Quit Getting Screwed Podcast

Episode 8: Build a Passion for Problem Solving

Episode 8: Build a Passion for Problem Solving (with Eddie & Tyler Campbell)

Episode link: https://the-quit-getting-screwed-podcast.castos.com/episodes/episode-8-build-a-passion-for-problem-solving-with-the-construction-brothers

INTRO: Welcome to the Quit Getting Screwed Podcast. Here, we’ll talk about everything related to contractors, construction, and information to help you run better businesses.

Karalynn: Hey guys, welcome back to the Quit Getting Screwed podcast. And today I’m so very excited to have the construction brothers, who I am huge fans of because they’re kind of on the same mission I am. They have a unique perspective as they’re helping people in the construction industry while they’re currently working in it. So good morning, Tyler and Eddie. How are you guys?

Eddie: Morning! We’re doing really well over here, hanging in there.

Tyler: Got our coffee in us. We’re feeling ready to go! Lots of coffee, lots of coffee.

Karalynn: Early coffee. You know, I’m way more productive in the morning. I don’t know about you guys.

Eddie: Oh, definitely.

Tyler: Uh, yeah. For sure.

Karalynn: Anyways. All right. So, tell us a little about yourself, where you came from, and how you got where you are now. The oldest brother gets to go first!

Eddie: Yeah, quick version of that. So, I’m Eddie Campbell, and I’ve been in the industry about 17 years now, going on 17 years now. I came into the industry, really the family business, because of dad. He started our company around the same time I graduated college and that gave me the opportunity to be with him from the outset of ABSI. And so, I’ve been working in BIM for the last 16, 17 years and have grown in my love for the industry. Especially my love for building. It was not really what I set out to do at first; I was a history major in school, or really majored in baseball, I guess. That was kind of the big thing. But after college, I landed here and it’s something that is in the blood here. We really love to build.

Karalynn: Really!

Eddie: Yeah.

Karalynn: Well, I saw on your website that you are a six-generation builder. What do you know about the five generations before you?

Eddie: Oh my gosh.

Tyler: Mostly carpenters back there.

Eddie: And one moonshiner, I think.

Tyler: Yeah, a moonshiner carpenter.

Karalynn: Hey, it takes a lot of skill!

Tyler: It does!

Eddie: So yes, hail from the foothills of Virginia. So, a bunch of hillbillies really, but yeah. Dad’s been a general contractor, our grandfather was a civil engineer and a general contractor with Messer Construction. His dad was actually a foreman with Messer Construction. And with his dad, we can still go to the house that he built in Virginia. So, yeah, there are six verifiable generations of builders.

Karalynn: Awesome. How about you, Tyler?

Tyler: For me? I’m Tyler. I’m the young one, the young whippersnapper.

Eddie: The baby brother.

Tyler: The baby brother. Yeah. I’m Tyler. So, I’ve been in the industry probably about nine years now. I came into ABSI similar to Eddie. I didn’t expect myself to be in the construction industry. I just kind of fell into the family business, you know. And so, dad poured into me for about a year, and then after that I went and moved into an office with Eddie and the rest is kind of history. We took off from there. I was the apprentice and Eddie was the mentor for so many years, so we kind of have that fun dynamic. I got a lot of training from him and now we’re paying it forward, or I’m paying it forward to the younger people here in our office. I definitely didn’t expect to be in the construction industry, but you know, I love it. I love it because there’s so much opportunity out there and there are so many problems that are worth solving. There is always something to do and it’s fun. That’s me.

Karalynn: So, tell me a little bit about the family business. ABSI. What is it, what you guys do, the kind of work that you do, and what do you build?

Tyler: What do we do?

Eddie: Yes, what do we do? We do 3D modeling steel detailing. We work with steel fabricators. We work alongside engineers and architects. We’re a part of the industry that a lot of people don’t think or talk about too much, and that’s the generation of shop drawings. You think about them when they’re late.

