pexels-photo-1076807

Merging Tradition and Innovation

 

pexels-photo-1076807

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about the value of craftsmanship at Eclipse Building Corp. We’ve discussed the high cost of cutting corners and how modern construction principles are creating disposable homes. We’ve even highlighted a few of our favorite historical buildings in Tampa.

Although we value craftsmanship tremendously, we don’t want you to think we live in the land where time and technology stood still. Yes, there are some aspects of the profession that remain uniquely human. But the true beauty of modern construction is when you are able to marry quality craftsmanship with modern innovation.

Let’s face it, technology is transforming everything – including the construction industry. To resist the advantages that technology provides would be irresponsible. As contractors, we aim to provide the best value to our customers, and technology has a huge role in that. From using 3D technology in restoration processes to taking advantage of the latest project management apps to increase efficiency and effectiveness, technology plays a pivotal role in everything we do. It would be detrimental to business to insist on doing everything the old-school way.

From facilitating communication to sustainable building practices with ‘green’ technology, identifying new technologies and tools that can make the process better and implementing them is our priority.

Nevertheless, our goal is always to use the technology to serve us, not the other way around. We will never compromise quality for the latest gadget, or replace human interaction with an automated process. By using technology, we better connect teams and find ways to help the owners, subcontractors and design teams visualize the project, anticipate issues and make better-informed decisions.

Embracing changing technology, lean processes and new construction materials and techniques is important, but cannot deter from the value of the craft. In a time in which younger, tech-focused people are joining the workforce, we need to reinstate the value of craftsmanship and how to marry tradition with innovation without negating either.

Craftsmanship is a mindset. It is care and concern and pride in one’s work. Once you have people who are using their talents to cultivate their craft, equipping them with modern tools, equipment and training can only further develop the craft. At the end of the day, it’s all about also delivering the highest-quality building product to our clients.
From start to finish, we work intimately with clients through every phase of their projects to ensure the finished product is everything they imagine…and more. Contact us today to discuss how we can support you.

pexels-photo-404972 (1)

The Many Types of Construction Delays

pexels-photo-404972 (1)As I wrote last week, construction deadlines and delays are two controversial topics for many involved in a construction project. For commercial clients, construction delays mean extra direct and indirect costs so we should do everything we can to understand them and try to avoid delays.

The best way to avoid construction delays is to have realistic and firm deadlines (for more on setting and meeting construction deadlines, check out last week’s blog post here.). Another way is to learn to identify different types of delays and how to address each one.

Excused Delays

Excused delays or force majeure from the French phrase meaning “major force”, are events or circumstances that could not be foreseen or predicted before the parties entered into the contract.  

When an excused delay occurs, deadlines get postponed. So there’s usually a lot of discussion on what qualifies as an excused delay. It doesn’t matter on which side of the table you sit; getting very specific about the criteria to qualify an excused delay, the terms and how they can impact – or not – the budget is good business sense.

Owner-Caused Delays

Anything that the owner changes, reveals itself after the project is underway, or due to another contractor not completing their part in time or making a mistake, can be considered an owner-caused delay.

Owner-caused delays can be tricky. What qualifies as an owner-caused delay is many times up for interpretation, so it’s best to discuss in detail before the project is underway. It’s also a good idea to lay out how different types of owner-caused delays could affect the timeline and budget of the project. This way you can avoid unpleasant conversations down the line when a rusty pipe needs to be replaced or the owner decides that the balcony in the design is more useful as a covered den.
Remember that no matter the type of construction delay, you should always stipulate in the contract that delayed contractors are required to give notice to their counterpart of any delay.  And set a deadline to communicate the delay. Failing to properly and timely give a delay notice will often waive the contractor’s right to postpone deadlines and increase the price.

Nearly every project encounters delays. The bigger and more complex the project, the better the odds for longer delays. Nevertheless, hiring a qualified and experienced contractor (such as Eclipse Building) can greatly help your chances of avoiding some delays.

pexels-photo-280264

What You Should Know About Construction Deadlines

pexels-photo-280264

Construction deadlines and delays are two controversial topics for many involved in a construction project. For a commercial client, not meeting deadlines can add up in additional costs. Storage costs, temporary office space rental, or just the time that they are not operating at full capacity can significantly impact their bottom line. Nobody wants that – not even your contractor.

To help everyone involved in the project align regarding deadlines, and to do our best to avoid potential delays, let’s discuss important terms you should know if you’re involved in a commercial construction project. In this blog post, I’ll go into details about the most important deadline and how to set – and meet – deadlines. Next week, I’ll write about different types of delays and how to manage them.

