Menu
  • © 2020 Bush Construction
  • Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm

News image

Resources

The Pros and Cons of the Construction Manager as Constructor Delivery Method

Continuing our journey of defining the four most common construction delivery methods, today we’re talking about all things Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc). This delivery method could be defined as “the silver bullet” delivery method because it’s incredibly versatile and can be used by almost any owner. There is one exception. CMc is not allowed as a delivery method for public works projects – think public schools, police stations, etc. – in 3 of the 50 US states.

The Pros of Construction Manager as Constructor

This delivery method provides an array of benefits to an owner, including:

  • The freedom to select the contractor with whom they want to work.
  • The perspective of both the designer (architect) and contractor during the preconstruction phase.
  • The advantage of receiving accurate cost opinions and project timelines based on current market conditions.
  • The ability to fast-track their project.

It’s sometimes advantageous for an owner to fast-track their project when their construction timeline is very tight. While their building’s design may not yet be fully completed, some aspects of construction can begin. For example, an owner and designer may still be selecting windows; however, since the foundation has already been designed, the contractor can break ground and start work.

Another benefit of this delivery method is that, as the design process progresses, the CM can offer constructability reviews. Let’s take a medical center for example. An MRI machine needs to be placed in the basement; however, the building’s existing doors aren’t wide enough for the equipment to safely fit through them. After speaking with the equipment provider and understanding how many pieces the machine can be broken down into, the contractor will offer several options to get the equipment into the space, from opening a wall, to going through a window, or even leaving open an entire face of the building in order to install the machine before completing the facade. If each of these scenarios aren’t considered when developing the drawings, the cost to install the machine could result in a significant increase to the owner and could delay the project.

The Cons of Construction Manager as Constructor

Some owners may be uncomfortable selecting a contractor before the design is complete because they don’t yet have a firm understanding of the total cost of their project.

Typically, an owner who is considering hiring a construction manager (CM) at the same time as their designer will ask the CM to identify their construction management fee. This fee is often a percentage of the overall cost of the work. What’s important for the owner to understand is that the CM will deliver this cost of work in an open book accounting format. For example, once the design is complete, the CM will obtain quotes from trade contractors like electricians, carpenters, etc. Then, the CM will present these quotes to the owner and they will then work collaboratively to select the best team for the project.  The CM fee is then applied to the cost of the work and the total project costs are known.  So, while the total cost of the project may not be known when the contractor is selected, the owner has the early expertise of the CM to ensure the project’s costs are competitive and help achieve the desired project budget.

Timing is Critical When Selecting a Construction Manager as Constructor

The sooner an owner selects a designer and CM, the better. The most significant benefit of this delivery method is the ability to have a clearly defined scope of work created collaboratively during the design process with the owner, designer, and CM.

If an owner waits to hire a CM until the drawings are partially complete, the owner loses the benefit of the contractor’s expertise during the early design phases.  These early design phases are when the CM has the greatest ability to ensure the owner’s budget is aligned with the intended design.  When the budget and design are aligned, costly redesign and design phase schedule delays can be avoided.

How NOT to select a Construction Manager as Constructor

In some cases, the owner may want to select a CM based on a firm fixed price for a project that is only partially designed.  We have witnessed several cases where this approach was not in the owner’s long-term best interest.  One of these cases was an automobile dealership. We were one of three CMs being considered and were the only one with past dealership experience. Because the drawings were incomplete, our proposal listed all the aspects of the project we knew would be needed but weren’t specifically identified in the drawings.  These additional scope items increased our overall cost of the project and we were not selected.   Ultimately, the owner selected a contractor without dealership experience who “didn’t know what they didn’t know.” At the end of the project, the selected contractor provided all features the owner needed, but at a significantly greater cost to the owner and with a longer design and construction timeline.

The fee-based approach mentioned above has proven to be the best way for an owner to select a CM.

Owners Best Suited for this Delivery Method

Owners that tend to favor the CMc delivery method are those with complex projects, need to meet a demanding construction schedule or are adding onto or renovating their occupied facility. We recently finished a CMc delivery method project for a private higher education client that included renovating their existing 38,000 SF building and constructing a 16,000 SF new addition. Another project currently underway is a church renovation and addition. While the facility isn’t fully occupied during the weekdays, by Sunday mornings we must ensure the building is clean and the flow of traffic is safe for Sunday parishioners.

