Commercial Construction in Lincoln, NE – 2018
Just about anywhere you go in Lincoln the growth of our city’s commercial landscape is evident. This also holds true for surrounding areas that are experiencing unprecedented growth of their business districts and municipal areas, or similarly, urban revitalization efforts.
All around town, you’ll see signage in front of the major projects, with familiar names such as Cheever Construction, Kingery Construction, Tru-Built Construction, Krueger Development, and Ironhide Construction, all of which are currently hard at work at prominent construction sites.
Here in Lincoln, we’re fortunate to have some of the best in the business when it comes to experienced, highly-skilled industry professionals. That being the case, when selecting the right one(s) for the job, it’s more about what you want to accomplish and how you want to go about it.
“There are several project delivery methods – design/bid/build, design/build, and construction management,” advises Rick Wintermute with Kingery Construction. “In the traditional design/bid/build method, the owner contracts with separate entities for the design and construction of the project. The owner first engages an architect and gets the plans put together. If an architect has been brought on board for a project, it’s a good sign to the other professionals that it’s going to move forward, so it does generate interest from contractors. The project is then put out for bid, which can be to a public (open) or private (select) audience of contractors. Generally, if it’s public, the lowest bidder with a responsible proposal will be selected. If it’s private, that’s not always the case. Once the build phase has been awarded to the contractor, the construction process begins. The general contractor generally limits their role to managing the construction process and daily activity at the construction site, while subcontractors will be used for supplying materials and installation.
With design/build, the owner hires a general contractor, and that company hires the professionals for design or does the design work in-house and is responsible for performing all of the work that’s called for in the plans.
Finally, in the construction management role, the general contractor works as an agent of the owner and an advocate on their behalf. They are there to oversee everything, and through active involvement and offering recommendations, ensure the owner gets the best value.”
Wintermute also offers insight on the advances in technology that have positively impacted the construction process. “Plans are moving towards being completely digital, and with the migration to digital plans/specs, there have been distinct benefits for the industry professionals working together on a project. Those out in the field are now able to carry tablets with them and pull up sections of the most current drawings for reference as needed. The plans are right there next to what they are looking at in real time. We have software that allows us to take a picture at the site, plug it into the plans, and send it to the architect for confirmation or clarification. Making sure everything is right before it gets built is important. It helps everyone keep the plans up to date and it has greatly helped with streamlining the process so nothing is missed. Technology has enhanced the communication process with the owner too. There are now cloud-based packages that allow the owner to look over the project and see the progress that’s taking place. Updates are logged there and it’s used to communicate information back and forth expediently.”
As previously mentioned, being able to identify areas in the plans that require careful consideration, such as needing to be adjusted based on intended function from what was originally planned, is something that your contractors will have a good eye for based on their specific knowledge and experience. A team approach is most beneficial for an owner for this reason.
Matt Collins with Oak Electric, Inc. specifies some of the key electrical aspects of a commercial construction project that require thoughtful planning and shares his corresponding advice:
“One major component of a commercial space to consider is lighting. An investment in good lighting yields a more efficient workforce with a higher morale, as well as setting the right tone with your clients. Don’t forget about exterior lighting either, such as sidewalks, stairways, and parking lots. Safety and security are important for any business.
The most important piece of advice I would suggest is to be proactive with your lighting and/or data needs. When building what will be your future place of business and workspace for years to come, it’s not the time to cut corners just to fit within a budget. For example, I am currently working on a project where it was requested that I install basic electrical devices only. However, they will be adding a new conference room with audio/visual equipment. I could have installed outlets on the exterior walls only and saved a few bucks. Alternatively, I could have installed floor and ceiling outlets and data drops to eliminate unsightly cords being draped across the table and creating a trip hazard. This did increase the initial investment price some, but it would have been much more expensive to go back and add it after the fact. Like I’ve said before, you get what you pay for and it will benefit you in the long run to be forward-thinking. The more details you share with your contractors, the better they’ll be able to ensure you get the best results, or at least have the options presented to you.
Oak Electric, Inc. is a locally owned, full-service electrical contractor that has experience with commercial, industrial, and residential projects. For more information, please visit www.oakelectriccompany.com or call (402) 440-5969.”
In agreement, Jon Eicher with ABC Electric reiterates, “You can absolutely count on getting what you pay for with any aspect of a commercial construction project. In the long run, paying a little extra for quality is also an investment in the assurance that what’s being installed now will stand the test of time. For any bids you’re considering, I’d strongly recommend asking for references and that you have permission to contact the owners of past projects. You’ll be able to use that information to make a better decision as opposed to strictly evaluating them based on price, which isn’t at all indicative of the whole picture. There are many factors that together will lead to a successful project outcome.
