Last week we authored a blog post looking back on pricing in 2020 and why the reduced pricing many of us were anticipating to come just never did. The question lingering for everyone in the industry now is: What's going to happen in 2021 for pricing? Many developments were put on hold last year in hopes of better pricing this year, but will that happen? To forecast this, we're looking at the state of 3 current events: The COVID-19 Vaccine, Material Supply and Demand, and Government Intervention.
While we cannot be a source of information on the status and timing of individuals being vaccinated, we know that at some point this year, all those who want to receive immunity from the vaccine will have that opportunity. Market information sources like NIC and Senior Care Investor all agree the outlook for senior housing is positive, and the decreases in censuses... Read More >
“Earlier this year, our President, Peter Douglas, posted a Blog pondering the question of how much construction prices would go down as a result of the impacts of COVID on our industry. At the time of the Blog (May 27, 2020), we were beginning to witness the relaxation of construction material prices, particularly lumber and subcontractors cutting their prices to book work for the unknown times that lie ahead. It was thought that this trend would continue during the pandemic and that overall construction prices could retreat 3-5%, a welcomed projection for many developers. Unfortunately, prices have not gone down the 3-5% as originally speculated. So what happened?
In the months following the posting of that blog, prices for construction materials and manufactured commercial building products increased due to the impact COVID had on production and transportation, compounded by demand, which remained relatively high throughout the pandemic. An unexpected rise in... Read More >
There is no question that every segment of the senior living industry, including skilled nursing, short-term rehab, assisted living, memory care, independent living, and active adult communities, have all been impacted by the current pandemic. Safety and infection prevention are at the forefront of design decisions for new communities that are currently being planned and adapting existing communities to limit the spread of contagious diseases.
The Douglas Company has been working hard to identify common-sense solutions to help control the spread of diseases without significantly impacting costs.
- Utilizing antimicrobial finishes on high touch surfaces
- Reducing the amount of seams, where germs can spread, with sheet goods for flooring
- Touch-free fixtures and motion-activated sensors
- Automated doors
- Infrared fever screening systems
- Selecting materials that can withstand rigorous cleaning protocols
- Bipolar ionization and or higher HVAC filtration
COVID-19 is transforming senior living design and construction. Future designs will seek safe solutions and create ways for providers to incorporate and support new technologies... Read More >
Due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, some new projects struggle to secure the necessary capital stack to move forward. This has been more of an issue in the senior living segment than the multi-family segment; the multi-family space has remained resilient during this challenging year in regards to financial backing for new construction. In speaking with our friends in the debt and equity circles, the money to fund new ground-up senior living projects is getting much more selective, but I am still being told “the good deals/projects find a way to get done,” that is positive to hear.
In this environment, now more than ever, developers need to have the best teams possible in place to support a successful project. This of course, includes their general contractor, architect, and operator. Debt and equity sources need to feel confident that the project has the best possible chance of success. The whole... Read More >
As we continue to navigate through the daily challenges surrounding us with the COVID-19 virus, it is important to understand the impacts it is having on our industry. Most notably there has been volatility with pricing, most well-known with the lumber markets, labor shortages, and extended material procurement. The material procurement issue much like the labor shortages is not a new issue upon us in the construction industry, but lead times have certainly changed from previously known and reliable durations during this pandemic. Some examples of extended material procurement issues that we are experiencing across our projects include:
- PVC pipe and pre-molded showers
This is something that will most likely continue until a vaccination is developed, as manufacturers work through social distancing, sanitizing efforts, and infected personnel which all have an impact on productivity and their ability to fill orders timely. It’s important to stay in close contact with Subcontractors and Suppliers... Read More >
It is the question everyone is asking in the construction industry right now, “What’s happening with prices, and when will it come back down?” The short answer is, no one can say for certain.
What we do know are a few key principles that can help all of us be more discerning consumers of current information:
- Commodity Prices do not Equal Actual Costs - Many people have taken to following publicly-traded commodity indexes to understand where things are going. While this can give us some insight; many things affect the commodity indexes besides just the actual cost of the materials. For material markets that have been hit extremely hard, turning to trusted suppliers is the only way to know where prices are and what is to come.
- Supply Trumps Demand - In certain markets, such as lumber and PVC, an extreme shortage in supply is driving the price and... Read More >
As we continue to learn, adapt, and move forward during a global pandemic, we understand that poorly ventilated buildings are a significant risk factor in the transmission of COVID-19. Operators and developers who are planning new senior living communities will want to consider air cleaning technology as an option for creating and maintaining cleaner indoor environments that reduce the spread of disease.
