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Seven Steps in the Bush Construction Design Process

Taking on a construction project can feel overwhelming. Outlining your scope. Securing financing. Selecting partners (sometimes multiple partners). Designing. Building. Ribbon Cutting. Is your head spinning?

Bush Construction takes the complication out of construction by bringing all the critical services under one roof: real estate buying/planning, architectural design, and construction build. Read more about that here.

In today’s blog, we’re focusing on the design process and the seven fundamental steps that the design team at Bush Construction uses to get you to the construction phase of your project. As your design partner, we’ll make a process that can feel overwhelming and complex as stress-free and straightforward as possible. Let’s dive into the phases we’ll take you through as our partner.

1.    Pre-Design

The pre-design phase is all about forming a vision and analyzing the project space. As one of the more client-involved stages, we’ll closely collaborate with your team to capture your vision, understand your values, and plan for optimized functionality.

Our team will conduct a series of exploratory meetings which include listening, questioning, and ideating. We’ll take a deep dive with your team to build the foundation of your design:

Function: How will the space be used, organized, and arranged?

Style: Your personality, lifestyle, and design style preferences.

Space: How much space is needed now and in the future?

The other vital part of the pre-design phase is observing and documenting the existing conditions of the project site including surveying the land/existing building (property lines, measuring structures etc.) and doing background research on surrounding areas (contextuality, zoning, etc.).

2.    Schematic Design

In this phase, we’ll start translating the pre-design program into a real building design – your vision is beginning to take shape! The schematic design phase is also about capturing a general look and feel.

We’ll work together to discover what inspires us through hand sketches, models, and examples of past projects. We’ll develop preliminary site and floor plans as well as 3D renderings to visualize the size, shape, and relationship of the spaces to each other.

3.    Design Development

Using the approved preliminary site and floor plans, we’ll start making more concrete decisions about your space. These include the development of detailed drawings and specifications documents while keeping an eye on code compliance. Things are starting to come to life!

A rigorous coordination effort with all applicable disciplines will ensure fine-tuning and solidifying the design. You’ll be asked to review and approve these documents to confirm we’re on the right track. This is a great time to ensure the project scope is in line with the project budget – refining early on will save the most cost during construction. Construction costs have been varying widely in the past couple of years, our team collaborates to account for changes and conducts an exercise in value engineering.

Once approved, the deliverable will be a more detailed set of drawings that communicates the overall layout and volume of the building or space, all significant equipment, and the type of material or finish for every surface of the project.

4.    Construction Documents

It’s critical we communicate with the construction team in a way that creates clarity and accuracy. In this phase, the established design plans will be translated into precise construction documents. This step ensures that the vision is precisely and completely communicated to the construction team. (While we will handle this, check out these 12 terms to make yourself more familiar with the lingo.) Construction documents define:

a. Details, dimensions, and notes necessary to communicate the entire design intent

b. Specify all materials, finishes, and fixtures

c. Specify and place all required equipment with connectivity

5.    Building Permitting

In this phase, we’ll take the load off you, identifying and acquiring all required building permits so you can enter construction with peace of mind.

Permits show your project complies with the applicable guidelines and regulations required by your city or jurisdiction including but not limited to land use, building, and energy codes. We’ll manage this process from start to finish including submitting all required plans and forms, monitoring progress during the review process, and providing additional information or clarification as requested.

6.    Bidding and Negotiation

Bush Construction has a fully integrated team that can provide a seamless experience from concept to completion. Depending on the complexity of the project, subcontractors may need to be engaged. Our team of experts can lead the bidding and negotiation process to qualify and hire the best fit for you while remaining completely transparent.

We’ll engage pre-qualified and reputable subcontractors we know and trust, including those you may prefer. With a wide range of providers, we’ll ensure we’re weighing all options to best fit your needs and budget.

7.    Ongoing oversight and site walkthroughs

Much of the design work will be complete at this point, but we’ll stay involved until project completion to ensure the results are delivered with the quality and intent you expect.

The beautiful part about working with Bush is that our integrated approach brings expertise in all aspects of the design-build process.

Through construction, we’ll be your eyes and ears on the job site to answer questions from our construction team and proactively address potential issues. As one team under one roof, we can easily address the natural inefficiencies and waste that occur through a typical multi-firm-led process. At substantial completion, we develop a punch list and guide the construction team to wrap up the project to your satisfaction.


Why Bush?

One vision. One team. Concept to completion.

