What is Design-Build

The construction, architecture, and engineering industries have changed significantly over the past decade.  One of perhaps the most impactful changes shaking up these industries is the shift towards the design-build model of project delivery.  Design-build is a relatively new project managment system wherein the design and construction components are considered and calculated concurrently.  A design-build team works as a single entity, under a single contract. Design-build contracts reflect a shift in construction contracts towards having the project owner involved before construction even begins on the project.  The owner has a single contract with a design-build entity or contractor, and works hand-in-hand with that entity to design and construct their project. The designing and constructing entities are vertically integrated with one another.  This integration tends to increase efficiency on projects and gives the owner a single source for information, updates, and a clear place to go to request changes.  Finger pointing between contractors and designers is eliminated, and the buck stops with the design-build contractor. Under this new methodology multiple disciplines and subcontractors may have input into the design of a project.  The architect/designer is also more likely to put cost saving design elements into the project as he/she is under the same contract with the constructing entity. Design-build also allows for construction on projects to begin before the final design has been completed and approved.  Project owners who are on a tight timeline will find many advantages to the design-build model. Design and construction can take place simultaneously throughout the life of the project.  There is a lot of information available on the web about the shift to design-build and what it means for architecture, engineering, construction, and trades. For example, Korte has a number of excellent entries on  design-build on their blog.  The folks over at “the balance” have also written a good piece which outlines the advantages and drawbacks of the design-build model.  We encourage our clients to explore the pros and cons and consider how we can help them integrate their teams into a design-build framework…

DesignBuild v. Traditional

At blueprintsprinting.com we have many clients that still contract under the traditional design-bid-build model, and many others that have adopted the design-build model.  There is no one size fits all in the design and construction industries, and project owners, contractors, and architects all have to take many factors into account when deciding which project model to use.   We are designing our plan room software to easily facilitate multiple project completion methodologies.   When completed, this software will allow users to share plans and architectural drawings easily with project collaborators and owners, so in many way it will be a natural fit for the design-build model.  The industry networking component of blueprintsprinting.com will roll out soon thereafter making finding designers, builders, and subcontractors on platform easy.  The accompanying bid software will also allow project owners, architects, and contractors, to share their plans and drawing from our plan room and put the project (or pieces of the project) out for bid.  With blueprintsprinting.com account, it will be simple to share plans electronically or to send print hard copies to job sites, offices, and wherever else they are needed.  Already many of our clients are enjoying the benefits of being able to send blueprints and specs to multiple project collaborators in multiple locations around the country for a fraction of the cost of local print shops.

The Future of the Local Print Shop

Print shopThe printing industry is certainly changing, but contrary to some of the bearish sentiments out there, it is not going away.  The need for architects, engineers, construction managers, designers, artists, marketers, etc. to “mark on substrate” will continue long into the foreseeable future.  The persistent questions are: What is the future for the local print shops? How will the print industry evolve in the digital age?  And, what can the local print shop do to adapt to changing demands?

We at blueprintsprinting.com clearly have some ideas about the answers to these questions.  We are partnering with professional, quality focused, local print shops strategically located around the country to offer rapid turnaround wide format printing to our customers nationwide.  Observing market trends, the digital shift, and our experiences running a brick and mortar print shop for over 8 years, we were able to anticipate the increasing demand for greater printing convenience and speed.  These days project deadlines are tighter, couriers and trips to the local print shop are more expensive both in terms of time and money, and interrupting the workday to deal with print shop sales people and customer service is increasingly viewed as an unnecessary distraction. Indeed, we are finding that our customers greatly appreciate being able to upload their files for printing, get an instant quote on both printing and shipping, order right from their desks, and have the printed documents show up at their home, office, or job site  as quickly as the next day.

In the age of Amazon, Alibaba, and Vista Print, our customers expect quick turnaround, delivery, and convenience.  Those are just the things that blueprintsprinting.com consistently aims to provide!  We provide our local print shop partners with access to a nationwide market, and our platform takes most of the order processing work of their shoulders so they can just focus on their business and keep their printers running.  Meanwhile, on the customer side of things, the pdf handling software on our platform will soon allow easy merging, extracting, editing and uploading of files.  Our plan room will allow user friendly sharing of project files with all of your collaborators in the field and across the nation.  We want our system to be simple to use for everyone – from the hurried project manager to the office manager at the small architecture firm.  You shouldn’t need to be a tech wizard or understand all of the industry jargon to be able to order your wide format prints from us.

