One little-known aspect of commercial construction is the estimating process – one that is typically associated with the assumption that the contractor overcharges the client for material and labor costs. The estimating and project coordination team at Dow Smith Company makes it their mission to ensure each of our clients receives a quality result, all while staying on schedule and, most importantly, on budget. In order to avoid costly change orders and mistakes Estimator and Project Coordinators Dana Mitchell and Andrea Fall and Partner and Design-Builder Joey Rhyne are involved with every project from schematic budget to close-out.
Each project starts with a thorough understanding of the schematic designs, often taking hours to fully comprehend the project scope.
Estimator and Project Coordinator Dana Mitchell’s more than 30 years’ experience has taught him that this first step is one of the most crucial.
“Knowing a project from the ground-up is essential throughout every step of the construction process – estimating to site work, construction to closeout,” explains Mitchell. “When estimation is complete and I shift into the role of project coordinator, I’m prepared to answer any questions that may arise on the job site.”
Prior to the first shovel hitting the ground, the estimating department is the project lead. Starting from the foundation, Mitchell and Fall calculate the project’s materials down to the exact number of bricks, blocks and rebar required. Cost analysis is completed on site work, carpentry, masonry, roofing and drywall, all to pinpoint the exact cost of a project. Bids are then submitted to subcontractors and tradesmen who then send it proposals for their services. Mitchell explains that this stage requires immense attention to detail – and lots of phone calls and meetings. To avoid costly change orders, each subcontractor proposal is reviewed to ensure every aspect of the project is addressed and that estimated costs are accurate.
Once subcontractors and tradesmen are awarded, the project’s bottom-line estimate is sent to Joey Rhyne. Rhyne thoroughly reviews the final estimate and coordinates with the client to move forward. From there, site work and construction can finally begin. Mitchell and Fall remain involved as Project Coordinators, an unusual, but extremely effective transition for project personnel. Typically, a commercial construction company has an estimating department that then hands the plans over to a team of Project Managers. We believe that it’s crucial not only for our team to start working on a project from the beginning, but also to have the same team members following through with construction to the end.
More recently, our team put our pre-construction and estimating skills to the test and have begun construction on a new, 28,000-square-foot medical office building for Murfreesboro Medical Clinic (MMC) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Our team has completed multiple projects for MMC and this new office space is the culmination of a decade-long relationship. Past MMC projects include Murfreesboro Medical Clinic and Surgicenter (pictured above), as well as two walk-in clinics, diabetes clinic, ultrasound, home care, orthopedic, internal and family medicine, vascular, plastic surgery and psychiatry specialty offices.
The new, two-story structure sits on a 3.5-acre site and will feature all most of the services offer at their main campus that include a walk-in clinic with x-ray and ultrasound imaging, lab services, pediatrics, internal and family medicine, as well as a flex clinic that will house a rotation of specialties.
Joey Rhyne has been working with MMC for the past three years on this project, assisting in site selection, geotechnical reports, land studies, and preliminary designs.
Once a site was procured, our team facilitated the zoning process, annexation from the city, project funding, as well as planning and engineering approval with the municipality.
“The immensity of the project just takes you back,” states Mitchell. “The complexity of the project will undoubtedly grow as construction continues.” Being involved with a project from the beginning allows us to solve our clients’ problems ahead of time – well before they affect the outcome of a project.”
The project has already proved challenging though construction just started this week. The client’s desire to match the aesthetic of their adjacent facility is complicated, requiring thousands of pieces of pre-cast concrete and Fedderlite® panels. To save time and money, the pre-cast panels are manufactured in bulk, meaning every window and door measures exactly the same as the next. This concept is easily done on paper, but is more challenging in the field. Andrea Fall explains, “Communication is key with every project, but especially with jobs of this complexity. We remain in constant contact with the architect, subcontractors and interior designers to make sure our client gets the end result they’re looking for.”
Despite the immense coordination required, the MMC project is estimated to be completed in less than a year.
“This has truly been a team effort,” says Rhyne. “We have been so involved with this project from the beginning that I dream about it!” This project is three years in the making and the culmination of our strong partnership with MMC. Our team is excited to see this project come together as construction continues.