Learn More

We recently published a podcast on the CMc delivery method. To hear more real-world use cases, tune into the episode here. In addition, follow our blog series on the construction delivery methods:

 

A Deep Dive into the Design-Bid-Build or Hard Bid Delivery Method

From the seasoned business owner to the start-up entrepreneur, selecting the delivery method to build a new space can be challenging. Delivery methods are not only hard to understand, but their many nuances can impact the cost, risk and timeline of a construction project. Given their significance, we launched a podcast series to help owners determine which delivery method is best suited for their next project. Today, we’ll explain the Design-Bid-Build or Hard Bid delivery method.

The Pros of Hard Bid

This delivery method is simple to understand and has been used for decades. First, building plans are designed by an architect. Then the plans are sent to contractors to bid. Finally, the contractor selected builds the building.

There is a perception among many that hard bid delivers the best price. While it may deliver the best initial price for the design that’s been planned, there’s great debate about whether the best design was priced. We’ll explain more later in this post.

The Cons of Hard Bid

During the design and pre-construction phase of a project, the owner and architect work closely together. A contractor’s voice likely won’t enter the conversation until after being awarded the project. As a result, the project won’t be looked at through the lens of a contractor, who could provide valuable insight into the construction schedule, budget, and raise any red flags early on.

Another pitfall of this delivery method is that the contractor is often selected solely on being the lowest price, not on their qualifications or expertise.

When to Use the Hard Bid Delivery Method

The hard bid delivery method is best used for non-complex, greenfield projects. For example, Bush Construction built a brand-new school in an open field that went extremely well. The client was an advanced owner, knew the ins and outs of this delivery method, and had successfully built many buildings before.

We’ve also been a part of hard bid projects that encountered significant challenges. For instance, we ran up against a site issue on a multi-family project. Had we, as the contractor, been involved in the pre-construction process, we would have been able to have an in-depth discussion with the owner and architect about a critical but missing project element. Even though we raised the site issue during the bidding phase, there wasn’t enough time to openly discuss the implications nor was the owner receptive to our feedback. As a result, the site issue caused a long schedule extension and the owner incurred additional construction costs due to multiple change orders.

Communication and Change Orders

The timeframe for collaboration between an owner, architect, and contractor is very limited in the hard bid delivery method. While an owner and architect may work together for months designing the building, a contractor might only have a few weeks to review the project’s scope of work, interpret the drawings and prepare for bid day. Not to mention there is little incentive for a contractor to spend time identifying and communicating project issues before submitting a bid. Remember, in this delivery method, a contractor is selected based on being the lowest price. It’s only after the contractor is awarded the project will they dig in deep enough to discover certain design gaps. This is when change orders come into play.

Change orders occur naturally, however, they are time-consuming and hard to administer. While the contractor is responsible for presenting change orders to the owner, it’s common the trade partner (plumber, electrician, carpenter) will bring the need for changes to the contractor’s attention. The contractor must vet the reason for the change order and determine if the design isn’t complete, accurate, or fully developed, or if the trade contractor should have interrupted the architect’s drawings differently during the bidding phase.

Lowest Price vs Long-Term Value

For owners considering the hard bid delivery method, here are three factors to think about as it relates to the lowest initial price and the best long-term value:

  1. The reason hard bid delivers a low price is that the cost of the contractor’s input has been cut out initially. However, that price will be passed down the line and could end up resulting in change orders.
  2. Having a contractor’s input during the design phase often proves beneficial. For example, impact-resistant drywall and concrete masonry units (CMU) are both viable options for school walls. While drywall is cheaper in the short-term, kids can kick holes in the drywall so CMU might be a more cost-effective, long-term solution. A contractor is able to evaluate the cost, schedule, and constructability implications of each.
  3. If an architect’s budget is off – high or low – the owner will either be responsible for raising more funds or requiring a redesign to incorporate elements they originally wanted in their building but had to cut out to fit the plan.

