Wolgast Blog

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

Michigan’s Energy Code (2015) to Save Energy for Commercial Building owners

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 @ 09:48 AM

731621281.pngThe 2015 Michigan Energy Code, as directed by Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), went into effect Sept 20, 2017.  The changes to the code involve lighting controls of new commercial buildings and remodels with more than 50% lighting alterations in an effort to increase energy savings.  In a nutshell, different areas of a commercial building will need both sensors and a wall switch or dimmer to control lighting.

Brief & Not Too Technical Synopsis:

Going forward, commercial buildings are required to regulate their lighting either by a sensor, shut off, or schedule.  Depending on the type of the room, usage and time of day, automatic controls will regulate the power of light being used.  Without getting too technical, regularly used parts of a building must be regulated by an Automatic Full Shut Off, once the room hasn’t been occupied for 20 minutes, and an Automatic Daylight Responsive Control will dim the lights to varying powers depending on the natural light exposure. 

Lesser used areas of the building, like stairwells, warehouses, lobbies, and corridors will be regulated by an Automatic Partial Off sensor.  Lighting will be reduced to 50% or less after the area hasn’t been used for 20 minutes. 

A Scheduled Shut Off will be used where Automatic Full Off isn’t controlled and special lighting for displays, food warming, and undershelf must be controlled separately from the area’s general lighting.

Furthermore, exterior lighting will be controlled by Automatic Shut Off during daylight hours, landscaping lights will need to be Automatically Shut Off from midnight to 6AM, and generally, all other lighting/signage will be reduced to 30% or less between midnight and 6AM.  Security exemptions may apply.

Note: Exceptions and other, random codes have not been discussed here, we can answer any questions not addressed in this blog.

What Business Owners Need to Know:

When building or renovating, Business Owners can expect their lighting control budget to be larger to address the sensor and wall receptacle engineering, installation and materials.  But if LARA’s plan to reduce energy usage occurs, Business Owners will see savings on the back end on their energy costs.

The Design/Build team at Wolgast knows the codes involved with building commercial buildings, and will plan your construction project efficiently while keeping you in compliance.  Call us today for more information on other parts of the code not discussed here at 800-WOLGAST.

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

Pardon Our Dust - Under Construction

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 09:58 AM

Three Options to Keep Your Clients Happy During Your Remodel Project

Pardon.jpgDuring a commercial remodel, there is more you can do than just posting a good looking “Pardon Our Dust” sign when it comes to your customers and your staff.  We know all too well how it is when you’re trying to run a business, but need to update or reconfigure your working space.  The thought of disrupting business as usual is just too much, and losing out on customer traffic is out of the question.  But never fear, Wolgast has solutions to help you get through a remodel with only a little interruption to staff or customers.

  • We can schedule your project in phases, so that operations can be temporarily shifted or moved, but you’re still functioning as an office, manufacturer, school or shop. We’ll help you plan prior to the start of the remodel.  This applies to doctor’s offices as much as it does restaurants or schools, mostly all business types.  Open communication with your contractor will help minimize stress as you serve your customers.

  • We’re able to accommodate after hours remodeling in many instances and clean-up for your operational use in the morning. We do this when Phasing just won’t work and it may take a little longer, but it’s an option if needed.
  • Build next to or around your existing space. It has been more economical for some of our customers to build new rather than renovate, but they didn’t want to lose their current location.  As a design/build construction firm, we were able to configure how to build on their site, right next to their office.  We were able to reuse most of their existing parking lot and help them benefit from cost savings with utilities already onsite.  In many instances, once the team has moved into the new space, the old one can be demolished and cleared in a day or two.

 
We have found that there are many understanding consumers, as long as they’re able to safely enter your establishment; they will still come to you while you remodel.  For restaurants, many times we can keep your kitchen open as long as possible while working on your dining room, so a drive-thru or take out is still available.  Schools luckily have the summer to schedule their work with less interruption to their full staff.  Medical and Dental offices need special accommodations for keeping clean spaces, so we plan ahead to ensure dust doesn’t get where it will cause serious problems.

