Value Engineering in Construction

Value engineering applied in commercial construction has enormous benefits for contractors and developers alike. The multi-step process is an integral part the process and is ultimately focused on increasing value for a project. Specifically, the goal of value engineering is reducing the cost of a scope of work, oftentimes for projects that are over budget. Most commonly this is done by offering an alternative means without compromising the end product or evaluating the life cycle cost to create savings over a longer period of time. 

A Teamwork Focused Process

The basic premise behind the formal value engineering process is teamwork. Owners and/or developers, designers, contractors, and consultants must work together as a team to achieve the ideal outcomes.

Often, the formal value-engineering process takes place in a structured workshop focused on five phases:

  1. Information Gathering

  2. Functional Analysis

  3. Creative Brainstorming

  4. Analysis

  5. Recommendation

Information Gathering is the simply the initial briefing by project teams to ensure all parties have a comprehensive understanding of the project requirements and design, the status of the budget and schedule, and potential constraints or blockers. Functional Analysis focuses on evaluation of the project's functional requirements within budgetary limitations. Creative Brainstorming is where the team ideates options for value engineering, keeping in mind the functional requirements of the project and working to ensure no undue compromise on output. Analysis is the phase where creative ideas are expanded upon to identify workable solutions. Analysis of each idea should include evaluating impacts and costs, as well as feasibility and value received. Ultimately the Analysis concludes with ranking each idea based on these factors. Finally, the Recommendation is made via a formal report detailing the value-engineering proposal, expected savings, and value results.

The Benefits

For a project over budget value engineering process is a necessity. The focus should be on reducing project costs, as mentioned above, without degrading value or making unnecessary compromises on the final product. For a project that is within budget the value engineering process can still be beneficial. In these instances, the emphasis is still on improving value but the focus is often on longer term goals around the life cycle of a project or building, ongoing operations, and quality.

Value Engineering in Action

At Green Heart Enterprises the value engineering process is viewed as a structured and creative process, often ongoing, that ultimately helps with reducing the cost of a specific scope. This process requires strong communication from both the project team and the developer/owner to achieve the end result. 

Our experience with value engineering is an important aspect of our approach to project management. Contact us today to work with our experienced team.

Commercial Green Building Trends

With the flurry of new commercial development activity in recent years, few trends stand out as much as the shift towards green building. The market for sustainable products, practices, and processes in the building industry is augmented by public awareness and even increased legislation. Each year more and more developers, government agencies, real estate managers and contractors incorporate green features into their buildings and facilities.

With this increased attention on green building requirements and rating systems, a shift in market demands and even government regulations, what are the most notable trends emerging in commercial green building?

Top Trends Driving the Market

Certification Slow Down

While important elements of sustainable design continue to play a significant role in new commercial construction, there is a trend towards certification fatigue. LEED certification and Energy Star ratings remain strong in terms of adoption, but industry leaders note filling out so much documentation and jumping through hoops to attain these certifications are not not required to fulfill green building goals. At the same time, we’re seeing a rise in competition with more rating systems in the market such as Green Globes.  

Eco-Friendly Building Materials

Using eco-friendly building materials in commercial construction ultimately results in lower fossil fuel consumption and less waste, on top of being better for the environment and people. Materials such as recycled steel, new types of concrete, and insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are becoming more commonplace in commercial construction not only because they are more energy efficient, but also because they are incredibly long-lasting.

Net-Zero Energy Buildings

A building that creates as much renewable energy as it consumes throughout the year is considered a net-zero energy building. While still far from the norm, net-zero energy buildings are becoming more commonplace and more specifically, interest in pursuing these types of projects is steadily growing. As solar panels continue to become more affordable and improve in terms of performance and durability, we expect to see this trend increase substantially.

Looking Ahead

Commercial construction is going green and it’s creating opportunities for commercial builders and contractors who are eager to meet the rising demands. From certifications to energy consumption, there has been a clear shift towards more efficient and sustainable buildings. We expect to see these trends continue to grow in the years to come.

What is ‘Light’ Commercial Construction

Light Commercial Construction

Like residential and heavy civil construction, commercial construction is a unique segment of the industry. There are obvious differences between constructing a downtown skyscraper and a standalone, single-story retail structure; but “light” commercial construction can be difficult to define. What exactly is this segment of commercial construction? 

Light commercial construction refers to smaller-scale business construction, such as offices, free-standing retail, restaurants, small medical facilities, banks, etc. These are most under four stories and less than 25,000 square feet.