When you choose Bush Construction, expect a seamless experience from concept to completion. With development, design, pre-construction, and construction services under one roof, our integrated team works together to make your project stress-free and fun.


Ready to get started?


Get started with a no-obligation discovery meeting with Sameer Kulkarni, our Director of Design.

Telephone receiver 563-549-2115


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2023 Construction Costs


It’s hard to believe that we are three years outside of the onset of COVID-19. Even now, its effects continue to shake up the world.

In March 2020, the construction industry saw a historical spike in pricing, an overall increase of about 20-30% in a matter of 12-16 months. Owners were forced to increase budgets or consider value engineering alternatives. Contractors were potentially out dollars for projects already bid and on-site job shutdowns and quarantines created high demand and extensive backlogs. 2021 saw little relief with unprecedented rates of inflation.

It’s the beginning of 2023 and you may be asking yourself, is now the time to build? The short answer – yes. With three years under our belts, Bush Construction has established and refined processes to assist in accounting for pricing changes and supply chain delays. And even better news, we’re starting to see surging material costs plateau.

Better planning with the three Cs: Contingencies, Communication and Collaboration

By now, it’s no secret you may be paying more for a new build or renovation than three years ago. With Bush on your side, we can help you navigate these changes and complexities. Ensuring your budget and timeline are met starts with proactive planning using the three Cs: contingencies, communication, and collaboration.



In commercial construction, a contingency refers to money (often a percentage of the total project cost) reserved to cover unexpected project costs that arise after the construction starts. Contingency budgets have been a part of the Bush process, but have become even more important in recent years as we navigated unpredictable material costs and labor shortages.

So how is a contingency budget typically used?

  • Materials: Design professionals and builders must think about materials. What happens if the manufacturer changes, creates variations, or discontinues a product chosen specifically for a project? The price fluctuates! Room should be left in the budget to swap out design materials for sometimes more costly, yet available, options.
  • Changing or unpredictable conditions: During estimating, it’s often difficult to account for unforeseen or differing conditions. Not every project site is ready to build on from day one. Old foundations may be buried on site unknowingly, the weather could damage or postpone progress, and much more. Factoring in a contingency would help cover this.
  • Wish Lists: Excess funds…it happens! Owners should consider a wish list. The team may end up with an excess of money allotted to the project. This would allow for project betterments previously thought to be out of reach. For example, higher-grade flooring.

To learn more about contingency budgets, check out our blog.


Changes happen quickly in this high-cost and supply chain environment, which means efficient and clear communication with project teams and with owners is even more important.

Typically, an owner may need to engage multiple firms to take a project from concept to completion. That’s not necessary with Bush. As a full-service team, we offer integrated services in architectural design, construction, and real estate development. With open lines of communication between our departments, clear, quick, and transparent communication with owners is just part of the package. We work hard to avoid delays and miscommunication that are common issues in the construction industry.

We’ve recently enhanced our ability to more accurately and effectively communicate costs to owners with our addition of Destini, an estimating software that makes Bush more efficient. Since it is cloud-hosted, anyone on our estimating team can input and access real-time cost data at the office or at home. We are also  working to expand historical cost information in the database to more quickly and efficiently estimate future projects. With sky-high interest rates and long lead times creating higher prices and longer projects, Destini aids building owners in managing their expectations for cost.



During the construction phase, we partner with subcontractors and suppliers, which takes a high level of ongoing collaboration. Bush has worked to put an emphasis on subcontractor relationships, but we’ve honed in even deeper on those relationships to help manage the volatility of the economy.

Subs and suppliers are often the first to know about price changes and supply chain issues. Leveraging our relationships and remaining in constant contact throughout each project allows us to alert owners quickly and pivot plans to try to avoid delays and budget increases.


What to expect from construction pricing in 2023

The future looks bright. In the last six months, we have seen construction prices  start to plateau and even trend down in a couple scopes.

Lumber was a huge problem, and those prices have come down. HVAC rooftop units are still in high demand, and electrical switchgear maintains long lead times. However, we’re able to anticipate these patterns and plan accordingly.

Though many things have changed since 2020, one thing remains the same: the importance of selecting a construction partner that can guide you through the process.

Contact our team today to get started.


Construction Tip: 12 Terms to Familiarize Yourself With

As with any industry, the commercial construction industry has its own set of acronyms and key terms. What’s the difference between a contingency and an allowance? When do OAC meetings start? Having a general understanding of these key terms helps alleviate confusion between an owner and the general contractor and/or designer. We believe specificity and clear communication are keys to providing our clients with a great construction experience.