Bipolar ionization systems have been tested and found to reduce the levels of various types of airborne contaminants with a MERV equivalent of 13 without the pressure increase of MERV 13 mechanical filters. During the cleaning process, ions attach to airborne particles like dust, dander, and pollen, subsequently increasing their mass and size. This allows the air filtration system to easily capture the larger particles, increasing the capture efficiency of the HVAC system.
In addition to health benefits, this technology can save building owners 30% on conditioning costs because it... Read More >
It’s hard to believe that it was in May that I blogged about being ready to “turn the corner” on everything that was impacting the country. I guess I was a little impatient. In the meantime, it is as we predicted that there would be some creative times ahead in the design and construction of senior living communities.
We have spoken with a lot of our colleagues in the senior living operations and design community in the last couple of months to learn about what they want to implement into their future projects to increase health and safety when a contagious health crisis such as Covid-19 hits. At the top of the list is upgraded HVAC systems to better filter airborne pathogens as well as increase fresh air circulation. A close second is UV technology to kill microbial particles (both incorporated into HVAC systems as well as other equipment options for... Read More >
Perhaps one of the largest issues builders and developers are currently dealing with is the recent surge in lumber prices coupled with the scarcity of lumber materials. According to Nasdaq’s lumber report, lumber has increased 87% since the beginning of the year, which is a staggering increase. However, what is more, shocking is that lumber had only risen 1.6% from January 1, 2020, to July 1, 2020, but then jumped 85.4% from July 1 to August 20! The cause is a result of diminished supplies coming out of the mills due to Covid-19 related shutdowns. At the same time, demand has remained high due to strong residential housing and multi-family construction markets.
The magnitude of this pricing increase is putting pressures on margins for contractors, builders, and developers and could cause projects to be deferred or canceled should these increases continue into the 4th Quarter. The question on everyone’s mind... Read More >
Quality control in today’s construction environment continues to be a daily challenge in our industry. Several factors that are contributing to this are lack of skilled labor, lack of subcontractor supervision, and incomplete construction documents. Quality is essential in the success of a project; when managed properly, it results in timely completion of our projects, reduced punch lists, lack of rework, all of which leads to satisfied clients. Over the years, The Douglas Company has put in place several processes and standards to help minimize rework and provide our clients with a quality end product. These processes include:
- Conduct pre-construction meetings with subs to review the plans and installation instructions and sort out any discrepancies before work being put in place.
- Mockups which allow for a clear expectation of what the end product is to be amongst the project team (Owner, Architect, and Contractor).
- Quality inspections are filled out by our project teams... Read More >
Recently I had the privilege of participating in a design charrette for a new IL/AL/MC facility. Obviously the current pandemic is on everyone’s mind. No one knows when it will end, if the virus will morph and/or come back, or if we will someday need to deal with another similar crisis. So the decision was made by the client that the facility needed to be designed not only to protect the residents and staff but also in such a progressive manner that the operator could use this as a strategic advantage in the marketplace. Their concept is that they want to be known as a place safer than home-where professionals know how to keep you safe. In my experience, these discussions are just starting, so there is much to learn and will continue to be, but some of the ideas that came out were as follows:
- Electrostatic sanitation systems.
- Safe visitation areas.
- A... Read More >
A recent report I came across revealed some stunning data about construction delays. According to the 2020 National Construction Payment Report (https://www.levelset.com/blog/2020-reportconstruction- wasted-time-slow-payment), “80% of construction businesses expect delays on some or all of their projects.” That is four out of five construction projects across the board that will have a delay and lose time! While it is no secret that delays are an unfortunate and often frequent problem in construction, numbers this high tells me that some conversations should be occurring on nearly all construction projects across the board that may not be happening.
Developers - Are you receiving notice letters and having open conversations about delays with your construction team? No one likes sending or receiving letters, but contracts often require them, and they don’t need to be contentious. The Douglas Company, one of our 68 documented process systems, requires that we send letters for all delay events,... Read More >
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted nearly everyone and somehow touched every aspect of the world in which we live. It will change many aspects of the senior housing industry, including not only the prospects for new development but the design and functionality of new senior living communities. While the ramifications both short and long term are still unclear, the pandemic will not change the vast wave of baby boomers who will provide steady demand growth for senior housing for several years beginning in 2022.
Most experts within the senior living industry continue to express optimism about the long term prospects for senior housing, and particularly the assisted living, memory care, independent living and active adult segments, all of which have experienced significantly fewer cases of Covid-19 than have been realized in skilled nursing communities.