For staff, we know that demolition, nail guns and electric screw drivers can be loud.  We remodeled our own office last winter and know the excitement we felt to see the progress and also having a completion date made most noises tolerable.  Additionally, some of the noisy parts were held off until after office hours, so it all worked out with little disruption.  And if you put out a friendly “Pardon Our Dust” sign, you’ll probably get customers excited to come back and see the changes – updates on Facebook are good means to reach out as well, with a steady flow of messages to share.

We’re happy to answer any of your remodeling, or even new build questions, any time! 800-WOLGAST.

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

How Self-Performed Trades Keep Construction Schedules on Track

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 @ 09:59 AM

cement-pour.jpgIn order to maintain a stellar reputation as a professional contractor, speed, quick problem solving and meeting deadlines are critical.  The biggest complaint and almost a disappointing anticipation in our industry is that a job will take longer than estimated.  We strive to disprove that assumption on each and every project.  Here’s one way that we do that.

After 65+ years in the business, we understand that our projects run smoother and more efficiently when we rely on setting the schedules and completing the work ourselves for three specific trades.  Having our own work crews to self-perform site work, concrete and carpentry is the best way to keep projects on track and with the quality that meets the standard of excellence we uphold.  Some general contractors don’t have their own self-performed trades and they’re reliant on outsourced contractors’ availability to provide all services.  In the summer and fall, when contractors’ schedules are typically full, subcontractors can be too busy to start site work, so the general contractor is dependent upon when the crew is available and the priority of their workload, which is also true for concrete and carpentry.  With these trades in-house, we know our schedule and what we have in our pipeline, which allows us to manage workloads and progress better for our customers.  Additionally, all our crews are trained “the Wolgast Way” and consistently perform to our standards in a timely manner, saving time and producing a quality product. 

When using Design/Build construction, site work can start before plans are even complete.  Having a site crew on staff helps us control the start of the project and gives us an advantage (sometimes by several months) over general contractors who have to be queued into a subcontractor’s lineup (out of their control).  A concrete crew is also critical to keeping a job moving.  Pouring slabs as soon as the site work is complete and having our crews scheduled in advance keeps us moving without costly stoppage.  Similarly, we self-perform carpentry (rough, finish and millwork).  Getting the framing erected on schedule and providing a reliable schedule for outsourced electricians, plumbers, HVAC, drywallers, then painters and flooring installers, etc. to get in and do their jobs when anticipated supports the rest of the trades to follow.  These are the essential trades to keeping a job on track and the reason why we shoulder the expense of having them on our team.  It’s more responsibility and risk to employ additional staff members when we could outsource the work, but the benefit of satisfied clients and expected outcomes outweighs costly delays and missed deadlines.

Currently, we’re expanding our carpentry team through our Carpenter Apprenticeship Program.  It’s a four year program with a curriculum developed by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).  Through this program, we’re building a robust team of carpenters for the long-haul, which we expect to support us right through the current labor shortage.  Accordingly, we have our clients’ interest and needs first and we’re persistently planning on how to best accommodate their scheduling, quality, and economic needs when it comes to building their commercial or industrial building.

Tags: Scheduling, Design/Build, Professional General Contractor

Construction Broker Service Comes up Short in Professional Construction Services

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

worker-figuring-edt.jpgAs construction broker companies continue to pop up, they’re coming up short compared to a Design/ Build – General Construction (DB-GC) Firm in many important areas for project success.  DB-GCs provide much more control over the schedule and the budget on your project versus a construction services broker.

A DB-GC will typically have their own self-performed trades working on the project site.  Additionally, for us, a full-time, skilled, project supervisor will be onsite 100% of the time for the duration of a project.  Having these company representatives onsite helps set the pace of the work, keeps the jobsite and scheduling organized and as a result incites progress on the project which in turn controls the budget.  With a DB-GC, you’ll also be supported by administrative staff dedicated to keeping record of insurance, invoices, sworn statements, waivers, etc. which are easily tangled if not managed properly and in real time, causing issues with financing and liability.

