Wolgast Blog

Top 7 Guarantees of Using Design/Build Construction Delivery

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

CopusDB

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repurpose Your Commercial Office to Be More Modern

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

What Ideas Will Work for You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing Long Lead Items Early Speeds up Construction Schedules

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, May 28, 2019 @ 02:01 PM

FPHorakhelicopterCertain building materials or products that have to be ordered, imported, and/or manufactured specifically for a building can take longer than the natural progression of a construction schedule.  These are considered Long Lead Items (LLIs).  They commonly occur with pre-engineered buildings, elevators, generators, mechanical equipment that is heavy enough to need a helicopter lift, electrical switch gear, fancy finishes, or imported products to name a few.

Knowing these LLIs as early as possible will help your contractor manage the construction schedule better.  Can you guess what the best construction method is to identify LLIs the earliest and in turn get them ordered quicker?  It’s Design/Build Construction, where the architect and contractor are on the same team working together to identify the client’s schematic, budget, and schedule on a fast-track.

Since the Design/Builder is under contract to complete the construction while design is being created, they can order LLIs as soon as the items are decided and or specified. If the contractor has to wait for plans to be completed, and then go through the bid process, as they do in a General Construction or Design/Bid/Build scenario, the purchasing and ordering process could be delayed by weeks or months.  Then if a LLI requires 2 months or more to arrive, your start date could be pushed back months to help manage the flow of the construction schedule.  For instance, a pre-engineered building can take 12 - 16 weeks to build and then needs to be shipped to your site.  Site work and foundations can start prior to the delivery of the building, but the rest of the project will be held up until the building arrives.

Delays caused by LLIs can be mitigated by using substitutions or by paying incentive fees to manufacturers, but in our experience, substitutions can sometimes impact several other systems adversely and paying more to meet timelines doesn’t always guarantee results.  So the best and quickest case scenario is to work with your Architect and Design/Builder to determine LLIs as soon as possible, make your selections, and get them ordered right away.

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

A Guide to Relocating Your Business When the Time Is Right

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, May 15, 2019 @ 07:59 AM

relocatingIn “Five of the Best Reasons for a Commercial Renovation”, I discussed why you should remodel now if you plan to stay at your current location.  In this blog, I offer tips on relocating your business/practice because your current location or building is no longer feasible to use.  Note:  if you own your existing space, it’s best to consult with your real estate agent to discuss the options regarding selling/renting your building.

Top Reasons to Relocate Your Business:

  • Traffic patterns change over time.  Perhaps you’re no longer in an active area and therefore, you aren’t readily drawing traffic to your business/practice.  Seeking space in an area that’s busier could help your bottom line; however you likely will pay higher rent than you're paying now. 
  • Your building needs a major update either to the structure/ infrastructure/energy efficiencies that exceed the cost of building a new building.
  • You need to expand your building to accommodate new equipment or additional staff, but you’ve run out of room or can't meet parking and zoning requirements.
  • You originally started your business in a house and now the maintenance costs have become too much and/or you can’t alter the space for efficient use.

When Choosing Your New Location:

We find that most of our clients already have a good idea of what type of space and possible location in which they want to move when they come to us to discuss design.  Our biggest advice is to establish your budget before you start your search and consult with your general contractor/design-builder as you start looking.  When considering an existing building, your contractor can tell you a lot about the quality of the structure, the infrastructure, the amount of work that needs to be done and the parking lot options.  If you’re looking to build a new building, your contractor/design-builder can help you investigate the utilities available and the size or layout recommended for the lot you’re considering.

How to Move with Minimal Downtime:

Once the building is constructed and you’re ready to move, the key is to test the phone and network systems before you begin your move.  Another good idea is to “hire” your staff to move their own items by having them use a work day to pack all their items from their personal office and other areas for which they’re responsible, have a moving company transport the boxes and furniture to the new location, and then have the staff member unpack his or her things.  All this is done while the IT staff is connecting computers and phones to the network.  On day three (or earlier) you’re up and running.  Those in the medical/dental industry can get more information from our blog “Moving Your Practice”.

Notifying All Necessary Parties

Making a move can be a huge deal in retaining your present customers/patients.  You have to consider the distance of their drive to the new location in order to make sure that they can still easily access you.  Then the good news is that you have a big message to communicate with them, probably multiple times.  Also, you have a benefit of the positive attributes of the move to promote, i.e. better location, easier access, more space, new equipment, or a more modern aesthetic.  It’s good to start promoting during construction to get extra buzz about your business/practice.  With email, social networks and traditional means of advertising, you should be able to establish a far reaching message to connect to existing and potential clients/patients.

Wolgast Corporation has provided construction services to many companies that have relocated their business.  From the initial building or site visit (free of cost for qualified projects), to designing the building through to providing construction, we can also provide these services to you and help your transition go as smoothly as possible.  Contact us at 800-965-4278 to get started

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

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 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

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

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