The Future of Senior Living

Two weeks ago, I attended the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) in Washington, D.C. As always, it was good to see old friends and clients, and interesting to get a read on the industry. There were really no surprises, but it’s good to get intensive confirmation of what’s going on. 

Senior living development is really a somewhat bifurcated proposition at this point.  Though we are still building and have recently started a number of assisted living/memory care (AL/MC) projects, most of the developers are not bullish on this sector right now. Operating costs are up dramatically, interest rates and construction costs continue to rise, occupancies have not fully recovered, and rents have not yet risen to cover the increased expenses. There are some AL/MC developers that think that they just need to forge through, that it’s just a bump in the road and all will be good,...

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Switchgear Demand Craziness!!!

Behind the critical milestones of building dry-in and completion of drywall hanging, the date of permanent power provides a key indicator of a project’s schedule trajectory towards completion. Unfortunately, the current construction industry is being severely impacted by major challenges within the electrical gear industry driven by demand, labor issues, and electrical component shortages. Critical switchgear components such as switchboards, distribution panels, and heavy-duty circuit breakers have historically taken four to six months to receive. Over the past year, lead times on these items have increased to a minimum of 12 months, and quoted lead times of 14-18 months are becoming the standard.

So how does this impact the construction industry? For comparison, a $25 million senior living project with a construction schedule of 18 months, would typically require permanent power to be in operation by the twelfth month of construction to allow the startup-up of essential HVAC equipment, building systems,...

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Value Engineering or Contingency??

Inflation, fuel prices, material escalation, and material shortages are pushing construction prices to record highs. Already tight project budgets are being value engineered, tabled in hopes that pricing will come back to earth in the future, or just abandoned. Like everything else these days, the typical value engineering process is not as effective as it once was. When project pricing comes in over budget, we have historically provided a list of suggested alternate materials, methods, and/or systems to help bring the cost back closer to budget if needed. 

Currently, inflation is working against project teams trying to value engineer projects. On several recent projects, material escalation has negated any value engineering efforts. Meaning…during the time it takes to price VE alternates, and get the accepted changes into the design documents, the pricing of the other trades and materials has increased an equal or larger amount of the costs saved from the approved value...

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No One Can Whistle a Symphony

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.”  Famous quote by H.E. Luccock.

Closing a job and seeing it to the finish is not easy. Most in our industry would tell you it can be the least favorite part of the project. Most would also tell you it is impossible to live in fantasy land after working through the challenges of the last two years. There’s no magical bench of labor we can pull from and have crews arrive onsite the next day when needed. There’s no la-la land where the material is in stock and can be pulled off the shelf for overnight delivery. At The Douglas Company (TDC), our core purpose is to contribute to the success of our clients and associates. The industry has changed which has required us to adapt and change with it.

The All American Assisted Living at Enfield...

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Construction Begins on $33.9 Million Senior Community The Grove at Countryside

Holland, Ohio, August 18, 2022 - The Douglas Company is excited to announce the beginning of construction on The Grove at Countryside, a new resort-style senior living community, located in Clearwater, Florida. Developed by The Vestcor Companies, The Douglas Company will serve as the general contractor for the $33.9 million development.

Designed by Gary B. Coursey & Associates, Architects Inc., The Grove at Countryside is a 144,841 square-foot senior community that will include 32 independent living, 72 assisted living, and 22 memory care units. The amenity-rich environment will include a bistro, dining rooms, pub bar, activity rooms, art room, libraries, piano lounge, hair salon, nail salon, fitness room, exterior porches, rentable storage, and garage spaces. Outdoors residents will enjoy the beautifully curated courtyards, memory garden, dog park, and putting green. Construction is scheduled to be completed in spring 2024.

“The Douglas Company team is proud to collaborate on a...

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Don’t Get Soft on Wood Buildings

Wood structures seem to have gotten a bad rap the last few years. It’s not entirely their fault. The skyrocketing land costs have pushed projects to go to more stories than a conventional wood frame building allows to get the number of units needed. Massive price hikes and volatility of material costs have also made it a less desirable building material to use.

Throughout the years The Douglas Company has proudly worked hard to build as much of our work out of wood as possible. We thought we should revisit the good reasons and tactics for doing so that still exist today.

