Sunday, November 22, 2015

AAAAAGGGGHHHHH Topic #1: How to be a Woman and Ask for Business in a Man's world

How to be a Woman and Ask for Business in a Man's World
Alternate Title:   Demolition Derby Time?

I'm not explaining in this one. I'm actually asking:

"How to be a woman and ask for business in a Man's world?"

It's a legit question. Eight years into this there are themes that continue to recur....

Whisper into the ear of some men the words real slowly: "demo-li-tion, a-ggre-gate, gra-ding, de-ten-tion ponds", and finish it with a sultry "un-der-ground stor-age tanks". They get stupid. They start shuffling their feet in the dirt in their Carharts. They rev their diesel engines a little. They get excited.

But why do I always feel like when I get involved it kind of spoils the man-party.

I'm not the best estimator in the world. I'm not the worst. I actually want to learn AND I don't want to lose money learning.  So if my company is clean and ethical and presents real numbers with average profit expectations, why do we continue to lose to unethical companies appearing before Judges with Judgments handed down year after year? Doesn't any of the buyers of demolition and environmental services buyers actually read the Atlanta Business Chronicle? It's like gossip for people and companies you don't even know, and hope you never do. And it's not even gossip, it's for real. And pray your company never appears there where the fine print legal action takes place.  (Insert I hope I'm never sued but I'm sure I will be Prayer here x).

How do I:
1.) present the proposal
2.) ask for the business
3.) not come off as an aggressive bitch?
4.) and not ask how or why I could possibly lose yet again to a notorious company that doesn't pay their subs?


Meanwhile, while looking (ok, Googling) for a kick ass graphic to go with this post, I may have found some inspiring.......women.........moms..........doing amazing things in a man's world..........though I'm not sure why, but that's not the point. Maybe just a sign to rev up my own diesel and start careening around a little. Maybe put a little Demolition Derby into my efforts.....

Photo: ABC News

Why does "Picking up a Permit" sound so EASY? Part II

Hmmmmm, let's see: last post we were trying to get ALL the information required from a jurisdiction to get a Demolition Permit. This is nearly impossible if attempting by phone and/or relying on jurisdiction website alone.  Even with repeated experience the permit obtaining experience can and will vary depending upon personnel and their interpretation of the permit requirements for their respective jurisdictions.....

As a summary of the previous post, listed below is a simplifield "checklist" that MAY or MAY NOT apply per your jurisdiction for the demolition permit seeker. Quiz the building permit office personnel for the following documents applicability to your project............OR just call Southern Demolition and Environmental and ask us to complete your project with permitting!

For those ambitious do-it-yourselfers here you go:

  • Specific # of copies of a Demolition Site Plan prepared by a registered Surveyor or Engineer.
  • Specific size of Demolition Site Plan
  • Build Back Plan
  • Specific requirements and notes per that jurisdiction desire on Site Plan: ie, dumpster placement, erosion control, topography indicated, state and local stream buffers, etc
  • Rodent Letter or "Rat Letter" - supplied by a licensed Exterminator after treatment to ensure Rodents will not flee during the course of demolition
  • Asbestos Clearance Letter - supplied by an accredited Asbestos Inspector verifying Asbestos Containing Materials are not present and/or have been properly abated prior to demolition.
  • EPD Notification - Required on NESHAPS asbestos and/or demolition work meeting specific requirements and presented to the Environmental Protection Division naming work methods, schedule and other pertinent information relative to demolition and/or asbestos work.
  • Letter from licensed plumber certifying that Septic Tank has been pumped (if applicable)
  • Evidence of intent of installing construction entrance per jurisdiction pre construction inspection requirements.
  • Erosion Control Bond (Cobb County)
  • Current Business License
  • Name and Number of individual holding Blue Card
  • Photos of structure to be demolished - potentially several for consideration by the jurisdiction Historical Society
  • Fees, Site Development Fees, Additional Fees
  • Additional Permits that must be issued in conjunction with Demolition Permit (ie, Sewer Plug Permit per City of Atlanta).
  • Keep 404-478-7142, Office number for Southern Demolition and Environmental in your back pocket for emergency! website:   email:

                                                       Demolition Permit Ready!
                                                                Photo: G Ragsdale

