New Manufactured Home Foundation Essentials – 2 Must Have Upgrades

When purchasing and installing a new Manufactured Home, there are two upgrades that are recommended. They are installing a Vapor Barrier and Earthquake Bracing. Each is explained here:

Mobile Home Vapor Barrier

A Vapor Barrier for a Mobile or Manufactured home is a sheet of thick, rubbery plastic that goes directly over the dirt under a Mobile or Manufactured home. The foundation piers then rest on top of this barrier.

You really need to make sure a home you buy or have installed has this protection. Mobile and Manufactured homes need dry ventilation underneath. This barrier will prevent any moisture from damaging the home – especially rotting of the floors, but also helping with fungus, mold, and termites.

Making sure that a vapor barrier is installed before you buy a Mobile or Manufactured home is absolutely necessary. And the additional cost is very minimal considering the amount of protection you gain.

If you are buying a mobile or manufactured home that is already on a space, but with no vapor barrier, then you can hire a contractor to install a vapor barrier under the home. They will just have to cut pieces that will go around the pier-and-post foundation and all piping in place. This is not ideal, but way better than no barrier at all.

Mobile Home Earthquake Bracing

Earthquake bracing is recommended in California, and elsewhere earthquakes are common. Mobile Homes and Manufactured Homes are especially susceptible to damage in a earthquake due to their foundation system (most of the time they are installed on a pier-and-post system).

Earthquake bracing is a simple upgrade that can increase the value of your home by at least the cost of installation of the bracing. This cost is running from $2000 to $4500 in California right now. The actual brace is like a shock absorber in a car, but installed at an angle from the steel I-beam on the bottom of the home, and anchored to the ground. This brace will keep the home from shifting off the pier-and-post foundation.

Insurance companies may insist on having earthquake bracing installed if you want to purchase earthquake insurance on your Mobile Home or Manufactured Home.

Earthquake bracing can also help a Mobile Home not come off the foundation in high winds, although it is not designed to do this and should not be relied on for this.

Pictures and further explanation on both of these upgrades, as well as a whole bunch of free information, tips, advice, and recommendations can be found at: http://www.free-mobile-home-info.com

The Pains of Doing Online Business in Africa

Take it or leave it, Africa is a great continent. It is my beloved continent with an estimated population of 1.216 billion people.

There are about 7 billion people with unique skills, talents, knowledge, and experience. God bless humanity.

So, if you think of the right market to sell your goods or services, come to Africa.

This is the optimistic part of this story. It is good to begin 2017 on a positive, optimistic level.

Now, let us come down to reality. The world has gone digital. But, Africa is still slow in moving from analogue to digital age.

Corruption, illiteracy, poverty, lack of social amenities, lack of trust, lack of knowledge on what it takes to run a business online, are some of the factors militating against Africa and Africans.

Internet penetration is 28.7 percent in my beloved continent. Compared to North America with 89 percent penetration level, this is a far cry.

This means North America with an estimated population of 579 million people is more digital than Africa. But, Africa has the market. In fairness, businesses are striving in the continent.

Lots of Africans know little or nothing about online business and think that people who do businesses online are either fraudsters or criminals.

This is not true. There are genuine and fake business owners everywhere, internet inclusive.

Trust has also made it impossible to do business online. With the world becoming a global family, business owners do not need to meet physically to transact business. There are no limitations in this digital age to running businesses.

Everything and anything could be sold online and money in local and foreign currencies transferred from one part of the world to the other.

But, my good friend in Lagos, Nigeria, who has masters degree from one of the oldest universities in our country know little or nothing about running an online business.

We were discussing yesterday and he told me bluntly that he knows next to nothing about online business.

So, he is comfortable moving his vehicle parts from one place to the other in search of customers.

This is the pains some of online business owners are going through in Africa with great potentials.

But, the pains of not getting enough customers from Africa for your business are a passing phase. Even as the Bible says, this will pass away.

Therefore, in 2017, I am positive that more and more business owners will overcome the pains of going from analogue to digital in Africa.

I get the feeling deep down that ten years down the line, the story will change for the better and internet penetration in Africa will rise.

Prince2 Configuration Management and Change Control

I remember, many years ago, attending my first training course on Quality. Management couldn’t get enough people to attend, so they bribed them with a free scientific calculator (back then worth about $200) – so I attended.

To be honest, I found it a whole lot more compelling than I expected.

