5 Challenges Commercial Construction Companies Must Overcome

Commercial construction is a complex, and ever-evolving industry. New commercial buildings go up every day, but very few people understand what goes on behind the scenes. Only those in the construction industry fully understand the hurdles construction managers must clear in order to build a structurally-sound commercial building on-time and on-budget. Here’s a breakdown of the top five challenges today’s commercial construction manager must overcome.

Going Green

Green building has been expanding over recent years, including the commercial construction realm. There are a myriad new products and technologies which can be implemented into a new commercial building to make it more efficient. In addition, a number of strict laws have been put in place to protect both the natural environment and public health. It’s important for project managers to have a clear understanding of permit requirements and environmental requirements they must adhere to and oversee. Failure to do so can delay a project, harm a company’s reputation, and lead to potential fines, civil action, or even criminal prosecution.

Government Regulation & Outside Pressure

Commercial contractors today face increasing government regulation from federal, state, county, and local governments. From restrictive local building codes and licensing requirements to permit requirements, environmental and safety laws and more. Adhering to these regulations can prove to be costly and limiting at times.

Social and political pressures can impact a job’s timeline more today than in the past. Projects can be stalled as a result of community or political pressure. Everyone from adjacent property owners, businesses, or institutions—as well as civic organizations and community groups may want their say in the process. It’s wise to have an understanding of the moving parts concerned so any rising issues can easily be dealt with.

Safety & Health Concerns

There are more fatal injuries in construction than any other industry. On any given day there are roughly 252,000 active construction sites and 6.5 million workers exposed to workplace safety hazards like falls, trench or scaffold collapses, electrical shock, and injuries tied to equipment use or repetitive or strenuous motion.

In addition to human suffering, the financial hit construction companies take from workplace accidents is astronomical. It’s estimated that accidents annually account for $10 billion in construction costs.

While accidents can and will happen, commercial construction managers must prioritize workplace safety protocol and take precautions for the sake of their workers and business. Most workplace accidents or deaths are found to be avoidable if training or safety measures were implemented properly.

Skilled Worker Shortage

Here at Baratto Brothers, we’re fully aware a commercial contractor’s greatest asset is their team. While we’ve been lucky when it comes to finding (and keeping) highly-skilled and experienced employees, construction itself is often seen as a less-than-desirable industry to get into. The work is physically demanding, dirty, and can be downright dangerous. Projects are inconsistent and there is always that threat of a lull with incoming work when seasons change or if there’s an economic downturn.

Time is Money  

When a commercial construction company is hired by a property owner or tenant, a return on that party’s investment is expected. Lost revenue due to delays contributing to the loss of customers, clients, or tenants is unacceptable. This often means a high volume of work must be completed within a tight time frame on a strict budget. Construction project managers have the responsibility of setting forth a comprehensive plan. Then, they must closely monitor progress to ensure they stay on track and can swiftly react when something goes sideways.

Construction involves a bunch of interdependent activities cohesively coming together as one in the end. Naturally, this presents challenges other industries typically don’t encounter. Seasonal weather, remote sites with access issues, occupied work spaces, neighboring properties, and equipment breakdown or malfunction are just a few potential challenges. Any one of them can wreak havoc on a day’s productivity and the project’s overall timeline. It’s up to the commercial project manager be prepared to identify changing conditions and upcoming challenges, then mitigate their impact.

Let us help

As you can see, commercial construction is a complicated, challenging, and ultimately rewarding industry. If you’re interested in starting a new commercial construction project, renovation, or just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Commercial Builder for Life.

Are LED Lights Worth the Investment?

If you weren’t aware, incandescent lighting is gradually being phased out. As of 2012, the US government passed regulation ceasing the production of 100-watt incandescent bulbs. It was followed shortly by the 75-watt in 2013, the 40-watt in 2014. While you still may be able to find these bulbs in stores for the moment, the regulation means once they’re gone—they’re gone. This in turn leaves us with the question—which replacement bulb is best? Are LED lights worth the hype?

Energy savvy consumers were switching from incandescents long before these regulations went into effect. Originally, most people began switching to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. This is because Light Emitting Diodes (LED) bulbs were much more expensive and harder to come by. However, LED’s have been gaining popularity with their energy savings, and versatility.

How Do LEDs Compare to CFLs?

One of the more interesting comparisons LEDs have to CFLs has to do with perception. Unlike CFLs, LED lighting doesn’t have the negative association with poor mood lighting and quality (think flickering and non-starting). Many interior designers and homeowners remember how poor the early fluorescent lighting was, and aren’t able to get over the stigma. LEDs put off wonderful light, can be dimmed, and even colored. Their light is strong and consistent.

Ever try to start up a CFL in high humidity or really cold weather? They don’t work well, right? Not so with LEDs. According to most manufacturers, LEDs do extremely well in cold weather (for sure down to 20 degrees). LED lights have already replaced incandescents in refrigerator and freezers all over the US.