Industry Trends

As we’ve written about in the past, in conjunction with the rebounding economy over the last decade we’re seeing increased growth in specific segments within the construction industry and light commercial is steadily rising. New construction in the form of office buildings and live, work play developments are some of the fastest growing sectors within light commercial construction.

Not every commercial construction project is a complete build out or ground up project. We’re also seeing steady growth from renovations and retrofits in light commercial construction structures. Often businesses need light commercial construction work to enhance or update existing commercial spaces.

Experience You Can Trust 

Our extensive light commercial construction experience speaks for itself. We have the knowledge and understanding needed to make your next project a success. Contact us today to learn more about working with us.

A Culture of Safety

In an industry spanning over 6 million people and over 250,000 construction sites on any given day (via  it’s no surprise that job site safety is a top concern for commercial construction. On top of the sheer number of projects taking place at any given time the industry continues to experience a skilled worker shortage. This has led to growing job site safety concerns and risks.

Potential Hazards

Commercial contractors and construction companies manage a variety of considerations on each project including budget, materials and schedule. They must also ensure compliance with a wide range of regulatory requirements, from environmental standards to local building codes and employment practices. But one of the most important concerns is safety and as contractors are forced to do more with less, a renewed emphasis on safety is imperative.

In recent years, incidents involving vehicles or equipment have been the primary source of construction workplace injuries. Fall hazards also account for a high percentage of accidents. Other hazards that result in job site injuries include electrical shock, cave-ins, caught-betweens and falling objects.

Our Safety Program 

It continues to be important for organizations to build strong and comprehensive safety programs to improve the overall safety culture in offices and on job sites. At Green Heart, fostering a culture of safety means we’re consistently working to ensure the people and property involved in each project are properly taken care of. We hold weekly meetings as well as ongoing training programs focused on job site safety, potential hazards, and solutions. We provide safety checklists to help everyone avoid hazards and injuries. Last, but not least, we ensure everyone maintains current safety certifications.

An Outstanding Record

Our outstanding safety record and reputation for safe job sites is a result of our strong safety programs and culture. Ultimately, our goal is to demonstrate management’s commitment to safety. Contact us today to learn more about working with us.

The Commercial Construction Labor Force

In the midst of a healthy economy and economic growth it’s important to look at the labor trends for our specific industry – commercial construction. With the continued growth and evolution of the construction industry, companies must stay up-to-date if they want to remain competitive.

Jobs are Booming

The bright side of a growing economy is an increase in construction – everything from new builds to renovations and retrofitting has been steadily increasing in recent years. As a direct result, the number of job openings has grown substantially with 73,000 new jobs available in construction as of March 2019 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, the Bureau also states that the number of positions left open as a result of individuals quitting has decreased by 38,000 as of March 2019.  

Planning for Hiring

This data indicates an increase in the demand for workers, without a corresponding increase in the available labor force. Over the last five years, average pay for construction workers – both hourly and salary – has increased. This salary trend in conjunction with the increase in available jobs, has led to the pool of unemployed workers diminishing. And that pool gets even smaller the more experienced an individual may be, putting constraints on hiring efforts for many companies.

Looking Ahead

As the construction industry to continues to grow we will continue to contend with a limited supply of skilled craft workers. The availability of qualified labor will continue to decrease as younger generations avoid many trade career options and more baby boomers retire. With so many available positions, it becomes harder for companies to draw in new people. This is definitely a trend to keep an eye on throughout 2019 and into the coming years.

 At Green Heart, we believe what will set us apart as an employer are considerations beyond salary and benefits. Our competitive advantage lies in our mission and core values, our focus on building lasting relationships, and fostering a sense of community. Contact us today to tell us to learn more about working with us as well as for us.


Common Commercial Construction Delays & How to Avoid Them

Commercial construction projects tend to move at a fast pace out of necessity. Any delays in construction can be disastrous and oftentimes there’s very little leeway for delays or schedule changes. That’s why it’s crucial to know what causes construction delays and how to avoid them. Here are some of the most common things that derail construction.

Unrealistic Timelines & Schedules

Keeping a construction project on schedule to meet the completion deadline is not an easy task. One of the most important considerations in hitting the defined deadline is ensuring the original schedule is well thought out and realistic. The schedule needs to consider every detail and scope of work, timelines from every subcontractor, and lead times for every order. A master schedule should be used to guide the project and updated frequently.