Substantial Completion – The Most Important Construction Deadline

There are many deadlines when it comes to commercial construction projects, but one you should fully understand is substantial completion. Substantial completion refers the point in which an owner can rent, sell, or work or live in the space. This deadline is also critical to satisfying third-party obligations such as local government requirements, availability of public incentives (e.g., tax credits or subsidies for a “green” building), or refinancing a construction loan before a permanent loan commitment expires.

How To Set A Deadline For A Construction Project

Sometimes confusion arises regarding the deadline for the project. This can happen because the deadline might have been left up to interpretation. For example, 20 days since the beginning of the project might mean 20 days since the contract was signed for the owner. But for the contractor, the clock might not have started ticking until all the materials were delivered to the site. Also, are those 20 business days or calendar days? You see my point…
To avoid any confusion and possible setbacks, you must identify the deadline. In detail. You can set a specific time and date (September 4, 2018, at 5 pm local time at the construction site). Or you can set a length of time that runs after a specified date or event. Be very specific about the event that starts the clock to avoid confusion. For either method of setting deadlines, make sure to check the day so that it doesn’t expire on weekends or holidays.

The Key To Meeting Construction Deadlines

Let’s be real. Sometimes delays cannot be avoided. Circumstances that are out of our reach, unforeseen projects, and changing requirements can all impact construction deadlines. But there are three things that help meeting construction deadlines.  

  • Planning – The more you take into account every single variable involved in the project, the more realistically you can forecast your deadline. Many times, poor planning or not leaving any wiggle room for unforeseen issues are the culprits to not meeting deadlines.
  • Communication – I cannot stress this enough. Construction projects are collaborative. There are many players and moving parts at all times. The more everyone knows about how the project is moving along, the better they can align to meet expectations.
  • Just do things right – Attention to detail and quality craftsmanship don’t only add to your project’s value, but also save you time and money. Make sure to hire a contractor with attention to detail to avoid having to go back to fix mediocre work.

When establishing construction deadlines, hiring a qualified and experienced team is crucial. A qualified contractor will not only support you in setting realistic expectations but will also deliver ‘first time right’ quality. Contact us today to discuss your next project.

money-2724245_640

The High Cost of Cutting Corners

money-2724245_640

When you’re ready to dive in with a construction project, you know that you have to operate on a fairly tight budget. That budget, however, is only one of several important considerations before you begin your project. Cutting corners on your construction project can lead to significant problems down the road – and will ultimately end up costing you more.

Here’s why you should favor quality over being frugal when planning a construction project.

High-quality Materials are Designed to Last

When you’re choosing between materials, the difference isn’t just cosmetic. High-quality materials are designed to stand the test of time – even in your busy commercial environment. If you cut corners and select cheap materials, you may find yourself needing to replace them several times faster. That means another round of construction costs as well as the cost of the new materials.

Low-Cost Contractors Often Leave Problems

You’ve received one estimate that’s significantly lower than all of the others, and you’re ready to jump on that contractor as soon as possible. Unfortunately, low-cost contractors don’t always provide you with the quality you need. Instead of falling into the trap, consider these potential problems:

  • Low-cost contractors may cut corners in construction – They may find ways to use cheaper materials or hire labor that lacks experience in the specific type of construction you’re doing. Worse, they may skip some safety regulations or use methods to accomplish their goals that aren’t recommended.
  • Low-cost estimates may be missing items – The contractor in question might have failed to notice some important aspects of your project or left off some details in the estimate – and that’s a cost that you’ll end up paying down the road.
  • You might have to kiss your timeline goodbye – Did you shut down your business to allow for construction? If so, you may end up shut down longer when you opt for a contractor who has less experience or who hasn’t made your project a top priority. Are you still moving customers through your location? Keep in mind that long-term construction may have customers heading elsewhere for their needs.
  • Low-cost contractors might not see all of the potential problems – There’s no discounting experience. Sometimes, there might be issues that an inexperienced or less qualified contractor will not catch before they become problems.

Working with an experienced contractor will give you peace of mind. They will take into consideration these potential issues so that when you open up a wall, work on electrical or plumbing, or any other place where a “surprise” might pop up, your budget has some wiggle room to take care of it.

I Know Someone Who Can Do That Cheap…

Your secretary’s brother-in-law has been trying to break into construction and he’s willing to give you a deal on your latest construction project. Someone over in accounting has a friend who can come in and do the work for a steal.

Unfortunately, these individuals often lack the construction experience necessary to handle your project – and the evidence will show in the less-than-professional results you’ll get when construction is finished. Sometimes, you’ll even end up with increased costs: not only will you pay them to do it, you’ll have to pay a professional to come in and fix it.

