A FAMILIAR COMPLAINT among builders is that they can automate their own companies, but getting subs to buy into such automation is still very difficult.

A few years ago, DeLuca Homes in Yardley, Pa., decided to find out how far along its subs were with technology. The builder did a survey of its 250 subcontractors and found that only two didn't own a computer; it also found that for the rest, Internet access was practically universal. “[Subs are] much further along [technologically] than they get credit for,” says Ed Bobrin, DeLuca's director of corporate and home-systems technology.

Once the builder realized that the vast majority of its subs had computers with Internet access, DeLuca decided to move forward with its plan to roll out a Web portal. The builder opted for the Internet Tool Kit from Mark Systems. The Web-based tool offers a platform for managing day-to-day construction tasks online and hooks into Mark System's full construction management system, which DeLuca has used for about 10 years.

“We do Web-based scheduling—all work orders and contracts are delivered electronically to our subcontractors—and we also post CAD files as PDFs,” says Bobrin.

Bobrin adds that builders have to make it easy for subs to adopt technology. DeLuca offers its subs a computer with Internet access and a printer loaded with 11x17 paper in every trailer.