views updated Jun 08 2018


Many successful small businesses decide to expand their operations either by purchasing, leasing, or building a new facility. In some instances, the business in question relocates its entire operation to the new facility. In other cases, the business may use the new facility to house excess inventory, maintain equipment, relieve office overcrowding, or open a new store.

For those companies that decide to expand via new construction, the experience can be an unsettling one, full of uncertainties. In fact, relatively few start-up businesses choose construction as their mode of entry due to the higher costs associated with it and the greater length of time involved from the breaking ground stage to the day when the establishment opens its doors for business. Established small- and mid-sized businesses are likely to be in a better position financially to launch a new construction project. Such firms have a proven track recordwhich can help them with financingand already-productive operations that bring in revenue that can be used to defray the costs of construction.

A full assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of new construction should be undertaken before any decision is made to build new. Designing and building a new facility has the advantage of providing a company with exactly the space and arrangements to meet its needs. The obvious disadvantages are the delay in occupancy while land acquisition, design work, and building are going on, and the cost of overruns, common in large projects. Oversight responsibilities are essential but can also be very time consuming and distract from the primary business of a company.

Certainly, there are risks associated with construction. But for small- and mid-sized business owners that choose this method of expansion and/or growthand plan wisely before, during, and after the construction phaseit can also mark the beginning of a bright new chapter in the company's history. A well-designed and built property can allow a company to generate additional revenue, reduce expenses, and/or increase efficiency.


Some sources of potential building contractors include professional association databases, referrals from architects or fellow small business owners, and a competitive bidding process. "It is important to find a contractor that can build in your specific industry, whether it's a restaurant, health care facility, industrial plant, or technology center," Amanda Strickland wrote in the Dallas Business Journal. "Contractors tend to have niches."

A small business owner seeking to secure a good building contractor should concentrate on three factors:

  • The contractor's reputation in the community.
  • The financial condition of the contractor.
  • The status of currently uncompleted jobs by the contractor.

There are many warning signs to watch for when assessing potential contractors. Is the contractor known for subcontracting out large percentages of the total construction work? Does the contractor have a history of clashes with subcontractors? How long has the contractor done business in the area? What percentage of jobs does she complete on schedule? Does his previous work experience adequately match the sort of renovation or construction that your company needs? Does the contractor have a backlog of projects that could hurt her ability to meet your timetable? What sort of references can he provide? The answers to all of these questions can be either reassuring or cause for further investigation. In either case, the key is to make sure that you ask them.

One way in which small business owners can learn the answers to some of these questions is by requiring bidding contractors to submit a surety bond, which is basically a three-party contract between the contractor, the project owner, and the underwriting surety company. Surety companies will make an extensive review of the construction company before issuing such a bond. In addition, if the contractor signs the bond, he is basically guaranteeing his ability to complete the project on which he is bidding.


After the bidding process is completed and the building contract awarded, the successful contractor should be asked to provide a performance bond. Such a bond guarantees that the project's contractual provisions will be carried out. In addition, a payment bond should be secured which certifies that suppliers and subcontractors will be paid. Ensuring that the contractor and all of his subcontractors have adequate insurance (workers' compensation, general and umbrella liability, equipment, builders' risk, etc.) to address problems is another key to attaining peace of mind for the small business owner. Finally, the project owner needs to make sure that he or she continuously monitors the performance of the contractor.

see also Buying an Existing Business; Comprehensive Environmental Response Cleanup and Liability Act


Bolles, Dennis. Building Project Management Centers of Excellence. AMACOM Division of the American Management Association, April 2002.

Campbell, Melissa. "10 Steps Towards Getting the Right Contractor." Alaska Business Monthly. August 2002.

Lorenz, Daniel E. "Reduce Construction Risk with Management Systems." Memphis Business Journal. 20 October 2000.

Strickland, Amanda. "Choosing the Right Contractor for Your Project." Dallas Business Journal. 7 April 2000.