He adds, “At ABC Electric, during our 85+-year history as a full-service contractor, we’ve been involved with many different types of projects, and for a vast array of clients. Our goal is to deliver a finished product that’s functional, dependable, safe, and meets all electrical codes and the client’s objectives.”
Although the fundamentals remain largely the same among firms across the industry, there is a certain degree of variance that lies in the smaller details, with aspects and approaches that make each unique.
“There are a lot of great contractors in the area,” notes Justin Kurtzer with Cheever Construction. “What we feel really sets us apart is we are an employee-owned firm. When someone shows up on the job site there’s a personal investment as well as involvement on a professional level. You’ll find that to be the same no matter who you work with at Cheever. Our clients understand that and appreciate that; there’s a mutual trust and respect between us that establishes a solid foundation from the start that extends throughout the project.
As a commercial general contractor, Cheever Construction provides complete coordination of obtaining competitive bids from all trade sub-contractors, administering contracts and supervising all phases of construction.
Cheever Construction has a proven track record as the builder on many types of commercial projects: schools, churches, office buildings, medical facilities, manufacturing, and senior living. We routinely complete smaller-scale projects and large multi-million projects alike.
Recently our involvement by project type has been skewed towards medical facilities, and we’re seeing a lot of interest in senior housing too. For both, the demand is predominantly being driven by baby boomers. These are trends nationwide and Lincoln continues to have prime opportunities for development in those areas as well as in other key market segments.
Educational institutions are another big one. There has been a significant push recently with the addition and enhancement of K-12 schools and facilities. Lincoln has wrapped up theirs for the most part but the smaller surrounding communities are expected to follow suit. At the college level, there’s ongoing activity on the UNL campus as well as on SCC’s campuses. Southeast Community College has a number of projects still in the works, with a number of improvements spanning all of their campuses slated for the coming year.
If you’re considering doing any type of commercial construction project, my advice would be don’t rush it. It’s an involved process, so it does take time, and longer than one might think, to get quality results. Ask for references, review past examples of work, and talk to others who have undertaken similar projects. Finally, let the professionals help guide you through the process and keep your expectations high but reasonable at the same time.”
As we enter the time of year when construction projects literally “spring up” everywhere, it’s exciting to see the transformation happen through summer and fall. (As opposed to the dreaded road construction everywhere, for which “exciting” would not be the term used by most, although it is a necessary evil.) Furthermore, in addition to breaking ground on new and exciting projects, and the many others in the various stages up until completion that are visible to passersby, there are plenty in the planning stages too.
Take the aggressive development of south Lincoln for example. “Historically much of our focus has been on the development of south Lincoln and that remains true today,” says Dave Conde with Krueger Development. “We believe that the commercial market in south Lincoln will continue to grow. Evidence of this growth is demonstrated in the new and expanding major retailers in the area such as Scheels, Costco, Kohl’s, Marshalls and Aldi.
For Krueger Development, our main point of commercial concentration in 2018 will be the build out of the Yankee Hill Business Center off 14th and Yankee Hill Road. The first project to be complete will be the Sierra Suites.
Sierra Suites is a mixed-use commercial and residential space just south of 14th and Pine Lake. It’s composed of 14,400 square feet of commercial space on the first floor and 40 one-bedroom apartment residences on the second and third floors. With frontage to 14th Street and an available drive through on the south end-cap, Sierra Suites will be a high exposure location for our retail or office clients. We are excited to begin preleasing this month.
We’re also currently working on two 6,000-square-foot commercial buildings in the Yankee Hill Business Center that are soon to be complete. Located just north of 14th and Yankee Hill, there will be multiple configurations possible for smaller suites. Those will be ready for lease this summer.
Then there’s a notable project that we completed at the beginning of the year, a 6,000-square-foot building in the Woodlands Enterprise Center located just south of 84th & Yankee Hill. Here there are also multiple configurations possible for smaller suites which are ready to lease or buy now. Additional ground is also available for commercial buildings in this development.”
He also notes, “Our most sought-after and key offering in commercial construction is that we are capable of designing not only the shell but the interior of a building. Clients’ needs are completely met for the exterior and interior when working with Krueger Development. This makes the entire process more economical and time efficient, getting the client into their space as fast as possible without having to work with numerous designers.
There will always be trends, but what remains the same is that our clients are seeking the most desirable locations and an experienced landlord who can help them make their vision a reality. Our team of professionals work alongside our clients to ensure that they see us as a partner in the success of their business.
