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Aggressive Schedule, Quality Construction & Competitive Pricing… How to Get All 3! (Part 3)

There is an old saying in our industry that you can deliver a construction project with one or two of the following qualities but not all three:

  • Aggressive schedule
  • Quality construction
  • Competitive pricing

At Harman Construction we think it is possible to do all three but not without careful planning and a project that is set up for success right from the start.  In this blog post I will address the 3rd quality on the list – competitive pricing.

We are fortunate that most of our clients are repeat customers or referrals from previous customers.  The common theme is that they want quality and they want a contractor they trust to do the project right.  However, Competitive pricing is a must for any project.  In some cases our customers need to be in budget for corporate or board approval.  In others cases it is simply to get the best value for the dollar.  In any case our job at Harman is ensuring that the numbers are right.

I believe the following points are key to making sure competitive pricing is delivered.

  • Finding the right subcontractors.  It takes a little extra time and effort to make sure the right team is in place but we work very hard to make sure we find and develop subs that are right sized to fit our customers needs.
  • Delivering good clear well written bid documents or clarifications.  When the bid package is sloppy or unclear then less bids will be received and higher contingencies will be included.
  • Adequate time is given for bid completion.  Time is needed to check for errors and inconsistencies.  It is also critical because if not enough time is given for the bid process then less bids will be received.  Less bids can likely mean higher overall numbers from subs.
  • The GC (General Contractor) needs to treat subs and suppliers fairly and pay them well.  We learned long ago that treating our sub team members with respect will help us in the long run.  If we are consistently difficult to work with and don’t pay our bills promptly, then we will not get the best pricing from our team members.
  • Efficient scheduling and operational strategic thinking.  General conditions can be very expensive.  We work hard to make sure that our operations team can provide input on how to layer a schedule to reduce time.  Also sequencing strategies that could reduce equipment or safety costs are very important.

At the end of the day it all comes down to planning well for success and finding the right team members to help us carry out the plan.  Companies that don’t plan, or uncover details, end up throwing extra cushion in their pricing for fear of missing something.

So, it is possible to have all three –  quality, schedule and pricing – But it doesn’t happen by accident.  It starts with picking the right team and taking the time to build a plan that works for success.

This business can be a lot of fun when team members are pulling in the same direction and the clients’ goals are met.   We look forward to helping many more of our customers as we ”Deliver all three” now and into the future.

Wayne Witmer

President & COO

Our Summer Vacation – An Inspiration for Green Building

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Rainbow Falls – Gorges State Park

On our summer vacation with family this month, we spent time Southwest of Asheville, NC in an area of the mountains near the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

The Blue Ridge Escarpment is the steep transition area between the mountains and the Piedmont.  The severe elevations changes, combined with heavy rainfall in this region, qualify the area as a temperate rain forest featuring numerous waterfalls, river gorges, and rare plant and animal species.

20 plus years ago I was introduced to a specific region around the Horsepasture River by a very good friend while we both were attending school not far away in South Carolina.  My friend grew up in this part of North Carolina and knew the best places to go and visit.   The waterfalls along the Horsepasture are one of those places.

In college, we visited these waterfalls as frequently as our schedules allowed, especially in the milder months when we could swim or slide down one of the waterfalls.  Unfortunately, after graduating from college, I heard that you couldn’t access this area any longer.   I was very disappointed to hear that such a wonderful place was not open to the public, and that I wouldn’t be able to share this area with my son and daughter.  However, earlier this summer we were excited to find out that North Carolina had created a new State Park in 1999 featuring a trail that provides access to these same waterfalls.

As we planned our vacation, a visit to this new Gorges State Park, was high on the list of priorities.    The weather was beautiful during our vacation and so one morning we set out with our swimsuits, snacks, water, and cameras.  We arrived at the parks visitor center,  newly opened in 2012, purchased a map, secured additional directions from the park staff and promptly set out on a reasonable 1.5 mile hike down to waterfalls.   We passed the creek and spot where my friends and I used to camp, hiked past Rainbow Fall, and then onto Turtleback Falls.   It was an incredible experience sharing this area with my son and daughter.  Now, 14 and 16 years old, they were now old enough to enjoy sliding down Turtleback Falls.

During this incredible adventure in the outdoors, I was also reminded of the responsibility we have as building professionals to the world we have been given and the impact of what we design and build.

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Visitor’s Center – Gorges State Park

When we arrived at the visitor’s center I discovered a thoughtfully designed site and building.   I was not surprised to find out that the Gorges State Park 7,100 square foot visitor’s center was designed to national green building standards and includes many sustainable building features.

In 2013 the project was awarded LEED Gold certification.   Like the park, the building and associated site development is special and includes elements in the design, such as a waterfall feature, which make it fit well into this special mountain setting.   Other site and building features include solar energy systems, geothermal systems, rainwater collection, water saving fixtures, local materials, and beautiful water efficient natural landscaping.  The building also has museum-quality exhibits, some which educate visitors on the green features of the building and site, in addition to letting visitors explore the natural and cultural history of the area.

After visiting Gorges State Park I can’t wait to go back!  If you are traveling in this region or if you are planning a trip, I highly recommend visiting this area and visiting Gorges State Park, DuPont State Forest and other surrounding natural areas that are breathtakingly beautiful and wonderfully unique.

If you are like me, you will be inspired by your visit.

Travis Layman

LEED AP, HCI Preconstruction Team Member

Travis Layman

Travis Layman

Construction & Technology: A Symbiotic Relationship

construction & technology harman inc

Construction and technology have not always had a symbiotic relationship.

Many people picture construction workers using old out dated technology, one step above a chisel and stone tablet, to deliver homes and commercial buildings.  Here at Harman we strongly believe that using the latest technology will help mitigate risk and improve the overall customer experience for our clients.

We do this from the design phase into the construction process through the use of 3D modeling capabilities and mobile construction management technology.

 What is 3D building model rendering?  

3D building model rendering is a 3D rendering process for the planning, design and construction of a building.

3D rendering is useful to owners, architects and contractors by allowing for virtual tours, fewer RFIs (request for information)  and an overall reduction in field changes.

Clients who are not familiar with reading standard construction blueprints can have difficulty visualizing the final look of their building.  3D Rendering allows clients to take a virtual tour of the building, improving the customers experience while helping to solidify pre-design decisions.

From conception to completion, 3D rendering reduces risk and ambiguity in the design phase. This means that revisions can be made prior to putting a shovel in the ground. This equates to savings, more efficient work time and a high quality product at the tail end of the construction project.

Implementation of technology in the construction field is another key to a successful project.

Submittals, drawings, RFIs, emails and invoices can be maddening on any sized project.  It is through the management of these documents that we are able to minimize mistakes and maximize efficiency.

How many times has the phrases been uttered, “you didn’t send me that”, “wasn’t that changed?” or “I don’t have the latest drawings”.  These all lead to negative results.  Lost documents, incorrect finishes, costly mistakes and delays are the project’s demise.

At Harman we are working toward mitigating that risk with the utilization of tablet technology and construction software in the office and field.  Now there is an effortless update with the click of a button. Revised submittals, RFIs and drawings are available in real time to managers and subcontractors on the job site.

Mobile technology is the future of the construction industry and at Harman we are taking the necessary steps to have that competitive edge.

A good customer experience is paramount to the success and growth of our company.  In a world with sprained thumbs and buzzing phones, we understand the importance to adopting the latest technology and see the value it provides to our team and our clients.

 

Dustin Harper-Dustin Harper

Harman Senior Project Manager