It’s All In The Collaboration

In our last several eBits we have shared with you that the keys to a project’s success are built around PLANNING – DESIGNING – IMPLEMENTING. Our whole staff believes that to be true. We also know that you can do all the planning and produce all the documents you want, but until you IMPLEMENT them, in a collaborative environment, the project is still a dream. We have multiple tools to accomplish this, but they will only work when all the stakeholders are working together.

We recently completed a large facility expansion project with a regional firm. They chose Construction Management as the delivery method for IMPLEMENTING their project. They saw construction management as a way to bring the Owner, Designer, and Trade Contractor/Vendor into a collaborative environment. We told them that the delivery method certainly is important, but the essential factors in a well IMPLEMENTED project are…

  • Communication- Who is doing what and when? Without continually answering that question, all the stakeholders will be pursuing their own agenda.
  • Organization- What is posted and who can access it? When the stakeholder does not know what documents are available or where to find them they will tend to rely only on the information they have.
  • Accountability- Doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. Having each stakeholder participate in the published work plan and schedule keeps the team accountable to each other.

The expansion project was a success because the team of Owner, Engineers/Architects and Trade Contractors communicated through an organized process, holding each other accountable.

If PDMi can help you IMPLEMENT your next project, give us a call.

It’s All In The Details

In our last eBits we talked about the fact that PLANNING – DESIGNING – IMPLEMENTING has been a constant on projects over the years. I made the statement that we firmly believe that Planning is the foundation for which all successful projects are built. If that is true, then Detailed Design is the superstructure. Without Detailed Design the construction phase is guided only by guess work.

Awhile back, we were contacted by a restaurant owner that was doing a tenant build-out of an existing building. He had already hired a contractor, had completed the interior demolition, and was starting the renovation of the space when he realized he had a problem. He had no Detailed Design documents to give direction to his contractor, only sketchy permit drawings. Then the inspector showed up and put a stop-work order on the project because he could not tell what was supposed to be done. The restaurant owner called us to help solve his problem. After a job site meeting, we began the process of producing documents for his contractor to work from and for the inspector to know exactly what was to be done. Before we completed our work, this project had a sad ending – the building burnt down.

Unless you plan to have your building burn down before it is completed, you should have detailed construction documents produced. These 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 Constructable 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. Dan, Joe and I have spent many years alongside contractors gaining understanding on what details are constructible and what ones are not.
  • …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.

It’s All In The Plan

PDMi’s Professional Staff of Dan Gagen, Joe Humbert and me have over 35 years of experience, each, in this industry. We have seen projects designed and built with all the delivery methods (Design-Bid-Build, Construction Management, & Design Build) and every variation of contractual agreements (Lump Sum, Cost plus a Fee, & Guaranteed Maximum Price). One thing that has been constant over the years is the fact that all projects go through three phases: PLANNING – DESIGNING – IMPLEMENTING. At PDMi, we work with our clients on all three of the phases of the project. Over the next several eBits we want to look at these three phases, starting today with PLANNING.

We believe that Planning is the most important of the three project phases because it establishes a foundation for the other two phases to rest upon. We have seen some companies think that calling a contractor and getting a price for a project is “planning”. Others spend lots of time and a bunch of money developing scopes and schematic drawings that they call their “plan”. We at PDMi understand that planning does not have to take a lot of time or money and it is certainly more than establishing a budget cost. We believe that PLANNING should include three basic things:

  • Establish what you value using the Scope x Quality = Budget formula.
  • Provide complete understanding of the Constraints (Site Conditions, Utilities, Building Codes, Regulatory Agency requirements, etc.) that will affect the project.
  • The use of visual tools like 3-D Modeling to communicate the project’s character and dimension.

We love to Plan. We know how to Plan. We would like to put our three-basic-step planning process to work on your next project. Call me; your next project can be a success when you PLAN.


Well, “March Madness” is here again! You may call it “Bracketology” or “The Big Dance”. Whichever, it is all good as long as your team is in the mix. As soon as your team gets beat, or did not even make the “first four out” list, life will quickly get back to normal. But for those whose team stays in, it will be a fun three weekends. Whoever your team is: wear the colors, root them on, and enjoy the ride.

All this talk about March Madness makes me think about what it takes to win; whether that is on the basketball court or on your next building project. The answer is: Preparation, Team Chemistry, and Execution. I heard Bob Knight say years ago, “It is not if you have the will to win that makes the difference, it is the will to prepare to win”. Even when you are prepared, if you do not execute, you will find yourselves on the losing end of the game. I believe team chemistry is what makes preparation and execution work. Team chemistry is about everyone on the team working together for the common goal of making the endeavor a success. It is not about an individual team member winning or losing. This is true in building projects where the team always includes:

  • The Owner. The Owner sets the goals and objectives for the project. He then approves adjustments to those goals and objectives based on real life conditions (codes, regulations, existing conditions, etc.)
  • The Professional. The Engineer/Architect provides solutions to meet the Owner’s goals and objectives. He then produces documents to communicate those solutions to the contractors.
  • The Contractors. The Contractors blend the skill sets of their workers with the materials from their vendors to form a working unit to build the project and meet the Owner’s goals and objectives.

When all the members of the team are working together well, you will be “cutting down the nets” at the end of the project and celebrating another successful run. We would love to be there with you.

It is a Jungle Out There

We completed a tenant office build-out for the Veterans Administration. Being a Federal agency, we knew at the start that the design would need to be based upon more stringent governmental ADA requirements than the Indiana Building Code.  The VA has their own super-stringent ADA requirements that supersede the federal and state standards. To meet the VA requirements, offset hinges had to be placed on every door to obtain minimum clearance, the corridors had to be wider than normal, and the restroom stalls are required to be bigger in each direction. If we had not identified these “hidden” requirements early on, the liability to try and “fix-it” later could have been very costly. This is just the latest example of hidden regulations and codes we have dealt with through the years. In other words, “It is a Jungle Out There…” Here are a couple more examples:

  • While designing an expansion at a church camp, we discovered that the Indiana Department of Health’s Sanitary Code had jurisdiction since that agency regulates and licenses all camp facilities in the state. The Sanitary Code has a section specifically for camps that contains requirements for egress windows in sleeping rooms, exit signs, emergency lighting, and even interior finish materials that are all more stringent than the Indiana Building code.
  • When looking at designing a small two-story building for a small town in Indiana, we determined that because it would house a government agency, ADA Title II requirements would need to be followed, in addition to the Indiana Building Code. The big liability in this case is that state code does not require installing an elevator to provide handicap access to the second floor; ADA Title II does require an elevator, which costs $65,000.00.
  • We were called in to look at a surgery center that had been built in an existing medical office building. It had been open for over a year and just had their first yearly inspection by the Indiana Department of Health, since that organization regulates and licenses critical care medical facilities. The inspector threatened to close the facility down because the design and construction did not meet NFPA 101 Life Safety Code requirements that are a part of the Department of Health licensing. The Architect of the build-out had followed all of the applicable Indiana Building Code Requirements, but did not design to the NFPA Life Safety Code. The Life Safety Code is much more stringent than the state code with respect to fire separations, emergency & egress lighting, door hardware, and egress stair design. In this case, the liability to the designer and building owner would be very costly.

I tell these “horror stories” in order to let you know that in this time of ever increasing governmental regulation, it can be a dense jungle to try and fight through to understand what requirements your building really needs to meet. It has gotten so it takes an experienced specialist to identify and respond to these hidden codes and regulations. Please contact us if we can help you avoid being lost in the jungle on future building projects.