Amazon, Uber, Airlines, Toll Roads, Disney

Buy something on Amazon recently?  Purchased an airline or ticket and experienced upcharges for bags, seat selection, or a snack?  Want to drive on US 36 in the fast lane or been to Universal Studios in Florida and had the "fast pass" groups cut in front of you?  The current internet-generation is accustomed to this form of bidding and although many Gen Xs and older demographics feel nickel-and-dimed, the next generation of industry professionals currently accepts and sometimes prefers this pay-for-what-you-use approach.  What does this mean for the future of the industry? Wember is often an integral party the discussion and final selection of the construction delivery method.  Over the first part of our last twelve years in providing Owner's Representation to the public sector, projects in Colorado were primarily driven by hard bid.  As the economy picked up in 2003 negotiated work such as Construction Manager at

Hard Bid and Ice Sculptures

Imagine for a moment you are a maid of honor and are planning an engagement party on behalf of the bride’s parents who graciously offered to pay for the event.  The bride has sent you exact details of what she wants from the venue location to the type of wine along with a wish list of a few items, including Cinderella carriage ice sculpture.  The bride has asked to have the costs and the final list of vendors prepared for a meeting with her mother and father in four weeks, on a Saturday afternoon.  You bravely agree to assist, take the specific instructions and begin planning. The first week you are busy and don’t make any progress other than reviewing the information and generally compiling a list of who might be a good match to be a part of this big day. The second week you proceed to

Let’s Collaborate, or Not

So much has been made of collaboration and implementing integrated project delivery systems; the benefits can be exciting, but the process can also be disappointing and a point of contention.  Wember continuously advocates for project management technologies, in particular the use of our online Owner’s Representative software.  We are also using Bluebeam, Skype, Doodle and many other tools to collaborate and fortunately, other members of the project team do as well, including architects and contractors; unfortunately, they are often different from one another.  They work in a variety of industry software including Vela System, Timberline, Submittal Exchange, Plangrid and many more. This makes for many different platforms, which can defeat any time-saving promises made by using an integrated process. We have found when working with larger firms that have an established IT department and standards policy, they mandate to work be done on their systems, no exceptions.  When

Hard Bid and Air Travel

My father was a pilot for United for 36 years and I benefited from his job by being able to travel standby all the way through college. When I started flying, 50% of Americans had flown on a plane compared to nearly 80% today. Airplanes had class segregation via a solid curtain. First-class had an open bar and real silverware, including knives. Then came the race for low fares spearheaded by the Southwest Airlines' hub-and-spoke model in lieu of larger airlines’ less efficient network system. Wrap it in a bow called the internet and you have what the construction industry has dealt with for years, hard bid. Last week my wife purchased her round trip ticket to Chicago for $209, note that when we moved to Denver 14 years ago a round trip ticket cost $200. She was thrilled with the price and made it safely to her

Apps – Using Technology to Make Your Job Easier

The first time I saw an app was from the IT Director on a project during construction. He proudly showed me his level on his new Iphone. I advised him that he might not want to bring that out during the next OAC meeting. This initial experience and many following left me underwhelmed by the possibilities of this new revolutionary technology but times have changed and so has my opinion. We have been using our phones for communication be it texting, email, and live video (showing consultants field conditions in live format) for some time but the field of applications has changed immensely and is continuing to evolve. Recently I was on a site walk with a client and we were trying to determine where the property line might be, comparing a concept drawing to a google map on my phone was ok but didn’t give me the


At the Construction Owner Association of America (COAA) conference we recently attended in Baltimore there were a lot of sessions and even more discussion on Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). One of the critical items for success was identified as collocation of the team. The consensus was that to truly collaborate teams need to be put together and removed from “silo’s” and sometimes office influences (I think this means ownership and their own agendas). This integrated approach goes beyond just putting people in the same room but removes them from the culture of their office and thrusts them into a level of communication not normally practiced in the industry. Although a great ideas in concept the conversation led to some real issues that would need to be addressed. Logistics: Location: So if you are going to collocate where do you put the people. If it is a truly neutral

Describing Construction Delivery Methods

One of our roles in the AEC industry, especially as an Owner’s Representative, is to educate clients on a multitude of items, including Construction Delivery Methods. We have presented the options to clients many times over, only to watch their eyes glaze over with all the acronyms and options. So now, via this blog, we take a bit of a different approach to highlighting the similarities and differences between each methodology. The Context: Your anniversary is coming up and you want to treat your spouse to a very special dinner; you have budgeted $125 per plate, and you think about what you want to achieve to make it special. Scenario One. You go to your favorite restaurant and meet with the head chef. You ask him to come up with a meal that includes three courses - salad, dinner, and desert - as well as a bottle of

Tale of Two Libraries: CMGC vs. Hard Bid V1.3

As outlined there are many differences between CM/GC and Hard Bid projects which were called out under pros and cons in the first installment of this blog. I realize now one significant oversight that was not mentioned, staffing. When you hire an Owner’s Rep or Architect on a project you will often ask to meet the design director, Project Manager, Quality Control offices, and even major consultants such as the mechanical engineer and lighting designer. This process holds true in selecting a CM/GC. As the contractor under this delivery model joins the team early you will want to know who is handling preconstruction manager, estimating, who is the project manager, and most importantly who is the superintendent. In the same way you would want to shortlist your design team based on qualifications such as experience with a project type you may even be interested in if they have

Tale of Two Libraries: CMGC vs. Hard Bid V1.2

On the Green Valley Ranch Library (our DBB project), we have just officially finalized the contract with the General Contractor (GC). Now the “rubber meets the road”, and we get to see how the GC will deliver the project for the amount bid. It should be noted that the contract amount came in roughly 30% below the budget and the low bid contractor has seen the other bid totals. At this time the two pros listed in our previous blog regarding DBB have been realized: The process provided a lower price for the Owner The process allowed more contractors to bid the project The design team incorporated many alternates into the bid documents with the hope of accepting at least a few of them at the time of bidding, as stated, the market netted bids well below the estimate provided by the design team. All of the alternates

Tale of Two Libraries: CMGC vs. Hard Bid V1.1

In the year ahead, we will be in the fortunate position of project managing the design and construction of two new libraries of very similar program (needs, size, and budget)for the Denver Public Library – one located in Green Valley Ranch and one in the Stapleton neighborhood. This will put us in a unique position as Green Valley Ranch is being delivered via the design-bid-build method and Stapleton by the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) method. This scenario will allow a side-by-side comparison of these two delivery methods, and a great way to contrast them “real-time”. We’re calling it “The Tale of Two Libraries”. For context, and to set the stage for our future blogs on this subject, the status of each project is as follows: Green Valley Ranch – the project has been fully designed, and we are in the final stages of contractor selection; construction will likely

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