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Friday, November 20, 2009

Technology FAIL and a Revit Sale

Going on concurrently at our home is the following:
Our 22 month old is fully mobile and loves playing outside in the garden.
We don't have a fence on the side of our house to keep JR from running out into the street.
Our neighbor bought the foreclosed house next door and has been spending a year trying to fix it up to sell it.
Our ficus trees had a whitefly infestation that causes all of the leaves to drop.
There are some ugly power lines connecting to our house.

We've decided to split the cost of the fence with our neighbor.  They've removed the ficus trees and we now have a lovely view of the side of their house.  Then I hear someone shout outside "FPL meter check." I think what an archaic method of collecting data.  There are 130 million homes in our country. Every house, every month has a guy who checks the meter, writes down the information, hands it to a data entry person and voila, we get our bill.

Let's do the math. 
130,000,000.00      Number of homes in US
5.00                          Cost/house for collection, data entry and mailing
650,000,000.00      Subtotal
12                             Months/year
7,800,000,000.00   Cost/year

Is that possible? Almost 8 billion dollars/year to read meters?  Smart meters that automatically transmit that data back to the electric company would surely pay for themselves very quickly, don't you think?  Let's not even think about adding all of the electric meters for businesses in our country.

The cost of labor to do things manually costs us billions of dollars a year.  If you can see how the cost of $5/home can add up, let's imagine what the energy savings would be of doing green building retrofits on those homes.  The numbers are astounding.  Using the numbers above, imagine if we just saved $5/month on our electric bills. What if we cut our electric bills in half?  

Back to my fence story: At 11:00 AM, the fence installers show up.  I asked to see the survey because the line of trees and pavers isn't a straight line. Apparently, our stone pavers on the side of our house are two feet onto our neighbors property.  Of course the surveyor had used AutoCAD instead of Civil 3D and a GPS device, but that's another story and blog (www.civilwized.com - my other blog that needs serious work).  They've pulled a string, dug the holes, mixed the concrete by hand and are now almost ready to install the fence.

The contractor for the house next door shows up and we're talking about the house, fence, survey line and I ask him about his architects, clashes, estimating, mistakes and the general pain he goes through on residential renovations and new construction.  Of course I mention Revit, what it does and how it would help him.  I asked how much he pays for getting the drawings done by the architects he uses and it's around $2500/job.  We factor in the amount of time it takes him to do estimating, clash detection and deal with discrepancies, errors, etc and how he could learn to use Revit in a week or two to do most of what he's paying for now.  I added the part about sun/shade studies and renderings too.  He loved that.

I told him what Revit would cost him and asked him if he thought that was expensive.  He said no, if it does what I said it does, he'd buy it today.  He was complaining that as he goes through sheet by sheet, the plans didn't match the elevations and every job had issues. This is the inherent difference between architects and contractors.  Contractors see BIM has a huge way to build more efficiently, save money and be more profitable.

Above is a picture of the side of my house, now devoid of white fly infested ficus trees.  You can see the lovely neighbors house and the door with no stairs below it.  Also, feel free to enjoy the view of the lovely overhead powerlines that will be somewhere in Key West after the next hurricane because FPL doesn't believe in burying the powerlines in a hurricane zone.


MrJackson November 20, 2009 at 12:29 PM  

RE: The smart meters, they o already exist in a limited fasion but i expect them to eventually take over. But I don't see it as a huge money saver.
You cut out the people checking the meters (job loss) and the gas used to drive around. But then you increase the number of servers (electrical costs go up) and workers (that are paid more than the drivers). Then you have more cost for faulty meter replacement and labor.
Cost wise I think it comes out as a wash, but maybe a little better on the environmental side.

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