Wolgast Blog

What Should a Business Owner Know before Hiring an Architect or Contractor?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Jan 21, 2020 @ 10:23 AM

Calculator2-1The Jack Miller Group was a former industry network for General Contractors across the United States.  In 1988, Mr. Miller had published a paper called, “Rules You Should Know before You Build Your Important Project”.   He started by stating that there are a few basic questions that business owners should ask themselves as they start to plan a construction project1:

  • Why expand?
  • Why own…why not lease?
  • What do I need?
  • What can I afford?
  • Where is the best place to build?
  • Where can I get financing?
  • When should I start?
  • When should I occupy the new facility?
  • What is the best way to build?
  • How can I be sure I get maximum value for my investment?

These questions are still a good place to start planning prior to contacting a designer or building team.  However, I asked our project team what they thought was most important to see if there were any updates to Mr. Miller’s list.  Their response was 1) a budget and 2) who will do the financing.  This is because knowing the budget early will help a business owner to know if what he or she wants to do is reasonable and having the financier in place will help speed up the start date.

Next, our team thought that the business owner should know that their contractor and architect have good liability insurance and that they are capable of handling the entire project.  When making a contractor or architect selection, the business owner should inquire about insurance coverage, bonding ability, safety records, customer/ trade/bank references and financial proof that the project team can complete the building.  Additionally, it’s good for an owner to know that he or she has construction delivery optionsDesign/Build is a better option for certain types of buildings because the architect and contractor are on the same team under the same contract.  It provides time and cost savings and results in less disputes as to the responsible party when there is an issue during construction.  However, Design/Build isn’t suitable for all projects, so other options we offer are General Construction for simple projects or Construction Management for complicated projects that are long in duration.  Investigate which method will provide the best outcome for the type of building.

It’s good to know the area or type of property desired to build or renovate.  A business owner doesn’t need to settle on a property before meeting with a contractor.  The contractor may even be able to suggest a property that hadn’t been considered, but could meet the business’ needs while being more economical because the utilities already exist or the zoning has already taken place.

Additionally, a business owner can benefit from knowing that bidding in the winter and building in the spring/summer, or even early fall, can save money on a construction budget.  In the winter contractors are less busy relatively to spring/summer, so they’re looking for projects in the off season to fill their calendars during the prime construction season.  Scheduling design to be completed in time for winter bidding will get the most value for the construction dollar.

A professional contractor will then handle the other critical items that need to be complete before construction on behalf of the business owner, such as conducting site inspections, determining zoning requirements, obtaining construction permits, conducting utility checks and calling Miss Dig among many other necessary activities to get construction complete efficiently and accurately for the most value.  Wolgast is a full service contractor and we will professionally deliver your building.  Call 800-WOLGAST to get started.

1Miller, Jack. 1988.  “Rules You Should Know before You Build Your Important Project.” Group Communications, Inc.

Tags: Professional General Contractor, Good for Business

Entering Retail Space as a Non-Retailer

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 @ 10:49 AM

RetailBlogRetail space is becoming attractive to non-retailers as more of it becomes available.  Likely, Business Owners see a build-out as a quick, easy, low cost way to enter or expand in a market due to the shopping center already being established with a structure, vast parking, some foot traffic, and amenities that are needed.  Just a little remodel and they can be open for business!

While much of the above is true in theory, there are cost savings associated with having a professional team with background knowledge to lower leasing and, in turn, operating costs.  This “leasing” team of Design/Builder, CPA, and Real Estate Attorney can help an owner negotiate their lease, get regulatory approvals quicker, a build-out estimate, and a distinguishing design for their storefront so it’s easily identifiable among a sea of retail shops, “medtail” offices (redi-med, chiropractic, veterinary, or other health services), restaurants, recreational businesses, salons, and whatever other operation may be nearby.