12 Common Commercial Construction Terms

  1. Contingency: Money, often a percentage of the total project cost, reserved to cover unexpected project costs that arise during a project. For example, a contractor starts excavating a site and hits bedrock. To remove it, different equipment needs to be brought in and the excavation takes longer than originally estimated. Contingency funds would be used to pay for this unexpected cost.
  2. Allowance: Funds set aside to cover a known cost of an unknown amount. For example, an owner wants to use tile flooring in their front entryway so the contractor budgets for a standard tile material that costs $5 per sq/ft.  The owner ultimately selects an $8 per sq/ft option and agrees to pay the $3 per sq/ft amount by which the actual tile exceeded the allowance.
  3. Consequential Damages: Damages to an owner’s business indirectly resulting from a breach of contract and which are generally foreseeable but not defined at the start of a project. For example, delays in the completion of a project for a manufacturing company result in the company’s inability to complete contracts for its customers.
  4. Liquidated Damages: A sum of money the contractor agrees to pay the owner, typically for each day the contractor completes the project late. For example, a contractor pays the owner of an office building $1,000 per day for every day the office building is completed after the contractual completion date.  The amount cannot be so great that it would be considered a penalty.  Liquidated Damages are typically accompanied by an equal and opposite Early Completion Bonus.
  5. Punchlist: A list of scope items that must be completed before a construction project is declared complete. Examples might include: replacing a damaged ceiling tile, touching up paint or ensuring dirt in light fixtures is cleaned.
  6. Substantial Completion Date: The date an owner can occupy the building for its intended use. For example, if there’s a long lead time on carpet that isn’t available to install in a conference room, the lack of carpet in that room doesn’t prevent the office building from being used.
  7. Final Completion: The date the project is fully and satisfactorily complete, Including the completion of all punchlist items.   The contractor can receive final payment upon final completion.
  8. OAC (Owner, Architect, Contractor) Meetings: Periodic meetings between the owner, architect and contractor to discuss the progress of a project.
  9. Change Request: A contractor’s request of the owner to compensate for something that needs to be modified on the project.  For instance, the owner may be considering adding a door to a room. This change is made to the design documents and sent to the contractor for pricing. The contractor issues a Change Request for the additional door.
  10. Change Order: A formal change in a project’s scope, often also impacting construction costs and completion dates. In the Change Request example above, when the owner approves the Change Request for the additional door, a Change Order is issued which formally adds the door to the project for the agreed price and (if applicable) a completion date extension.
  11. RFP (Request for Proposal): A document created by a property owner that announces, describes and solicits cost proposals from qualified contractors for a specified project.  It’s common for public entities like schools or other government agencies to issue RFPs.
  12. RFI (Request for Information): A means to clarify ambiguities or fill in gaps in information that appear in the plans or specifications. For example, a concrete subcontractor needs more detail on rebar placement than was shown on the plans, so they submit an RFI to the contractor who either responds to the RFI or forwards it to the architect/engineer for a response.

Registration Full For “Build Like a Girl” Workshop

Bush Construction and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois announced their “Build Like a Girl” workshop on Saturday, March 5 from 8:00 am to noon at is full. The workshop will offer 16 curious Girl Scouts in 6th – 12th grades the opportunity to build a bird house using blueprints and hand tools like tape measures, saws and hammers at Bush Construction’s warehouse (2902 Indian Road, Davenport).

Participants will earn their Woodworking Badge and a Fun Patch specially designed by Bush.

“I’m thrilled we’re partnering with the Girl Scouts, an organization that continually offers new ways for girls to learn about and explore the world, again to offer this widely popular workshop,” said Stephanie Hintermeister, Project Coordinator at Bush Construction. “Based on feedback from last year’s workshop, we learned it was the first time some participants ever stood at a workbench nonetheless used a hand tool. Because we pair each participant with a member of our construction team, they walk away with an understanding of how to use the tool safely and confidently.”

The workshop is a part of Bush’s efforts to kick off Women in Construction Week (March 6-12), to help raise awareness and celebrate the work of women in the construction industry. Women make up approximately 10% of the workforce, however, the number of women actually working on job sites is much smaller.

“Last year’s program was such a valuable opportunity for Girl Scouts to gain the technical skills of the construction field while discovering new career possibilities. Each girl walked away from the event with newfound confidence and we are grateful to partner with Bush Construction to share that experience with another group of girls,” said Aimee Williams, Girl Experience Leadership Manager for Girls Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.