We’re Here to Help

We’d love to keep the delivery methods conversation going and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Simply fill out this contact form! Or continue reading our series of blog posts on the delivery methods:

 

Construction Delivery Methods: 4 Paths for Business Owners

For business owners, proceeding with a construction project is a major decision, and to ensure a great construction experience, they must select the right team. Once an owner proves its project’s financial model makes sense for their business, they can either hire a design firm (architect) or a commercial general contractor with design capabilities. Who the owner contacts first largely depends on the owner’s preference or who they have a pre-established relationship with. However, it’s critical to have the voice of both the architect and contractor on the project.

The next important decision an owner needs to make is selecting the construction delivery method for their project. “Delivery method” is a fancy term for who holds the legal agreement or contract with whom. There are four typical paths or delivery methods an owner can take.

  1. Design-Bid-Build or Hard Bid – The owner holds the agreement with a designer. The designer designs the project to 100% completion and then engages the contractor. As a result, the owner holds an agreement with both the designer and contractor.
  2. Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc) or Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) – The owner holds the agreement with the designer and the contractor. This time, the owner brings on the contractor at the same time they hire a designer. Thus, the owner has the perspective of the contractor and designer as they are going through the design process.
  3. Construction Manager as Agent (CMa) – This delivery method is the exact same as CMAR with one major difference. The owner also holds agreements with each individual trade contractor such as a plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc. While the direct contractual flow is from the trade contractor to the owner, the CMa does all the work of administering those contracts.
  4. Design-Build – The owner holds a single agreement with either a designer or contractor and that entity is responsible for the entire design and construction risk. More often, this agreement is held between the owner and the contractor who either hires an outside architect or who has the design capabilities in-house.

In our Delivery Methods: Four Paths A Business Owner Can Take to Complete Their Next Project podcast, we dive into the pros and cons of each delivery method. Listen and learn why understanding each delivery method can be a time-consuming process and for some, take years to fully comprehend.

Listen on Apple podcasts badge.     

Because we could have spent hours on this topic, we decided to break each delivery method into its own podcast.

COVID-19 & Higher Education: Our Conversation with Mike Poster of St. Ambrose University

For college students across the country, March 2020 will forever be imprinted in their memories. Classrooms shifted from in-person to online overnight, dormitories went from bustling to vacant, and fine arts and athletic schedules were postponed indefinitely. The Coronavirus outbreak caused seismic disruptions to student life and higher education operations.

When St. Ambrose University, a private institution grounded in the liberal arts, committed to academic excellence, social justice, and service transitioned to distance learning halfway through the second semester, they fully refunded students for their room and board even though it meant losing approximately $3.3 million in revenue.

We had the privilege of sitting down with Mike Poster, Vice President of Finance at St. Ambrose, to discuss how the university has handled COVID-19 challenges. In this podcast episode, we talk to Mike about how classrooms have been configured to meet social distancing guidelines while also safely supporting personal, in-class interactions. And why, amid a global pandemic, St. Ambrose experienced a peak in recruitment and enrollment.

Listen on Apple podcasts badge.     

Tune in to our conversation and learn:

  • What student life looks like this fall.
  • How St. Ambrose has been able to differentiate themselves through COVID-19.
  • Tips for high school students evaluating higher education institutions.

For more information on St. Ambrose’s Fall 2020 plans, visit https://www.sau.edu/.

The Spaces, Built by Bush Construction Podcast is Live!

We are so excited to launch a podcast that brings genuine conversations to all things construction, design, and development. We have a great line up of episodes planned for you, ranging from our own stories as an experienced commercial contractor and design firm to interviews with community leaders on an array of construction topics.

Our podcast team – AJ Loss, President and CEO, Amy Simler Vice President of Strategic Markets, Michael Johnson, Director of Integrated Design and Technology, and Ali Bolin, Marketing Manager – kick off the first episode with a discussion on the impact COVID-19 has had on the construction industry.

Listen on Apple podcasts badge.         

