Road Trip

I received this in an email this week:

“Without knowing where you want to go, a GPS system has no idea what course to plot. Such a fact calls to mind the old saying. ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.’ But once you know your destination, lots of other decisions can be made: travel time, weather, eating arrangements, road & traffic conditions and much more. Destination is everything when it comes to making purposeful decisions.”

As I read this, it made me think that planning a Road Trip is a lot like planning a building project. Unless you know your end goal it is difficult to plan the route to get there. With all building projects, if you don’t prepare before you get started, the chance of the project going well greatly decreases.

Three questions to answer before you start your next building project:

  • What Do I Value? Wants vs. needs must be balanced on every project. The answer to another question “Does it bring value to the project?” will determine which want or need stays or goes.
  • Where am I Compromising? Compromise is not a bad word, it is only bad when you compromise and didn’t know it. As you prioritize the “value added items” on your list, compromise may need to take place. That is ok because you are doing it purposefully.
  • When Do I Need the Project Completed? Having an overall schedule with milestone dates will keep the project on time and your stress level under control.

Let us help you prepare for your next project. Give me a call; we would like to take the trip with you.


Lately we have had several projects where a Restaurant/Brewery has moved into an existing building. These projects can be a very confusing and expensive experience. I have found that most building owners, potential tenants or buyers, realtors and contractors do not understand that all commercial buildings have a specific occupancy use classification assigned to it. These occupancy use classifications are regulated by State Building Codes and local zoning ordinances.

When you want to change the occupancy of an existing building, i.e.:  put a restaurant in a retail store space, a retail space in an old manufacturing building, or a church in an old warehouse, either the existing building must already comply with all current construction codes for the new use, or the building must be altered to comply with all current codes, or Chapter 34 of the Building Code can be used to mitigate having to comply with some of the current codes for new construction.

If you need to upgrade an existing building to meet all current construction codes for a new use, several issues can be very expensive. Some examples of these expenses are:

  • A factory with over 12,000sf, a church with more than 2,100sf of meeting space, a restaurant with more than (100) occupants, and any apartments (regardless of size or number), would require fire sprinklers to be installed.
  • All existing non-compliant ADA accessibility issues would need to be altered into compliance. This can mean, completely demolishing & rebuilding all existing restrooms as well as adding ramps, moving & enlarging doors and changing all door hardware.
  • Existing heating & cooling systems likely would need to be modified or completely replaced in order to meet current fresh air and ventilation requirements.

Chapter 34 is a part of the Building Code that provides a path to change the use of a building economically while maintaining public safety.  It involves an evaluation & scoring process of the existing building concerning life safety issues. If the scoring passes, the change of use can be permitted without having to alter existing non-compliant portions of the building as listed above. If it fails, then a plan can be developed to allow for the new use.

Chapter 34 evaluation & scoring is very technical and takes experience and a good understanding of the Construction Codes. If you are planning to repurpose an existing building, contact us so we can put PDMi’s experience and knowledge to work for you.

Scope x Quality = Budget

Scope x Quality = Budget. This is a formula you’ll never want to forget as you develop your next building project.

Many times, a project owner gets into trouble by believing that he can control all three variables of this formula. However, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration by understanding that you only control two of the three variables for any one project.  For example, here is what I mean. Suppose you go into a car dealership and tell them you want the scope of a five seater, the quality of a Mercedes and only have $10,000 to spend. You will probably find out very quickly that one of your components will have to give! As with any building project, you can only control two of the three components and your design team will serve up a “reality check” on the third.

How can you make sure that “Scope x Quality = Budget” becomes a formula for success? Here are two tips:

  • Break up your project into smaller pieces. Once you’ve broken a project into smaller components, you can apply this formula to each part and control the two variables you believe are most critical to the success of that particular project component. For instance, the mechanical system has its own scope, quality and budget. You may want to control the scope and quality because you know that there are performance and maintenance issues involved. On the other hand, you may decide to control the scope and budget of the floor coverings and allow the design team to determine the quality.
  • Remember that the delivery method is secondary in importance to a good plan. A firm can successfully deliver your project by using the design-bid-build, negotiated contract, or design/build methods as long as you and your design team conduct proper planning up front and understand the desired scope, quality and budget for your project. It all boils down to planning, designing the plan and implementing the plan. Anyone can implement a good plan!

The PDMi team has been implementing the “Scope x Quality = Budget” formula for over 25 years. We have found that it really does help make our clients’ project a success. Contact us to learn more.

Two Ways – which will you choose?

There are always two ways to accomplish any task. Generally speaking either way can get the job done, but without a doubt one way will lead to success and the other way will lead to unexpected (or maybe expected) consequences. As a good friend of mine would say “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. My prediction is that the air conditioning unit may work – at least until it falls out of the window, which it will.

Sadly all too often we have clients that try to short cut the design process on their building projects.  They look for a quick fix. This inevitably leads to poor designs, unexpected cost over runs, construction schedules not completed on time and product performance that will not live up to expectations. In past ebits we have talked often about the value of planning before you do the detailed design/engineering documents and completing the design/engineering documents before you start building. These are great concepts that we stand firmly behind. But you can have the best planning, designing, and building only to find the systems/components of the project are flawed or are not right for your application.

So to help you not get caught in a quick fix you will need to take the time to have detailed documents completed. Without these documents the construction phase is guided only by guess work.

Good construction documents should…

  • …Communicate the design parameters and details to the contractor and the agencies. PDMi uses 3D modeling as a great tool to accomplish this.
  • Provide Constructible Details. Just because a detail can be drawn on paper (or for that matter, dreamed up in your mind) does not mean it can be constructed. The PDMi staff has spent many years alongside contractors to understand constructible details.
  • …Specify Material Selection. The right materials used in the right places will assure a project’s success.

We know that good Detailed Design documents will guide your project. Give us a call to talk about how PDMi can work with you on your next project.