Wolgast Blog

The History of Wolgast’s Construction Management Division

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 @ 08:05 AM

AtlantaExperts claim that a form of Construction Management (CM) construction delivery was used in ancient times as far back as the pyramids.  However, according to Construction Management Association of America, CM became known as a distinctive construction delivery option in the 1960s1.  The need for a new construction delivery method at that time was due to more “sophisticated” systems being designed for large, complicated buildings and stricter regulations.  It was a growth time for the HVAC industry with the introduction of air conditioning and computerized control systems2.  More complex applications increased the role of the contractor to be more involved with the “specification of equipment and parts”.  There eventually was a shortage of HVAC installers and with the increased desire for air conditioning, shoddy applications led to many problems.  A problem which was well suited for CM advocacy between the Designer and the Contractor.

Wolgast Corporation originated in 1948 as G. H. Wolgast Masonry by Gerald Wolgast, a Masonry Contractor, and then expanded to a General Contractor (GC) soon after.  The company remained a GC for twenty years until Gerald and his sons were the first to add Design/Build services as an option to deliver complicated projects more efficiently.  This method was great for buildings with a smaller square footage and shorter durations to build and worked well in many applications for another twenty-five years.  At that time, ever the progressive contractor, Wolgast added CM Services to enter the education sector, officially.  The new service groomed Wolgast to quickly become a top advocate for our school clients who had complicated systems, a long construction duration, and lots of construction activities to plan simultaneously.  A team of Owners Representative, Architect and Construction Manager created the strong leadership necessary for large, complex projects guaranteeing that critical elements of design, cost, time, and quality would come together to deliver a project that the owner wanted and needed.

Since 1996, Wolgast’s CM Division has completed more than $2 billion of in-place construction just for school clients.  We now have three offices dedicated to CM Services and have worked with almost 150 of the 450 school districts within Michigan, plus a few in Ohio.  Our staff is top-notch and our field managers are on our work sites 100% of the time.  He or she is there to monitor the day-to-day activity and to help school officials arrange schedules, so that school activities can carry-on uninterrupted.  This is only part of the reason why 80% of our clients are repeat customers.

1https://www.healthdesign.org/sites/default/files/an_owners_guide_to_construction_management.pdf, preface, page 1, reprinted with the permission of Construction Management Association of America, Inc.

2 https://www.contractingbusiness.com/archive/1960s-incredible-growth-amid-chaos, 3/10/09

CM Services the Wolgast Way!

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

The Benefit of Design/Build Phase I Drawings

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 @ 08:00 AM

plans and rolled plansPreliminary plans, such as those provided in a Phase I of the Design/Build process, are the most efficient and economical means to determine the budget for your construction project.

While there has been a shift in the numbers1, there are still many business owners out there who are skeptical of the Design/Build method of construction.  They are more familiar with the traditional Design/Bid/Build method where they hire an architect, then have general contractors competitively bid the project, and the contractor with the best price/value builds the project. 

Early on, when we’re discussing the benefits of Design/Build with those who are skeptical, they have a difficult time accepting that they need to pay the nominal fee for the preliminary drawings (Phase I Design) so we can estimate the construction budget.  Those who are accepting of it realize that they would be paying that and more at an independent architecture firm. 

In the Design/Build process, the Phase I fee is nominal to cover the team’s time to complete a needs analysis, make necessary regulatory investigations, create a preliminary design and seek bidding resources for a preliminary budget.  Having a pretty accurate, yet ball park, estimate early in the process helps an owner obtain funding earlier.  The information gained during the Phase I is accurate and sufficient to take to a bank to secure financing.  Clients never get a separate bill for the Phase I cost unless the project doesn’t come to fruition, then the fees are billed to cover the team’s time at a fraction of the cost of a full set of plans.  Furthermore, if obstacles arise while a customer is planning to build a building that cause them to change their mind, it’s less risky to commit to a portion of the cost of the design while working through the initial process.

