates through the charts.

There are adequate reader reviews on Amazon and Google Book Search, to help you decide if you will get the book. For those who have just started or are about to read the book, I've summarized the core concepts in the larger and essential chapters to help you get through them quicker.

The number on the right of the title of the chapter is the number of pages contained within that chapter. It is not the page number. The percentages represent how much each chapter makes up of the 456 pages in total, excluding appendices.

Introduction to Technical Analysis. 14, 3.07%.

1. Introduction to Point and Figure Charts. 26, 5.70%.

2. Characteristics and Construction. 62, 13.60%.

3. Understanding Point and Figure Charts. 92, 20.18%.

4. Projecting Price Targets. 66, 14.47%.

5. Analysing Point and Figure Charts. 64, 14.04%.

6. Point and Figure Charts of Indicators. 18, 3.95%.

7. Optimisation of Point and Figure Charts. 24, 5.26%.

8. Point and Figure's Contribution to Market Breadth. 22, 4.82%.

9. Advanced Point and Figure Techniques. 38, 8.33%.

10. Chart Examples. 20, 4.39%.

11. Conclusion. 6, 1.32%.

12. References and Further Reading. 4, 0.88%.

Focus on chapters 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9, which makes up about 71% of the book. These chapters are relevant for practical trading purposes. Here are the key points for these focus chapters, which I'm summarizing from a retail trader's perspective.

2. Characteristics and Construction. This chapters deals with the logic for chart constructions using Xs and Os, Up and Down moves, Xs and Os called boxes, Box size, Reversal Size, Variable Sensitivity, Gaps, Price on Y-axis but no time on X-axis, Two-dimensional charts, No Volume, Demand and Supply and Naming Point and Figure charts.

Chapter 2 covers the foundational attributes for building Point and Figure charts. What is covered here, that is glossed over in most P&F books, is the added emphasis on varying the sensitivity of charts by changing the box size and reversal size. Gaps are eliminated and do not feature in the charts at all. Volume is already embedded in the Reversal counts of the P&F chart, without having to graph volume separately. There is no need to fuss with reconciling price against volume-based studies. P&F chart construction excludes time altogether. Unlike time-based charts (e.g. Candlesticks/Heikin Ashi/OHLC, etc.), where a minute/day/week/month chart results in different views causing visual confusion.

The sub-section on 1-box, 2-box, 3-box and 5-box reversal charts is what makes this chapter different. Most literature on the subject concentrates on 3-box sizing with token treatment of other box sizes. This where Jeremy's depth of experience becomes evident. 34 pages are dedicated to the effects of raising price sensitivity (1-box reversal and 2-box reversal) for intra-day/day trading purposes versus lowering price sensitivity (5-box reversal) for trading multi-month positions or highly volatile products. A 3-box reversal chart is the default and is more relevant for trading positions held for weeks going a month. It is applicable to the majority of Indexes/ETFs. Practical reasons are given for changing the reversal count, which adjusts the weighting given to the prevailing column and the underlying's statistical volatility. This affects the intensity of price continuing or discontinuing along its trend.

3. Understanding Point and Figure Charts. The topics covered include: Point and Figure Signals, The strength of the pattern, differences between 1-box and 3-box patterns, Traps, Broadening Patterns, Bullish and Bearish Patterns that reverse, Poles, Congestion Analysis, Signals with the trend or against the trend, Trend lines on Point and Figure charts. 

Clear illustrations are given on demand pushing price up a column of Xs, whereas supply pushes price down in a column of Os. Thorough examples are given of how patterns vary according to the reversal size used. There are binary rules to ignore or trade buy/sell signals that are part of a larger, more complex pattern and patterns that can trap the untrained eye into a trade that should have been avoided in the first place. 45° degree Bullish Support and Bearish Resistance Trend Lines are used to remove subjectivity if a certain price level qualifies as Support or Resistance. Congestion Analysis looks at the width of patterns, where the area taken up by a pattern determines the strength of price advancing or declining that signals potential trade entries or exits.

4. Projecting Price Targets. P&F price targets are established on vertical and horizontal box counts. This section deals with Counts on 1-box reversal charts, Counts on 3-box reversal charts, Nearest counts must be achieved first, Clustering of counts, Negating a count, Opposing counts, Combining counts with trend lines, Unfulfilled counts, Improbable and impossible counts, a Good counter or Bad counter, Counts of log scale charts and Risk to Reward ratios.

Estimating a price target with P&F charts is not subjective but a clearly computed forecast based on box counts. Each box is sized as an identical square without exception. As box sizes are uniform, the counts identify unambiguous targets. They target may not be 100% accurate every time but they are unambiguous. Establishing the vertical and horizontal count of Price Targets is necessary to determine the intensity of strength and weakness in price trends. There is a uniqueness in using 3-box reversal charts, which enables both vertical and horizontal counts to assess the viability of a price target. Whereas, a 1-box reversal chart is limited to horizontal counts only. The more counts that cluster around a particular price target, the stronger the target is. 