For more information about Krueger Development’s commercial properties, feel free to contact me at (402) 423-7377 or email@example.com.”
As yet another general contractor here in Lincoln that’s no stranger to commercial construction projects, Tru-Built Construction continues to play a part in the development of south Lincoln as well, but is also actively involved in the development of other areas of town too.
“Our key roles are development, planning, design, and build,” summarizes Bo Jones with Tru-Built Construction. “Our portfolio includes office buildings, medical practices, restaurants, warehouse and storage, and more.
One of our most recent projects was the new building at 7211 Plaza Court, on the corner of 84th & Hwy. 2, for Inspiring Minds. It’s an 8,000-square-foot daycare facility that just opened and is licensed for 123 children. Some of the features incorporated in this building are a solid concrete center hallway that can be used as a storm shelter, point-of-entry controlled access, surveillance system of the entire building, and state-of-the-art check-in and payment system. The directors can also control the lighting and heating/cooling systems remotely from their phones and tablets.
Those systems, as well as plumbing systems, have become much more efficient and high-tech. Overall, technology options are virtually endless, control systems are getting easier, and prices are coming down as more technology becomes available.
One piece of advice I’d offer that’s relevant to any commercial construction project is to start planning; you’ll never be too far ahead of the game. It’s better to be too early than too late, particularly since the planning phase can sometimes be longer than the construction phase. Site selection, scope of project, design, and permits are all factors that will determine the time spent in the planning phase.
Getting started now may also benefit you financially as interest rates are still historically low and indications are pointing to rate hikes in the near future.”
While there is a lot of development on the outskirts of town as new areas are being zoned for commercial or residential use, there’s also plenty going on in central Lincoln and the innermost of the four quadrants of town (SE, SW, NE, NW). Here, since it’s not commonly open land unless a building is razed to make way for something new, there are generally two options, with the other being repurposing the existing structure.
“We’ve seen a large push to rehabilitate buildings and structures versus demolishing them and rebuilding,” says Matt Buol-Ferg with McGill Restoration. “This decision is usually driven by cost, and there are many new technologies, products, and applications that allow for the rehabilitation of these structures and maintain or even improve their performance.
As previously mentioned by another professional, be prepared to spend time on educating yourself on the new technologies that are being developed. Vendors and manufacturers are usually more than happy to come in and talk to you about the ‘new toy’ that they have to offer. Understanding what that is and how you can use it to benefit your projects is important and will keep you competitive. At McGill Restoration, we are always looking into new and innovative solutions to improve our offerings. New products and new ways of performing jobs are constantly being developed. Staying on top of those new innovations keeps us more aware of what’s going on the industry as well as keeping us competitive.”
As there are many different professionals involved in a single commercial construction project, Buol-Ferg also notes, “Having the technical knowledge and experience to look at a set of drawings and specs and understand what the architect and/or engineer is trying to accomplish is invaluable. So is good communication and attention to detail. In my role as Lead Estimator, having the ability to quickly transition from project to project, and compartmentalize the information from each, depending on the needs at that moment of the team is extremely important. I may look at 5 or 6 projects throughout the day, and if I can’t keep the information from each one separate it will cause problems.”
Advances in technology, as have been referenced several times now, are positively impacting the construction industry in a number of ways.
As far as technology utilized by professionals on commercial construction projects to aid in the process, drones have come on the scene in a big way too. With the capabilities of aerial photography, mapping, and 3D modeling, and so much more, the use of drones has been a major game-changer.
“DigitalSky provides a wide array of services to companies involved in commercial construction from the architects and engineers tasked with planning and designing the project to the contractors that are brought in to see that it gets built, and then ultimately the property owner,” says Justin Kyser with DigitalSky. “We’re seeing a lot of work that might have been traditionally done by personnel on the ground be turned over to drones. A common example is generating elevation models and contour line files, which has always been done by a manned survey crew in the past. Then there are more advanced things like recreating the entire project area digitally, similar to LIDAR (a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges), or even providing periodic updates through either aerial video, aerial photography, or mapping and modeling. We’ve seen a huge demand from development companies that are looking for aerial photo updates of their projects on a recurring basis because it’s really simple to get started, typically costs less than their monthly internet bill, and provides them with information that they normally wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.”
For professionals or even just the average person, it’s important to be aware of the regulation that applies to the use of drones. Kyser cautions, “There are federal regulations that pertain specifically to using drones for business and that’s one thing that a lot of people don’t know! They think ‘Hey, let’s go pick a drone up from Sam’s Club and start getting pictures of our construction site,’ when in reality, without the proper licensing and paperwork in place as well as authorization from air traffic control, they’re putting their entire company at risk for huge fines from the government. We’re talking up to $11,000 per occurrence! That’s why we work with the FAA to ensure that all of our operations are completely legal and authorized. We simply won’t put our clients at risk of being fined.