Bush Announces 4 Employee Promotions

Studies show employees look for new employment opportunities when they become concerned about their career growth. As a result, career advancement paths are critical to employee retention and overall job satisfaction. At Bush, we offer career tracks across departments and continuously look for ways to grow and challenge every team member. Chris, Ryan, Patrick and Richard’s performance met every expectation, and we’re pleased to announce their promotions.

Bush Construction Employee Promotions

Chris Porter, Bush Construction SuperintendentChris Porter | Superintendent II

Chris has been promoted from Project Superintendent I to Project Superintendent II. Since joining the team, Chris spent a brief stint assisting in estimating where he reviewed his project’s information before moving on-site at the Wilson Building in Clinton. Chris has played a key role in successful job site management and his ability to facilitate solutions to challenges that pop up in historic restoration projects is impressive. We’re excited to have Chris take the next step in his career at Bush.



Ryan DeanRyan Dean | Preconstruction Manager II

Ryan began his career at Bush as a Project Engineer Intern. Since then, he’s risen from Project Engineer to Project Manager and most recently Preconstruction Manager I. Ryan has flourished in his role as Preconstruction Manager thus his promotion to Preconstruction Manager II. Ryan exemplifies Bush’s commitment to providing clients with a great construction experience and embodies what it means to be a great team player. Ryan’s career progression has been through his own willingness to grow and learn. Keep up the good work, Ryan!



Patrick TurnerPatrick Turner | Project Manager II

Patrick re-joined our Team in May 2021 and jumped right into running successful projects. His keen eye for detail and ability to listen before acting has provided the opportunity to improve internal processes and strengthen relationships with owners and sub-contractors. Patrick’s drive, commitment to grow and ability to clearly communicate are just a few reasons why he’s been promoted from Project Manager I to Project Manager II. Patrick’s efforts will continue to make our construction team stronger and more efficient. Congratulations on a well-deserved promotion, Patrick!



Richard HenningRichard Henning | Project Manager I

Richard joined Bush Construction as a Project Engineer, and we’re delighted to announce his promotion to Project Manager I! Richard has taken the reigns and successfully been running a very large historic development project, the Clinton Culinary project and many others. He’s shown great drive and initiative in learning the ropes, and we couldn’t be more excited for Richard’s future at Bush.

Jon Davidshofer Begins New Chapter at Bush Construction

Bush Construction is pleased to welcome Jon Davidshofer to its leadership team as Director of Development. In this role, Davidshofer will lead the strategy for all development and redevelopment projects.


“Jon has hit the ground running, and he’s an exciting addition to our team,” said AJ Loss, Bush Construction President/CEO. “Jon’s experience in the financial and economic growth industries will help deliver a personalized customer experience to our investors, commercial real-estate agents and city officials. He’s keenly aware of every step that needs to be taken throughout each phase planning, development, design and construction. We’re fortunate to have Jon lead our development efforts.”


“I’m excited to join the Bush Construction team and be a part of their growing organization,” said Davidshofer. “Being able to work with the internal design team, while also having the luxury of working with the whole construction department will greatly benefit my role as Director of Development. The team shares a common desire to grow the development department and I feel the quality of work that people don’t see behind the scenes will be appreciated and respected by the communities in which we serve.”

Dena Waddell-Genz Joins As Executive Assistant

Bush Construction announced Dena Waddell-Genz has joined the team as Executive Assistant to the President and COO. Waddell-Genz joins Bush Construction from MoboTrex where she spent four years as the Executive Assistant to the President/CEO and replaces Erica Sellnau-Allan who has been promoted to Head of Employee Engagement.

“Dena’s former experience at MoboTrex and John Deere World Headquarters brings a powerful combination of organizational management and decision-making skills,” said AJ Loss, Bush Construction President/CEO. “We’re committed to challenging and growing our people so that they can provide customers with a great construction experience, and we couldn’t be luckier to have Dena help us get there.”

“I’m thrilled to join Bush Construction for so many reasons,” said Waddell-Genz. “The Executive Assistant position is a role that I’ve had a very deep passion for, and I look forward to working with such a fabulous array of team players! Additionally, what I love most about Bush Construction is the work-life balance and the feeling of being appreciated by my coworkers. This is definitely the business environment I have been searching for, and I look forward to many years of dedicated service.”