Additionally, having the flexibility to “tweak” the preliminary design so it fits within your budget is much more economical because you don’t have the engineering elements involved, yet.  Those get explicitly defined in the Phase II drawings.

When you add a Design/Builder to your team before you purchase property, they can assess the property and available utilities to provide the best use of space.  Also, prior to purchase, a Design/Build team can help coach an owner on contingencies in the purchase agreement as a buffer or a “get out of jail free card” if there are undesirable obstacles to using the property the way intended.

Those are the main benefits to committing to Phase I Drawings, but the Design/Build process has other benefits like completing construction faster, fewer change orders, open communication, and one entity having all the low bids.  Read more about the benefits of this method at in our White Paper, "Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should".

 

Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should

 

1 According to “Design-Build Project Delivery Market Share and Market Size Report” by Reed Construction Data and RS Means Intelligence, Design/Build construction delivery method has taken an additional 9% of the construction market since 2005 and General Construction has lost 10% of the market share in that same time.

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Financing Construction, Design, Dental Office Construction, Good for Business

What Makes a Design/Builder a Dental Construction Expert?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Fri, Feb 01, 2019 @ 02:50 PM

Dr Copus, DDSI’d like to address a question that has been posed to me about what makes a contractor specialized in Dental Construction. We’ve claimed for a couple of decades now to be an expert at dental office construction, but what does that mean? There are many people out there that think a building is a building, but most Dentists will recognize that a design/builder that’s versed in dental operations will make a big difference in the final building design, quality of construction and completion date.

Dental Building Design

When an architect is familiar with dental operations, they create floor plans that help a Dentist, staff members and patients flow seamlessly. The elements that they consider include efficient means for staff to complete tasks, organized patient flow, space and regulations for special equipment, time-saving communication, and aesthetics to make everyone comfortable. An architect that understands how to design a Dental Office that incorporates all the efficiencies listed above will create a layout that allows for less wasted time to move throughout the building, enabling the Dentist to spend more quality time with patients and less time moving around the office to communicate with staff or find tools. When dealing with specialty equipment to take x-rays, distribute med gases, or recover mercury, an architect has to consider spatial issues, electrical needs and regulation. Without an understanding of how this equipment fits into an operation or the regulations involved, a mistake on the plans could trip up the construction phase schedule.

Construction of a Dental Office

For the construction phase, you’ll need a project manager and supervisor that are familiar with the goals and operation of the Dentist. They’re there to oversee the proper installation of the various trades and maintain the schedule and budget. On the same notion as the architect, the Project Supervisor should have experience with x-ray shielding, mercury recovery, and med gases. A project supervisor with dental experience is also important to the schedule if a Dentist is renovating an occupied building and needs to continue seeing patients during construction. Your project supervisor can create temporary areas to keep chairs open. Regardless if it’s an occupied or new/unoccupied building, the supervisor and manager will be monitoring the schedule so that areas are ready in time for equipment delivery.

The Wolgast Way

Wolgast is specialized in the design and construction of Dental Offices. Dentists that we work with feel comfortable knowing that their chair side traps and amalgam separators will be installed without a problem and that their staff and patients will be comfortable in the new space as it’s completed on time and their scheduled move-in date is uninterrupted.

 

DentalOverview
Click the image above for an Overview of
Wolgast's Dental Construction Services
 

Tags: Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Dental Office Construction

Flexibility for Finish Substitutions Can Improve Time & Budget on Design/Build Projects

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Jan 31, 2019 @ 08:12 AM

Duperon2Architects and engineers are smart people who are dedicated to taking the information their clients provide them and designing an aesthetically pleasing and functional building to meet their client’s goals.  In their design specifications, they include specific products for building finishes, which they’ve researched or have experienced, to match the desired outcome expressed by their client.  Typically, these materials or products have also been discussed with and accepted by the client.