                                Hillstrom, Northern Lights

                                  updated by Magee, ECDI


views updated May 11 2018


Jewish activity in this industry was restricted in the Diaspora and was narrowed down to the construction and repair of synagogues and houses for the community. Apparently Jews worked in the building crafts, such as carpentry, masonry, and bricklaying, throughout the Middle Ages and early modern times. The trade was organized on traditional lines, with established terms and conditions such as provisions for the meals of the masters. Where moneylending became the main Jewish occupation, the number of Jewish artisans in the building trade declined along with those in other crafts. In Christian countries Jews were excluded from guild membership, but were still occasionally found in building occupations. In countries where Jewish artisans were more common, as in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, this representation was correspondingly larger. It can thus not be generally assumed that all houses, or even synagogues, in the Jewish communities were built by Jewish contractors and workers. On the other hand the scanty mention of this profession in the sources is no conclusive evidence of its complete decline. Such mention is of great geographical variety. An account of building operations carried out in 1040 at the synagogue of the Ereẓ Israel community in Fostat (Old Cairo), Egypt, describes a Jewish master mason with his helpers, a carpenter and his "boy," and their working conditions. Jewish masons, layers of floor tiles, workers in clay, stucco workers, and their "boys," as well as their working terms, in Egypt are mentioned in Jewish sources. In Hebron, it is recorded that the whole community took part in pulling down a synagogue and erecting a new one. In the summer of 1045 seven masons in succession worked on a building. The 13th-century Sefer Ḥasidim castigates a Jewish householder, whose house was built by Jewish and Christian workmen, for not releasing his Jewish employees on Sabbath eve (Wistinetzky ed., no. 1499, p. 361). A contemporary Czech chronicle mentions a Jew, Podivi, who built the town of Podivin. In 1451 a Jew who won acclaim for building the royal palace in Palermo was made a master of the local Jewish carpenters' guild.

However, it was in Eastern Europe, from the 19th century on, that significant numbers of Jews first engaged in building. Visitors to backward Romania in the mid-19th century noted that the building trades, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, etc., were all exclusively represented by Jews, who built synagogues as well. Whereas no Jews engaged in the building profession in Poland before the 18th century, there were, in Congress Poland, excluding Warsaw, in 1856, 1,973 Jewish masons, 2,591 glaziers, 1,259 plumbers, and 1,289 locksmiths. In the eastern regions Jews were even more numerous in these trades, particularly for work on high buildings, steeples, and roofs, where Christian workmen were reluctant to go. Synagogues, which from the 18th century had often been embellished and decorated by wandering Jewish artisans, were now also built by them. With the rise of the *Court Jews, and the increasing numbers of Jewish army purveyors and bankers, numerous large-scale construction projects – palaces, fortresses, roads, and railroads – were organized and financed by Jews. In Poland in 1931, 23,745 Jews were engaged in the building and construction industry, about 10% of the total number, which approximated the proportion of Jews in the general population. Of these, 4,585 were glaziers (80% of the total in this occupation) and 8,034 house painters and decorators (30%); 17.7.% of independent employers in these trades were Jews, representing a much lower proportion than in others, such as clothing, textiles, and foodstuffs. Within the Russian *Pale of Settlement the proportion of Jews in the industry was even higher: 28.5% in Vitebsk government (province) in 1897, and 30.4% in Mogilev government (province), although these were employed mainly on repairs and building maintenance. This trend was manifested in countries to which these Jews immigrated. Thus, in Germany, the proportion was high, the majority being glaziers, painters, and decorators in small family firms. The Haberland family (Solomon Georg (1861–1933) and Kurt), a prominent exception, built parts of Berlin before World War i, and rebuilt cities in East Prussia after the war. Julius Berger founded the internationally known firm bearing his name which constructed tunnels and bridges.

The Jewish mass emigration from Eastern Europe coincided with the New York building boom around the beginning of the 20th century, and large numbers of Jews entered the trade. Harry *Fischel encouraged Jews to enter the building trades by enabling the keeping of the Sabbath and offering half-pay for those who did not work on that day. Many left the trade again, however, either because of a chance to better themselves or because of discrimination. The unions, in particular, in effect barred Jews from the better-paid types of construction work and forced them to become house painters, plumbers, or decorators, and to concentrate on repairs and remodeling. In 1890 there were nearly 900 Jewish house painters and carpenters on the Lower East Side, and associations of Jewish immigrants in these trades were to be found in many U.S. cities. As a result of the general upward mobility of the American Jewish population, however, few young Jews entered these occupations by mid-20th century. Similarly, in the East End of London, many Jews from Eastern Europe took up these trades around the beginning of the 20th century. Although many Jews in Britain were prominent in the development of housing schemes after World War ii, they were mainly occupied in acquiring sites and developing new housing estates and modern blocks of offices. The actual construction was carried out by non-Jewish firms, but there was one large construction company, one of the foremost of its kind, "Bovis" founded by Sir Samuel *Joseph. Their managerial and financial abilities and experience also led Jews in the 20th century to enter the mass-construction industry in America through real estate brokerage, and Jews were especially prominent in the New York, Chicago, and Miami building booms of the 1920s. In New York City, the major part of the Bronx and the Borough Park and Bensonhurst neighborhoods of Brooklyn were built by Jewish contractors. Louis J. *Horowitz became president and general manager of the Thompson-Starrett Construction Company, builder of many skyscrapers in New York and other cities. Real-estate investors and developers who played a prominent role in reshaping the face of 20th-century America's cities and their environs include William *Zeckendorf, Benjamin *Swig, Percy and Harold *Uris, William *Levitt, and Samuel *Lefrak. The latter two in particular, the first in the suburbs and the latter in the central city, pioneered new approaches to mass-scale, low-cost housing that have permanently altered the American urban landscape. Builders of office space in major cities were involved in significant projects that also shaped the city skylines. And other major builders made their marks in other parts of the country, including Eli Brod on the West Coast, who built vast housing projects.