Meet the Team: Colin Freese

We are so excited to welcome Colin Freese to our team. Prior to joining Bush Construction, Colin was a Senior Designer/Mechanical Engineer, proficient in using CAD and a multitude of other programs to design products for clients. We held a rapid-fire with Colin and learned a lot!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Ida Grove, Iowa.

What high school & college did you attend?

I graduated from Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School(OA-BCIG High School) and after that attended the University of Iowa.

What are your hobbies?

I like to play golf, pick-up basketball, and league sports like softball and volleyball.

How do you feel about working for Bush?

I’m excited about working for Bush and ready to contribute.

What are you most excited about?

I’m most excited to be able to see the projects I’m working on progress in real-time with my own eyes, something that I didn’t get the opportunity to see at my previous job.

How do you feel about the slight shift in your career path? 

I’m feeling more enthusiastic about construction than I did about manufacturing, and that makes me feel more confident about my choice to pursue this opportunity with Bush.

Technology & Construction: Have you Overlooked the Power of a CRM?

Evaluating sales and marketing software is like redesigning a website – no one wants to do it; however, every few years the process is necessary to stay current, evolve with customer needs and support a company’s growth strategy. One widely overlooked software purchase in the construction industry is an integrated sales and marketing automation platform, or a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. An integrated CRM serves as an organization’s single source of truth for customers, prospects, opportunity data, and more. It’s a marketer’s dream for understanding the customer journey and has the power to create higher producing customer-first teams.

Why CRM’s Bring Significant Value

If you work in construction management and would like to understand the benefits of a CRM, software review websites like Capterra or G2Crowd are great places to start. These websites offer insight from real-life users and the ability to compare multiple platforms.

Another resource is our podcast episode on Technology & Construction: Have You Overlooked the Power of a CRM?. Here are the top five highlights:

  1. Operations vs Sales vs Marketing – Construction companies tend to focus heavily on their operations. As a result, software purchases center around estimating and workload tracking. The last thing leadership, commonly made up of engineers, may think about is how to grow their business through an integrated sales and marketing approach. While the great divide between sales and marketing exists across almost every industry, in construction, it’s important to be mindful that the gap between operations and sales and marketing can be even more significant.
  2. Digital Marketing is “New” – In construction, a small-to-mid-size marketing department may be made up of one or two individuals who are typically responsible for providing logos, planning events, posting social media updates, and coordinating RFPs. While these tasks are important, engaging with customers based on their digital preferences and preferred frequency to push them further down the sales funnel is a new way of thinking. And may require a lot of internal education.
  3. Find a Champion – Find an executive or high-level manager that understands the importance of an integrated sales and marketing automation software and will champion your efforts. Work together to gain the support of your leadership team.
  4. Show the Cost Savings – Yes, that’s right, an integrated CRM will save you money. Not only will your financial projections be more accurate, but you may also be able to hold off on hiring the business development rep (BDR) you’ve been thinking about. When you compare the cost of an integrated CRM to a BDR, the software is much less expensive. The “smaller” investment will yield a much higher, more immediate result. When your team references one system of record, it’s easier to see where the bottlenecks are and act. Now, everyone feels responsible for helping clients achieve their construction goals.
  5. Determine Success Benchmarks – Define measurable goals and create a detailed plan (with timelines) on how you will achieve them. Is it to replace an outdated CRM or do away with Excel documents used to currently track your opportunities? Is it to send customer emails on topics they consented to receive updates on? Or would you like 100% usage by a certain date and time? Either you or your CRM onboarding partner can help you outline a plan and not only meet but exceed your goals.

Meet the Team: Ryan Welborn

Ryan pictured with his wife and three little girls

Continuing our “Meet the Team” series, we’re kicking off this week profiling Ryan Welborn, Director of Construction. Ryan is a highly respected problem-solving machine with a sense of humor and a genuine love for his family.

Where do you live?

Orion, IL

What do you do at Bush Construction? 

I manage projects under construction and provide guidance/support to fellow associates who are managing projects of their own.

Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work? 

My father.  If you work hard, more often than not, good things will happen.

How do you prefer to start your day? 

I like to start really early in the morning before the family gets up with a cup of coffee organizing for the day to come.  By the time they are awake, I have typically caught up on the random things from the previous day and can spend time focusing on getting them ready for school and daycare.

How do you prefer to end your day? 

Hanging out with my wife and three little girls.

Have an inquiry?
Contact us.