 

Ultimately, construction is an industry where you really get what you pay for. Cutting corners can lead to significant cost increases down the road. In other cases, costs will skyrocket immediately as you struggle to fix up the mess made by a contractor who didn’t know what they were doing.

Opting for a high-quality contractor will ensure you pay fairly for quality work. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

pexels-photo-955793

The Disposable Home

pexels-photo-955793

A few months ago, the oldest house in Tampa was moved across town. Still standing at 176-year-old, the four-bedroom bungalow was located outside of Ybor City at 3210 E Eighth Ave. In February it was taken apart, moved and reassembled in its new home in Hyde Park’s National Historic District.

The question begs itself: How is it possible that this house can withstand almost two centuries, but modern homes fall apart at the first sight of a natural disaster?

In our constant race towards bigger, faster, cheaper, we might be leaving behind an important element: Better. When we explore how building principles have evolved over the years, we can see the toll industrialization has taken on what was once considered an important craft.

Nowadays, many builders focus on high-volume, cookie-cutter boxes to expand the suburbs and make a profit. The notion of a home being an intricate part of a family’s history, passed from generation to generation, is foreign to many American families. We know that the new homes we buy today will house us and our children until they are old enough to get their own. We know that we will have to replace the roof in our lifetime and that it will withstand several cosmetic changes to keep up with trends.

Durability is not a common denominator in most modern construction. While materials get lighter, processes quicker and everything more expensive, home builders will adhere to the standard of the applicable building codes. Sound good? Not so fast, because the fact that a house meets code requirements only means it is the worst house you can legally build.

At the end of the day, the industry builds fast to keep up with demand, battling a dwindling labor supply, making ends meet with a budget from which they can still turn a profit while construction costs increase at least 3% per year.

Although construction, like any other industry, has turned into a numbers game, there’s still something to be said about quality construction. One that withstands time and has enough historical, sentimental and architectural value to merit logistical planning with Tampa police, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Transportation and the city of Tampa to be able to move it across town.

In our quest for beauty and commodity, let’s not forget the merit of quality. If you’re looking for a skilled construction partner that cares about quality and craftsmanship,  let’s talk.

 

Preserving Tampa’s History – Tampa Theater

Stepping into the Tampa Theater, one of Tampa’s largest historic preservation projects, is an experience like no other.

A Superior Example of ‘Atmospheric’ Design

The ornate Mediterranean-style structure has maintained its historic feel and original charm. Statues and columns flank the stage. Taxidermy doves and peacocks perch on fairytale terraces. Tiny twinkling bulbs fill the ceiling, giving the impression that you’re sitting under a clear blue sky.

The Tampa Theater was built in 1926 as one of America’s most elaborate movie theaters. Designed by John Eberson, the theater is the architect’s favorite example of his “atmospheric” style.

“I have been wintering in Florida for the past several years, and it is from this state that I got the atmospheric idea. I was impressed with the colorful scenes that greeted me at Miami, Palm Beach and Tampa. Visions of Italian gardens, Spanish patios, Persian shrines and French formal gardens flashed through my mind, and at once I directed my energies to carrying out these ideas.”  – John Eberson, Tampa Tribune, October 15, 1926.

A true master of his craft,  Eberson was a European stage designer and architect. With a unique background in electrical engineering and theatrical design, the architect coined the ‘atmospheric’ concept blending the new media of film with theaters’ stage drama roots.

Over the course of his career, he designed over 500 atmospheric movie palaces. Eberson’s designs were an ode to European architecture, with large coved ceilings that give the illusion of sitting outside in a courtyard with facades on either side.

Saved By a Dollar

A great example of the power of community, the Tampa Theater was saved from demolition in the 1970’s.

As suburbs proliferated in the 1960’s and people flocked to their TV screens, movie theaters struggled to stay afloat. Many of the finest movie palaces in the USA were demolished as the land beneath them became more valuable than the theater’s operations.

In 1973, the community rallied around the Tampa Theater. Mounting pressure convinced the City to buy the theater for a whopping dollar. And this became the national model on how to save an endangered theater.

Thanks to passionate advocates defending spaces that preserve history, culture and important architectural wonders, we can still stroll down Franklin Street and appreciate the intricately detailed design of the third best historic movie theater in the nation.

A lot of care goes into restoring historic buildings that inspire future generations. Allow our skilled craftsmen to help you be part of Tampa’s story.  