Planning for Long Lead Times

As with any type of construction project, commercial construction often calls for materials and supplies that simply have a long lead time. Furthermore, a lot of products have a fixed lead time, i.e., there is no option for expedited shipping no matter how much you’re willing to pay. HVAC units are a perfect example; often manufacturers don’t keep a lot of units in stock. Also, any specialty or custom items are likely to have an extended lead time. 

Adverse Weather

One potential concern for delay that is often overlooked is the weather. Quite a bit of work can be done despite a little rain, but mother nature has a strong will. Severe weather such as lightening, tornadoes, hail, etc. may inhibit progress, especially on exteriors.

Permitting, Inspections & Reviews

It’s imperative to plan sufficiently for permitting and inspection timelines. Local governments and municipalities may differ from one to the next and often there is no fast-tracking permits or reviews. It’s important to ensure that the project plan accounts for potential delays in permitting and inspections so that the overall project isn’t thrown completely off course by a change that is in large part uncontrollable. 

Avoiding Unexpected Delays

Ultimately avoiding delays in your project boils down to planning and scheduling. Work with your project manager to ensure the schedule is realistic and stays on track throughout the course of the project. Make sure to account for long lead times in the initial schedule. Place orders early and think about specialty items. Lastly, be sure to evaluate and adjust as frequently as needed.

With careful planning from the beginning, experience contractors like Green Heart Enterprises can get your next project completed on time and within budget. Contact us today to tell us more about your project.  

Difference Between Renovations, New Construction and Retrofitting

There are many phrases used in modern construction such as renovation, remodel and retrofit that have similar meaning and may be used interchangeably. However, these types of projects do have unique specific meanings and unique considerations. It’s important for you to know the difference so that you’re able to clearly communicate with commercial general contractors.


Renovations are projects wherein the structure is being restored or repaired. Renovations are somewhat synonymous with remodeling, however the goal of a remodel is to change the structure, while the goal of a renovation is to repair the structure. Some renovations are subtle, hyper focused on a specific element, and some renovations are more substantial and overlap with remodels.   

A commercial renovation often includes repairing or replacing any part of a building that may be outdated or damaged. It is fairly common to see renovations to address structures or specific elements that may not meet modern building codes. Renovations are often more cost effective than new construction or a complete remodel, and typically, renovations also add value to the structure or building.


Another type of project similar to remodeling is retrofitting. With this type of project, you are adding something new to the original building or structure, however the goal of a retrofit is to specifically improve the functionality of the building by adding new technology, building systems, or equipment. Conversely, remodeling tends to be more focused on the aesthetics and appearance rather than purely functionality.

One of the most common retrofit projects for commercial buildings today is making a building more efficient through updated heating elements, improved windows, or new insulation. Rooftop retrofits for commercial buildings may improve the life expectancy of a structures roof and offer lower-maintenance. Seismic retrofitting projects improve a structures ability to handle earthquakes or ground motion. As long as there is new technology to improve commercial buildings, the retrofit opportunities will continue to grow. 

New Construction

New construction projects are very straightforward: constructing a new building or structure from the ground up. This type of project, although simple in terms of definition, is very unique from one project to the next. Most often a new construction project requires working with architects, builders, construction teams and general contractors at a minimum. 

Building from scratch may be a more expensive option than renovating but oftentimes a new build is the best option for your specific project.  New construction allows for application of modern technology throughout the building for everything from electrical to sustainability considerations. New builds also often mean lower maintenance costs over time.

Your Next Project

Ultimately type of project you will depend on the purpose of the building, your budget, and the goals of the project. Once you have clarity on the project as a whole it’s easy to decide if a renovation, new construction or even a retrofit is right for your commercial construction project.  

If you’d like to learn more about our experience in everything from retrofits to renovations contact us today.

New Year, New Construction: How to Elevate the Retail Experience

The way consumers shop and purchase products has continued to evolve over the last few decades. With the rise of ecommerce and online shopping efficiencies, brick-and-mortar stores now have to put the consumer experience first. Retailers are working hard to keep up with this evolution and looking to new and exciting construction options to help.

In-Store Experiences

Consumers are sharing more experiences on social media today than ever before. Everything from a mundane trip to the grocer or doctor, to a big night out at a five star restaurant. As a result of this trend, retailers are looking to create dedicated spaces for social media sharing within their store. Retailers may build a unique sitting area or include unique signage or wall construction, anything that may make for a share-worthy photo.

Many retailers are also relying on general contractors to build in wi-fi technology to improve the consumer experience in-store. Offering high speed internet in store allows consumers to browse products and price shop, search for coupons, and of course, share their shopping activity publicly via social media. Furthermore, many retailers want networking abilities so associates can carry tablets and mobile devices to help customers find items or check out with a non-stationary POS system.

