Hoarding, Cost Increases, and Risk; OH MY!

Remember when the pandemic hit, and everybody collected toilet paper? It’s happening today with subcontractors and vendors throughout the trades (not TP; material like rigid insulation, ductile iron pipe, copper pipe, drywall, lumber, metal studs, coiled steel, etc., etc.). Material price surges, a continuing supply chain roller coaster, and the omicron variant have us all guessing how long to receive and how much material will cost when it is finally installed on the job site. An extended construction duration and price increase pass through are deal breakers for us at The Douglas Company, so we are tested to come up with alternate methods to deal with the aforementioned challenges.

Our advanced procurement of construction materials and equipment soon after a contract is executed and well before the equipment or material is needed, is a sensible practice which assures that specified materials and equipment are available for installation or use in accordance...

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The Douglas Company Completes Construction on The Grove at Trelago

The Douglas Company has announced the completion of construction on The Grove at Trelago, a new assisted living and memory care community located in Maitland, Florida, along Maitland Boulevard, east of I-4, with the elegant backdrop of Lake Charity. Developed by The Vestcor Companies, The Douglas Company served as the general contractor for the $21.7 million community.

 

Designed by PQH Group Design Inc., The Grove at Trelago is a 113,989 square-foot assisted living and memory care community comprised of 96 assisted living and 20 specialized memory care studios for residents with Alzheimer's, dementia, and...

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Material Cost Increases Abound

The turn of the calendar has brought about an unfortunate turn for material pricing. At this point, it seems like nearly all materials have seen major increases. All of this is in line with some of the largest inflation increases ever. What’s going on?

While each material has its own nuances, the primary driving cause behind all of them is the same condition we’ve been dealing with for years: High demand supported by low-interest rates means a lot of construction is happening right now. Costs are up quite simply because projects continue to be built in spite of them. Subcontractor backlogs have been surveyed as being at some of the highest levels in recent history. And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. 

The message now is to stay the course in spite of material cost increases. We...

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The Rule of the 5 P’s

Reflecting on this year, it sure has been one of the more chaotic and challenging years that I can recall in my career. Just this year, the construction industry has battled everything from record-high lumber prices, rapidly changing material price increases, supply chain issues, increase in labor shortages, and many other challenges. The old adage of Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance, or the 5 P’s as they were introduced to me early in life, has been at the foundation of our successes for the year. Ben Franklin said it well “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Planning is woven into our DNA at The Douglas Company, many of our Associates have been through a form of personal productivity, where we learned to plan for the day, week, and month. In both our preconstruction and operations groups, our main planning tool...

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Is Inflation Here to Stay?

Everyone knows that inflation right now is the highest it’s been in 30 years, which is shocking.  Nearly all of my friends who run businesses can’t find workers, and they are paying dramatically more for those they find.  The Toledo Blade picked up a story that showed one in five workers expect raises of 10% or more the first of the year, which is also shocking.

So what’s going on?  We dealt with this with a wood pricing surge last year, but those prices came down significantly.  But now it seems we are dealing with material shortages and price increases on nearly everything.  Associated General Contractors reported that contractor costs rose 26.3% overall from June 2020 to June 2021, an astounding number.  Mortenson reported that costs jumped 7.1% from September to October of 2021.  Our clients are surprised and distressed at the price increases, and we don’t like them...

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Finally, Some Encouraging Trends in Senior Living

Earlier this month several of us from The Douglas Company attended the annual NIC Fall Conference, held this year in Houston, Texas.  It was encouraging to see more than 2,500 senior living professionals in attendance (in person) and optimistic about the future of the Senior Living Industry post-COVID.

NIC has also released the 3rd Quarter 2021 NIC MAP Data, which shows that demand in the 3rd quarter rebounded with the strongest quarterly increase since NIC began reporting the data in 2005.  Overall seniors housing occupancy increased to 80.1%.  Still 7.3% below pre-pandemic occupancy, but finally trending in the right direction.  Additionally, one statistic we heard is that the age cohort for senior living will double every 5 years between 2020 and 2040.  That is a lot of new seniors who will need some type of senior housing!

One topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind is “Active Adult”. ...

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Where Are The Workers?

It's a topic we seem to be answering daily, "Where are all the workers?". While it's an issue that spans more than just the construction industry, unlike those other industries, we've been trying to answer this question for decades. For those answers, we have to look at more than just the last 18 months.

 

Staffing issues in the trades can be traced back to the 1970s when college students increased nearly 25% from 1969-1979. That phenomenon would again repeat itself in the 1990s when that decade saw an increase of over 15%. (Source: Nation Center for Education Statistics). The nation's focus on higher education and white-collar professions set the trades up for inevitable challenges...