The economy by most measures has fully recovered from the Great Recession, new construction and home building continues to trend upwards, and printing is enjoying a revival and an evolution. New print machines like the HP PageWide that our print partners are now using are pumping pages in both color and black and white at record speeds.  The local print shops are consolidating, specializing, and becoming much more efficient.  Blueprintsprinting.com is helping them do it.

Plans for 2017

20161206_144929_resizedWell, our little company enjoyed remarkable growth throughout 2016, and already 2017 is off to a roaring start!  January has brought our largest volume of orders so far.  Builders, contractors, architects, engineers, construction crews, and seamstresses continue to find our website and fall in love with our easy online ordering services, as well as our unbelievably low prices on plan printing.  We couldn’t be more pleased!

Aside from printing and shipping out construction plans, sewing plans, and other large format documents right and left, we have also spent January mapping out the upcoming year.  2017 will be a very exciting year of continued growth and expansion for Blueprintsprinting.com!  Let us tell you a little bit about what we have in store….

An expanding footprint of printers and shippers:

We are currently working with a new 3rd party logistics provider who specializes in e-commerce to allow us to ship UPS Ground more quickly to more places.  By the end of Q1 we hope to have this finalized, and have print and ship locations operational in the North East (likely Pennsylvania), Houston, and Orlando.  By adding these three additional print floors, we will be able to offer 2 day UPS Ground shipping to well over 90% of the U.S. population, and 1 day UPS Ground delivery service to most of our largest metropolitan area purchasers.  This will make our already convenient low cost print and ship services even more convenient and low cost!  Many of our customers will enjoy the benefit of not having to pay extra for expedited shipping by having a printer closer to them.

An expanding suite of software and functionality:

We continually are looking for ways to make the file upload and ordering process easier for our users. With this in mind, in early 2017 we will finally be rolling out our pdf handling software, which will allow our customers to upload multiple files at one time, merge their construction document files together, and/or extract pages for printing.  We anticipate that this functionality will make the ordering process significantly faster, and simpler.  Keep an eye out for the file handling software to be integrated with our website early in Q2.

As we have indicated elsewhere on our website and blog, we have we will also be adding a Plan Room to our software as a service offerings.  The plan room should be rolling out in late Q2, if all goes as planned. Having the multiple file upload and pdf handing software completed will mean building the plan room software is one step closer.  It will not take much for our programmers to build the additional functionality to allow our users to then share their construction plans with contractors, subs, and clients, and to re-download plans as needed.  Many of our clients have told how excited they are to have these options available, and we are working diligently to bring that about as soon as possible.

 Stay tuned for these exciting additions to our business in 2017 and more of our plans in the years to come.

 

 

 

What’s Happening in Reprography

Print Floor_resized

According to Wikipedia, “reprography is the reproduction of graphics through mechanical or electrical means, such as photograpy or xerography. Reprography is commonly used in catalogs and archives, as well as in the architectural, engineering, and construction industries.”  It is this last part of the industry that we are focused on here at blueprintsprinting.com. This industry has been changing quite rapidly in recent years, as we have discussed in some of our previous blogs, and as Joel Salus over at Reprographics 101 details extensively in his blog posts extending back to 2009. However, it is our view that the industry, in general, still has a long way to go to catch up with the technological change that is sweeping the design-build industries.

In the, United States the reprography industry is relatively small, and shrinking every day.  As the demand for paper prints shrinks, reprography shops are going out of business, or are raising their prices to stay afloat in business environments of decreased revenue from volume sales.  We at Blueprintsprinting.com, along with a few of  our more forward looking competitors, are taking a different path.  We are lowering prices! To do this and remain viable, we are working with print partners nationwide to maintain the volumes necessary to sustain our near-wholesale prices.  Granted, some of the very large contractors, municipalities, or other very large volume customers for print products may be able to negotiate somewhat lower prices than we are able to offer by working directly with their local print shop.  However our business is primarily aimed at the small- to medium-sized contractors, architects, engineers, and subcontractors.  These folks generally do not print at the volume necessary to have much negotiating leverage with the print shops, so they enjoy a huge benefit when they find and order from blueprintsprinting.com.  We also do have the flexibility to work out special prices and invoicing for the large contractors who do do business with us. With advances in software, e-commerce, fulfillment, and third party logistics options, we have been able to design a business model that allows us to provide very fast print project turn around, low-cost, speedy delivery anywhere in the U.S., and volume pricing.  The reprography industry is consolidating and becoming more efficient, and Blueprints Printing is leading the way!