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why does "picking up a permit" SOUND so EASY? Part I

Ring, Ring......
BUILDING DEPT LADY: "Hello, Building Department, May I help you?"
ME:  "YES!! ME!! You can help ME!"
This is where I introduce myself as a demolition contractor trying to get all the information possible to make ONE TRIP to your office and WALK OUT WITH WHAT INTENDED TO ACCOMPLISH (Secure a PERMIT, from the........PERMIT OFFICE).  I tell you all about my project and then you tell me to.........go to.......... a website.  A website that never tells me the complete story. Or fully explains the Fees. Or the little requirements that slipped right by the poor web guy tasked with teasing out the excruciating volumes of details that are required to get a demolition permit from this entity.  
ME:  "But MS Building Department Lady, YOU WANT TO HELP ME NOW, RIGHT? So are you going to rely on the website to tell me everything, and I mean everything that I will need to get a permit from your jurisdiction?
(ANNOYED) BUILDING DEPT LADY:  "Do you want me to give you the web address?"
ME:  "Would you mind it so much if you could go to the website and read me the requirements?"
(REALLY ANNOYED BUILDING DEPT LADY): "I just can't do that. We can't get on the internet here and I have another call coming in"
GETTING DESPERATE ME:  "Anything you could tell me would be helpful - anything, I can't get on the internet and I don't have much time or money and I really just want to know, specifically, what it would take for me to come with all documents necessary and walk out of your office with this little piece of paper that will give my company permission to move on with all of our lives"
EXASPERATED BUILDING DEPT LADY: "I know you need to fill out the application, get a site plan and a letter from the owner and a rodent letter.  It costs $200".
ME: "Are you sure that's it? That doesn't sound very comprehensive. Are you sure that's all you got? Cause I'm about to have me a "I KNOW MORE THAN YOU BUILDING DEPARTMENT LADY FACEOFF":

QUESTION ONE:  "Is the......... application for demolition and new building construction on the same application - because if it is the same application IT IS CONFUSING.  These two operations should never be confused.  They are so very much the opposite. If there is one application for both of these operations we call this kind of Permit Office........."AMATEUR". And add 2 hours to your day there, because you will have at least one permit office person insist that you need a General Contractor's License to fill in the little box for that contractor's number since you are submitting an application that is submitted when people build a new structure.  And Demolition Specialty Contracting is EXCLUDED from having to have a General Contractor's License (here in Georgia). You will go round and round and And move on to Section 2 of the Application......

QUESTION TWO:  THE APPLICATION SAYS I NEED A......Business License number  and EXPIRY to get a permit here? But invariably it is January and God and everyone's Business License
just expired on December 31?  And the Business License department doesn't renew the old one until usually around......MARCH.  WHAT NOW BROWN COW? Wait till then??

QUESTION THREE:  It says I need to take four photos of the *&^#box that I've been hired to demolish so the Historical Society can review it?  REVIEW IT FOR WHAT? DETERIORATING LEAD PAINT? ASBESTOS?  EVIDENCE THAT COMPLETELY INEFFICIENT AND SUB PAR DWELLINGS SHOULD BE SAVED?  I'm all in for saving historical structures, but come on. Check your CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER log, one of your very own departments is begging for this to be......demolished!

QUESTION FOUR: Your application here says I need 4 sets of site plans to scale to submit for the permit.  What it doesn't explain is that it can't be you pulling out the old ruler and marking up the tax record Map real nice and purty.  You have to spend money here. Or charge your client money you neglected to educate them about because you never got this far with "MS BUILDING DEPT LADY". She hung up on your ass like two questions ago!  Here is the drill down, the clarification, the explanation:  "Four sets of Demolition Site plans provided by a licensed surveyor or registered architect showing location of trees (greater than 6" DBH) (like you know what THAT means) and topography lines and silt fence and tree save fence locations"  This costs like $30 in printing by the way.....just put it in your Google Notes to remember to charge your client.....more money. They love that too!

QUESTIONS FIVE AND SIX:  If it's on sewer what do you want to do about it?  OR what we call the STUMPER:   "What do you want us to produce if it has a septic system?"
Answer:  JUST a letter from a company that says they've pumped the septic system.  Hmmmm, that is going to cost SOMEBODY some money!  Your client is going to *&^% in his pants when you start adding up this get the permit.  Not including "FEES".