Mall and shopping center managers are seeking retailers, restaurants, mom and pop shops, and non-traditional businesses to fill their open spaces.  As a lessee, the business owner will have to pay rent as agreed upon in a lease, plus Common Area Maintenance (CAM) fees, possibly utilities and/or taxes, and build-out costs.  A professional leasing team can set up a business owner to have the best lease option, plan for their accounting, and designed store in less amount of time.  Additionally, there are nuances to getting an allowance for build-out costs that factor into your lease amount.  Also, negotiating how the taxes and utilities are covered could affect your monthly rent, too.  Furthermore, it’s a good idea to check out the HVAC equipment that is present to prepare an owner for what heating and cooling costs may be. 

Speaking on behalf of the Design/Builder, the art of the build-out is to identify issues with the space, make sure the utilities are (or will be) where you need them, architectural plans are created to meet municipal/code requirements, and the design helps with branding so a business can be easily found and attractive to customers. 

Wolgast Corporation, has completed retail build-outs for mall, shopping center, and stand-alone customers throughout Michigan.  We can help a business owner to get their design, utility access situated, and build-out completed to save on time and create a professional looking operation, so they can start making sales, seeing patients, or serving clients as efficiently as possible.  Our resources include technology, utilities, engineering, design, and construction.

Tags: Remodel, Retail

Preparing for Michigan Schools’ Safety in 2020

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Nov 19, 2019 @ 09:51 AM

MeridianElEntrance-2Over the last year, a lot of action has happened to make K-12 schools safer for students in Michigan.  While still in office, Gov. Snyder implemented legislation for a School Safety Task Force.  The Task Force has been meeting to oversee School Districts and their Safety Plans for each of their buildings.  Schools are required to have their plans in place by January 2020.  Also, as part of the Legislation, starting in 2020, new construction and renovation plans for schools have to be shared and consulted with their local law enforcement agency for their evaluation from a safety standpoint.

In August 2019, the Michigan State Police published their Expanded School Safety Summary List, which includes a breakdown of the legislation and their recommendations to improve the safety of school buildings.  Also, in March 2019, the Michigan State Police (MSP) issued the largest number of safety grants to applying School Districts for safety improvements.  Since 2015 (as part of the same program), the MSP has distributed $56M to 556 recipient schools.  The majority of schools have used their grants to improve their secure entrance, install security cameras, apply shatterproof film on windows, and provide more training.  In addition to these improvements, law enforcement emphasizes that schools install solid classroom doors with commercial grade locks that can be secured from inside the classroom, the ability to communicate outside a locked classroom, wayfinding or labeled areas of the building to quickly narrow down an area within the building for police, and vehicle barriers at entrances.  We would add that an automated system can help staff monitor their camera feeds and control access within the building from an off site laptop.  Schools can benefit from peace of mind when being able to monitor or being notified of movement within a building when there shouldn’t be any.

Wolgast Corporation will continue to manage the construction of schools with safety of students and staff in mind while working along with team Architects to follow with Michigan State Police and the Safety Task Force consultations and recommendations.

 

Tags: Schools, Construction Management

Your Building Envelope’s Role in Reducing Energy Costs

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Nov 12, 2019 @ 09:54 AM

BldgEnv-1Keeping your building’s protective barrier, a.k.a. its envelope, intact, leak free, and in good repair is a great way to avoid spending your hard earned profits on energy costs.  The envelope entails any part of your building structure that keeps outside elements from coming inside when closed.  Otherwise, your roof, EIFS, windows, doors, walls, and even floors can leak and make your HVAC work harder, or worse let water leaks damage equipment or cause microbial growth.

