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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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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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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Good News!

I thought I’d write a blog about some good news, at least for multi-family developers.  No, costs aren’t coming down, nor are interest rates.  But rents for multifamily are going up!  According to rent.com through April 2022 apartment rents nationwide for two bedroom apartments are up 22.8% in a twelve month period.  In some areas that are close to us they are up even more.  Orlando rents are up 38.2%.  Cincinnati is 37.8%.

So while costs are up and interest rates are threatening to rise, rents in many areas more than make up for this, creating opportunity.  Rent.com goes on to say that the shortage of supply coupled with increasing demand and increasing inability of people to purchase homes is causing this phenomenon.

Good news for multifamily developers.  

Peter Douglas

President

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“IT’S TOUGH TO MAKE PREDICTIONS, ESPECIALLY ABOUT THE FUTURE”
– Yogi Berra

Everywhere I go people are asking what’s going to happen with construction prices, and they are right to ask.  I visited with a prospective client this month and he told me that construction prices on his prototype increased 46% in two years, which was shocking to him and a little surprising to me.  We are tracking prices in our Florida office and our records indicate costs are up 30% in 14 months, 2% per month, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Everywhere we look subcontractors are backing out of quotes and/or raising prices, and even once under contract don’t always honor prices.  Materials and labor availability is a whole other issue.  It’s hard to believe these increases can continue, but I don’t see any signs of relief. 

The above doesn’t make our jobs any easier or more enjoyable.  We hate giving bad news to our clients on costs, but...

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Driving Rents With Amenities

The multi-family market has certainly evolved over the last several years. From the types of amenities renters demand, to an influx of new single family build to rent communities.  Not to mention the changing renter demographic.  While millennials make up one of the largest rental cohorts, the age 55+ Baby Boomers are selling their homes and opting for a more convenient lifestyle.

According to Forbes, in the last decade, the multifamily market has experienced hyper growth. Even during the pandemic, 2020 saw a 50% increase in multifamily units, compared to that of 2019. Rents in multifamily housing markets have continued to climb.  Yardi Matrix reported in February that year over year rent growth increased 15.4% and occupancy rates of 96.9%, surpassing the previous record of 96.5% in 2000. 

Today’s renters are demanding more and different amenities.  This includes everything from storage areas or lockers for packages, trash valet services, community dog parks...

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Bidding Budgets

In the spirit of being a consultant I wanted to discuss a topic that we have seen create frustration and cost money for some developers.  Bidding Budgets; or “bidgeting” as we have heard it called.  It is when early drawings are put out to multiple General Contractors for the purpose of obtaining their budget estimate which will be utilized to select the contractor for the job.  In the beginning, the intent may have been to go with the best OVERALL choice, but in the end, the contractor with the lowest budget estimate is selected to work with going forward.  This is not working on a negotiated basis, this is bidding budgets. There are inherent risks to this process and at the end of the day, it doesn’t necessarily provide you with the best price solution (one of our brand promises by the way) that you were looking to move forward within...

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The Douglas Company. We are a Developer’s Contractor.

But what does that mean?  It means quite simply that we exclusively work with developers.  We do not bid government projects or work with large corporations, retailers, etc.  We work with developers to assist them in making their vision become a reality. Being a developer’s contractor means we have the experience, knowledge, and personnel to get involved early in projects and work on a collaborative basis with the design team and owners.  Not everyone plays well with others but when you do it on a regular basis in the conceptual stages like we do, you get good at it and see the positive results it brings to a project and all involved. If you want a general contractor to sit on the sidelines while drawings are completed and then bid on that final set of drawings you are missing out on a very beneficial strategy to save time (which is, of course,...

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Delivering “Peace of Mind”

As one of The Douglas Company’s core values, “Peace of Mind” is something that we take very seriously.   One of the key components to delivering “Peace of Mind” is timely and effective communication to ensure that clients are not surprised by unexpected events, delays or issues during their project. While we cannot prevent unexpected events, clients hire The Douglas Company for our ability to foresee potential challenges to their project, keep them informed, and offer a solution to deal with situations before they become a surprise.  Many times these are not easy conversations to have with clients, but they are crucial. Part of The Douglas Company’s on-going training and development program, all of our Project Managers, Assistant Project Managers, Superintendents, Estimating Staff, Business Development and Senior Management will be participating in a 3-hour seminar focused on “Building Better Customer Communication”.  Individually and collectively, all of us are committed to enhancing our communication...

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Important Concepts in Scheduling

The project schedule is a given for any construction project. For the project team, particularly the Project Manager, it is the most important tool in setting priorities for the team. For all other stakeholders in the project, it can be an incredibly useful tool as well. In order to take advantage of this however, there are a few important concepts to understand and to ask your contractor about regularly:

  • Progressive Elaboration - This is a concept that many schedules take advantage of, it involves bringing additional detail into the project schedule as it becomes available; typically as the team comes closer to performing the work. For instance, it is not reasonable to expect a project team to have a detailed breakdown and sequence assigned to the finishes portion of the schedule at ground break, but that portion of the schedule should look much different when you're wrapping up drywall work.
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