Construction 101

Construction Crew framing a building project.
Our field crew framing a building.

When you are driving down the road and see a construction site, what is the first thing you ask yourself? I bet 9 times out of 10 it’s “what’s going there?”. But have you ever thought about the process itself? What goes into putting a new building together?

Our first exploration into our industry will show the different facets that go into a new build project and how Janotta & Herner handles it all (mostly) with our internal capabilities.

1. Pre-Construction

These are some of the more common steps one completes prior to starting the detailed design and building processes. During this very important phase of the project, many clients rely on our expertise in helping them define the kind of project that will be the best solution for their needs, a preliminary schedule and a project budget. Also, during these initial discussions, the client is often analyzing the benefits of owning or leasing their facility. Our expertise and developer affiliations provide the client with needed information for them to complete their analysis.

Below is a list of items that typically need to be addressed during this phase:

Establish Site Location– For many clients, the location of the project site is established prior to our involvement. However, many clients use our expertise and knowledge of available properties to assist them in selecting the most appropriate site location. 

Zoning Review- Depending on the client’s intended use of the building, the site is reviewed for compliance with applicable zoning regulations. If the zoning regulations do not permit the use or building parameters of the project at the client’s preferred location, we can assist in pursuing a variance from the local governmental entity.  

Site Review- Next, the site is reviewed relative to grades, utilities, soil conditions, flooding potential, future building expansions, etc.  

After managing all of that, now it’s time to start designing the building.

2. Architectural and Engineering Design

There are typically four steps to have a design completed sufficiently to begin the physical construction process.

Programming- This step involves one of our architects meeting with the client to discuss their building requirements and preferences especially regarding spatial and programming aspects (ie. how big are the rooms, what are the rooms going to be used for, what rooms are next to others, etc.).

Schematic Design- This step includes the development of initial floor and site plans, creation of a conceptual rendering and the performance of a preliminary code review. Being a design/build contractor allows us the advantage to start on a budget estimate at this point. Normally, this would have to wait until the construction documents are finalized. This helps the client know if we are in line with their budget estimate and make changes accordingly.

Design Development- The design is then further developed into a set of plans that can used for defining more of the project specifics and for refining the project budget. This level of drawings includes sections, schedules, interior and exterior finishes, general building systems and structural specifications.  After many revisions are made and design is approved and final, the project moves into…

Construction Documents- During this phase, the details of how the project is to be constructed take place.  Structural connections and foundation details are finalized. 

3. Estimating and Scheduling

At this point, the construction cost estimate is finalized. The project manager discusses construction and schedule details with the client to enable properly estimating the final costs. For example: Can construction operations be performed during the day or is it an addition/renovation that requires construction operations to be coordinated with the occupants of the current building? Will weather affect the timing and cost of the construction operations? When does the client want to occupy the new building? All these answers can affect the project cost and schedule.            

All those steps happen before construction even starts!

4. Construction

Site Work- This is where the site topography and elevation come in. If the site isn’t already prepared for the new building, it must be shaped and stabilized to accommodate it. This step includes clearing and grading the land and prepping for foundations, roads, parking lots, utilities, etc. Our in-house engineering and construction team work together for compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stormwater pollution prevention program and local stormwater requirements.

Foundation- After the land has been prepped, the foundation is set. A stable foundation is crucial to the project success.  This precision sets the course for the building’s structural components.

Structure- Our field crew assembles the steel, wood or concrete structure that was specified in design by our engineering team to frame the building.

Building Systems- Sprinkler, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are installed per the specification of specialty plumbing and mechanical engineers (PMEs).

Interior Finishes- During this final phase of building construction, the proper coordination of tradesmen is essential.  The final touches include everything from carpet, windowsills, lighting fixtures, door knobs and so much more. This is where the building takes shape to fit the needs of the business that will be using it. This is followed by a walk through with the owner to ensure the finished product meets their expectations.

5. Post-Construction

Building Occupancy- Throughout the project there have been periodic inspections but after the project is completed, a final inspection check is done to make sure everything has been followed to code, and the building is safe for use. It then receives a Certificate of Occupancy.  

Facility Operations & Maintenance- At the end of the project when all the checks and balances are done, we get to hand over the keys and show the owners all the exciting details about their new building this includes electrical panels, server rooms, where to turn the water off and more. Ok, maybe these are just exciting details to us. We even provide a facility manual that includes plans, maintenance schedules to ensure maximum system efficiency and more so the owner has everything they need to maintain the building for decades to come.

When you are driving past a job site, you usually just see the construction phase but there is so much more going on behind the scenes involved in the process. Hope this helps show all the different elements involved in construction. As you can see, there are many different building trades involved that need to be meticulously coordinated by an experienced contractor to achieve a timely completion to a construction project.

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