Michigan’s temperate climate brings its own stresses on building materials including the seasonal flux in temperature.  Expanding and contracting flashing can create holes in your roof where the nails have been used to keep sheeting in place or cracks in caulking around windows.  Additionally, rain and wind can cause erosion where different types of materials are connected and hail can poke holes in roofing or siding, as a few examples.  When these types of leaks happen, your AC has to work harder in the summer to cool your office and regulate the humidity, while in the winter the heater also works harder to warm up the space and add necessary moisture for comfort.  Furthermore, rain leaks can do major damage to your ceiling, your structure, or result in microbial growth which can create headaches, allergies, or asthma for occupants.  Mold that is hidden or has a moisture source that isn’t completely fixed is costly for a building owners in the long run.  The quality of air your staff breathes or the exposure from outside elements can affect their health and, in turn, their attendance.

In conclusion, it’s important to check the caulk around your building exterior annually for cracks.  Caulk may have a 5 year life cycle, but there are too many variables that can cause ware and tare.  Hire a reputable caulking company to fix any caulking leaks.  Also check your roof and roof flashings annually for any visual damage that could lead to leaks.  Or if you’re experiencing a leak, contact a reputable roofer who will ensure that leaks are fixed to find and eliminate microbial growth.  Should you have mold or be concerned about mold, or any structural issues, call Wolgast.  Our Restoration and Construction Teams will be able to help you get your office back to a leak free status to keep your energy costs down.

Tags: Energy Savings, Good for Business

Top 7 Guarantees of Using Design/Build Construction Delivery

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 @ 08:45 AM

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  1. Fast Track Construction
  2. Less Risk for the Owner
  3. Single Point of Responsibility
  4. Guaranteed Schedule & Budget
  5. Team Collaboration
  6. Quality Construction for Better Value
  7. More Bids Collected by One Entity to Narrow down the Lowest Price

As business owners become more aware of the benefits of Design/Build Construction, the delivery method continues to chisel a bigger piece of market share throughout the U.S. and is expected to reach 44% usage rate by 2021, according to FMI1.  In their Design-Build Utilization: Combined Market Study June 2018, they evaluated the United States Census Bureau, stakeholder surveys, industry reports, associations, and government agency databases, and determined the usage of delivery methods within the construction industry and found that the Midwest region will experience a 5.5% growth in Progressive Design-Build projects by 2021.  Also, manufacturing will take on the highest increase in adopting Design-Build project delivery. 

It makes sense to partner with a combination of contractor and architect team at the inception of your project.  Additionally, the Progressive Design-Build approach has proven to help with efficiency in scheduling and budgeting when the contractor joins with the architect and project stakeholders during the planning and design phase.  The early meeting of the minds and knowledge of each role has shown to save on costs and schedule.  In this method, the Design/Builder takes on more risk to guarantee the outcomes desired.

Since there is one, single source of responsibility it condenses the effort of the building owner to coordinate their needs.  The owner can be as involved as they’d like to be or can be.  It’s the role of the Design/Builder to deliver a high quality building from design through completion that meets all the needs of the owner at an agreed upon price, and when they need it to be ready.  No surprises!

FMI, June 2018, Design-Build Utilization: Combined Market Study June 2018, viewed 4 October 2019, https://dbia.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Design-Build-Market-Research-FMI-2018.pdf

Tags: Design/Build, Good for Business, Risk Management

Set Your School to “Snow Day” with the Push of a Button

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Sep 23, 2019 @ 02:00 PM

phonepress3-1School Districts waste energy when building systems run while school isn’t in session, and face additional security threats, too.  The good news is that schools are estimated to be able to save considerable energy costs by adding building system controls and sensors for real-time control.  By automating school buildings with sensors and smart controls, the EPA says “schools and school districts can lower their operating costs by up to 30%.  Existing schools can save 25% of operating costs by implementing some basic efficiency measures, occupant education, and engagement programs.”1 Additionally, installing integrating security systems to ensure all doors are locked and surveillance or movement sensors are operating after hours provides peace of mind when no one is in the building.