As we begin to look to the future, it seems inevitable that Covid-19 will have a lasting impact... Read More >
As our country begins to transition back to a new level of normalcy, it brings to light how fortunate we were to be able to continue to work relatively unscathed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing us to fulfill our core purpose to contribute to the success of our clients and associates. While there is a lot of uncertainty about what all of the long term impacts this crisis will bring, I believe that it is fair to assume there will be some changes to our industry moving forward as a result of the past few months.
The virus has brought to focus on the importance of worker health and safety on our job sites, while some of the policies are tedious, it is better to be safe than sorry. It will be important to continue practicing these policies moving forward into the future to help mitigate any future waves of... Read More >
The current slowdown is unfortunate in its cause, with all of the people suffering from the virus. It is hugely disruptive to all of us both professionally and personally, but it is the reality. Though this arose fairly quickly, our clients are intelligent, optimistic, and focused and are already asking how much prices are going to come down and when.
The best predictor of the future is usually the past, so I did some research. RS Means, a widely respected resource for pricing in our industry, reports that the 2008-2010 recession had stable pricing, not decreasing. I think we all know this isn’t right, so I checked the Turner Construction Company historical index. It seems more realistic, reporting an 8.4% decrease in construction costs in 2009 and a 4.0% decrease in 2010 for a total of 12.4% This seems more accurate. All recessions are different. There was a milder recession in... Read More >
Who is ready to turn the corner on everything that has been in front of us in the last couple of months? I know I am. While The Douglas Company has been fortunate and grateful to continue operations as an essential business during this pandemic, it has, of course, prevented me from getting out and seeing clients, prospects, and my networking partners, unfortunately. As I’m sure many can relate, Zoom is just not the same!
That being said, and while it could have spawned from better circumstances, there will be some interesting and exciting times ahead for the design and construction of multi-family spaces in particular senior living communities.
We have been busy in our estimating and pre-construction departments assisting clients with conceptual budget estimates and value engineering as usual and look forward to seeing more and more creative ideas on how to address health crisis type issues that can... Read More >
What is BIM? BIM stands for Building Information Modeling; essentially, it is a software that allows the entire project team to integrate their respective components into a 3-D model. When appropriately used it can help streamline not only the design stage of a project but also the build of a project. Some of the advantages of BIM include better visualization of spaces before they are constructed reducing the amount of changes during construction, increased coordination and clash detection which can save time and avoid costly rework, increased productivity through the utilization of prefabrication, safer projects, and ultimately a higher level of quality throughout the building. Some of the disadvantages to BIM are it can be costly and lead to additional time in the design stage of the project, as well as, finding subcontractor’s/firms that are experienced in the software can also be challenging. As our world continues to evolve through... Read More >
One of the biggest challenges the construction industry has faced over the past few years is the ever-increasing difficulty to have project plans reviewed in a timely manner, with a fair and reasonable critique of the documents for code compliance, and at a reasonable cost. Further frustrations have been experienced in dealing with building departments having a shortage of qualified building inspectors to conduct timely onsite building inspections when the contractor schedules them. This all led Florida to pass legislation allowing for developers to use private, third-party plan review and building inspection services. Florida Statute 553.791 passed in 2019, allowing developers to hire a qualified independent provider to review their plans in place of the traditional route of submitting them into the local building department. It also permits the developers to hire independent providers for building inspections instead of relying on the often overburdened local building department officials.
In addition to... Read More >
The COVID-19 pandemic has the spotlight of construction industry news across the county right now. Rightfully so, as it has been extremely disruptive to developers, contractors, and suppliers alike. While there is great debate on how to address the spread of the disease, all of us in the AEC industry are trying to determine what we should be paying attention to. For those involved in a large construction project presently, no matter what role, it is suggested to think about a few things:
Safety Measures - By now, most of us are familiar with the term "Social Distancing" and the importance of handwashing, but there is more than that. OSHA has devoted a separate webpage for the standards from 29 CFR that apply to this outbreak and reminded us that this is a recordable event. Do not count on anyone to provide these measurements for you or your associates;... Read More >
As I talk with both senior living and multi-family developers, there is a big focus and many questions relating to “active adult” or “age-restricted’ apartments. It makes sense for many reasons, but the average age of entry stands out the most. Today the average age at which a person moves into traditional senior housing is 85, with an average length of stay just over six years.
The move-in age for active adult communities is in the low to mid-70's. The oldest members of the baby boomer generation, those born in 1946, are just now turning 74. This creates a true opportunity to capture a younger senior demographic ten years earlier than traditional senior living facilities.
Boomers considering active adult communities prefer renting over owning to provide them with economic and logistical flexibility. They are attracted by a sense of community and are healthy enough to not need traditional care-based senior housing. At... Read More >