1. How long does it take to prepare an estimate?
We can provide a budget to a client within a few hours if necessary. However, our bid will be more accurate and detailed if we take the time to understand the client’s goals and analyze preliminary plans. This process can take two to four weeks.
2. What exactly is “Value Engineering”?
Value Engineering (VE) originated at General Electric in the 1940’s and has been used in the construction industry for decades. Put simply, VE is finding an equal product or process for less cost or a better one for the same cost. It represents our responsibility to identify cost and time savings by suggesting alternate but equal methods, building materials, or scheduling procedures, without significantly altering the original design intent. Value Engineering may manifest as upfront cost savings, life cycle cost savings, a reduction in time schedule, or an upgrade in quality.
For every project at Berghammer Construction Corporation, we assemble a VE team of experts with diverse backgrounds. The five phases of VE—investigation, speculation, evaluation, development, and presentation—guide the team through the process. Every step is geared toward increasing the return on investment (ROI) for our clients.
3. How long does it take to get a building permit?
Obtaining a building permit can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the following three factors:
4. What are the advantages of having different divisions within a construction company?
The personnel dedicated to your project are experts within their respective divisions. We focus on the specific needs of your project from estimating through project management, whether you’re working with our Interior Services Division (tenant improvement/build-out), our Medical Projects Division, our Commercial Projects Division, or our Special Projects Division. Our thorough preconstruction services guide you every step of the way.
5. What are the advantages of having multiple owner disciplines within a construction company
Leadership in the construction industry requires the ability to apply intricate and ever-changing technology and to analyze and expedite the physical process. Focused on these leadership principles, Leif Nesheim, Jim Parks, and George Minnich bring more than eight decades of combined expertise and real-world experience to their successful partnership. This translates into a successful company: Berghammer Construction Corporation.
Leif Nesheim: Leif’s education and career history are general contracting. He reenergized Berghammer in 1988, leveraging his already strong relationships with real estate brokers, architects, and developers. Because he followed up with timeliness and thoroughness on the referrals they provided him, new business came in. Leif’s construction knowledge and management skills enabled him to develop and deliver a systematic method of initiating, tracking, and completing projects successfully. He advocates a partnering relationship and has constructed diverse projects ranging from 5,000 square feet to over 900,000 square feet.
George Minnich: George is an Operations Specialist in the technical aspects of preconstruction and construction. His background includes oversight of project management teams and field personnel, in addition to estimating and construction management. George has constructed a portfolio of signature, award-winning projects.
Jim Parks: Jim rounds out this partnership, bringing his diversified corporate experience to provide successful business development for our company. Along with his civil engineering and law degrees, Jim brings previous involvement with construction and development projects. He is an expert at analyzing projects and determining project feasibility. When people think of Berghammer and costing, they think of Jim.
The success of Berghammer Construction Corporation is largely due to an integrity-driven philosophy and the early determination to have only the best, like-minded people join the Berghammer team. Together, Leif, George, and Jim embody one directive: Establish and understand the needs and concerns of our clients and focus all available resources toward meeting those needs.
6. How can Berghammer Construction Corporation help with the preconstruction process, and what is involved with that process?
Berghammer Construction Corporation’s preconstruction process consists of the following services:
A. Plan Evaluation: We work with the project architect to assess the systems and methods being proposed for the project. Using our own expertise and experience, along with the expertise of its subcontractor network, we recommend the systems and methods best suited to meet the overall requirements of the owner’s program for initial cost and life expectancy. This includes analysis of structural, mechanical, electrical, and architectural components.
B. Site Evaluation: Berghammer works with the project civil engineer to coordinate the site development plans and ensure that the most economical methods, materials, and systems are used for the site grading, utilities, and landscaping design. We also analyze the permitting and approvals process to determine if the project can be started sooner by phasing site-related infrastructure such as site grading and underground utilities.
C. Preliminary Project Budget: We provide the owner with a preliminary project budget based on square footage and/or unit costs from our extensive historical database. For unique project elements, we sometimes engage the expertise of a key subcontracting partner. Preliminary estimates usually are accurate to plus or minus 10 percent after conceptual plans are complete. This provides enough detail for the owner to make intelligent decisions on how to proceed and to understand the level of quality he or she can expect.
D. Preliminary Schedule: We work with selected architects, engineers, and subcontractors, and apply our own experience, to create a preliminary schedule for the entire project. This schedule includes details such as the time involved in preparing working drawings, obtaining necessary approvals, and performing the actual construction process. The purpose of the preliminary schedule is threefold:
E. Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP): Berghammer provides the owner with a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) as the basis for a fixed contract amount. Typically, the GMP is determined when project plans and specifications for the project contain adequate detail to establish the overall project scope. Depending upon the project’s complexity, a GMP can be determined as early as the preliminary design phase and is typically based upon the analysis and qualification of proposals from three to five pre-qualified subcontractors.
F. Final Schedule: A thorough construction schedule defines all activities necessary for the project’s completion and the sequence in which they will occur. The final schedule is typically presented as a bar chart (for ease of readability) and can be converted into a critical path schedule if the owner so designates. This schedule details all activities from the start of the project through final punch list.
G. Subcontractor Evaluation and Recommendations: Berghammer submits recommendations to the owner on the most competitive, qualified subcontractor for each budget line item. While our intention is to use the most competitively-priced subcontractor, we also research other aspects—factors that could threaten the subcontractors’ ability to complete the project timely, such as financial, manpower, or quality issues. If such problems are found, we may recommend going to the next highest subcontractor.
