Historically, the construction business has been essentially "blue collar," with skilled craftsman using scales and pencils to hand-sketch designs, followed by carpenters and other trades bringing the drafts to reality. The advent of computers and cutting-edge technology has changed the landscape of the business tremendously. While there are still plenty of craftsmen doing it the old-fashioned way, and while there's something to be said for keeping the art alive, most companies have shifted to computer-aided design and computerized machinery to maximize efficiencies and profits. Computers also give designers and consumers the ability to see changes in designs in an unprecedented fashion, allowing projects to be customized and modified with the click of a mouse. Calgary's DIRTT Environmental Solutions (TSX:DRT) is taking interior workspace construction to the next level. It's name an appropriate acronym for "Doing It Right This Time," DIRTT's ICE software is the cornerstone of its unique solution, providing fly-through three-dimensional designs for clients while instantly updating and calculating changes in designs into parts, pieces and connections that can be sent on to its manufacturing facilities for fabrication. Moreover, as customers make changes in the designs, the ICE technology simultaneously shows the effect on the budget, eliminating surprises. The pre-fabricated wall systems give designers virtually unlimited creative freedom that can be less expensive than traditional construction practices and offer superior flexibility for future renovations because of changes in the exterior while the framework stays intact. Components of the DIRTT system cover the full gamut of interiors, including power, floors, doors, walls, millwork and networks. Spending more than two decades in the commercial millwork and construction industry, we will say that this modular system seems quite impressive at first blush. Companies that have performed their due diligence on DIRTT's offerings seem to agree. DIRTT announced on Friday that five leading companies in the energy, engineering, insurance and health-care sectors have signed letters of intent to build their interior spaces with DIRTT. The company said that the value of the contracts is in excess of
$12 million. Four of the projects are located in North America. The fifth project is the ninth contract with a state-of-the-art hospital in Saudi Arabia. Three of the projects are scheduled to be delivered this quarter with the other two slated to be delivered in phases stretching into next year. "These wins reflect the growing recognition that DIRTT's approach to building better is good for business in any sector, anywhere," said Mogens Smed, chief executive of DIRTT, in a statement Friday. DIRTT just went public on November 28, 2013, offering 15 million shares at $3for total gross proceeds of $45 million. Shares initially slipped following the offering, dropping as low as $2.30in December, but have since rebounded. In afternoon trading on Friday, shares were up 1.4% at $2.84on 81,400 in volume.