What is distinct about Jeremy's contribution to this topic is the addition of Fibonacci retracement analysis to conventional P&F methods.

5. Analysing Point and Figure Charts.   This chapter integrates the foundational techniques covered in chapters 2, 3 and 4 with practical trading examples. The emphasis is on application and covers these topics: Reversal Size, Choosing the correct box size, Choosing the data series, Log scale charts, Analysis of 1-box, 2-box and 3-box reversal charts, Stops in Point and Figure analysis and Early entry points.

Changing the box size affects the time horizon, not to be confused with time frame, as P&F charts exclude units of time (day/week/month/year). The smaller the box size, the shorter the time horizon, e.g. 1-box reversal charts suit intra-day trades versus 3-box reversal charts are geared for trades lasting 30-60 days. All trends lines are standardized to one standard of a 45° degree line. This is not a rigid but consistent methodology and is possible as variability in time as discreet variable has been removed from the charts altogether. Trend lines are the most important element of any P&F chart and must be given first priority above buy/sell signals. The more complex a Bullish/Bearish pattern becomes the more significant it becomes. To validate trades to avoid, enter or and exit continually assess the price target, trend lines and vertical count of a column's height and horizontal count of row's width.

9. Advanced Point and Figure Techniques. This chapter is what sets this body of work apart from other P&F literature. It covers how to use moving averages on Point and Figure charts, the need to differentiate between moving averages on a 1-box reversal chart versus a 3-box reversal chart, using the Parabolic stop and reverse (SAR) Indicator on a P&F chart and the Overbought/Oversold analysis on P&F charts with Bollinger Bands.

The moving averages are a straightforward confirmation to accept or reject a Point and Figure buy or sell signal. The Parabolic SAR pinpoints trends to qualify a P&F buy/sell signal as one to avoid or take for trade entry. With Bollinger Bands, there is a further refinement of the methodology on Squeeze points - statistical volatility contraction/expansion is considered significant where the column length between bands is equal to or less than the previous squeeze.

Jeremy is the first to pioneer the combination of Point & Figure methods with Moving Averages, the Parabolic SAR and Bollinger Bands.
In conclusion, Jeremy du Plessis revives a revered ancient craft of pure price analysis to transform demand/supply analytics into relevant trading practices for current market conditions. It is the depth of his insights that gives you the foresight to thoroughly understand why charting price using only P&F methods is conclusive, without the need for other forms of charting.

Project Management For Construction

Excellent project management for construction engagements is crucial for any new building or renovation, especially considering the growing complexity of major construction projects and construction-related laws. For these reasons, almost all positions opening up for construction management jobs require not only a specialized degree, but a good deal of experience in the industry.

Although it was not always the case, there are many universities that now offer construction management courses as well as degrees. In fact, there even a number of accredited online universities that offer project management for construction degrees. These degrees, which can be specialized in a number of ways, are a wonderful way to learn all the skills you need to know for jobs in construction management that are difficult to learn during internships or apprenticeships on-site.

Project management for construction engagements can be an all-encompassing job. Oftentimes managers in these roles are ultimately responsible for every aspect of the construction project. This includes managing all employees and contractors, all equipment used and the project budget. That is why is important to choose a project management for construction degree that can teach you a broad skill-set.

Some of the degree coursework that can give you an edge in the job market includes training on the latest software programs and technologies used in the industry and classes on any of the following topics: building codes and standards, contract administration, accounting, financial management, value analysis and project control and management.

It is ideal if you can find a university that will help place its project management for construction students into internships or apprenticeships during the degree program. This will give you the chance to learn a little bit about every aspect of construction and how you can effectively manage the employees and contractors you will need to work with, including architects, civil engineers and day laborers. This type of hands-on experience is exactly what most employers are looking for, and can oftentimes lead to full-time positions once you have graduated with your degree.

Project management for construction can be a challenging career path, but there are many reasons that it is worth the effort. There are more and more project management for construction jobs being filled every year, and according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average salary for project management for construction positions averaged $63,500 in 2002. These great salaries are also often accompanied by health benefits, bonuses and the use of company-owned vehicles. All of these factors indicate that a construction management degree can help you find a great career that can be just as rewarding as it is challenging.

Carpentry Schools Develop Construction Skills

Like working with your hands? Carpentry Schools address such issues as residential and commercial construction; remodeling; building, work, and product inspection; and many others.

A formal education is not required for taking a position as a carpenter, however, employers often prefer a diploma or certification from an accredited institution. Carpentry degrees and certificates indicate the possession of some expertise and professionalism sought after by contractors. Students do not need experience in the field to enter into Carpentry School programs.