Wood framing is simply faster than other methods. Modular and panelized systems abound in our industry now, but none of them from our experience go up faster than a wood-framed structure. Despite some of the scary lead times we’ve seen over the last two years, wood framing materials involve many...

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The Douglas Company Finishes $28 Million Multifamily Development Ahead of Schedule

Holland, Ohio, July 14, 2022 - The Douglas Company has recently completed construction of The Sagefield, a new multifamily residential development located in the heart of Jacksonville, Florida. This luxury residential community includes 234 spacious one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units in two 4-story apartment buildings and two 2-story carriage homes with tuck-under garages. The Douglas Company served as general contractor for the $28 million upscale development.

Real estate developer Chance Partners, LLC chose Dynamik Design Partners as the architect for the 274,590 square-foot space. The architecture features a contemporary farmhouse design, with gabled rooflines, vertical siding, and a striking dark red, charcoal, and white color scheme. Apartment upgrades include stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, Smart Home technology, sleek wood-like flooring, 10-foot ceilings, and upscale finishes.                         

“It was a pleasure working with Chance Partners to provide such high-quality residential housing to northern Jacksonville,” said Brian Carter, project manager for The Douglas Company....

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As Boring as Dirt – Understanding Your Site Construction Options

It is easy to focus on the building cost per square foot in the preconstruction process, but the site costs can make or break a project. Too often we see scope creep on the project site after the initial site plan, and it takes asking the right questions and getting creative to bring these costs back in line.

As your civil plans develop and soils reports become available, make sure you’re asking the design team these questions:

  • Grading - Are the buildings at the right elevation? The finished floor level is usually set early in the design process, but as more requirements become known it may not be the right height anymore. Raising/lowering a finished floor level can help reduce soil import/export, and can have positive impacts on your storm sewer layout as well. 
  • Deep Foundations/Undercuts - It seems that poor soils are an issue on most projects we are looking at...

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The Douglas Company Completes $44 Million Harper’s Station Luxury Retirement Community

Holland, Ohio, July 6, 2022 - Harper’s Station is a new state-of-the-art senior living community in the Gainesville, Virginia area. The 55+ retirement community offers spacious, well-appointed independent living, assisted living, and memory care apartments along with residential cottage homes and a wide variety of amenities and services. The Douglas Company served as general contractor for the $44 million upscale senior living community.

Co-Developers, Bourne Financial Group and Sage Development Group, selected John Marc Tolson Architecture to design the 192-unit community. The 244,400 square-foot Harper's Station consists of a 3-story main building and three villa buildings comprising seven units. The amenity-rich community offers a variety of options for residents to enjoy, including a heated indoor swimming pool, grand dining room, coffee shop, bistro, library, salons, fitness center, game room, yoga studio, putting green, exterior fireplace, fire pits, and a gazebo. Architecturally, all buildings provide 360º architectural treatments that include high-quality...

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Technology Advances in Construction

As the world continues to evolve with technology, so too does the construction industry, albeit at a much slower rate. Looking back over the last 15 years, it is incredible to think about how much technology has changed in our daily lives. Smartphones weren’t very prevalent and the first generation of the iPhone had just been released. Businesses used fax machines instead of email to transmit information, very few people knew what the cloud was, and drones, as we know them today, didn’t exist.

As it relates to the construction industry, 15 years ago I can remember physically mailing sets of drawings out to people for them to bid jobs and waiting for their faxed bid to come through. People used an actual camera to take pictures, and submittals were wet stamped and mailed to the design team for their review.

All of the efficiencies gained through technology really are fascinating. To...

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The Douglas Company Names Three Lead Estimators

Holland, Ohio, June 21, 2022 - The Douglas Company is pleased to announce that Andrew Barger, Rey Rodriguez, and Matthew Upton have all been promoted from project estimator to lead estimator. These well-deserved promotions come as the company’s preconstruction departments are working harder than ever to keep projects on track in preconstruction through a challenging market, and getting more creative and proactive in keeping project prices under control.

As lead estimators, these professionals will manage the entire preconstruction process from concept to contract including taking the lead on preconstruction calls, meetings, and presentations. Along with this huge jump in responsibility, they will continue to meet the needs of our clients and work with the assembled team to keep projects on time and within budget.