Tampa_Bay_Hotel-_Tampa,_Florida_(7157717922)

A Stroll Through Tampa’s History, One Building At A Time – The Tampa Bay Hotel

Tampa_Bay_Hotel-_Tampa,_Florida_(7157717922)

From its humble beginnings as an Indian fishing village to its rapidly growing skyline, Tampa’s history is best told through some of its iconic buildings. Tampa’s history is dotted with interesting anecdotes and colorful characters, interestingly tied to beautifully crafted buildings that still stand.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought on what it takes to revitalize landmarks. What it takes to honor a building’s history by respecting its architecture and craftsmanship. So, in my quest to celebrate craftsmanship and honor history of Tampa Bay through the complex and at times divergent architecture that lines its street, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Tampa Bay buildings and what makes them so special.

Tampa Bay Hotel

Of course, I have to start with the Tampa Bay Hotel…

Henry B. Plant, the transportation magnate that extended the railroad to Tampa in 1884 and started a steamship line from Tampa to Key West to Havana, Cuba, opened the Tampa Bay Hotel in 1891. The 511-room resort hotel cost $3 million to build and furnish and was the place to see and be seen in Tampa until 1930 when it closed due to the Great Depression.

Hotel Architecture

Tampa_Bay_Hotel,_401_West_Kennedy_Boulevard,_Tampa,_Hillsborough_County,_FL_HABS_FLA,29-TAMP,3A-_(sheet_9_of_13)

Plant chose the Moorish Revival architectural style, adopted by architects of Europe and the Americas in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with all things oriental. The hotel has six minarets, four cupolas, and three domes, which were restored in the 1990’s to their original stainless steel state. To this day, the Tampa Bay hotel is one of the most extravagant examples of Moorish Revival architecture in the United States.

Tampa Bay Hotel’s Notable History

Officers of the Spanish-American War at the Tampa Bay hotel, 1898. Courtesy of  the Florida Memory ProjectSome of the most notable celebrities that visited the Tampa Bay hotel were Sarah Bernhardt, Clara Barton, Stephen Crane, the Prince of Wales, Winston Churchill and Ignacy Paderewski. But it is its role during the Spanish-American War and in baseball history that makes it such an interesting landmark.

When the Spanish–American War broke out, Plant convinced the United States military to use his hotel as a base of operations. Generals and high-ranking officers stayed in its rooms to plan invasion strategies, and enlisted men encamped on the hotel’s acreage. Most notably, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders stayed at the hotel during this time.

Babe Ruth signed his first baseball contract in the hotel’s Grand Dining Room. Even more impressive, in 1919, Ruth hit his longest home run during a spring training game at Plant Field, adjacent to the hotel.

From Hotel to Hall

1024px-Old_Tampa_Bay_Hotel16Nowadays, the former hotel is known as Plant Hall, part of the University of Tampa. You can stroll by Plant Hall any day and visit its minarets and Moorish domes. To learn about Gilded Age tourism, the elite lifestyle of the hotel’s guests, and the building’s use during the Spanish–American War, you can visit the Henry B. Plant Museum, located in the south wing of Plant Hall (401 West Kennedy Boulevard). The building was completely renovated and restored, and the original furnishings, architecture and artifacts still adorn the walls.

The entire building (Tampa Bay Hotel) is one of 46 U.S. National Historic Landmarks in Florida since the 1970’s.

craftsmanship

Craftsmanship – The Dying Art Of Creating Beauty

craftsmanship

A craftsman, in essence, is an artist in the eternal pursuit of beauty, honoring his medium with experience, discipline and respect. While tradesmen deliver what is expected, a craftsman takes his time to hone his art with meticulous attention to detail.

There’s a strong call to rescue the dying art of craftsmanship across many professions: From software engineering to graphic design, and yes, even construction. A call for skilled tradesmen to exchange their automated processes for exquisite finesse, trade in bulk manufacturing for one-of-a-kind pieces. Why? Because craftsmanship inspires awe; delivers beauty; and creates bonds. We all need more beauty in our lives.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to appreciate true construction beauty in Tampa. It’s with awe that I walk within historic buildings, observing how each detail shares its unique story. You can’t get that in modern prefabricated boxes that even an inexperienced teenager can assemble.

Many say that craftsmanship is the quality that comes from creating with passion, care, and attention to detail. Appreciation is not lost on a carpenter’s detailed woodwork, or the intrinsic care it takes to make artisanal tiles. Those with an eye for beauty will always value the work that goes into creating something inspiring. And while the need for speed and economy robs our landscape of quality production, one must stop and honor those that still dedicate their lives to the dying art of craftsmanship.

May we remember that while production cost and speed are important, quality is what creates bonds. Let’s not forget the value of quality in everything we do. May we strive for a world full of craftsmen and appreciate the time and commitment creating beauty requires.