Aside from that, but along the same lines, the biggest piece of advice I’d offer someone who is looking to use drones on their construction project is to know exactly what they’re getting into. It’s completely OK for a large company to seek help from industry experts like DigitalSky when it comes to getting a drone program in place. A lot of people think we’re just service providers, but we’re actually the only full-time drone service provider in the state, and there’s a reason we’ve been able to last so long. We work with our clients to make certain they’re getting exactly what they want, and we deliver on time, every time. This applies whether you’re hiring us to actually perform the service or you bring us in to consult with you to figure out how to do it in-house.”
When asked to divulge information about current projects underway, he pointed out, “Unfortunately we can’t share photos of the projects we do for clients, but I can say that we’re involved in some of the largest commercial construction projects in Lincoln and Omaha in 2018. If you’ve heard of it, chances are, we’re imaging it.”
On one hand, there’s the incredible cutting-edge technology utilized during the construction process. Then, on the other hand, there’s the technology that you’ll be incorporating into your brand new commercial building. As you might imagine or are already aware, there are really amazing options on the market today for that as well. Take, for example, building management systems.
“Building management systems (BMS) provide efficient control of internal comfort conditions, effective use of energy, and quick and effective responses to HVAC and security problems that save both time and money,” Pat Killeen with Engineered Controls articulates. “The BMS systems also provide information on problems in the building, allow for computerized maintenance scheduling, are easy and effective for employees to use, and easily detect problems.
There is now considerable interest in energy efficient buildings, high-tech devices and enhanced security systems that are now central components of building management systems. For example, lighting control systems with dimming and light-harvesting capabilities are generating an especially high demand.
By integrating HVAC, lighting and security functions all within one common BMS platform, a building’s power systems–lighting and illumination; electric power and control; security, video surveillance and magnetic card access; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems–will all be monitored and controlled from one central location.
Although hardwired building management systems have been around since the late seventies, wireless technology has revolutionized the building automation system market.
Long-range analysis shows that there are a number of business sectors that are currently and will continue to drive the BMS sector of the building technology industry in the future. These include the demand for ‘green building technology,’ electrical energy management systems, LED lighting and lighting controls, security and access systems, asset management, smart buildings and the technology convergence into one holistic Building Management System.”
With these offerings, as far as the company’s specific role in commercial construction projects, Killeen explains, “Our involvement in commercial construction projects can take on two entirely different roles – New Construction and Building Services.
First, our New Construction group focuses on providing traditional temperature control and digital building automation systems (BAS) for the new construction industry. With our experienced staff of sales, engineers, and installation technicians, combined with our excellent relationships within the consulting, engineering, and contracting community, Engineered Controls has positioned itself to be the low-cost leader in the plan and specification market in Nebraska and Iowa.
Secondly, our Building Services group can deliver comprehensive, industry-leading retrofit and energy services projects direct to building owners. We’ve worked with many building owners and managers seeking to reduce their energy consumption and improve the performance of their building.
Since these two market approaches to commercial construction work are independent of one another, Engineered Controls will continue to focus on both segments of the market for the foreseeable future. We have a team of new construction and owner direct sale teams in both our Lincoln and Omaha offices.”
Finally, for those taking on projects in the future, he advises, “I would tell clients interested in adding building control technology to their new building to do their research. There is plenty of information on the internet today that will make the average building owner much more knowledgeable about what is available in the commercial construction market than anyone realizes.
Next, I would suggest that building owners need to get to know the consulting engineers that are designing their buildings. It is crucial that building owners are smart consumers and participate in the design process. Since the new construction industry consists of architects, consulting engineers, general contractors, mechanical contractors, and so on, many of the basic decisions that are being made regarding system type, configuration, manufacturer, functionality, etc. are all being made by everyone EXCEPT the customer.
Far too often we see building owners moving into a new building only to find out that they did not get what they wanted. Or occasionally the BMS system is too complicated for them to operate. The moral of the story is to get involved, ask questions, know what you want, and know what you are getting BEFORE the decisions are made by everyone but you, the customer.”
As a significant investment to put it lightly, if construction is a part of the future you envision for your business, there’s a lot at stake. With so much to consider, it’s equal parts exciting and overwhelming. But in the wise words of pioneering psychologist Abraham Maslow, “You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” To literally grow your business oftentimes requires physical expansion, making it a wholly worthwhile undertaking when all is said and done.