After lunch on the second day, they had an expert talk about Configuration Management.

Well, she certainly knew her stuff – but I came away thinking that CM was a bit ‘academic’.

How Wrong Can I Be? Configuration Management is BUSINESS CRITICAL!

I’m serious. Would you buy another auto from your dealer if they weren’t set up with the right tools to service your car?

How about if they fitted the wrong replacement parts? Or if the Manual had errors in it?

There’s a famous story about the Space Shuttle incurring huge extra costs because European suppliers used the metric system and the USA used Imperial measurements. Tolerance errors built up and parts did not fit together properly.

Change Configuration Management would have stopped that from happening, and it would have helped to spot any such problems much earlier on.

Let’s talk about change control within Prince2

Changes usually come in three categories:

Request For Change (RFC). This is usually a request from the customer or users asking for a change from what was originally requested.

It may be a change to the requirements, specification, acceptance criteria, or scope – or all or any re-work – or accept some form of price reduction.

The final category is a general one. reserved for any general issues, observations or concerns (for example, my design engineer has resigned!).

All the above may be seen as just different categories of an Issue.

So what is Configuration Management? Well it’s basically an

internal service group with resources, tools, procedures and systems to control multiple versions of the products (deliverables) of projects.

Each product is termed an “Asset”. The name for the combined set of these assets is called a configuration.

And the configuration of a projects end product is the sum of its parts.

So why should we care about using CM?

Changes to your project WILL happen – so prepare for it. I was talking about Change Management, which by the way, should be under the wings of CM.

So when changes occur, your project will end up with multiple versions of a product.

If you don’t have appropriate tracking and knowledge of these versions, what was changed, and why it was changed, then your project is going to end up in turmoil.

Suppose you are a design engineer, and a colleague asked you for a copy of the specification document as they are about to design something from it.

What if you had changed the document in some way since it was agreed – maybe because you could see it was an improvement?

Your colleague now designs against this different spec to the spec that others are using – and his product doesn’t work or fit with other designs of the same system. Chaos Reigns.

How about this. A client rings up and says they’re using an old version of one of your products (because it’s compatible with the rest of their system), and can you build some more for them as a special custom order please?

You say ‘no problem’ – you go to your design shop only to find that they’ve lost the drawings – worse, the designer retired last year.

You’d have the same problem if customers said it had a design fault, and could you fix it, or if a customer wanted a modification based on an old design.

And the same problems could exist if you run a ‘service’ corporation.

Are your staff using the right tools, procedures and guidelines?

Are they trained to provide that service?

Let me ask – does senior management have a set of business plans based on a set of strategic directions? And do different parts of the corporation base their operational plans on these documents?

Sheesh! I sure hope they are all using the correct versions of these things…

Okay, let’s get back to your project, and how CM will help.

I hope I’ve convinced you that CM should be a permanent fixture in your organisation and not just set up by and during, a project (because the end products have got to be sustained during their whole life).

The person who provides the CM service is called the Configuration Librarian. Yeah, I know, it sounds kind of dated – but don’t let that put you off. This role can also be called the Configuration Administrator.

Here’s how they can help your project:

1. CM has a completed library of all items that have ever been produced in your organisation (including anything that has been ‘bought-in’ from a third party).

In modern times, these records will probably be held on a database of some sort. In the past they would have been held in hard copy form in a traditional filing system.

2. Each of these records will have information stating who has got what, where it is held, and why.

These records will also hold details of any changes made.

3. The library will also hold master copies of multiple baseline versions of products.

If you work for a small organisation and run small simple projects, then you would expect the way that CM is carried out to be small and simple too. As long as you have control of all versions of all of your products and services.

Next, I want to explain what services the CM Library can give to your project.

It is the project managers’ responsibility to ensure that CM is being properly used by the project.

To help ensure this happens a CM Plan can be created.

Note. For a small and simple project, the plan may just be a list of points to discuss and agree with CM.

The Plan may form part of any quality planning or be included within the Project Plan.

Do what is sensible – but here are the areas that should be covered:

A short narrative explaining what configuration method to be used (or a simple reference to the ‘usual’ system.

What corporate standards will be used (or why they will be varied in some way).

Linkages to any other configuration management systems (or any tools) that will be used. An example may be a third party who is contributing products to the project.

How and where the products will be stored. Are they just documents?

Or are they other physical items – in which case will they be installed on the customer site, or stored elsewhere, such as a bonded storehouse.

