Our Approach to Construction Phase Services
The purpose of hiring construction managers is to provide construction QA/QC, to monitor the work to see that it stays on schedule, track and monitor the budget to confirm that it stays within the prescribed range, and document the construction process. But in reality the construction management team is much more than that. The approach taken with the contractor can make a substantial difference in the flow and results of the project.
Our approach to construction is to understand as much or more about the project than the Contractor. The way we do this is through a combination of detailed review of the documents combined with experience and knowledge. The key team members, Mr. Chierici, Mr. Jones, Mr. Hoenig, and Mr. Calandri bring to the project dozens of years of combined experience. We know where the problems typically occur. We have experience with construction contract documents prepared by many different firms and we know how to find the specific information that we are looking for in these documents. We know many of the typically referenced specifications from past projects, and we know why certain requirements are in the specifications.
We understand construction. We understand the importance of communication and of developing a good working relationship with the Contractor, built on mutual respect. We know what can actually be enforced in the contract documents and what probably cannot be enforced. Since we have all been involved with claims we understand the steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate a claim, and we know what records and documentation are needed to be in place to help protect the City in the event a claim moves forward. What experience provides is knowing what the next step should be in a given situation and anticipating where the next problem is going to be.
One of the advantages of our team is the variety of construction projects that we have been involved with. These include treatment plants, site projects at railroad stations and airports, infrastructure projects for drainage, water systems, wastewater collection systems, pump stations, generators, street reconstruction projects and street maintenance projects. Each of these types of projects has different construction nuances and impacts a different group of people. They each are overseen by different agencies. What our team brings is experience with a broad spectrum of project types. Some of these projects literally impact thousands of people. They impact businesses, residents, motoring public, bicycling public, flying public, pedestrians, schools, deliveries, hospitals, and require coordination with FAA, SWQRB, DHS, utilities, Caltrans, COE, SF&G and FF&W to name a few of the multitude of impacts. This experience gives our team a level of understanding that few possess.
All members of our team understand that as far as the public and reviewing agencies are concerned, we are an extension of the City. We take this responsibility seriously and work to project a professional image in the handling of all issues that inevitably come up on a project.
Because of our experience we are comfortable taking a hands-on approach to construction services. We don’t meddle in the contractor’s operation, we support it by looking ahead and asking pertinent questions about the work in progress or pointing out an issue that the contractor will face so an agreement can be made on how the issue will be handled before it becomes a problem. We understand the difference between support and micro managing or dictating means and methods. Our handling of day-to-day operations and the various project issues that arise will always be diplomatic and professional.
We understand the need for consistency and continuity. The contractor needs to hear the same answer from all members of the core team. This comes from working together for a long time. Whether it is a design project or a construction project, Flowers & Associates’ procedures stipulate a minimum of two responsible people involved in the project to such a degree that if one is unavailable for whatever reason, the other can step in and run the project seamlessly. This means that our standard procedure is to have one person who is in responsible charge and the point of contact for the City, but two people are always available to respond to a query at any time during the course of the project.
Flowers & Associates’ team has experience with a variety of municipal projects including streets, water, sewer, drainage and site work. Our team members have extensive construction as well as design experience. This means that our personnel understand both the construction issues and the design issues associated with a particular project.
Our philosophy is that you can’t be a good design engineer if you have no construction experience and conversely you can’t be a good construction engineer if you have no design experience. To understand the issues with project delivery you have to have a thorough understanding of the entire process which starts at concept planning and ends with start-up, operations and maintenance.
Our constructability reviews would include evaluation of:
- Ease of Construction:
The projects’ constructability must be reviewed in relation to the use of standard construction methods and work force, site constraints, coordination of work by all construction trades, contractor staging, and access requirements. In addition, mitigation issues (traffic, stockpiling of excavated materials), and permit requirements must be evaluated.
- Completeness of Design:
Examination of construction documents as to completeness for a buildable project must be accomplished by discipline (i.e., mechanical, structural, electrical) as well as coordination of the documents between those disciplines.
- Selection of Materials:
The use of appropriate materials for the intended construction and compatibility of those materials must be reviewed in relation to standard construction methods.
Approach to Projects
We look at interfacing between the various stakeholders in street maintenance projects, how we select the type(s) of repair, our approach to budget management, our approach to pavement maintenance programming, and our approach to providing design and construction services.
A typical approach for Overlay and Slurry Seal Projects:
- Evaluate Streets
- Perform coring to determine asphalt thickness
- Can also perform non-destructive testing
- Survey existing monuments
- Perform topographic surveys of existing ramps for replacement
Approach to Working with Stakeholders
Successfully developing and implementing street maintenance projects involves teamwork. The more cohesive the team is, the better the project outcome. The team approach, when properly implemented, reduces conflict and problems, improves quality and reduces effort and cost. The team as we define it includes the public, City, contractor and the design / construction services professional.
Working with the Public
- We strive to deliver effective noticing to the residents
- We strive to make sure once streets are posted the work is performed on schedule
- We ensure that critical facilities (schools, hospitals, fire departments) are taken into consideration for closures and scheduling contractor’s work
- We are visible to the public while we perform our inspection services when construction work is in progress; we are readily available to respond to citizens’ questions and issues
- We respond to residential/business inquiries in an expeditious and courteous manner
Working with the City
- We employ a proactive approach to all of our projects, anticipating problems and giving the City the benefit of our experience and knowledge
- We never become complacent on a project, even after we have secured a contract. We are always looking for ways to improve service and reduce cost and most of all we never take our agency relationships for granted
- We keep City representatives informed on all critical issues and are available at a moment’s notice
- We respond expeditiously to City representative calls, emails, or onsite meetings
- When the project is finished we prepare a comprehensive Final Report which includes daily reports, meeting notes, photographs and other project information. These reports represent a complete file on the project, and we prepare them for every project we do.
- Working with the Contractor
- We work cohesively with contractors and sub-contractors, based on established professional relationships
- We have a reputation for being judicious and fair with contractors
- Local contractors are familiar with our standards of quality and typically know what we expect before the project gets underway
- Because we are familiar with most contractors we understand their strengths and weaknesses and work with them to improve the quality of the finished/delivered product on behalf of the City and its residents
- We understand the construction process. We are familiar with contractors’ strengths and weaknesses and know how to address the weaknesses to obtain a satisfactory project
- We provide contractors with specifications that are highly structured and clearly outlined so they know what is expected and they can develop their bid accordingly; this reduces extra charges resulting from bid document discrepancies
- We pay attention to the bid schedule so the work is rationally organized; this makes it easier for a contractor to bid, resulting in more favorable unit prices
- We set up the contract documents to be tailored to a type of contractor, e.g., Slurry Seal, A.C. placement and other specialty contractors to improve manageability and reduce overhead and mark ups
Checking of the overall strategy includes the following activities:
- Construction phasing
- Construction schedule (and ability to construct within schedule constraints)
- Construction packaging
- Equipment and materials procurement (including necessary pre-purchase)