March 29, 2018
Conceptual Budget Development

Many people have the impression that developing a construction budget is as simple as taking the square footage of a proposed building and multiplying by standard cost per square foot rates, which are available in publications such as RSMeans.  While technically that is one method that can be utilized for construction budgeting, Cambridge Companies prefers to perform a deeper dive based on the needs of our customers and our experience in the waste industry.

Tasks required for construction budget development begin long before any numbers are crunched for a potential client.   Prior to any pricing activities, there must first be preliminary scoping and programming activities performed to ensure that the proper scope is developed from the onset.  During the scoping phase, our VP of Business Development and Scoping Manager will work with the client to define the programmatic requirements.  During this phase we will work with the client to gather initial information, perform a needs assessment, and prepare preliminary site and floor plan options for the client.  Once the site and floor plans are reviewed and refined to meet the needs and desires of the client, the conceptual budgeting process can begin.

As a nationwide design-build contractor, Cambridge has dozens of completed projects throughout the country to refer to while preparing preliminary conceptual budgets.   As a result, Cambridge has the ability to review previously engineered details and incorporate the appropriate information into conceptual budgeting.  We perform takeoffs on the conceptual site and floor plans and apply the quantity information in conjunction with previous project details against relevant historical pricing to identify line item pricing by construction CSI divisions.  This allows our conceptual budgets to be more robust than a simple $/SF calculation and ensures that the conceptual budgeting is as realistic in nature as possible with current cost information applied.

However, conceptual budgets are not only limited to the building construction and projected site development costs.  Cambridge must also consider and properly budget the following items:

  • Project Schedule – accurately projecting the project schedule is imperative in order to include proper projections for field and office labor as well as soft costs and temporary items that will be required during construction.
  • Design Development Fees – accurate projection of design costs is crucial as this will be the first project related expenditure. Costs must be properly conceptualized for architecture, MPE-FP Engineering, civil engineering, geotechnical engineering and any specialized engineering that may be required for the project.
  • Contingency Fund – the contingency fund that is included during the conceptual budgeting phase should be based on the comfort level developed during the scoping/programming phase. The conceptual contingency fund will be used to cover unexpected costs that may arise during design development, material and labor escalations and other unknowns or budget misses that may occur prior to preparing of the final construction budget.

Upon completion of the conceptual budget, it is beneficial to all parties involved for Cambridge to further clarify what has been specifically included.  This is accomplished by preparing a conceptual Scope of Work and a conceptual Exclusions and Clarifications document for the potential client.  These documents, used in conjunction with the conceptual budget and floor/site plan, allow for clarity in what has been included in the preliminary budget, detecting unknowns and specifically identifying scope exclusions.

Although our preferred method of conceptual budget development is not performed as quickly as standard $/SF pricing, we believe the method laid out above leads to a more complete and more accurate preliminary budget that potential clients can utilize for their internal evaluations and decision-making processes.

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017.  You can also view the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilize from initial contact with potential and existing clients.   You can also check out more on our website dedicated to the waste industry to see all the services that we have to offer.

Lenny Zelms – Pre-Construction Services

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm based in Northwest Indiana specializing in solid waste facilities and a lot of experience with commercial projects.  Click here to see current projects and our portfolio of commercial and solid waste projects nationwide such as transfer stations and hauling companies.  We also offer a variety of architectural and design services to facilitate your project from conceptual design through the use of the facility.

www.cambridgecoinc.com

(219) 972-1155

     

February 29, 2018
Living with an Invisible Illness

A Journey of Pain, Fear, and … Thankfulness

As you can see by the title, we are deviating from our normal business blogs this month to share a more personal side, because as we all know, it can’t always just be about business.  It also needs to be about the people that put their time in every day to help keep businesses around the world running.  Employees are the lifeblood of every business, so we wanted to share one employee’s struggles and how we dealt with them as a company.  Even though what they are dealing with isn’t visible, everyone has their own struggles. Hopefully this helps everyone to understand that sometimes you need to take a step back and try and see things and understand things from the other persons perspective before jumping to conclusions. We hope you enjoy it!

