Commercial Construction Basics

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a top level supervisor for a commercial construction company? If your answer is yes, that is fine and dandy. However, we strongly urge you to start at the beginning of your possible new career. Before you become a leader you must be a construction worker; then gradually earn your way to the top. The only way you will succeed in doing that is if you learn the basics of commercial construction along the way. The purpose of this article is to get you on your way to doing that. Along those lines we have some helpful tips for you. Continue reading in order to see what they are.

In any trade you need to collect the proper tools of knowledge over a long period of time. This is not any different in the commercial construction industry. Your understanding of the technical aspects of it and the terrific people skills are just a couple of those tools. One basic quality of a commercial construction boss is that he must be able to effectively communicate with other people. In addition to that, he has to possess good organizational skills so that he can accurately plan the different aspects of the current project. Of course those things go hand in hand with the technical problem solving abilities. These tools are more than likely to be only the tip of the iceberg.

So what are some other basic qualities for a commercial construction worker or especially a boss? We urge you to already possess a love of building things. That might sound rather trite but it is a fact and an important part of commercial construction basics. Are you a person who has always enjoyed working with his hands? If so, this industry may be right for you after all because you will most assuredly develop a love of building things like construction projects.

Do you derive enjoyment from watching other people acquire and utilize your company’s finished projects? This is not really a tool that you can learn; but instead is a true passion inside of you. Maybe you love to encounter children who have graduated from a school that you helped to build. You don’t necessarily have to have been born with this passion; however you should’ve acquired it at some point during your life. After all; this is the ongoing goal of any commercial construction company – to finish their buildings and in a timely fashion.

The other basic principles of the construction industry are things that you will learn over time. These are things such as any tricks of the trade or the project checklists of the Superintendent. One crucial thing you need to learn is all of the safety guidelines and procedures. You will need to learn what supplies to order and how to properly proceed with your tasks every day; all the while keeping safety at the forefront of everything. If these details sound mundane and boring to you then the commercial construction industry is not the right one for you.

Commercial Construction Tips – Is the Project Feasible?

Getting a construction project off the ground can be very tricky, as there is a lot that needs to be considered before you even lay the first brick. Making sure that the project is actually feasible in the first place is extremely important, and it should be the first thing that you do when you decide to start work.

So just how can you determine whether the project is actually feasible? Here are just a few tips to get you started.

Speak to an Accountant

Budget is always going to be one of the most important aspects of any construction project, as running out of money at a critical juncture could prove to be a fatal blow for what you have in mind.

When you have an idea of what you want to build and you have some plans drawn up you should talk to a qualified accountant who can help you set out a budget and determine what needs to be spent and where. It is at this point that you will be able to determine if the work is financially viable and if you can deliver it within your budget.

Speak to a Solicitor

There are numerous legalities that are involved in practically any type of building work, so it is important to make sure that you have all of them squared away before you begin working on the project.

Speak to a solicitor who specialises in property development and find out what permissions you need to get and which red tape you need to cut to get the project off the ground. Failure to do so could lead to you doing something illegal, which is grounds for having the entire project shut down.

Speak to an Architect

While you may be able to create your original plans without too much hassle, to really know what is going to have to be put into the project you are going to have to speak to an architect and get their expert opinion.

They will be able to tell you if what you have in mind is even physically possible and will also be able to suggest changes to the original plans to account for any issues that they see.

This is a massively important step, as you need somebody who is qualified in the field to not only sign off on the project and ensure it is feasible, but also to help you in the overall design.

Speak to Your Crew

The final step in determining if your project is feasible is talking to your building crew. You need to know that everybody that you have working for you is able to do the jobs that you need them to do.

If they can’t, you will need to have enough money in the budget to hire somebody who can. Having the right crew is tantamount to the project’s success, so skipping this step or simply assuming that everything you have planned is a risky move at best and tantamount to construction suicide at worst.

Your Simplified Guide for Comparing Commercial Construction Companies

Commercial projects involve huge budgets and big plans, and quite expectedly, you need a reliable commercial contractor for the job. Construction companies working in the commercial sector have a specific way of doing work. In this post, we will talk about that, along with tips for comparing the options.

Working with Commercial Contractors:

As mentioned above, commercial projects require considerable money and effort. As such, it is important to start with the right steps. The first obvious step in finding a contractor is to make the design and establish deadlines. The whole process of planning can take time, but with a good contractor at work, you can expect to achieve the goals as planned and intended. The concerned contractor will seek your approval for the entire design, then they will get the necessary permits to start the construction. In between, the funds and finances will be discussed, and the contractor is expected to offer genuine assistance with the immediate roadblocks that may seem evident for the project.