An education in carpentry is readily available from your local vocational, trade, technical, or community college. Surprisingly, you can even learn carpentry skills from an Online Carpentry School. Courses will include mathematics, estimating materials usage, materials types and quality, equipment and tools, installation of components such as drywall, doors, windows, floors, roofing, etc.

The skills required to be a carpenter will vary by employer. Carpenters may find opportunities to become involved in construction of all kinds, cutting, fitting, and assembling materials for buildings, manufacturing and industrial plants, roads and bridges, boats, and many other types of structures. Carpentry Schools often provide programs of study for specialties in woodworking and cabinetmaking, contracting, construction foremanship, engineering, roofing, flooring, and others.

Some Carpentry Schools will prepare carpenters for specialties in scaffolding construction, trim finishing, concrete construction, interior and exterior finishing, and more. Carpentry professionals must have a broad range of skills, as they are often called upon to frame in walls, frame in doors and windows, build staircases, lay floorings, and hang cabinets. Carpenters may also get involved in installing heating and ventilation systems.

Carpentry Schools instruct students in building codes, which often determine materials and types of construction used to meet local regulations; working with blueprints; measuring and estimating time and materials; and various types of materials and tools used in the trade.

If you are interested in learning more about Carpentry Schools and other types of schools, please search our site for more information and resources.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERAL OVERVIEW and may or may not reflect specific practices, courses and/or services associated with ANY ONE particular school(s) that is or is not advertised on

Copyright 2006 - All Rights Reserved
Michael Bustamante, in association with Media Positive Communications, Inc. for

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Cybersecurity and FedRAMP: A Mandatory Combination

The fact that cybersecurity is mandatory in the federal marketplace has, until now, been a widely held belief, but without a specific process or policy to guide the federal agencies who are moving to cloud-computing services. This deficit has been corrected with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).

According to the General Services Administration (GSA), FedRAMP is the result of close collaboration with cybersecurity and cloud experts from GSA, NIST, DHS, DoD, NSA, OMB, the Federal CIO Council and its working groups, as well as private industry.

These federal agencies collaborated to develop FedRAMP as a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud-based products and services. In the past, each agency incurred the costs to independently manage its own security risks, assess Information Technology (IT) systems and deploy improvements. This process proved to be inconsistent, duplicative, expensive and inefficient, and often failed to incorporate a focus on real-time threats and identify mitigation processes quickly.

The anticipated agency benefits include reduced costs, standardized security assessments and continuous monitoring, as well as quicker adoption of cloud-based services and products and bottom-line agency confidence in the security of cloud-based systems.

GSA further stated that "FedRAMP is mandatory for federal agency cloud deployments and service models at the low and moderate risk impact levels. Private cloud deployments intended for single organizations and implemented fully within federal facilities are the only exception."

This is great news if a company is one of the "approved cloud service providers" that can prove that their products and service implement the required security controls needed to meet the security requirements outlined in FedRAMP. The bad news is that if a company is not on the "approved" list, there is little to no chance of seeing business in the federal cybersecurity market.

More information can be found at Check with the contractors noted below for possible subcontracting opportunities on these and other federal contract awards.

• AAI Corp., Hunt Valley, won a $358 million contract from The U.S. Army Contracting Command for Tactical Common Data Link Retrofit Kits and Related Equipment for the Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System.

• Ameritel Corp., Rockville, won a $17,733 contract from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for a copier with security features.

• John J. Kirlin LLC, Rockville, along with four other contractors, won a $585 million contract from The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for design and construction services for the Medical Repair and Renewal Program.

• The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, won a $922.9 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) for providing the MDA with essential engineering, research and development capabilities for the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

• Manufacturing Support Industries, Hebron, won a $9,353,267 contract from the U.S. Army Contracting Command for the M249 blank firing attachment and replacement stems to be used in training exercises.

• Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum, won a $76,727,752 contract from the U.S. Army Contracting Command for engineering and technical services in support of the Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar system.

• Smith's Detection, Edgewood, won a $16,868,181 contract from U.S. Army Contracting Command for M4A1 joint chemical agent detectors, communication adapters, confidence checker, platform integration kit and sieve pack.

• Sun Edison LLC, Beltsville, won a $38.4 million contract from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for electricity to be provided from a photovoltaic array built, owned and operated by the contractor.

• Two Rivers Medical, St. Charles, won a $9,746,492 contract from the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity for medical sets, kits and outfits for deployable units in theater.

• URS Federal Technical Services, Germantown, won a $21,977,441 contract from The Naval Sea Systems Command for professional support services to Team Submarine in support of Towed Array Systems, associated component systems, and Hull Sensor Systems.