In his latest blog post, Joel mentions some of our internet based reprography competitors.  Here is are a just a few ways in which we are ahead of the competition to modernize the reprographics industry:

1.  Lower prices – We still beat almost all of the other shops prices.  We are far ahead on color pricing, and color is where the industry is moving (color coded construction plans dramatically reduce errors and improve efficiency on build projects).

2. More convenient  upload and ordering – Our competitors still do not have fully automated process for uploading your plans, choosing your specifications,  and placing your order.

3. Multi-address shipping – as far as we can tell we are the only online print company that makes it easy for you to ship sets of plans to multiple addresses.  Ship set to your subs, clients, and/or business partners all in one easy ordering process.

4.  Software as a Service solutions – We are constantly building new functionality and conveniences into our software and web platform.  Our members will be on the leading edge in construction, architecture, and engineering  industries as we continue to build out our plan room, bid software, and social media platform for the design-build industries.

5.  Expanded options – We offer more options for our customers, from color divisions (print addenda and/or other portions of your plans on different colors of paper to make it easy to turn to the section of the plans you need), weather proof Tyvek plans for onsite drawings, to Mylar prints for overlays, custom sizing, etc., etc.  We have all the options you would ever need.

So, what is happening in the reprographics industry?  Blueprintsprinting.com is happening!

The Alternative to the “Print Shops Near Me”

USA

It has been an unfortunate, decades-long, tradition in the design and build industries to waste many valuable man hours running around town, dealing with “print shops near me” sales reps, and paying high prices to get construction plan printing done.  Blueprintsprinting.com is changing all this.  We like to say we are bringing the dot com revolution to the printing industry.  With our fully automated system, easy file upload, instant price quotes on both printing and shipping, quick ordering, and speedy delivery across the U.S., we are making life so much simpler for project managers, architects, engineers, and other design-build professionals.  We are in the process of modernizing an industry that has unfortunately become stuck in the last century.  We aim to make our platform and ordering process as user friendly and convenient for the engineer, architect, contractor, and subcontractor, as Amazon or any of the other modern web service and e-commerce sites that have made so many other facets of our lives more quick and simple.

Beside offering convenience and speed, our volume pricing for everyone also makes it very cost effective for large construction firms to do their printing through us rather than purchase in-house plotters.  Cutting costs and saving time are the names of the games in today’s busy and ultra-competitive bidding and building sectors. Blueprints Printing is here to give you a big advantage in those profit hungry games.  The print shops near me just don’t have what I need anymore in order to compete in the dot com world.

So stop searching for the “print shops near me” and just go ahead and sign up for a free account with blueprintsprinting.com.  You will immediately appreciate the convenience and cost savings that our printing dot com revolution is bringing into the design-build world!

What is the best paper and print for construction use?

Best paper for estimating and bidding

Blueprints on 20#

We get asked a lot about the “best” paper and print for construction job site printing, and there are a few things that make this process of choosing paper and printing easy by asking 3 simple questions.

  1. 1. What is the print to be used for (job site trailer, overlays, estimating, etc)?
  2. 2. How long does it need to last (1 week, 3 months, forever)?
  3. 3. How good does it need to look?

Let’s handle the first question.  Consider the environment where the print is going to be used.  If it is in a place that has a lot of dirt and dust, where liquids are present, or where there is a lot of wear and tear by a lot of handling, this should play into your choice.  Estimating, planning, and general examination mean that 20# paper is just fine for printing your prints.  The ink on the paper is done with laser printing, and for most applications where the prints are inside and handled relatively lightly, a low-cost, high quality print on regular paper (20#) works really well for construction plans and drawings.

Now, let’s say that these prints are on the construction job site in October in Boston.  The weather is unpredictable, the crews are rushing to finish before winter, and there is a lot of wet weather.  In this scenario, 20# paper will disintegrate.  The HVAC, plumbing, and electrical crews all need to take the plans to the actual installation point.  The paper shreds, and the job is delayed or the notes on it are lost.  For this purpose, Tyvek is a much better option.  It is water proof, weather proof, spill proof, and you can just wash it off when it gets muddy.  Now, the plans and notes stay intact, the project managers are happy, and the crews are happy.  One or two job site sets on Tyvek will save hours of time and will last the entire job.

