Construction Project Delivery Methods: Which Is Right for You?

Choosing the right project delivery method is one of the most important decisions that will be made by an owner or tenant starting a construction project. The appropriate delivery method for your project can reduce risk and improve the likelihood of meeting project cost, quality, and schedule goals. Each of the different project delivery methods has advantages and disadvantages for both parties, however the delivery method really depends on the needs of the project.

Design-Bid-Build / General Contractor

Design-Bid-Build is very linear and typically starts with design services, often an architect, creating renderings, drawings and plans. All design and specification details are defined in this initial step. Second, General Contractors bid on the drawings and define the cost of the work, before building out the project. There is no collaboration between the design and construction teams. From there, the selected General Contractor moves onto the third step to execute on exactly what is detailed in the construction documents. The Design-Bid-Build method is well understood and consists of clearly defined roles for each party.

Design Build

The Design Build project delivery method involves hiring a single team to execute on an entire construction project including design services and construction services, from preconstruction to completion. Many steps in this delivery method can run concurrently. This method lends itself to better collaboration between the design and construction processes. It is ideal for projects on a tight schedule, and often there are few pricing changes throughout the project and open communication. With everything funneling though the general contractor, not only does the client have a single point of contact, but it also eliminates liabilities and potential issues caused by two separate design and construction contracts.

Construction Manager

With the Construction Management project delivery method, there is a single direct contract with a construction manager that is brought on early in the planning and design process. That construction manager will then subcontract out general contractors to execute on the project. This method also allows for concurrent design and construction work, however there is an increased risk of communication issues and budget concerns due to the structure of the contracts and subcontractors.

The best project delivery method depends on the needs and priorities of your project. If you would like to more information on which is the most appropriate method for your project contact us today. Our team offers unparalleled expertise in commercial construction and renovation.

Why You Need a Commercial Builder for Large Construction Projects

If you only have experience working with residential construction or residential general contractors, you may not realize how different a commercial project can be. Most residential general contractors don’t foray into commercial projects and most commercial construction companies don’t work on residential projects. The process can be quite different depending on the type of project and the construction required.

The Main Differences: Commercial vs. Residential Projects 

Residential general contractors, whether new home or remodeling, are typically working with smaller structures than commercial construction. That means projects are cheaper in terms of material, labor and overall cost; obtaining material selections can also be somewhat difficult. There is also a personal component to residential construction as contractors are often dealing with homeowners.   

Commercial buildings, on the other hand, differ in terms of scale, complexity and functionality.

Most commercial buildings have greater infrastructure needs as well as different regulations and protocols. They are often more time-driven than residential projects as well. Commercial projects often require additional support from architects, engineers, designers, and building committees; and a commercial general contractor is prepared to work with the additional decision-makers based on experience.

Arguably the single biggest difference is the code requirements for commercial buildings such as handicap accessibility, egress requirements, fire safety, etc. With residential construction, many of these code requirements are not quite as stringent. Most commercial buildings require sprinklers and fireproofing, which leads to complicated electrical and plumbing requirements, where residential construction does not.

The Importance of Hiring Appropriately  

Whether you are looking for help with a commercial or residential construction project, hiring the appropriate general contractor is of the utmost importance. A commercial space is used in an entirely different manner than a residential space which is why there are so many differences. You need a general contractor who is familiar with commercial plumbing, electrical, egress, roofing, even commercial finishes. You need a general contractor who is experienced in projects of similar scale, complexity and functionality.

If you would like to learn more about our expertise in commercial construction and renovation don’t hesitate to contact us!

Natural Lighting Challenges & Solutions for Commercial Buildings

Natural light is especially beneficial in commercial buildings because not only can it help reduce energy consumption, it can also improve working conditions and positively impact productivity of building occupants. Unfortunately, there are inherent challenges when it comes to ensuring a commercial building has sufficient natural light. So, how can you incorporate more natural light in your next commercial renovation or constriction project?

The Benefits of Natural Light

The ability of daylight to positively impact employee wellbeing and productivity has been a hot topic as of late. Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg of Architectural Lighting explains that daylighting workspaces increases comfort and productivity of workers by providing the visual and mental stimulation that regulates circadian rhythms.

Additionally, natural lighting can lead to lower energy costs resulting from reductions in electricity consumption. The Whole Building Design Guide explains that electric lighting accounts for up to 50% of total energy consumption in commercial buildings, and daylighting can reduce as much as one-third of total building energy costs.