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The Current Supply Chain Environment

The disruptions and unpredictability of the current supply chain environment have been well documented, and unfortunately, the forecast is that these disruptions will remain with us for the foreseeable future.  While there is no silver bullet to insulate a construction project from the potential impacts, strategies can be deployed to mitigate delays caused by this problematic supply chain market.  For these strategies to be effective, though, they need to be planned early in preconstruction.

Your General Contractor should be surveying material and equipment lead times during the preconstruction process so the entire development team understands the risks and a plan to deal with them can be formulated.  One way to build around the excessive and unprecedented long lead times the industry is currently facing is to procure the materials and equipment subject to excessive long lead times earlier than typical, even before execution of the construction contract.  This will ensure...

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Design Build – We’ve Only Just Begun

"..white lace and promises, a kiss for luck, and we're on our way". Yes, that is the opening lyrics by Carpenters, but what a common association when most people hear the word DESIGN-BUILD. If done correctly, Design-Build can be all sunshine and rainbows; however, We've Only Just Begun!

DBIA forecasted that by 2025 design-build is anticipated to represent up to 47% of construction spending. The Douglas Company has found that our successful design-build projects have three common factors:

  • Early Involvement with The Douglas Company
  • Clear Definition of Expectations
  • Alignment between Owner and Design-Build Team

These factors are critical to a clean, fast-paced process. Our ability to influence the project's design is most appreciated and provides the best value to the owner prior to construction and issuance of subcontracts and purchase orders. The industry's increased project complexity and fast-paced schedule demands align best with the benefits provided by our design-build teams. Utilizing design-build also creates...

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The Douglas Company Proudly Announces Becoming a 100% Employee-Owned Company

The Douglas Company, a recognized industry-leading general contractor in commercial construction, proudly announces becoming a 100% employee-owned company through a newly created Employee Stock Ownership Plan ("ESOP") as of 2021. 

Founded in 1976 by Bruce Douglas, headquartered in Holland, Ohio, with a second office in Orlando, Florida. The Company was built by a team of hard-working, committed men and women, battle-tested processes, and a core purpose and core values. "Employee ownership complements our core values and focus on quality customer service. In fact, now that they are owners, Douglas Company employees will share our Company's financial and operational success in ways that few employees do. That means they will have an even stronger commitment to serving you. Because, as our customers succeed, so do all of Douglas Company's new employee-owners," said Peter Douglas, President of The Douglas Company

"We are excited about this important development in our business. ESOP companies have higher...

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The Importance of Pre-construction Schedules

Developers often think of the actual construction schedule when the word "schedule" comes to mind.  But before that, it is just as crucial that a project has a solid pre-construction schedule to even have the feasibility of breaking ground when desired.

Of course, many things go into getting to that point of starting construction. Still, when there is an understanding of the start date goal, you can back into the schedule and plot a course from where you are today and the timelines of what needs to happen to be able to hit that goal.

One of the main goals during the pre-construction phase is to assess the plans as they develop to help mitigate risks while under construction.  This requires regular communication between the owner, architect, and contractor. 

The schedule holds each member of the development team accountable for their deliverables. Owners have to make decisions on everything from HVAC systems...

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HarborChase of Shaker Heights has Broken Ground

The Douglas Company, an award-winning general contractor, is excited to announce that HarborChase of Shaker Heights has broken ground. The new 106,698 square-foot assisted living and memory care community is located within one of Cleveland's most affluent suburbs, just eight miles from downtown. It is the first project of its kind to break ground in this city within the past 20 years.

Co-developed and owned by Denver, Colorado-based Confluent Senior Living, co-developed and operated by Vero Beach, Florida-based Harbor Retirement Associates, and designed by RDL Architects; HarborChase of Shaker Heights will provide a mix of 108 assisted living and memory care apartments in the three-story community. This extravagant facility offers vaulted ceilings upon entering and has several in-house amenities, including a commercial laundry service, full-service commercial kitchen, exhibit kitchen complete with a pizza oven, virtual activity room, two salons, bistro, bar, a large wellness room, private...

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Supply Chain Disruptions Continue

As most people have experienced in the country, certain materials are tough to come by, whether in a personal or business realm. This is not a new development, but the scale of the issue has seemingly grown, and new challenges are presented in our industry every day. Some may ask, what is driving this? One of the primary factors driving this is a lot of the raw materials that we utilize come from overseas. In an article I read the other day, a record 65 ships were sitting in the ports along the West coast waiting to be unloaded, compounding an already challenging logistics industry. This is causing a lot of uncertainty for suppliers when these raw materials will be received to produce the needed components to build our projects. In the interim, demand continues to increase, resulting in the challenges upon us today.