Learn about the biggest adaptation Bush Construction has had to make during the pandemic and how we have continued to ensure the safety of both field operations and office personnel. In addition, you’ll hear our thoughts on:

  1. how COVID-19 catapulted our business years ahead and has presented new growth opportunities.
  2. why video conferencing will play a larger role in future meetings and provide additional time savings.
  3. the importance of hiring a diverse workforce that can perform at a high-level in the office and remotely.

And a bonus! The team shares the names of books and podcasts they’re currently listening to or reading.

Rate, Review and Subscribe!

If you like what you hear, be sure to rate, review, and subscribe to our podcast on Apple or Google Play.

Celebrating National Intern Day

National Intern Day was created by WayUp to recognize and celebrate future leaders – interns! Bush Construction has a long history of providing internship opportunities, and this summer we are pleased to have Trevor Viren join our team. Trevor is a QC native who will be going into his senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. With a major in Construction Management and a minor in Business Administration, Trevor is a perfect fit for our internship program.

Get to know intern Trevor

Is this your first internship?

This is technically my second internship in the construction industry. Last Summer I worked as a commercial estimating intern with Tri-City Electric.

How did you hear about the Bush Construction internship?

Trevor Viren is a 2020 summer intern at Bush Construction

I heard about the Bush Construction Internship when I met Rob and Lea Ann at the career fair at UW-Platteville. I had been looking for companies in the QC area and stumbled upon Bush, which I had somehow overlooked. In hindsight, I am very happy that I made the decision to approach them at the career fair to put myself in the running for an intern position at Bush.

What tasks are you currently working on?

The main tasks I have been working on have been for the Coram Deo Church project. I have been drafting RFI’s, reviewing submittals, communicating with the design team, communicating with subcontractors about revised quotes, tracking framing progress at the site, attending progress meetings with subcontractors, attending meetings with owners of the project, and updating drawings with the answered RFI’s. I have also organized a couple of other site visits with the project’s corresponding superintendents.

What have you learned from your time here?

I have learned more in my short time here than I have from any other job before! I have learned about the construction process, thanks to the Coram Deo project starting promptly when I started here. This has led to me being able to familiarize myself with common construction practices from a general contractor’s point of view.

What advice do you have for your peers considering an internship?

One piece of advice I have for my peers considering an internship is to absolutely in any way possible to take an internship if given the opportunity. I am very grateful and fortunate enough to have landed one at Bush Construction, and it is the best way to learn what goes on in the industry you plan to pursue your career in. You learn just as much in 2-3 months of a solid internship as you would in over a year of schooling.  If it is a possibility, try to make an internship opportunity happen!

“Trevor has been doing a great job on the Coram Deo Project, said Justin Hoerner, Bush Construction Project Engineer. “He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him. I’ve tried to put the pressure on him at times, and he puts his head down and gets whatever is being asked of him done. He’s been very coachable and asks plenty of questions until he completely understands it. During his short time here at Bush, Trevor has proven to be a very valuable member of the team!”

3 Ways to Improve Workforce Recruitment in the Construction Industry

Whether you’re building a team for an upcoming construction project or preparing for future growth, assembling a team of dependable, highly motivated, and skilled employees is critical to your success. While it can be extremely difficult to attract and retain these team members, here are three tactics for HR managers in the construction industry to employ.

1. Reach Potential Workers Early–Very Early

Before the pandemic, Bush Construction visited classrooms ranging from preschool to eighth grade.

“We wanted to familiarize students with the different opportunities in construction,” said Lea Ann Dies, Senior Human Resources Generalist with McCarthy-Bush Corporation.

Reaching potential workers before they have made it to college or even high school is an effective long-term effort to bring awareness to careers in the skilled trades. In addition, talking about movements such as Generation T also helps students understand that organizations are working very hard to changing the perception of the trades.

Studies show that far too often many make the wrong decision when choosing a job. There are plenty of reasons:

  1. People are motivated by high salaries even though studies show there’s no correlation between pay and job satisfaction.
  2. Many are unwilling to try a new job if they are unhappy in their current one.
  3. Many do not know their own talents.

“Obviously, the messaging is different based on the age of the group we are presenting to,” Dies said, “But the idea is to reach children and students early so they can understand the types of opportunities available in the trades and learn about our role in the community.”