Investigating the Options:

Construction companies specializing commercial projects have certain traits that you should be looking for. Here are the things you need to check.

1. Is the company well-known? For big projects, you cannot afford to take the risk, and hence, it is always better to find a contractor that you can rely on. Ask around for references, its best way of moving forward.

2. Know their client. If a commercial contractor claims to be the best in business, they must have the clients to back it up. Don’t shy away from seeking references and take a look at some of the projects they have managed so far. You may want to call some of their clients to know the individual experiences.

3. Find out more about their expertise. The whole process of planning and completing commercial projects is an extensive one, and not all contractors deal with all kinds of things that are involved in the process. Check if the concerned company has the expertise and know-how that you need for the project.

4. Ask for an estimate. Based on the work, you would want to know the cost of hiring a contractor. Again, this is largely dependent on the contract and the things included, but for such projects, transparency is one of the many things you cannot afford to ignore.

5. Check the basics. Work with companies that have an in-house team of experts. You need to find a contractor that’s genuine in its approach and can offer something more than standard services. Check if the company has licenses and permissions to take up such jobs and whether they can do the paperwork and get the required documents to get the job done.

Last, do consider sustainable and green practices for your project. An advanced and renowned contractor will offer such choices for their clients, based on what they need. The initial consultation is one of the main aspects that matter in this regard because you can learn a lot about the possible solutions available.

Commercial Construction Tips – How to Come in Under Budget

If you are relatively new to the commercial construction business you might still have some things to learn. One of those things ought to be how to stay within your budget. If you do not have a plan for doing this it could become a constant and unnecessary battle for you. The key here is – having a plan in the first place. We are going to give you some ideas on what costs must be accounted for in your plan in order to determine what your individual project budget will be. Then you can proceed to plan how to meet that budget.

Unfortunately there are many common errors that occur when a commercial construction estimates their budget. The result is that quite often they do go over that budget. If you have a general concept of what those errors are you will know what to watch out for. Therefore, we will give you a list of what they are. In no particular order those factors are: price changes, omissions, unclear plans and specs, wrong assumptions, design changes, inadequate allowances, construction or design errors, cost-plus bids, hidden or concealed conditions, and design changes. This is some list! And this is only the list of known errors in budget estimations. It does not take into account all of the new issues that might crop up over time. But now you get a rough idea of all of the things that can go wrong. You and your leadership team may be able to come up with more possibilities right off the tops of your heads. Write them all down in your plan, and then proceed to discuss all of them in-depth.

Some things you will accomplish by dramatically reducing your budgetary errors are: to forge better relationships with your subcontractors, decrease the amount of time it takes your company to complete projects, and generally stay ahead of the ballgame. In addition to our list, we have some general tips for overall budgetary success. Our first tip is do not always accept the lowest bid. While you do want to keep your costs low, you also want to ensure you receive quality work. You will not necessarily get that from the sub-contractor that gives you the lowest bid. Do some investigating of your prospect before you go into business with them.

Our next suggestion is to always allow for any preventative measures; both from a safety standpoint involving any person who works on the project, and for things that could go wrong with that project. A lot of unplanned expense money on a project is paid out for medical care that is needed when people get injured on the job. Those injuries can be avoided if all safety guidelines and procedures are strictly adhered to. Additionally; when commercial construction companies fail to properly plan for anything that could go wrong on a project, that means more money will have to be shelled out to fix those things. This can be avoided if you allow for those kinds of expenses in your project budget to begin with. Remember the old Boy Scouts’ motto about always being prepared!!

Commercial Construction Tips – Facts About Construction Projects

Commercial construction is often an arbiter of changing economic conditions. Construction projects mean both an improving economy and a way to improve the economy of a given area. Read on to learn more interesting facts about it.

This type of construction helps public sector agencies as well as private firms. Big new schools in areas where people are moving give students a chance to learn in state of the art facilities. New office buildings bring jobs to the area, and the upward spiral continues. Not only do the buildings benefit the users, but the building process itself gives workers a solid job for several months, and the expenditures from the construction project go directly into the local economy.

The United States is second in the world in terms of this construction, regardless of where the company doing the building is headquartered. As much as 10% of all commercial construction takes place in the US, and New York is the city with the most commercial construction going on – $8.5 billion (that’s billion with a B) in 2013. A lot of the construction was for residential buildings. Following New York were Houston and Dallas. Those two cities spent $10 billion in 2013 on commercial projects.