Karalynn: I don’t understand that. You’re never going to remember what you did two months from now. Just do them and get it done.

Eddie: Just do the thing. And we get that a lot. There is not much understanding about it. So, it is just like, what’s the problem? What is the problem? Why aren’t you here? So, we are involved in like quite literally the nuts and bolts of construction. So, we are giving the exact counts of all those things. We are telling people how to drill the steel, where the engineer really does not do that. So, there’s this little gray area between an engineer and a structural steel fabricator, and that is where we live. We primarily do commercial projects. So, medical office buildings and schools, and museums or theaters, things of all kinds of construction nature. We were involved with C-17 project last year, C-17 hangar. That’s really cool.

Tyler: The occasional industrial plant or, you know, turbine structure, which we talk about sometimes on the show, because you know, that that experience kind of helped us frame a lot of what we do here in the podcast and kind of what we teach, which is, you know, using information better. Um, because we are BIM guys, uh, we see people focusing on the model a lot and the pretty picture…

Karalynn: Okay, I gotta ask; what is BIM?

Tyler: Yeah. So, BIM is building information modeling, right? So that’s just kind of the phrase you’ll hear, or a VDC – virtual design construction.

Eddie: It’s 3D!

Tyler: Yeah. It’s 3D.

Karalynn: Okay.

Tyler: So, we are building the building in 3D before it actually gets built out in the field. Right.

Karalynn: So, you can see like if the holes aren’t going to line up or catch the issues that you try to prevent beforehand. I know we did a small project, and it was basically one of those steel buildings they shipped to you, and you then assemble it, but it’s a huge whatever. And we get out there and of course the concrete is poured, and then the screws are there, but nothing lines up. It was a big disaster. We ended up figuring it out, thankfully, but is that kind of on the same page? Just smaller scale?

Eddie: Yeah. So, you have pre-engineered metal buildings and things that are kind of like packages or kits. And then you have a lot of the design world, which is all custom-built steel. So, you’re not going to yet just some off the shelf, pre-engineered, steel for like Disney concert hall or something, you know, something that’s got odd shapes to it. And so, when you have those odd shapes, you have support that has to go under it. You’ve got the skeletal system of the building, and somebody has to actually do all of the math required to make sure it all fits. So, we draw every beam, every column, every angle, every bolt down to just like the minutiae of that side. I mean, and that would go also for things like concrete and rebar and other structural elements like stud work and maybe glass and glazing.

Like all these things have shop drawings. Many times, we don’t think about that. We think about the architect, the engineer, and the mechanical engineer. We don’t really think about somebody in between that figuring out how it works. We figured the engineer figures out how it’s constructed. They convey intent.

Tyler: A metal building kind of like what you’re referring to from a complexity standpoint is very simple. Very, very simple. So, when an architect gets involved and you know, they’ll kind of shame them just to touch, you know, they’ll start dreaming up a great idea. Right? And then the engineer comes back and they’re like, “Okay, great. But how do we actually support it?” So, they’ll draw in all their lines and say, “Okay, we need steel here. We need steel here, support this by doing this, that and the other.”

Well, there’s a big disconnect between the two, right? So, the architect shows their intent, the engineer shows their intent, but then at the end of the day, we still have to figure out how to build the thing we’ve got to figure out. So, what we’re doing is by using models, we’re going back and we’re finding those issues before they present themselves out in the field or in the shop. That is a really hard thing to do, especially when you get to a big middle school or something, because you’ll have hundreds of thousands of parts and pieces that you need to account for to make sure that they are sized properly. Make sure that they’re meeting the intent of the engineer and the architect. So, you’re trying to please a lot of people too.

Karalynn: Yeah.

Tyler: And then beyond that, you don’t want to go off the beaten path too much with your fabricator, because then they’ll call you and ask you, “Hey, why did you do this?” Which is kind of where the arguments come in.

Karalynn: They’re like, “Practically I can’t do that.”