The second question is a little more vague.  It is about durability as well, but if the plans are a customer set, they may be stored forever in paper form.  So consider the use and the length of time that it needs to last.  We found the perfect example for a larger fabricator and machine shop.  They were printing out reams of paper for important templates and engineering drawings.  The shop floor had metal shavings and lots of hands had to touch the drawings.  Regularly, they would have to print out another set of drawings, since the paper would just shred.  Mylar (film) works best in these cases.  it is semi-rigid, has a long, long life, and is semi-transparent so the drawings could overlay on changes on paper.  It was the perfect solution.

The third question is how does it need to look.  For people who are bidding on jobs, giving presentations, or working directly with the customer, a nice set of construction plans are critical, especially when you want them in color.  For color prints, there is a general rule of thumb:  the higher the number on the paper, the thicker it is.  Example:  20# paper is relatively light-weight, good for carrying around but doesn’t do well with color prints, while 24# is heavier and thicker, let’s less light through, and renderings look great.  Presentation paper (32# paper) is really wonderful for blocking almost all back lighting and shows colors in their truest form, but it is really heavy for plans… so use it sparingly for renderings or color pictures.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 888.507.1002 if you have any question about what paper to choose for printing construction plans, renderings, blueprints, presentations, posters, or specifications (spec) books.

Getting Architectural Drawings and Specifications Delivered

Portrait Of Delivery Driver With ClipboardDelivery of large format construction documents and architectural drawings is not something construction firms often think of.  There are not a lot of companies out there that offer this serivce. The traditional model for getting drawings printed has long involved multiple trips to the local reprographer or print shop to explain what is needed, place the order, and then to return to pick up the prints a few days later.  Well, no more!  Blueprintsprinting.com has revolutionized, streamlined, and automated the whole process.  Now construction planning documents can be ordered easily from desktop or mobile device, and delivered within 2-3 business days to offices or job sites across the U.S.

Contractors and subcontractors often are working on-site at construction projects far from their home office. Quite frequently the need for a newly revised plans, or additional sets of architectural drawings arises on-site at the construction project. It maybe that construction changes had to be called in to the designer and s/he sent revised construction plan PDFs electronically out to the job site personnel; maybe the first set of drawings was lost or damaged (check out our Tyvek print products to avoid the weather damage issue), maybe the electronic version and the BIM software that the on-site crew had planned to use just isn’t working out. Whatever the case maybe, the need for drawings and specifications delivered quickly to the job site is something that our customers repeatedly come to us for.

Our rapid turn around print production, and multiple shipping options enable quick job site delivery of high quality construction drawings and spec books. Once contractors and subs have a blueprintsprinting.com account created, they can easily upload their drawings for their project into their free media manager on our cloud. After PDF architectural and construction drawings are uploaded, it is a very easy process to order prints as needed. New orders can be placed from tablet or other mobile device in the field very easily. Our print facilities in Atlanta and Salt Lake City put most of the United State within a two business day delivery range for inexpensive UPS delivery. If two business days is not fast enough, we also offer faster FedEx delivery options.  Either Fedex or UPS, we will have your architectural drawings and other construction documents to your job-site or office in no time.UPS Ship Times2

Where to get Construction Plans Printed?

The construction industry is once again on the upswing with more new construction starts month-over-month consistently during the past couple of years at least.  This is great for the economy, great for blueprintsprinting.com, and great for all of our friends in the construction and design-build industries!

U.S Construction Starts in billions_recent years                              total-us-construction-starts_reed construction

One thing that has changed in the construction industry since the slow down and belt tightening of the recent recessionary period is that architects and general contractors are much more cost sensitive.  One of the common ways that general contractors and architects are cutting costs is by passing the plan printing on to the subcontractors.  Designers and GCs are, quite often now, sending construction plans to the subcontractors electronically, usually in pdf format via Dropbox or Google Drive, and letting the subs deal with getting the plans printed. Because of this change in the construction industry, subcontractors are becoming some of the biggest clients here at blueprintsprinting.com.   The good news is that once the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, framing, roofing, and all the other subcontracting firms find us, the costs and hassle of now having to deal with getting plans printed virtually disappears.  We make printing so affordable and convenient that many of our subcontracting clientele are actually happy to have the construction plan PDFs uploaded to their media manager at blueprintsprinting.com and be able to order prints as needed, on whatever medium they choose.  Our near-wholesale printing prices combined with our our fast turnaround times, with  rapid nationwide delivery make blueprintsprinting.com the clear go-to choice for getting your construction plans printed.