One of the biggest trends in commercial construction is green building. Experts from the Environmental Protection Agency expect that by 2017 as much as 48% of new building will be done with green building materials. To put that in financial terms, it could mean as much as $145 billion dollars.

By 2018, 84% of residential construction companies plan to have at least some of their construction projects classified as green. To get an idea of just what kind of impact this has on the overall economy, consider that residential projects total as much as 5% of the current gross domestic product of the US. As more and more firms add green building to their plans, it might mean that as much as 18% of GDP will be based around green construction.

Big commercial office buildings are going green, too. LEED certification is becoming the main standard, and builders are up to 41% green as of 2012. Just how rapidly is this growing? Consider that only 2% of commercial construction, non-residential, projects were green in 2005. It’s no surprise that states like Hawaii and California are leading the way in LEED projects.

It’s not just the US that is interested in green construction, though. LEED certifications around the world are becoming more common. A study released earlier this year showed that as many as 69,000 LEED projects are going on globally in 150 different countries.

This construction is as important to the global economy as it has ever been, and the increases in such projects over the last few years signal a positive change after the worldwide recession of 2008-09 and the soft recovery that followed. With even more green projects being planned than ever before, commercial construction projects will also be kinder to the planet, meaning everyone will benefit for years to come.

Commercial Construction Tips – How to Know If Your Contractor Is Doing a Good Job

Big construction project or little one. An historic renovation in the heart of old downtown or a new retail center. No matter what kind of construction project you are undertaking, you want to feel assured that you have chosen the right contractor for the job. But how do you know that your contractor is doing a good job?

The success or failure of a contractor is often closely linked with you – how effectively you complete your hiring due diligence, how clearly you state your expectations, and how well you and your contractor communicate with each other during all construction phases.

Preparation and Selection

Before you begin your search for a contractor, you should clearly outline the responsibilities for which you will hold your contractor accountable. Those accountabilities should be included in the contract between you/your company and the contractor.

Next, you need to do your due diligence.

• Ask friends and colleagues who have worked with construction projects similar to yours for contractor recommendations. Ask these questions:

o How did the contractor handle the budget and materials?

o Was the project done on or ahead of time? If it was off schedule, why?

o Was the work done according to agreed-upon terms?

o Would your source work with that contractor again?

If their referral did well on each of those points, he or she may be a good contractor on your project as well

• Check ALL references!

Get it in writing

All good business relationships should begin with, “get it in writing!”

• Each contractor candidate should provide a written bid. Red flag: nothing in writing.

• You and your contractor should have a signed contract. Include details on the budget, scope of work, materials, the schedule, and the contractor’s specific responsibilities. Red flag: the contractor who won’t sign a contract.

• Your contractor should take notes during each walkthrough and meeting. Red flag: “I’ll remember… “

On the job

These are some important on-the-job clues that your contractor is doing a good job:

• Communication: you and your contractor communicate frequently and clearly according to your agreed-upon methods (text, fax, email, phone). Red flags: doesn’t return calls, is difficult to reach, provides limited responses to questions, communicates poorly with work crew.

• Subcontractors: contractor hires quality subcontractors with verifiable references. Red flags: conflicts on the job, petty thefts, on-the-job substance abuse, wasted time, etc.

• Safety: contractor diligently observes safety practices and insists that all workers comply with safety rules. Red flags: avoidable injuries, safety issues.

• On the job site: contractor is working at the job site for the majority of the time. The construction crew is busy during all working hours of the week. Red flags: contractor is infrequently on site, workers have too much idle time.

• Security: appropriate security measures are observed at all times. Red flags: equipment and materials not secured or missing, the site is poorly secured during non-working hours, unauthorized people are on site.

Schedule and budget

Ideally, every construction project is completed on budget and on schedule. Realistically, there may be some schedule interruptions and unexpected costs.

Ask yourself some final questions:

• Is my contractor providing me with accurate, up-to-date information on all aspects of the job and construction progress?

• Is he/she managing resources, budget, crew, and materials effectively and appropriately?

• Are crew members working fairly harmoniously with each other?

• Are my objectives for this project being met?

When you can answer yes to these questions, it is most likely that your contractor is, indeed, doing an excellent job for you. Congratulations on your choice, and your new project!

Challenges Faced by Commercial General Contractors

Despite a rise in production last year, the construction industry is still likely to make a sluggish recovery. As the economy continues to recover from its recent downswing, the commercial construction industry also continues to grow. However, the industry is still encountering challenges that can affect businesses and investors. When it comes to effectively addressing and handling these challenges, hiring an experienced commercial general contractor is a good way to ensure that your project goes smoothly and successfully. Things are looking up a bit for the construction industry though.