However, during the budgeting and estimating phase of the project, contractors and subcontractors alike may make suggestions for comparable materials/products.  This may be because the subcontractor is more experienced with the installation of a certain manufacturer’s product, they know about a considerably less expensive application, or because the specced (specified) product is discontinued or back ordered for an undetermined amount of time.  Keeping on schedule is critical for every construction job, so a back ordered item can cause many problems with the flow of a project.  Also, what building owner doesn’t have an interest in saving money whenever they can?  So, it’s common for a product substitution to be identified and as long as it’s comparable, the architect should sign off to accept it.  The architect gets final approval on all substitutions because they have to be back tracked into the original plans and determined whether or not an item needs additional engineering to make the change work seamlessly.

Typically, the building owner is excited to have options because of the cost and time savings, so substitution flexibility is important in the commercial construction industry.  This practice can also be considered value engineering, which takes place in other occurrences when an original design comes in over the client’s anticipated budget.  Due to time constraints of competitive bidding under the General Construction delivery method, substitutions and value engineering don’t naturally have time to occur.  But, the team approach through a Design/Build project is set-up to make exceptions for these recommendations, which is another benefit of how Design/Build is more efficient in saving time and money.

Tags: Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, Good for Business

Guest Article for physicians: How to boost your retirement savings

Posted by Michael Joyce on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 @ 09:15 AM

Physicians need to start thinking about retirement while still in medical school.PhysicianRetirement

 

During their education and training years, physicians miss out on nearly a decade of compounding interest on savings, one of the most powerful tools for building retirement savings. Furthermore, physicians may have less money and fewer years to contribute to their retirement savings.

The IRS’ annual contribution limit for employees under age 50 contributing to 401(k)s and other traditional retirement plans is $19,000 in 2019. For those over 50, that contribution limit is $25,000 in 2019. However, these annual sums may be inadequate given the cost of and time devoted to medical education and training.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that 75 percent of medical students graduate from medical school with student loan debt. In 2017, the median level of medical school debt was $192,000. As a result, student loan repayments with normal terms can add up to more than $2,000 per month. And because the repayment terms for these loans can vary from 10-25 years, some physicians may still be paying off medical school debt at the age of 55.

In the early years after college, when many of their peers are beginning to save for retirement and buy a home, physicians continue their medical education and training while simultaneously postponing earnings—sometimes by as much as 10 years. For physicians, then, traditional retirement savings vehicles may be insufficient to make up for lost time in saving for their golden years. Of course, another factor that threatens retirement savings for physicians is falling into high tax brackets. Because of their high incomes, physicians receive little to no financial aid for their children’s educations, and college savings for children inevitably impacts physicians’ own retirement savings.

This may sound a bit bleak, but don’t be discouraged. If physicians build a diversified portfolio and pursue alternative investments, they may lessen the impact of a delay in retirement savings.

One alternative investment for physicians to consider is purchasing or investing in their own medical office building.

 By establishing a separate Limited Liability Company (LLC) to buy the building, physicians and their partners can become landlords of their own medical practice. If there are additional tenants in the space, the LLC earns that revenue too. Additional advantages of owning one’s own medical office building include the ability to control costs, thereby effectively eliminating the possibility of falling victim to ever-increasing rent as well as the freedom to expand or change the space as desired.

Of course, owning a building has the potential to be lucrative from a return on investment standpoint, but certain costs and conditions can negatively impact value. Before signing on the dotted line, physicians must complete a thorough due diligence and thoughtful consideration of all of the ongoing costs associated with property ownership, including utilities, ongoing maintenance, and upkeep. In addition, physicians should be careful to buy opportunistically and avoid overpaying as well as over-leveraging themselves prior to purchase. 

Partners in a medical office building are well advised to come to an agreement on certain processes ahead of a property purchase. Otherwise, they run the risk of disagreements that could threaten the success of the venture.

