Time, Money Are Especially Important To Summer School Construction Projects
There are two things that come to the mind of a facility manager related to summer construction projects: time and money. The first step of the process is to meet with the architects and engineers to discuss the details of the proposed summer project. It is important for facility managers to walk through the schematic design process with the architects. The lack of communication or definition of the project may cause revisions that could cost facility managers more money and time before the ultimate construction process. In addition, facility managers are charged with meeting the needs of the organization as seen through the eyes of the ultimate decision-maker, alumni and the board of trustees. Clear, open, and honest communication about the design cost beforehand can certainly speed up the summer construction process by avoiding architectural revisions.
Moreover, facility managers should be cognizant that those involved in the construction process, such as the architects and contractors, run on their own schedules. Typically, architects suggest that facility managers work with the designer nine to 10 months prior to construction. In most cases, approximately 95 percent of the design work is complete and ready to advertise the contractor bid around six to seven months prior to construction.
After the design is complete, the time for the decision-maker buy-in comes into play. The best way to secure an early buy-in is to have a comprehensive five-year plan that outlines why the project is necessary, defines the goals of the project, and includes the strategies to maintain the project and measure the progress.
Getting The Best Contractors
Facility managers need to work in tandem with the architects to determine the best outlet for the contractors. In most cases, contractors look for bids that have good coverage and competitive pricing in online plan rooms or vertical news publications. It is important for facility managers to maintain positive relationships with contractors and offer flexibility in the bid application process. Facility managers need to be clear in the application and give contractors the opportunity to provide feedback on the scope of work and specifications so that any gaps or possible irregularities in the information can be corrected or enhanced before bid date.
Spring and summer are generally the busiest times for contractors; therefore, the best time to seek a bid for a new project is during the slow winter months. Normally, the best contractors already have their summer plans in line by late winter (February or March). Going into this process in the early summer months (May or June) could cause the construction process to overlap into the beginning of the school year. This delay can pose issues such as construction occurring during the school year, raising the risk of having no power or water to the building and ultimately posing safety risks for students and faculty.
Planning ahead can ensure a fluid summer construction process. Developing a five-year plan before the bidding process can put facility managers at ease and prepare them for the upcoming school year and years to come.
Charlie Jahnigen, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C is a registered architect, vice president at SHP Leading Design He is an architect and business leader who applies special emphasis on solutions for clients using the BIM and sustainable technologies.
Jerry Dirr is a principal at SHP Leading Design and adjunct professor at Xavier University. Dirr has been in the architectural and facility maintenance industry for more than 12 years after spending 30 years in teaching and school building administration.