Wolgast Blog

Four Steps for School Boards to Plan a Construction Project

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Aug 15, 2019 @ 08:00 AM

School Board MeetingSo, you’ve been elected to your District’s School Board and have four years (or so) to help make the best decisions for the students and staff. You likely anticipate facing many issues that’ll require research plus your life experience to decide what’s best for your School District. One of those issues could be the maintenance, remodel, rebuild or relocation of school buildings. Do you know where to start? Below, we explain the steps you should take to have a successful construction project.

Step One – Facility Study

You start with a Facility Study to gain information on what your District needs to repair or improve. More specifically, a Facility Study conducted by a team of a qualified Architect and Construction Manager who’ll help you identify and organize what is necessary to maintain or improve the quality of education you’re currently providing. The Architect and Construction Manager should have experience conducting Facility Studies, so ask for their resume. 

A Facility Study will provide you with information regarding maintenance issues, instructional enhancements, future space needs, safety issues, and technology requirements, to name a few. Future decisions will be made easier by acquiring information from the Facility Study that assists you in prioritizing the District's needs.

Step Two – Funding

Once your board determines which buildings need construction services, the Superintendent and School Board have to find a way to pay for the projects. Currently, there are a variety of federal and state programs to supplement your general fund. The state’s treasury website can offer a lot of information, but so can a meeting with Wolgast’s School Facility Consultants, who can guide you through the process and find the best option for your District.

Step Three – Bond Campaign

As we stated in our blog, “Tips for Passing a School Bond Election” there’s not one way to pass a bond election because each School District is different. There are, however, things that a school board and bond committee can do to help every bond campaign, such as getting staff and the community involved early in the campaign. Please see the referenced blog for more information.

Step Four – Construction

Typically, when you work with a Construction Manager on the pre-construction services listed in steps 1-3, you have an agreement to use them to oversee the construction of the project. They’re your advocate throughout the project from pre-construction through completion. Through weekly meetings and open communication, you, the Architect and the Construction Manager are a team that ensures the project gets done on-time and within budget.

We would be more than happy to present to your School Board our seminar on “Steps for Planning a School Construction Project”, please contact an Education Facility Consultant, Rich Ramsey, Michael Pung or Joe Powers at 800-956-4278 for more information.

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Financing Construction

Michigan Businesses Rely on Wolgast for Construction

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jul 08, 2019 @ 08:05 AM

For our 100th blog, I wanted to do a special feature about our romap of michigan projects-2ots and coverage of the great State of Michigan.  We have ties to resources and communities coast-to-coast.  Even though we continue to add to our registrations and expertise within other states, we love the nuances of working within the regulations of Michigan, scheduling to accommodate anticipated weather patterns, and familiar earth types of the Mitten State. 

Wolgast started in Mid-Michigan over 70 years ago, but since then has expanded to be a state-wide commercial contractor.  So if you're a business that has an office, store, manufacturing operation, restaurant, or school in Michigan, Wolgast provides construction services in your area

Over the past 7 decades, we've developed relationships and resources of qualified contractors from the coast of Lake Michigan to the coast of Lake Huron through to the Upper Peninsula.  Our clients benefit from close proximity to one of our five locations in Saginaw, Freeland, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Alpena, plus our ability to mobilize our equipment and staff to any part of Michigan.

We presently have 55 projects in 30 Michigan Counties at various stages of design, planning, or construction.  These current projects reach from Mackinac to Monroe Counties.  Hence, your community is in our coverage area and we'd like to help you build, remodel, expand, or restore your commercial facility. 

Plus, you can rely on Wolgast to give you excellent construction services, expert building direction, and efficient/quality designs and craftsmanship.  Furthermore, we’re a full-service, Professional Commercial Contractor with expertise in General Construction, Construction Management, Design/Build, and Insurance Restoration Services suited to our clients’ specific needs.  Our Design/Build services include design and construction and get you budgetary information quicker, so you can make an educated decision about your building earlier and be under construction sooner with more guidance throughout the project.  General Construction is best for more simple projects or companies that have their own construction managing staff.  Construction Management services work best for large, complicated projects that span more than a year.  Finally, we offer Insurance Restoration services for residential and commercial buildings that have suffered a loss from fire, storm/wind, or flooding.  Mixed with our design and construction abilities, we’ll restore property to a pre-loss condition seamlessly.

Wolgast sets the standard for quality and efficiency no matter where we are building and we will do the same for your project.  Call us to receive expert guidance, service and quality on your next building project – 800-WOLGAST, or in a restoration emergency – 855-WOLGAST.

You may also like to read about The Story of Our Speed.

Tags: Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other blog titles that may interest you:

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

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

The Best Way to Speed up Your Building Restoration

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

water damagefire damagewind damage

Tags: the Wolgast Way, Restoration

Construction of New Tech High Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

The History of Wolgast’s Construction Management Division

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

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

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

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

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

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

CM Services the Wolgast Way!

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

The Benefit of Design/Build Phase I Drawings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

What Makes a Design/Builder a Dental Construction Expert?

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

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

Dental Building Design

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

Construction of a Dental Office

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

The Wolgast Way

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

 

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

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

The Story of Wolgast’s Speed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: the Wolgast Way

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.

Inquire Here

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