Here are questions practices/partners/physicians need to first ask themselves:

  • What is the process for making decisions?
  • What is the process for accepting a new investor?
  • Who is allowed to invest in the medical office building? How many will be allowed to invest?
  • How are ownership shares transferred (and what are the restrictions)?
  • What are the policies for distributions and redemptions?
  • Who is authorized to act on behalf of the partnership/LLC?
  • What happens if a physician leaves the practice? Will he/she be obligated to sell his/her interest?
  • How will the building be valued? How often should valuations be done?

Ideally, investing in a medical office building will help physicians recover some of the savings they forfeited earlier in their career, but it’s not a guarantee. Pursuing alternative investment solutions such as this is one way for physicians to hedge their bets and potentially improve retirement savings outcomes.

This article was authored by Michael Joyce of Agili, Your Personal CFO, a financial planning firm with offices in Richmond, VA and Bethlehem, PA.
http://www.physicianspractice.com/personal-finance/how-boost-your-retirement-savings?rememberme=1&elq_mid=5022&elq_cid=167491&GUID=4D092157-20E9-4625-8C98-AF1185D4442E

Tags: Medical Office Construction

The Story of Wolgast’s Speed

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Dec 19, 2018 @ 10:37 AM

MerrillToolSpeed is one of the most coveted aspects when it comes to commercial construction and nothing improves speed like doing a project right the first time.  You could argue that cutting corners can sometimes make it faster, and that’s true until it causes rework, back tracking, or failures down the road.  Our founder, Jerry Wolgast, had the philosophy of “do it right the first time” and that is still instilled in us today.  However, we have implemented programs to help us consistently meet or exceed our deadlines rather than just hope that everything falls into place.

Jerry’s sons would help their dad even as boys and they would tell you that he didn’t let them stop just because the sun had set, no, he would keep them going until their work was done.  That work ethic is what helped us to secure our relationship with McDonald’s Corporation almost 40 years ago.  And that relationship was and is very important to us as you can imagine.  Through that work, we were able to systemize our processes and determine how to be more efficient and then apply it to future McDonald’s projects.  We had even broken the regional record for fastest construction of a new store by completing it within 33 days.

Soon, we were systemizing all of our processes so that each area of the company could uniformly be completed by any employee with the same job title.  Our unmatched work ethic and consistency lead to efficiency, which resulted in fast, quality construction.

Additionally, through our Design/Build Construction Delivery, we are able to shave months off the completion date by having the architect on our team.  The open lines of communication with the architect and client launches our pre-construction planning and estimating earlier than it does in traditional General Construction Delivery because we have the information that we need to pull permits, order materials, and line up our team before the plans are complete.  We will be ready to start construction as soon as the plans and budget are finalized.

Finally, Wolgast became an employee-owned company in 2000, which means that every staff member became part owner of the company and benefits from the company’s success.  Therefore, the importance of meeting deadlines and doing the job right is everyone’s concern from the laborer to the project manager and everyone in between.

We’ve been known to put up a building in half the time a contractor down the street puts up a similar one.  We’ve also landed a few projects because no other contractor can do it within the allotted time.  This is all due to the importance we put on speed and we’ve managed to do it without sacrificing quality.  Count on us when you want it done right the first time!  Solid foundations…Solid results…the Wolgast Way!

Tags: the Wolgast Way

Top Benefits of Single Source Responsibility Construction

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Nov 26, 2018 @ 03:12 PM

Less Risk + the Right People Collaborating + Competitive Bids + Early Starts

1stopshopMost people envision a big box store when using the term “one-stop shopping”, and I’d bet that they would never think of a commercial contractor, instead.  However, a design/build contractor provides one-stop shopping for architectural plans and construction services (and everything in between), also known as Single Source Responsibility (SSR)

There are several key items to making any construction project successful and those include a collaborative team, detailed/accurate plans, competitive bids, and adequate time to provide a quality project.  By using a design/build contractor as SSR, an owner gets an architect, contractor, and estimator as a package deal on their team by placing one phone call and that team takes on the full risk of providing an owner’s vision within budget and on time.  The architect meets with the owner to determine the scope and creates preliminary (Phase I) drawings.  The contractor collaborates with the architect to review the plans for construction applications and makes suggestions to streamline the building phase.  The estimator then establishes a rough estimate providing a budget for the owner to take to his financing company early in the process.