How will filing be carried out, and what is the process

for secure retrieval?

What form of version control be used – explain how they

will be identified.

Who within the project and external to it will be

responsible for implementing configuration management?

The Configuration Librarian will provide the FIVE

following services to any given project:

1. Planning. Working with the project manager, to establish what level of detail is required (this is dependent upon the complexity of the total end-product configuration).

2. Identification. Agreeing what products will be under configuration control (for example, the Project Plan may not be included, as long as the project manager has a simple ‘off-line’ system for keeping it under their own version control).

3. Control. Procedures to ‘freeze’ baselines of products and bring them under control of the CM library.

Freezing means no changes are allowed to the product without the right level of authority (for example the project sponsor).

There is another point to be brought out here.

Take the development of a new mountain bike.

One person is designing the wheels, another is developing the frame, yet another, the gearing system.

As each goes through the many design versions the others need to make sure the entire configuration of the bike remains ‘harmonized’.

The CM database will recognise such linkages and alert the team (via reports as described later in this article); of the relationships each product has to each other.

4. Status Accounting. This is the CM database for the recording and reporting of all products.

This goes back into history to the first version, and all the way up to the current version. This data can be given to the project manager at key points, such as an end stage review as accurate proof of the true status on all the projects products.

5. Verification. CM provides reviews and audits to ensure that the project team are using the correct versions of documents and other products during the project (and that they match the ‘master’ copies of such that are held in the library).

This should be seen as a service – not as ‘the management police’!

Finally, there are two important reports that the project manager will use from the CM Librarian:

1. The Configuration Record. This is a record of all the information required about each product’s status, and includes; the latest version number, who is creating the product, where the product is to be kept/stored, and what its status is.

2. Product Status Account. This is a report (usually requested by the project manager at key review points), and provides information about the state of all products within some defined time frame (for example “give me a report of all products and their status that have been created during the current project stage”

The PSA will, for each product within that time frame, contain data such as when each product was baseline and when any changes were approved.

Here is a short synopsis of key points within a Prince2 project when Configuration Management is used:

Planning Quality.

The Configuration Management Plan is created, prior to the

development of the Project Plan. The Project Manager to liaise with Configuration Librarian to discuss how the project will use/work with their Configuration Management (CM) System.

Setting Up Project Files

Takes information from the Project Plan, and adds project filing structure to the Configuration Management Plan. CM system may already have these facilities.

Authorising Work Package (WP)/giving work to the team

Update the Configuration Item Record to “under development” Configuration Librarian will do this.

Ensure the WP contains information regarding how version control will work for the developer, obtaining copies of products or product descriptions, submission the Configuration Librarian, and passing product status information.

Assessing Project Progress.

Capturing “actuals” and updating the status of products Configuration Item Record (CIR). Configuration Librarian can provide a Product Status Account (PSA) if needed.

Capturing and Examining Project Issues/Changes

Configuration Librarian could receive/document all Changes/Issues as well as maintain the Change/Issue Log.

Taking Corrective Action.

When any changes are to be made, the Configuration Librarian to make any products or their copies available, add new copies given out to the CIR, and update CIR for any status changes.

Receiving Completed Work Package (when the team have completed each product/deliverable)

Configuration Librarian to update the CIR to a status of ‘completed’.

Product is now baselined if not already done.

As products/deliverables are completed Specialist Team to advise Configuration Librarian to update

CIR status of each product.

Completing a Work Package.

Configuration Librarian to handle the return of completed products (if appropriate), and to assist Project Assurance in confirming customer/user acceptance of products.

Regular Management Reports

Configuration Librarian with assistance of Project Assurance to confirm the CIR is same as actual status of products by carrying out a Configuration Audit.

Also check that version numbers are correct/updated.

Replanning as a result of change.

Configuration Librarian will provide a Product Status Account of products to be replaced/incomplete.

New CIR’s created if needed.

Closing down a Project.

CIR checked for completeness, and used as an input to

Product Status Account – confirmation from customers configuration management records that all products are approved.

Refer to the Configuration Management Plan for how the products are to be handed over to those with support/operational responsibilities.

Carry out a Configuration Audit to check that all products are approved and complies with their CIR’s.

During Project Planning.

The Configuration Item Record is created with reference to the Configuration Management Plan.