Building automation can be integrated into new and existing buildings to control all systems from your laptop or a smartphone.  This is known as the Internet of Things (IoT), and allows for continual monitoring and alerts to be sent to facility managers if there’s a problem.  HVAC, lighting, CO2, water pressure, and access can all be monitored and adjusted or programmed as the usage of the building changes at varying times of day.

Besides the cost saving benefits of being automated and having the controls at your fingertips, per say, is that when schools have a Snow Day, those in charge of the building can press a “Snow Day” button on their phone or laptop and go into a mode that will lessen lighting, heat and even lock the access doors within the building from the comfort of their home, or where ever they are.  Additionally, sensors can notify you if there’s movement within the building for safety reasons.

Commercial Contractor, Wolgast Corporation, is able to work with School Districts throughout Michigan, where Snow Days and Freezing Days have been calling off school plenty the past few years.  This alone could save significantly on Schools’ energy costs.  Additionally, we are Consumers Energy and DTE Trade Allies, helping School Districts with electric and gas efficiency.  Consumers Energy offers incentives for those who reduce their usage and our Project Managers help their school clients to acquire those incentives through proper paper work.

Honeywell, an Energy Management Company, works with businesses and schools to measure their energy usage, configure alarms and notifications based on preset thresholds, incorporate the IoT, and provide access control and surveillance (among many other things).  In their news article, “Back to School : How School Buildings Can Positively Impact Student Achievement”, Honeywell features their work helping “schools enable more comfortable and productive environment through innovative energy solutions, which have resulted in approximately $270 Million of guaranteed savings for K-12 Schools in the U.S. and Canada since 2013,” a three year duration at the time of the article.Through their technology, Wolgast can integrate the functions necessary to control a building’s systems in real-time, and even create the “Snow Day” setting for your facility manager to easily maintain efficiency and safety when there’s no one in the building.  As well as stay on top of the controls year round from their computer.

Please contact us to find out more information about this opportunity – 800-WOLGAST.

1 United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Appendix A: Model Program for the State School Environmental Health Guidelines”.  https://www.epa.gov/schools/appendix-model-program-state-school-environmental-health-guidelines

2 Timmerman, Jessie. “Back to School: How School Buildings Can Positively Impact Student Achievement.” Honeywell, 29 Aug. 2016, https://www.honeywell.com/en-us/newsroom/news/2016/08/back-to-school-how-school-buildings-can-positively-impact-student-achievement

 

Tags: Schools, Energy Savings

Four Things You Should Know When Planning a Groundbreaking Ceremony

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Sep 10, 2019 @ 10:23 AM

groundbreaking_1When building a new business or relocating, it pays to start your publicity early.  An inexpensive way to create buzz is to host a groundbreaking or a “kickoff” ceremony at the beginning of your project.  I’ve had clients who’ve broke ground both before starting a project or soon after a project has started, with construction being the backdrop during the ceremony.  We call it a project “kickoff” instead of “groundbreaking” when we renovate an existing building.

There are many ways to conduct your event; however there are four key items that will help you when planning a groundbreaking ceremony:


1.  As I mentioned previously, promotion and, of course, thanking the people who helped make your project possible are usually the purposes of having a groundbreaking ceremony.  However, the origination of these ceremonies predates time.  Whether it was a primitive tradition to ask for forgiveness and protection from the earth or a spiritual ritual of making a “sacred deposit” to bless the site, every culture on each continent has engaged in a groundbreaking ceremony to begin a construction project. 

2.  You don’t have to worry about inclement weather.  Of course, you hope for the best, but plan for the worst, which means that you have shelter and a container full of dirt on standby to use for the turning of the soil.  As the contractor, we provide a tent, podium, shovels, hard hats, umbrellas and a container full of soil, just in case of rain (or because we’re in Michigan, snow).  Additionally, you should have chairs, tables, trash bins and food service items if your contractor doesn’t already provide them (we do).