How-To Create an Interior Conducive to Daylight

Incorporating windows and skylights is the first option for introducing natural light into commercial buildings. However, proper placement is key for the windows and skylights to be effective, which is where the expertise of your general contractor is invaluable. The type of windows and placement of these should be influenced by the amount of light needed, the type of workspace intended, privacy requirements, and the overall design of the building. 

Oftentimes simple windows or skylights are not enough to bring natural light to the interiors of commercial buildings. Another popular tactic for leveraging natural light is to use light colors and reflective materials throughout a building. For example, white walls, ceilings and panels will reflect natural light and increase overall brightness of the workspace. Glass-partitioned walls and doors are also great for reflecting light and creating a sense of openness in a work environment.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Windows?

Most people would agree that there is no such thing as too many windows, especially in a commercial building. However, it is important to keep in mind certain challenges associated with numerous windows. Traditional glass simply does not control heat or glare, which can lead to discomfort for building occupants as well as have a negative impact on energy-efficiency goals. With this in mind, it’s important consider glass and window coverings. Thinking beyond bulky shades and blinds, dynamic glass or tinted windows is a great option allow building occupants to benefit from natural light without the drawbacks.

Start With A Plan

Leveraging natural light to create a comfortable, healthy environment and beautiful space for building occupants is possible. It all starts with a strong partnership with your commercial general contractor to plan for the best lighting solutions.

We would love to learn more about your construction or renovation project. Contact us today!

LEED Certified Projects: How General Contractors Contribute

When it comes to LEED certified green building projects contractors play a huge role in contributing to the success (or failure) of the project. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating system that may be applied to a variety of projects from building, to community and home projects.

LEED is intended to offer a framework for efficiency and earning a project certification requires a sustained effort by everyone on the team, including contractors and subcontractors. To achieve a LEED certification, commercial construction projects must satisfy all LEED requirements and earn at least 40 out of the 110 points on a LEED rating system scale. 

Design Requirements

Oftentimes the design requirements for LEED projects go above and beyond standard requirements and common building codes. It is imperative that the project has a strong design or construction team that has a robust knowledge of the LEED rating system. To that end, oftentimes a LEED coordinator will be involved with the project.

The LEED coordinator will ensure a project meets the design intent and LEED goals for the project. Initially, all of the LEED design and construction requirements should be detailed by the design team in the drawing and specification construction documents. Using those documents as a foundation, the LEED coordinator should be responsible for ensuring contractors and subcontractors on the project understand the LEED measures and requirements included.

Construction

The construction phase represents the most significant contribution to LEED certification on the part of the contractor. As decisions are made in regards to building materials, installation, budget and scheduling the impact on LEED credits will be considered.

The general contractor and any subcontractors or laborers involved in the project should be trained in the basics of the LEED framework for efficiency and long-term cost-savings. These primary consideration points include erosion and sedimentation control, pollution prevention, waste management, and so forth.

In addition to these job-site quality considerations, ongoing monitoring and documentation of progress to LEED goals is important throughout the project. LEED projects are document intensive, which is why typically the onsite LEED coordinator will complete intermittent inspections and reports to collect any material LEED documentation, collect photos, and monitor progress towards the targeted LEED credits. These inspection reports are the primary form of communication to contractors detailing any maintenance, updates or even corrective measures needed.

Subcontractor Qualifications

Subcontractors are often pre-qualified in LEED project experience and in-depth questions and background checks are typically part of the hiring process for a project. However, it’s important to note that the primary general contractor on any project is also responsible for gathering and submitting relevant LEED certificate and credit information from any subcontractors.

Furthermore, LEED is an educational process in many ways, and the General Contractor should provide a continuous feedback for subcontractors on exactly what the LEED requirements are for the project. It is equally as important to provide ongoing commentary on what subcontractors are not supposed to do or what they are to avoid doing on the project. 

Pre-Construction: The Importance of the Design Phase

Whether it’s construction, marketing, or even launching a new business, planning is the foundation for all successful projects. The design phase, or pre-construction phase, for commercial construction is especially important because you want to ensure that every decision being made will maximize your investment. With a creative partner you can trust, this pre-construction phase will help set your project up for success.

The Process

Kicking off a project with an appropriate budget, an accurate schedule, and a clearly defined design plan is crucial to the success of any commercial construction project. This process helps ensure that your designs are translated efficiently into an amazing final product.

Planning: Successful projects begin with diligent planning. The design process starts with an initial meeting to discuss the vision, logistics, and final project outcomes with the key decision makers and the creative experts on the commercial general contractor team. This should be a collaborative process that explores options and directions that ultimately lead to an amazing finished product. Together, the team will walk through architectural, physical and economic requirements of the project as well as code requirements.

