A common sentiment we seem to keep hearing is, "We're holding on any new development until construction costs come down." And while we know it will be fantastic when that day comes, the question of when that will be hangs heavy. Recent data tells us… something, right?
Unfortunately, we’re not seeing much relief anywhere right now. Things don’t seem to be getting worse, but they’re not getting better either. It seems that we are all still waiting for that “bottom falls out” moment, which hasn’t happened yet and some construction economists are backing off on predicting when it will. Predictions have shifted a possibility of the “Soft Landing”, which doesn’t really help prices. Recently The Douglas Company attended National Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) Conference where their spoke, with the sentiment "It's going to get worse before it gets better," and "Recessionary conditions will prevail at some point over the next... Read More >
This year kicked off with promising developments and displays of artificial intelligence (AI) – namely programs such as ChatGPT and Remini. From software developers to photo editors to writers, there has been a question of what role this technology will play throughout their respective industries. And while the construction industry is historically slow on the uptake when it comes to technology, it’s clear that artificial intelligence is here to stay and is already making waves.
As a whole, AI is a technology that uses large amounts of data to solve problems, but where does that fit into the future of preconstruction?
Well, in reality, a form of AI has been involved in pre-construction since the mid-2000s: Building Information Modeling (BIM). The technique of clash detection is a model that combines the MEP’s structural, and architectural plans into one digital model allowing the design team to address conflicts between the various... Read More >
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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
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. 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 >
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 >
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 >
Holland, Ohio, June 21, 2022 - The Douglas Company is pleased to announce that Andrew Barger, Rey Rodriguez, and Matthew Upton have all been promoted from project estimator to lead estimator. These well-deserved promotions come as the company’s preconstruction departments are working harder than ever to keep projects on track in preconstruction through a challenging market, and getting more creative and proactive in keeping project prices under control.
As lead estimators, these professionals will manage the entire preconstruction process from concept to contract including taking the lead on preconstruction calls, meetings, and presentations. Along with this huge jump in responsibility, they will continue to meet the needs of our clients and work with the assembled team to keep projects on time and within budget.
“We are proud to promote Andrew, Rey and Matthew as lead estimators,” said Peter Douglas, president of The Douglas Company. “Our company is committed to providing quality preconstruction... Read More >
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... Read More >
The Douglas Company, General Contractor, is pleased to announce the promotion of Bruce Douglas, PMP, PMI-SP, LEED AP BD+C to Director of Preconstruction Services. In this new role, Bruce will lead the Estimating and Business Development teams, initiating client engagement early in the project development process and setting projects on a path for success by providing expertise on cost, schedule, logistics, constructability, and other key factors. Bruce will be responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the Preconstruction & Business Development teams ensuring a collaborative approach to leading projects through the design phase.
Mr. Douglas began his career with The Douglas Company in 2011 as a Project Coordinator, progressing to Assistant Project Manager, then Project Manager, and was then promoted to Senior Project Manager, and has since earned the position of Director of Preconstruction Services.
“It is an honor to be able to work with our deeply-valued clients in support of their incredibly... 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 >
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 >
Last week I was sitting in a presentation with an experienced developer for a project we will be starting soon. This same developer is currently building a facility in Columbus, Ohio, with an institutional contractor, which is not going well.
Over and over, he said, "how much of a pleasure it is to be working with a developer's contractor." We are one, but sometimes I forget what it means. In this case, the client's architects and engineers completed the drawings and added all kinds of things that were nice, but didn't add value to the project or its future residents. With our experience in senior living, we are able to control cost by weeding out what was not required, and we have the technical expertise to communicate effectively with the design professionals with minimal involvement from the client. But there are other things we do, such as keeping up a... Read More >
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.
... Read More >
Since our founding in 1976, The Douglas Company has focused on building senior living and multi-family projects for owners and developers who depend on us to control the risks and costs of the many facets of development. During that time we have developed comprehensive processes for nearly everything we do.
From preconstruction, project start, through construction, project completion and warranty, we have 68 detailed and documented processes in place that are followed, tracked and reported on consistently. Additionally, we are continuously training our staff on these processes to assure consistency in the delivery of quality products. These proven processes, and The Douglas Company’s discipline in following them is a true competitive advantage and provides our clients with the added value they deserve and expect from The Douglas Company.
Earlier this year, we decided it was time to “brand” our processes to help our clients better understand how The Douglas Company will fulfill... Read More >