Another thing to note: CFLs contains mercury (which is toxic), where LEDs don’t. Also, CFLs generate twice as much carbon dioxide emissions (via the coal utilities burn to create the electricity). So if helping the environment is a purpose for choosing between the two, LEDs have CFLs beat.

In order to accurately compare efficiency between LEDs and CFLs, we need to consider the new Federal Trade Commission light bulb packaging standards, which now stress lumens over wattage, and hours of lifespan.

Here’s an example comparing a generic LED to a generic CFL of similar lumens:

9 Watt LED – 470 Lumens – 25,000 hour lifespan ($7.50 – $9.99)

10 Watt CFL – 520 Lumens – 8,000 hour lifespan ($7.99 – $8.99)

As you can see, while the two are comparable in price, wattage (output), and lumens. However, their lifespan is vastly different. Not long ago, the overall savings between CFL and LED was pretty nominal. However, that gap is closing every year. You decide if the lifespan or the environment is worth a few extra dollars.

LEDs Light the Way

It’s no mystery why so many people view LEDs as the future of lighting. For starters, they’re highly efficient. One LED bulb can use the equivalent wattage of up to eight incandescents and last for an absurdly longer period of time—upward of 50,000 hours of use coming from each. They’re also considered far safer, as they burn much cooler than incandescent bulbs.

With the price coming down as the technology gets better and reaches market saturation, LEDs will beat CFLs, hands down. They’ll replace both indoor and outdoor lighting for homes and commercial properties. Have you made the switch yet?


We’re Here to Help

Baratto Brothers Construction knows lighting deeply impacts a home’s ambiance and energy output. We want our clients to make informed decisions when enhancing their home to fit their needs. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’ll do all we can to become your Builder for Life.

Avoid These Common Renovation Mistakes

Renovating your home is a big adventure to say the least. Whether you’re the DO-IT-YOURSELF kind, or you are considering hiring a contractor to take care of the details, it’s important not to fall into these common renovation mistakes. You might be surprised how often these crop up, and they’re all avoidable. Let’s check them out.

  1. Buying Inexpensive-Cheap/Unrealistic Budget – Having an unrealistic budget is a surefire way to set up your renovation project for failure. One of the major reasons people fail is in their expectations of material costs. Buying inexpensive is not necessarily buying a poor product but the chances of getting real quality for a low price is slim at best. Take the time to research quality material costs to create a budget that will provide you with the level of quality you desire in your project. If you can’t afford to do the work yet, wait until you can. You’ll be glad you did.
  2. Inaccurate Measurements – There’s nothing worse than having to waste good materials and it can become very costly. One of the simplest mistakes is measuring incorrectly. Always double check your work and if you’re unsure how, call in someone who can help. Remember the old saying, “measure twice, cut once.”
  3. Skipping Prep –Not many people understand the importance of a well thought out plan in preparation for their project. Some consider that preparing in detail for a project is tedious and unnecessary, but it’s essentially the most important step. Don’t get in a hurry. Take your time to think and plan out every step of your project. One should even try to consider unseen conditions and have a plan of attack in the event you actually run into something unplanned or unknown. By having a thorough plan, and following through with all the prep work necessary, you’ll save time and money. If you skip or take short cuts on this very important step you may find yourself in a situation that appears to have no solution. These circumstances can cause you a lot of stress, time, and money.
  4. Wrong Tools – Trying to perform the work without the proper tools for the job can result in poor quality workmanship and can also result in personal injury. You could damage the tool, damage materials, or hurt yourself. Don’t do it. Invest in what you really need, or rent the proper equipment from a local tool rental outlet.
  5. Ignoring Lighting – Indoor or outdoor, light matters. It can completely transform the look and feel of your home. When you’re taking the time to remodel, take a few moments to think about how you can light the various areas to your liking. This is one of the items you should be considering even in the planning stages.
  6. Chaos Happens – Renovation means a little bit of chaos. At least, until the work is all finished. When you’re not prepared for the dust, debris, and noise, you’ll find yourself wondering if this was actually a good idea. Think about what you’re getting yourself into before you get started and be prepared for the things that go along with a project of the nature you are considering.
  7. Not Going Green – One of the biggest trends these days is building green. If you’re not considering how you can make your renovation project more green, you’re missing the boat. We’ve touched on some of the uses in commercial construction, but the same rules apply for homes, too. Check out what we said.
  8. Not Updating Electrical – More than likely, your home’s electrical system should have some updating. Many homeowners will bypass this step thinking it shouldn’t matter since it’s mostly hidden, it works, and updating it can be costly. However, you’ll want to make sure everything is up to code. Each year there are hundreds, if not thousands, of changes in the various building codes. In addition, this will enable you to update and add current technologies in to your home. Have an electrician walk through your project before you start so you can explain your project and what you would like. Electricians can also provide you with additional ideas and thoughts to improve your end result.
  9. Avoiding Permits – Never try to avoid the cost of the proper permits required to do your project. You could be fined and in some cases the inspector will require you to demolish and remove everything you have done. Another consideration is that inspectors look for faulty structural areas, electrical, and so on.  If you do not have a permit and your work does not go through the various inspections, it could result in damage. Your ability to prove the damage was not your fault will be difficult, which may result in loss of claim from your insurance company.
  10. Hiring the Wrong Contractor – Should you choose to hire a team to come in and do the renovation work for you, make sure they’re the right one. Interview your contractors and check their references. Find out how their work flow is maintained and ask about their communication style. Hire the contractor that will be around in a few years. Get to know your contractor. Remember to ask about each of your potential contractors at local lumber yards, hardware stores, electricians, flooring people, and any others that may have worked with them. Good Luck.