 “We are proud to promote Andrew, Rey and Matthew as lead estimators,” said Peter Douglas, president of The Douglas Company. “Our company is committed to providing quality preconstruction...

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How The Douglas Company’s proactive approach keeps projects on schedule

In today's construction world, more and more time and resources are spent on scheduling, and with good reason, too. With the high cost of construction loans and general conditions, contractors and developers alike can agree that the sooner we hand over a building the better for all those involved. Project milestones, proper sequencing, and task and crew logic are all scheduling terms that are thrown around on a weekly basis when discussing how we get the job done as soon as possible.

But what if I told you there was something else besides scheduling that can hold up progress on your project just as much as a missing drywall crew or bad schedule logic? Wouldn’t that be something we need to be cognizant of?

I am talking about inspections, of course. Inspections are a necessary step in the construction process to provide a third-party audit that the work meets all code requirements...

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The Douglas Company announces construction of Hearthstone Wildwood in Florida

Holland, OH, June 1, 2022 – The Douglas Company, an award-winning general contractor, is pleased to announce that construction has begun on the $18.2 million Hearthstone Wildwood senior living community in Oxford, Florida. Developed by Wildwood Senior Housing RE, LLC. and situated on the doorstep of the world-famous 55+ retirement community “The Villages”, Hearthstone will be comprised of 36 memory care units and 94 assisted living units for a total count of 130 units.

Forum Architecture & Interior Design Inc. designed the 83,000 square-foot complex with a two-story assisted living building and a one-story specialized memory care facility. Welcoming in-house amenities will include a salon, fitness center, library, theater/multipurpose room, bar/bistro, private dining, and multiple courtyards landscaped to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Construction is expected to be completed in the spring of 2023.

“We are excited to be working with the owner, Wildwood Senior Housing, and their partner, Nvision Development, to bring...

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Capital Investment Remains Strong in the Active Adult Space

Some developers and investors are unsure about committing to new senior living developments amid rising construction costs and interest rates, while others remain bullish on building new communities figuring that demand will be outpacing supply for the foreseeable future. I have even heard from some clients that they really push to get new developments going in this environment when other potential new projects may be holding off which gives them a leg up in a given market. 

One segment that continues to gain steam is active adult according to a recent article in Seniors Housing Business’ April Edition. Active adult communities target those 55 years old and older that are ready to rid themselves of all things associated with home ownership, but are young and healthy enough that they don’t require assistance with daily living activities. These communities are not as labor- or service-based as an assisted living community because they...

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Protecting wood framing during construction provides peace of mind

As we move into the rainy season, it’s important to revisit best practices of protecting wood from the elements during construction. Previously, we used to rely on just-in-time deliveries which would limit the amount of time our framing materials were subject to the weather prior to being covered up. With today’s market environment, we find ourselves ordering materials early and storing them on site so that we can be productive as we start building and not run out of material along the way. This has led to lumber being stored for longer periods than we are used to.  It’s important that this is taken into consideration as we construct our projects and that we don’t allow deterioration of our building products to occur. 

First, develop a plan early to deal with these issues in order to reduce the risk of mold and product deterioration. Ensure that your storage area is well...

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The Douglas Company begins ninth construction project with Kaplan Development

Holland, OH, May 5, 2022 – General Contractor, The Douglas Company, is proud to announce the beginning of construction on its ninth project with owner, Kaplan Development Group, LLC. The $15.9 million, All American at Tinton Falls is a 58,000 square-foot, 58 unit assisted living and memory care community in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

Designed by EGA Architects, All American of Tinton Falls will offer quality senior living with a vast array of amenities including an interior courtyard, double-sided fireplace, salon, beauty parlor, bistro, and media room. Construction completion is scheduled for June 2023.

“The Douglas Company is honored to once again work with the professional team at Kaplan Development,” said Dylan Lewis, assistant project manager for The Douglas Company. “The All American communities are uniquely designed with senior independence in mind and we are proud to deliver this distinctive project to Tinton Falls.”

The Douglas Company

The Douglas Company is headquartered in Holland,...

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