Managing Subcontractors Compared to Coaching Basketball

This week basketball practice started for my son’s 1st-grade team, The Clippers, whom I get the opportunity to coach. At first glance, outside of the very dissimilar physical differences, I thought I was in one of our weekly subcontractor progress meetings. Four kids locked in and focused on having a productive practice. One kid did not want to be there, two kids wanted to complain about everything, two showed up for the snack at the end of practice and one kid showed up 10 minutes late.  Yes, this season will be the constant herding of cats but then I laughed, went home, and told my wife I do this every day. Our job as the general contractor is to take the constant chaos and charter a path for everyone to follow. Below are the eight principles The Clippers are focused on this season followed by a description of how each...

Read More >

Technology in Construction for 2023

Thanks to the surge in attention to construction technology over the last few years, our once dark and analog industry has benefited from many tools that help produce higher quality projects more efficiently. Here are some of the solutions The Douglas Company is making a focus this year:

  • Scheduling Software - Supply chain issues and workforce shortages are expected to continue in 2023, and without a detailed and outstanding project schedule any project is going to suffer from inefficiency and lost time. As schedules get more complicated, tools that help understand their data and the effects of one task on another. The Douglas Company uses SmartPM, a web-based tool that tracks changes between schedule versions, availability of float, compression, and overall health of a schedule. This gives our project managers more information to help prioritize work on-site and focus on the right work areas.
  • Project Photography - Pictures tell a thousand words,...

    Read More >

Effective Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Some of the best teams in sports history had some Hall of Fame individual players on them. But if you don’t have a collaborative group working toward the same goal and carrying their weight, finding success can be elusive.

The same goes for preconstruction planning and execution. Owners/developers first need to align with the best partners/teammates they can regarding design, engineering, construction, operations, etc.  Best practices dictate having as many members of the development team as possible present for O/A/C calls. When this happens everyone is up to speed on what their deliverables are and when they are due; decision-making is more efficient; brainstorming resolutions to hurdles is more productive and it also makes the next call more efficient without backtracking on items that have already been discussed.  Preconstruction coordination should not be done in a vacuum. When we see that not all the key team members are present on...

Read More >

Five Charts for Construction in 2023

A recent article shared in Construction Dive contained some great information we wanted to share. Just when it seems like we are all exhausted with pricing news, more comes available that pulls us right back in. The article features five charts that give some indication of the state of construction today, and where it might head. Take the time to read it  ̶  it’s worth it  ̶  then take a look at our commentary below. 

https://www.constructiondive.com/news/5-charts-hint-at-whats-in-store-construction-economy-2023/638059/

From our standpoint, we are seeing the following on these issues:

  1. Architectural Billings - Our design partners are still quite busy in certain areas and sectors, particularly multifamily, yet we do know firms that have already incurred staff reductions. This is an index we watch closely.
  2. Construction Backlog - We have had a record backlog in 2022 like many contractors, and talk of our trade partners becoming more available hasn’t come yet - Especially the specialty trade...

    Read More >

It’s Not Like It Used to Be

Have you found yourself saying “It’s just not like it used to be”? I hear this a lot lately and if I am being honest, I have said it a couple of times myself. It seems like challenges just keep on coming. First, we had the Covid lockdowns, then the lumber shortage, now inflation, and as I write this we are on the brink of the next crisis…the rail line strikes. One thing is for sure, it’s NOT how it used to be.

But that is why I love construction. It’s never the same. If I wanted to do the same thing day in and day out I would find another occupation. New challenges are what make us grow and the ones who can adapt are the ones who will succeed.

No two projects are alike. It doesn’t matter if it’s senior living, multifamily, or commercial construction. It doesn’t even matter if...

Read More >

The Douglas Company Completes Cincinnati’s First LGBTQ+ Retirement Community

Holland, Ohio, November 29, 2022 – John Arthur Flats located in Cincinnati, Ohio is the first LGBTQ+ friendly 55+ affordable senior housing community in the city of Cincinnati. The modern building contains 57 units offering studio, and 1- and 2-bedroom apartments. The Douglas Company was selected as the general contractor for the $9.4 million development. This is the second project working with developer, Pennrose, LLC.

New Republic Architecture created a unique design with charcoal metal panels and a custom brick blend for the exterior. The 50,000-square-foot space consists of a 3-story building with elevator service. Impressive amenities include a fitness center, large community room, wellness center, on-site laundry room, a dog park, and an outdoor terrace. On-site social and medical services geared toward LGBTQ+ needs are also available to residents.

“We are proud to be part of this collaboration with the Northside’s development arm, Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation...

Read More >

Consider The Real Cost Before Delaying Your Project

Developers understand the many reasons construction projects get delayed. Financial challenges can bring a project to a standstill in the face of interest rate increases and material and equipment price volatility. There is also the ongoing challenge of finding sufficient manpower to get the job done and the weather is a factor here in the Midwest.

In the current economic environment, you may consider delaying your construction project. But before you make that decision, consider the compelling reasons to forge ahead. Being a developer is always risky and challenging. With the volatility affecting the industry today, it is important for developers to thoughtfully proceed, as opposed to delaying projects. Some perceived challenges can actually present opportunities.

Longer lead times can provide greater flexibility, which enables you to source building materials at the best possible cost. Lead times for many construction materials remain longer than normal, so think months versus weeks. Lead times...

Read More >

The Impact of Hurricane Ian on the Construction Marketplace

It has been 60 days since Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida and left its path of destruction across the state. Ongoing surveys estimate that 20,000 homes in Lee County (Fort Myers) have been destroyed with another 2,500 in Collier County (Naples). The City of Fort Myers alone estimates their storm damage to be $600M!  Lee County has reported they have reached the milestone of 1 million cubic yards of debris removed and estimates another 3 million cubic yards of debris remains. The magnitude of these numbers is staggering and doesn’t include any after-effects from elsewhere in the state. 

The observed short-term impacts on the Florida construction market have ranged from labor and materials becoming more readily available as those resources have been diverted from stalled or destroyed construction projects to the exact opposite, a disruption in labor and materials originating from Southwest Florida. 

The question most directed to us is what will be the hurricane's...

Read More >

Construction is Underway on Revolutionary Active Adult Community in Gainesville, Florida

Holland, Ohio, October 20, 2022 – The Douglas Company, an industry-leading general contractor, is proud to partner with Discovery Management Group to build a revolutionary concept in senior living at Discovery Place at Celebration Pointe. Located in the heart of Gainesville’s Celebration Pointe development, this Experiential Living community will provide unique amenities and programming aimed at socialization, health, and fitness. Completion is expected in early 2024. This is the third project for Discovery Management Group that will have been constructed by The Douglas Company.

Architectural Concepts, Inc. designed flexible spaces that will feature 180 one- and two-bedroom smart apartment homes including dens, a nearly 4,000-square-foot rooftop lounge and entertainment area, a state-of-the-art fitness center and workout studio featuring on-demand fitness programs and a personalized fitness coach, hospitality-style gathering areas, a tech bar and coffee lounge, a grab and go bistro, a bark park and more. Residents will have...

Read More >

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,...

Read More >

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,...

Read More >

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...

Read More >

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...

Read More >

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. Outdoor 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...

Read More >

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...

Read More >

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....

Read More >

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...

    Read More >