The general contractor is the manager/boss of construction project. Much like any manager/boss, the contractor is responsible for the final outcome. To insure a positive outcome the general contractor works with the architect to build a project as set forth in the plans and so that it meets the local building codes. The contractor selects the sub-contractors to provide each of the special services needed for the project, such as electricians, plumbers, painters, cabinetry, floor coverings, then coordinates the scheduling of these subcontractors and ensures that they are building to the standards set forth in the plans.

Hiring the construction team, including the general contractor early in the process, can help you ensure that you have a quality project that is completed on time and on budget. If hired or consulted during the site selection process, the general contractor can help decide on the feasibility of competing sites. For example, working with a contractor might help you determine that a particular site, although more expensive, is better and will save money in the long run because it does not require as much construction work up front. Or could allow you to go back to a potential landlord/seller for a particular site and negotiate a lower lease rate or selling price because of construction feasibility issues.

Only if you believe that quality and value are determined by who is the cheapest or lowest bidder. If you had to have a life or death medical treatment would you get three bids and go with the lowest or middle bidder? Of course not, you would want the most qualified surgeon to perform the surgery. Well, this is your business and you are probably putting your heart and soul into it. Not to mention a considerable amount of money and the success or failure of your business court could have many effects on your wellbeing. You want to open your business as soon as possible and start making money. To do this you need a qualified contractor who will get the construction done on time without complications and at a fair price.

The answer is not much different from how you find the best surgeon. You need to check out the contractor’s reputation in the industry and experience building your type of project. The best way to do this is by asking for references and actually checking them. Call the references and ask them how the contractor did with key issues such as the schedule and the budget. Be sure to ask if the owner would hire them again. Find out if company has experience building your type of project. While a company may do a great job building schools, it may not have experience building restaurants or retail stores.

LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system used for green building. It can be used for virtually all types of buildings, homes and communities. LEED provides a framework to assist in creating a highly efficient, healthy, and cost-saving green buildings. Recognized globally, a LEED certification is a symbol of sustainability achievement.

Phase One Project Initiation: This is where a project starts. Define the project on a broad level. Research the feasibility and if the project should be undertaken. If the shareholders give their approval, a project initiation document that outlines the purpose and requirements of the project needs to be created.

Phase Two Project Planning: This is the phase where goals are determined and set. There are two popular methods used for setting goals:

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

  • Specific-Set specific goals that answer the questions, who, what, when, where, which, and why.
  • Measurable– Establish criteria that you will use to measure the success of each goal.
  • Attainable– Prioritize the most important goals and what it will take to achieve them.
  • Realistic– Your willingness and ability to work toward a particular goal.
  • Timely-A specific timeframe set to achieve each goal.

C.L.E.A.R. Goals: A method for setting goals while considering today’s fast paced business environment.

  • Collaborative- Encouraging employees to work together.
  • Limited– Goals should be limited in time and scope to keep them manageable.
  • Emotional– Goals that tap into the passion of your employees. Something they can form an emotional connection to. This can increase the quality of their work.
  • Appreciable– Reduce larger goals into smaller tasks that are more quickly achievable.
  • Refinable– As situation change, be flexible and refine goals when needed.

During project planning, the scope of the project is defined, including a project management plan. The plan should include the potential costs, quality, available resources and a realistic timetable. The plan should also include baseline performance measures.

During this time, roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined so that everyone involved knows what they are accountable for.

Phase Three Project Execution: This is the meat of the project. There are lots of things happening like, status reports, meetings, development updates and performance reports. Deliverables are developed and completed. A kick-off meeting marks the start of the project and each team is informed of their responsibilities.

Tasks included in the execution phase include:

  • Team development
  • Resources assigned
  • Project management plans executed
  • Procurement management
  • Project manager directs and manages execution
  • Tracking systems are set up
  • Task assignments are executed
  • Continual status meetings
  • Project schedule updated
  • Project plans modified as needed

Phase Four Project Performance & Monitoring: This phase occurs simultaneously with the Project Execution phase, but with a different set of requirements.

This phase measures project progression and performance. Project managers will use key performance indicators to determine if the project is on track.

Key Performance Indicators or KPI:

  • Project Objectives: Measuring if a project is on schedule and budget is an indication if the project will meet stakeholder objectives.
  • Quality Deliverables: This determines if specific task deliverables are being met.
  • Effort and Cost Tracking:PMs will account for the effort and cost of resources to see if the budget is on track. This type of tracking informs if a project will meet its completion date based on current performance.
  • Project Performance:This monitors changes in the project. It takes into consideration the amount and types of issues that arise and how quickly they are addressed. These can occur from unforeseen hurdles and scope changes.

During this phase schedules may be adjusted to ensure the project is on track.