We’re Here to Help

If you’ve found yourself in over your head on a remodel project, Baratto Brothers is here to help. Maybe you’re looking for a contractor to make your next renovation match your vision. Either way, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help come up with an affordable plan for your renovation dreams. We’ll do all we can to become your Builder for Life.

5 Reasons Building Maintenance Gets Ignored – And Why It Shouldn’t

Last week we talked about storm damage and the repairs that can come afterward. This week, let’s talk about a closely related subject—building maintenance. This subject is relevant to both commercial and residential buildings alike. You may be surprised to know the reasons building maintenance goes ignored is largely the same for both groups.

Let’s face it, the main reason maintenance doesn’t happen is because it’s not glamorous. In fact, it’s pretty boring for most people. With nearly 15 years of experience in construction, we’ve heard every reason under the sun as to why homes and buildings weren’t kept up. Ultimately, they can be boiled down to these 5 top reasons. Which are you guilty of?

Maintenance Lapses

  1. We forget. In this instance, the home or business owner is aware regular maintenance should be done, but for one reason or another, it gets forgotten. Perhaps you’re too busy, or you just haven’t gotten around to hiring someone to do it. Maybe you don’t have a system in place, even though you always meant to. Any way you look at it, the maintenance gets overlooked until it becomes a problem—regardless of the well-meaning attitude at the start.
  2. We ignore it. You know the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss”? A lot of people use the excuse of ignorance for why they don’t keep up on the necessary maintenance of their residential or commercial buildings. Maybe they truly don’t know how or they don’t know anyone who can help them.
  3. We don’t think it’s needed. This is typically a group of people who have taken an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. While there can be some truth to the matter, it’s not always the truth. In fact, it can lend itself straight back to ignorance not being your friend. Unless you take the time to get out and have a close look, how will you know what needs fixing?
  4. We thought someone else was doing it. This is a variation of the ignorance is bliss version, but with a purpose. Perhaps you’ve hired someone to be doing the maintenance, while you’re doing what you do best. While it’s still ignorance, you were expecting your paid employee or contractor to be doing their job.
  5. Funds are low. Sometimes repairs and upkeep can be costly. Other times, you’d rather put your hard earned money to use in different ways. Often, we have to balance the demands of many competing needs and maintenance doesn’t even make the list. While it’s understandable, maintenance costs will sooner or later catch up. Likely, with a higher price tag due to disrepair. It’s best to prioritize at least some cash, however little, towards monthly maintenance. This way, you can ward off those heftier fees down the road.

Obviously, letting repairs and regular upkeep lapse can cause potential problems with much higher price tags down the road. Getting over these typical mindsets so you’re able to get on track is a good start. Figure out which “reasons” you identify with most and write down a few ways you can overcome them. Then get started today.

We’re Here to Help

If you’re in need of making home repairs due to disrepair, Baratto Brothers can help get your home or commercial building back on track. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help come up with an affordable plan to repair, remodel, or rebuild to your specifications. We’ll do all we can to become your Builder for Life.


Fixing Your Home After Storm Damages

Storm damages are a pain, we get it.

Last Sunday, the Brainerd Lakes Area was reminded that it’s storm and tornado season. A strong storm moved into the area producing up to softball-sized hail and funnel clouds. It then left in a wake of destruction. Trees were downed, causing major damage to houses. There was extensive hail and wind damage to exteriors. During these times, it’s important to know there are experts like us available to help you dig through your options. Not to mention, help get your home back to the way it was before.

According to Home Advisor, the average reported cost for storm damage to a home in America sits at just over $4,500. Of course, depending on the damage and what’s happened to your home, that number can be less or much, much more. At Baratto Brothers, we have the tools and experience to help you get the damage repaired in no time.

