Wolgast Blog

4 Reasons Why the Entire Pre-Construction Phase Is Key to Project Success

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 @ 12:11 PM

Plans-&-HatFor both Design/Build and Construction Management delivery methods, the start of Pre-Construction Phase is Architectural Design and it’s a very exciting time for most building owners.  They love the ideas, options, and decorating aspects for their building.  And then, when drawings are done, the owner is eager to get to the other main event of Construction Phase.  But there is so much more happening during Design than they know and a lot more to be done before this Pre-Construction Phase, “Pre-Con”, is complete.  This is also when the contractor gets organized to save the most time and money during construction.   

So, what exactly happens during the entire Pre-Con that could make a difference to the cost or schedule? 

  1. When using Design/Build or Construction Management services, a contractor will work with the Architect at various stages of the Design, from conception through final design, to evaluate the drawings for constructability. Through their experience, project managers and estimators will review the plans to mentally walk through the construction methods and also to monitor that it’s being designed per the specified budget. There may be an instance when the project manager is able to see that something drawn doesn’t translate to the construction process.  By working with the architect or engineer, they can collaborate to work through the means and methods.  This saves time and money for the client, keeping the construction schedule on track.

  2. Speaking of the schedule and sequencing, there are a lot of moving parts that need to happen in a certain order. The ceiling can’t be installed before the lights, otherwise there will be a lot of rework. So the project manager charts through the schedule by working backward from the agreed upon completion date.  Also, long lead items (materials that take a longer time to arrive on site) can be factored in the calculations and ordered as early as possible.

  3. Meanwhile, estimators are lining up the pool of qualified subcontractors that will bid. The more bidders there are, the more competitive pricing can be achieved. We’re able to do this best through adequate bidding time for subs to submit their quotes and detailed scope of work descriptions

  4. Also during this phase, the Contractor orders materials, acquires permits, and prepares for safety measures so that the project can start on time and keep everyone on-site safe.

It’s important to note projects completed by General Construction delivery method typically don’t allow the ability for constructability review or the adequate time to line up as many competitive bidders. 

Final thought, Pre-Construction Phase is critical to project success, so construction can start without costly delays and building owners can get in the building sooner. Wolgast’s Pre-Construction tasks are systemized, so these key items are completed consistently and guided by our best practices developed over 70+ years.  We have offices in Saginaw, Alpena, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo to provide commercial construction services, quickly, efficiently, and with the most value.  Call 800-WOLGAST to meet about your construction plans.


Other blog titles that may interest you:

Sharing Budget Streamlines Pre-Construction
Ample Estimating Time Can Lower Price of Construction
Safety on Site - What It Can Mean for Your Construction Project

Tags: Design/Build, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Construction Safety, Scheduling, Design, Good for Business

The Best Way to Speed up Your Building Restoration

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Apr 09, 2019 @ 10:45 AM
Having a Restoration Company and a General Contractor on the Same Team

The team of  Wolgast Corporation and Wolgast Restoration was created to be a high level provider of full-service restoration services to deal with all of your challenges when mayhem strikes your building.  Wolgast Restoration specializes in residential and commercial restoration when it comes to structural damage from water, fire, wind, or other mishaps.  And Wolgast Corporation is a commercial contractor who has specialized in buildings of all shapes and sizes since 1948.

So, what are the benefits of having your restoration company on the same team as a general contractor?  The communication and actions to start planning the reconstruction portion of your project (if it’s needed) flows fluidly through the company as the experts in charge of your building talk freely and regularly.  Also the strength and resources that Wolgast Corporation has developed over the past 70+ years provides a solid foundation for Wolgast Restoration to handle projects of any size. 

During the clean-up portion of a project, project technicians can assess the situation and keep the construction staff informed of what’s needed and the construction staff can be estimating budgets, planning for materials, obtaining permits and organizing team coverage.  All this is done without much effort on your part, because when you have endured mayhem, the last thing you want is to be burdened with is making phone calls and searching for an unknown company to preserve your building.

Wolgast Restoration is providing its services through the same systemized approach that Wolgast Corporation uses to provide its construction services.  We find that having this systemized approach allows us to provide the most uniform and quality service for each unique job.  It helps us move quickly to the next task rather than pause to determine what to do next, all to the benefit of our clients through time savings.

We have offices in Saginaw and Kalamazoo areas.  If mayhem strikes you, please don’t hesitate to strike back with Wolgast Restoration.  Call 855.965.4278 to take immediate action.  In the meantime, if you have questions, please visit www.wolgastrestoration.com or call 989-790-9120 when it isn't an emergency.

