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Tips on Managing Risk in Construction Projects

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The due diligence performed during construction claim analysis is the same kind that should be performed before the project starts. Performing these basic checks will help avoid risk altogether. Even though some risk is unavoidable, accidents do happen after all, you can safely manage most risky situations with the proper checks and balances in place.

Perform Risk Assessment

Hire neutral construction advisory services to review everything, from plans to scheduling, and look for consistency. Construction projects will involve multiple contracts between many companies, and specific mentions of both payment and timing will be important in the event of a dispute. Careful contract preparation is a crucial part of the pre-planning phase and ensures everyone knows the work they are required to do to get paid.

Document Everything

Another key concern, especially in smaller outfits, is documentation. Documentation saves one’s legal life so-to-speak. It may be a good idea to acquire insurance to cover parts of the project as well. It’s also helpful to have an independent party review any existing contracts for outdated language. It’s common for companies to use forms that are sometimes years old without having updated any of the legal language until a dispute occurs. Even if the law is on your side, make sure the work contract reflects that.

Allocate Risk Appropriately

Upon review of the project, just before ground can be broken, it’s helpful to designate certain parties and responsibilities to help allocate risk. The designer, for example, should only be responsible for design-related projects. This helps put power in the hands of those best positioned to use it for the benefit of the project.

Bio: Lyle Charles Consulting helps construction firms manage risk through claims analysis and mediation. For more information on construction project management, search for Lyle Charles.

The Many Roles of a Construction Consultant

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A consultant is merely someone who has years of experience in a particular industry. Consultants aren’t just experts. In the case of construction, a consultant may perform many duties on site besides evaluating the project. For instance, during disputes, consultants may act as a construction expert witness to help tell your side of the story in layman’s terms to a jury.



A consultant is firstly someone who has expertise in the field of construction. Some have many years occupying jobs at every level, others have owned and managed contracting companies, and still others have particular specialties (like steel fabrication) that fill important niches in the construction zone. That enables a consultant to fill the role of construction expert witness, project manager, turnaround supervisor and other key roles involved at every level of the construction process.



Disputes are fairly common in construction, and most require little more than a claim to resolve. Occasionally, larger disputes between personnel or vendors can cause hiccups in the plans that throw off deadlines and ultimately cost money. In these cases, mediation is the preferred method to solve disputes. Construction mediation is much faster than trial, does not require legal representation and typically leaves all parties feeling as though they got what was owed to them. Plus, you don’t risk everything on an outcome that is difficult to predict.



Consultants often fill the role of managers, especially in turnaround scenarios. These key personnel sign off on plans, place orders for materials and oversee the entire schedule. Consultants are well suited to this role because their experience informs their decision making.

Bio: Lyle Charles has experience mentoring leaders in the construction industry. Lyle Charles Consulting can help manage commercial or residential construction projects and claims. Contact Lyle Charles for more information.

3 Ways to Boost Your Monthly Income

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woman standing with open arms amidst falling moneyIf you are preparing for a special event

or are planning to raise fund for an upcoming big expense, it might be a good solution to start seeking alternatives to boost your income. Some simple or out-of-the-box ways might be available to raise some additional money. These are listed below.

Start Freelance Work

Various sites online propose effective solutions for people to sell their skills by doing additional projects and raise funds. This is done either by bidding on projects or creating pages where buyers would be able to contact sellers for particular products and services. One would only need to be aware of which skills might be in demand and to tap on that.

Cover your car with advertisements

This is a new method of advertisements that allows individuals to earn up to 1000 dollars a month by just placing ads on their car. The persons selected for this would then just have to travel their normal route regularly. The selection depends on the area that the person lives in.

Become a Mystery Shopper or join a focus group

Being involved in market researches is quite lucrative. Several people can earn up to 300 dollar per focus group participation. In order to enrol, you might want to gather information from a local market research agency and they would ask you for information to assess whether you would be eligible. Mystery shopping is quite selective but people who get involved in it would need to provide their opinion on products and get paid for it.

Walter Bigelow Wriston: An Influential Wall Street Giant

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By Phineas Upham

Walter Bigelow Wriston was president of Citibank from 1967-1970, and served as the bank’s chairman until 1984. He would become one of the nation’s most prominent names in banking, helping to expand Citibank’s operations in commercial and residential sectors. Although he retired in 1984, he did not stop his activities in the financial sector, and is credit with a few innovations we still use today. Born in Middletown, Connecticut, Wriston grew up as the son of a historian who would eventually become president of Brown University. Walter B. Wriston graduated from Wesleyan College in 1941, after which he served four years in the U.S. Army. When he received his honorable discharge in 1946, he joined the rank and file of First National City Bank, the bank that would become Citibank.