“I’m not a person that wears their emotions on their sleeve… or a sharer.  In fact, I’m more of the type to bury emotions and ignore them because tomorrow they are going to change and I learned a long time ago, you either control your emotions or they control you. I know that burying my emotions isn’t the best coping mechanism, but it’s one that has suited me throughout my life.  The reality is, that it’s getting harder and harder for me to cope in this manner.  Presently, I have a hard time not emotionally reacting to situations, even when I do everything I can to not; in fact, I cry a lot, a lot more than I ever have.  It’s not been easy to deal with and it gets harder every day to realize that I probably can’t solve all my problems on my own, especially having always been a self-reliant person.  But let me back up and tell you the story of how this has become a major issue in my life.  

About six months ago, I started having episodes or attacks, of what my initial doctor visit concluded, were panic attacks.  Unfortunately, the medication I was given didn’t help, nor did the relaxation exercises that I was taught to do.  In fact, over the next three months, the issues worsened and became more and more debilitating.  I began feeling dizzy; light headed to the point of feeling like I was going to pass out; experiencing heart palpitations, irregular heartbeats and having my heart pound in my chest as though it was trying to jump out; inability to control my body temperature; numbing/tingling in my arms/legs; blurry vision and even loss of vision at times as well as other symptoms that I have probably left out.  Needless to say, these were scary episodes and nearly every time I was brought to tears, just to cope with the stress of what I was experiencing.  In early November, I was supposed to go on a business trip to Arizona for a meeting.  I had to call my boss five hours before the flight to tell him there was no way I could get on a plane as I had just spent three hours laying on my couch, trying to stop my heart from pounding out of my chest.  He understood and told me we would work out my attendance to the meeting via video conferencing and how to handle my work schedule moving forward.  I visited doctors, saw specialists, underwent multiple tests and blood work, ended up in emergency rooms and urgent cares and had limited my time going anywhere without assistance.  I was dizzy 90% of the day so I couldn’t drive myself anywhere, including to work.  I relied on my significant other and family to help me do anything related to leaving the house.  I had begun feeling exhausted nearly all day, every day.  It was hard to get up in the morning, which I would try to do multiple times throughout the morning, and even harder to concentrate when out of nowhere another episode would occur.  Even though I understood my work didn’t want people working from home, this was an exceptional situation and they allowed me to do what work I could, when I could from home.  After going to a company holiday party in early December, I was encouraged by the owner to go to a highly reputable research hospital nearby since I wasn’t getting answers from the doctors I was currently seeing.  I ended up going to this emergency room the next day.  I was admitted to the hospital for observation and testing to determine what the health issues were.  I began seeing specialists for a number of things at this hospital and am still doing that to this day.  A number of my symptoms have been resolved, no longer only managed, and they are working to treat the underlying illnesses that were discovered to be causing all of the issues I had been experiencing.  I have more energy now than I did four months ago and I’m hopeful that every day I get a little more energy and feel a little better.

I was able to return to work full time in mid-January after being out of the office and working from home for nearly 2.5 months.  I’m still not 100% but am doing everything I can to get back to a relatively decent manner of living as I was barely surviving for a while there.  I do a lot of things beyond seeing doctors, taking medicine and having tests or blood work done.  I see a chiropractor, massage therapist, and acupuncturist as well as take supplements daily to maintain a decent balance and am working on changing my diet.  I’ve started talking to someone to help deal with the emotional roller-coaster and grief of being wrecked by illness and having your life turned upside down so quickly.  This journey has been long, painful, emotional… I know it’s not over and I’m scared, I’m scared every day that something else is going to happen and that my life is going to change in more ways than it already has.  It’s sometimes harder to manage because I look healthy on the outside but am not so much on the inside.  Allowing people to not understand and being okay with them not understanding is part of this journey.

Perhaps at this point, you think I’m just rambling or that it’s time to hop down off my soap box and stop sharing so much.  Your sympathy and empathy for my situation is welcomed but not expected.  I know there are thousands of other people out there going through much more than I am and fighting battles that most of us will probably never know anything about. 