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Here are .......The Rules.......for Hiring a Demolition Contractor

Image result for the rules

Hiring A Demolition Contractor......The Rules

1.  Get an asbestos inspection. Get Southern Demolition and Environmental to conduct it for you, get an accredited inspector to get it for you, get a reputable company to get it for you. Get this if you are serious about pursuing a real number.  Try to avoid any contractor that will "turn the other way" and suggest a way to 'get rid of the asbestos'.  If you touch it or you don't know what it is and you have it demolished, you are possibly exposing yourself, your workers, your neighbors to asbestos. And that's bad. You can't see it, and it may linger for a couple of days after demo, so don't do it. Yes, it's extra money. But do it anyways. Do it right and never look back. You hear of people getting away with "it", but they have broken the solid waste act law.

2.  If you are getting the demolition permit, or you've hired Southern Demolition and Environmental to get the permit or a permit expediter to get the permit, make sure a realistic timeline is adhered to.  It is hard to schedule demolition when one doesn't know when the permit will be released by the jurisdiction. AND, once a permit is released and in-hand, it doesn't mean that the moment of demolition is here!  Make sure the following are built in to the timeline for realistic expectation:  
  1. Rodent Letter received
  2. Asbestos Abatement Clearance Letter is received
  3. Evidence that a Pre Construction/Pre Demolition Meeting with inspector from demolition permit issuance jurisdiction has been held or scheduled
  4. Silt fence/Construction Exit is installed 
  5. Gas is killed 
  6. 811 utility locate is active and utility companies have properly responded
  7. Power is disconnected 
  8. Water is available to use for the course of demolition
There are even more, per permitting jurisdiction, for example:

  1. Evidence the septic tank has been pumped
  2. Permit box installed and Notice of Issuance of Building Permit Sign installed
  3. Letter from utility companies that utilities have been removed
  4. More stuff that public permit offices think of.......

3. Review the site plan, proposal and expectation with the contractor. If you need an extra load of gravel because the construction exit isn't worthy, it costs extra.  Utilize contractors that have systems, insurance, the ability to maintain a bond (this signifies credit worthiness).  Best price is not the "lowest price".  Ask low bidder where the material will be disposed of.  If the contractor can't offer to track the waste, then don't "waste" any time on the contractor. Illegal dumping is prevalent and if the lowest price is too good to be true, it most likely is.  

4.  Don't hesitate to call Southern Demolition and Environmental at 404-478-7142 for a ballpark and an outline for realistic expectations based on the environmental and wrecking concerns of your project. Our firm is a specialist in Metro Atlanta private and public residential, multi-family and commercial asbestos abatement and demolition projects up to $300,000. Southern Demolition and Environmental understands complexities of Land Disturbance Permits, NPDES Monitoring and our operators hold Level 1 Soil and Erosion Control certifications as well as 10 Hour OSHA training.

5. There is a level of professionalism you can expect from your "demolition guy" AND, last but not least, that "guy" may be a........... girl!  Southern Demolition and Environmental is a certified FBE by the City of Atlanta and DBE by the Ga Dept of Transportation.  We have a staff of estimators and projects managers that can guide your project with the RULES above in an effort to economically and feasibly complete your project on your timeline.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Demolition - Where the Men are Men and the Women are........Initials

Demolition - It is a MAN'S World and I'm ok with that - G. Ragsdale

So I've selected a field where women are the secretaries and the men are the wreckers.  Even I find myself exclusively using the words, "how many men, how many days" when I'm estimating or in a pre-bid - clarifying most questions using the male pronoun.

I'm settled here lately on not challenging the sexism that exists. I should ball up all the emails that begin:


Your pricing for this proposal is due by noon."

and accept it. I should take my inner secretary and take all instances of sexism that I feel I've been privy to, and apply for 8a, Federal certification for those in my position with my experiences and qualifications. But I'm not that organized! Where is that girl?  But I can...... measure a building, estimate asbestos abatement, time and materials, men and days, read a site plan, apply for a permit, organize logistics, build a lead to proposal software customized for my firm, achieve compaction and pull an underground storage tank.  HOWEVER, from now on, I vow to do that in the most male way possible.


G. Ragsdale