Wriston worked his way through the bank, and developed a reputation for being knowledgeable and influential. Under Wriston, Citibank developed home mortgage credit-card services. He invented and deployed the world’s first ATMs, machines most of us still use today. When President Reagan took office, he tapped Wriston as the chair for his Economic Policy Advisory Board from 1982-89. During and just after his time as chair, Wriston published two important books on economic finance and philosophy. The first came in 1986, Risk and Other Four Letter Words, detailing how industry and banking have shaped the modern world. He also penned The Twilight of Sovereignty in 1992, which explores how the instant access to information is changing the modern world.

Wriston received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, and he died one year later at the age of 85.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.

How to protect yourself against credit card hacks

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As per a Consumer Reports Survey carried out in 2012, 22.5% out of five thousand consumers who have received notice of a security breach have found out that they were victims of identity fraud. There are certain actions that you might take to protect yourself in case you find out that your account has been subject to a data breach.


Get a Replacement Card

If you have been informed that you are involved in a data breach, immediately demand that the company get you a new card or you would close down the account. The company should be able to meet your demand.

Daily Check Your Account Online

Finding suspicious activities and disputing them promptly is the best way to be able to solve any issue. Check your account everyday when your new card arrives for a least one month.

Freeze your credit

If you find out that you are the victim of a data breach, you can call the three main credit bureaus and request to freeze your credit report. This would ensure that nobody would have access to your report without your prior consent. In extreme cases of real breaches, you could also freeze your accounts.

Order your credit reports

As per the law, you are eligible to one free credit report each year. If you are a victim of fraud, you would probably to eligible for more regular free reports. Even if you have not been a victim yet, you might be cautious by getting reports every quarter year.

How to Fight a Dispute Over Materials

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If you know anything about construction, it’s that problems arise.

Imagine you are working on a skyscraper project and you are the structural steel expert.

A shipment of steel was supposed to arrive from Pittsburgh. Emphasis on “supposed to arrive,” because it didn’t. Turns out, the order didn’t go through, and this is the fault of the steel supplier. They are denying any fault.

Time is running out and you are facing deadlines regarding the original project. What is the best action to take?

If you attempt construction claim preparation on your own, are you prepared to sink the man hours needed to complete the claim adequately? Or maybe it’s better to wait for the next shipment of steel to arrive?

The best answer for the structural steel expert in distress is this: resolve the problem! Everything else is details, and it’s management’s goal to help resolve the problem and put everyone back to work.

Now, preparing a claim might be necessary, and it might be the best step. If anything a claim is a solid way to document that something happened that was not the structural steel expert’s fault. So, claim preparation might be a wise step. But if all this distracts you as a builder from the process of completing your other projects on time, you must also be wary of the penalties of going past a deadline.

If fines are more expensive than a lawsuit, go with the lawsuit. If the lawsuit is more expensive than taking some late fees, take some more time to work with the company that made the mistake.

Bio: Lyle Charles Consulting specializes in commercial and residential construction, and Lyle Charles is a structure steel expert and certified expert witness.


Anthony Fokker: Dutch Innovator, Industrialist and Aviation Enthusiast

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By Phineas Upham

Anthony Fokker was destined to be an accomplished auto mechanic. His father sent him to technical school to learn how to repair cars in 1910, but his interest in aircraft led him to transfer. He started schooling at an institute where he could study air maintenance instead.

That same year, he designed and built his first plane. It was called “The Spider,” and it was an open monoplane. It was short-lived however, as his business partner flew it into a tree and demolished it shortly after construction was completed.

Out of the ashes came a new design, which Fokker named “Spin.” It was with “Spin” that he acquired his license to become a pilot. He used his license for a bit of publicity in 1911, when he flew his plane around the Bavokerk Tower in Haarlem.

During World War I, Germany took over operation of Fokker’s company after he demonstrated how he could assemble a plane and take off within minutes. He became chief director and designer for the German Luftstreitkrafte, building over 700 military planes. One of those planes was the infamous tri-plane flown by the Red Baron.

Although, Fokker’s intentions were never with the military for long term. He successfully smuggled hundreds of designs out of Germany after the German surrender. This led him to the United States, where he manufactured the tri-motor aircraft engine that ruled the air during the 1920s. Fokker eventually sold his plans to General Motors, which the company used to create “General Aviation Corp” in 1931.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.