So, if your designer, architect, or general contractor sends your project plans to you electronically via a Google Drive, Dropbox, email, or other electronic file sharing method, simply upload your construciton plan files to your secure cloud media manager on your account at blueprintsprinting.com and order the prints you need when you need them. Simple and affordable!

Who has low cost construction plan printing?

While the printing industry is certainly changing, your construction plan printing is in good hands with Blueprints Printing.  New procedures, print technology, and great carriers have made it possible for a few online printing companies to emerge.  So how do you tell who can get the work done and get it to you on time?

There are pros and cons of each service and each way of getting prints:

  1. Local Copy Shop –
    1. Pros –
      1. Fast service, typically.  The local copy shops that do large-format construction plans have machines locally and you get your plans quickly.
    2. Cons –
      1. Low capacity and lack of expertise – it is a toss-up if you will get high-quality service, especially at retail stores like Staples, Office Max, or UPS.
      2. Expensive – the typical 24×36 plan will usually be anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00, for one sheet!  That gets pricey!
      3. Inflexible – most copy shops do not ship drawings inexpensively and they are not experts at it.  If your offices are in NYC and you have a job in Maryland, it can be a huge hassle to get your plans where you need them.
      4. One place of business – by having only one place of business, local and some online companies put your jobs at risk.  If a machine goes down, if there are issues with that site, how long will you have to wait for them to do repairs?
  2. Online from Blueprintsprinting.com
    1. Pros –
      1. Fast service even on very big jobs.
      2. Large capacity – Our company has the ability to print millions of sheets per month.
      3. Inexpensive – our 24×36 sheets are only $0.66 each… that’s 66 cents!  Our price comparisons have routinely shown that we are the lowest cost option for construction plan printing.
      4. High-quality – we are experts in the field of construction printing, meaning that your prints get our full attention, because that is our singular business.  If there are problems with the file, adjustments that have to be made, our experts can suggest solutions.
      5. Automated – phone calls to sales reps, driving to the local shop, sending files and instructions via email are time-consuming activities.  The average trip to the local shop can cost hours of time, depending on where you are and where it is.
      6. Easy – Ordering from us is easy… you can order with your phone, from the job site, right after you do the markup, and our system automates the entire process from beginning to end.
      7. Distributed – We have a distributed print system where your job is not reliant on one shop.  No waiting around for the printer to get repaired.
    2. Cons –
      1. Shipping times – for a lot of jobs you need those plans fast.
      2. Shipping costs – for jobs under 20 sheets, it makes all the sense in the world to go to a local shop.  They are fast and they will be less expensive for small jobs.

 

Blueprintsprinting.com is Growing!

It is with happy hearts and shining optimism that we write today to tell you all of our company’s expansion.  We have recently finalized the web programming and order routing procedures to bring our Atlanta printing facility online. Starting today we are printing and shipping out of, not one, but two large print facilities – one print floor in Salt Lake City, UT, and another large print operation in Atlanta, GA.  We could not be more excited!

This means that virtually all of our customers in the continental U.S. will now be able to have their blueprints, construction documents, and other large-format prints delivered within two business days via UPS Ground (our most affordable shipping option).  Our customers east of the Mississippi have been waiting anxiously for this expansion, and we are so happy to finally be able to offer them the same great service and quick turnaround that we have been providing to our Western U.S. customers over the past year.  Upload your pdf file, select your specifications, place your order, and your plans will arrive at your doorstep or job site within 1-3 business days.  Construction project planning and management just got that much easier!  And, this is just the beginning of the efficiencies and conveniences that Blueprintsprinting.com has planned for the design-build industries.

For customers wondering about order fulfillment, here is a quick review of our turnaround times and shipping commitment:  We will print and ship out orders placed before 11:00am the same day.  Orders from the eastern half of the United States will be routed out of our Atlanta facility and will need to placed before 11am EST to go out the same day.  Orders from the western half of the U.S. will be routed out of our Salt Lake facility, and will need to be received before 11am MST to be shipped out the same day.  Orders that come in after 11am will be shipped out on the next business day.  Have a look at UPS shipping times below, and remember we also still offer expedited shipping via FedEx.

UPS Ship Times2