Design Development: Design development then kicks off with experienced design professionals creating architectural, structural, and engineering drawings, as needed. These designs should detail specifications of the project from the ground up, oftentimes with artist renderings. The designs should also include detailed descriptions and mockups.

Financials: Financial models and budgeting should also be a key component in the pre-construction and design phase. Conceptual estimates are often created throughout the pre-construction phase and as a design is refined realistic cost estimates are updated. Any subcontractors and suppliers should provide construction cost estimates, logistics details, and schedules.

Permits: Permitting is another important step that your commercial general contractors should handle on your behalf. It’s important to ensure all appropriate permits are obtained not only to protect property value and guarantee code compliance, but also to save you money in the long run.

Now You Have A Plan

An integrated and collaborative approach to design phase pre-construction services will ensure your project is a truly exceptional experience, from preconstruction to project completion. That’s what makes for great results.

 

Questions to Ask When Vetting a Commercial General Contractor

Commercial general contractors expect a vetting and discovery process before signing any new projects. You need to gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision. But beyond the basic company history and project history, what do you need to know? 

Below is our list of critical questions to ask any commercial general contractor before narrowing down your search.

Questions to Ask a General Commercial Contractor

What similar projects have you worked on?

You want to know not only what experience they have with similar construction and/or remodeling, but also if those projects were successful. You should ask if they were completed on time and within budget.

What level of insurance coverage do you currently carry?

Of course, the commercial general contractor you choose needs to be bonded & insured. However, it’s important to take that one step further and ensure they have enough insurance to cover the needs of the job. Some contractors could be under-insured and cause more damage than they are insured for.

Do you have site supervisors?

You want to be sure you will have main point of contact on site that is employed by the commercial general contractor you hire.

What do you rely on subcontractors for?

Most commercial general contractor companies do use subcontractors so it’s important to find out up front what exactly they use them for and what capabilities they have in-house. Typically, you don’t want a management only firm that has.

Is there any type of guarantee around project deadlines?

What you really want to know is how often projects are completed on time. Oftentimes a commercial general contractor will build in guarantees and/or potential penalties if the project runs over the allotted timeframe for specific reasons. The important component to this question is to get any guarantees or penalties in writing in the final contract.

What is your payment schedule?

It’s important to be frank when talking about money, especially early in the process. These details matter and knowing when payments are due, what the payment terms are, and how much everything will cost ensures everyone is on the same page from the beginning.

What’s the likelihood of having change orders after the scope of work is defined?

Oftentimes change orders are necessary; there can be unforeseen circumstances with just about any project. But it can be helpful to get an idea of how often this happens and what the likelihood is for your specific project. As an extension of that, you should also ask what the process is for possible change orders. How will these be communicated and handled?

On average, how many projects do you work on concurrently?

You want to get an idea of how busy or spread thin the commercial general contractor ,may be during the course of your project. This ties back to timeliness and the likelihood the project will be complete on time.

Ask for references and check them!

Last but certainly not least, always ask for references and take the time to follow up on them. By checking references, you can not only get an idea of the variety of work the commercial contractor does, but also the quality of work.

How to Select a Commercial General Contractor

What is the first step to hiring a commercial general contractor? Typing “commercial contractors” into Google will return a number of options, but how do you narrow that list down and qualify each contractor? It’s important to find the right contractor for your project.

What is a Commercial General Contractor?

Before discussing how to select a commercial general contractor, it’s important to understand what one is exactly. A commercial general contractor works to complete commercial construction projects, as opposed to residential. It is typically a business entity, rather than an individual, and they are responsible for planning the construction from beginning to end. They are typically selected through a bidding process where the lowest bid from the most reputable company is awarded the project.

Define Project Scope & Priorities

The first step in selecting a commercial general contractor for your project is identifying what you need in terms of construction or renovation. Some key questions to ask include:

  • What are your goals for the project?
  • What is your budget for the project?
  • What is the desired schedule for the project?

A well-defined plan sets the tone for success, so it’s important to have the scope and goals of your project well defined.

Sending the Project Out for Bid

Once that’s complete, the next step is to send the project out for bid and request proposals or estimates from qualified, licensed commercial contractors. The contractors will review your project to create their bid, which is a project plan that details timelines and estimated costs. Upon reviewing bids it’s important to ensure that each bid includes all of the requested components and details anything that is excluded. Also, look for “Add Alternates” and/or “Upgrades” when it comes to materials, as these are potential causes for increased cost.