Tyler: Right.

Karalynn: So, you’re a mediator between the actual person that does the work and the people that draw the work.

Eddie: I’ve heard it said on another podcast I was listening to that said shop drawings are just communication. Shop drawings are a means of a fabricator communicating what they think the engineer wants and say, “Mr. Engineer, or Mrs. Engineer, what do you think about this? We think that you wanted us to build it like this. We think that this was your intent.” And then they review that and say, “Yeah, that was generally our intent. We’ve reviewed that.” They won’t say we’ve approved it, but they’ll say they reviewed it.

Karalynn: I hate that. I hate that, because then they come back to, if something goes wrong, it’s not defective, but it’s not in accordance or in compliance. I had a conversation with a bunch of architects, and they get upset if you don’t follow their plans exactly. And so, they want to be able to point out that, although it works it’s just not the way I want it.

Tyler: And I would push back against them in some ways, too, because if you’re consistently designing, as you go and trickling out these revisions to people who are creating your shop drawings, you’re wrecking them. You’re making it harder for us to hit the bullseye because the target is just moving around and ebbing and flowing all over the place. We were dealing with that right now on a job down in Florida where the design team is making changes on the fly. We’ve got rev 11 coming; I think probably sometime next week. And that’s just to make a stairwell do this but think about the ripple effect of that. For you guys, and I’m speaking to the architects, if you shift a wall, you need to think about the ramifications of that downstream. Especially if that stuff is already being fabricated. That’s where the honesty component comes into it, because a lot of times we get in the situation when we start sandbagging each other and we’re not that honest. So, if we can better start communicating up and down the stream, maybe we can avoid some of these issues and start pushing back and saying, “Hey, maybe don’t move that wall right now.” There’s a lot of things that are going to change as a result.

Eddie: Or we can spend a little more time in design on the front end and let’s get it nailed down before we push go. We’re very eager to push that green button and get it out there, but not having a fully baked design was probably the biggest reason for all the revisions in the design as we go, we call it the “DAWG” method because we’re down here in Georgia, but the design as we go method. You know, it’s not a good plan. So, yeah. Ultimately, just communicating. We’re communicating intent, which puts us in an interesting position because we’re not actually a part of the contract documents.

Karalynn: Yeah. Yeah. That’s kind of odd.

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Eddie: We’re presenting in a way that looks very much like an architectural drawing. We’re sending a 24 by 36 PDF that has elements on it that looks very much like structural engineering. We might even cover some of the engineer under delegated designs that kind of fall to us. The engineer sizes the beams and columns, but we have to size how the angles connect those beams and columns. But we’re not really a part of the contract documents. We’re just conveying and communicating what the fabricator is going to be.

Karalynn: Yeah. You’re doing the shop drawings. Gotcha. So, kind of on that point and in this situation, like designers, have you ever been in a situation or a part of a contract that you did more work than you were required just so you didn’t get terminated?

Tyler: I think on every project.

Karalynn: And for you, in the actual industry, where do you draw that line of, “Okay. I’ve given too much. I can’t give any more.” Or better yet, do you, or don’t you? You know, I sit up here and say what you should do from an ivory tower because, you know, I’m not in the field, having to make these decisions. I just tell you what happens if you don’t do it. So, I’m kind of curious.

Eddie: So. Yeah. I got some sage advice from a friend one time that says you need to complete the scope of work whether you want to or not.  

Karalynn: That is the advice I try to give because I see what happens if you don’t, but I’m not the one out there having to do the work. And so, you know, it’s the same thing. Like what is your line? Do you have a line? Do you just keep working? Tell me what it is in the actual field.

