So You Want To Build A Building. Now What?

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So you want to build a building! That’s great news and we would love to build it for you.

First, however, you will need to decide which project delivery method you would like to use. It is a very important first step and could set the tone for your entire construction project. In this blog post I will discuss the pros and cons of the two most common delivery methods for small to mid-size construction projects.

  • The traditional bid-build model
  • The design-build model

Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages that owners need to be aware of.

In the traditional model, also known as lump sum bid, the owner selects a design team and completes the building design prior to selecting a contractor. Once the design is complete the owner solicits competitive bids from multiple general contractors. In most cases, price is the deciding factor in contractor selection.

Lump sum bid is typically the most cost effective model because it utilizes competitive pricing across the board. Suppliers competitively bid material to subcontractors, subcontractors competitively bid to general contractors, and general contractors competitively bid to the owner. Everyone is providing their best number.

While having the lowest possible initial contract price appears ideal on the surface, there are some distinct disadvantages to be aware of that can ultimately affect the overall success of the project.

  • Did the contractor miss anything in his bid?
  • Can he complete the building within your timing constraints?
  • Are the subcontractors capable of performing their scope of work?
  • Did the design team provide sufficient detail in the bid documents to allow bidders to include all the desired building elements?
  • Does the constructability of the design allow the contractor to be most efficient in his construction operations in order to minimize cost and time?

It is impossible to know the answer to any of these questions when a contract is awarded. However, finding out the answer is no, during construction, can result in delays and additional costs to the project.

The design-build model attempts to mitigate the concerns listed above by involving the contractor at the beginning of the process.  

Instead of splitting the design and construction responsibilities, the design-build contractor is responsible for both. Because the contractor is involved at the onset of the project he can provide valuable insight to ensure scope is complete, contractors are qualified, the design is constructable and he can meet the schedule requirements for the project.

Instead of having design and construction independent of each other, and sometimes at odds with each serving his best interests, the design-build model creates a collaborative team atmosphere where the success of the project is the foremost concern.  

There are certain considerations for an owner to be aware of, however.

In the design-build model the owner does not have the expertise of an architect at his disposal. This creates less control over design and quality of construction. An owner is completely reliant on his contractor.

For that reason, it is imperative that an owner selects a design-build contractor who is trustworthy and has extensive experience in design-build contract work.

To learn more about how we can help you meet your project goals through the design-build process you can contact us here.

– Seth Lind

Harman Senior Project Manager

Zenith Quest Groundbreaking in Afton

Here at Harman we are excited to be partnering with a growing local business, Zenith Quest Corporation, on the construction of their new warehouse and light manufacturing facility in Afton, Va.

Excavating Equipment On-site Ready to Move Dirt

Excavating equipment on-site ready to move dirt

On Saturday, April 25th, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in preparation for the upcoming project. Zenith Quest founder, Kutlay “Peter” Kay, his wife Hanri, and their children moved the first dirt. Afterwards there was a reception held for employees, family, friends, and supporters at Zenith Quest’s existing office.

Kutlay "Peter" Kay, his wife Hanri, and their children

Kutlay “Peter” Kay, his wife Hanri, and their children

Zenith Quest was founded in Afton five years ago and has grown very rapidly.  They are an import/export company specializing in ammunition and firearms. For the past year and a half they have been importing ammunition and then selling to Walmart.

“The company has grown from three years ago, just having two staff at our office at Pantops, to now we have a dozen staff here [in Afton], and a dozen overseas as well,” said facilities manager Ray Miles.

Moving the First Shovels of Dirt

Moving the first shovels of dirt

This facility will allow them to continue their expansion into the import and sale of firearms. This growth will result in 30 new jobs for the local area.

The facility will be an “L” shaped 80,000 square foot, pre-engineered Butler metal building. The space is going to be primarily used for Zenith’s product storage. It will also feature an office, bathrooms, and loading docks. This facility was designed through the collaborative effort of Design-Build Manager Jim Ellinger, working with Zenith Quest, to create a facility that meets their needs and goals now and into the future.

