Count the Cost

We got a call from a lady that had an idea for a new business. She is an entrepreneur in a specialty food market niche who was working out of her house. She had some success and began to think that it was time to take the next step – move out of her house and into her own building. She thought it would make great sense if she could buy an older building, renovate it and provide rental space for others in her “small business” situation. She found a building, in need of some tender loving care, that she could buy right. So she purchased the building and that is when we got the call.

She asked…

  • What are the code requirements for changing the use of the building (which she would be doing)?
  • Could she and her husband do the construction renovation work themselves?
  • What our reaction was to her preliminary layout for using the space and her idea of phasing the work.

Our response…

  • The building Code is very specific about the requirements when an existing building changes use. Our first look showed that she may not have to make major renovations to satisfy the building code. But now that she owns the building she will be on the hook for whatever the code tells her to do.
  • We told her that the local building department requires a licensed contractor to do all the work. Not good news because she was hopping to put a lot of sweat equity into the facility.
  • Her preliminary layout showed us her thoughts on how she wanted to use the space, but a site walk through quickly reveled the obstacles in the way of an efficient layout and phasing of the work.

After hearing our comments she decided to put the project on hold for the time being and reevaluate her strategy. In the meantime she owns an old building that may not be the asset to her business plan she had hoped.

The lesson is: Always count the cost before you start. When you don’t, you too may just get caught owning an “old building”. Contact us; we are in the business of helping you Count the Cost…


Who’s Looking Out for You?

Over the last several years, we have e-mailed you pithy information about facility projects through our e-Bits. We hope you have found them useful and enjoyable. We will continue to send them twice a month throughout the year.

We want to be sure you have a full understanding of who PDMi is and the services we provide. You will find that information on our website which we invite you to visit.

In a nut shell…

  • Who We Are: We are a Professional Engineering, Architectural, & Project Management Firm.
  • What We Do: We manage the Risk Inherent in the Design and Build Process.
  • How We Do It: We believe in the Partnership of the Owner, Designer & Contractor.

We realize there may be many reasons why you would look for help with your facility needs, but we have found the two main reasons are: 1) You do not have the experience on your staff to complete the task effectively or 2) You are short on people and you need “arms and legs” for a specific project.

Either way, you need someone that is looking out for you. Someone focused on your agenda. That is what we do – we value what you value. Sure we provide Professional Engineering, Architectural and Project Management, but it is not “WHAT” we provide, but “HOW” we provide it that keeps our clients satisfied.

Call me and we can talk about your next project and I will gladly give you references of clients that got an answer to their question, “Who is looking out for me”?


Snow Drifts – OUCH!!!

Well, over the weekend we got that first big snow fall of 2019. For those of you that love to play in the snow, I am happy for you. For those of us that would rather be boating at the lake on a warm day in July, our time is coming! Reality is that during winter there is snow. Snow can be fun but it can also cause damage to your facility. As a structural engineer, I get a little nervous when I see all of the drifted snow lying on a roof! Many times serious problems are just around the corner. So I wanted to share some hopefully helpful, tips on the safest ways to remove the excess snow from your roof and protect your roof members.

  • Visually inspect your roof system to identify any unusual deflections of beams or joists. If areas are found, start removal of the snow in this area. Remove approximately one-half of the snow depth in a pattern that does not cause an unbalanced loading condition on the roof members. After half the depth of the snow is removed, remove the remaining half in the same manner.
  • The shoveling pattern should progress from each side of the building towards the center. On larger roofs, it is recommended that additional people work from the center of the building to the ends.
  • Never use metal shovels to “scrape” the roof down to the surface. Remember, the objective is to relieve the excess loading condition due to the weight of the snow, not to completely clear the roof panel of all snow and ice. Attempting to scrape the roof will result in broken fasteners, tearing, fractures or holes, which could create roof leaks.
  • Keep gutters, downspouts and roof drains open and free flowing to prevent water back-up and ice build-up on the roof. Ice damming conditions are especially likely on the north side of the building and in shaded areas. Installing heat tape in gutters and downspouts can also be used as a precaution; however, heat tape should be checked regularly and may not be 100% effective in extremely low temperatures.
  • Always be watching for extreme deflections of the roof members and listen for unusual noises. When snow and ice build-up on your roof, it is always a good idea to listen and to watch. Your building will speak to you!

Snow can be fun but it can also be the cause of structural failures and water leaks. Give us a call; we can be of help in identifying unsafe conditions at your facility.

Solve the Right Problem

We received a call from a past client about an expansion project they were looking to do. He said his boss must have been looking at one-too-many aerial photos of their facility because his instruction was to “make the building square”.  This building had been added on to multiple times over the years which made it sprawled out and not well connected. His boss’s solution was to tear down the parts that stick out and fill in the areas between. This may be a solution that will make the facility look good to the birds flying overhead, but it would do very little to solve their real problem which is a need for “more efficient space”. His boss was correct in that his operation was not efficient. His mistake was that he jumped to a solution before he identified the real problem, which has everything to do with the flow through the facility.

You may have a building that has been added on to many times, one that has never had an addition, or maybe you are looking at building new. Whichever the case, how the building flows should always be the starting point for your building needs. Before you start thinking about walls and square footage, we suggest that you:

  • Identify each of your work areas and the tasks that will be accomplished in those areas.
  • Determine the type of relationship each task has to the other tasks (Absolutely Necessary, Ordinary, Undesirable, etc.)
  • Create a flow chart of how your organization functions from the information gathered

Had his boss done these steps he would have identified the right problem and found an effective solution. Whether your facility is used for manufacturing, retail, offices, or a church, PDMi we can help you create a flow chart and develop a facility plan that will be the right solution to the right problem. Give me a call.

Tis the Season…

Tis the Season… this is one of my favorite times of the year, from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas to New Years. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

I enjoy the Holiday Season because:

  • Over the holidays I get to spend quality time with family and friends.
  • The people I meet are generally in a festive mood – even the Bah Humbuggers.
  • I love the traditions; from the big meal at Thanksgiving, to giving of gifts on Christmas morning, to the New Year’s Day reflections on what was & looking forward to what can be.

I have come to know that the Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s season is all about relationships and here at PDMi we are thankful this holiday season for the relationships we have had throughout 2018 and look forward to strengthening those relationships in 2019.

Our Staff wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.