Live, Work, Play

In recent years the big trend in retail has been building open-air, mixed-use developments that offer shopping and restaurants in addition to multi-family housing. These “lifestyle” retail centers also often include green spaces, benches and picnic tables, and connected pathways throughout. This trend will not only continue in. 2019, but will continue to evolve as retailers further embrace the open-air concept and integrate natural elements into their construction.

Most consumers are not fans of harsh fluorescent lights, little to no natural light, and tight and cluttered shopping aisles. For these reasons retailers are moving to incorporate a more natural vibe through the use of skylights, UV bulbs, and even plants and water elements in-store. This not only helps create a relaxing atmosphere, but can also provide another  share-worthy photo opp in-store.

Creative Renovations

Another trend in retail construction is renovations – rather than seeking new construction, retailers are looking for older buildings that may or may not have been retail facilities originally. These buildings represent a great opportunity to modernize and streamline in an efficient and sustainable manner. The unique construction elements that old or even historic buildings have to offer can truly set retailers apart from the bare-bones, functional interiors of new construction.  

Today’s consumers want a more engaging experience and that starts with the construction phase for retailers. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, new and exciting opportunities for retailers and general contractors will continue to grow.  

If you’d like to learn more about our experience in the retail vertical or what we can do for your next project contact us today.

Commercial Construction Trends & Predictions for 2019

In a recent Consensus Construction Forecast, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has predicted nonresidential construction industry spending will increase in 2019 and continue to grow in the coming years. With the increased levels of construction activity, we expect to see trends emerge that will shape projects across a range of industries and sectors.

Here are some of our predictions for what to expect in 2019: 

Sustainability & Green Efforts

As we have written about already this year, improving sustainability on commercial construction projects is a trend that we’ve seen throughout 2018. We expect this movement towards methodologies and processes focused on reducing waste and energy consumption to only grow in the years to come. Everything from material selection, to construction waste management is being evaluated and commercial contractors will continue to look for efficiencies that will ultimately protect the planet’s valuable and limited resources.

Increased Growth in Key Sectors

As the commercial construction industry has shown steady growth throughout 2018, the following key sectors have stood out: office buildings, retail and restaurants. Because consumer spending has been on the rise we are especially seeing a correlation in retail and restaurant construction especially. Many national restaurant chains are opting for new construction rather than retrofitting existing spaces; and in cities across the nation the spike in “live, work, play” developments has also contributed to the rise in retail and restaurant construction.

Limited Labor Force: Subcontractors Specifically

With increased construction activity we will continue to see a labor shortage in the industry. Many subcontractors are already working at full capacity, meaning they are in a position to be more selective about the jobs they take on. They are also in a position to drive pricing for their labor on certain jobs, especially those that may require overtime work or off hours labor. This trend is on pace to continue into the new year as commercial construction continues to grow.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is used to virtually simulate a project before construction begins, increasing visibility into fine details for everyone on the team and creating time and cost efficiencies long term. The technology creates virtual models, allowing the team to easily collaborate, share information and identify possible design challenges. Strong communication and collaboration are key to any successful construction project and BIM improves both.

There are countless moving parts in commercial construction, and as we move into a new year we’re excited to see where the industry is headed. With improving economic conditions and a continued increase in consumer consumer spending, 2019 is expected to be another great year for growth in the commercial construction industry.

How to Improve Sustainability with Project Construction

Sustainability is defined as the desire to perform activities without any depletion of resources or bringing harmful effects on the environment.  Sustainability practices have increasingly moved to the forefront for businesses, with companies of all sizes and across industries placing emphasis on lowering its environmental impacts. The construction industry is no different. Today more than ever construction companies and general contractors are changing their techniques and materials acquisition throughout the construction process to reduce waste, energy consumption and various inefficiencies at building sites.

Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, here are some of the ways we can work to further the focus on sustainability in construction.

Material Selection 

Material selection is one of the easiest ways for general contractors to improve the environmental impact of a project. Selecting materials that are manufactured from recycled products and local sources can drastically improve sustainability on a project. LEED points are awarded based on material selection and are even based on the long-term efficiency of appliances and fixtures. For example, water use reduction has become a major issue and is something that can be easily addressed by selecting automatic faucets and toilets.

Prefabricated Materials

The use of prefabricated materials, or materials that are pre-cut in a controlled environment, decrease waste and lead to stronger end products. For this reason, selecting prefabricated materials has become a key strategy for saving time and increasing the sustainability of a project. For example, using BIM software to pre-cut sheet metal in a controlled environment will avoid shape-changing issues potentially caused by hot or cold temperatures. Through the use of pre-fab materials we see improved quality of buildings, with less waste.