Eddie: We try our best to establish scope at the front end of the job. Now that wrinkle that happens is, you know, the general contractor’s writing a contract for structural steel and depending on what our customer’s done and who we’re following into the project, that steel fabricator may have agreed on a scope of steel that’s been wrapped into their contract or may have agreed on the steel itself. And if they’ve agreed on the steel and we don’t do our diligence to tell them what steel, sight rails are something that happens often. Like I might think, well, I’m going to do the structure of the building, but maybe the civil drawings have this obscure little like handicap ramp or walkway stairs, whatever, and their rails out there. Well, that can get away from you quick if you’re not looking. Or if you didn’t get the civil documents to begin with, with your bid, we have to go back for things like that, a lot.

Tyler: Coordination for HVAC, which is common.

Eddie: HVAC is big. RTUs, rooftop units.

Tyler: Lintels for windows, which can be hiding in the architectural drawings and the structural engineer doesn’t really call them out. That’s a big scope creep that we see a lot of the time. Yeah, there’s steel there, but we didn’t necessarily see it because it wasn’t in the structurals. 

Karalynn: Normally it’s not like loose lintels for masonry. I’ve actually had a case on that that was like $23,000 and the structural steel guy was like, “I never do loose lintels. I didn’t bid it that way.” And I’m like, “Well, it’s here in your scope. So, do you catch stuff like that all the time for your clients?

Tyler: Yep.

Eddie: We’ll pick it up. We see it as being better to hang with our clients and make sure that we’ve serviced the project completely than to abandon them in their time of need.

Tyler: Right.

Eddie: Like usually you’ve got, in a moment of need, the opportunity to either ride the white horse in and be the hero or be the person that they remember forever as having abandoned in them in that moment of need. So, we try to be on the white horse as much as we possibly can. That said, contract documents are odd. Architects show how they think things are going to be supported and many times forget that they have a structural consultant underneath them, depending on the contract situation between the architect and designers. And sometimes that angle could be completely circumvented by something that the structural engineer thought better of and just offered a different solution to.

But the architect shows conceptually what’s on the page and it’s just like, well, I don’t really have to take the angle out of there, even though they figured out how to do it with light gauge studs. I’m just going to leave it in there. Or, you know, I’m not going to necessarily size that. I’ll just let the engineer figure it out and there’ll be some schedule on the engineer set. Well, that’s actually reasonably defined. What’s not so reasonably defined is when the structural engineer doesn’t really look at those things and doesn’t really address those things. And then they’re not really sized on the architects’ documents or called out. It just says steel angle and nobody knows who has what. It might be an eight-by-eight steel angle that weighs, 2000 pounds, or that might be a three-by-three steel angle that weighs a hundred pounds. And there’s a big difference in the cost of those two things.

Karalynn: Right. So, it sounds like most of the things you run into are because of lack of communication or lack of somebody understanding what they’re supposed to do. So, how do you think the contracts that you sign, that your clients sign play into that? Do you think you understand the contracts you signed, do your clients understand the contracts they sign? I’m curious.

Tyler: We try our darndest to read the entirety of a contract when we sign it. Usually there is a joint drafting clause in the contracts that we sign and we try to make that into an actual thing. I always snicker at it because I’m really like it’s jointly drafted. I’m in a weird situation where, you know, I’ve been brow beaten for like hitting the decline button on a DocuSign. You know, no, I’m not gonna sign that. Decline. And they’re like, “Well, you don’t have to close it. That’s like this big clerical problem.” I’m like, I don’t care. You know, I’m going to red line this and instead am going to agree on something that is actually joint drafted. But all the while it’s jointly drafted, heavily favored on their side because you’re in this weird position of, well, how much can I say no to and still get the work?

You know, how much of a nuisance can I make myself? Sometimes you’re more in a driver’s seat than you think but trying to read through the entirety of the contract is a big deal to us. Now, many times we work on PO and when we do so I may not be privy to the contract that my customer signed. And, you know, we’re probably also guilty of not asking for the contract that our customer signed when we sign a contract, which we are probably tethered to as well. So, I mean, we try to be diligent. I guess that’s dad, the old general contractor, like beating that in my head. Like, no, you’re going to red line this thing, you’re going to get in, you’re going to draw on it and tell him what you want it to say.