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The Douglas Company celebrates the beginning of construction on the All American of Enfield

The Douglas Company, General Contractor, celebrates the beginning of construction on its eighth project with the owner, Kaplan Development Group, LLC. The $12.3 million, All American of Enfield is a 55,992 square-foot, 58 unit assisted living and memory care community in Enfield, Connecticut.

Designed by EGA Architects, All American of Enfield boasts several in-house amenities, including a salon, beauty parlor, bistro, media room, and an interior courtyard. The building is wood-framed and constructed on a slab on grade over a standard spread footer/stem wall.  The exterior is finished with CertainTeed Vinyl Siding, including lap boards and "cedar" shakes, with a mix of EPDM and asphalt shingle roofing. 

"The Douglas Company team is grateful for our continued collaboration with Kaplan Development. We are excited to bring All American of Enfield to life and deliver a best-in-class project for the Enfield region," stated Alan Kluczynski, Assistant Project Manager of The Douglas Company.

The...

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What Will Happen With Construction Prices?

We continue to get buffeted by price increases, seemingly weekly, which puts pressure on our estimates and has a negative effect on feasibility for our clients.  Though prices are being locked in for Fall starts up North, clients have repeatedly asked me what will happen to them for their Spring starts.  It’s certainly understandable.  I’d want to know too.  Normally, I’d have a good sense of this, but I don’t feel that I have a good basis to know now.  This summer, home building continued at a brisk pace, and lumber peaked at over $1,800 per mbf.  Clients kept asking me what they should do at those prices, but this situation was unprecedented.  Most locked in, and then lumber started to come down.  Jeff Korzenic, Chief Investment Strategist of Fifth Third Bank, said earlier this summer that the best cure for high commodity prices is high commodity prices since it...

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Defining Active Adult Communities – Notes from the Interface Conference

Last month we wrote about how The Senior Housing Evolution Continues, specifically discussing the Active Adult concept. Last week, The Douglas Company attended an Active Adult conference hosted by Interface, where we heard from pioneers and visionary leaders in this new product. Three major conceptual questions stood out through all the sessions:

How to Define Active Adult?

While there is huge excitement about the space, there isn't a clear-cut, one-size-fits-all definition of what an "Active Adult" community really is, or for that matter, if the term "Active Adult" is going to stick. While time will probably resolve these issues, there is consensus on the place in the market - Seniors in their early 70s want to take advantage of the equity in their homes and sell them to downsize in an effort to reduce maintenance and find a new social circle. This is want-based, not need-based like other senior housing...

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The Grand Opening of the New Eastern Woods Senior Apartment Community

The Douglas Company, along with Pennrose, LLC of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Blanchard Valley Health System, celebrated the grand opening during a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Eastern Woods Senior apartment community in Findlay, Ohio.

Designed by architectural firm Moody Nolan, Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based company, the development offers affordable housing to the growing senior population in and around the Findlay, Ohio area.  Eastern Woods Senior consists of 50 senior apartment units in one three-story building, with a total square footage of 49,677. Amenities include elevator service, resident storage, fitness center, on-site management office suite, community gathering space, outdoor patio, and ample on-site parking, all within the peaceful, walkable, amenity-rich Eastern Woods mixed-use campus. The building was designed to meet “Aging in Place” design requirements and achieves LEED Silver standards to ensure energy efficiency.

"The Douglas Company is proud to see this project come to fruition and to...

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The Senior Housing Evolution Continues

The resilience of active adult communities during the pandemic and resulting recession has resulted in many developers, operators, lenders, and equity investors taking another look at the product and determining how it fits their strategy for future growth.

Many skeptics have become supporters after seeing the performance turned in by active adult communities through 2020.  Active adult rental properties were already among the senior housing product types with the strongest performance prior to Covid-19.  But the segment outperformed all other types of senior housing during the pandemic according to data from Senior Housing News.  Active adult communities are outpacing Independent Living and attracting a younger and healthier demographic.

At a recent Active Adult Virtual Summit hosted by The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing (NIC), they shared the belief that active adult is taking over the role that Independent Living played in the continuum of care 20 years ago.  While dining...

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Supply Chain Issues – The Impact on Construction Projects

Government regulations have been loosening up lately, but some impacts resulting from them are increasing as construction keeps moving forward. One specific item that comes to mind is material lead times. Items that we were accustomed to being readily available now seem to carry a 2-3 week lead time, and items that were normally 4-5 weeks have jumped to 10-12 weeks. If anyone has tried to buy any furniture or appliances for your home lately, I am sure you can attest to that. This creates unique challenges for our project teams to overcome, but our company processes have been developed to help mitigate these issues for our clients and us.

Purchasing materials early is the essential first step, but that is just the beginning. We have come to learn in the past 18 months that there is a lot of uncertainty in the supply chain industry due to constraints of...

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