(As seen in the January 24, 2022, Inside the Industry issue of BizTimes Milwaukee)
Despite inflation, supply chain issues and labor shortages, many local construction companies have a healthy backlog of business and a positive outlook for 2022. After navigating the craziness of the last 21 months there are lessons learned and a new standard for successfully keeping construction projects on track.
For anyone contemplating or embarking on a construction project, there are best practices to support a successful end-result amidst the 2022 state of the industry.
Start with all key partners at the table
While architects, contractors, engineers, and interior designers all have valid reasons to be brought into a project from day one, it doesn’t mean it always happens. However, the truth is the more expertise, perspectives, and eyes on the details from the beginning, the better off a project will be. Initiating a project with this collaborative mindset can help alleviate some of the heartburn and headaches that can occur in the world of construction and development.
The value of the contractor perspective
Having the contractor involved from the project start helps ensure the feasibility of a project, confirm project scope, monitor the budget, and troubleshoot the schedule.
Feasibility: The contractor’s due diligence process, including reviewing existing site conditions, addresses structural, utility, accessibility, and overall constructability issues. This may uncover project hurdles early or even determine if the project should move forward.
Scope: With multiple partners and perspectives it is important to maintain a complete understanding of the overall scope. The contractor can assist the developer or end user to confirm the intent of the architectural drawings and firm up scope details.
Budget: It is very important for the true project budget to be known and adhered to from the concept phase. The contractor can monitor and perform budget checks along the way to alleviate bid surprises. With increases in labor and material costs and lumber prices on the rise again, budget monitoring is critical. This helps ensure the project is financially feasible through every step of the process.
“Since last March/April 2021, we have seen as much as 20-25% increases across the board on all labor and material. Inflation costs are having a staggering impact on projects,” says Greg Hazenfield, vice president of Campbell Construction.
Schedule: Due to supply chain issues, it is more critical than ever for contractors to be involved in the materials and equipment selections to help manage the project schedule from the beginning.
“As the ones ordering products and materials on a daily basis, we have a better finger on the pulse of availability and lead times,” says Matt Bautch, project manager for Campbell Construction. “We also need to keep labor shortages in mind as we schedule the right tradespeople for the different construction phases.”
Seamless communication, responsiveness and quick decision making are critical to a project’s success.
The risks and rewards
With all of the factors influencing construction, one of the biggest changes is the need for clients to be prepared for more risk. To maintain schedule, contractors need to order materials earlier to guarantee proper delivery, so end users need to be prepared for those financial implications much earlier in the process. The good news is with many suppliers there is still the ability to cancel orders, if necessary, without too may financial ramifications.
While teams have had to adjust the construction process, the reward can still be a successfully completed, high quality project delivered on time and within budget.