McHugh Construction

Best Practices: Getting The Construction Project Done, No Matter What

The Best Practices series asks CRE leaders about how to best execute a single aspect of their business.

Business is brisk for construction companies in the current economy, but a lot stands in the way of completing a commercial construction project on time and on budget: permitting delays, fluctuating material prices and availability, and a chronic shortage of labor in the trades. We asked construction executives about their strategies for getting jobs done, regardless of the obstacles. 

Kate Ivanova, Vice President

We eliminate unknowns by performing inspections ahead of time. The earlier we get involved on projects, the more options we have for material procurement and delivery, and the more time to research and test alternate materials.  Some money-saving options include fabricating material and cutting to size overseas, prefabricating off-site, or modularizing materials to reduce on-site labor requirements. For the Ritz-Carlton Chicago renovation project, we sourced the stone directly from a quarry in Italy and shipped it to Turkey to be fabricated and laminated into large-format modules. That allowed us to reduce on-site installation time by about 70%.

Dave Bartolai, VP-Preconstruction

Eliminating uncertainty through planning is key to completing projects on time and under budget. For instance, prequalifying potential subcontractors ensures we have the right project team with the capacity to perform the work. Also, before even signing a contract, we seek input from key trades rather than waiting for construction documents and bidding everything out. This preview allows trades such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, facade, elevator and even drywall installers to purchase materials early to guarantee the schedule and to lock in prices. Consulting experts also helps identify potential obstacles. On a recent project, we hired a third-party facade consultant to help evaluate the nuances of subcontractor proposals, even before we had a final contract. The skilled labor shortage can drive up costs and delay construction projects. To solve this issue, we partnered with Chicago’s largest developers, general contractors, labor unions and the United Way to launch HIRE360, a program that sponsors career training and apprenticeships while also supporting the growth of M/WBE subcontractors.