New construction starts have been strong in recent months, construction spending rose throughout much of 2011, the production of construction materials has been up for six months in a row, and Caterpillar, Inc. and other large companies have posted strong earnings reports for the past couple of quarters a hopeful sign that small and mid-sized companies will also do better. However, the industry still faces plenty of challenges. Small companies for the most part are struggling because of the sluggish economy, increased competition, rising insurance costs and a shortage of excellent workers. The largest challenge, by far, commercial general contractors say, is the economy. Although the unemployment rate is dropping and the U.S. economy is showing other signs of recovery, economists and others say the recovery of the construction market will lag behind the overall economic recovery.

Commercial general contractors say homeowners and other customers are savvier in the wake of the recession and typically get three or four estimates before they decide whom to hire. This means commercial general contractors are competing for work against two or three of their peers now, compared to one or none before the recession.

People used to call and say, ‘Come do this job for me,’ and they’d get around to asking what it would cost. Yet another challenge is rising insurance costs. Insurance market conditions for U.S. construction fi rms began deteriorating in the second half of 2011, and that is expected to continue this year. Large losses and reduced investment returns caused many U.S. insurers to seek rate increases in 2011. As a result, rates for various construction product lines, such as general liability, builders risk, excess casualty and others, rose, forcing up costs for commercial general contractors, who passed them on to their customers. Cost overruns. Sometimes, projects can get “carried away” and can end up costing significantly more than anticipated. This can occur if materials need to be changed, if there are unexpected delays or additions, or if the planning got out of hand and the building ended up a bit more showy than originally anticipated.

How to Speed Up Commercial Construction

After an unfortunate slumping period in new commercial construction projects, we are happy to report that new development projects are in full recovery mode. This trend has been pointed out through a series of leading indicators including deliveries of new building supplies throughout 2014.Another indication of a growth spurt in the commercial construction industry is found in the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) which comes out on a monthly basis. In the ABI there was a sharp three point jump in May of 2014, as compared with the previous month. Thus, the need to speed up the process of commercial construction has become even more crucial.

“In commercial and residential construction, cost-effectiveness, speed and safety count and functionality dominate over prestige.” This is an excellent and pertinent quote. While factors like cost-effectiveness and speed definitely do count in the world of commercial construction; SAFETY CAN NEVER BE SACRIFICED!! Safety is the number one concern in all commercial (and residential) building projects. In this article we will look at how to speed up the commercial construction process WITHOUT sacrificing safety.

The often complex world of commercial construction is ever-increasing in demand. The range of projects vary from office complexes to shopping malls to factories to luxury hotels. Technically; although there ARE differences, commercial construction projects can also be housing developments or apartment complexes. Typically budgets are tight and the time-frames within which a commercial project can be completed are fairly narrow. Therefore speed definitely counts. An excellent construction company CAN deliver primo results under such conditions. The finished product is often visually gorgeous and is completed within the necessary time-frame and safety IS NOT SACRIFICED!! It pays to hire a reputable company for such a project.

“New Formwork and Scaffolding Supplier on the UAE Market Innovation made in Germany now at home in Dubai.” MEVA Formwork Systems is based in Germany and now boasts that it is the most prolific supplier of Scaffolding (& Formwork) equipment in the Middle Eastern countries. This equipment is essential to the process of speeding up commercial construction projects because it allows workers to complete projects without the use of cranes. In fact; most frequently, the cranes cannot even be used for these types of projects because they are too large to fit in the allotted space. What was once an inaccessible area for these construction workers, the same workers are now able to complete their projects with the use of this MEVA equipment. They can personally assure that all processes of their specific project are completed with SAFETY in mind. Not only for the safety of the building’s future tenants; but also the safety of the workers who are assigned to that specific project. These are of huge benefit to the industry.

Much more information about MEVA (and possibly products by similar competing companies) is available on the Internet. Just go to your favorite search engine and type in the heading name. Not only is there more information specifically about MEVA, there is info and news about other techniques used to speed up commercial construction projects without sacrificing anybody’s safety.

Commercial Construction Tips – How to Avoid Going Over Budget

A commercial construction project can seem like a never-ending balancing act, like keeping a series of plates spinning. One plate represents keeping the project on schedule. Another spinning plate is ensuring that construction is completed properly and safely. And still another spinning plate is containing the project budget.

A commercial construction budget is influenced by a number of factors. Exceeding the budget can easily occur for reasons beyond the control of the owner, contractor, and project manager, including:

• A sharp increase in materials costs during construction.

• Weather fluctuations that slow or halt construction.