The Staff of Zenith Quest with their Families

Zenith Quest staff and their families

View the Newsplex 19 news story about this project by clicking here.


Team Member Spotlight – Ryan Strite

Here at Harman we are privileged to have such a great team of people working for our clients. Once a month we will be highlighting one of our team members so that you can get to know them a little bit better.

Ryan StriteThis month the spotlight falls on our Business Development Manager Ryan Strite. 

Ryan joined Harman in 2004 as a project manager before switching to business development seven years later. His past experience managing projects strengthens his ability to help clients put together projects that are well thought out.

Here are a couple questions we asked Ryan about his own experience at Harman and what he believes makes Harman a great place to work and a great company to do business with:

What has been your favorite project with Harman? 

  • That is really hard to answer. Each design project is so fulfilling for me and each one is unique in it’s own way. I love being able to help a client take their dreams and help turn that dream into a reality. That for me is extremely fulfilling.

What have you come to appreciate and value about the Harman team? 

  • Our Harman team truly cares. They love the work that they do and they handle that work with commitment and integrity and I think it shows because at least 75% of our customers are returning customers – which speaks volumes about our team here at Harman.

As a former athlete, how does that experience help you in your job today?

  • In college I was a point guard in basketball. As a point guard it was my job to put people in position to succeed. It’s the same in my work, my desire is to put people in a position to succeed, either as a team member or as a client. Not only that, but the whole design-build process is a collaborate team effort, and so knowing how to work together is vital to everyone’s success.

Outside of Harman, what other things do you enjoy in your down-time?

  • I love spending time with my wife and two children. Right now our daughter is playing t-ball and I love seeing her play and grow in that environment. We also like to get out to the mountains and just spend time together and on occasion I get a fishing trip in here and there.

To read Ryan’s full bio or to contact him – Click Here


It’s All About The People

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How would you describe the impact of being around really great people?

In today’s fast paced world the culture and business community are moving full speed toward communication almost exclusively through social media, email, and text. While this may create efficiency, it removes the joy of relating to people face-to-face. I believe that relating face-to-face allows us to leave a greater, more positive impact on people’s lives than social media sometimes allows.

As I think about the many great companies and organizations in the Shenandoah Valley I realize that what draws me in are the people in our local businesses and organizations. However, it’s not just about the business, but how my fellow entrepreneurs handle their business.

In the same way I am excited about the team of people we are building at Harman Construction!  Over the years many people have commented on the quality and character of our people. It really doesn’t matter how great a service you have if you don’t have the team of people to carry out the mission and vision of the organization.

In the same respect, I have had some wonderful experiences with sales representatives that genuinely care about me, our business, and our mutual benefit. They want to discover what we need and how they can help.

On the other hand there are those times someone calls you buddy and yet doesn’t really know you. I have even had one representative tell me an inappropriate joke….really?

Take a minute to ponder some of the qualities that you appreciate in the people you do business with or work alongside? 

Here are a few qualities I look for when working with others:

  • Can I trust them to follow through with commitments they have made?
  • Do they seem to bluff their way through an answer and skim over important details? I love when someone can answer a question by honestly saying, “I don’t know the answer, but I will research it and get back to you.”  Then do they follow through and get back to you without having to be reminded.
  • In conversation, do they talk more about themselves or do they listen and ask questions about you?
  • Do they speak highly of others and look for the best in people and situations?
  • Are they willing to speak the truth even if it is not what you want to hear?
  • Do they give of their time to help others in the community?
  • How do they handle criticism?

We don’t always live up to these standards, but I am confident that as we focus on doing these things well, we will grow as people and as a company.

I encourage you to take a few minutes and jot down what you like to see in the people that you interact with and ask yourself: what do others experience when they interact with me?

Let’s keep focused on leaving a positive impact on the people we encounter and our businesses and community will be a better place.