 

water damagefire damagewind damage

Tags: the Wolgast Way, Restoration

Construction of New Tech High Schools

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Apr 04, 2019 @ 08:16 AM

Meridian-Schools_newtech.jpgThe New Tech Network is designed to target disinterested students, while still reaching those who are already college bound. And it is working because their new report, "The Power of Us: New Tech Network School and Student Success 2018", shows that New Tech High School students are 5% more likely to go onto college compared to the national average.  And students in their program have been evaluated to have 42% more critical thinking skills compared to private schools over a four-year average, as measured by CWRA+ (The College and Work Readiness Assessment).

The New Tech Curriculum is fairly new as it only started in the mid 90’s, but it already has proven results.  On their website, www.newtechnetwork.org, they state, “NTN schools consistently outperform national comparison groups on measures of higher order thinking skills, high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates”.  Each student is provided with a computer and the necessary tools to complete “project-based learning” as a group.  In this type of environment, students learn open collaboration and problem solving skills.  The program goal is “to enable students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow”.

At the time of publishing this blog, only ten schools in Michigan had incorporated the New Tech curriculum.  Wolgast has gained experience with constructing New Tech High Schools over the past few years.  We have provided Construction Management services for remodeling Meridian New Tech High School in Sanford, Michigan.  They became one of the earliest schools in Michigan to adopt the New Tech High School curriculum for their freshman class in 2010. Then in 2016, they hired Wolgast again to complete the necessary renovations to the existing high school to allow for the extensive wiring, networking and group spaces required for the technically focused program. The curriculum stayed with those that started it as freshmen in 2010 and then extended to all following classes.  Since 2010, we have also completed more renovations to make room for the addition of students and their space and technological needs, including updates to science labs and media centers.  Meridian is focused on getting their students "Career Ready. College Bound" according to their website. They have also converted their Junior High and Elementary schools into the New Tech Network.

The difference with remodeling or constructing a New Tech school stems from each space needing to be adaptable for multiple group work stations for a variety of situations.  A higher level of coordination is the key for the Construction Manager to oversee a smooth project and account for the necessary flexibility plus technical and data accommodations.

If you’re considering adopting this curriculum for your school, you should contact the New Tech Network; however, if you need a Construction Manager to complete the renovation to your school, call Wolgast Corporation who can apply their best practices to your project.

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

What to Do with an Old School Pool?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Mar 06, 2019 @ 08:25 AM

PoolBlog.jpgSchool Districts with older pools that have floated, no longer pass inspection, or pools that are simply underutilized, we have an answer to your dilemma. Other School Districts who have faced this problem just closed the door to their pool room, others use the pool shell to store old desks, chairs, athletic equipment, or general storage, etc., but this is obviously not the most efficient use of space. Plus there is still additional expense of insurance coverage and for the heating costs of the large area.

So why do they keep the unused pool shell? Because the cost to update for current regulations is typically too much for schools that are already financially strapped. When you consider the expense of demolishing the concrete around the pool to gain access to cracked tubes, digging deeper and wider to comply with new regulations (in some circumstances), then rebuilding or resurfacing the pool walls/floor, it could reach $1M to get it functioning again. Plus, the shrinking of some Districts or the lower interest in swimming can make it less appealing to keep up with maintenance costs. So what’s a School District to do?

In the last few years, we have remodeled pool areas for a handful of School Districts. At Northview Public Schools, we converted their existing pool into a fully functional community fitness center including a 3-lane walking/jogging track.

Northview had several issues with their existing pool. The ceilings and lighting needed updating; the bleachers needed to be replaced; the diving well was not deep enough; there were not enough lanes; and it was costly to maintain. As a part of their 2011 Bond Planning, the District sought voter approval to build a new Natatorium that would include a new swimming pool and convert the existing pool space into a fitness center that the community would be able to utilize.  The Community supported the proposal and the project began with infilling the existing pool; laying down athletic sports flooring; adding new fitness equipment; replacing existing windows with new, more efficient windows; and later completing the 3-lane suspended walking / jogging track.  Then a new 13-lane competition pool was completed with enough pool depth to support diving and a shallow area that is used by the Community Swim Group.

At Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools, the District decided that they no longer needed the pool, but could use room for an auxiliary gym instead. This would have required an addition to their school to make room if they hadn’t decided to modify their pool area as an alternative. We also infilled the pool and created a solid level surface with a rubber gym floor to morph the room into their needed gym space. Without the pool, the district is now able to hold practice at reasonable hours for all sports, they’ve eliminated the additional maintenance, HVAC, and insurance cost also.