A simple numbering system for each product could be structured as: project name/type of product/product name/source/status/version number

So for example, if a project exists to create a new notebook PC,and a unique numbering system as above is used for the hard drive bought in from a 3rd party:

New Notebook Project/hardware/hard drive/external/in development/vA.2

Here is a detailed guide of the information needed in the

documents referred to in this article:

Configuration Management Plan.

– CM method to be used

– Links to other CM systems or tools

– Where and how products are to be stored

– security arrangements for filing and retrieval

– Identification and numbering for

products/versions

– Who is responsible for CM

Configuration Item Record.

– Unique Project identifier

– The type of product (web, hardware, etc)

– Product Name

– The Latest version number

– A full Description of the product

– Life Cycle steps for product (ie.draft,

approved, in-service, etc)

– Who owns the product (User? Ops Manager? etc)

– Who created the product?

– The date allocated to them

– The library or location where it is kept

– product source (internal, external)

– links to related products (physical, electrical,

etc)

– status (where in the life-cycle is it?

– copy-holders and potential users

– references to issues (if any) that caused change

to this product

– any relevant correspondence

Product Status Account

– Project name

– Product type

– Product identifier

– Version number

– Product description – baseline date

– Product – baseline date

– List of related products

– Date copy of product was issued for a change

– Planned date for next baseline

– Planed date for next release

– Relevant notes (change pending/under review, etc)

Ethical Issues In Inventory Management

When we speak of ethics violations we immediately think about executive management, or some sort of Wall Street scandal, and rarely do we realize that it happens more frequently from the bottom half of the workforce than the glass tower. Ethics violations in inventory management are committed by:

1.Knowingly giving inaccurate information to clients or prospective clients concerning pricing of storage space or other services, and the status of their inventory.

2.Favoring one vendor over another when purchasing goods or services because you have a friend that works for the preferential vendor or because of possible financial gain.

3.Cover-up of damaged products going out on a shipment.

4.Manipulating inventory figures and levels when the client questions his inventory levels or when management inquires about inventory statuses.

5.Work slowdown to gain overtime.

6.Giving preferential treatment to certain employees for possible gains in the future and friendship.

These are just a few examples and I’m quite sure that if you observed closely in your organization you can find many more. Why do these ethics violations occur? One reason is a lack of a code of ethics. Code of ethics are a specific set of professional behaviors and values employees must know and must abide by, including confidentiality, accuracy, privacy, integrity. Large organizations have a code of ethics, but violations occur because the standards are not enforced or management feels the violation is not worth their time.

Medium to small organizations lack a code of ethics program because they either don’t know how to develop one, it not important to them or it’s too costly in terms of finances and manpower.

Enron and Goldman Sachs are good examples of why it’s important of have a company code of ethics. In the business world the bottom line is to make money and there is nothing wrong with that but, when it consumes your organization and you take an attitude of making it at any cost, then that’s when the problem comes to view and people will do whatever they can be it ethical or unethical to make money.

A code of ethics will keep people within certain limits of what is acceptable in the organization in terms of behavior and business practices. Reality in the business world is that profits rule and as long as the shareholders are happy, and there is full employment in companies no one seems to care and ethics take a back seat to everything else.

With so much talk now days about morality in business and the state of the financial affairs of the world ethics is even more important today than before. Journalist are keeping an ardent eye out for the next business scandal and will uncover every stone to expose one, after all it sells news. Traveling and working in Asia I have found the Asian culture less sensitive to the actions of business not that they don’t care it just doesn’t consume their every waking moment and they aren’t quick to judge like the Western Nations.

Operating with honest principles and ethics is no less profitable than operating in an unethical manner. LeClair, Ferrell and Fraedrich, in their book Integrity Management (1998), describe five well-known successful companies that have invested organizational resources and are making profits and operating in an ethical manner three listed below you may recognize;

1. Hershey Foods

2. Home Depot

3. Waste Management

The old myth and saying “it’s not personal it’s just business” is as hollow then as it is now. Business is personal especially when you take the time to build a business relationship with vendors and clients to the point where they trust you, and acting in an unethical manner will certainly destroy any confidence they had in your product or services and make it nearly impossible to regain.

Concrete Rot or Concrete Cancer

If you want a lifetime job, it could be painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge – once you finish you probably have to start at the other end again. The painting continues in order to stop the steel from corroding, and steel corrosion is what causes concrete rot, otherwise called concrete cancer or spalling.