“We look forward to hopefully picking classroom visits back up in the fall!” Dies said.

2. Internships & Job Fairs

According to the Harvard Business Review, approximately three out of four college students intern while in school. For many students, internships end up being much more than a way of gaining real-world experience while they’re still in college. They can turn into full-time jobs post-graduation. This year, Bush Construction hired two former interns into full-time positions.

“For college students, an internship is a great way to gain experience, get an insider’s view into a specific career path, and test out whether that profession is right for them,” Dies said. “On the flip side, an internship program enables employers to build a steady pipeline of young, qualified, and talented candidates.”

This summer, Bush Construction is proud to have another intern, Trevor Viren as part of their team.  Trevor is a Quad-City native who will be going into his senior year at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. With a major in Construction Management and a minor in Business Administration, Trevor will be working on finalizing quality control checklists with Bush Construction’s project management team.

In addition, attending job fairs is another recruiting and brand awareness tool. Many educational institutions hold career fairs to expose their students to potential employers with diverse hiring needs. Registration has begun for fall recruiting events, with most colleges and universities shifting towards offering virtual career fairs because of COVID-19. Iowa State University, for example, will be hosting its Engineering Career Fair on September 15th and 16th. Developing relationships with vocational schools is also a good way to learn about the talent pool that will be available after students complete the program(s).

3. Online Recruiting Platforms

Whether you are recruiting for in-office or field positions, employees are likely to track down your website, visit your social media profiles, and review third-party sites like Glassdoor to learn more about your company’s culture. Alternatively, searching for the right talent on digital platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, CareerBuilder, and more will help staff your workforce.

To learn more about careers available at Bush Construction, visit https://www.bushconstruct.com/meet-the-team/careers/.

Foundational Principles for Quality Construction

At Bush Construction, our experience over the years and across industries continues to demonstrate the importance of quality construction played out each day on actual projects. In fact, we manage each project from inception to completion on the principle that quality comes first. We base our approach to excellence on specific foundations of quality construction.

Five Pillars of Quality Construction

1. Experienced Project Management and Support Team

Industry experience is vital for quality construction. That starts with a highly trained and knowledgeable project management team. Our leadership understands how to best build a support team designed to successfully execute the project design plan to ensure quality construction, including proper schedule management. Without the foundation of a confident and informed team, the project risks a lack of overall quality.

2. Clear and Consistent Communication

Whether we are communicating internally with our team or externally with our clients, we strive for clear and consistent communication. We allow time for questions and discussions to ensure all parties understand the direction and details for each step in the project. We encourage each team member to speak up if problems arise to avoid quality issues down the line. We also consistently communicate the standards and expectations of our entire company to instill trust that when you work with Bush Construction at any level, you can expect quality.

3. Detailed Design Plan Implemented with Job Site Quality Control

While our overarching quality standards add value on a macro level, true quality construction comes through strong detail management. We implement each detailed design plan with specific job site quality controls. For every project, each stakeholder approves the final design plan before construction starts. In addition, every person on the project knows exactly what’s required to do their job right. Quality control checks are in place for completed tasks to identify problems early in the process.

4. Established and Trusted Relationships with Suppliers

Arguably, the most important foundation for quality construction is the quality of the supplies used for the project. We value our established and trusted relationships with our subcontractors and suppliers. And because of our excellent relationships within our local subcontractor and supplier market, we are consistently able to offer competitive pricing.

5. Investment in Industry-Leading Technology

Technology matters in quality construction. From 3-D design tools to advanced scheduling applications, the right technology ensures each construction project adheres to the best design and schedule standards. In addition, technology provides added layers of protection for quality construction, including accuracy and safety.

Quality Construction Based on the Best Knowledge, Experience and Resources

At Bush Construction, we prioritize quality construction based on a foundation of integrity. Across all our companies, quality is paramount with each project and customer interaction. We employ standards for training, operations, and project management to ensure consistent quality. In addition, the breadth of our resources allows more control over the quality of component parts and processes.

Contact Bush Construction to discuss how we can apply our standards for quality construction to your next project.