Types of Storm Damage

  • Roof Damage – The combination of strong winds and softball sized hail we had with our latest storm produced lots of damage to roof tops in the Lakes Area. Shingles peeled up, and the flashings can be damaged. Even new roofs can start to leak if these issues aren’t repaired right away.
  • Siding and Window Damage – Hail and strong winds rip or damage the siding on your home and even crack or shatter windows. After a big storm, look for missing or damaged siding, and loose metal trim and soffits. If these are left unrepaired, leaks will develop, making things much worse.
  • Deck and Porch Damage – Strong winds can rip off shingles and siding, blow over trees, and tear apart decks and porches. These types of home damage are common in strong storms. Luckily, they’re also easily repaired with the right team and tools.
  • Larger Structural Damage – Larger structural damage is typically caused by trees landing on houses and garages. Whole sections of a home can be destroyed in a single storm. Don’t be distraught, though. We can help develop an affordable plan to get your home repaired and back to its former glory.
  • Flooded Basements – Even the driest basements can be overcome in a bad storm; turning a living space into a swimming pool. The immediate issues of removing the damage and dealing with potential fungus growth can be overwhelming. Dealing with soil degradation or foundational crumbling is your biggest concern. If your foundation has these issues, it must be dealt with before the basement can be rebuilt. You’ll need a good team who understands the problems that arise with flooded basements and how to spot issues before they become major problems.
  • Foundational Issues – Even if your basement doesn’t appear to have water in the lower level, be on the lookout. Bulging walls, semi-wet carpets, or even doors that begin to stick are cause for concern. This could mean the foundation has been compromised. We can help correct the foundation, add in drain tiles, and return the stability to your home.

We’re Here to Help

If you’re in need of making home repairs due to storm damage, Baratto Brothers can help you sift through your insurance claim options. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help come up with an affordable plan to get everything back to the way it was. We’ll do all we can to become your Builder for Life.


2 New OSHA Final Rules for 2016

Later on in June, one of OSHA’s two brand new final rules for 2016 go into effect. Whenever OSHA publishes a final rule, it’s important for companies to be informed. Not only because employers are expected to comply with the applicable regulations, but also to be aware of potential hazards that could harm employees.

These two new final rules are both applicable to the construction industry, so it’s important for us to take note.


The long-awaited final ruling on Silica dust inhalation is set to take effect on June 23rd, 2016. Silica dust inhalation is known to cause a variety of illnesses such as silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease. The new rule is comprised of two standards; one for the Construction Industry, and one for the General Industry and Maritime. The main reason behind this new ruling is to limit employee exposure to inhaling crystalline silica.

Here’s a summary of the key components of the new Silica Ruling and how it affects the Construction Industry:

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to:
    • use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL
    • provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure
    • limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan
    • offer medical exams to highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health
    • and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures
  • Provides flexibility to help employers, especially small businesses, protect workers from silica exposure.


The other final OSHA ruling put in place for 2016 has to do do with employee eye and face protection when on the job, and went into effect on April 25th, 2016. The main reason behind this ruling is to update the references to the most recent national consensus standards (ANSI/ISEA). This change affects General Industry, Construction, Shipyards, Longshoring, and Marine Terminals.

Here’s a summary of the key components of the new Eye and Face Protection Ruling and how it affects the Construction Industry:

  • Recognizes the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices, while deleting the outdated 1986 edition of that same national consensus standard.
  • The 2003 and 1989 (R-1998) versions of the ANSI standard already referenced in the standard will be retained.
  • Updates the construction standard by deleting the 1968 version of the ANSI standard that was referenced and now includes the same three ANSI standards referenced above to ensure consistency among the agency’s standards.

In addition to these new rules, OSHA is also looking into a few other regulatory changes that impact the following:

  • Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention
  • Tracking of Workplace Injuries
  • Exposure to Beryllium
  • Bloodborne Pathogen Standards
  • Chemical Management and Permissible Exposure Limits

If you’re looking to start a new commercial or residential construction project, renovation, or just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.





Building Codes 101

Anyone who’s ever built a new home or renovated an existing one is more than likely familiar with the concept of building codes and the term of getting things, “brought up to code.”

The way codes are developed have changed a lot over the years. We’re learning what works and what doesn’t every single day, which is why you’ll find new codes hitting the books all the time. This ever-changing landscape can cause a bit of a headache for those engrossed in a building or renovation project. The good news, however, is once a homeowner or contractor submits project plans, the codes in place at the time of approval are the ones enforced at project completion. In essence, this means even if a standard changes in the middle of construction, you only need to know what was required before. If at any point you need to submit new plans, however, all bets are off, and you are required to bring your project up to the current code.

Before building codes were put in place, contractors and homeowners were left to their own devices when constructing buildings. In some cases, this meant buildings ended up less safe than they should have been. In the early 1900’s, after a period of many disastrous fires resulted in significant loss of life, fire codes were set into motion. For the protection of the people, further building codes for other safety purposes were developed off the backs of those early fire codes. Certain regions are prone to tornadoes (like we are here in Minnesota), earthquakes, or other natural disasters. Many building codes developed to not only protect the occupants from localized problems such as faulty wiring, structural issues, etc., but larger scale natural disasters as well.

2015 International Building Code BookIn 1994, the three American safety standard groups that handled the minimum safety standards for their regions (BOCA, ICBO, and SBCCI, respectively) merged to form the International Code Council (ICC) so they could develop one national code. The first edition of the International Building Code was published in 1997, and new editions (which includes both new and existing buildings, as well as dwellings no taller than three stories) are published every three years.

Despite this emergence of the ICC, that doesn’t mean every city follows the exact same rules, though. Instead, they are there as a template for various locales to develop their own rules as they make sense in their own region. However, if any city or town adopts the ICC’s rules, it also means they must adhere to the various extended codes as well. The International Building Code is hundreds of pages long and references the National Electric Code, the International Plumbing Code, and the National Fire Protection Association standards as well as their own recommendations.