Additionally, a brokerage company doesn’t have “skin in the game”.  They have very little committed, i.e. no office, no staff, no equipment, and typically no ties to the community.  It’s very easy for them to walk away if things don’t go well.  Some building owners may think that should result in lower fees because the broker doesn’t have the overhead, but they also don’t have much incentive to stick through complications or hold subs accountable to their contracts and warranty work if there’s an issue after the project is done.    

Across the industry, we’re facing a labor shortage.  A broker has to rely on finding an outside contractor for every single trade because they don’t self-perform any work nor have the staff to do so.  Going forward, this shortage could result in additional time to the schedule throughout the industry; however a DB-GC is able to self-perform several trades, so this will more likely help minimize the gaps the shortage could cause with the schedule.  For instance, a DB/GC can begin site work while the other skilled trades are scheduled in the meantime.  Additionally, as the project progresses, the DB-GC can start rough carpentry if other remaining subs are needed to be scheduled.  Again, this will result in better control over the budget and schedule. 

Finally, lower price is the possible competitive benefit a broker can offer, which can make them attractive in the beginning.  In other words, a broker needs to shop around to get the lowest priced services to be competitive in the market.  Therefore, to get to that price point, they may have to select lesser quality subcontractors, which means that the quality of the work may be poorer, the schedule delayed, and warranties difficult to honor within a timely manner.  Often times, brokers are not local to the area and are blindly seeking their outside contractors in a market about which they know very little.  They don’t have relationships or the knowledge of subcontractor work history, which is a risk a building owner faces for the future of their building quality and warranties.

The leverage that a broker has over a full team of outside contractors pales in comparison to a professional DB-GC to maintain quality, protect the building owner, and deliver a project on schedule.  Our industry is going to be facing difficult times until we’re able to beef up the training programs for skilled labor, but by having our own team of craftsmen and subcontractor relationships throughout Michigan and reaching further into the Great Lakes Region, we’re able to deliver the quality and reliable construction services for which we’ve come to be known.

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Tags: Design/Build, Good for Business, Professional General Contractor, Scheduling, the Wolgast Way

Medical Office Design and Construction for Savvy Docs

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Sep 07, 2016 @ 09:07 AM

MedicalExpertsVid.jpg

For over 65 years, Wolgast has developed specialty design and construction services for Medical Practitioners and efficient use of their space.  We keep in mind the patient flow, staff flow, regulatory requirements, and design elements for comfort for all.  Please view the short video linked above that displays our experience and abilities to make your space great for everyone who uses it.  If you have plans for a new office or remodeling/adding onto your existing space, please contact me to discuss your plans at no obligation to you.  Build with Wolgast to Be in Business Faster!

Dr. Michael Shepard, Building Expert for Physicians, can answer your questions at:


800-WOLGAST  |  mshepard@wolgast.com  |  #godesignbuild  #theWolgastWay
855-WOLGAST  |   www.wolgastrestoration.com  |  Insurance Restoration – Fire/Flood/Wind

Tags: Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Medical Office Construction, Professional General Contractor

How Much Will a Phase I Save Me on Architectural Costs?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, May 10, 2016 @ 09:50 AM

designbuild5.jpgShort answer is roughly 20% or more.  Through a number of cost saving opportunities, the Design/Build Phased Approach to construction can be the most economical cost- and time-wise, not only saving on Architectural services, but also on the overall construction budget.

For Wolgast’s Design/Build program, we estimate that you can save 20% or more on your architectural costs by using this Phased Approach.  Phase I Preliminary Drawings are the first step in our Phased Approach (A.K.A Design/Build Process).  The Phase I offers many benefits including a nominal fee, an earlier budget and it can be tweaked before the more expensive Phase II Construction Documents begin.  With Phase I Drawings, you’ll know your budget before investing in a final design.  Additionally, estimators and our construction team have an opportunity to provide review and value engineering input early in the process.