Tolhurst and the New Model Army

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By Samuel Phineas Upham

Jeremiah Tolhurst a man of some importance during the 1600s. He’d held seats in the British House of Commons, cut his teeth as a sailor, and made a name for himself a businessman. He also fought in the English Civil War for the New Model Army, a controversial policing unit during the Parliamentary Civil War.

Tolhurst was born in 1615, and his father died by the time he was eight years old. By then, the boy was on his way to apprenticing as a tailor.

In his thirties, England erupted into Civil War. The War boiled down to a conflict between loyalists to the crown, and those who served Parliament. Tolhurst chose Parliament and became a a fairly adept soldier, rising to lieutenant of foot, and then captain in 1644. He joined up with the so called “New Model Army,” a group of highly trained religious zealots, who were responsible for series of police actions during the English Civil War. Tolhurst, being an officer, was not likely to have held such radical viewpoints. Instead, he was made a major and placed in charge of motivated men. During his time there, he became distinguished and either met or gained favor from Oliver Cromwell. After his time serving, he relocated to the north and acquired interests in coal and salt. He used those interests to supply Cromwell throughout the Scottish campaign. The New Model Army would splinter after Cromwell’s death, causing tension that threatened to boil over into conflict. But the army was disbanded when Charles II was coroneted.

For his service, Tolhurst took a seat in Parliament. However, Cromwell’s death led to the restoration of the monarchy and he fled to Jamaica to spend his elder years. He died just two years after serving his last position in the government.

Samuel Phineas Uphamis an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Samual Phineas Upham website or Linkedin page.

Danone: How a European Brand Came to American Markets

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By Samuel Phineas Upham

Danone company, the makers of Dannon yogurt, is a Spanish company founded in 1919. It was created by Isaac Carasso, of Jewish descent, and it consisted of a very small factory for the production of yogurt. It was named after Carasso’s son Daniel, his nickname being “Danon.”

It was quite successful during its first ten years, relocating to France and building an additional factory there. The company was moved briefly to New York during the German occupation of France in World War II, something that likely saved Carasso’s life. This was to avoid prosecution for his German heritage. It was in the US that Daniel met Joe Metzger, and the two decided to change the brand name to “Dannon.” This made the brand sound more American, as opposed to the way Americans had previously called it “Dan One Yogurt.” The move helped cement the brand stateside, where it continues to thrive to this day.

The American side of the business was sold in 1959, after Daniel decided to return to France and Spain in order to manage some family business. He later repurchased the American business, but the company had already merged with Gervais, a leading producer of cheese in France.

Danone is actually a group of companies, yogurt being just one aspect of the business. There is a thriving glass making side called “Boussois-Souchon-Neuvesel,” founded by the family of Antoine Riboud. Although the glassmaker began within that industry, it eventually became transformed into a food company through acquisitions and mergers. In 1973, it merged with Gervais Danone, officially putting glass into yogurt.

Samuel Phineas Uphamis an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Samual Phineas Upham website or Linkedin page.

How to Increase the Efficiency of a Construction Project

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Too often, the word efficiency is equated to speed. There is another definition relevant to construction. Efficiency also relates to the foot print a building will leave on its environment, so new construction projects must consider methods to make their projects more energy efficient. Construction consultants are knowledgeable in the materials and technology required to make a project compliant with today’s energy standards.


The design of your home or commercial project can take advantage of natural elements to improve the efficiency of the building as a whole. One method is to use the sun’s orientation to cool your office at strategic times of day. The natural lighting would also cut down on power bills for the building, which saves the owner money down the road.


Construction & turnaround services have to consider every aspect of the development of a project whe efficiency is at stake. Materials play an important role because they impact the environment before, during and after the project is complete. Windows should be double pane, which can remove up to 25% of energy loss. Insulation is another concern that can heavily influence a building’s energy consumption.

Consultants may also include plans for solar installations, or instructions to order energy efficient bulbs for ceiling lighting. Finding a good lighting plan that minimizes consumption is crucial, as most buildings leave their lights on all day long.


One of the last places to find savings is in the appliances you plan to use in the building. Upgrading the HVAC to a new unit, or using more energy efficient sinks and toilets will cut down on consumption.

Lyle Charles Consulting services are available now for construction mediation and claims preparation. Lyle Charles has more than forty years in the field of commercial construction projects.