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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“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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The Douglas Company Elevates Two Long-Standing Partners to Vice President

The Douglas Company, General Contractor, announced the promotion of two of its partners to Vice Presidents. Mr. Bruce Douglas has been promoted to Vice President of Preconstruction, and Mr. Pete Zimmerman has been promoted to Vice President of Estimating. Both will be serving as members of The Douglas Company’s Executive Committee, establishing company policies, and participating in developing company strategies and objectives.

Pete Zimmerman, P.E.

Vice President of Estimating

Mr. Zimmerman began his career with The Douglas Company in 2003 after graduating from the University of Toledo College of Engineering with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He demonstrates a full understanding of construction, cost control, the bid process, project documentation, project management, and time management with subcontractors and suppliers.  

As Vice President of Estimating, Pete will work closely with clients, architects, and subcontractors, during the estimating stage,...

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Economic Cycles in the Development Business

We have been a developer’s contractor since we opened over 40 years ago.  As everyone knows, our economy goes through cycles, positive and negative.  And the development economy has significantly greater swings than the general business economy.   2008-2010 had dramatic negative swings, but we have been on an upswing now for almost 10 years.  When the economy trends down, construction costs decrease, as do interest rates.  But more importantly, the rank of developers thins.  Those with limited experience and capital can’t get deals done so exit the market, while the strong take advantage of lower prices and interest rates, but also a distressed inventory, and get stronger. The uptick in the economy creates the opportunity to be active for these people, but also the perception of opportunity for new entrants to the market.  Some are well capitalized, but with limited experience and expertise, and they can get deals done with the...

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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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The Douglas Company, General Contractor, Announced a Number of Internal Promotions That Will Advance the Company’s Strategic Position Within the Market

The Douglas Company, General Contractor, announced a number of internal promotions that will advance the company's strategic position within the market. Through hard work, dedication and demonstration of The Douglas Company Core Values the following individual promotions have been announced: Brian McCarthy from Vice President of Construction to Executive Vice President of Midwest Construction Operations, Drew Rahrig from Senior Project Manager to Vice President of Construction and Andrew Barger and Ryon Barker from Estimating Coordinators to Project Estimators. "The announcement of these promotions highlights our core purpose of contributing to the success of our clients and associates, as well as, our core value of growth of our Associates and business through learning, teamwork, and leadership," said Gayle Ashbridge, Director of People Development with The Douglas Company. Brian McCarthy promoted to Executive Vice President, Midwest Construction Operations. Brian will be responsible for all of the construction operations in the Toledo, Ohio office....

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A Team Approach to Reduce Cost and Risk in Development

Recently, Bob Ritter, Douglas Company Director of Business Development, and I had a discussion with an architect we had worked with once in the past about progressive approaches to control costs and risks in senior living development.  This discussion ran the gamut from upfront information gathering to control risks, proper planning for development costs to ensure they are inclusive, proper construction cost budgeting, control of design to meet budgets, and control of risks during construction to help assure a project’s success. What was remarkable about this discussion was how similar our approaches were in our efforts to contribute to our clients’ success.  A team approach with the architect and contractor working with the owner to achieve project goals works, and has been increasingly accepted in the architectural community as the best way to service our clients.  As it has been our approach since inception, we are pleased to see this approach’s...

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