Allow the skilled craftsmen at Eclipse to bring your project to life to inspire generation upon generation.

Time, Cost & Quality – Choose Two

I bet you’ve heard the saying: Time, cost and quality – Pick two. Sometimes represented as the project management triangle, other times called the “triple constraint”, these three determining factors can guide the success – or failure – of your commercial construction project.

The triple constraint model goes something like this:

  • You can have something FAST & CHEAP but it won’t be good QUALITY
  • You can have something CHEAP & GOOD QUALITY, but it won’t be FAST
  • You can have something FAST and GOOD QUALITY, but it won’t be CHEAP

If you’ve ever dealt with construction, you might have heard a contractor say: “You want it good, you want it fast, or you want it cheap? Can’t have it all!”. And as he walks away with a chuckle, you think: “I’m spending good money, you determined your timeline… of course I want quality!”

And so the everlasting battle between construction experts and clients carries on. Those that work in construction know what it takes to do their job. Clients, as with anything else, don’t care about what it takes to deliver what they want. They care that you deliver what they envisioned on time, on budget and looking good.  

Frankly, I’m tired of having of having this conversation with clients mid-project. So let’s nip it right now: The triple constraint is not a way for us in the construction business to threaten a client. We don’t enjoy having to pull it out when they ask to shave two weeks off the schedule without cutting corners or affecting the budget. Or explain why swapping tile for waterfall concrete countertops will add time and manual labor to their project plan.

It is also not a way for construction professionals to cop out. Granted they don’t change the project plan midway, even the cheapest client out there deserves acceptable finished, sticking to the established budget and delivering when promised. There are standards, and those should never be compromised.

For both sides, it’s a matter of setting priorities and sticking to the plan. If we establish at the beginning that the priorities are time and money, don’t question why you can’t afford marble. If you want everything custom-made with high-end materials, know that it will come with a price tag and take some time.

The time/cost/quality conversation should be had at the beginning of every project. Establishing priorities right off the bat will lead the design and project plan, set everyone’s expectations throughout the project and avoid uncomfortable conversations down the line.

So, what will it be? Time, money or quality? Choose two.

book-2795850_1280

What’s the Deal with Due Diligence?

book-2795850_1280
Have you been thinking about remodeling your restaurant or starting a construction project from scratch? Just as with everything else that involves being creative, daydreaming about the possibilities can be so much fun: Build a grand entrance here, install floor to ceiling French windows there… Visualizing how much more profits you’re going to have as a result is also exciting.

Not to rain on your parade, but there are also excruciatingly boring things that come into play, such as zoning regulations, applying for permits and licenses, and conducting due diligence.

What does due diligence entail?

         Due diligence is an essential component of every single construction project. Before anything can get started, you need to know whether the project is viable. For example, what if you love a site, but it’s marshlands and it wouldn’t hold a building? Or what if your budget is not adequate to cover everything your project requires? Or what if you have a winning bid, but it has gaping holes that could later result in delays in construction, or worse yet, litigation?

Also, due diligence is not a catch-all phrase to take care of the details. An adequate diligence will include several different aspects to delve into:

  1. Site conditions due diligence: Is your site appropriate for what you want to do? Will your business need to expand and will you have the space for it? Is there a risk of sinkholes? Can you do the excavations you’d need to do? Are there any hazardous substances within the land? These are all things you’ll want to know before choosing a location.
  1. Legal due diligence: Are your rights as a project owner covered under the terms of the contract? What happens if the labor or materials are subpar? What happens if your contractor skips town? What if somebody sues you for an act or omission on the part of the contractor? If there’s a lawsuit, could you litigate locally or would you have to travel to their headquarters in another state? Do you even know? These are all things you need to be clear on before you sign a contract.
  1. Budget due diligence: The name of this one should be self-explanatory. However, it is very often that construction projects go over budget because either the Master Plan/Master Budget missed an important element, or due to someone’s oversight, or due to a natural disaster, or [insert unexpected event here]. This is also why it’s important to have a contingency budget; but even to set aside funds for one, you need to conduct due diligence to see what would be a list of foreseeable risks.
  1. Risk due diligence: Do you know who you’re entering into a contract with? Do you know their history? Have you seen a portfolio of their work? Would you be able to place a mechanic’s lien in any of their assets? Are there warnings after warnings from people who have worked with them in the past and got burned?

Construction requires a lot of preliminary work before you can even get started. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on your type of project, there may be additional considerations. You can do this on your own and hope you’re doing it well, or you can trust experts (such as, say, those awesome people from Eclipse Building Corp.) to do it for you. It might take a lot of time and effort, but it is always worth it. Don’t risk it. Give us a call and see how we can help you.