Similarly, at Montrose Public Schools, we converted their pool into a needed auxiliary gymnasium space with a wood gym floor. Other schools have been able to convert their old pools into dry storage space.

If your School District has an underutilized pool or one in a state of disrepair, this may be the solution for you and as experienced Construction Managers of old school pool conversions, we are the team for you to contact! Please call 800-965-4278 (800-WOLGAST) to discuss your options.

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, Risk Management

Building Maintenance Strategies for Small Business Owners

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Mar 04, 2019 @ 11:48 AM

bldgextWhen you’re a small business owner who is responsible for your building, you likely don’t have a budget for a facility manager. Building maintenance probably isn’t something that hits your to-do list very often, but is still very important to the longevity and cost of building operation.  Having a building maintenance strategy can help you proactively catch repairs, leaks, and heating deficiencies with way less expense out of pocket.

I spoke with our VP of Contract Management, Steve Seibert, about what is the best way for non-facility managers to monitor their buildings realizing that they may have never needed to pay attention to such things.  Steve said, “The most important thing to monitor is your building envelope, so that the integrity of the building stays intact.”  He is referring to your roof, EIFS, siding, and windows.  “Your EIFS needs to be inspected periodically, and every transition of dissimilar materials needs to be re-caulked as needed, especially around windows”.  He said that the life span of caulk can last five years or more, but once a year, caulked areas should be examined for any cracks or missing material and be repaired.

Another important part of your strategy is to manage your warranties.  According to Steve, “If your single ply roof has a warranty for 15 years, call the manufacturer in year 14 to have them examine it.”  Each manufacturer’s warranty will differ a little as it ages, but they should be able to make necessary repairs for little to no cost while it’s in the warranty period.  If you wait until year 16, then any repairs or replacements will come completely out of your pocket.  Things to look for on a shingled roof include fading, dinginess, and curling.

The same philosophy of knowing your warranty period is true for your HVAC system.  In addition to this, Honeywell now offers Light Commercial Building Systems to make smaller commercial buildings SMART at a manageable cost.  It is an automated HVAC system operation that can save on heating costs and will notify the appropriate person when the system gets disrupted from its programming.  This person will know immediately if there is an issue via an alert to their phone where ever they are.

Other areas to monitor include lighting, electrical, plumbing, fire equipment, and access control.  A quick internet search will lead you to thousands of Building Maintenance Checklists telling you specifically what to check on your building.  However, our best advice is to keep your building envelope in good and clean condition, which will add to the life span of it and save yourself money and headache, too.

Wolgast Corporation is a commercial contractor specialized the design and/or construction of medical office, dental office, manufacturing, restaurant, and school buildings.  We provide comprehensive services from the design phase through construction and insurance restoration.  Call us if you have questions about the longevity of your building

Blogs that are Good for Business

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

Dos and Don'ts of School Bond Campaign Materials

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 @ 08:00 AM

For more than 20 years we’ve been helping schools to pass their bond elections, and going back further than that, our Education Facility Specialists are former School Superintendents who have worked on their own campaigns while leading their respective Districts.  We have a lot of experience and want to help you know what works and what doesn’t when you’re creating your school bond campaign materials.

The significance of your bond communication materials is to get accurate voting information to supporters.  It’s important to include the date and times of the vote and locations of precincts.  Most schools also include reminders of voter registration dates, tax change charts and descriptions of school improvements, however just reminding supporters to vote is the key to this part of the campaign without being polarizing to the “no” or “undecided” voters. 

Sometimes using graphics can be a double-edged sword.  For instance, showing disappointed faces or the BondBrochure.jpgproblems with the existing school may make supporters feel more compelled to vote, however, opponents or undecided voters may feel that it’s emotional propaganda and stir them to turn against the goals of the District.  It’s better to stick to the facts and break down how minimally the tax increase will change, if that’s an option.  Using neutral graphics of pie charts, graphs, blue prints, or your mascot may be better choices.  What you can include depends on how the informational brochures are funded.

Other schools fill in a tri-fold brochure with the list of projects that will be completed if the bond passes, and/or the verbiage of the ballot language.  This is all good content as long as you also ask the recipient to vote and remind them of the date, time and location.  You want to get all of your supporters to the voting booth on the right day because every single one may be necessary to get the bond passed.

With Wolgast as your construction manager, our bond campaign experts will help guide you through the pre-bond phase and share our experience on how to pass a school bond.  Please contact Rich Ramsey, Mike Pung or Joe Powers for more information, 800-WOLGAST.

 

Tags: Schools, Construction Management

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