Karalynn: And I think he had probably more negotiating power than you have guys have now, because I get that question all the time. You know, I’ll tell you what’s in here, but I can only tell you if it’s worth it. You got to make the decision, whether it’s worth it or not take the risk.

Tyler: Right. Yeah.

Karalynn: I do think it helps to know what you’re signing now, you know, as opposed to going in completely blind.

Eddie: You know, there’s an interesting wrinkle in what we do when you get to clauses, like the instruments of service, because in some instances, if we’re going to work for a design builder, the design builder has this clause in there that talks about the instruments of service, which is really pointing at and looking at our 3D model. So, it’s not like I have steel sitting on site or in my shop, or I’ve got like glass that you can come get if you paid for it. It’s like, I’ve got this virtual thing. And so, we have to speak to that in some manner. And we speak about it in the essence of like, these are the instruments of your service, right. And I own those things. Well, there’s something to be said and AIA documents speak to this as well, but there’s something to be said for talking about who does own that. Right?

Our livelihood is very tethered to the ownership of a model, specifically when it comes to a project that repeats itself, which does happen from time to time. So, if I get a series of gas stations that repeat themselves all over a state, 300 times, it would be fairly important to me to retain that intellectual property, because those are my instruments of service. And those are my things to bear that out on repeat. And if I just give it to you the first time, then you can go hand it to anybody and everyone, and I’ve lost my competitive edge and value. I’m just giving my property away. And so, we have had contracts in the past on repeat projects where, much to my dad’s credit, we have had to write in that the model in its original state will remain our property. We have had that save our butts big time.

Tyler: Well, in contract language too, correct me if I’m wrong, we’ve had that slide in on a couple of contracts before where they tried to basically take ownership of the model. So, we signed the contract repeatedly, and then they file something in there. Just kind of slide it on in…

Eddie: Yeah, you’ve got to watch it every time. Every single time.

Tyler: Where it says this model will now be our property. And that was kind of a little bit sleazy. But hey, it happens.

Karalynn: All the time. And that’s the thing that I’m really pushing for, is that you can put whatever you want in a contract, but why do you have to hide it in a bunch of legalese that nobody can understand, right? At least have the guts to be upfront about it and say, here’s what I’m saying. Here’s what I mean, and you can either sign it or not. But these 45-page contracts that have it all buried in legalese for what? They are just lurking. And here’s the thing is that most of the times they don’t really even realize what they have until they have you over the barrel. Like, oh, I have that provision in that contract. I can use that.

Eddie: So, can I flip the script? Hopefully I’m not soliciting legal counsel for free right now, but if I am, so be it.

Karalynn: Hey, that’s what I’m here for.

Tyler: It’s our payment for having us on the show.

Eddie: We had this situation come up. We had a repeat project repeated 40 or so times, and through the course of that, we had a pretty standard contract that we would sign. I would always overlay those in a PDF and check documents against one another to make sure that they were exactly the same. The company grew, and as they grew, the brand grew. And what happened was they didn’t so much want subcontractors talking about their name, which is why I’m being obscure with who that is because there’s an NDA. But the NDA didn’t enter the picture, you know, page 14 and 15 on the contract, didn’t enter the picture until job 38. So, I’m wondering, and I mean it was sign it if you choose to stay on the bus type of thing, and it was not worth getting off the bus at that point. But is that NDA like a retroactive thing? Like I am watching every single contract, but like, could I viably talk about that project I did in Dallas, but not that project I did in Baltimore.

Karalynn: Correct. I mean, because each one is an independent contract and so the ones you signed before, without the NDA, you’d be fine. And it doesn’t mean they won’t Sue your ass to say, “Hey, you signed this one and it should apply to all that.” And that’s the thing. Would you actually win in a courtroom? I don’t know, but who wants to find out if that is the truth? You know what I’m saying?  

Tyler:  Yeah. I don’t want to go there to find out exactly.

