UDA Case Study
Experience the ConstructionSuite™ Difference

Design-Build Firm Leads by Example to Pave the Way for Green Building

JAMSHAR Construction
Willingboro, New Jersey

Jamal Harrell, Owner of JAMSHAR Construction in the NY Tri-State Area, uses his 20+ years of experience in the construction industry to complete beautiful projects, win prestigious awards, and improve the lives of others with his volunteer work.

JAMSHAR Construction is a Design-Build Firm with projects ranging from High-End Residential Remodels to Custom Green Homes and Commercial Educational Complexes in the Caribbean and South America. With certification ranging from Green Advantage Environmental Commercial & Residential Accreditation to Energy Star Partners, owner Jamal Harrell, prides himself as an advocate of sustainable building, and practices it in his career and free time.

Jamal's free time is stocked full of traveling and devoting his time to humanitarian work, which is completely volunteer. Jamal trains a great deal when volunteering in different countries - training others about different building techniques and technologies, in countries that range from Jamaica to Paraguay and others throughout South America. Learning how to do it himself was his top priority that came from his father's motto "If you're going to tell someone how to build, you better know how to do it yourself first," and that's exactly what he did.

Jamal started doing volunteer and disaster relief construction in the United States, humanitarian aid relief work overseas, and educational and church buildings in South America and the Caribbean over 25 years ago. Now, Jamal balances his career as the owner of JAMSHAR Construction, and the humanitarian who volunteers his skills on a constant basis.

To help ease that balance, Jamal uses UDA ConstructionSuite for his daily project management system for his business, and has seen major improvements since implementation.

The Search Is On

Jamal began searching for project management software many years ago. "I knew I needed to leverage my experience with software that would fill in my knowledge gaps, which is exactly what UDA ConstructionSuite does," he explains, "after years of research, UDA kept coming out on top, so we went for it."

Jamal uses ConstructionSuite for Estimating, Scheduling, Contract, Project, and Contact Management, and many other small features that are included in ConstructionSuite.

"Being a small operation, I needed maximum efficiency. That is exactly what UDA gave to me. I could maximize my time between contracts, scheduling, keeping up with insurance - Even things I hadn't thought about, for example, the insurance reminder," Jamal explains.

Insurance Tracking, included in ConstructionSuite Premier and above, is a feature that automatically checks if a project resource, such as vendors and subcontractors has valid insurance, licenses, or bonds before scheduling or paying them.

"It's not that you don't know about it, but in the middle of a project you just aren't thinking about whether your tiller or your electrician's insurance is running out... something as small as that makes all the difference in the world at keeping your paperwork together, especially when it's audit time," said Jamal.

When asked what helped him choose ConstructionSuite, he explained, "I needed contract specifications, scheduling, and estimating software for actual construction costs. Those are the key things to force you to be methodical in the construction process."

"By having it in an organized process like ConstructionSuite has it, it forces you to think that way. You have to be methodical to follow through the entire project so that you didn't leave things behind that, in the end, would cost you" said Jamal.

ConstructionSuite - An Awesome Product. Period.

"ConstructionSuite has definitely improved my business," said Jamal, "It reduced my fear factor and increased my confidence in my abilities to complete larger projects. With ConstructionSuite, I know what to expect and I know what I need to have."

Even further, ConstructionSuite and its finished contracts and specifications impress both clients and subcontractors. Jamal said "Even though there is always a 'gentleman's agreement' in construction, when the subcontractors and even clients see a fully fleshed out contract and specifications guide, even for a single family home, is impressive."

This really helps when building green homes as well, he explains, "with ConstructionSuite, I can show them specifically what they're looking for... this is exactly what we need to help us get to that point of certification, and it's in a friendly, simple style that's approachable by everyone involved."

Jamal said "these contracts alone have built my confidence factor because I can put out good contracts, my numbers are tight, and, I can get it done on time." - Now that's a win-win all around.

"The great thing about ConstructionSuite is that it's an educational tool as well as project management software," said Jamal, "The number of times I've gone back to my manual and figured out, "oh, this is how this works... and this is WHY it works that way," is countless. It's an entire education for me and it makes my business run better."

"ConstructionSuite is an awesome product. Period," said Jamal.