Here are just a few of the sections the International Building Code touches on:

  • Fire Prevention
  • Plumbing
  • Accessibility
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Mechanical
  • Building Heights and Areas
  • Interior Finishes
  • Materials Used in Construction
  • Foundation, Wall, and Roof Construction

Whether you’re planning to renovate or build, all plans must be submitted to the local municipality so they can be reviewed to make sure the plan adheres to the local code requirements.

In both commercial and residential projects, a building inspector will review a completed project to make sure it complies once the project is completed. Often times, particularly for a commercial project, a building inspector may even stop in to check on the site while it’s still a work in progress, to ensure codes are being adhered to.

This process of learning the codes and applying them can be overwhelming for some first-time renovators, but it’s not to be taken lightly. Some may want to forge ahead and start work without going through the proper channels for a variety of reasons. While it may seem appealing at first blush, getting caught without a permit and not following code can mean redoing portions of completed work or, in some cases, tearing everything down and having to start again. It’s always better be safe than sorry, even if you’re initially confused with the process. Luckily for homeowners unfamiliar with the local codes, the process of obtaining a building permit will tell you specifically what needs to be done to follow the building code in your area.

Ultimately, remember, building codes were put in place to make building and renovating safer for those who reside and utilize the building. Most of the time, the cost of learning what works and what doesn’t work meant at some point, someone got hurt.

If you’re looking for a construction team who knows the ins and outs of building codes and the differences from city to city, contact Baratto Brothers today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.

5 Reasons Why Great Outdoor Lighting Matters

As we now enter cabin season, where we spend more of our days (and nights) outside, the usage of outdoor lighting can create a special ambiance you’d likely miss during the cold winter months. Residential architecture is becoming more beautiful with every new year, and as such, it’s smart to consider additional ways to enhance the curb appeal your home already has. You’ve spent the money on it, why not accentuate the beauty your home and landscape have?

Few additions to your home can add both beauty and practicality the way outdoor lighting can. Here are some of the best reasons to add outdoor lighting to your home this summer:

  1. Increased value and curb appeal – As discussed earlier, accentuating the landscaping, special features, and overall beauty of your home using well-placed outdoor lighting will not only increase the value of your home, but also add to the overall curb appeal. It should come as no surprise that when people are looking to sell their home, landscape lighting is one of the first improvements made to increase the wow! factor. When you combine the lighting system with solar powered or high efficiency LED lights, you don’t even have to worry about your carbon footprint or massive energy bills.
  2. Added safety – Safety is obviously a compelling reason a homeowner would consider adding outdoor lighting to their home. If you have balconies, garden steps, a pool, dark deck or walkway to the lake, adding lighting will make finding your way through the dark Minnesotan landscape all that much easier. Perhaps you have children who could use the added visual boost during the dark winter months to find their way from the detached garage to the house. Whatever your situation, outdoor lighting can make getting to where you have to go in the dark that much easier.
  3. Landscaping focal points – Here in the Lakes Area, we embrace nature and put a lot of pride into our landscaping focal points. With well-placed outdoor lighting, you can not only make your landscaped yard stand out beautifully, but you can make your focal points like a gazebo, water feature, or lakeside cantina get the best return for their investment by keeping them well-lit for you and your guests.
  4. Better security – With a well-lit home, you provide less opportunities for a burglar to attempt a break-in because the chances they can do so undetected are reduced dramatically. This could be even more important for those of our seasonal residents who share their time between our lovely Minnesota lakes and somewhere else in this world.
  5. Happiness – It’s been well documented that lighting plays a role in our overall moods and happiness. Hues, color, warmth, are all ways we can control the lighting and ultimately make their outdoor environment more appealing. Great outdoor lighting will make your outdoor space more inviting, and feel more luxurious. Who wouldn’t love those feelings while sitting outside on the patio for summer cocktails?

Are you ready to build a custom home or renovate an existing one? Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you walk through your options, and come up with a smart plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. At Baratto Brothers Construction, we do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.

10 Trends in Smart Home Technology for 2016

Building and remodeling homes has gotten a whole lot more interesting since the advent of smart home technologies. Now, more than ever, a homeowner has tons of options to consider when designing their ideal home. Not only can a home be designed to be more energy efficient, have fantastic views and floorplans, but you can also have a home that responds, interacts, and embraces the digital world we live in.