Alternatively, with the design/bid/build (or general construction) method of construction, the building owner takes on 100% of the risk, works with their selected architect to provide 100% complete drawings to the contractor who then bids it out without an opportunity for constructability review, and then the owner can only get an estimated budget just prior to construction.  This method has been the standard since the beginning of the industry and has provided sufficient results, however, if there are going to be problems during construction, or over spending, it’s much more likely to happen with the design/bid/build method.

Wolgast uses architectural firms with licensed architects who work with our construction team to get a constructability review prior to bidding.  Constructability review is partially (along with open communication) what allows us to take on the risk of guaranteeing budget and delivery date, as well as starting construction early when needed.

Speaking of starting early, since the SSR team is already familiar with the plans, they can get permits, order materials, prepare the site, and basically start the project before the plans are finalized, which can result in the project being completed months earlier than a design/bid/build project.  SSR is A.K.A. a third name, Fast-Track Construction.

SSR has an additional perk that not everyone realizes, and that is the multiple bid process.  Many times owners feel that they are better off with the traditional means of construction, so they can get competitive bids, however the SSR method includes getting the multiple bids for subcontractor trade categories from qualified contractors.  Furthermore, the SSR will have collected a wide variety of bids for each trade, so the holder of the bids will see who all the low bidders are for each category, rather than design/bid/build, which has several general contractors collecting a few bids from subs in the market.  With SSR, owners are going to get great quality at a great price resulting in the best value!

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

Sharing Your Budget Streamlines the Pre-Construction Phase

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 02:54 PM

BarBWe use this blog to help educate potential construction clients on how to build their buildings more efficiently and economically.  I am posing a taboo view in this edition, but all in an effort to save the building owner weeks and maybe months of time on their pre-construction phase.  By giving a contractor a ballpark budget before design and/or estimating starts, an owner can take a shortcut in the preliminary phase and get to construction sooner.

Realistically, we understand that sharing a budget feels risky because it shows the owners “full hand” so to speak in poker terms and he or she could feel like it reduces the opportunity to negotiate.  However, for Design/Build Construction, by knowing our client’s budget we can design a building that can be accomplished comfortably for the owner, rather than one that causes sticker shock and then adds time for redrawing.  Having an owner’s actual budget at the start, helps us to provide valuable consultation to the owner regarding allowances for materials and finishes.  Also, we will know upfront if we need to scale down the building and by how much if the numbers need to be tweaked when estimating is complete.  Knowing a budget for General Construction, lets us discern if we are a fit with our full service offering (including insured contractors, precise estimates, guaranteed completion dates, warranty, full-time supervision, self-performed trades, etc. to protect the owner’s interest), or if the owner is willing to accept a more risky and lesser value option for their construction needs.

We’ve been estimating and constructing buildings for over 70 years and have a good idea of what a competitive price for a scope of work may be, considering variables like the time of year, how busy our subcontractors are, and material pricing fluctuations to pinpoint a precise final price.  Therefore, we can save everyone a lot of time if the owner’s budget is significantly under what we speculate the cost would be and the owner isn’t willing to change their scope of work.  In turn, we can help them make a business decision before they spend any money on design or go through the estimating process.

Contact Rick Suitor or Dr. Michael Shepard at 800-WOLGAST to discuss your project and budget and to see if our services are well suited to design and/or build your business investment.  In return, we will provide a competitive and accurate estimate and offer professional construction services!  This is just one shortcut to construction and happiness that we can offer.

Tags: Professional General Contractor, Good for Business, Risk Management

Building Remodel for Energy & Money Savings

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

There aren’t many businesses that remodel every six years, so chances are that if you’re currently ready for an update, you have the potential to save a considerable amount of money by investing in modern, energy efficient products and installations. 