Further evidence of savings includes the opportunity for more competitive bids.  With Design/ Build Delivery, estimators have more time to line up a wider number of bidders making it a more competitive scenario.  We know that Building Owners like competition in anticipation of a lower budget.  The best news is that when one entity, the Design/Builder, is collecting all the bids then they will have all the low bids from which to choose.  Alternatively, when a project goes Design/Bid/Build (A.K.A. General Construction Delivery), then multiple GCs are obtaining bids from a smaller pool of contractors (due to the quicker deadline for bidding) and they will hit or miss the lowest estimates from each trade.  Building Owners can’t be sure that they have the lowest price by the most qualified sub-contractors.

Additionally, through continual prompt payment to our vendors and suppliers, Wolgast secures discounts that we pass along to our clients.  This is a policy we have adopted because it’s an easy way to keep our costs down and save money for our clients.

With the Architect and Contractor on the same team, there’s little opportunity for discrepancy between the plans and the application, nor down time due to issues that stop construction.  Our team will be motivated to openly communicate and quickly resolve any challenges so that the project stays on track and within budget.

Also important to note, our Architects are licensed and have had the same training as those in an Architectural Firm, so you will get the same caliber of drawings at a discount.  Rick Keith, our on-staff Architect graduated from Lawrence Tech with a BS in Architecture, is registered in both Michigan and Wisconsin and has over 30-years experience.  We also work with independent, registered Architects from outside firms when capacity requires it.

Finally, the Design/Build Delivery Process provides significant information early, so that the construction team is able to start site work and possibly foundations prior to the Phase II Construction Drawings being complete.  When it’s important to be in the building quickly, a Building Owner will benefit most from the Fast-Track, Design/Build Process to be in business faster.

In our White Paper, Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should we discuss all the benefits of this construction process and how it can save money for business owners.  Download by clicking on the image below.

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

 

Tags: Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way, Design

Four Key Site Selection Factors before Purchasing Commercial Property

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Feb 09, 2016 @ 02:21 PM

siteselection.jpgWhen searching for commercial property you can and should rely on your realtor for many key details and features of the site that will benefit your business. That being said, there are details that only a Design/Build partner can help you make a more complete, educated decision. With the Architect and Contractor on the same team, they will review the site together and determine obstacles and costs quickly. Specifically, Design/Build contractors are looking for infrastructure, constructability, and challenges of a site that could potentially add cost to a construction budget or schedule.

Our Site Selection Evaluation services include the following:

  1. Space Availability - for instance, when you contract with a Design/Builder, the team architect will be able to offer building layout options including the appropriate parking lot space needs per ordinance requirements. This will help you determine if the arrangement will work well for you.
  1. Regulatory Restrictions - a search for municipal codes and ordinances that may flag obstacles for your intended use.
  1. Utility Search – your budget will increase if utilities aren’t readily available.
  1. Overcoming Site Challenges - should you discover that the site has challenges; you may be able to make alterations so that it will be suitable for your use. The key to using a Design/Build contractor is that the industry professionals can provide an educated, ballpark estimate to help you make a go or no-go financial decision. For instance, if you need to clear more of the site than you anticipated, there’s no road to your property, or if the site isn’t level and extensive accommodations need to be made to your foundation, it may still be worth the investment for your business goals or it may be cost prohibitive, but you won’t know without a rough estimate of the associated costs.

By adding a trusted Design/Builder to your team prior to shopping for commercial property, we can walk the site with you, check the background on the property, and provide assistance with your selection process to avoid headaches and unexpected expense.

800-WOLGAST | mshepard@wolgast.com

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Tags: Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, Risk Management

Why Winter Is the Best Time to Plan Your Construction Project

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 @ 02:20 PM

BidOther than taking time to prepare a plan when the weather is poor for construction (so you can be ready when the weather is conducive for construction) there are additional benefits to contact your design/builder or general contractor in the winter.  Let me clarify that the following explanation works best when applied in Michigan and other cold winter states.  