Construction Waste Management

Historically, the construction industry has approached construction waste with a simple process: use and dispose. Building an effective waste management process is a key element in reducing the industry’s waste issue. The evolving process is focused on two key components: sustainability and cost efficiency. To address these considerations, contractors need to develop site waste management plans, choose environmentally friendly haulers, explore offsite construction options, prepare refurbishment audits, and develop internal communication strategies. With the sustainability of the industry under scrutiny, contractors are facing more pressure than ever to build sustainable waste management plans into every project.

Looking Ahead

At Green Heart, we believe that it is important to protect our planet’s valuable and limited resources.  The transformation happening today in the construction industry is amazing, and Green Heart Enterprises is excited to be a part of that evolution. 

3 Commercial Construction Trends for Aviation

As traffic continues to increase for major airports, upgrades to the infrastructure are becoming a necessity. Upkeep and renovations for terminals, gates and airport facilities are needed to accommodate airports like Hartsfield-Jackson and others that are among the busiest in the world. Airlines and airports alike are looking to improve efficiency, flexibility, scalability, and ultimately the consumer experience for travelers.

 Even though every airport is different and the specific needs of air carriers may differ from location to location, there are specific trends that have stood out this year.


In the past year alone there has been a remarkable integration of technology in the commercial construction space. Everything from BIM (Building Information Modeling) to employee tracking software to AR/VR technology is now being used on construction projects. Drones are even being used to monitor job site conditions and evaluate safety hazards. Evolving technology can enhance job site efficiency, protect employees, and even improve collaboration among project stakeholders.  


Most commercial construction projects today strive to incorporate sustainability in some manner to reduce waste and ultimately improve profitability. One of the more common methods of improving sustainability on a project is through the use pre-fab materials. This decreases waste significantly while also improving the quality of the construction material. Contractors and builders are also leveraging construction waste management, seeking LEED certified building materials or recycled materials, and even focusing on the efficiency of transportation fleets.     

Collaborative Deliverability 

We’ve discussed the variety of project delivery methods before, and while there are many options today the traditional “design, bid, build” approach just doesn’t make sense in the modern industry. Collaborative project deliverability approaches like Design Build and Construction Manager are on the rise, and for good reason. Increased involvement from key parties throughout a project will oftentimes lead to a better end result: a project completed on time and within budget.   

Looking ahead we can expect to see these trends continue to play a major role in the evolving commercial building industry To discover how your business can work with Green Heart Enterprises and benefit from these trends contact us today.


Keys to Finishing Your Commercial Construction Project on Time

In today’s modern business world there is a sense of urgency with almost everything, including commercial construction projects. Everyone from the building owner to the subcontractor is asked to deliver projects on a denser schedule than ever before. For many of our clients, from aviation and healthcare to retail and education, project timelines impact the bottom line. Any sort of delay can potentially be disastrous; which is why it’s important to understand common project delays and how to avoid them.

Hire a Commercial Construction Expert & Project Manager

One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to ensure your project deadlines are met is to hire an expert commercial construction project manager. Not only that, bring this party in as early as possible. When the commercial construction project manager is involved early in the design phase, that expert can provide input on a realistic timeline for all parties involved.

Communicate Clearly and Regularly

Clear and regular communication on the job site is arguably one of the most important factors in getting your project done on time. It’s the responsibility of the commercial construction project manager to communicate everything that may impact schedule to the various parties, from the property owner to the subcontractors and tenants, etc. Everyone involved in the project should know when key activities are scheduled. Contractors and subcontractors should be transparent about any concerns or potential delays in work as they arise. 

Plan for Longer Lead Materials

Oftentimes certain materials simply have a long lead time on order and delivery. That lead time is often fixed, meaning there’s no wiggle room or expediting options. For example, specialty appliances or custom windows / doors often take longer than standard materials because they are built to spec. It’s important to order these types of materials in a timely manner and ensure that the extended lead times are accounted for in the construction schedule.

The Priority Should Always Be Finishing on Time

As an expert commercial general contractor, Green Heart Enterprises understands the common challenges and typical project delays. That’s why we’re always working efficiently to ensure we complete projects on time. When we have a plan, transparent communication, and understand client expectations we’re in the best position possible to complete the project on time.

If you would like to more information on our process and how we can help with your next project, contact us today.

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.


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.