In the 19th and 20th centuries Jews developed real estate on an increasing scale. The large number of Jews who took up engineering and architecture had a place in the planning and supervision of construction projects (see *architecture, *engineering, etc.). In Ereẓ Israel building became an important Jewish enterprise. The building concern *Solel Boneh developed into a big construction and industrial combine. It and *Rassco built agricultural villages and housing estates designed for middle class settlement. Both these firms as well as a number of private ones have built roads, bridges, and public buildings in Asian and African countries.


G. Cohen, The Jews in the Making of America (1924), 127ff.; S.D. Goitein, Mediterranean Society, 1 (1967), s.v.carpenters, masons, stonecutters; L. Rosenberg, Canada's Jews (1939), 202ff.; M.U. Schappes, The Jews in the U.S. (1958), 197; B. Brutzkus, in: Zeitschrift fuer Demographie und statistik der Juden, 4 (1908), 84; M. Rischin, The Promised City (1962), 27, 59f., 188f.; S. Kaznelson (ed.), Juden im deutschen Kulturbereich (1959), 84–86; R. Mahler, Yehudei Polin bein Shetei Milḥamot Olam (1969), 76f., 102f.; H. Kahn, Die juedischen Handwerke in Deutschland (1936).

[Henry Wasserman]


views updated May 29 2018


The process by which the meaning of an ambiguous provision of a statute, written document, or oral agreement is determined.

A judge usually makes a construction of an unclear term in a document at issue in a case that involves a dispute as to its legal significance. The judge examines the circumstances surrounding the provision, laws, other writings, verbal agreements dealing with the same subject matter, and the probable purpose of the unclear phrase in order to conclude the proper meaning of such words. Once the judge has done so, the court will enforce the words as construed. However, for language that is plain and clear, there cannot be a construction.

When ambiguous language is given its exact and technical meaning, and no other equitable considerations or reasonable implications are made, there has been a strict or literal construction of the unclear term.

A liberal or equitable construction permits a term to be reasonably and fairly evaluated so as to implement the object and purpose for which the document is designed. This does not mean that the words will be strained beyond their natural or customary meanings.

A rule of construction is a principle that either governs the effect of the ascertained intention of a document or agreement containing an ambiguous term or establishes what a court should do if the intention is neither express nor implied.A regular pattern of decisions concerning the application of a particular provision of a statute is a rule of construction that governs how the text is to be applied in similar cases.

The constitutionality of an ambiguous statute is a question of law and a matter of construction within the province of the court. The meaning of the language of the statute must be determined in light of its objectives, purposes, and practical effect as a whole. If a statute is so ambiguous that a judge cannot make a reasonable construction of its disputed provisions, and a reasonable person could not determine from reading it what the law orders or prohibits, it is void for vagueness because it violates the guarantee of due process of law.

Some states have codified terms that had in the past been subject to repeated judicial construction. The need for court proceedings to determine the real meaning of some terms has been eliminated by enactment of statutes that give specific meanings—such as specifying that "calendar day" means a twenty-four hour period starting on midnight of one date and ending midnight of the next day.


Canons of Construction; Judicial Action.


views updated May 23 2018

con·struc·tion / kənˈstrəkshən/ • n. the building of something, typically a large structure: a skyscraper under construction. ∎  such activity considered as an industry. ∎  the style or method used in the building of something: the mill is of brick construction. ∎  a building or other structure. ∎  the creation or formation of an abstract entity: language plays a large part in our construction of reality. ∎  an interpretation or explanation: you could put an honest construction upon their conduct. ∎  Gram. the arrangement of words according to syntactical rules: sentence construction.DERIVATIVES: con·struc·tion·al / -shənl/ adj.con·struc·tion·al·ly / -shənl-ē/ adv.


views updated Jun 08 2018




















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