Built to Suit and Built to Last

Everyone wants to know, “what’s the best way to build it” and in so many cases, the best way is hinged on so many aspects that dig deeper than “best.” Recently, while working on a project that had a strict completion deadline, the “best” construction practice couldn’t be utilized because of the simple fact, the owner didn’t have time to wait for the “best,” and settled for the next category, which was “best all-around.” This ideology took into consideration price, constructability, quality products and timeline. For design-build general contractors the aspect of best all-around is easier to discuss than the best product. Having direct connection to the products on a daily basis makes the biggest difference. Working with and seeing the products being used and how they affect the jobsite, positively and negatively, along with being able to see the cost differential between two or three different methods of construction or products is the advantage of a design-build general contractor. This provides a knowledgeable and experienced opinion towards the best all-around product or method to use. 


The same advantages can be categorized along with building to suit a budget or need. With the knowledge, a design-build general contractor has gained from 30 years of experience, the products and how they impact a building can directly affect the affordability and the maintenance for the long haul of the building’s life. If products are chosen that are too costly and don’t fit within the budget, the project built will be restricted because of the exorbitant material and labor cost. Take for example overhead doors, a hot topic within the fire department market today. Without debating the difference between bi-fold doors and sectional doors, there is a substantial difference in price between sectional doors with glass and sectional doors that have solid panels.  When installed properly, both styles of doors will fulfill its duties but look distinctly different in appearance and price tag. Some of the characteristics that shouldn’t be skimped on are three inch tracks, industrial duty motors and a routine maintenance plan. Discuss this item as well as any other building components with your design-build general contractor. 

The main objective is to build the forever building what will withstand every natural condition known to man, including the 50-year rain-snow-hail-drought-wind storm. To have that building you must have the building materials that will last that duration. You must also have the construction technology and must assemble those products together correctly to put it to best use. It doesn’t make sense to buy the best all-around equipment for the best all-around trucks if you don’t have the best all-around people taking part in the best all-around training and therefore providing the best all-around service. This same concept goes hand in hand with construction. Using good products to build the best all-around building is a shot wasted if you don’t have a quality design-build general contractor assembling your building.

For example, a brick building versus a metal siding building. Projects across the state and nation are being built with both products and there again, both products have a long list of advantages each way.  A fire department constructed of brick will last the test of time. Through rain and snow, wind and drought, a brick building will stand for your son’s, son’s, son’s, son’s induction into the fire academy.  You can paint it, you can wash it, and it can be used as a backstop for an outdoor fire department wiffle ball game, and it won’t budge. Metal on the other hand, looks good and is durable, but before you get two generations in you will see the signs of aging. The weed eater that throws rocks at the metal, the car that parked to close to the metal, the fireman that had a rough outing and kicked the wall and bent the metal, either or all of these will be the reason your metal building siding will start to show signs of its age and will one day need to be replaced. Again, not in your lifetime as a fireman, but your grandson will need to budget for this process.

Products and assemblies vary across the industry and differ for every station. Allowing your design-build general contractor to assist you in making those decisions and understanding those different variables will permit you the control and peace of mind that your project is built to suit and built to last. 

Goosie Kennedy is a project manager for D.R. Reynolds Company, Inc., a design-build general contractor.

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