3.  Provide plenty of time when sending invitations.  At least two weeks before should be the cut-off for sending.  Include all people who made the project possible, i.e. community officials, banker, staff, networking groups, clients, contractor, architect, etc.  Note: be sure to announce key people during your speech.  And, of course, don’t forget to invite the media to the occasion.  Radio stations, TV news programs, and newspapers are all interested in showing business growth in their community; however, if they aren’t able to attend, be sure to send a press release and pictures that you take of your speakers and the turning of the soil.

4.  I’ve mentioned that you or a representative of your company will be making a speech about the project.  Quite often, we are asked what should be said during this speech, so I’ve included a sample agenda of a groundbreaking ceremony with a duration of 15-30 minutes.

 

Sample Groundbreaking Ceremony Agenda

 

Wolgast is a comprehensive general contractor located in Saginaw, Michigan.  We are specialized in Design/Build, Construction Management, General Construction, and Insurance Restoration in the markets of Restaurants, Schools, Medical, Dental, and Manufacturing.  For more than 70 years, we have provided our professional construction services throughout Michigan and beyond.  We are happy to discuss The Wolgast Way with you at 800-WOLGAST!

Tags: the Wolgast Way, Good for Business

Tips to Pass a School Bond Election

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Sep 04, 2019 @ 01:25 PM

VoteI have found that there’s not a single formula to passing a school bond vote.  Every community is different in regard to their support of their school district, so each campaign needs to be tweaked and managed.  However, Wolgast's School Facility Specialists have discovered a couple of tactics over the years as former School Superintendents on how to give every bond campaign a better chance for success and offer their expertise as part of our Pre-Bond Services.

First, the most important aspect of a success­ful millage election is staff and community involvement in the planning process. With that said, the likelihood of the passage of a millage proposal is determined days and even months prior to the election.  The devel­opment of the bond proposal, the inclusion of groups that will be af­fected by it, along with the marketing plan and execution are all key ingredients that will help lead to a successful election.

Another key is to focus on the “yes” voters rather than spending your budget or energy on converting the “no” voters.  Then help the “yes” voters by reminding them of registration deadlines, and when and where to vote.

Sometimes Districts can qualify for state and federal funding programs to help supplement building projects.  When qualifying for the additional funding, School Districts were able to ask voters to approve smaller bond amounts while securing enough budget to complete their construction needs.  Bond elections pass as voters recognize the savings to their District’s general fund to help maintain safety and educational programs.

To find out more about the funding programs or to have a free seminar with our School Facility Consultants regarding “Steps for Planning a School Construction Project”, please contact Rich Ramsey at rramsey@wolgast.com.

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Financing Construction

Repurpose Your Commercial Office to Be More Modern

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 @ 11:38 AM

What Ideas Will Work for You?

Repurpose-1Appearance is one of the triggers that leads to remodeling, but isn’t the only good reason to remodel.  Other reasons like efficiency, reorganizing unused space, right-sizing, and new technology can make a big difference in attracting or retaining talent, saving money and improving productivity.  Furthermore, modern designs that are created with goals of safety, appearance, efficiency, and increased focus or productivity can help you to make your space more useful for staff and enticing to clients.

I did an image search on Google for “Modern Office Design” and what I saw was a lot of glass walls, greys/brown/white shades combined with bright accent colors, short cubicles or no cubicles, wood floors, slat wood paneling, high ceilings, natural light, recreational areas, conference rooms and white boards.  What was missing was fluorescent lighting, storage, and surprisingly, privacy. 

