The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Well, we are over half way through 2017 and the economy seems to just keep rolling along. Clients are looking to begin work on a wide variety of projects, from schools to streetscapes. This project mix has allowed for Callander Associates to hire more than a few new employees to meet the growing demand.  As construction needs rise, clients tend to be paying more for these services and for Contractors; the need to hire qualified laborers has increased. Many Contractors are looking for all types of workers, from general laborers to superintendents. With that, wages are on the rise and bids are increasing. All of this leads to the question of:  who pays?  In most cases, the answer to this is our client, the end user.

We typically put together cost estimates for our clients to give them an idea of how much their project will cost. We never want to be the “low bidder” but typically like to have a number within 10 percent of the lowest bidder. This held true until about the end of 2013 when we started to see the need to increase our unit costs for items like concrete pavement, asphalt, 24” box trees, storm drain, pavers, and more. Over time we’ve witnessed a roughly 33 percent increase across the board with no end in sight.

How do we, as consultants, guide our clients through the murky waters of getting a project built?

  • Start with a design that fits the client’s budget.
  • Be realistic with our estimates and check with contractors to make sure we are “in the ball park” with our numbers.
  • Specify materials that are readily available locally or within the U.S. and not “special order” or shipped overseas.
  • Contact contractors that are a good fit for the project.
  • Have tight specifications and clear plans that match, so there are no “surprises” and unwanted change orders.
  • Assist our clients during construction to help avoid those potential change orders.

Being able to present a good set of bid documents to a client who has the resources to oversee the project along with the selection of a reasonable contractor, we can get a project built on time and on budget

Shawn Sanfilippo, Construction Manager



October 17, 2017 at 9:13 pm