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 >
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... Read More >
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... Read More >
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... Read More >
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... 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 >
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 management of construction projects has become more difficult in the last several years due to the following key factors:
- Not having adequate, properly trained, manpower available
- Subcontractors not managing their own work
- Higher project finish levels
- Quality and coordination of the design documents
- Increased levels of local and state inspections
- Construction material lead times
All of these factors can contribute to project delays if not addressed by the project team through proactive leadership. The only way proactive leadership can have a positive impact on a project is by the project team following processes on a daily basis to help prevent daily emergencies from impacting and delaying projects. The second most important aspect of proactive leadership is increased communication by the project leaders to help create accountability throughout the project team.
Without a clear path to follow when it comes to managing projects, the task of achieving the desired objectives would prove... 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 >