NBS-EnergyWith 29% of your operating expense being spent on utilities1, the energy efficient equipment/products that have become available over the last six years or less can make a big difference.  Additionally, there are incentives for making these changes.  We have helped several school clients lower their energy expense and also secure incentive money back.  As a Consumer Energy Business Solution Trade Ally, we’ve achieved 3rd place in the past for natural gas savings for Consumers Energy school customers and helped Bullock Creek Schools maximize their incentive of more than $125,000 to offset the cost of their new heat-conserving roof, energy efficient lightbulbs and other alterations.

It’s good to be aware that some energy savings are now mandated by LARA in the State of Michigan when you build new or remodel (see our blog: Michigan Energy Code).  However, there are varying degrees ($$) of implementations to include in your remodel plans that could save more money for your business in the long run.  For instance, office equipment and other mechanical products have become increasingly more efficient even within recent years.  Building systems and materials such as water heaters, HVAC systems, programmable thermostats, windows, insulation applications, LED lighting, occupancy sensors, and toilets are all more efficient than they were in the past 10 years.

Additionally, during your remodel or new build, adding more natural light reduces the need for full time lights, which according to US Energy Information Administration can be more than 17% of utility costs for commercial buildings who haven’t converted to LED.2  Bigger windows, skylights, or light transmitting panels are great for getting the most natural light into an interior space.  Your architect will have further tricks for enhancing natural light, as well.

If you aren’t quite ready for a remodel right now, but are interested in tweaking your building systems to save on energy costs, most energy companies are currently offering free assessments to guide you to save on what you already have in place.  Contact your energy company for a complimentary report.

However, if you are interested in remodeling or building new, Wolgast is ready and capable to be your design and construction partner to achieve these energy and cost saving applications.  Call us today for more information.

1E Source Customer Direct, “Managing Energy Costs in Office Buildings”

2 U.S. Energy Information Administration, www.eia.gov, “Trends in Lighting in Commercial Buildings”, 5/17/17

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

Customer Service Request – Quick Service after Construction

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 @ 10:36 AM

smallprojects.jpgBusiness owners can have a difficult time finding a contractor to complete small projects within their buildings.  Switching out doors, replacing trim, or hanging coat racks are projects that most general contractors put on the back burner as they are busy handling larger projects.  We believe, a business owner would want to use the contractor who built their building, or the subcontractor who was originally involved on the project when a change or repair is needed because these workers already know the building inside and out.  Hence, we created our Customer Service Request System (CSR) for our clients more than a decade ago.

Again, most General Contractors will be focused on the large projects they have to complete and only filling in with the small stuff as time becomes available.  The smaller projects for a General Contractor have a tendency to be less of a priority and can even fall through the cracks at times.  We didn’t want it to be that way for our valued clients with whom we have established and respected relationships. 

Prior to our CSR system, it was hard to organize and manage the follow-up work that our customers needed, not because we didn’t want to do the work, but because there could be multiple players involved that lead to communication mishaps without a dedicated plan in place.  Our CSR system is a means for tracking the work, communicating progress with all key players, and keeping on top of the schedule.  Now our clients can easily contact us as they need any maintenance service or new projects for their building.

The process starts with a CSR form.  Whichever Wolgast Employee-Owner takes the order (usually your Project Manager), they’ll enter the pertinent information on the CSR form, which kicks off the team organization, scheduling, materials, equipment, and mobilization plan.  Once work is complete, you or your client representative signs the form and we have a record of our activity.  The program is reviewed a minimum of two times per month to ensure progress is taking place.  We also have a dedicated team to push progress on the jobs.

We find that the CSR is an excellent program for our clients to get their small projects completed and also for us to keep in touch, maintain the buildings we built, and continue the customer service that our clients deserve.  Customers love it and we go all-out to make our customers happy!

Inquire Here

Tags: Professional General Contractor