It may seem like something out of science fiction, being able to control aspects of your home with a touch of a button, or by the sound of your voice. One of the unbeatable luxuries any homeowner can have is the ability to customize their home to have as many smart technologies as they’d like.
Here are a few of the Smart Home Trends to keep an eye on – and maybe even incorporate this year:

  1. Smart Thermostats – There are literally hundreds of thermostats, but the welcome rise is with smart ones like Nest. This handy little gadget not only learns your family’s personalized temperature schedule, but it can also be controlled from anywhere by your smartphone. When combined with other smart home options, Nest even knows to turn your temps down when you leave the house—all on its own. Its interface also shows where you can save money in your usage, making it a pretty awesome addition to comfortable living.
  2. Smart Entry – Who doesn’t hate digging for their keys with an arm full of groceries? With the way door locks are going, you don’t have to. Awesome companies like Kwikset have produced smart locks like Kevo to work with your smartphone and/or a special key fob. Since you always have it with you, now your phone is your key as Kevo recognizes when you’re inside or outside the home and unlocks the door accordingly. Combine it with Nest, and you’ve got a very powerful start to your smart home setup.
  3. Smart Blinds – Smart blinds have been around for a while, but they keep getting better. Now, many of them are even Apple HomeKit-enabled, granting more options than ever by utilizing Siri. You can open and close your shades with just the sound of your voice, schedule the way they open and close, or even adjust them when you’re on the go. There are even companies that help turn your current shades or blinds into smart ones.
  4. Smart Adaptive Lighting – When you have more control over your environment, you can feel more at home. Whether you have special uses, like a theatre room, or want to add lighting that senses your footsteps, adaptive lighting can give you what you need without blaring in your face. You can develop a full house system to control the atmosphere and placement of your lighting, or you can go straight to each bulb. The choice is really yours.
  5. Smart Entertainment – Smart TVs and home theatre systems are becoming more of the norm and they can do more than they ever could in the past. Not only can you surf the web on your TV, but it can even become your central hub for all things technology in your home. In fact, Samsung has even announced their intentions to utilize IoT (Internet of Things) technology on all of its 2016 SUHD TVs. Add that to sounds systems that can do more than ever before, and you’ve got the makings of a stellar place to relax and unwind.
  6. Smart Outlets and Switches – Smart switches for your existing lighting, or smart outlets to control the rest of your home’s power users is one way to bring everything together. We all have items around our home from lamps, to TVs, to printers, to your coffee maker. Utilizing smart outlets and switches will connect the whole house in a way you didn’t realize was possible.
  7. Smart Security Systems – Peace of mind continues to prove smart. You can do so much more than ever before with the new smart security systems on the market these days. With high definition cameras that can be virtually placed anywhere, you can ensure your home is safe, watch your kids come home from school—and make sure they’re working on homework, not playing Minecraft, plus trigger and untrigger alarms all from your smart phone.
  8. Smart Water – Not only can you set smart irrigation solutions for making your yard green and luscious, but now you can even keep track of how much water you, yourself use indoors. For environmentally conscious consumers, or those living in drought areas, smart faucets and shower heads can be a great way to not only keep track of your water consumption, but help you make adjustments too.
  9. Smart Appliances – From your refrigerator, to your washing machine, to the kettle on your countertop, smart appliances are taking over. They can remind you when a certain food is running low and then order them from Amazon for you, craft up recipes based on what you have in the cupboard, make sure burners don’t stay on when you forget to shut them off, and even cook your food based off the barcode on the box. Your dryer can send you a text when it’s done and you can even preheat your oven on your way home. Every day new innovations are happening with how your appliances can make your life easier—and safer.
  10. Smart Total Home Control – As our smart homes get more sophisticated, total home control hubs will become more and more important. Apple’s HomeKit is only one example, but it’s also a good one. Amazon’s Echo is another, as is Ivee. One of the best known happens to be Insteon, which even integrates with other systems like HomeKit, or can be used on its own. The great thing with total home systems is that they get smarter as new additions to their usage are added every day.

Are you ready to build a custom smart home? Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you walk through your options, and come up with a smart plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. At Baratto Brothers Construction, we do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.


8 Ways to Prep for Your Next Remodel

Remodeling an existing home can offer many advantages; from increasing the value of your home, to giving you the opportunity to transform your home over time. However, there are a lot of things to consider when preparing for your home remodel and we’d love to share some of our tips with you. If you plan on living in your home for the duration of the construction work, it’s important to know there will be plenty of upheaval. Luckily for you, we’ve got your bases covered so you won’t be completely blindsided.

