Hoping for some Joy and Sanity in 2017

By Austin Regan

Back in the days when I was young and had hair, I remember having lunch with  a long time successful contractor who explained to me that he never submitted Change Order requests because “It wasn’t worth the hassle and aggravation.” I had a chance to work occasionally with a developer of rental buildings and condos whose rule was he would not even advertise the rentals and would make no commitments to closings for condos until the TCO was in hand because “It wasn’t worth the aggravation and hassle.”

The above examples are the rare exception to the rule. Unfortunately it seems the business more and more thrives on the “aggravation and hassle.” Whether it be the owner who insists that their condominium filing must be completed now even though there hasn’t even been a shovel put to the ground yet for the new building, or the contractor/developer who insists on having a CO inspection even though the construction work is not complete, it seems that we are often creating unrealistic schedules or setting artificial goals that inevitably lead to “hassle and aggravation.”

The world gets more complex every day and the development projects seem to follow suit. Ownership arrangements (I own the soil, he owns the grass, there is a LLC that owns the sky on sunny days), construction phasing (all odd numbered apartments on even numbered floors will be ready for TCO first, except the hoist), and marketing schemes (there is no 13th floor, the cellar will be called the grotto the top five floors will be Sky level 10-15) sometimes seem to be designed just to confuse the heck out of everyone. That confusion mostly leads to conflict and delay.

The world certainly won’t get simpler. As our City gets denser the complexities of building and development will increase. These are things we cannot control. What can be controlled is expectations. Complexity naturally will cause delays at every level. Setting deadlines based on wishes or tangential concerns most times will lead to extra stress while affecting quality of work and doing very little to speed up the completion dates.

I have found that for our end of the work preparation is key. Taking the time to do a complete, correct job early is the surest way to guarantee a job being completed on time. But for us to do our job that way, all team members also must have time to do a complete job so we receive complete information. Work arounds and short cuts almost always creates delays at the end of the job.

Most of us got into the construction business because of our joy of being part of the process of creating a product that people will use and enjoy. With the pace and the stress of the business, it seems all parties no longer have the time to reflect and appreciate the great, important work they do. Too many of my clients and colleague just express frustration and bewilderment regarding what they do and accomplish on a daily basis.

One great aspect of this business is that I learn more every day. With the start of the New Year I hope all of us can approach our projects using the knowledge we have accrued to set realistic expectations and deadlines that still gets the job done and makes a little money for everyone. By approaching projects this way hopefully some joy and fun will return to the process of building in our great City. Happy Holidays to all.