Phase Five Project Closure: This phase occurs when the project is complete. A punch list is created to follow up on anything not completed. A final project budget is prepared along with a final report. All project documents and deliverables are collected and stored in a single location. The keys are turned over to the owners.

The dark-sky movement is a campaign to reduce light pollution. The advantages of reducing light pollution include an increased number of stars visible at night, reducing the effects of electric lighting on the environment, improving the well-being, health and safety of both people and wildlife, and cutting down on energy usage.

The number one reason is if oil tanks or chemical storage bins have been dumped on your property or on property adjacent to yours. Many lenders require them for large projects. Your attorney might recommend it. The pre-purchase building inspection identifies evidence of potential environmental problems.

Pervious concrete (also called porous concrete) is a special type of concrete with a high porosity used for concrete flatwork applications that allows water from precipitation and other sources to pass directly through, thereby reducing runoff from the site. Pervious concrete may cost up to 25% more to install than conventional concrete, but when lifecycle costs and the savings associated with reduced storm water management infrastructure are considered, pervious is much cheaper.

Step One: Planning and Development-This stage involves introducing the architect and general contractor and pre-designing the build/facility.

Step Two: Design/Build-When architects and contractors join together in the design phase project costs are easier to estimate. The design team wants to be sure their designs meet building codes and regulations. The construction bidding process is also a part of this phase. This process is needed to help determine a total cost for the project. The main contractor is also hired during this phase which helps the process run more smoothly when the entire team is involved in the development of the project. Programming is typically handled by the Architect. It allows you to get a better idea of functional needs, space, and building flexibility. The programming phase will give you an idea of the building size, total number of rooms and how they will be utilized. Feasibility needs to address site access, utility connections, building orientation, and many other items. Schematic Design will allow you to determine how you want your company to look. Design sketches showing materials, sizes, colors, textures, shapes, and patterns of your building project. Design Development refers to the research of materials and equipment needed for your project and how much they cost. Contract Documents/Working Drawings are the final specs and a complete set of drawings to form what is called the contract documents or working drawings. Contractors use these to assess their bids. Builders use these for the construction process. The contract sets timelines and costs for each stage of the project. These documents help avoid cost increases throughout the build process.

Step Three:  Pre-Construction- During this phase lists of materials are compiled and sent to vendors and contractors to request quotes. Typically, three quotes are gathered to set a budget analysis. All necessary building permits are gathered and insurance is obtained. Once project owners notify their general contractors to proceed, project team roles are assigned:

  • Project Manager- Point person for the project.
  • Superintendent– Coordinates on-site construction activities and adheres to time schedules, including materials deliveries and equipment.
  • Contract Administrator– Helps Project Manager and Superintendent with contract details.
  • Field Engineer– Investigate the site during pre-construction to determine if anything needs to be done prior to construction. They check the site foundation and environment to be sure they are in good building condition. They ensure that there are no historical artifacts that could be in danger and the handle any important paperwork.

 Step Four: The Procurement Process is the purchasing of items needed to complete the construction project. Based on the contract, purchase orders are created. A purchase order ensures that the items purchased meet the required specs and stay within the budget that is agreed to.

 Step Five: The Construction Phase begins with a meeting where decisions are made in regards to work hours, site access, materials storage and quality control. After a groundbreaking, work begins. Depending on the specs, construction will include site excavation, the installation of any underground utilities, concrete work, steel erection, framing, roofing, any and all exterior and interior work needed, etc. Each step is inspected by the project manager and an official state construction inspector. This phase ends only when construction is complete.

 Step Six: Post Construction- Once construction is complete and before the building can be occupied, there are several steps that must occur. A project punch list, which includes a final walkthrough to check for items such as a paint color change, replace any broken tiles, etc. Once the punch list is complete and signed off, occupancy can begin. During this phase equipment and furniture are installed or calibrated. When all requirements have been met the architect will issue a certificate of substantial completion. This represents the official completion of the project. When this occurs, there will be a final inspection by the building official.

In 2014, buildings with 20 or more units took 14.9 months to complete from the time of obtaining permits, whereas properties with 10 to 19 units typically finished in 6 months, and 5 to 9-unit buildings came in at 11.5 months. Lastly, 2 to 4-unit buildings required only 11.4 months. Obviously, these are ideal, and timelines are easily affected by all parties.

There are many things to consider when estimating the cost of a commercial, i.e., land costs, materials, square footage of the project, etc. The land costs alone can be as much as 70% of the cost. A simplistic plan can run as little as $100 per square foot. Mid-range costs can run $160-$170 per square foot and a project with specialty equipment can run as much as $200 per square foot. For a more accurate estimation consult with your architect.

Step One: Meet with stakeholders-A stakeholder is anyone that is affected by the results of the project. Stakeholders can include customers and end users. Make sure that you keep their interests in mind when planning your project. Discuss their needs and expectations and establish project baselines including budgets and a timeline. Get everyone on the same page so that you reduce costly miscommunications.