How does concrete ‘rot’ ?

Concrete is used in most commercial and residential buildings in a host of applications such as slabs, stairways, post and columns, support beams, balconies and verandahs, walls, pathways and pools. Huge volumes of concrete are involved in structures like bridges, wharves and high-rise towers. The concrete is generally reinforced using steel bars or mesh and in the larger developments significant amounts of steel are required for added strength.

The enemies of reinforced concrete are water and air. If these elements gain access to the steel enclosed within the concrete it can corrode – the steel expands as it breaks down and fractures the surrounding concrete. As the concrete cracks and crumbles, there is even greater opportunity for water and air to contact the reinforcing steel and the process intensifies. There are obvious safety issues as the structural integrity of the concrete is reduced.

How to identify concrete rot

It can be happening unseen within the concrete but as it continues it becomes more evident. You may notice rust marks running down the concrete, or the concrete flaking, cracking or crumbling. In extreme cases, large sections of the concrete will fall away, exposing the rusted reinforcing steel. Remedial treatment can involve substantial and expensive corrective measures.

A professional building inspection can identify the problem or warn of potential for future trouble. It can be water pooling somewhere, small cracks in the concrete or reinforcing too close to the concrete surface. Prevention is certainly better than cure with concrete rot – it may simply be a matter of improving drainage, painting a surface or sealing cracks with some sort of mortar or epoxy filler. If you have any concerns about concrete rot, it pays to get some expert advice.

I do like to be beside the seaside

Well yes, most of us do but it’s here that concrete rot can be even more prevalent as chlorides in the moist, salty air react more aggressively with the reinforcing steel. Concrete rot is an ever-present issue in locations close to the sea and property owners need to be constantly on the lookout for any signs of deterioration and to ensure that protective measures are maintained.

The same can be said for chlorides associated with swimming-pool chlorine or saltwater pools.

Also, there is often moisture close to the ground surface in beachfront blocks and water can soak up into the structure. Large buildings with basement or underground car parks can experience the same problem with groundwater seepage.

In summary, concrete rot is a common problem. It can lead to significant structural damage which may be difficult and expensive to repair. It is not always easy to detect, it can result in serious safety implications and it can be avoided by getting expert advice and using the right materials and appropriate construction guidelines.

How to Outline Your Financial Goals

People save and invest to improve their quality of life. However, it is easy to make mistakes that can cause stress and cost you money. You can avoid those mistakes and keep your investment on track by outlining your financial goals.

It is a common investment mistake for investors to have no idea why they are investing. So, you should ask yourself…

Why are you investing?

Do you know why you are investing? What are you going to do with your money? What is most important in your life?

“Making money” is not a good enough reason to invest. How do you see yourself spending your money in a year? Five years? Ten years? If you can clearly explain your goals, you have taken the first step toward making your own investment plan.

With that in mind, write down your financial goal. One simple sentence is all you need. For example, you can write “buy a home”, “pay for college,” “start a business,” or “retire as a millionaire!”

Next, write down the amount of money you think you will need to accomplish your goals.

Don’t worry about trying to fit in every little cost. You can always revisit your target later when you check your performance. Focus on your goal, and try to write down a target number.

This number will be different depending on your goal. For example, maybe you’re buying a $100,000 home, you may want to save $10,000 for a down payment. Maybe you need $5,000 to start a business or $50,000 to pay for college. If you don’t have much money to invest, you can make up for it by investing over a long period of time.

Finally, consider the importance of your investment goals. How important is your retirement, your kid’s college tuition, or your down payment on a house? The importance of your investment will give you an idea of your risk level.

Every investment has risks.

You don’t want to take too many risks. However, you need to take some risks to earn a reasonable return. Also consider the amount of time you will be invested. If you have more time to invest, you may be able to take risks and still catch up if you run into trouble.

Ask yourself if you are ready to invest before you move on. Be honest with yourself.

You may not need to invest your money. Would you be better off paying off your debt? Can you afford to just save your money rather than invest it? Make sure you can commit enough money and time to investing.

It is important to stay motivated toward your goals and keep them in mind when you invest. Every investment decision you make should move you closer to your goals. You should be willing to learn, improve, and work toward your goals as you invest.

If you can stay committed and keep that motivation toward your investment goals, you are much more likely to succeed!

A. Michael Hayes, Jr

You can learn more about how to achieve your financial goals at my website, Great-Mutual-Funds.com.