Better Bids

It’s now January and we have at least 3 – 4 months before the weather is ideal for new construction.  So, suffice it to say, there’s typically less construction happening in the winter resulting in more supply and less demand.  Therefore, if you can get your design completed and solicit sub-contractor bids at this time, there will likely be more flexibility to get a competitive price from a larger selection of sub-contracting companies.  Right now, the pool of sub-contractors is larger because they’re only starting to fill their schedules for spring and summer.  More bidders means more competition and competitive pricing.  As we get closer to spring, schedules fill up and the result is either fewer bidders or bidders who aren’t as motivated because they already have a decent work load or they are busy and don’t have time to offer their best price.  The same holds true, typically, with materials and suppliers.

As we discussed in our blog “Ample Time Gets Better Bids”, when a sub-contractor has sufficient time to run their numbers, they provide an accurate and uninflated budget.  Otherwise, if they don’t have adequate time, then they’re more likely to round up, or inflate their price.  This isn’t to penalize the customer, but to make sure that they cover their costs to perform the service, and with inadequate time it sometimes is an educated guess. Therefore, allowing more time will likely result in a more accurate price that will affect your bottom line.

We would advise that getting bids when the pool is large will result in getting the best value for your budget because the cream of the crop will fill their schedules quickly and may not be available or motivated to bid competitively during the heat of construction season.

Design Time

Depending on the size of your building, design can take four months or more to be finalized.  The complexity or jurisdiction that it’s in can make it longer to get through approvals, not to mention if there are revisions made to the plans.  We know it’s daunting to sign off on something that a business owner has to live with for the next 25 to 50 years.  Owners should keep the design duration in mind while also allowing for sufficient time for bidding as we mentioned above.

If you must start your planning in the spring or summer, we will still seek out the best value, just as we do in the winter.  However, we have now shared with you that your budget will likely be lower if you do your planning in the winter when the pool is bigger and there is more time for estimating.  Now is the time to take advantage of cost saving measures and we will have you ready to break ground when the weather turns.

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

Why Design/Build Works Well for Doctors

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Jan 06, 2015 @ 08:27 AM
Medical OfficeIn this blog, I’ll explore how the Design/Build method of construction is well suited to medical doctors, more so than general construction.  To start, the D/B method was really created to suit the needs of busy business owners, which includes doctors, because it requires less attention from an owner and that owner can set their involvement as much or little as they see fit.  Some customers like to be more engaged in the process than others and we are happy to accommodate each client’s unique desires.

The basic difference of D/B over general construction, is the relationship between the architect and builder.  In this project delivery, they are on the same team.  A doctor only needs to work with one entity to design and then build his or her office.  Also in this scenario, the doctor is protected from any discrepancies from the architect’s drawings to contractor’s application.  With D/B, the contractor and architect are consulting on budget, application and material quality throughout design, so when construction starts there are very little interruptions or change orders.  Should there be a discrepancy, the design/builder will work it out without involving the owner unnecessarily.  This protection is valued by doctors who oftentimes aren’t as familiar with construction, nor have the time to deal with these issues on site.  All of these reasons are exactly why Design/Build was created as an alternative to general construction.

Additionally, medical offices are not simple buildings to design or build.  It takes a specialized architect and builder that each knows the regulations for HIPAA, med gases, ADA and Certificate of Need specifications to design your building correctly.  Also, an architect with knowledge of patient flow helps with the design for efficient productivity of your staff members and privacy of your patients.  On the same note, a builder who understands and is familiar with medical office construction will complete your project with fewer delays.  At Wolgast, we know how to prepare for specialized equipment and how to plan for your workloads on an occupied site.  Scheduling for make shift, yet private, exam rooms during construction will allow you to keep seeing patients without interruption when renovating or adding on space.

The final feature of the D/B delivery method is that it allows the design/builder to be the advocate for customers who aren’t familiar with construction.  We use our expertise, connections and resources to help our clients get the best value for materials and applications of those materials.  We design and manage the construction of your building as if it were our own and demand excellent performance from our subcontractors.

A design/builder will become your representative to handle your building design through construction.  You’ll be able to keep your daily schedule the same while your building is built and Wolgast will apply our medical expertise to deliver your building on time, by regulation and within budget.

Design/Build  the Wolgast Way

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