7. What is “design-build”?
The design-build delivery model gives clients the benefit of single-source service. In other words, the design-build contractor is solely responsible to the client for the design and construction of his or her facility. Design-build is an efficient and cost-effective way to meet the design and quality requirements of any construction project while providing superior budget control and a project schedule. Design-build project delivery requires careful planning and professional execution. Berghammer Construction Corporation is an experienced, successful design-build contractor.
8. What is a “negotiated contract”?
A negotiated contract occurs when an owner selects a construction company, or general contractor, prior to completion of the working drawings. The general contractor’s fee is typically established up-front. The contractor, architect, and owner work together as a team to create a set of acceptable drawings, and the general contractor solicits competitive subcontractor bids. The qualifying bids are then assembled into a complete estimate with supporting documents, including the subcontractor bids and the general contractor’s estimate on self-performed work (such as carpentry or other construction labor) as substantiation for the cost of the work for the project. The contractor then adds the agreed
9. What is a “competitive bid”?
In a competitive bid situation, the owner contracts with an architect to produce a full set of working drawings and then solicits two or more general contractors to provide bids. The general contractors review the plans and submit a lump-sum proposal to build the project in accordance with the plans and specifications provided by the architect.
10. What is “open book”?
Open Book is a term that describes how information is delivered and presented to the project team. On an Open Book basis, all access to the information relating to the project is made available to the project team. All budget and final pricing detail are provided, and copies of the actual proposals, bids and invoices are shared with the project team for review and understanding.
11. What is the difference between a negotiated contract and a competitive bid?
In a negotiated contract situation, the relationship between the owner, architect, and contractor is one of cooperation and trust. The contractor is part of the team and works with the architect to identify errors or omissions that otherwise may occur in the development of the working drawings. For example, the contractor would...
In a competitive bid process, the contractor provides only a price on the plans and specifications provided by the architect. The goal is to find the lowest possible price. However, in order to keep the initial price as low as possible and win the bid, contractors are forced to interpret the drawings to provide the minimum quality necessary to meet the plans and specifications. The contractor’s experience and knowledge are not utilized to the owner’s advantage.
12. What are “conceptual drawings”?
Conceptual drawings are preliminary drawings that provide very basic data such as a floor plan, site plan, and exterior elevations. These drawings are used to determine the feasibility of the project, establish how it fits on the proposed site, and create a preliminary construction budget. Depending on the design process, conceptual drawings are also known as schematic drawings or design development drawings.
13. What are “working drawings”?
Working drawings (also known as construction documents or CD’s) represent the complete set of plans necessary to obtain all required building permits. Working drawings are used to construct the project and generally consist of architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering (site development) plans.
14. What are “general conditions”?
General conditions are the general contractor expenses that are directly attributable to the management of a specific project. These costs generally occur at the jobsite. They include such items as project management, site supervision, on-site project office (job trailer), temporary utilities, waste receptacles and removal, site IT requirements, and communications. General conditions are considered a cost of the job and are separate from the contractor's fee.
15. What is included in the “contractor's fee”?
The contractor's fee typically consists of contractor overhead items (such as the contractor's main office, telephones, utility expenses, computers, project accounting, and salary of project executive), and the contractor's anticipated profit.
16. What is a “payment and performance bond”?
A payment and performance bond is a guarantee from a third party, usually an insurance company, that the contractor will complete the construction project and pay all the bills pertaining to the contract. If a payment and performance bond is desired or required, the owner will pay a premium for this additional guarantee.
17. Shall I take the lowest bid?
Generally speaking, the selection of a contractor should be based on a blend of many factors, price (or fee) being just one of them.
18. What should I ask if I check references of a general contractor?
Good questions to ask relate to past project experience and competency of assigned personnel, such as the following:
19. What Is “LEED”?
LEED is a system used to measure a building’s ecological sustainability. Developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. By planning, designing, and constructing under LEED guidelines, an owner can expect to receive a high performance building that will save money through increased energy efficiency, reduced life cycle costs, increased employee retention, and enhanced employee productivity.
To receive formal acknowledgement from the USGBC that a building is LEED certified, the project must be registered and specific documentation protocol must be followed. Berghammer is uniquely positioned to manage that process for our clients. We are proud to be the first (and only) general contractor in Wisconsin to have 100 percent of our project managers and estimating staff become LEED Accredited Professionals. We can work with you and the architect to ensure that your building is designed and constructed in the most cost effective and sustainable fashion possible.
20. What is “BIM”?
BIM is an acronym for Building Information Modeling. While BIM relies on computer modeling, it is not a computer program; rather, it is an assemblage of information from a wide range of team members melded into one model for the entire team to use. Utilizing BIM, the design and construction team seek to improve coordination and eliminate conflicts by building a virtual project on the computer screen. Especially for complex projects, identifying and correcting conflicts on the computer screen is less costly than correcting them physically on the jobsite.
21. What do LEED and BIM have in common?
Both LEED and BIM achieve maximum benefit for the owner when the design and construction team is formed before pencil ever hits paper on the design. This approach is known as integrated design and is rapidly replacing the old design-bid-build model of project procurement. It is based on the knowledge that a project’s cost-saving opportunities occur early in the design process and that, as the project progresses, changes become costlier.
22. What role should a safety record play in contractor selection?
Like price, safety is one of the many factors to consider when selecting a contractor. A good safety record translates into cost competitiveness and lower prices. It can also be a sign of how well a jobsite will be managed and organized.