Selecting Your Commercial General Contractor

When narrowing down the list of bids you should take into consideration pricing, communication processes, level of detail, quality of work, proposed timeline, and company reputation. You should not choose your commercial general contractor based solely on price. Communication is paramount for a successful construction project and you want to select a general contractor that will be clear and transparent every step of the way.

You should also evaluate the payment terms to ensure there is a schedule of values and associated costs detailed in conjunction with the timeline. A progressive payment schedule allows you to make payments as certain milestones are completed. Lastly, in addition to the timeline, there should be a completion date or substantial completion date that is clearly stated in the contract.

Additional Tips

Be sure to start early. This can be a time consuming and taxing process and you do not want to make the wrong selection based on timeline constraints alone.

Pay attention to word of mouth referrals. Oftentimes a referral can tell you more about the quality of work than anything else. Also, ask for references and check them. If the general contractor does great work they will be more than happy to provide referrals from previous, happy clients.

You can also get information about companies in your area from trade groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. or The Associated General Contractors of America.

The Ultimate Goal

The ultimate goal for any commercial construction project is to find a reputable company that provides quality work, in the defined timeline. Remember, the company you choose for your commercial general contractor will be your business partner, so choose the company that is a fit for your project and has the qualities you’re looking for.

General Contractor vs. Construction Manager

General Contractor vs. Construction Manager

Understanding the Difference Between a General Contractor and a Construction Manager

Whether you’re researching for a new project or looking to get into the construction field, understanding the ins and outs of all potential roles can get complicated. Construction projects don’t just get designed and built overnight, and sometimes there can be hundreds of people involved that bring a construction project to life.

The lines between General Contractor and Construction Manager can seem especially blurry because both are involved in coordinating a construction project, and sometimes a General Contractor can also serve as a Construction Manager. Even though that can be some overlap, we’ll break down the difference in each role so you can be prepared and fully understand if you’re looking for a General Contractor or Construction Manager.

General Contractor vs. Construction Manager

General ContractorConstruction Manager
Business entityIndividual
Hired through bidding processHired based on experience and credentials
Begins work after design processInvolved in pre-design phase
Builds entire project from beginning to completionOversees project from pre-design to completion
On job site physically construction entire projectNot involved directly on the job site

The key difference between a General Contractor (GC) and a Construction Manager (CM) is that a GC will be a business entity, and a CM will be an individual. GCs are going to be hired as a 3rd party through a bidding process to manage the construction of a predetermined design, while a CM will work on behalf of the company owner and be hired based on qualifications to work on a project from design to completion.

While both are important to a successful construction project, it’s easiest to understand the differentiations by taking a look at each role.

What is a General Contractor (GC)?

What is a General Contractor

A GC will be hired on to a project through a bidding process, where generally the lowest bid from the most reputable, trusted company would win the project. The GC will be working to complete a project within the projected bid, but if the project costs go over the estimate the company owner that hired the GC is completely responsible. This is why it’s vital to work with a trusted GC that you know will give you an honest estimate and work to stay within budget and time constraints. Conversely, if a project is completed ahead of schedule and under budget, the GC will generate a profit from the project, creating an atmosphere where both the GC and project owner need to have competitive pricing to work together.

While a GC isn’t involved in the pre-design process, they are still responsible for planning the project construction from beginning to completion. The General Contractor will approve and hire any necessary subcontractors or additional personnel required for the project, which is why a GC is typically a business entity and not an individual person. A full General Contracting company will have an entire network of specialists and subcontractors required to complete a construction project, and will work to ensure the right people are placed on the project to get the job done.

 What is a Construction Manager (CM)?

What is a Construction Manager

A CM will be hired by the business owner through a process of evaluating experience and credentials. A CM is going to work based off predetermined fee, and a CMs fee will not change if a project goes over the projected cost or finishes early. Since a CM doesn’t need a design to craft a bid, they can be involved in the pre-design process and ensure the project is built out in accordance to the initial design. Because the CM isn’t “bidding” on a project, they are hired by the business owner because of their background and qualifications.

A CM isn’t going to be directly involved on the job site. Instead, they act as a project manager and oversee the entire construction process as a whole. While a CM is typically going to be one person, there are cases where a group of individuals will work together as one entity, typically involving a group of estimators, project managers and accountants.

Do You Need Both?

Whether you need a CM on a project is completely dependent on the project itself. In many cases when you’re working with a trusted partner, the GC can take on any important roles the CM would take. In some large projects, you will want a trusted CM to ensure the designs and plan for your project and being carried out correctly. It all depends on the size of your project and your individual needs.