Step Two: Set & Prioritize Goals-Once you have your stakeholders needs, prioritize them and set specific goals for the project. Include the stakeholders needs and goals in your project plan so that they are clearly communicated and easily shareable.

Step Three: Define Deliverables- Clearly identify the deliverables and the project planning steps needed to meet the project goals. Define the specific outputs you’re expected to deliver. Estimate due dates for each deliverable in the project. Set firm milestones and essential deadlines.

Step Four: Create a project schedule- Define the series of tasks required to complete each deliverable. Determine the amount of time each task will take, the resources required and the individuals responsible for the execution. Identify any dependencies, certain tasks that need to be completed before others can begin. Include deliverables, dependencies and milestones in your plan.

Step Five: Identify issues and complete a risk assessment- No construction project is risk free. Identify any issues upfront that will affect the project planning process. Consider any circumstances that could create a delay in construction. In your project plan, consider what you would do if an unexpected event were to occur and develop a strategy to address these types of events.

Step Six: Present your project plan to the stakeholders-Review your plan and how it addresses the stakeholder’s expectations and present your solutions. Have an open discussion with the stakeholders and address any concerns up front. Determine who needs to see which reports, which decisions will need approval and who has the authority to approve them. Make your project plan accessible and easily understood by all stakeholders. Having all project plan data in a single location will make it easy and less time consuming to track progress, share updates, and make changes without constant meetings.

Each building type is based on their fire-resistance rating. The more fire-resistant the larger and taller a project may be. The International Building Code spells out these types. Below are the basic characteristics of each type.

Type I (IA and IB)- The most stringent of building types when it comes to fire-resistance rating requirements, a Type I building, including its roof, must be composed of noncombustible materials like concrete and steel.

Type II (IIA and IIB)- With noncombustible steel or concrete structural framework, walls, and floors, Type II is similar to Type I, but requires lower fire-resistance ratings. It’s a very commonly used construction type and Type IIB has no fire resistance requirements for any of the building elements, provided that there is adequate fire separation distance, as laid out in Table 602.

Type III- Also known as a brick-and-joist structure, a Type III building has exterior walls built out of noncombustible materials (like masonry or concrete) and the floors, roof, and structural framework can be made of any material permitted by the code (like wood).

Type IV- Buildings constructed out of heavy timber (HT) are designated Type IV. With noncombustible exterior walls and interior elements made out of solid or laminated wood, a Type IV building cannot have a wood column any less than 8 inches thick or a wood girder any less than 6 inches thick. While similar to a Type III, Type IV instead relies on the fire-resistant nature of the large dimension lumber in place of a prescribed fire-resistance rating.

Type V- The most combustible of the five building types and the only one that allows for combustible exterior walls, Type V buildings allow both the exterior walls and interior framing to be wood. It’s a common construction method for single-family homes.

Building construction type, when combined with occupancy, is an important factor for many code requirements. It is an important detail that must be considered during the design phase of any construction project. Particularly when determining the ultimate use and goals for the project.

If you have not already done so, your next steps should be to hire an architect and a general contractor. The architect will work with you to design the plans for building the project not only the way that you want, but, so that it will comply with local building codes. If you have purchased a franchise, the franchisor may provide you with a prototype set of drawings, but these will still have to be adapted to meet local building code requirements and to conform with your site.

The general contractor should be hired simultaneously with the architect or shortly after the architect is hired. Hiring the general contractor early in process can help to ensure that the contractor can work with you and the architect to explain the constructibility of different designs and suggest alternative materials or methods that will save money and time without sacrificing the quality or visual look of your project. For example, granite countertops look great but cost considerably more than high quality laminates or solid surface options. Or an environmentally friendly lighting package may seem like something you want to do until you realize that lighting packages that provide similar quality visually are available for ½ to 1/3 of the price.

Apprenticeship Program

The construction industry has become very competitive. It is extremely important for any successful contractor to plan strategies for training and developing highly skilled employees. At Branco, we believe in the theory of “grow you own employees”. This is why we have partnered with Crowder College and operate our Carpentry Apprenticeship trains program.

Yes, since 1993 Branco has trained countless apprentices and many have gone on to very successful careers. The apprentice gains knowledge and hones their carpentry craft working alongside Brand journeymen carpenters. Graduates are recognized as Certified Journeyman Carpenters by the U.S. Department of Labor.

It is a four-year program that consists of on-the-job training and attending class one night per week at Crowder College in Neosho.

Must be 18 years old.
Must not have more than a 10% disability.
Must be drug free (Random drug testing is enforced)
Must be able to pass a physical capacity exam (lift at least 70 lbs. Occasionally; 40-50 lbs. frequently) and able to endure frequent climbing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, reaching and handling.