Wolgast Blog

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

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

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 70+ 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: Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, Scheduling

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, Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Good for Business

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

How to Complete Construction Months Faster

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 02:11 PM

By Cory Sursely

Months Header

As I go through the benefits of Design/Build in a campaign to inform more business owners about their options, it’s important to discuss the time savings that result from this process.  We stress the importance of time because we know that the faster construction is completed, the faster you can start generating income in your new space.  And Wolgast is your biggest advocate when it comes to speed.

However, let me note that for retail and restaurant chain owners that have simple layouts and a construction staff to repeatedly manage their work, General Construction is likely almost as fast for their projects because there is reliable historical pricing data, design is usually simple, and their internal construction managers know what to expect on each project.  Therefore, the bidding and selection process is much shorter in duration.

For those of you who are building for the first time (or the first time in a while) and don’t have a construction team on your staff, you’d benefit most from Design/Build with its time savings and all-inclusive nature.  With Design/Build, busy doctors or business owners can remain focused on their business while the Design/Builder handles their whole project from design through construction.  If you qualify as a busy business owner, you’d likely benefit from a Design/Builder finding the subcontractors, managing the construction schedule and your budget, and starting construction quicker.

The Design/Build method of construction results in a finished building faster because with the architect and contractor on the same team estimating can start, permits and materials can be ordered, equipment can mobilize and sometimes even site work can begin before the architect has the plans finalized.  Alternatively, General Construction requires time for bidding after the design is complete, so none of the above activities can start until the bids are in and a contractor is selected--these activies can take a month or more to complete.  With Design/Build, we will be ready to break ground once you sign-off on the design, which can save you months of construction time and get you working in your new space quicker.

What could you do with a couple months head start? 

Interested in learning more?  Contact Michael Shepard at 800-WOLGAST (965-4278).

 

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

Tags: Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling

All-Inclusive Vacation in Construction Land

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 @ 08:00 AM
All InclusiveERecently, while I was on my first all-inclusive vacation in the Caribbean, I realized how much more relaxing and enjoyable it was to know up front what the costs would be and all the activities that were available as part of the resort’s package.  I didn’t have to spend my time making separate plans for a hotel, meals, transportation, or entertainment because the package covered it all.  With all that was included, I had more than enough options to create an affordable and enjoyable vacation without the hassle of budgeting for my next meal or entertainment and I felt that I was getting way more for my travel budget.

That’s when I noticed the similarities of all-inclusive vacations to our design/build method of construction.  This method includes both the architect and construction of an owner’s building in one package.  While change orders from client requests/changes or unforeseen regulatory issues do happen, a design/builder is more likely to flush out all the typical change order obstacles before they start construction.  They can do this because the design department continually collaborates with the construction department (which is convenient since they are on the same team) to provide value engineering and constructability reviews during design and pre-construction phases. 

Another perk for owners is the single-source of responsibility that the design/builder assumes.  For example, if there’s ever a discrepancy or challenges when translating the design to construction activity, the design/builder is the only responsible party and they are contracted to fix it as part of their all-inclusive package.  There are no delays while investigating whether it was an architect issue or a contractor issue and who is responsible for it, as happens more often in a design/bid/build scenario.  While we are systemized to not have these issues, the customer is protected should anything out of the ordinary happen.  Much like the excellent customer service I got at the all-inclusive resort.

As a building owner, you may wonder what’s included in a phased design/build approach to construction.  Here’s what is included in our service: preliminary drawings and conceptual cost range to take to your lender, building code/zoning review, site engineering, final construction plans including M/E/P, permits, bidding, scheduling, material ordering, construction services, schedule and budget reviews, progress meetings, clean-up, project close-out, Certificate of Occupancy and one-year warranty.

As a design/builder, we aim to make all your building needs a success by providing the extra planning up front, so that we don’t go beyond your established budget or schedule.  For more information on the benefits and how the all-inclusive elements of Design/Build make life easier for busy business owners, download 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

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

What is the Design/Build Method of Construction?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 @ 11:17 AM

Design/BuildWe've been providing Design/Build services for almost 40 years and we're curious if it's a well known term among those who haven’t previously been involved with the construction of a commercial building.  Have you heard the term before?  In a nutshell, it’s a method of construction delivery in which the building owner executes a single contract with one entity to provide architectural/engineering and construction services.

In other words, a building owner hires one company to interpret and define the project scope, provide architectural design, bid the project, obtain permits, and then construct it.  The Design/Builder handles the entire project on the owner’s behalf per open communication and agreed upon contractual parameters.

This method uses the same qualified and licensed architects that a building owner would use in other construction delivery methods and provides the same caliber of design.  However, with the architect and contractor as one entity, there is frequent collaboration on the constructability and the budget during the design phase, which helps the project run smoothly or with very few surprises during the construction phase.  Fewer surprises equals a budget and schedule that you can rely on throughout the project.

This team collaboration during design allows for permitting, material ordering, and when needed demolition or site work to start earlier than with the traditional General Construction method (a.k.a. Design-Bid-Build).  That’s why it’s considered the fast track to construction, which means the project can be completed, months faster than with General Construction.

Design/Build is best suited for busy business owners including doctors, dentists, manufacturing, banks, and other businesses who don’t have their own construction department on staff, or who may not be familiar with commercial construction.  The Design/Builder becomes the construction department for these busy firms and the advocate for all things construction.

Hopefully this blog has clarified how the Design/Build method can help business owners efficiently build or renovate their office or plant, if not, here is the perfect opportunity to ask your questions.  Or for more information on the benefits and how Design/Build saves time and money, download 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

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