 

Author: Jerod Engler | Vice President of Construction | Bush Construction

Five Ways to Increase Project Efficiency

One of the most important aspects of construction management is creating and maintaining an effective schedule. Construction operations, big and small, include troves of interconnected elements that must work cohesively and sequentially to maintain the project schedule.

From inception to completion, each of these details contributes to the overall success of the job. However, without effective schedule management, the project can easily experience delays. Avoid the chaos by implementing these five practices.

1. Develop a Complete Project Plan

A detailed and complete project plan is essential to developing a master schedule. If available to the project, use 3-D modeling technology, like BIM (Building Information Modeling) to develop a coordinated plan established to identify design conflicts, reduce waste, and eliminate problems.

Once completed, involve all decision-makers in the final approval of the project plan to reduce the need for changes later that may delay the schedule or lead to rework. The foundation of schedule management ties directly to the quality of the design and plan.

2. Create a Master Schedule

A solid and realistic master schedule provides the backbone for the total project execution. When developing the master schedule, divide out each part of the project by phase while ensuring the accurate sequence of the tasks. It is best to never have an activity that extends beyond 15 days.  Also, after finalizing the master schedule, communicate clear expectations to all parties.

3. Manage Supply and Supplier Schedules

The master schedule only works with accurate order processing and delivery of project supplies. Select trusted suppliers with a reputation for quality and reliability. Then, communicate the schedule and project expectations to each supplier. Define the roles for order management, including responsibilities for tasks and proper communication channels.

4. Identify Pitfalls and Challenges

Scheduling challenges can occur with any construction project, no matter the scale. However, the larger the project, the more likely delays, and issues become. World events, like we are experiencing now with COVID-19, lead to disruption. In addition, labor shortages continue as an issue in the industry.

Major weather events, supply chain problems, changes to the project plan and other issues may impact the project flow. Build in time for unexpected delays and develop a contingency plan from the start so that each person understands their role in the face of challenges.

5.  Monitor and Report Progress Daily

Daily reporting is vital for successful and effective schedule management. Without proper communication and reporting, issues may go unaddressed. In addition, pay attention to times where the project falls behind or moves ahead. This is accomplished by creating detailed three week look aheads for each trade contractor to better communicate the project expectations on a daily in a much more detailed fashion than the overall master schedule. Correct and update the schedule based on changes or delays. Ensure effective and consistent communication occurs with all decision-makers and managers on the progress of the project.

 

Effective Schedule Management Based on Experience and Excellence

At Bush Construction, we offer professional solutions based on years of experience in the construction industry. We prioritize relationships with our clients, our team and our suppliers. Trust and quality matter to us. Effective and accurate schedule management is a vital part of building trust. We manage each project to stay on schedule and on budget.

Contact us with questions regarding our construction schedule management solutions.

 

Author: Jerod Engler | Vice President of Construction | Bush Construction

COVID-19: A Message from Bush Construction’s CEO

COVID-19 has turned many of our lives, businesses, and local economies upside down. My heart goes out to all those who are suffering as a result of this deadly virus.

While Illinois has issued a shelter in place order and Iowa has provided guidelines on social distancing, both states have deemed the construction industry an essential service. This means Bush Construction is open for business. We are here to help you in any way we can during this unfortunate time.

Bush Construction has always been committed to providing a safe working environment for our employees. In addition to our standard safety protocols, we are taking additional measures to keep our workers safe and do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

  • We, along with our affiliate, McCarthy-Bush Corporation, have established a COVID-19 Response Team that meets weekly to share information and discuss best practices.
  • We are working closely with our superintendents and foremen to follow social distancing recommendations and ensure job sites are sanitary.
  • The majority of our office personnel are working remotely and using video conferencing tools to maintain the strength and productivity of our internal teams.

During this time of uncertainty, Bush Construction will continue to follow the recommendations of local, state and U.S. leaders. With that said, if you need us, we are here. Call, email or schedule a video chat with any of our team members. We’re here to support our clients and community through this time of crisis.

Sincerely,

A.J. Loss | President & CEO | Bush Construction

 

COVID-19 Resources

Centers for Disease Control

Iowa Department of Public Health

Illinois Department of Public Health

Have an inquiry?
Contact us.