I wrote this because I want to thank all those that were there and understood, that checked in on me, that made me leave the house even when I didn’t want to, that worked with me through my erratic emotions (even if they thought I was being irrational) or helped me get somewhere when I couldn’t get there myself.  I want to thank those that let me alter my way of living for a time and heal rather than constantly worrying if I was going to have a paycheck or be able to pay the bills next week, those that allowed me to take time when I needed it and understood that my intentions were to be thankful, appreciative and not intended to take advantage of them or the situation and that if the choice was in my hands, that this is not the road I would have chosen.  I want to thank those that didn’t ask questions when I looked like I might not be able to handle it and those that reached out from far and wide, who I hadn’t interacted with in awhile or hadn’t even spoken with in months or years, and especially those that were going through their own hell and dealing with their own tragedy that still gave when they didn’t have much to give.  I would even thank those that stayed away and didn’t ask questions because maybe they didn’t know how or weren’t sure if they should because sometimes, I just didn’t want to talk about it and constantly telling the story was emotionally draining as well. 

My experience has made me realize that having family, friends, coworkers, bosses and anyone else show the amount of compassion that I have experienced… it makes a difference.  It makes the burden easier to carry.  It makes the emotional roller coaster easier to navigate.  And it makes being forced to wear your emotions on your sleeve, after a lifetime of burying them, easier to handle. “

While this is only one story, which we greatly appreciate our employee sharing, we must all understand that many people out there are dealing with personal issues in their own way. As owners, leaders and managers it is our job to reach out to them and understand and help them in any way we can. On a personal level, it’s our job as humans but from a company level its our duty. Employees are every company’s greatest asset and need to be cared for as such.

Did you enjoy reading this blog? Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017. You can also view the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilize from initial contact with potential and existing clients. You can also check out more on our website dedicated to the waste industry to see all the services that we have to offer.

Jeff Eriks – Vice President, Business Development & Marketing

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm based in Northwest Indiana specializing in solid waste facilities and a lot of experience with commercial projects.  Click here to see current projects and our portfolio of commercial and solid waste projects nationwide such as transfer stations and hauling companies.  We also offer a variety of architectural and design services to facilitate your project from conceptual design through the use of the facility.

www.cambridgecoinc.com

(219) 972-1155

      

January 29, 2018
Annual Project Planning

Figure 1 – Project Planning

It’s this time of year when customers begin to reach out to us regarding projects they want to get completed in this calendar year. However, as many of you may realize, it’s about impossible to design, permit and construct a project in 11 months. The reason most people try to accomplish this is because accounting principles and capital budgeting often require that projects that are approved get completed within a fiscal year. While some smaller projects like remodels and such can be done in this time-frame, most ground-up projects need 14-18 months to complete the entire process, depending on the scope and complexity. What we typically recommend to clients is to budget design and permitting for one fiscal year and construction for the next fiscal year. This helps to spread out the funding needed for the project over two years and allows for the proper planning and contingency time needed to complete the design and permitting process. To be clear, you still want to start this process in May or so, and not wait until September, otherwise you will still have a time crunch in the next fiscal year.

Our process layout is pretty simply:

  • Step One: Scoping phase; work with the client to determine the parameters for the project, set up the basis of design, prepare conceptual drawings and finalize a budget and schedule. Typical time frame is 4-8 weeks depending on type of project.

  • Step Two: Design phase; prepare total design package per the scope and budget defined in step one. Typical time frame is 7-12 weeks.

  • Step Three: Permitting and Procurement; these run concurrently. Permitting can take anywhere from a couple weeks to several months, depending on where you are at. Procurement (bidding) takes about 4 weeks to complete.

  • Step Four: Construction Phase; as you can imagine this is a large window of time due to the various natures of construction projects. But assume 4-12 months.

As you can see, not including any internal client approvals, the schedule balloons to 12 – 20 months of total project timeline. You definitely need to make sure you plan projects accordingly.

For more information on our process and how we can help you, feel free to reach out to me directly!

Did you enjoy reading this blog? Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017. You can also view the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilize from initial contact with potential and existing clients. You can also check out more on our website dedicated to the waste industry to see all the services that we have to offer.

Jeff Eriks – Vice President, Business Development & Marketing

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm based in Northwest Indiana specializing in solid waste facilities and a lot of experience with commercial projects.  Click here to see current projects and our portfolio of commercial and solid waste projects nationwide such as transfer stations and hauling companies.  We also offer a variety of architectural and design services to facilitate your project from conceptual design through the use of the facility.

www.cambridgecoinc.com

(219) 972-1155

      

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