• Work stoppages.

• Frequent alterations to the design, materials.

Make a list

As one industry writer stated, estimating a project’s cost is the first step of construction cost containment. The project budget should list the essentials (non-negotiables) as well as the negotiables (the aspects of the project that can be reduced, modified, or eliminated in order to contain costs. Each line item should be carefully researched, sourced, and have a realistic cost applied to it. The budget should also include contingency funding.

Cost control challenges

Cost containment challenges are not always line item-related. There are a number of less-obvious but significant challenges to staying on budget, including:

• Poorly defined scope of project.

• Flawed estimating methodology

• Lack of project management policies and controls.

• Unrealistic scheduling.

• Insufficient planned-to-actual cost comparisons.

The big three

This trio of cost containment issues has been stated before and they are worth stating again. If The Big Three of budget issues are carefully managed, you can reduce or eliminate a number of budget overruns:

1. Incomplete design documentation: the architect’s rendering, plans, and specs that are turned over to the owner or project manager do not always include the in-depth details necessary for realistic budgeting.

a. Solution: the contract between the owner and architect should specify that all members of the architecture team will provide complete details, specs, documents, and drawings related to the project.

2. Pre-bidding document review: some contractors do only a general review of documentation before submitting their bids.

a. Solution: the language of the project owner’s contract should require all contractors who submit bids to acknowledge, in writing, that they have reviewed all specifications and plans. The bid price should cover all identified and “implied or express design intent” work.

Any materials or changes to design that the contractor feels are essential to successful completion of the project (but weren’t identified in the project/owner’s documentation) also should be included in the bid, along with explanations for the additional items.

This requirement should reduce or eliminate the need for contractors to seek additional compensation based on additional work necessitated by information “not shown on the original plans and specifications.”

3. The low-ball bid: underbidding can put the entire project at risk and cause it to far exceed the budget.

a. Solution: solicit bids only from trusted contractors who have successfully completed similar projects. They should have documentable records of completing projects on budget and on time.

Another cost containment option

Another cost containment option is to hire a skilled construction cost estimator. That person or team works with you to help you avoid out-of-control expenses, keep construction costs down, and ensure the project is completed within the agreed-upon timeframe.

It’s up to you

Ultimately, it is the owner and project team who are responsible for overseeing each phase, change order, and plan alteration to the construction project. There should be a well-defined process for change order submittal, review, and authorization. There also should be continual monitoring and updating of the budget so that you and your team know where the project financially stands all the way to completion.

Commercial Construction Techniques

In this article we will explore some old and some new construction techniques that are considered by experts in the industry to be alternative techniques. Perhaps this information will inspire some future innovative building designs. The techniques discussed here are in random order and are not intended to display any particular construction preferences.

If you would like a building designed that is pretty quiet and contains outstanding thermal mass, use the Insulated Concrete Forms technique to construct it. Although some builders use this technique strictly for foundations, it can be used to create entire structures. Some cons to using the ICF technique is that it can be fairly expensive to build and also difficult to modify once the structure is complete.

One older construction technique that is still relatively popular is using various types of wooden logs. The materials used here can range in coping techniques with specific wood type-appropriate thermal barriers between the logs to insure an airtight structure. Detailing with this kind of technique is crucial to each project it is used for. Log construction techniques are seldom utilized for commercial structures; but in some regions of the world can be a choice preference for homes.

There is also the option of commercial modular buildings. These are non-residential and code-compliant structures which are built anywhere from 60% to 90% in an offsite environment and then delivered to its ultimate destination. Upon their arrival at this destination they are put onto a concrete foundation. The end result is a totally completed structure ready for occupancy by business owners (who then add their own specific furnishings and details to the inside of the buildings.)

An especially attractive form of commercial construction technique is known as float glass. This technique is “made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten metal, typically tin, although lead and various low melting point alloys were used in the past.” The standard result of this method is an extremely flat surface with a uniformed thickness to it. This technique is most frequently seen in beautifully constructed office buildings and sometimes entertainment-oriented buildings such as an opera house or a building where a symphony orchestra might perform. They are very lovely to look at and attract much attention wherever they exist.

Of course, one of the most-often used types of commercial construction materials is steel, especially as a building’s internal support system. In general steel is utilized in addition to the builder using other materials to construct walls and floors. Steel is an environmentally-friendly material, structurally secure and energy efficient. Additionally, it is cost effective and can be easily modified. One huge disadvantage is that steel is a conductor of heat. A second con is that; if poorly constructed, the steel can corrode over time and it must be repaired to avoid serious consequences from occurring.