  1. Get your decision hat ready. If you’re working with a construction team, from the moment you sign the paperwork, be prepared to make decisions about the direction of your remodel. This is your home, after all. You’ll be asked questions about anything from counter tops, to where electrical outlets should be placed, to colors the walls should be painted, floor coverings, and everything in between. We’ll offer advice along the way, but the decision rests with you, the home owner.
  2. And then there was dust. Quite frankly, remodeling will kick up a lot of dust and debris. Covering up furniture with tarps, sheets, or removing them all together is a way to protect them from the dust in the air. This is particularly important with electronic devices that could get clogged up, and with furniture.
  3. Move stuff out. Particularly when you have a large scale remodel happening, it’s important to consider removing items you’d rather not get damaged. If you have a crew coming in, your team will be in and out with tools, supplies, and tromping feet. As much as all contractors try to be as careful as possible, accidents do happen. Remove pictures from walls, breakable or sentimental items, and furniture from the home before work begins. Not only will it keep your stuff safe, it will open up a clearer path for your construction crew, too. This keeps everyone happy.
  4. Noises happen. If you plan on continuing life as normal while your home is under construction, be prepared for all the noises that come with power tools, demolition, and creation. For example, if you have a baby in the house, think about how this is going to affect nap schedules, etc. If you work from home, this could pose problems as well. Be prepared for a lot of noise and distractions.
  5. A word about pets. Your pet’s safety is important and with your work crew going in and and out of the home, pets can get scared, hurt, or make a grand escape. Have a plan in place in advance to kennel, crate, or enclose your pet in a room during the remodeling hours. This will ensure their safety and help keep your team focused on their task at hand.
  6. Prepare for surprises. Even in the best of circumstances, you’ll want to be prepared for surprises along the way. This is particularly true the older the home. Having extra money set aside just in case and a mindset that surprises do come up is extremely beneficial before work is started.
  7. A special note on kitchens. If you’re planning to remodel your kitchen while you’re still at home, consider how it will impact your life. Deciding where to set up a “temporary kitchen” will help you get through the transition process much more smoothly. Your crew can move your refrigerator and a microwave to another room so you can function during the remodel. Another thing to consider regarding kitchen remodels is timing. Summer kitchen remodels work much more smoothly because you can break out the grill and enjoy some time out in the yard while your kitchen is being transformed.
  8. Large remodels. If you plan on remodeling more than one room, or overhauling your whole house, staying at the residence may not be an option. This in turn has added costs beyond the work itself that you’ll need to consider. “Trying to live in a home that is being remodeled can be next to impossible so you must consider the added cost of storing your furniture and living expenses while your home is remodeled,” says owner, Jim Baratto.


If you’re looking to start a new commercial or residential construction project, renovation, or just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.




OSHA and the Construction Industry

In the 1970’s, the Occupational Safety and Health Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA. Operating within the Department of Labor, OSHA’s role is to help minimize workplace hazards and implement safety and health programs. They seem to be doing a pretty good job too, considering workplace fatality rates have dropped 66% since OSHA began working with employers in the 70’s; while occupational illness and injury rates have dropped 67%. This is no small feat, considering U.S. employment has almost doubled since then.

There are a bunch of industry standards every business with one employee or more has to follow, so if you work for a business or own one, you’ve probably at least heard of OSHA. They provide a list of employer responsibilities in regards to keeping employees safe, and they give advice for employees on their rights in the workplace. It’s very likely, you’ve seen their signage up in your workplace’s break room or some other prominent location. OSHA provides very detailed regulations regarding safety standards that each business must adhere to. The construction industry is one OSHA has its eye on, as it can be a hazardous and sometimes dangerous workplace. They even list out regulations specific to construction, and inspections (both announced and unannounced) are not uncommon.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of the 4,251 worker fatalities in 2014, fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 20.5% (874). We think you’ll agree, that’s a pretty scary number. At Baratto Brothers Construction, we take OSHA’s standards and regulations very seriously. Our employees are family members, and it’s our job to protect them on every job site – and it’s not only because of the sometimes dangerous locations we have to work on; like high roof pitches and tight enclosed spaces.

The last thing any construction company would ever want is to lose an employee, but especially while on the clock. Unfortunately, it still happens. OSHA has a list of leading causes of work-related deaths for contractors, which they’ve dubbed Construction’s “Fatal Four.” According to their website, by eliminating the “Fatal Four,” 508 workers would be saved a year.

What are Construction’s “Fatal Four” exactly?

  • Falls – 349 of the 874 deaths in construction in 2014 (39.9%)
  • Electrocutions – 74 (8.5%)
  • Struck by an object – 73 (8.4%)
  • Caught-in/between – 12 (1.4%)

Much of this type of workplace tragedy can be avoided by following OSHA’s guidelines and using some common sense on both the employer and the employee. Baratto Brothers is committed to ensuring our contractors are safe and secure, and we have always done our utmost to train them on job site safety. Reducing OSHA’s numbers of workplace accidents and injuries is a priority for us and have been from day one. There’s nothing better than another great year with our employees; especially one where no one has become an OSHA workplace accident statistic.

If you’re looking to start a new commercial or residential construction project, renovation, or just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.



Superior Construction Projects Happen in 3 Critical Steps

Whether commercial or residential, there are three key steps which absolutely must happen if you’re to expect a superior construction process and a successful project completion. Reaching the end of a large project like a custom built residence or a commercial building on-time and on-budget isn’t a mystery, and it doesn’t happen without proper planning. If you’re looking to start a construction project in the coming year, make sure your contractors are utilizing these three steps to success:

  1. Superior Client-Contractor Relationships – From the very first moments of project conception to the final walk-through, having all parties involved and invested is crucial to having a project run smoothly. This means contractors, subcontractors, clients, design team, etc. – everyone must be on the same page at the same time. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say this is the most important step out of all three. It can mean the difference between a construction process plagued by miscommunications, misinformed ideas, and poor planning – to one that operates smoothly from start to finish.
  2. Make Informed Decisions – When you work with a qualified, quality-driven contractor, your decisions are innately better informed through the years of experience they provide. Not all contractors are made equally, though, so the first informed decision comes from the client as they research their prospective new builders. The key behind this is not getting stuck on the initial price tag, but instead on the ways a qualified contractor will save you money in the long run.
  3. Transparency in Costs – When you have cost transparency with a project as large as commercial or residential construction, not only do you share in the risk/rewards of moving forward, but trust is built between client and contractor. It’s just one of the ways superior client-contractor relationships get built.