Waste Not, Want Not - A Simple yet Important Focus of Green Building

Jamal also has a passion for green building, which has prompted him to work green elements into every project, and he does so by being smart and working within the same budget. Working within the same budget of $200,000, JAMSHAR was able build a 2,000+ SF Green & Sustainable home in Westhampton, NJ and used low VOC paints, adhesives and materials, and whisper quiet mechanical house ventilation system for controlled fresh air exchange.

Overall, the project prevented 5,813 pounds of CO2 emissions annually, saved almost 3,000 pounds of coal, among other green benefits. This project earned JAMSHAR, a second Annual Excellence Award by Walls & Ceiling's (www.wconline.com). JAMSHAR was first awarded in 2004 as an Annual Excellence Award recipient, and was been chosen for a second time as the 2010 Award Recipient of the Annual Excellence Award - Drywall Division.

Humanitarian aid work that Jamal has done is an attributing factor to his drive to do green and sustainable building on every project. He explains, "When doing humanitarian work, you see the effects of mankind's decisions, and construction has one of the largest effects on the planet. Once you have seen a degree of destruction that is truly indescribable, you start seeing a focus on building safer, but also in a way that protects life and safety," explains Jamal.

"For me, I hated going to the dump, because I would see these things that we could use on the next project, instead of putting it in a hole and covering it up," Jamal explained. "This is where you can see the global impact construction has on communities. It makes me want to do better, and be better."

ConstructionSuite - Winning Bids & Saving Marriages

ConstructionSuite has also helped JAMSHAR win bids on multiple occasions. Jamal explains, "I've had clients shop around for pricing, and they basically give my contracts to other people, and they take a look at it and say "I can beat that...Then I ask my client - Did they provide you with a document outlining the material selection, or the time frame of the scheduling with the work? If I'm putting this much detail into a document, how much detail do you think I will put into the project? That has won me contracts."

ConstructionSuite Schedules even saves marriages, at least in JAMSHAR's experiences. "For my projects, I'll have a sample schedule put together, and send all my clients a copy of their generalized schedule. It shows them how if they work with me, it will reduce the time they don't have a kitchen. The fights that I've been in the middle of between couples - I send this to them and say this is how we keep you guys happily married."

Dealing with happy clients are exactly the kind Jamal likes to deal with, particularly when renovating kitchens. He explains "there are a lot of clients that have always wanted to have a new kitchen. When you come in, you're the guy who is going to make it happen."

"For me, it's such a rush because it's like a gift that is unfolding in slow motion before their eyes. It starts off really dirty, and you're destroying their house, but then five days later they see their dream in front of them. It's fun," said Jamal.

Even more so, there's an intimacy that comes to kitchens that Jamal truly enjoys. Jamal had a particularly memorable client whose kitchen was remodeled. "One client of mine was an elderly woman whose husband had recently passed. She and her husband had moved into a home and had been married for 45 or 50 years. This was just a wonderful place. You walk and see all the pictures of the kids."

"As we were getting started, I asked her about the project. Is this your first new kitchen? Yes it is. Her husband had died a year ago, and this was his final gift to her, he was buying this for her. This was so emotional for me because she told me that every ten years she would tell him 'I need a new kitchen' and he would run out and buy new hardware, or paint the cabinets, or get new doors for the cabinets, and so on. For 50 years, this man had renovated these cabinets to keep his wife happy, but he never wanted to get new cabinets."

"Now that he's passed, some of the money was set aside so that she could finally have her new cabinets. Every day she would come from work, take her stool, and just sit there and look. She would sit there for an hour, and I would still be working, and he would ask her if she was alright. She'd say 'Oh yeah honey, I'm fine, just keep working... Don't mind me.' You could see the tears welling up in her eyes, and she was thinking 'He finally got me my new kitchen.' I did everything possible to make sure that was one of the best kitchens I'd ever done, because it was someone that truly appreciated the work," said Jamal - and that's why kitchens hold a special place in his heart.

Quick Facts about JAMSHAR Construction

Location: Willingboro, New Jersey
Website: www.jamsharconsultants.com
Industry: Custom Home Building & Remodeling
Projects per year: 20
Years in the business: 18

For additional questions regarding the UDA Innovation Awards, contact arauch@uda1.com

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