Open floorplans with no offices and high ceilings have become popular for some businesses, especially for those in urban areas where real estate is costly and space is limited.  More staff members can be fitted with a desk when there are no walls involved, but the productivity results are mixed.  If you’ve been wondering, any operation that relies on phone calls or focus for creativity (to name two) doesn’t work well with open floorplans or high ceilings.  Also, the original goal of collaboration has fallen short among those using the open concept due to the introduction of texting and private messaging via social media.1  Instead of collaboration, employees are seeking more privacy and turning to messaging instead of open collaboration, according to researchers in “New Harvard Study: Your Open-Plan Office is Making Your Team Less Collaborative”.  They were able to determine that “Face-to-Face” collaboration decreased by 70% while email and messaging formats increased1

So, what can you do to address the current needs of your future work force and clients?  Whether you plan to have less employees or expand your staff, right-sizing your space to make it more comfortable or to accommodate new equipment can lead to increased productivity as better work flows are streamlined.  Extra space in your building can be repurposed to be a quiet area away from phones and computers, or additional meeting space for focused collaboration.  Additionally, this area can be automated so that lighting and heat controls are adjusted to actual use and to save money on energy costs.

In fact, incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT), or building automation of systems is good to incorporate during an office remodel.  Your office temperature, access control, lighting, and other systems can be controlled from your desktop, laptop, or even smartphone.  Incorporating natural light has also proven to improve morale and cut costs on lighting bills.

We know that the bottom-line is how much more revenue will a remodel bring to the business, or the return on investment.  We can’t tell you exactly how much, but considerations to make include the impact on attracting or retaining talent, the energy cost savings, increased productivity through well thought redesign based on work flows and repurposing unused space, peace of mind from access control, and attracting clients or prospects who are interested in seeing your newly remodeled space.

Wolgast can design your new floorplan and oversee the construction of your remodel, or new build if you prefer.  We will be the single-source of your project applying our building expertise, while you focus on the operation of your business.

1https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/new-harvard-study-you-open-plan-office-is-making-your-team-less-collaborative.html

Tags: Design/Build, Energy Savings, Good for Business, Remodel

Four Steps for School Boards to Plan a Construction Project

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Aug 15, 2019 @ 08:00 AM

School Board MeetingSo, you’ve been elected to your District’s School Board and have four years (or so) to help make the best decisions for the students and staff. You likely anticipate facing many issues that’ll require research plus your life experience to decide what’s best for your School District. One of those issues could be the maintenance, remodel, rebuild or relocation of school buildings. Do you know where to start? Below, we explain the steps you should take to have a successful construction project.

Step One – Facility Study

You start with a Facility Study to gain information on what your District needs to repair or improve. More specifically, a Facility Study conducted by a team of a qualified Architect and Construction Manager who’ll help you identify and organize what is necessary to maintain or improve the quality of education you’re currently providing. The Architect and Construction Manager should have experience conducting Facility Studies, so ask for their resume. 

A Facility Study will provide you with information regarding maintenance issues, instructional enhancements, future space needs, safety issues, and technology requirements, to name a few. Future decisions will be made easier by acquiring information from the Facility Study that assists you in prioritizing the District's needs.

Step Two – Funding

Once your board determines which buildings need construction services, the Superintendent and School Board have to find a way to pay for the projects. Currently, there are a variety of federal and state programs to supplement your general fund. The state’s treasury website can offer a lot of information, but so can a meeting with Wolgast’s School Facility Consultants, who can guide you through the process and find the best option for your District.

Step Three – Bond Campaign

As we stated in our blog, “Tips for Passing a School Bond Election” there’s not one way to pass a bond election because each School District is different. There are, however, things that a school board and bond committee can do to help every bond campaign, such as getting staff and the community involved early in the campaign. Please see the referenced blog for more information.

Step Four – Construction

Typically, when you work with a Construction Manager on the pre-construction services listed in steps 1-3, you have an agreement to use them to oversee the construction of the project. They’re your advocate throughout the project from pre-construction through completion. Through weekly meetings and open communication, you, the Architect and the Construction Manager are a team that ensures the project gets done on-time and within budget.

We would be more than happy to present to your School Board our seminar on “Steps for Planning a School Construction Project”, please contact an Education Facility Consultant, Rich Ramsey, Michael Pung or Joe Powers at 800-956-4278 for more information.

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Financing Construction