Karalynn: And so, you know, take that with a grain of salt. Yes, you probably could, but is it worth the consequences?

Eddie: Right.

Karalynn: Which brings me back to my second question that I had is that this is a rough and tumble business. You know what I mean? You know, my business is based on standing up to bullies in the construction industry. Bullies by what they put in the contract, actual bullies, and trying to collect money that you guys are owed for work that you did. Is it worth it to you, and would you be alright with your kids coming in the same business? 

Eddie: Why does Construction Brothers exist? I want to kick this over to Tyler.

Tyler: Okay. So, the reason that we started our show was because we wanted to share ideas and encourage people. We felt like there was an encouragement problem in the industry. We felt like we were beating up on each other constantly because we’re a sub of a sub of a sub, you know. We’re lower than pond scum, seeing the whales swim above us and saying, “Well, how do we get up there?” You know, we wanted to be able to speak into the industry and try to encourage the people around us. And so, would I say I want my kids in the industry? Heck yeah, I do. Because there is so much opportunity out there in this disconnect that has occurred, right? There are so many different companies out there doing things so many ways.

There’s a lot of things that happen in the industry that are problems that need to be solved. And where there are problems that need to be solved there’s money to be had. There’s a good living to be had. Right? So, I keep looking at it from that angle saying, you know, is it worth it? Is it worth it? Well, yeah, it’s worth it because we’re trying to go out and encourage people. And in that encouragement, our day job grows, you know, passively, it grows. But that’s just kind of what we’re here for. You know, we just want to keep encouraging and making the industry a better place. So, we’re just always looking in the mirror, trying to figure out how to do that.

Karalynn: And I don’t think construction is ever going to go anywhere.

Eddie: Nope.

Tyler: It’s not.

Karalynn: We’re always going to need to build things and there’s nothing more rewarding than to see a building and think, “Look, I did that, or I built that piece or, you know, I had a part in it.” You could drive by it and show your kids. I just don’t know how we got so far in the weeds away from really honoring a handshake and still it becomes a whole thing. People like me make big money to settle your disputes, and people trying to go after each other. And I just, I don’t understand why it has to be that way.

Eddie: There’s still a lot of good faith out there. I mean, we operate under a lot of good faith agreement with our customers. And so that’s why, when you were doing business with somebody, it is important, in my opinion, to look at the long-term effect of what my actions today result in. Whether they feel good to me or today or not, what will my actions today bear out in 10 years in 15 years in 20 years, because I want to build a relationship with a customer that lasts that long. I don’t want a one and done for every time I build something I want to continue to go back. And the opportunity that Tyler’s talking about, there’s kind of this, let’s leave it better than we found it mentality that really drives the Construction Brothers’ thing. And we see opportunity. We see monetary opportunity. 

We see just a cool industry, like construction is undersold. It is a really cool and complex problem that we get to go out and solve every day. And yeah, there’s monetary opportunity to solving problems. There’s fun in solving problems. It is fun to go out and to see something you’ve done. And that’s the joke, that you know, the construction guy, because they walk into building look up, you know, the construction guy, cause they’re driving down the road and they’re like, oh, I built that. I built that. I built that.

Tyler: In fact, that’s dad. And us, now.

Eddie: Yeah, there’s just so much there. I love that part of construction. And I love knowing that there’s something in that building that wouldn’t have worked if I didn’t have a hand in that.

Karalynn: I agree. I think it’s amazing. I think it’s way undersold, but it’s become so dangerous. And I don’t ever see successful construction projects. I would get the ones that at least somebody has gotten the wrong side of the deal. My business is to help you so you can go do those things, and so you don’t have to worry about the things that might take you out because you signed the wrong contract, you know? You’re on the same mission I am, trying to make it fair. One last question I’m thinking about. This, I think, is relevant, especially with your clients being in the steel industry. Did they sign contracts before the pandemic? They’re going to have to honor prices from like a year ago that now have increased. How are they handling that, and what are you seeing?