You don’t have to take just our word for it on these crucial steps, either. A recent study by the Charles Pankow Foundation and the Construction Industry Institute found similar results as they looked closely at over 200 capital projects to determine how best to achieve project success. While the study was geared toward integrated project delivery, its results are very applicable here.

At Baratto Brothers Construction, we’ve been building superior homes in the Brainerd Lakes Area since 2002 and we’ve extended that excellence to commercial construction in recent years. If you’re looking to build a new home or commercial project with a contractor relationship you can rely on for years to come, contact us at 218-692-1070 for a free consultation. Getting the right team on board is key to the success of your project, as we’ve discussed. We’re here to help make it as easy and stress-free as possible. It’s just one of the many ways we work hard to become your Builder for Life.

Happy Holidays From Baratto Brothers

Happy Holidays!

This holiday season, here at Baratto Brothers, we wish you and your family all of the the best in the year to come. 2015 has seen some encouraging trends in the construction industry. We’ve seen an increase in spectacular custom built homes as well as commercial construction projects. 2016 is shaping up to be another great year to be in the construction industry.

Our success this year – and every year – is the result of the superior client relationships we’ve built along side our client’s projects. It’s also the result of the growing Baratto Brothers Construction family who work very hard all year to produce the exceptional outcomes our clients have come to know and love. It takes a team of dedicated professionals to produce our custom built homes and commercial projects and we’re blessed to have a truly dedicated family in spades.

Thank you to each and every one of you who’ve entered our lives this year and to those who’ve been with us for longer. You enrich our lives and help make Baratto Brothers Construction what it is today.

Enjoy a happy, healthy, and peaceful Christmas from our family to yours.

Baratto Brothers Construction

Winter Construction Challenges

Regardless of whether a construction project is commercial or residential, winter presents many challenges. Here in Central Minnesota, we’re no stranger to Old Man Winter. In other states, construction crews may shut down their sites until warmer weather arrives. We don’t have that luxury when we live in an area where winter can last anywhere from four to seven months. Here at Baratto Brothers Construction, we have to find ways of outsmarting the elements so we can still get our jobs done and keep our clients happy. All of this is done with both worker safety and project integrity in mind.

Understanding how to continue work during the winter months comes from years of experience and tons of planning. Preparation is key when it comes to continuing construction once the snow flies.
Some of the key challenges construction crews face include:

  • Snow Removal – While snow is terrific at insulating the ground so frost doesn’t penetrate too deeply, it can create hurdles workers need to jump through before they can even begin work on their job site. Plowing, shoveling, and removing snow from the job site takes time away from the task at hand. While precautions can be made by placing outdoor tools under tarps, or inside trailers, it still slows down accessibility to these tools.
  • Daylight – During these winter months, daylight is greatly diminished. We all feel it when we go to work in the dark and head for home in the dark. Without the proper planning and lighting, work at job sites end when the sun goes down. This can continue to limit the progress on a site, if time isn’t managed well.
  • Frost – Digging foundations in winter isn’t ideal once the frost sets in. While it can be done, it takes an experienced team with some well thought out plans. You wouldn’t want to dig, only rip out sections of frost and have to import topsoil so the footings don’t become unstable later on.
  • Concrete – In cold weather, a different mix in the concrete is required. Often, blankets and ground heaters are needed to keep the conditions right for curing the concrete. While concrete creates its own heat during the process, it’s important to keep it covered, insulated, and dry so it can set properly.
  • Utilities – Trying to run new utility lines out to a job site when the frost has set in can be extremely difficult, time-consuming, and costly.
  • Tools – Compressor airlines can freeze when temps drop too low, making it impossible to use nail guns, staple guns, etc.
  • Workers Safety – Extreme winter weather can pose potential risks for crew members, so it’s essential their safety is taken into account when working on a job site. This includes making sure the job site is free of snow and ice, if working on exteriors or open floor plans as they’re being built. Proper clothing is also critical; thermal gloves, coats, hats, boots to ward off hypothermia and frost bite. It’s important to keep in mind that progress on a site will likely go slower than it would in summer due to the extra precautions and steps workers need to take during winter to safely accomplish their objectives.

Baratto Brothers Construction has been building superior homes in the Brainerd Lakes Area since 2002 and we’ve extended that excellence to commercial construction in recent years. If you’re looking to start a new project soon, contact us at 218-692-1070 for a free consultation. Getting the right team for your next construction project doesn’t have to be daunting, or tedious, even in winter. We’re here to help make it as easy and stress-free as possible. It’s just one of the many ways we work hard to become your Commercial Builder for Life.