Want to discuss an upcoming project with our team? At Green Heart Enterprises, we have an extensive project management team and seasoned general contractors that specialize in commercial construction and renovation projects. Contact us to tell us about your project to see if we can help today.

Green Heart Enterprises Wins Corporate Real Estate Supplier of the Year Award during the Delta Air Lines Star Awards

Green Heart Enterprises is proud to announce that we were selected as the 2017 Supplier of the Year at the Delta 18th annual Star Awards. From the Sky Club at Hartsfield to the Delta campus, Green Heart has partnered with Delta over the years on several projects including the Delta Sky Club Greet Wall and a conference room at Delta HQ. According to Delta, the winner works to save Delta time and money by providing quality work within reasonable time estimates.

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The Delta Air Lines Star Awards is a prestigious recognition for the top performing small and diverse-owned supplier partners who demonstrate excellence in business operations and service to Delta.

The Corporate Real Estate Supplier of the Year demonstrates supplier excellence in cost reductions/savings, quality and reliability, innovation, delivery, relationship management, and community outreach.

We are honored to receive such a prestigious award from the Delta team. Our mission at Green Heart Enterprises is to deliver a quality project for a fair price, meet or exceed the expectations of our customers, and show our passion for what we do by helping our customers improve their facilities, and the Delta Supplier of the Year award is further evidence that we’re honoring our mission through our Delta projects and beyond.

American Heart Association Benefit

In the past we've participated in a benefit for the American Heart Association sponsored by Delta. The event is a sporting clays, shooting competition and takes place at Fox Hall in Douglasville, GA. We sponsored 2 teams, our teams did not win the event but we had a blast! And more importantly, they raised somewhere around $70k for the AHA. Check out the group and our award below!

Delta Sky Club Greet Wall

If you need a place to kick back and have a snack or a beverage before your next flight, we can vouch for the Delta Sky Club at Gate D12. How do we know? Well we've spent a good amount of time there over the past few weeks building their "Greet wall"! It's the sleek and welcoming wall behind the greeting desk, hence the name Greet Wall. Check out the pictures below for some during and completed shots. 

Mission: Possible

A few months back we started having some conversations about what is really important to us here at Green Heart. A lot of similar themes kept coming up and we decided to use these ideas as guidelines for running our business. So we created a mission statement, a list of core values, and a vision of how we want to operate moving forward.  We believe so strongly in these themes that we put them on the wall in our office, and added a new page to the website here. Let us know what you think!

We're Hiring: Project Coordinator

We have a job opening for a Project Coordinator:

Project Coordinator Job Description: We are looking for someone to join our growing team that is a self starter and works well with a team. Pay is a salary based on experience, plus bonus. The Project Coordinator will be working with our staff of Project Managers on assigned projects that are fast-paced with deadlines. The majority of projects are at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Some of the duties:

RFP's

Contracts

Submittals

Warranties

Job Costing and Tracking

Change Orders

Material Orders

Schedules

Assist on projects with Project Manager going to meetings, and site visits

 

Education: College Degree or Equivalent Experience

Computer Programs: Excel, Project, Outlook, Blue Beam

Experience: 5 years

If interested, please email your resume with a cover letter to vculpepper@greenheartenterprises.net

Our 11 Alive Buildout Wins Awards!

A few months ago we completed a build out of the 11 Alive retail store in Concourse B at Hartsfield-Jackson here in Atlanta. We are very proud of the work considering the challenges we faced from a timing and logistical perspective. As it turns out, other people like it too! We won a First Place 2016 Build Georgia Award, a Best Sustainable Building Practices Merit Award, and were mentioned in Atlanta Business Chronicle for outstanding achievement! A big thanks to our team that worked on the project and to all those who voted!

We've Been Busy!

It's true! We've completed a couple of big projects recently at the airport here in Atlanta. Our renovation of the maintenance facilities turned out great! The new offices, conference room and kitchen are something we're very proud of and hopefully will make that group a little more comfortable in their space. And you know those long ramps you walk down to get on a plane? We gave one of those bad boys a new coat of "awesome"! Check out some of the pics below to get a better idea of the work.

We'd also like to give a quick congrats to Anthony Giacobello, Daniel Lawrence, Phillip Allision, Stephen McCutchen, and William Finney. These guys were each awarded The Ron Amerson Certificate of Commendation for Safety Excellence by the AGC of Georgia for "No Lost Time Accidents in 2015". Thanks for all your great work guys!