Eddie: I’m seeing most of my customers coming back, and they’re honoring their prices as much as they can, but that just depends on the contract. Governmental contracts are an interesting thing right now. In many ways the government’s trying to help people through an excuse the hardships of the pandemic, but in many ways the contract language of government projects doesn’t allow that. So that’s an interesting wrinkle on private projects. I think there’s probably more latitude for somebody to say, listen, I’m not going off my overhead. I’m not going up on my profit, but the material cost is this much more. That’s a big enough number to choke on right now for sure.

Karalynn: Well because I heard the new push is guaranteed maximum price contracts. And so, they’re out there, which means no matter how much it goes up, the general contractor is going to eat it, which means everybody downstream is going to eat it. So, I think people really need to be weary that those things are out there and they’re prevalent because it’s really not fair if the builder decides to go ahead or the owner decides to go ahead with building in this timeframe, they shouldn’t bear the cost, and let people charge the increased price.

Eddie: Yeah, it makes sense to me.

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Karalynn: I know. Okay. So, tell me about lien waivers. My biggest thing is, I always get clients in Texas, and here’s the way lien waivers go; Conditional, Unconditional on progress and the same for final and all the time GCs want unconditional for checks, and it’s not supposed to work that way. It says clearly at the top, do not sign an unconditional if you have not been paid. I’ve seen clients lose lots of money by signing unconditionals. Have you guys had any experience on something like that?

Eddie: We try to watch our six as much as possible. We have been fortunate to deal with people that are pretty above-the-bar about the lien waiver thing. Lien waivers in my mind are the pox. I hate lien waivers, and the reason I hate them is because, as a small business owner, that is a bunch of administrative work that I have to do. And so, I’m invoicing and then say I’m sending bills. Then it has to be accompanied by the right lien waiver with the right verbiage. And if I don’t guess right, then I’m not going to find out until the fact and then, you know, I’m asking about my invoice and why it’s 120 days and they tell me, “Oh yeah, the lien waivers holding it up. Didn’t fill it out.” Right. “Not the right form that should have been, you know, the lower tier subcontractor form, not the other form that you filled out.”

Yeah. And so, and then having to have it notarized and accompanied by proper pay applications. We’ve recently talked about this on a podcast. I just feel like there’s a better way to verify for payment. The amount of administrative work that goes into the lien waiver process is, I think, an undue burden on the construction industry and an efficiency on the construction industry. Now you may have a better idea than I do about the legalities and how to work that out. We had a really cool conversation about blockchain and how that could help to verify what’s been signed and to have that done electronically, but it’s for right now, something we live with. And, lien waivers, to me, gum my day up and keep me from getting paid. That that is the sum of the lien waiver in my life.

Karalynn: I haven’t had a chance to, I saw your podcast on blockchain. I haven’t had a chance to go listen to it. What is blockchain and that whole idea? Just give me a quick concept.

Eddie: Ooh.

Tyler: Oh, Lord.

Eddie: And Tyler?

Karalynn: I’ll just go listen into the podcast because somebody else brought it up and I meant to listen to it. I just haven’t had a chance.

Tyler:  No, it’s fine. We asked a guy named Robert. We asked him to explain it to us and basically, it’s one central location, a central point of truth, that a lot of people can communicate back to you and look at. So, if you want to find out where the origination point of a specific document is at, it’s within the blockchain. So, if you send on lien waiver and it is basically cataloged within that blockchain, then it’s verifiable and you know it hasn’t been tampered with in any way, shape, or form.

Eddie: Blockchain is very confusing to explain.

Tyler: It is. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it and I’ve had it explained to me five different ways. Um, but it’s still a pretty exciting thing.

Eddie: So, I’ve gotta ask. Why do we have to notarize a lien form?

Karalynn: I don’t think that you should have to.

Eddie: What’s the intent?

Karalynn: I mean, notarization is to make sure it’s your authentic signature, right. A third party is saying, that’s your signature. I think it’s archaic. I don’t think you should need to do it, but for a lien release, that actually needs to be filed. That needs to be notarized. Right. That’s got to be verified. Especially during the pandemic, I mean, how impossible is that to get done unless you happen to have one in your office to get a lien waiver that you submit with a payout should be enforceable just without the notary signature, because number one, it’s coming from you that verifies who you are. I think out of my whole career, I’ve maybe had one or two times I’ve seen a fraudulent signature and that’s what it’s trying to prevent.

Eddie: Yeah. So, I one hundred percent agree. And, yes, one hundred percent in the pandemic; I’m not allowed to go and interact with anybody. I can’t even go to the bank anymore to get notarized, and I don’t have a notary in the office. And even if I did, I’m not even in my office because of the pandemic, so how in the world am I supposed to get a notary done? Oh, I guess I’ll get a notary done by this app that’ll charge me $25 per notary.

So, as for the thing that blockchain is doing, every time you need a lien waiver, which is often, instead of having to do that archaic process, “I’ve just invoiced again this month. Okay, here we go. And, oh, it’s two forms now. So that’s 50 bucks,” blockchain would be the verifier of the fact that the origination point is good. And it does that by housing that information. And, as I understand, a lot of different locations all look at the same place and say, I have enough agreement amongst the network that this is a verifiable transaction. Now it’s become verifiable, and it has a certificate with it of basic authenticity speaking very non-blockchain.

Karalynn: And then you wouldn’t need a notary anymore.

Eddie: Right. And then the notary goes away. But also, what happens is that if I can go to the site, take pictures of work, and virtually see what work has been put in place, well, now I can pay based on the work put in place.

Karalynn: You can see it. You can verify it. You don’t have to go to the job site to verify the payout.

Eddie: I know I’m not getting screwed as an owner. I’m not.  The big deal is the cash flow and not letting my subs get in front of me. I don’t want to overpay my subs. I don’t want to do the first draw routine where I pay them this whopping first row and then suddenly, they’re gone. Yeah. I don’t want to let them get ahead of me. They won’t, because I’ve got a verifiable place that’s feeding back in and showing me, oh, they’re due 20% now that’s verifiably in place. And we can all agree on that. And then the checks cut.

Karalynn: It’s a lot faster than the manual process.

Eddie: Yeah. And hopefully getting rid of administration, which is, I think, a huge part of the general contracting overhead right now.

Karalynn: Well, all these damn lawyers made it so complicated at all. All these forms signed, and we just wanted to keep each other busy. Right? We created this mess, honestly.

Tyler: Yeah, there you go.

Eddie: It’s an intimidating thing.

Karalynn: I’m serious. Why else would you write a contract that nobody with the lawyers can understand to create business for lawyers? I mean, come on.

Tyler: It’s the great conspiracy.

Karalynn: Yeah! I know we’ve messed up your industry. I’m so sorry. I’m trying to fix it. I didn’t do it, but I’m trying to undo it, but you know, cause lawyers make money if there’s conflict. So, I’m here to help too. But thank you guys so much for being on the show and really giving us the down to earth perspective of people in the industry and trying to help the industry at the same time because I think it’s a unique perspective. Thank you guys so much.

Tyler: Thanks for having us.

Eddie: Thank you so much.

Karalynn: Anytime.

OUTRO: Thanks for listening to this episode of Quit Getting Screwed. I hope you found it helpful! If you like what you hear, please like us, and follow our podcast. If you want further information, you can find us at subcontractorinstitute.com. We’re also on Facebook, LinkedIn & Instagram, and the book is available on Amazon. Tune in two weeks from now for a new episode. Thank you.

This has been a transcript from Karalynn Cromeens’ contractor education podcast, Quit Getting Screwed, in association with The Subcontractor Institute. To hire Karalynn to help you and your business, please visit our construction law firm’s website.